Monday, July 19, 2010

Fifth Annual Ride for Corinna's Angels

Ideal weather Sunday graced the 5th annual Ride for Corinna's Angels, which raised funds to help fight Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a leading genetic cause of infant deaths. The ride, named in honor of Corinna Calise, a local child who suffers from the most serious form of SMA, attracted at least 60 motorcycles.

The ride started at the Kelly Gazzero VFW Post on Plainfield Street in Cranston. A contingent from our Romans 8 Riders Chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association
met at a nearby McDonalds prior to the ride's registration,which began at 9:30 a.m. Led by our Romans 8 president, Spike, 13 people attended from our chapter, plus Cathilee DeLorto's dog, who nearly always rides on the motorcycle in a pack slung around Cathilee.

I was the last of the first 25 people to register, so I got a free ride tee shirt. Since passengers did not get free tee shirts, Bob
Levesque graciously gave his ride tee shirt to my girlfriend, Anna. We sat in the VFW hall, eating muffins, drinking coffee and waiting for more riders and passengers to register. Cathilee's dog gained many admirers, including Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, and Cathilee showed off her multiple Christian tattoos.

Before the ride kicked off at 11:00, Corinna viewed the motorcycles in the parking lot and chose three that would later be presented with a trophy. I saw Jerry Mello, a Yamaha Virago owner who I met at last year's ride (I also had a Virago then). Jerry's wife videotaped the start of the ride and posted it on his Facebook page, so this was the first ride I actually saw myself riding in ... that was cool.

There's nothing like the sound of dozens of Harleys roaring to life, and it
was obvious it really got Anna excited (okay, she made "vrrooom, vrrooom!!" sounds). Cranston police blocked traffic on busy Route 14 while the riders orderly exited the VFW hall's parking
lot, which has a steep, treacherous driveway with rough asphalt. Police blocked a few intersections early in the ride, but since much of the ride was in more rural territory, most of the blocking duties fell on a blocking team of about a half-dozen bikes among the pack. A couple of the blockers rode sport bikes, and I felt Anna jump in her seat, apparently startled as one of the crotch rockets zoomed passed us on the left to get to the front of the pack so he could block again. After the ride, Romans 8 vice president Roland Caron said he saw some of the blockers take chances by crossing the road's center line while going up a hill, unable to see if a car was coming. A few times, I made room for blockers to duck back into our double-line staggered formation.

The ride went through Cranston, Scituate and North Scituate, R.I., and into a couple of towns in eastern Connecticut, where we had a long rest stop with water and pizza waiting for us. We looped back toward Rhode Island, going through Foster and Glocester before making our way back to the VFW hall in Cranston. I will say I enjoyed the first half of the ride more than the second half. At the kickoff of the ride, riders were let loose in rows, in an orderly fashion. I also felt comfortable with the riders around me.

In contrast, getting back on the road after the break was more of a free-for-all. And although riders were instructed to ride in a staggered formation, rather than side-by-side, for safety reasons, a man and a woman (I'm assuming they were a couple, or knew each other) on separate bikes in front of me,
rode side-by-side and appeared to have conversations, which made me a bit nervous, since some swerving was necessary for potholes, manhole covers and blockers. Then a third rider, who was diagonally in front of me, seemed to have difficulty maintaining a steady speed and consistent distance from other bikes, so I hung back from all three of them and did my best to ride smoothly and consistently while keeping my eyes on them. All in all, there were no mishaps on the ride, to my knowledge.

My bike (nicknamed Annabelle) ran flawlessly. This was the first group ride since I changed the bike's exhaust system, air cleaner and carburetor jets, and the bike didn't sneeze or stumble even once. Also, the person riding behind me did not hang way back, which happened on the last group run, which I attribute to the fact that my bike still had straight pipes at the time. I guess Annabelle is less rambunctious now.

We returned to the VFW hall at 2 p.m., and by now, I was starving (I'd limited myself to once slice of pizza at the break). A deejay and Ozzy Osbourne impersonator, "Ozzy-Live" (who Jerry Mello said had donated his services) entertained us as we waited about an hour for the macaroni and meatballs with salad (thankfully, we were the first table called to the food line). Cathilee won one of the three Corinna's Choice trophies, although it was, presenters hinted, probably more due to her dog - which attracted many looks as the blockers rode by - than her motorcycle.

Before we left, Anna wanted me to take a photo of her with "Ozzy," so we approached him and he obliged. Anna blinked on the first photo, and "Ozzy" wanted to retake it anyway, because he wasn't sure if he "looked crazy enough" the first time.

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