What a Little Biird Said about Conga
Important information about the Ride from Biird’s point of view!
Biird’s eye view! – General information about the Ride from Biird’s point of view with help from Tracy Bader. First published by Karen Allen on Wednesday,1/12/2011 (revised 1/16/12)
It seems we all start to think of our pending summer plans once the winter holiday season passes. Requests for more information as to itinerary, what does it cost, what is a conga-line, how do I join in, etc. start to pick up sometime mid-January. Looking back at past Conga’s, there may have been some teaching moments that will help create a safe Conga for your future. Here are some thoughts and please don’t assume they are shared by all.
You can Conga anywhere. You can Conga in your hometown. You can join the Conga for a mile, 100 miles or go as far as you’re comfortable. A Conga-line is simply the route you are taking to get from “here to there”. There will be several lines to Shell.
Your bike and yourself need to be in good condition for this ride.
With a loving heart, please be honest with yourself. Think about your body/brain ability to ride far for days in a row, your level of patience when things seem slow, your emotional tolerance when you hear many stories of triumph over cancer and some very hard to hear stories of loss. Be prepared to hug, offer a shoulder to strangers you meet along the way and to be a positive person. Be prepared to have the best time of your life.
Spirit riders and those otherwise participating or cheering the Conga on are just as important as those who are riding and are just as welcome. Anytime riders are on road trips there is the possibility of running into construction or other less than ideal pavement situations. Each of us as riders are the best judge of whether or not we are up to dealing with situations that have potential to come up even as experienced long distance riders. There are usually options such as detouring, but it may mean splitting off from the group or just using extra caution and slowing down. Taking a riders course is always a great way to brush up on skills and confidence regardless of experience. Checking road conditions closer to the Conga and planning your route accordingly is a must. The bottom line is YOU are the best judge and how ever you choose to support the cause is just as valuable.
When we Conga, we put our best foot forward.
Things will happen on the Conga that is out of our control. Humanity, baby! This is an un-sponsored ride; there is no sag wagon. If your bike breaks down, you may be left to deal with it on your own. The group’s goal is to move towards the target. Every effort will be made to clearly communicate departure time and destination. Your participation in the Conga may be an act of courage and it’s all on your dime. Register for the ride at www.gowitheflo.org. This gives us a general head-count for planning food while in Shell and feeds the fund.
Itinerary: it’s gonna be flexible, but with a few hard and fast destinations because we are traveling in high-demand touristy areas at the peak of tourist season. We try to think ahead and make a few reservations. In 2010 and 2011, our room rates were from $60 to 150/night. We try to go cheap, but nice. Some of us share rooms, others do not. And, we may adjust on the fly.
You can camp if you feel like it, just make it so. If you are traveling with a group that is staying in motels or camping, the onus is on you to understand next day departure time and destination. All effort will be made to communicate that out.
Carry a map.
You might want to pack a few cards: AARP, HOG, AAA….
We know we’ll be in Shell, Wyoming July 12-15, 2012. This is a little town of 50 people whom are dear friends. We love them as family. We help out. We treat Shell with respect. Shell has one gas station, a post office and two places to eat. Hope you like hamburgers and limited cafe fare. Greybull is the closest town, clocking in at 15 miles away. One can get to a grocery store, a handful of restaurants, motels, KOA, and a few stores. You can walk the downtown area in 10 minutes. The museum is full of dinosaur bones. If Alaska grows big mosquitoes, then the Shell-Greybull area may come in as a close second.
Expect 300-400+ miles miles on travel days. 8am departures may be the norm; we fundraise along the way, thus we can easily take all day to ride 300 miles. Pink Conga ladies, bikes and Cabana Boys are a powerful tool to raise awareness. Expect to frequently have your photo taken with total strangers. They will love you.
Be prepared for any kind of weather when riding in the Rockies. In some places, it can snow on any day of the year. Expect unpredictable weather. Rain gear is a must, don’t bother showing up without. You need it to stay safe in these regions. We ride rain or shine, wind or cold temps. I bring a powered jacket and gloves.
We learned that Internet is not available in some rural inns.
Carry cash and credit cards. Cards are available to preload before the trip. Mastercard or Visa is suggested. AAA has a travel card you can preload and reload along the way. Amex is not widely accepted.
Consider bringing business cards with the website, donation site and email addresses, so we can suggest that those who support us to send pics of themselves when they take pics or to donate. Some will ask for a card in order to make their donation later and directly to the cause.
Bring a camera!
In the US, your cell phone may not won’t work well once you get into the Rockies or in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming because of the mountains or vast distances. Once Canadians cross the US/Canadian border into the US, you may opt to purchase an inexpensive preloaded cell phone, as it may end up cheaper in the long run. The most basic phone may work better than the G3/4 models. I don’t have information as to what we may experience in Canada.
Have good tires. Get your bike serviced before you travel. Know where you can get your bike serviced along your route. Purchase a towing option before you Conga. AAA offers a plan, but be sure to get AAA RV Plus because of the vast distances between service areas. A note for Canadians (not sure about US). Make sure you DO have AMA PLUS. It covers out of country travel specifically for motorcycles including things your auto and health insurance won’t cover. If your bike breaks down, it would be good to have a riding buddy from home who will hang out with you.
Bring a tool kit. Perhaps bring an extra light bulb. If you ride a Harley, bring an extra kick stand spring.
It is advisable to have toured with a full load before doing the Conga.
Before doing the Conga, it is advisable to have experience riding through construction sites and gravel. In Wyoming and Montana, many secondary roads are gravel. You’ll see gravel on the primary roads at the intersections of these roads. Know how to ride, and stop, when you should not use your front brake.
Know how many miles and kilometers your bike will travel on a tank of fuel. Some of the areas within the greater Rocky mountains have long distances between gas stations. One cannot count on open gas stations in all towns. In these areas, it is good practice to top off tank more frequently than not. Towns in eastern Montana and much of Wyoming are about 100 miles apart. Think of that when gambling on how far you can go, and remember that your cell phone may not work should you run out of fuel. If your bike has a carburetor, understand how altitude, humidity and air temperature affects your bike when riding at 4500-7500′+ in 45*F and what grade of fuel to purchase. Talk to your mechanic before you leave home. Here is an example of what I refer to: http://hondanighthawks.net/carb14.htm
Be a proficient rider. If you are comfortable riding only in the inside or outside of the lane, it is time to become comfortable anywhere in the group. Learn by doing. If you aren’t sure if you are ready to Conga, then you may not be. Map in hand, could you ride a full day, by yourself in an unknown area, and feel you and your bike will make it safely to your destination? Consider a course. Ride Like a Pro, Motorcycle Safety Foundation, Harley-Davidson Rider’s Edge, Northwest Motorcycle School all offer fantastic opportunities to learn. Get your schooling done. Know what to do when it hits the fan and be able to do it. In our areas of travel, 911 services may be 30-45+ minutes away, if we can get immediate cell service.
There is an administrative group of sorts who will be offering leadership advice for the trip. These people know who they are. It’s unstated. The reality is this: we all want Flo in our group, we all want to ride with Flo and Flo cannot meet everyone’s wishes. To keep safety in the forefront, it may be that riding with Flo, Doc, and others is limited due to the size of the group on any given day. Although I’m not speaking for Flo, Doc, others, it is something we touched on in 2010. Smaller sub-groups may be established to preserve safety and we can meet up at selected areas along the way.
And, we assume no liability in any way, shape or form for anything to do with keeping you safe and accident-free on this ride… that is your job. Be insured. There is expectation that you will ride in a responsible, safe, proficient manner.
We raise awareness and money for our cause. How does Conga raise money along the way? We dress-up our bikes and ourselves in lotsa pink, bling and joy to draw attention. At every gas station, rest stop, restaurant and motel, strangers will approach you and ask whassup, can they take your picture, etc. Sure! -but it’s gonna cost ya…. but only if you want to donate to our cause! We explain we are raising money for breast cancer research and please can you donate a dollar or more in return for the privilege of having a picture. Most of all, we show respect, have a good time, and listen… they will have a story or request for you. Regardless if you get a donation, strike a pose and put your best smile & foot forward.
Now, about donations: more than anything, we are raising awareness. Trust me… anyone who saw Wilbur in Yellowstone National Park touring like a regular Joe will never forget the leather’d up big biker dude with the day-glow pink hair raising money for breast cancer. We gently remind folks that money pays for research, so together, let’s kick cancer to the curb. One gracious way to offer an avenue to give, is to offer them the website’s address via a business card. Some folks will feel more comfortable giving this way.
For now, this is enough to help newcomers start thinking about their summer plans and if a ride of this sort sounds appealing. We all know we can’t meet everyone’s needs, but we hope to find a way to bridge where we can.
Expect this document to be edited several times, so check back often for updates! And remember, I’ve written this from my point of view and to be helpful.