Well, Saturday was the big day. I've been riding off and on for 2 seasons now and finally got up the gonads to join a group ride. If anyone has been holding back due to being scared of looking stupid, afraid of going because you don't ride the same kind of bike as everyone else, or think the "bike scene" isn't your thing, you don't know what you're missing. To join one of these rides, all you need to do is find out where one is held (flyers at the bike shops, newspaper or online message boards), have something with two wheels (there were a few scooters) and love to ride. Everything else I found is what you would take on any other ride, such as helmet, gloves, jacket, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc etc. One big inhibiton I felt was image. I ride a Honda Shadow, what if my bike isn't "cool" enough to be here? What if I'm the only one on an import bike? Am I wearing the right clothes? Sure, you'll have your "harley types" in the crowd that think if your bike doesn't say HD and you're covered with HD brand leather that you're beneath them. Every group has idiots in it, but for the most part, I found genuinely nice people from different backgrounds. There were techno-geeks with all kinds of gadgets, a 18 y/o college freshman, cops, firemen, white-collar businessmen and retirees. Yes, there were even female riders that WEREN'T passengers. If you were anywhere else, this would be the oddest, most mismatched group you'd ever see. However, since everyone rode a motorcycle, that was the common bond. Don't worry about the brand image, just enjoy the ride. There were people on Hondas, Suzuki's, BMW's, Ducati's, Kawasaki's, and of course Harleys. Nobody made fun of anyone's "rice burner" or "oil leaker". If you don't have any friends who ride, don't worry. Chances are that as you ride, if you're the least bit sociable, you'll start meeting people and talking as you go. You can always bring a passenger along, too. This ride we went on was a "short poker run" as some of the vets told me. We rode about 93 miles total in about 4 hours, each leg of the trip averaged around 20 miles. We went through all kinds of traffic, from long winding country roads to state parks to main street of a small town to suburban weekend traffic. From what I gathered it's not uncommon for a ride to extend all weekend or through an entire day racking up 300+ miles. At the end there's usually a gathering to eat and in the case of a poker run, to choose the winner. From what I get, hot dogs and hamburgers are standard fare, but the restaurant where ours was held laid out a HUGE spread of food. Door prizes and raffles are held at this time, as well as vendors setting up shop offering some pretty decent bargains I might add. Lotsa bs-ing, ribbing about dropping bikes (something we've ALL done), complaining about bad "cage" drivers interfering with the ride, etc etc. Generally, I can't say enough good things about this riding experience. It taught me a lot about my abilities on a motorcycle, I met some really interesting people, and I won some good door prizes at the end! I strongly encourage anyone thinking about it to just go out and do it.