It’s always great to share something you love with others who just seem to get it. Others who also get ride withdrawals. Others who wait for rides season with child like anticipation, others with the same passion for jet skiing. Others who also look for a safe way to explore and to do what one might not normally do by ones self. That’s what the watercraft community and ride groups offer. It’s a place for everyone to get together and just ride. It’s awesome to see new riders who come out for the first time and get hooked on what some of us take for granted and to see others who were thinking about getting out of jet skiing have an epiphany and their passion reignited while riding in new areas with fellow cool people. It’s also special when local businesses see the value in it and support the ride community with cool events. So to kick off our season, Beach Boulevard Motorsports, or BBMS for short, sponsored a jet ski Poker Run.
For those that may not know, a poker run consists of several stops along a route where you gather playing cards to make up a poker hand. The better your hand the better your chances to win prizes. The event was actually postponed due to Hurricane Matthew, which also forced several local restaurants to temporarily close from storm damage. We figured what better way to get back in the saddle that to pick up where the hurricane left off. This time the weather still had something to say and we had to reschedule the event two weeks later due to a storm. This time when the event day finally came the weather report showed 15 to 25 mile an hour winds with gusts in the 30 plus mile per hour range. At this point we decided to take advantage of that earlier favorable conditions and ride!
As this was our first ride of the season, we had many new riders who along with us were very eager for this event. The ride itself was from Jacksonville to San Augustine, which is about 30 miles each way. With a 10 AM launch time and other riders coming from other ramps in the general area, we headed south towards Saint Augustine down the Intracoastal Waterway. The initial wind and chop gave way as we got to sheltered waters and made for better conditions that we had imagined. After our first rider checkpoint and after a quick headcount, we were off to our first Poker Stop at a ramp near Aunt Kate’s. Aunt Kate’s is another great place to eat on the Intracoastal, but be careful of fishing lines! The public ramp provided a dock for the skis to swoop in and for riders to collect to their first card.
The next stop was at Conch Island near the Vilano Inlet. The stop also served as a place for riders to get off and stretch their legs. After a quick recharge, jokingly too quick for some, it was a short jog to the Vilano Boat Ramp which also provided another easy access dock for the riders to get their third card. Fellow group riders who didn’t mind paying it forward for others to enjoy manned the stops and they helped to make the event awesome for others. At this point, everyone’s poker hands were shaping up and it was off to the fourth stop. The weather picking up and our lunchtime being upon us, stops 4 and 5 were consolidated to make time for lunch. No worries there as Andy, the owner of BBMS, made sure that all had a full hand before the drawing.
Beach Boulevard Motorsports sponsored a fantastic event at the local hot spot Beaches in Vilano. Beaches is a rider favorite for its spacious beaching area, great food and awesome atmosphere. The Beaches in Vilano management also had over 10 loads of sand brought in to replenish their beach area from the past few storms and to ensure everyone’s skis won’t get banged up. How’s that for service! The BBMS crew had several of the 2017 watercraft for everyone to check out as well as sponsored all the food and prizes for the Poker Run.
We can’t say enough about BBMS and other businesses that show their support for the watercraft community. This was their first watercraft Poker Run, but they’ve done it many times with their motorcycle riders. We call that progress! One of the JJR riders, Ben had trip kings which ended up being the winning hand. There were many other prizewinners even down to a pair, so everyone had a shot. You really can’t lose when you’re hanging with friends and making new ones. After lunch and with the weather picking up, it was time to get on back. All riders know the ride back is usually the best part and with the weather picking up, we was about to get our fair share of it. This is where group riding soars, as it’s an all for one and one for all mentality, which made for great riding.
In group riding, we also ride for each other, making sure everyone is OK, accounted for and that no one is left behind. Adverse rides that we make it through as a group creates memories and camaraderie. The new riders were literally baptized and many felt that anything better in the future would be a breeze! How’s that for a winning attitude! On the home stretch and with the ramp in view, everyone was still all smiles. The first group ride of the season was in the books and what a time it was.
Even with two storms that caused it to be rescheduled and with unfavorable ride day weather, the riders showed up strong! Many were glad to be riding whole again with riders they haven’t seen in a while and some were glad to have made their first successful ride with their new group. Ride leaders were glad everyone was in and accounted for, but really it was more than that. It’s why we catch ourselves with that jet ski grin and doing it with others that get it, makes it even better. So here’s to great rides, great friends and great times along the way! Let’s Ride!