Saturday, February 6, 2010

We ride for those who Can't

I have said here many times before that this blog is not dedicated to the Run for The Wall, but the writer certainly is.

The title of this post is the main motto of We ride for those who Can't. Not just those that cannot make the trip, not just the guys that were left behind in Viet Nam, but for those who are serving now and cannot ride from Coast to Coast and see the support that this Country truly gives its Serving men and women, and its Veterans.

Every year that I ride with the Run, and I have done it five years in a row, I am constantly amazed by the dedication of the Volunteers that organize and keep us safe. The road guards have an amazing job, as does the fuel crew and the staging crew, and the platoon leaders. There are well over 100 Volunteers just with the Run, then there are thousands of folks that organize the overpasses that we ride under (and there are two routes so you have to multiply all numbers by 2) and arrange to feed over 400 folks three times a day. On the Central route we also have Monsoon and his team making sure that no one runs out of water along the way, and Grumpy and the chase team, and No Chute and the sound trailer, the list is just amazing. These people are really dedicated to the Run, and the family that is has become. When riding with the pack at first it can be a little scary. No it is a lot scary. Highway speeds (we run 5mph under the posted speed limit) with trucks and cars passing us and riding in formation is rough.
In 2005 my first year doing this at one of our lunch stops a guy was getting off his bike when a lady asked him "How many bikes do you guys have?" I cannot remember his exact words, but he told her very seriously and truthfully that he knew there was a bike next to him, and one in front of him, so we had at least three bikes counting his. That lady probably thought this guy was a smart mouth. But he was telling the truth. If you do the Run right all you see is the license plate in front of you and your wing man. After a while you do not concentrate on anything but that. You are aware of the traffic around you, but you are not concentrating on it, you are taking care of the folks around you.
In 2007 Straight Arrow asked me to ride in his slot. I was honored, but tried to get out of it because I did not feel that I had paid my dues. This was in Gallup NM the day that we go to Angel Fire NM. I was suddenly in the Gang of 6, or the head shed. These are folks that are called on to get things done for the route coordinator, and they ride in the first platoon right behind the assistant route coordinator.
In 07 the assistant was Shooter, Straight Arrow was pulling road guard duty, and Hammer wanted me there to do whatever Shooter needed I guess. I was OK with it but did not feel that I rode well enough to be up there. Of the six bikes in that group I was the only rider I was worried about going into Angel Fire. I had been on this road once before, and knew it well. Everyone was riding well, and we were probably going a little fast, and running a little tight, but it was fun. Bones later told me that he felt like something was going to happen for miles, but the riding was fun.

Then it happened. We were rounding the last turn on the mountain, and Shooter hit his brakes (my first thought was hey he never does that, this is going to be bad, real bad) I slowed down, and tried to find Bones in my mirror, he was on my right wing, and I had lost him when Shooter hit his brakes. Now normally central route rides side by side, but not in construction zones, or on mountains. As I started to round the corner I saw a Frito Lay eighteen wheeler coming at me. Her trailer was off tracking behind the tractor and was about 6 feet into my 8 foot lane. I moved as far right as I could, but left room for Bones just in case. I did not want to crowd him into the ditch. As the trailer passed me my highway peg on the left side of Clyde (for those who have not read here before Clyde is the motorcycle I ride...long story I will let him tell it) hit the trailer tires and I was being sucked under the truck. I pushed off the trailer with my right hand, and Clyde popped back up onto his wheels, I turned on my blinker and moved off the road. When I dropped off into the dirt next to the road Clyde sunk in the dirt to his axles. I just stood up, and the bike was standing too. Never went down, I think I amazed Bones and the guy behind me cause they both thought I was dead. Two Lane told me that my new road name was "Dances with Semi's" I liked it a great deal. Bones said that I should be called "Semi Slayer" because the truck got towed away (OK when the driver saw the rest of the bikes she pulled off onto the shoulder on her side and got stuck in the same dirt Clyde and I got stuck in). In truth I liked both those new road names, but neither worked on the CB, the first one was too long, and the second one, well Krazy Karl and I talk trucks past the pack. I could just imagine how that conversation would go...."OK big truck you have one more pack of bikes and then a missing man formation to pass and you are done with us...thanks for you patience and professionalism!" and the answer "Thanks, who am I talking to any way?"
"they call me Semi Slayer." It just did not work. Well old Two lane told me no problem, for the radio they would call me Bounce. At first I did not like this one, but it sort of stuck. I did ride in that spot behind Shooter several more times. After one stop Shooter got held up and Tanker and Girlfriend told me that if he was not there when we rolled I had to cover his slot. I did and ti was a parade leg. I was really grateful when Shooter came roaring up and slid into his spot.

Welcome to any and all FNG's and all the rest of the RFTW family that may read this.

Thanks for putting up with me for five years.


We ride for those who Can't

P.S. $3200.00 damage to my Yamaha, and it was all cracked plastic, thanks to DC and the maintenance crew at the Angel Fire Resort all bent mechanical parts were fixed and straightened in about ten minutes. I rode Clyde all the way to DC and then home after being hit by a truck. Say what you will about Yamaha, they make a tough Dave proof motorcycle.