Sunday, June 10, 2012

This Blog is not dedicated to Run For The Wall, but the author is.

Strange title?  No not really.  Right now there is a debate raging on the Run for the Wall riders forum.  I wonder what we did before we had this forum?  Probably complain to our friends on the phone.  Or worse try to change things without authority to do so next time we were there?  Or even worse than that not participate in the mission.  
My second year on the Run I almost got my butt kicked in at the Topeka KS fuel stop.  I had been riding about three bikes back from a New Guy on a Red Gold Wing.  He was running his own little missing man formation in the middle of the pack.  He was staying 3 to four seconds away from the bike in front of him, and every time he adjusted speed he hit his brakes.  Not his rear brake but his front brake, and not to slow but to get the bike in front of him to back off.  Well this was in 2006 and believe it or not the rules were the same as they are today, but they were not enforced as well as they are today.   When we started the leg he was three or maybe four bikes in front of me.  When we got to the fuel stop he was right in front of me.  This is because after a while the guys behind him got tired of his riding style in the pack and went around him.  I too would have done this but I had been and probably still am a pretty crappy rider.  Sure I can do the Run, but that is pretty much all the riding I do.  Anyway I stayed behind him, I slowed a little the first nine or ten times he hit his brakes, I passed back his slow down hand signal the first three times he passed it back (when he realized I was ignoring his brake light he started giving me the slow down hand signal cause he thought I was too close to him, and when he backed off increasing his gap I didn't he would wave the slow down signal.  I stopped passing these back too as they were not coming from the platoon leader, they were coming from this guy (all things that I could not see from three or four bikes back but could once everyone did what they were not supposed to and what I should have done, just gone around this guy.)  Everyone else pretty much did go around the two of us except for a friend that was behind me, Dave Cal Kid ended up beside me at the end of the line of bikes in about third platoon.  The two of us sort of pushed this guy up, there were no tail gunners that year, all you had was road guards and they couldn't do much but pace and gesture, and if the rider did what they wanted (this guy did several times by the way when the road guards tried to move him up) they went on.  I followed this guy from Salinas to Topeka.  By the time I got to the fuel stop I was pissed off to the point that I wanted to just leave.  But I did not.  I confronted him after we were staged.  In those days there were not assigned platoons so you could stage pretty much any where you wanted to. There were no staging crews on Central Route, the only way to get in the front was show up early, some folks actually parked their bikes at the staging area then walked to the hotels so they would be up front (silly as after the first fuel stop you ended up mixed in anyway)  so today the assigned platoons is a much better deal.   After I got staged, again about four bikes behind this guy, I walked up to him and introduced myself.  I did not have a road name, just a name, so I doubt he remembers me, but he might.  I do not know if he is still on the Run, heck I could not even tell you his name.  He did have a California plate on his bike and the last number was a 7.  Well I was behind him for two legs on the run so that is all I saw.  When I introduced myself I saw his FNG pin.   So I decided to temper my remarks.  I do not have the exact words I said written down but it went something like this, "Hi my Name is Dave, this is my second year on the run, last year I was a FNG too, and I only went part way, Colorado to DC."  He acknowledged this and shook my hand.  "I just wanted to thank you for making this leg the absolute worse leg I have ever done on the Run.  You are running your own personal missing man formation, you are a one man rubber band factory, and every time you back off or adjust speed you have to hit your brakes.  You do not pay attention to anything but the bike behind you, you allowed several cages to break through the pack, and caused not just the last couple of bikes to have to go around, since we are in the second platoon you caused over three hundred riders to have to make unneeded lane changes.  I see that I am behind you again, and I want you to know that I won't pass you although I should because that is not allowed in the rules, I won't hit you because I am paying attention but I will not pass back your slow down signal unless it comes from the bike in front of you, and I have already learned to ignore your break lights.  If you do not like this I suggest you ride ahead of the pack because you are endangering me and all of the riders behind you."  I said this all with a smile on my face and as sarcastically as I could.  Then I walked away from him to my bike.  He went off like a Roman Candle and if not for his friends, and the Cal Kid, who by the way is a Marine like this guy was, I probably would have been either in jail, or the hospital.   Cal Kid told the man to stand down, and that I was right and if I hadn't said anything he would have, and at that point he had been on 10 or more runs.   Well after things cooled off one of his friends walked up to me, and asked if he could ask some questions.  I said sure.  He only asked three questions
1) if he backs off will you hit him with your bike?   my answer was very loud  No but since he is watching me in the mirror I know he will pull back up before he hits me but his rubberband will stop with me.
2) Why no break lights?   my answer not as loud this time, but there were at least 5 FNG's standing around in ear shot  Break lights cause panic, both in the riders behind you that think something bad is going on and in the cars and trucks around us.  They see a guy tap his breaks to adjust speed and think we are all stopping so they slow down and that causes bad things to happen behind us.
3) Are you mad at him or any of us new guys?  my answer to this surprised all of them.... No I am not mad or angry, in fact I understand why no one wanted to ride behind me my first year.   I am going to suggest that they have a few additional meetings for FNG's just to let them know that all they have to do is ask and they will get answers.

Well after that came Kansas City, and the year before that was a nightmare, so I was hyper aware, had all my gadgets turned off, and I noticed that the Red Wing was gone.  He had dropped out of line.  When we got to Wentzville I looked him up, and apologized for my sarcasm, he told me that he was sorry for wanting to kill me.  He also said that he would be in the pack in the morning and he was going to work on not using his break, but his bike didn't have the back pressure of a Harley so down shifting did not slow him down.  I shared a trick my Brother had told me about that works well on Metric bikes, don't down shift, double clutch.  I then explained that when I needed to slow a little I would grab the clutch for a second or to then let it out slowly, the engine will slow down, and that slows the transmission.  I do not recommend this for normal riding, but for pack riding it works well.  Then he asked me "do you really think break lights cause panic?" I asked him if he had been with us since CA, and he said yes, I asked him if he remembered the car that had spun out on I-15 as we were going by, he said yes he had ridden past that, I told him that car was next to me and two bikes 5 or 6 slots ahead of me had hit their breaks to adjust speed and that car thought the line was stopping cause of police lights in front ( we were under escort and the cops were trying to clear the left lane so we could get around the truck scales) The car overreacted swerved and hit his breaks and ended up in the median. The guy thanked me and I never saw him again.  I hope he completed the Run and hope that he came back, but I do not know.  I do know I have never said anything to anyone about their riding again mostly because I am such a poor rider.   No for the debate on the forum, we are not going to change the way we ride, we ride in formation.  Staggered or Side by Side it does not matter.  I suspect that Central Route will go most of the way staggered next year, but that will be because of leadership below the BOD, and that is a shame, but it won't stop me from supporting and hopefully doing the mission.  I probably won't be talking to trucks next year, I mean they made it fine this year without me, but I will be riding.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Re Post of How Bounce Got his Road Name. Or Miracles Do Happen Cause without them I would not be here.

 As promised I am posting this again just in case anyone from the Forum is interested in how I got my road name. Something that I never mentioned before, my highway peg was supposed to be up, but the bolt holding it was loos and it had flopped down, or I would never have had this story, in addition I lost sight of Bones (He had slowed way down when he saw Tanker put his brake lights on wish I would have known that I would have moved another two feet to the right, but not knowing where Bones was I did what I had to do to protect him from me hitting him)  I know know that the platoon leader behind me thought I was dead and was amazed when he saw my right blinker go on, found this out the following year when I stopped to pick his bike up off of him in the Same corner after he made an error and went down, never knew that at the time.

This is a story that really happened to me in 2007. It was my third consecutive Run For the Wall, and the second time that I had gone all the way from LA to DC. By then I had rubbed most of the new guy stuff off me. My Bike (affectionately know as Clyde, and occasionally he will channel through me to put thoughts here) is a white Royal Star Venture with the vanity plate number of FNG05. That year I actually had two jobs on the Run, I was working registration with my Wife, and while riding I was talking to Truckers on the radio.
When we were in Gallup New Mexico one of the members of the Board of Directors told me that he needed me to take his slot behind the assistant route coordinator. I initially declined his offer, but he persisted and talked me into taking this position. We were going into Angel Fire New Mexico from Gallup, and I thought it would be fun, plus through Albuquerque we were to be under State Police escort, and I knew from the year before there would only be questions to answer on the radio, and no truckers really any where near the formation, so I did it. My wife was going to ride down into Angel Fire with me, and had arranged for someone else to drive our truck and my Dad down the mountain. Just as we were getting ready to leave Hammer announced that there was snow in Angel Fire. My wife of course decided to ride in the comfort of the pick up instead of on Clyde.
So after lunch I lined up behind Shooter and next to Bones. Tanker was on Shooters Wing, and Fallow Me, and another veteran rider of the run were behind Bones and me. I sort of felt left out because I really did not have a road name. My CB handle was and is Grabagear, when I am in my truck, but I was not using that on the run.
As we descended into the valley the road was great, a little chilly but no snow, and the sun was out. Bones later said he saw that something was going to happen for miles, he just did not know what it would be. I was keeping pace with Shooter and Tanker, we were in a staggered formation and riding a little fast for what we were doing. The Missing man formation, and Road Guards were already at the Monument, and as we came around the last turn in the road, at the front of a pack of about 500 bikes, I realized something bad was happening. Shooter and Tanker were on their brakes, and neither of them do that unless it is an emergency, tends to cause problems, shooter indicated with a hand signal that he was slowing and pointed to his left. Then my world sort of slowed way down.
There was a big truck coming up the hill at us from Angel Fire. It's trailer was off tracking around the corner and was about 4 or 5 feet into my lane. Clyde's Highway peg caught the front trailer tire and I was being pulled under the truck. I really do not know how I did it but I pushed away from the trailer with my right hand (still have that glove and use it when I ride, even though there is a hole in it from slapping the side of the trailer) and Clyde righted himself, I put on my blinker and moved to the shoulder. My left foot hurt a little, and I could no longer shift, and there was plastic every where but Clyde was still running. When I hit the shoulder my tires sunk in the soft dirt right up to the brake discs. Clyde was standing up all by himself in the dirt, no need for a kickstand there. Bones stopped and made sure I was OK, and later rode down to the Hotel with me. I made sure my wife knew I was OK, and made sure that Shooter and Tanker and Hammer knew I was OK, cause there were those inevitable Rider Down calls on the radio. I never went down though.
Later while fixing my crash bars and shifter, Two Lane came up to me and told me he had the perfect road name for me. I carefully asked him what that was, mostly because most road names after something bad tend to leave you feeling ribbed. He said "Dances with Semi's". I loved it, and still use it, but Bones said it was too long for the radio, he wanted to call me "Semi Slayer" because after I had Bounced off the truck the driver had pulled over up the hill and got stuck so bad they had to call a wrecker to get Her back on the road. I said I could hear it now:
"OK big truck thanks for your patience and professionalism today, you have one more pack of bikes and then our missing man formation to get by and then you are done with Run For the Wall for today." The reply would be "Thanks driver, who am I talking too?" Then I respond, "uh they call me Semi Slayer?" Both Bones and Two Lane agreed that probably would not work well, and then Two Lane said "on the radio we will just call you Bounce!" It worked and it stuck. After minor repairs I rode Clyde all the way to DC and then back home. The Cruise Control did not work, but everything else did. $3200.00 in damage, but my insurance covered that, and I got my name all at the same time. Now think about this how many riders do you know that can get hit at speed by a tractor trailer and not only walk away from it, but finish a very long ride to boot?

Thanks Two Lane and Bones for the handle, I like it, or I would not use it, and it fits me well.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

For The Saluting Marine aka SSGT TIM CHAMBERS USMC Retired

I am proud to say that this outstanding young man, this brave Marine is a friend of mine.

Candy Man also known as SSgt Walrus

This is a great video of Central Route Road Guards this year hustling to Williams Arizona to set up the parade route (I am guessing on this but from the Mile Markers and terrain I am probably right.) what a difference a year makes, last year it was cold and snowy on this stretch of road.   These guys are all volunteers, and they work their butts off to keep the riders of Run For The Wall safe.   The last two minutes of this video is awesome, there is a quick pass of tootsie pops.  Those little candies are ideal for motorcycle riding, and Clyde always has at least two boxes somewhere on him when we do the it next year yet.  I cannot wait. Please note that this was done by guys that ride in formation together for over 7000 miles a year.  That is just an estimate but Road Guards put on twice the mileage of the folks in the run.   I do not recommend that this be done, nor do I think that I could do it, but it is sure cool to watch.  In other words Do not try this at home kids, it was done by professionals on a pretty much closed course.  The previous announcement was to make Gallupe happy, he is right this is not an example of what riding on the run is like.  Riding on the run takes 100% concentration and awareness at all times. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Billy Ray Cyrus - Some Gave All

Thank you all who have served, and all who have supported those that served.  Freedom is not free.  Once again this blog is not dedicated to Run For The Wall, but the writer is.  This song is important in so many ways I just do not have the words to describe all of them. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Run For The Wall, Welcome To Wytheville Virginia 2012

This is a great video of RFTW Southern Route staging and departing Wytheville, VA.  Things I noticed, seems like there is a lot of campers, and the number of trikes and bikes with trailers is getting larger....are we all getting older?   I cannot wait for next year.  Not going this year hurt badly, but nothing will stop me from being there in LA next May, except maybe health.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Another mission complete.

Now the mission is complete, and those that have gone all the way simply have to return home.  Be safe and remember you are headed home alone and unprotected.... Be Careful as you do it.  I do not want to lose anyone on the way home.   Take care and plan for next year, I am.


Note To Clyde, The Creative one

Note to Clyde,
Quit playing with the format already, it looks cool right now, but maybe folks won't like it.   Comments please.

For those that do not know Clyde is the name given to one tough Yamaha motorcycle, I mean he took a hit from a big truck in 2007 and kept on running (note I never went down, just got stuck in the dirt alongside the road we were on when I tried to get out of the way of over 500 other bikes.) all the way to DC from New Mexico where the hit happened.  He is also part of the creative side of me I guess, so he is the changer of formats here.  Let him know if you like it or not.  I myself am not sure.


Well RFTW 24 is over, and even as this being written plans for 25 are being made.

There are so many things I could write here, and most of them would not be understood.  I could not do any part of the Run this year, but in a way I did my part.  My job had me driving the route of both Runs days before the bikes did it.  Southern Route was not under much construction (at least the parts I drove on weren't), but the Central Route had a lot.  I let  folks know what they were riding into.  I tried to get home to ride to Goodland KS and do two days, but it did not happen.  I tried to get at least to Mt Vernon, IL and salute the pack in, but I got there a day late.  I met a few folks that were headed the same way, and stated that they were going to go next year.  I made sure they had the web page information and told them that if they had any questions they could post them on the forum. 

For me not doing the Run actually hurts.  I do not know why but it does.  Then today I got (well it could have been here a while because I have intentionally not been here to write cause it really does hurt) a comment from the very nice lady that rides a Vespa Scooter, she made me realize why it hurts so not to do the Run.  The people that do it, and support it, and the real reason it is done is why it hurts not to do it.

In the Past I have ridden for Matt Maupen, Wizard's Brother, Chuck Huskey a friend of mine from Basic Training who died during the cold war while supporting a weapons movement in South Dakota, and many many others.  I wrote a little while ago about driving from Ludlow, CA to Needles, CA and how special that route is to me.  But in truth the Run has changed my outlook on life, caused me to write here (some say that is not good because I tend to rant and ramble) and I have one of the largest extended families ever.  That family is sometimes dysfunctional, but it is still family, and I would pity anyone who decided to pick on any member of that family. 
I have ridden all the way or participated in 6 runs, and supported the last 8.  I once told Bones that I would do this until I could not climb onto a bike anymore, and if at that point there were still folks that had not been brought home I would ride in a cage, or a bus or whatever it took to get there and remind the people in power that at least I still care.
Some times I wonder if they even notice us, but then again I remember that even 15 years ago   POW MIA flags were not up on state capitals, or rest areas, or any where else, they are now.  So people notice.
I want to thank each and every rider this year and tell them they did a good job. I pray that the few that got hurt in KS heal fast.  I also want to thank every trucker that encountered the Run on either route this year, and thank them for allowing us to use roads that they pay for, and for having the patience to let them do what has to be done.  This mission will end someday, but it might take a line of bikes that starts in LA and ends in DC to do it. But then that would really be cool, 3200 miles of bikes,  that would mean that every bike that ends up in DC would have to get to LA and that it would take a lot more than ten days to get it done, but it would be noticed.
To those that complain about the traffic tie ups, and slow downs that the Run causes, keep complaining, but when you do tell your politician that if he or she did their job those bikes would not have to do what they do.
OK that is enough for one post.  Thanks all, especially Karen the scooter lady.  Clyde still thinks that little red Vespa is cute, and he has not gotten over being passed uphill in Arizona by it either.


Monday, May 14, 2012

XXIV starts Wednesday

The twenty fourth annual Run for the Wall starts Wednesday.  I actually saw several folks headed to California.  They did not notice me I was just driving a truck.  Almost everyone of them passed me well, the few that didn't were moving so fast it didn't matter much.  Bones left me a voice mail the other day and said something that struck me pretty hard.  I won't be on the Run this year, and he said something like, that must be hard to do. I can't imagine how bad you feel.  He is right it actually hurts not to be there.  But there is always next year.  Family comes first, then extended family.  For my truck driving friends take a good look at this picture.  These folks are riding side by side, and are riding pretty tight, and they are a little over four miles long from end to end.  So if you come up on this group think about how hard it is to pass a truck that is governed about 3 mph less than you are, it takes about two miles to get past 70 foot of truck, passing this group will take at least ten miles to get done.  I would just slow down and let them go.  That would be the smart thing to do, but if you have to pass them remember they know you are there, they get reminded every day to give you all the room you need.  They get reminded every day that if a truck (or other vehicle passing) puts a blinker on give them room so they can get off the road or onto the shoulder.  When passing them if you see brake lights (if they are doing things right you won't) just remember they are adjusting speed to the bikes in the pack, they are not stopping.  If you see folks with signs and flags on the over passes, let off some steam they are there to support you too.
That's it for today.   I have to start writing emails to trucking companies to advise them on route of travel for both routes, and approximate numbers.  This is something I started seven years ago, and will keep doing every year.  If it helps one driver to be kept from being held up then it is worth it.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lots of bikes on the road

In the last two weeks I have been in nine different states, and have seen lots of bikes on the road, some in groups of more than five, and some twos and threes.  In Texas I saw a group riding north on I-35 that looked very tight, and riding in a formation. I could not tell if it was a club, or a Patriot Guard mission, or just some folks practicing for the Run, but they looked good.  Very good.  There are a lot of billboards out there reminding folks to look twice for bikes and bikers cause we are everywhere.   Just a reminder to my friends that ride, keep your eyes open, and concentrate on what you are doing, because you are almost guaranteed that the big trucks and four wheelers (aka cages) are not paying attention to you.  A biker that is aware of what is going on around him will make it where he is going a lot safer, than one that is not aware.   Remember those cages will not see you until after they hit you, then they will try to blame you for being in their way, so please stay aware, stay upright and visible.  Slowing down a little will help too.

Thanks everyone for reading these words, I will be updating the Runs progress, even though I won't be able to go all the way this year.  I have hopes of joining my Brother and his Wife at Goodland, KS and then going at least as far as Saint Louis, but I still do not know, an probably won't know till the kickstand is up.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Time to Start writing again....or Ludlow to Needles...98 miles that gets to me

On Sunday I drove I-40 east out of Bartstow, CA.  and like always, at least since 2007, I tuned my radio to Sirius 60's on 6, for this stretch of road.  It can be pretty boring, nothing to look at but scrub bushes, cacti, and rocks.  As usual there was not much traffic so I sort of let my mind wander with the songs.  I was remembering the toughest motorcycle ride I ever did.  In May of 2007 I rode this section as escort to the RFTW missing man. This is a formation at the front of the pack, and a lot of folks think it is the easiest place to ride in a pack of 600+ motorcycles.  Those folks have never done it, or they would not think like that.  2007 was my fourth Run, and my third All the Way trip.  I requested to ride the missing man formation early, and really did not know if I was even going to be able to do it until that day.  The coordinator had told me that he wanted to have me do it from Ludlow to Needles, but that he would confirm it the leg before so that I could get out of the pack and get into position at the Ludlow fuel stop.   Normally I ride in the fourth platoon, no matter which platoon is in that slot, so that I can communicate with trucks, and relay communication from the front of the pack to the back.  Krazy Karl was doing this job during this leg (he does it way better than I do anyway, his radio is better, and folks listen when he talks.  He says I only have two moving parts and the same stuff comes out of both of them.  I will let the reader fill in the blanks here, one part is a three letter word, and the other is a five letter word.  He is probably right by the way.)
So I got into position right behind the Route Coordinator, and in front of the main chaplain, and Honey Buns, the Missing Man Coordinator, gave me a rundown on what was expected of me.  He then said that he would be watching me and would give me hand signals in my mirror, to watch for them.  Then he told me something that I will never forget "This is a tough spot to ride in, things happen in this formation , sometimes they are good sometimes they are bad, but do not worry I will take care of you, you will do fine."
I sat there on my bike waiting for the "Five Minutes" call ( this usually means the pack is rolling in two or three minutes by the way) and I remember thinking, what the heck is he talking about?   Things happen?  What could that mean?
Well the first thing I did was turn my CB radio off, did not need the distraction especially since I had just been told "things happen in this spot".  I thought I I had turned my satellite radio off too, but I had not, it just did not have any signal where we were sitting.   Then "Five Minutes" came and went and we were rolling.  About ten minutes late my satellite radio started receiving, and it was tuned to 60's on 6.   I was not really listening, I was concentrating on holding my interval and speed with Hammer (Ron Young), and in that concentration I started to feel like there was a bike next to me doing the same.  It was the strangest feeling I have ever had.  There was no bike there, but there was a well the only word I can use to describe it is a presence next to me.  It felt good, and I have never felt safer at anytime on my motorcycle.  The only riding I do is Run For The Wall, and that equates to a little over 6800 miles a year.  I get my practice riding out to LA, and I am pretty good at riding in the pack, but I also enjoy the job I have (more on that in a later post).  But this stretch, it was about 90 miles, maybe a little more, or a little less, was the most intense riding I have ever done.  Not because of the road, but because of the feeling that I could not make any mistakes, and that I had to be perfect because all the folks behind me were riding because of that one missing motorcycle, that for some reason seemed to be there, a little out of phase with us, but there never the less.
Some folks say FNG's should be the ones doing this, others say it should be Nam Vets, and still others think it should be only experienced riders. As for me it does not matter, some one is going to do it.  All I can say is that they better be ready for the toughest ride in their life, because that missing man is watching too, and thanking each and every one of us for not forgetting.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Run for the Wall

First heard this song in 2005, and I for one will never forget. Thanks Joey, and may God Bless all of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, and Coast Guardsmen. They fight so that we can be free.

Run For The is a mission not a party not a rally. You do not have to like it you just have to do it

In 2004 my younger Brother Bob called me, and he was happy and excited.  This was not strange, but simply amazing.  We had not really gotten along well for years prior to this for many reasons.  He told me that I needed to do a motorcycle ride with him.  I did not even have a motorcycle at the time.  I got the web address from him and took a look.   My wife looked at it too and told me that I should do this.  Well I hemmed and hawed for months.  I looked at bikes, but had no idea what to get, or if I would even be able to do this trip with my Brother.  I told him it sounded like it was for Viet Nam Vets, and I am not one of those, even though he is.  He then told me that the guy that was leading the pack in 04 had a hat that read "I wasn't there but I still care."   Well that and finding a bike that I could afford settled it.  My Wife had already booked rooms from Colorado to DC, and decided that she and my Dad, aka The Old Marine, would be going along and meet up with us in Mount Vernon Il.  Well I showed up in Colorado two days before we, my Brother and I were to meet up with the run.  He had arranged for a private one on one Motorcycle Safety Advanced Riders course for the two of us, and then he and I rode around a bit before we met a group and rode out to meet the Run. 
I had no idea what I was getting myself into  (This ride should have a warning label on it that reads "Caution this is a mission and if you participate in any part of it you will be hooked")  I immediately felt welcome as an FNG (Fun New Guy) even though when I was in the Air Force that term was pretty negative, here it felt good.   My Brother had only gone from LA to Colorado the previous year, so we both had no idea what to expect.  He knew what the riding would be like, and his advice and help made it easier.  There were wild moments, like in Kansas when a Day Rider without a helmet got hit by a construction cone and debris from a concrete saw and went down hard right next to me in a construction zone.  Then there was Kansas City, wow what a rush.  For my friends that experienced the "Topeka Turn Around" in 2011 Kansas City in 2005 was a lot worse.  At leas in 2011 we stayed together as a pack.  In 2004 the leader missed an exit because the Road Guard couldn't get posted in the right spot due to construction.  The leader kept going, and the pack simply exploded, riders that knew the correct route took it, those of us that didn't simply kept going straight on I-70.  My Brother and I could hear the leader on the radio advising his speed and location.  We took off at a high rate of speed (sometimes hitting triple digits) to catch him, but got sane quick and slowed down and the pack reformed a little smaller but eventually we all ended up where we needed to be.
After this incident one rider came up to me in Wentzville MO and gave me a hug and told me that he was so happy to see me in front of him cause he knew I had that radio and would know where to go.  I never told him that I was as lost as he was, I just smiled and said something about it was a good thing we were there in one piece.
During that first trip I heard a lot of Trucks cussing us, and wondering what we were doing blocking up the highway like that.  One of the said something like "Sure wish I was rich like that so I could rally and party like those clowns are."   J.R. Franklin came across the radio with the following answer (it may not be word for word, but it is close and I remember it well because in the last 8 years I have repeated it like a script thousands of times) "Driver we know we are a spectacle, we do not mean to be, most of theses folks would walk across the country if they had to to make people like you aware that not everyone came home from Viet Nam.  But this is not a Rally, it is not a Party, hell it is not even a fun ride.  It is a mission, and like all missions you do not have to like it, you just have to do it."
Well J.R. was leading the pack so he had to stay on a different channel than 19 most of the time.  I took it upon myself to relay that little message to anyone that would listen from Kansas City to D.C.   There were about 5 days left on the 10 day trip at that point, and it took 3 days for the hate and animosity to become praise and admiration for our mission.   I also called in to Claire B. Lang's Dialed in show on XM radio cause I was a regular caller, and Claire actually supported us.  The next year she interviewed me for about 15 minutes, and that interview was replayed 4 or 5 times.  That really got the word out. 
In 2007 I became more than just a guy that talked on the CB radio, I actually had a two man team, Krazy
I got my road name in 2007 too.  Riding into Angel Fire New Mexico I got hit by a big truck, and sort of bounced off it.  Originally (and I still think it is) my name was to be "Dances with Semi's"  and some called me Semi Slayer (it seems the truck I bounced off of pulled over around the next curve to let the bikes by and got stuck in the dirt on the shoulder and was towed away)  but Bounce sort of stuck, and Clyde (that is the name I had given my motorcycle in 2005 when I first got him) liked it too.  $3200 worth of damage to the bike, and all I did was duct tape the side bag, and straighten out the shifter and crash bar, then rode on to DC and back home to Wisconsin.  Say what you want to about Yamahas, they are one tough bike.  Oh and I am one lucky rider too.

So any way for those of you that read this remember Run For The Wall is a Mission.  It is not a party, it is not a rally, and after the first year it is rewarding but it is a tough ride.  You do not have to like it, you just have to do it.  If we stop riding across the country to make people aware that 17000 plus folks are still not back from Viet Nam, and thousands more are still in Korea, and the Pacific, and Europe, unaccounted for, our Government will forget those that gave their all for this countries freedoms.

Never Forget.  Will I be there this year?  It does not look like it.  My wife is ill, and my job has changed a lot, and I need to keep it.  Will I support the Run, forever.  I will call in to the usual truck shows and let the drivers know we have two routes and one mission, and beg them to protect my friends especially the FNG's that have never ridden in a ride like this, absolutely.  Formation riding is tough, but in a pack of over 500 bikes it is inherently dangerous, and safe at the same time, as there are safety in the shear numbers.
Will I worry about the folks on the Run, no, I will pray that they are safe, but they have a great leader this year, and he will accomplish his mission of safely getting everyone from LA to DC.  Will there be mistakes made, probably, but I pray that no one gets hurt, and that the FNG's get the bug that I did.  If there is anyway that I can be there I will be there, but for now it will be only in spirit.  Thanks to everyone that has praised me, or thanked me or even just put up with me over the years.  I hope someone will step up and take over the job I created.  If they do I will gladly send them notes, and the SOP that I wrote and presented to the BOD so many years ago.
Run For The Wall is the largest longest Motorcycle Event in the world (this is recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records). This event, no Mission, involves thousands of volunteers and riders, it costs  $20.00 to register for the 10 days of the ride (this fee is the same if you start on day 1 or day 9) and it costs time, and gas money, and hotel costs.  If you camp, at least on the Central Route, there is no place that charges a fee. It can be done with a little planning and saving.  I sold my truck this July, and the deal I have now will not allow me to do it this year.  I will be back, because I promised a few folks that I would do this until everyone came home.  The folks I promised have their name carved in black granite, and there are over 50,000 of them. They and the thousands that are still unaccounted for are reason enough to do this run. They are the reason for the Mission, ride safe stay upright and visible my friends.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sorry I have not written much this year

I was just noticing that there are still folks out there that have been looking at this blog.  My Sister-In-Law calls them my rants.  Well she is probably right, she has been smart enough to keep my Brother out of trouble.  I just have not really had a lot of time lately to write.  I rode Clyde last in May, and have not even seen that darn bike since then.  He is in really good care and has been getting ridden regularly by a friend of mine.  He needs two new tires, and probably an oil change and tune up before this May. 
The other day I met a Legion Rider at the Petro Truck Stop outside Kingman Arizona.  I mentioned the Run to him, and he told me that he had heard of it.  I told him to check out the forum.  His Legion Riders Group organizes one of the Over Pass displays we ride under, so he knows about the Run, he stated that he thought he should do it.  He was a little surprised when I told him that he could probably do the whole thing for less than a $1000.00 if he planned on camping.

I started thinking about that.  The Run doesn't really cost anything but time and a little cash.  For me the mission itself if pretty important.  Reading and posting on the forum for can be fun, and there are so many new folks posting every day.  I look back on the seven years that I have done this run, and actually its eight years cause I did things in 2010 to support them even though I could not make the trip that year.  All seven rides were good, and I enjoyed them.

Here is a warning to any and all that participate in Run For The Wall, it is an addicting thing, and if you participate even in one leg, eventually you will be back and do more and more. If you ever join us your life will be changed for the good forever.  The folks that do the Run are one big family.  Sometimes dysfunctional but a family that loves and cherishes all its members. That is a good thing.
We cannot let our leaders forget the people that have been left behind.  This will be the twenty fifth year of Rolling Thunder, and the twenty fourth Run For the Wall.  Thank you to all that have served our country, and all that have kept our mission alive all these years.  Till they all come home.  Never forget Freedom is not Free.  Some day we won't have to ride to D.C. anymore because our demand for an accounting and return of the missing will be answered.  Until then we ride, and that to is a good thing.