Category Archives: Veteran

Love the Ride for the Pure Joy of Life and the Never Ending Dream

shark

I knew that it would be another tough day at the office filed with turbulence and strife.  My commute is about an hour and felt a profound satisfaction that my hectic work day would start and end on my motorcycle.  During my ride, I dwelled upon the end of winter and the beginning of a new season.

As the sun peaks over the horizon and shares its warm vibrant rays, I realize that winter has retreated north.  The scent of new life has permeated through the plains and mountains and one can almost smell the land coming alive from a winter’s desolate exile.  The rivers are more vibrant, fed by melting snow and the birds chatter among the trees in an epic devotional of the miracles of spring.   For motorcyclist living in a multifaceted climate, this time of year represents an open door to freedom which removes limitations to our ability to ride.   The warm air and gentle breeze call us from afar to find new paths to places rarely visited.

Motorcycling in spring is like waking up to find that one’s awe-inspiring fantasy has indeed become a reality.  Seize the moment and ride.  Find a new adventure, research the wonders of history in your backyard, visit a friend long-lost, and cherish the majestic environment that only spring can display.  We are our own leading restraint in finding happiness in this world; don’t let any obstacle get in your way.   Now is the time to leave the chaos of life behind and chase smiles and grins on black top covered dreams.

We live a life of risk and rewards.  Every day may be the last day but we are always planning for tomorrow.  It’s a life of balance and one must never lose touch with rationale thought but an occasional jaunt living on the edge builds character.  Find time to live and breathe the fresh air of an uncluttered mind.  Focus on the Ride and let the road be your long-lost muse.

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn” –  Hal Borland

happiness

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American Travesty Tour, Research before the Ride- Sand Creek Massacre and the Granada War Relocation Center

change behavior

I am in the process of planning a ride through Southeast Colorado which I am calling the American Travesty Tour.  I try to research the historical significance of places that I plan on visiting on my motorcycle.  I find that a bit of inquiry before the trip, makes the sites I see more vibrant and impactful.   Planning this ride really made me reflect upon the concept of the duel Characteristic of Man.  The notion that an individual can be both good and evil is not all that easy to swallow until one really dwells upon the deep unending depth of an individual’s soul.  Were all capable of doing wondrous positive things as well as committing horrific acts of evil.  What is an even more bazaar is that individuals often can do these things in conjunction with one another.  Researching the historical significance of the Sand Creek Massacre and the Granada War Relocation Center in Southeast Colorado put into perspective the wrongs that my own country has committed.  These are not the only sins that burden my own cultural identity but give me a sense of what we are all capable of doing if we do not live with an ethical and spiritual conscious.  As a combat veteran, I can tell you that I am proud to be an American but one also must keep their hearts open to learning opportunities that we can learn from the past.

On November 29th 1864, America lost its moral compass when a force of Colorado US Volunteer Calvary under the command of US Army Colonel John Chivington attacked a peaceful village of Cheyenne and Arapaho Native Americans.  The encampment was filled with mostly women and children, since the men were out hunting food for the upcoming winter. The band of Indians were requested to move to the Sand Creek area of Southeast Colorado and were guaranteed their safety by the American Government.    In their village flew an American Flag along with a White Flag underneath the stars and stripes which was raised by the tribe to show their peaceful nature.  Most adult Cheyenne and Arapaho men in the encampment were either sick or too old to attend the hunt.  There is no real accurate causality list but it is safe to report that more than 100 Arapaho and Cheyenne Native Americans were killed, mostly women and children.  This attack became known as the Sand Creek Massacre.  This blood bath lead to further violence throughout the region when countless reprisals were made against white settlers in response to the Sand Creek Massacre by Native American Warriors.     It’s a classic sad tale of hate begetting hate.   Not all the military personal under Colonel Chivington participated in the massacre.  Captain Soule who was in charge of Company D of the 1st Colorado Calvary ordered his men to stand down and did not attack when given the charge orders.  Captain Soule latter testified against Colonel Chivington.  On April 23, 1865 Silas Soule was murdered in Denver, CO while on duty as a Provost Marshal.  Evidence suggests that his untimely death was payback for his eye witness testimony against Colonel Chivington.

Granada War Relocation Center, also known Camp Amache was a Japanese Relocation Camp located just outside Granada, CO in Southeast Colorado.  In the spring of 1942, Japanese Americans were rounded up and forced from their homes and made to move to one of ten such Japanese Relocation Camps.  Individuals were only allowed to bring one bag to the relocation centers and were forced to sell their valuables and property including pets and livestock before getting forced out of their homes.  It’s hard to fathom such fear and hate which lead to such an abysmal act.  While their family members were stuck in War Re-Location Camps, Japanese Americans were fighting the fascists in Europe.  The US Army 442nd Regiment was made up of mostly men of Japanese ancestry and was the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in the history of American Warfare.  The 442nd Infantry Regiment earned 9486 Purple Hearts and was awarded eight Presidential Unit Citations.  Their motto was “Go for Broke” and they lived up to that creed with twenty-one of their members being awarded the Medal of Honor.

I never have posted my pre-ride research before an upcoming ride but felt so affected by what I learned that I wanted to put in words and share.  I plan on taking this journey in the next few months and will hopefully be able to share more information.

442nd


A Motorcycle Mindset- Exploits beyond the Plateau

sad-dog

Have you ever noticed the fact that motorcyclist tend to be individuals that normally diverge from the status quo.  When everyone else goes straight down the road of life, motorcyclist travel a different path.  We tend to have eccentric demeanors.  Our focus is not laser pointed unless were deeply entrenched into a journey on two wheels.  What we lack in focus we gain in individual perspective.  Motorcyclist may lack money and fancy houses but we have awesome stories of phenomenal substance.

Motorcyclist have a profound appreciation of life outside societal norms.  We tend to believe in hard work and dedication to family but our minds drift through the surreal in search of harmony and bliss.  The ride is not just about speed and adrenaline, it’s about searching our senses and our environment in a quest to find what is real in this life.   Don’t get me wrong, I love the wondrous views and the remote sense of fear as I take that curve a little too quick but it’s more than that.  It’s about finding our own path and dictating our own terms in a world where individual thought is discouraged.  Our continual search takes us all too a different spectrum of our environment.  Our quest will never lead us to the same answers, were just too darn individualistic to share that same route.

I have been working so much lately in an effort to do what is right for my family.  I have no issue with my job but sometimes I feel that maybe it takes me away from what is real about life.  In Denver, we have a huge homeless problem.  Some of these folks are surely caught up in despair and bad luck.  The gruesome cycle of poverty is no joke and I feel fortunate that I am still able to work and support my family.  With that said, every once in a while as I pass a person I think is homeless and they look at me and I swear THEY THINK, “you look at me like I am homeless but you’re the one I pity.  I may have no wealth or monetary substance but you are living a life of real poverty.”  I never want to be homeless.  I write this while camping in the mountains of Colorado in January.  Its bloody cold out, my fingertips feel like little rocks as I type away at the keys.  My hands and digits are stone cold and I shiver as my toes ask warmth but there is none to be found.  I camp in the cold typing on my laptop knowing that I have a warm home awaiting me after my winter camping festivities which provides me eternal security beyond recognition.  Homeless people do not have this option and this simple tragedy keeps me awake at night. Wow, I never want to be homeless and cold with nowhere to go. Most homeless surely do not want to be in their predicament and are looking for solutions to meet their immediate needs.  I grieve for these individuals and hope they can find warmth and security.   As bad as being homeless may be, is it possible that a few people choose to be homeless?  We live such complicated lives and through simplification of our environment our minds become less cluttered with problems and worries. Henry David Thoreau wrote, “As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” I believe that there are a few individuals that choose this life style.  These few persons, give up everything in their search for an answer.  It’s an ALL IN Approach in their path to find knowledge.  This is a journey I never want to follow but I respect their conviction and courage.

One of the best books of insight I ever read was a novel called Siddhartha.  It’s a spiritual word fest of enlightenment.  When I was younger, this book answered many of my questions about what makes an individual truly rich.  I still very much respect this book for its wisdom but I have found in my declining years that answers of this magnitude can never be answered by a book but must be answered by the individual seeking guidance in the matter.  The answers are all relative and change with every individual.   I believe that books will never truly answer our questions but are needed to help us find wisdom so we can answer those questions ourselves.

Wow that was a tangent, I think I finally have succumbed to hypothermia.  My toes are now numb and silenced.  My hope is that I may be able to thaw them in my car.   My fingers are now in a frozen state and lack the manual dexterity to hit the correct keys.  It’s their way to punish me for writing in the snowy cold mountains in the middle of the night without any heat.  One last thought, I do believe that there is something about riding that helps us open our minds to answers and wisdom.  Maybe it’s a Zen Like state comparable to meditation that our minds transcend to while riding?  All I know is that mind works differently when riding in a positive way and for that I am thankful.

my-big-at-the-beach


Hope Lives for Two Wheels

Keep the faith people, it’s already January. Soon the road will shed its winter coat.
The cold and ice tear at my soul as I degrade to a frigid mental state. This is the pain of my discontent when it’s not feasible to ride on two wheels.
I don’t weep alone, my cycle weeps for an adventurous sojourn and dreams of an escape through the vast open horizon. I can feel her urge to break her bonds of entrapment and together we wait.
We wait for the sun to rise.
We wait for the daylight to come alive with a morning yawn and stretch its life to brighten our lives.
Soon the darkness will be recede and our day will come to ride again.

Every Day Should be Veterans Day

We live in the microcosms of our own lives, and we rarely self reflect on the ills of our fellow man. Every day we should think about those less fortunate than ourselves and hopefully take action to assist others in need. On November 11th we celebrate the service of our Veterans. It is my belief that Veterans should be honored on a daily basis not just once a year.
Veterans Day gets its history from the end of World War I. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Germans signed an Armistice to end the war, which was supposed to end all wars.
Legislation was passed in 1938 to make Armistice Day a National Holiday dedicated to the cause of world peace and gave tribute to World War I Veterans as well. In 1954, the United States officially made Armistice Day into Veterans Day.
Veterans Day is a special time to remember deceased veterans as well as thank and honor living veterans who served honorably in the military. Memorial Day honors service members who died in service to their country.


Why Do You Love Motorcycling?

Love to Rid Shirt

Why do you love to ride?  This question has been answered by millions of writers, enthusiast and bloggers throughout the last one hundred years. Songs have been inspired by the subject as well as movies made; all based upon our shared love of motorcycles. For me, the thought of the question never loses its luster. There is no wrong answer to why you love our two wheeled sport. As long as your personal reason is heartfelt, then no one can ever judge your response. The best part of this question is the desire amongst some of us to express it with such conviction and enthusiasm. The percentage of us who actually ride motorcycles is relatively few but our passion manifest its self throughout society. Yes it’s cool to be a motorcyclist but those of us who are really connected to riding care little of such trifle things. I am just another over weight middle aged balding dude who happens to ride a motorcycle but once I get on that cycle, life changes. When that engine starts my brain transcends reality. I no longer think about work deadlines, spreadsheets, mean people or silly little worries that hinder the soul. The sound of the engine drowns out all that negativity and life begins a new as the RPMs sky rocket down the road.
As we live our lives, we often get stuck in the quagmire of foolish discontent. For example, today I found a leak in my garage. There is a water leak around my chimney and I need to get it fixed. This was a real downer for me. The worry of the cost to stop the leak and to fix the interior damage stresses me and takes me down a notch. This worry is a legitimate concern and I have a responsibility to fix this issue for the welfare of my family. The problem becomes more of an issue because I will hyperfocus on this leak in my garage and if not careful will let this burden lead down a path of discontent. The cure is a ride on my cycle. Being on two wheels has the inherent ability to level set my consciousness and bounces me to a better place. When I am riding, I am no longer worried about bills and problems at home/work. All my attention is focused on listening to the sounds of the road. This is a two way conversation between your soul and environment around you. Our minds are so much attuned to the outside world because we are astutely aware of how much were exposed to the dangers of the world while on a cycle. It’s this feeling of exposure which is the reason for my love of motorcycling. There is something about putting oneself out there that make you feel the passion of life. Have you noticed that your sense of smell and hearing and sight are much more vibrant while riding? Once I get in that saddle, my awareness level peaks. It’s not exactly the same but I had a similar feeling while being deployed in combat scenarios in the Army. Ones senses just goes into overdrive and you feel that rush. That feeling is what drives me crazy about motorcycling but its more than that. When I am riding, I feel some sort of connection to the pathway set before me. So the road is not just a predestined route, it becomes integral part of the journey and is an extension of you and your motorcycle. Chasing adrenaline is part of my motorcycling experience but only a small part. Its more about that spiritual Zen like state that becomes you while riding.
Why do you love to Ride?

How I feel


A Great Long Ride

Learning

We woke up at 4am to begin our extended motorcycling trek to complete the “Colorado Classic 1000”. This BMW Riders Club sponsored event is not your typical Iron Butt Ride. Its 1000 miles in the mountains of Colorado which must be done in a 24 hour period. The preplanned route has a limited amount of highway miles, so one cannot make up for lost time with high speeds on the highway. Riding in the twisties of the Rockies is a different beast to tame when riding an endurance run. It’s not easy to increase your average speed while riding in the moonlight at 10,000 feet on a mountain pass surrounded by 3000 foot vertical cliffs that hungrily await your fall. Given the comparatively low speed one must take on the route, the challenge is definitely harder than say a jaunt from New York to Florida (about 1000 miles) on highway 95 where average speeds will be more robust. To be honest, I was doomed to failure from the beginning. The Colorado Classic 1000 was my third attempt at completing 1000 miles in 24 yours. The previous two attempts were lost in disappointment. The first being from a Hail/Tornado Storm which I hit head on in South Carolina, the other caused by a broken down Harley in New York. Luck was surely not on my side to begin this sojourn. Let me just begin by saying that the event was planned, organized and implemented in a professional manner. The route was superb. It’s hard to find a bad route in Colorado but the organizers of the Colorado Classic 1000 went above and beyond in finding a phenomenal route that severed to uplift and challenge ones spirit on two wheels. If you want to try out endurance run through the best roads in North America, then make your way to Colorado for this event. Sign up quick because they only have a certain amount of spaces available.

I normally ride solo for these types of events but this time I
took my buddy Greg on his 2003 Road King. This was his first attempt at an Iron Butt Award. We started the ride in the back of the pack poking fun at those who may have been taking this ride a little too seriously. I think I saw individuals wearing diapers so they would not have to stop to relieve
themselves. Whereas others took the challenge to seriously, we did not give the Colorado Classic 1000 the respect it deserved. Our first mistake was taking to many rest/gas stops. With each stop we were not properly disciplined to quickly get back on the road; instead we slacked off before hitting the pavement. These pit stops ate up crucial time needed and before we knew it, we found ourselves behind schedule. I made some rookie mistakes by not packing sun block, water and snacks. I assumed that there would be plenty of time to get a nice lunch/dinner but that was wishful thinking.

The sun was scorching on the day of the ride. I felt its rays eating through my soul and finally had to pull over at a Walgreens to get some sun block. I purchased the highest sun block legal in the State of Colorado. I wanted all the protection I could get so I smothered the lotion all over my bear skin including my scalp and neck. Newly protected from the Sun we took off like wild cheetahs looking to make up some time. About 15 minutes after my sun block lotion bath, my eyes began to sting. I thought the pain would work its self out so I pushed through it and kept riding. Soon after the stinging began, it quickly manifested into a painful blindness. This scenario was not cool while traveling 70 mile per hour down a river canyon road on two wheels. I was not thinking rationally because I continued to fight through the pain and lack of sight in a blind rage. Finally the blindness consumed me so I pulled over to duck my head in the river in hopes of washing away the sinister sun block out of my eyes. Thirteen years of motorcycling and I am still learning road lessons. My suggestion is to never put sun block on your body where it can eventually run into your eyes. This was a rookie mistake which cost me thirty minutes to wash out my eyes. The whole scenario was not my proudest or safest moment on two wheels.

Between the hours of 4pm and 10pm we actually made up some great time. We were on schedule to make our mandated 1000 miles by 5am if we could keep up a 45 MPH Average for our last 7 hours on the road before the deadline. Because we were behind, we drove through breakfast, lunch and dinner. We were surviving on flies, crickets and road critters which flew into our mouths during the ride. At 10pm we decided to buy some gas station road pizza which looked like cheese topped road kill. That crusty nasty pizza ended up being the greatest meal ever consumed on a road trip. Hunger has a special ability to make the worst food taste splendidly good. With full bellies, we took off into the night fully expecting to accomplish the mission to beat the race against time.

With our hunger subdued we mounted our rides not knowing what awaited us just beyond the town’s limits. Have you ever played Deer Roulette on two Wheels? Outside of Silverton, CO we were traveling up the Million Dollar Highway in pitch black conditions. On the sides of the road all you could see were deer’s eyes glowing like bright search lights in a dark sky. Then the deer would spook from our engine’s noise and would take off in the direction of their choosing. This deer crazed mad house created a Frogger Scenario on the skinny mountain pass. This situation mixed with the dread of falling down the dark foreboding cliffs lead to an adrenaline rush I have not felt for a long time. It is scary going up this mountain pass in the daylight on 4 wheels but doing in at 11pm in the pitch black on two wheels with kamikaze deer darting in and out takes the experience to a whole different level.

We got to the top of the pass and started our decent when Greg’s Harley started to back fire and sputter then without notice his lights went out. Thankfully he was riding lead, so my headlights covered his route to the nearest safe zone to pull over on this dangerous mountain pass. It’s hard to explain the precarious situation we were in unless you have been up this very perilous dark roadway. There are no streetlights or guard rails on the road; the pathway up the mountain does not have room for them. It’s just a maze of steep grades, radical curves and wondrously narrow lanes encompassed
with drop dead cliffs. It’s a great place to ride just not at midnight with a broken down Harley.

Once the Road King was safely on the edge of the road we spent about 45 minutes with our headlamps trying to fix the burdened beast.
Unfortunately her ills were beyond our limited mechanical expertise. Our only option was to drop my bags on my FJR and run two up to the nearest town to sleep off our failed mission. I made a goal to finish 1000 miles in 24 hours but there was no way I would leave a buddy stranded in no man’s land in the middle of the night. I guess we could have tried to finish the Iron Butt Ride with the both of us on my FJR but I am not that brave.
At the end of the day we had a great trip. We learned some valuable lessons which will serve us well next year in the Colorado 1000 Classic. I guarantee I will be giving it another try, so if you want to join me then sign up early and give me a shout. Colorado is Calling Your Name!!!