Category Archives: Veterans

The Dreary Decline of Winter and the Optimistic Yearnings of Spring

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A blizzard roars outside causing the house to creek with fear, the wind is relentless. My hope is that our pipes will not freeze this cold squally evening. With no electricity, I am on battery power and hope to put thoughts on paper before my laptop fades away. Just a few days ago the roads cleared enough to take my cycle for much-needed maintenance ride. It was a cold day, but that short trip on two wheels brought needed joy in the form of adrenaline to my mind and body. Winter never dies, it just fades away in Colorado. It’s mid-March, I thought the worst was behind us, but Old Man Winter is not done tormenting my soul. Motorcyclist are not bound by the rules of society or cultural norms, but a polar vortex will surely stop us in our tracks.
My hope was that the riding season was upon us, but I know now that my dream was just a fleeting glimpse of reality. Hope can be a wild beast to ride, but it’s a ride worth living. Hope drives us to find a better tomorrow and uplifts our spirits during time of need. Hope is one of the greatest motivational forces and is an immensely powerful force of good which can dictate positive action.
Another survival tactic that one can rely on is to dive into the situation fully immersed without dwelling upon the situation and its many negative characteristics. The Phrase “Embrace the Suck” epitomizes this theory of living. When you are in a situation where life is just bleak and miserable, and one does not have any control of external influences than sometimes the best track is to dive into the misery and let it become you. It’s about not wishing for a change in the environment but finding the good within it. If you are willing to open your eyes, most situations have something that one can be thankful for. “Embrace the Suck” goes deeper then that; one must be willing to fully commit to the situation they are in and put forth all effort to enjoy it without a logical approach of reasoning. It’s a mindset, a way to propel yourself forward by throwing yourself into the ugly reality and enjoying it.

Keep the rubber side down, the sun shall shine again as the new dawn approaches.

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Cost-Conscious Adventure Riders Unite

maxresdefaultYamaha has announced that the long-awaited and often hyped Ténéré 700 will be available for purchase in the latter half of 2020. For the last two years we have been hearing about this miraculous miracle on two wheels and we patiently waited for news on a release date. During a recent press conference on the matter, it appears that the long-awaited motorcycle won’t be available in the United States for a long while. This must be the longest over extended marketing plan of any motorcycle ever produced. I get it Yamaha, after putting a ton of resources into the design, testing and production of this coveted motorcycle, the last thing you want is a flop on your hands. With that said, I am not sure such an elongated marketing scheme is the answer. At this point, I will be looking to buy an electric scooter by the time the Ténéré 700 gets released due to old age and a bad hip. If you’re so worried about the success of this anticipated product then how about sell this cycle for an affordable price. It used to be that Japanese Manufactured bikes were a great source to find a quality product for a reasonable price. Don’t get me wrong, I believe the diligent preparation and hard work of the engineers at Yamaha will produce an amazing motorcycle, but the tea leaves point to the fact that most of us won’t be able to afford it. Now, I am a self-described frugal motorcycle owner, so what is high-priced to me may be reasonable to many others. The introductory rate in the United States has not been made official, but rumors put the cost around $11,000. I was having illusions of grandeur and dreamed the price would be under $9000.00. I am confident now that I will not be able to afford this adventure behemoth lap of luxury.
I clearly understand that if you want performance and quality that price will be at a premium and honestly, I have always been ok with that. When one looks at the Adventure Touring Segment what options does one have for a motorcycle over 400 CC’s that can get you off the beaten path. Now that the Kawasaki 650 KLR has stopped production the only other option is the Royal Enfield Himalayan. I love my Himalayan, it’s a true bike for the salt of the earth but its lack of top end speed has its limitations on the highway. Beggars can’t be choosers but highway driving on major US Interstates can be tricky when lacking power to navigate traffic at speed.
About a year ago, I gave up my cruiser so I could explore not only pavement but dirt, trail and mountain pathways. I have not second guessed this decision, in fact I can genuinely confirm that my love of motorcycling has never been more robust. With that said, I do miss the modest cost options for motorcycles in the cruiser segment. In 18 years of riding, I owned several motor bikes and never once had to stretch my wallet beyond reasonable necessity to afford a fun exciting ride. Of course, Adventure Touring Motorcycles that can have the chops to wrestle the dirt and trails will by their very nature cost more, but I wish there was some sort of economic compromise that could be an option. In 2020 Royal Enfield will release a 650 CC version of its Himalayan and I also heard rumors that there may be Scrambler Version of its Continental GT. Both these models may provide us Adventure Riders with a few choices which I am grateful. The question I have is, why is Royal Enfield the only Manufacture giving the American Public a cost feasible Adventure bike over 400 CC’s?
If there is no time to enjoy a new motorcycle because I need to work two jobs to afford it, then there is no point of buying one in the first place. I will stick with my Himalayan where despite the lack of top end speed, I can conquer any trail I desire and still have money to buy gas and lunch while tearing up the dirt.

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Arizona Dreaming

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Arizona can be that early winter destination you are looking for. I have been immersed in cool nights, warm days and have even seen a few clouds drifting, as if on vacation in the arid desert sky. Sedona is the place that sticks out the most from my travels through Arizona. It is nestled in a mountainous, mesa filled topography that makes one feel like they are roaming upon ancient sacred lands. There is a certain feeling or vibe that emanates from the ground that induces pure thought and elusive peace. It’s just a great place to dwell upon thoughts long lost. The residents of Sedona call this energy, “vortexes” and after speaking with them, I found that tourist travel from throughout the globe to visit Sedona to bath within the energy that dwells in this majestic place. I spoke with my sister the day I visited Sedona. She asked if our father who has long since passed away would have liked the place? I immediately replied that I had a feeling that he visited Sedona at one time and thoroughly enjoyed it and suggested that he may have traveled through Sedona while hitch hiking across the country when he was a young man. It was just a feeling that was within my mind, not based upon any previous conversation I had with him. Her reply back to me was that both times she visited Sedona, that she felt that my father was along with her for the journey. It was just a spontaneous conversation that occurred between siblings via a text but now that I dwell upon it, both our feelings on the matter give that conversation substance and made my visit to Sedona that much more special.

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Do You Have a Motorcycling Identity?

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When you tell people about your passion for riding, do you describe that you’re a motorcyclist or do explain that you ride a specified brand of motorcycle? I always thought of myself as a greater part of the two-wheel community rather than identifying with a certain segment of the motorcycling culture. I have never limited my riding companions to a certain style of bike or brand; my theory has always been, all are welcome. There are so many genres of motorcycles out there, its hard to keep up with the many riding styles. Cruisers, sport touring, duel sport, standard, adventure, and crotch rockets, are just a few. Over the last 18 years, I have ridden mostly cruisers. The relax riding position, comfort and ease of use fitted my personality and I have enjoyed the ride so much that I never thought of trying something different. On a trip last year, we rode approximately thirteen miles on a dirt road up a moderate incline to find a ghost town hidden in the mountains. My friend was riding an adventure tourer that was dirt ready. I watched him tearing up the path and weaving in and out of side trails on his cycle and was mesmerized by the amount of freedom which his cycle provided. He was not confined to a roadway; a whole new world was available for the taking on a duel sport motorcycle. That was the moment I knew I wanted to try riding in dirt, all I needed was knobby tires and the courage to go off roading. Being inquisitive, I began exploring duel sport motorcycling and found that I knew absolutely nothing about this style of riding. During my research, I learned about the Trans-America Trail or TAT. This is a rural, scenic pathway and consist of mostly unpaved trails which leads west from Tennessee and maneuvers its way to the Pacific Ocean. From riding hard pack farm roads, to single track mountain passes, this trail defines “variety of terrain”. The TAT was the brain child of Sam Correro and through his hard work as well as countless volunteers, one can ride this trail for months on end with the guidance of maps and GPS downloads. It took almost 12 years to link the remote pathways together to formulate this continuous trail system. What totally surprised me is the TAT runs directly through Colorado and is located within 45 miles of my home. How could I have not known of this wondrous trail system that caters to motorcyclist and it sits in my back yard. I am ashamed to admit it but was guilty of being pigeonholed into one certain genre of motorcycling and I realized that there is so much more to learn about our two wheeled community.
One does not have to give up their preferred style of riding but that does not mean you can’t learn and explore other aspects of riding. I went an extreme route and traded in my cruiser for a Royal Enfield Himalayan.  Here are a few photos of my recent trip into the mountain trails in Colorado.

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Royal Enfield Himalayan- Rocky Mountain Adventure

Riding my RE Himalayan through Rocky Mountain National Park was amazing!  A perfect two-day ride with amazing views!  During the trip, I actually saw 6 moose.  The key is getting up early and look for creeks or shallow ponds, the moose love that terrain.  I actually think the low volume engine of the Himalayan helped me find these mammoth creatures.  In the video below around the minute mark, you will see two moose chilling near a flowing creek.  It should be noted that I filmed them near Winter Park, Colorado on my way back to the Denver Metro Area.  The Himalayan proved to eat up the many dirt and hard packed gravel roads that I carved up.

Also, I am really loving the nostalgic thump rhythm of the single cylinder heart beat of my Himalayan.  Its slow and steady beat helps my mind to wander in never-ending directions as I journey through the trail……………….


“Hold the Ground at All Hazards”- The Hill Called Little Round Top

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Little Round Top is hallowed ground; it’s a place where courage, death, and valor met on a bloody hill. It’s a place where the extreme heroic actions of a few, helped extend the reach of freedom for those in bondage. Union men defended that small knoll and their sacrifice literally saved a young nation. Little Round Top served as the last Southern anchor point of the Union Army on the Second Day of the Battle of Gettysburg. If the defending soldiers were overwhelmed by the Confederate forces at this critical location, then the Union Armies Left Flank would fall. The Confederates would then gain the high ground and like dominoes, the Union Army would have toppled upon its self. If the Union Army was routed at Gettysburg in the Northern State of Pennsylvania, Confederate General Robert Lee would be free to march his Army south uncontested and force President Lincoln to capitulate to the Confederate Cause.
On the early morning of July 2, 1863, the high ground on the Union Force’s far left flank laid undefended from an impending Confederate attack. Without orders and on his own initiative, Union Colonel Strong Vincent, knowing the vital importance of the position ordered his Third Brigade to occupy and defend the high ground at a small hill called Little Round Top. The order to secure this vital position was given to the 20th Maine Volunteers Commanded by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain. Only a year previous, Colonel Chamberlain was a Professor of Rhetoric at Bowdoin College in Maine. He spoke more than 8 languages fluently but had little military experience and only became the Commander of the Infantry Company a month previously. Colonel Chamberlain was given the order from Colonel Strong Vincent to, “hold the ground at all hazards”. Within minutes of taking their positions on that little rocky hill, the 20th Maine was attacked by the 15th Alabama, Commanded by Colonel William Oates. Multiple attacks by the Confederates were thrown up that hill and were repulsed by the Union Troops. After each attack, the Confederates shifted their forces to flank and overwhelm the 20th Maine. After many assaults on their position, Union Forces found themselves stretched thin and without ammunition to defend against another attack. Colonel Chamberlain’s orders were clear, there was to be no surrender. Without hope of reinforcements, little ammunition nor men to hold the line, the situation was dire. At that moment, the Professor from Bowdoin College gave the order to those left in his Command to equip bayonets. With no other options available, Colonel Joshua Chamberlain issued the order to attack down the blood drenched hill. This action served to confuse and disorient the Confederate Forces and turned the tide of the battle. The Confederate forces never recovered from the Chamberlain’s bayonet charge and were driven from the field saving the high ground and the Union’s left flank.
Colonel William Oats, Commander of the 15th Alabama Infantry who lost half his force on that gory day explained, “the dead literally covered the ground”. Union Army Colonel Strong Vincent who ordered the defense of Little Round Top was mortally wounded while rallying his men. He was promoted to General while on his death bed before succumbing to his wounds. Colonel Joshua Chamberlain survived the three-day Battle of Gettysburg and continued to lead men into battle. At the Second Battle of Petersburg, Colonel Chamberlain was severely wounded and was suspected to die of his wounds and was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. He even out maneuvered death and survived the wound to live till age 85. After the war he served as the Governor of Maine as well as President of Bowdoin College.

The History that can still be felt at Little Round Top is palatable to the senses. Take the time to wonder the many monuments dedicated to all that fought there. My suggestion is to read the book “Killer Angeles” by Michael Shaara. Its not a long read but is informative beyond measure and written in such a way that is pure historical bliss. Reading the book will help you acclimatize yourself to the many facets of the Battle of Gettysburg and will give you additional information to help you more enjoy your visit.

 

 

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Do You Have a Motorcycle Hero?

Our everyday Heroes do not get the recognition they so deserve.  These giants among men deserve to be celebrated; their stories should be shared with others.  Their courage, triumphs, struggles and tenacity should serve as a moral compass for others to follow.   Personally I have many heroes that have made a difference in my life and helped enhance my world view.  From my mother who always supported me too Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain who commanded the 20th Maine and saved the Union Army at Little Round Top during the battle of Gettysburg.

Today I wanted to discuss my Motorcycling Hero, his name is Pierlucio Tinazzi.  In 1999 in the mighty Alps of Italy lies the Mount Blanc Tunnel.  At the time, Pierlucio Tinazzi, was a security guard with the primary duties of keeping traffic flowing through the tunnel.  When he heard fire alarms from the tunnel he jumped onto his BMW K75 Motorcycle and headed into the flames.  Tinazzi made numerous trips into the fires that day, each time leading wayward victims to safety on his motorcycle.  On his 5th trip into the depths of the inferno, he came across an unconscious truck driver who he could not get on his motorcycle to drive to safety.   Instead of leaving the unconscious man, he dragged him into a fire safe room within the tunnel system hoping that they could survive the blaze.  Unfortunately, the fire lasted for more than 30 days and both perished under Mount Blanc.  Pierlucio Tinazzi was credited for saving 12 people that fateful day on his motorcycle.  His courage under duress is praiseworthy but his conviction to save others in need is implausible.  His actions that fateful day are heroic and are a credit upon our two-wheel lifestyle.   

Do any of you have a Motorcycling Hero?

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I Took This Photo and Still Can Not Figure Out Why I Like It