Was able to visit the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument near Coolidge AZ. There is not much left to this ancient Hohokam Village but what remains is rather impressive given its 700 year battle against the relentless desert sun. Visiting sites like this give me pause to dwell upon the many footsteps that have tread upon the land throughout our human evolution. It is unfathomable to comprehend the amount of skill, ingenuity, and complete dedication to survival it took for these industrious people to not only survive in such a hostile arid climate but thrive.
I am always so proud of myself when I go to IKEA and buy a pre-fabricated table and successfully put it together. The Hohokam Peoples, hunted where animals did not dwell, grew crops where water did not exist and built a village with little to no natural resources other than dirt and tenacity. Portions of this historic settlement still exist as a monument to those who have refused to give up even when all seemed lost and hope was beyond reason. I can’t help but to think of the words of Winston Churchill who said, “Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
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.
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.
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?
I Took This Photo and Still Can Not Figure Out Why I Like It