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THIS COMING WEEKEND!
This Memorial Day Weekend, mark your calendar for Saturday, May 25, 2013 to come to Cashiers, North Carolina and enjoy two wonderful events. The 1st Annual Cashiers Valley Poker Run and Blues Brew & BBQ.
The day will start with registration and check in at 9:00 am and last bike out at 10:30 am. Riders will begin and end their 130 mile loop at The Village Commons (the first and last pit stop) located at the intersections of Hwy 107 & Hwy 64W in Cashiers. Breakfast will be available by Wendy's during registration. This scenic route will take riders along our spectacular mountain roads making 3 other pit stops in Maggie Valley, Cherokee and Highlands before returning to the Village Green. Riders will pick up their playing cards at each of the 5 stops. Upon arriving back in Cashiers, participants will turn in their cards. There will be an award ceremony to acknowledge the winners for the best hand ($500.00 Cash), second best hand ($200.00 Cash) and worst hand ($50.00). Entry Fee for the Poker Run is $20.00/Rider which includes a box lunch sponsored by Subway.
A portion of the Poker Run will benefit Wounded Warriors Project.
The Awards Ceremony will take place at the First Annual Blues, Brew & BBQ which will begin at 5 pm. This exciting event will feature live entertainment opening with the amazingly talented Lauren Mitchell Band from Sarasota, Florida, followed by our headliner, the legendary Mac Arnold & a Plate Full O' Blues. Come hungry, food and beverages will be served. Admission to the event is free. Bring chairs and/or blankets. This will be a wonderful way to kick off the 2013 summer season. Please join us for this great event and to help support a great cause!
No coolers permitted. This event will occur Rain or Shine. No Refunds.
To register for the Poker Run, please visit:
The Little Weather Quickie for the Greater Charlotte Area
for Week of May 21-28, 2013
Tuesday 83 iso t-storms, Wednesday 82 iso t-storms, Thursday 82 scattered t-storms, Friday 74 p-cloudy, Saturday 76 p-cloudy, Sunday 77 p-cloudy, Monday 75 iso t-storms, Tuesday 78 p-cloudy (as per www.intellicast.com on Tuesday 05/21/13)
OK, I do this periodically. I give away my decades to you all by riding down Memory Lane. Oh well, I don't cover my grey either so it doesn't bother me ... plus, I get a kick out of hearing who else remembers! So this time, I'm reminiscing over telephone service. Once upon a time in a far away land, you had to use a professional to connect your calls. You couldn't just pick up the phone and dial the next state, sometimes not even the next county and certainly not across or outside of the country without the use of the "long distance operator." Today, we carry small rectangles in our pockets and call whoever whenever we want wherever they might be. Long ago and far away we'd dial 0 and someone (generally a woman ... think Lilly Tomlin!) on the other end of the line would answer "Operator" and she'd walk you through the process of reaching your cousin Bill in Oregon or help you find a florist in Jacksonville. Now, I haven't really any good reason for this discussion... just the words "long distance" sent me there. And long distance is interwoven throughout this edition of The Carolina Rider Scene....
Justin and Cody
Justin, whose wartime experiences (long distance) dramatically changed the road he travels now, introduces us to his new path in his new regular column for The Carolina Rider Scene. You probably had the honor of reading about Justin and his Service Dog Cody in the story he shared with us several weeks back. We're thrilled to offer a platform for him to reach out to fellow Veterans as a resource "hub" as he seeks to reduce the long distance many Vets feel in their lives on the home front. We welcome Justin and his amazing canine companion as a member of The Carolina Rider team!
Mike on a Bike
We have the second installment of Mike on a Bike's cross-country (long distance) journey to California and back. If you thought his first Ride Journal Entry was uneventful and you're looking for a little bit of adventure in your read, you want to read Entry #2. We're awfully glad Mike and his bike are safe after a challenging ride and keeping good thoughts for continued safe travels.
Sandy's column today covers a couple of events ... but definately not in the usual "they served beer and sandwiches and there were lots of bikes" way. Pulling from personal loss and community connections, Sandy gives us all a meaning-filled and photo-rich accounting of Marla's Ride and the antique bike show in Denton and ties it all into some historical gems of info about how women rode long distances in poor conditions way back when. Thanks for being you, Sandy!
HOGS for Haiti
Ken Small and his buddies are gonna travel over 8500 miles for a cause close to their hearts. Now that's long distance! Ken happened to send us a flyer about the upcoming effort these guys are taking on to raise funds for building a children's home in Haiti and has since provided us with some great photos of the work that's started as well as their ride plan. We're glad you wrote and look forward to hearing more about your trip, guys! They encourage anyone who wants to sponsor a local ride in support of their cause to contact them and use the flyer supplied below.
Welcome Sandhills Mike!
Mike Lopeman is another new contributor to The Carolina Rider. Living in Fayetteville, NC, he's enjoyed this publication and was hoping for some more of his own local content rather than info that's about events happening a long distance from him. And so, he's joined The Carolina Rider to help connect you folks who are in the North Carolina Sandhills to the good resources offered by our publications. Mike is already actively out and about his community making connections and had the chance to scout out the new Mac's location in Fayetteville right in time for our new alliance with Mac's! We look forward to hearing more from our Sandhills Regional Representative. In fact, you can look for a story from him next week about Cape Fear H-D's 20th Anniversary party. Welcome Mike!
As I write this, a sudden thunder-filled downpour just split open our sunny afternoon and left us with a more subdued light. The air has cooled and freshened and everything is now even greener than it was just an hour ago. The forecast calls for these kind of pop-ups most of the week. Stay dry or just go ahead and stand out in the rain; whatever cranks your throttle!
I'm on Facebook ... "friend me!"
"Welcome Home Veterans." It's a simple phrase. Some have heard it when they returned from their tour or multiple tours; however there are many that never received that simple gesture of gratitude from their fellow countrymen. Well now you can. This is what you hear every time you walk into Richards Coffee Shop in Mooresville, NC. It has been called "The Most Patriotic Coffee Shop in America."
I first discovered Richards Coffee Shop back in April of this year. I have heard a lot about this place but just never took the time to go. On a whim one day after talking with my chiropractor of all people at the VA he asked if I have ever been and since my response was "no," he told me to go; that they are a great bunch of people and they are just like me, Veterans looking for a place to just relax and talk. So I went and as soon as I walked in a fellow veteran who happened to be there greeted me with "Welcome Home." I was taken aback at first when I walked in because it was like being in a military museum. They have pictures and memorabilia on the walls and uniforms on the rack. They have model airplanes hanging from the ceilings and rooms for every war with a table that you could sit in and just talk with you fellow veteran. What I found funny was they have what's called a "truth table" and a "liars table." We all know which branches belong at each table. I was told to come back on a Thursday because it's FREE COFFEE for Veterans on Thursdays. So I did.
That Thursday when I went back I was shocked when I pulled up out front to see the sea of motorcycles lining up in front of Richards. I knew right then and there that I was at home. Not only was this a place for veterans to sit around and talk, but it was also a place that welcomed the biker community. I got to talking to a few of the bikers and started to realize that there was something different about these bikers, they were all veterans or they were spouses of veterans or friends of veterans. They belonged to an array of different groups within the biker community. There were representatives from Vietnam Vets/Legacy Vets MC, Combat Vets Motorcycle Association, Goldwing Riders, The Patriot Guard Riders, Rolling Thunder and just bikers who rode for themselves. I drank a lot of coffee that day and they let me introduce myself and talk about the two organizations that I feel most passionate about in my life right now, K9s For Warriors and Two Wheels For Warriors. I'll let ya'll know about those organizations in a few...
Finally after all the coffee drinking and a late lunch I headed home to think about what just happened and regroup my thoughts about what some of the veterans where telling me....about what I have been feeling I need to do. I spent the next month deciding what I was going to do to try and help veterans in need; how to reach out and connect fellow veterans to resources that we all need and want to know about. I wanted to figure out how to better be able to promote such a great place as Richards Coffee Shop and to let other fellow military bikers know of this great place and much more.
And so with my head full and ready to DO something about it all, I talked with FancyFree who is graciously providing this column space to me - to us veterans so that I can do what I am so passionate about .... helping veterans with issues ranging from the VA Backlog to seeing the proper Veteran Service Officer to even knowing what benefits are available to them. This column is dedicated to that cause, to be a resource corner for veteran issues and to let the veterans' voice be heard.
We as Veterans have a huge Voice and in the Biker Community it is Loud. So I am here to do just that. My first trip back to Richards Coffee Shop was this past Thursday May 16, 2013. They were having a special event called the "Ride of Pride."....
(this column continues ONLINE! ... so don't stop reading....)
Fighting for Veterans with Big Dawg and Cody!
Cody's in a calendar to raise awareness of PTSD and programs to support wounded veterans. CLICK HERE to see it and get yours!
Committed: Almost There
by Mike on a Bike
(This is the second Ride Journal Entry for Mike's ride to California. It all starts with his story "Committed" which, if you haven't already, you can read in our Stories section. Full Ride Journal can be found in our Stories as well.)
So I'm sitting in the bar of the hotel I'm staying at, The Lodge of the Desert, in Tucson, feeling like Hemingway. It's an old adobe hotel that dates back to the forties that has been updated and added to over the years. It has an award winning restaurant and real character. It was a Hotwire find. The taste of the cold Dos Equis Ambar before me, with more to follow, tastes especially good just because it is so damn hot outside. Early on, I had decided that on my way to California that I would take one day off from the road for some R&R. It was a wise decision because this trip is clearly harder than I thought it would be and has taken its toll on my body. Tomorrow's final push to LA will put me in the hottest parts of the desert where temperatures are approaching 110 degrees. But I'm getting ahead of myself so let me back up a few days...
My ride from Seneca, South Carolina had been largely uneventful. Again, my goal was to travel light and cover 500 miles a day on average. Once on Interstate 40 west, there's nothing to do but stop for gas and use the bathroom (which I have now mastered to do during the same stop to save time.) The ride through Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana was as I had remembered it on my return trip from Montana (via Dallas) about a year and a half ago. Each state has good sections on their part of the Interstate and some especially poor sections, especially around their metropolitan areas. The right lanes tend to be more grooved from truck traffic so I found myself favoring the left lane and ducking back into the right when someone approached me from behind. Poor roads, as any long distance rider will tell you, make riding more tiring and stressful.
By far though, I'd still say that South Carolina has the worst roads in the South and in their drive to cater to the lowest denominations of the anti-tax zealots, our elected officials are allowing our roads to degrade to dangerous levels of disrepair. Unfortunately, it seems no one has the political will to do the right thing and raise the gas tax two cents a gallon (into a dedicated fund that the pols can’t use for other purposes!) The longer we put off repairs, the more dangerous the roads become and the more expensive the repairs will be.
The toughest part of my ride so far has clearly been crossing Texas. First, it is just one big honkin' state, and of course, I'm crossing it at its widest point. The speed limit east of Dallas is pretty much 75 mph and west of Dallas it goes up to 80 mph. I'll admit that at times, I was exceeding the speed limit along with everyone else but at those speeds, I tend to hold the handlebars a bit tighter and of course, concentrate a bit more than on a leisurely drive in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Oh yeah, the trucks are doing 75 and 80 also and the buffeting from them is pretty severe at those speeds as they pass you or you pass them. So I found myself pushing to stay ahead of the trucks. It all takes its toll physically.
West of Dallas and on through New Mexico and Arizona my ride got especially tough because of a series of factors. As I started to enter the desert, the winds started kicking up across the Interstate, not constant and consistent winds, but gusts, strong gusts that even had the tractor trailer folks correcting to stay within their lane. With those winds came dust storms that, at times, cut visibility down to about one quarter mile. So like the truckers I found myself correcting, but also, leaning into the wind, spitting grains of sand out of my mouth, and holding those bars that much tighter. Mind you, no one is slowing down during this whole time, so I kept my speed up lest I get blown around by passing trucks also. Was I having fun at this point? No! This was serious stuff.
By far, the toughest and most dangerous part of this ride so far was as I was approaching the Texas/New Mexico border. I had been watching the sky turn dark to the west and noticed black streaks of clouds stretching down to the horizon, something that I had never seen before but that clearly looked ominous. Low to the ground, the landscape had taken on a yellow-brown hue: a dust storm. Then, very suddenly, the temperature dropped. I knew enough to know this wasn't good. About a quarter mile ahead of me it looked like rain and water splashing off of the semi tires but, as I found out about two seconds later, it wasn't rain, but hail, big hail!
I've never ridden through hail before, especially at 75 mph. Visibility went down to near nothing but I dare not slow down because I knew I had two trucks behind me, one in the left lane and one in the right lane. I couldn't see them in my mirrors at this point so I decided to maintain my speed. I thought very briefly of pulling onto the shoulder but decided it was too dangerous a maneuver to attempt given the very restricted visibility so I pressed on. It's amazing what the brain can process quickly. This decision-making was done in nano seconds.
I suspect this whole incident lasted about as long as it just took you to read the last two paragraphs, but it seemed like it lasted forever. Getting hit by good-sized hail at high-speed hurts, really hurts! After a couple of hits, I found myself leaning over the tank as low as I safely could all the while listening to a cacophony of hits against my helmet. The hits to my shoulders, chest, thighs, and shins were like bee stings. A quick and panicked prayer, "God, get me through this," and then it was over. Shaken, I rode on and stopped in Van Horn, Texas for the night, short of my 500-mile goal for the day, but I was done, I was toast. That night, I found a dive Tex Mex joint, Chouy's, and had a couple of beers and a good dinner. By God's good grace, I was alive.
That night as I got ready for bed I got to see the damage to my body. I had, and have, a bunch of large bulls eye bruises on my right upper arm, another half dozen on my inside left thigh (too close for comfort to my more critical anatomical parts,) a few on my chest and my shins look pretty crappy too. Mind you, I was wearing a heavy leather jacket. Anyone riding without a jacket and helmet would have, I suspect, lost control of their bike and be dead!
So my trip has taken on a bit of seriousness. This morning I saw the news reports of the tornados that ripped through Texas last night, a little bit north of my route. It made me realize that my vulnerability on my bike goes beyond the cars and trucks around me, the road conditions, my bike, and my skills, but to the strength and power of nature itself and how quickly things can change.
So with an eye toward the weather, tomorrow I will cross the desert with a wet cooling vest, a couple bottles of water, several wet dew rags and a very healthy respect for Mother Nature.
The expression "Ride Safe," which we all seem to say to each other, has taken on new meaning. Seriously, ride safe!
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