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Monday, May 28, 2007

RFTW: The Mission

Today is Memorial Day. Take a moment of to give thanks to the many service members and their families for their sacrefices.

The Mission Statement from the official RFTW.org website:

Mission Statement: To promote healing among all veterans and their families and friends, to call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action (POW/MIA), and to honor the memory of those Killed in Action (KIA) from all wars.


As I ride the twisties up to Raton from Angel Fire, I don’t have much time to think. I am busy concentrating on riding—staying in formation, not running into the rider in front of me or the rider beside me. I get an occasional glance among the rocks and scenery, though.

The highway does straighten out and I have the opportunity to process the ride. Exactly why am I out here doing this? Before the ride, I wanted to have the experience. After all, riding across the country is no small feat! The mission of the RFTW is also one that I support as well.

Getting to the outskirts of Raton, I get my first feeling of why the mission is so important. As we pass underpasses, service members and their families stand on the overpasses with flags and salute the riders. When we get to Raton, there are a great many people that have turned out to see the bikes pass by—many holding signs of thanks and waving flags.

As I ride by and watch, I am deeply touched. While I never served, I am service connected. My father was retired Air Force with time served in Korea and my son’s father is retired Army with time served in both Iraqi wars as well as missions around the world.

With my ex and his time served overseas, my family paid the price. Upon his last return, he was so very changed and as a result, our marriage ended. No, it wasn’t a loss of life or limb, but it was a death—of our family. While I don’t blame the breakdown entirely on the stress of war, had he not gone, the odds of survival for our family would have been much higher.

However, what happened happened. Today, my ex has more or less reverted back to his “regular” self and remains a large force in my son’s life. For our marriage, it is broken and unmendable. I hold no bitterness; it simply is what is was and understand that placing blame does no good nor does it change what happened.

As I pull into town, the overwhelming support of everyone just blows me away. It makes me realize that there are many citizens of this great country that give thanks to the cost of those who pay in blood, sweat and tears. I am deeply humbled by the outpouring of thanks, love and support.

In Raton, a new experience unfolds. Fuel. How on earth are 400 motorcycles fueled in 20 minutes? Quickly and efficiently, that’s how!

But that’s another story.

Until then,

Keep The Shiny Side Up!

~The Rainbow Wahine

Saturday, May 26, 2007

RFTW—Leaving Angel Fire, NM

The alarm clock goes off at 5:00 am. Time to get up. My friend that did the ride with me was up bright and early too—she didn’t sleep very well. Seems that she was a bit worried about the ride.

The ride? Group riding is one thing, but riding in the tight formation that the run asks is tasking. Two up in two second intervals. Not only did I have to worry about not crashing into the person in front of me, I also had a rider—normally someone I don’t know riding beside me.

My girlfriend doesn’t have as much riding time or experience, so she was really concerned. That people would be a hazard to her and she would be a hazard to someone else.

Well, I don’t know what she was worried about, I think she did a great job!

At any rate, we get down to the meet site around 6:00 am or so. Meander around and talk to people. There is the 50/50 going on, people just visiting and being, well, bikers. At 7:15 (or maybe it was 7:30—I can’t remember), it’s time for the riding meeting and there we receive our instructions. Disclaimer, hand signals, formation riding, prayer, and so on and so forth.

After the meeting, we saddle up, fire the bikes up….and off we go. As we pull out, we are broken up into groups and platoon leaders are inserted. Instead of having one long chain of motorcycles down the highway, we are smaller groups. It’s still pretty cool as I glance behind me and see all the headlights!!

I’m concerned since the ride to Raton, NM is on a curvy road. Not to worry, the formation of riding staggered is called. Not that I’m terribly worried about my riding—I’m really more worried about the guy beside me. It’s okay if he (or she) is skilled…..I’m dreading a new rider. Of course, I’m thinking that my FNG button might be scaring the beejeebers out of someone else!!! LOL…..

The ride is pleasant and not too difficult. I couldn’t enjoy much of the scenery; there was just too much to concentrate on. However, the ride isn’t about fun; it’s a mission.

Tomorrow: the experience of “The Mission”.

Keep the Shiny Side Up!

~The Rainbow Wahine

Friday, May 25, 2007

FNG—RFTW

That was me this year—my first ‘official’ ride in with Run For The Wall. Last Friday, I decided to ride down to Angel Fire to meet RFTW. The ride down I-25 was typical of interstate riding. Once off the highway, it was a treat!

My girlfriend and I pulled into Angel Fire around 4ish or so; we just pulled in ahead of the riders. We decided to ride up to the Memorial and take a look-see. The Angel Fire Memorial is a site that was built by Dr. Westhall—whose son was killed in Vietnam. In 2004 the State of New Mexico recognized the site as a State Park.

The experience at the Memorial was incredible. There was a feeling of sadness and that feeling grew as the riders—many of whom were service connected—passed through the doors of the Memorial. Intermixed with the sadness was a feeling of healing and support. Fellow riders reached out and embraced the sadness and gave back hope, thanks and understanding; somehow easing the heaviness of the emotions.

Leaving the Memorial, we rode down to the RFTW site. Finding the registration booth, I filled out my paperwork and received my packet and the official FNG button. I was a part of the Run. Oh boy.

We had dinner and then it was time to call it a night. I roomed with my neighbors—they joined the run at Gallup, NM. We spent the evening watching the hundreds of photos they’d already shot on the ride. We talked about their experiences in previous years and what to expect on this ride—all the more getting nervous about the next day’s adventure.

Yeah, FNG noobie, that’s me. Worried and thrilled.

Wake up time: 5:00 am. Time to call it a night.

Till next time,

Keep the shiny side up.

~The Rainbow Wahine

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Days Like This—NO Riding Should Be Allowed—errr maybe….

This past Saturday I was tapped to run the Mountain Shadow Riders meeting. Our esteemed Chapter Director is doing The Run For The Wall and left early in the morning. No worries, I was ready and hopped on the bike to ride down.

Just the start of a typical 2nd Saturday of the month.

Riding down was nice—and I was early for a change. I wanted to get the meeting over and done since it’s getting to be riding time and there was a great deal of riding activities on deck—so no one wants to sit and talk about riding—we all want to be out riding!

My choice for riding was out west: through Deckers and Pine and a stop at the famous (or infamous) Bucksnort Saloon. I was there last year and it’s a neat place with lots of history. And terrific burgers too!

I meet my friends and we head out. About two or three miles on the road, my front end starts having a terrible rattle. Stopping at a traffic signal, I am looking at my forks—and there is fluid everywhere. On the forks, the frame, motor and rider. I look at my friends and tell them I’ll have to pull out.

One of the great things about riding with this group of folks is that they take such good care of me. They pulled over and got off their bikes to inspect mine. Debating what the issue could be—yes, it was my forks and yes, it was ride able to the dealership—they all rode down with me to make sure I got to the dealership in once piece.

I was not happy, of course. I just had 20k service and one of the things included was the change of the fork oil. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…..

I pointed that out to them too.

Leaving my precious Harley down at the shop, my friends offered for me to continue to ride—either on the back or I could borrow. Going to get the extra bike would delay us longer—so I opted to ride on the back.

I don’t normally ride on the back and the last time I did any amount of distance was during bike week at Myrtle Beach and Rolling Thunder in DC. Funny, about this time last year! Although I protest in mock annoyance, I do enjoy the occasional ride on the back. It’s a time that I can really look around and watch the scenery, wave at the kids, and just have a general good time being a passenger. Saturday was no exception.

While I would have preferred to be on the back of my own bike, this was the second best choice. After all, had I not taken door number 2, I’d be not riding at all!

The ride turned out to be quite interesting—another rider had engine problems and pulled out. We had another delay when the traffic on the highway was halted—to allow for flight for life to land. Apparently there was a rider crash—a female fixated on an automobile in the oncoming lane and hit the car. She suffered a broken leg. I didn’t get any of the other details, but when the authorities let the traffic resume, we did ride by the accident sight. The bike was still on the road and it was mangled up pretty badly. If the rider got out with only a broken leg, I think she was lucky.

The remainder of the trip was pretty quiet after that. The threat of sprinkles rolled in but that’s typical of Colorado weather this time of year.

Late after noon we pulled in—another road adventure put to bed.

I picked up the bike on Tuesday—all fixed and ready to roll. I hope so!! I won’t get to Rolling Thunder this year, but I will do a segment of Run For the Wall this weekend. I’m looking forward to it!!

Until then,

Keep the shiny side up!

~The Rainbow Wahine