MDA,Legacy Ride,Harley-Davidson,100th Anniversary,Ride Home,Charity

This page contains daily updates and happenings from the road during
The Legacy Ride's travels on The Ride Home from Fresno to Milwaukee. 

8/16 - Send-off Party - Visalia Harley Davidson

There are no words period to describe adequately the events of this day. Even more indescribable are the feelings that come from the show of support from the Central Valley for what we doing to try to Make A Difference for MDA and show the value of volunteerism in the process. If you were there, you know what of I speak and if you weren’t there you missed something very special that I will not be able to fully relate. Thank you to everyone who made this day possible, Volunteers, the Visalia Harley Dealership, HOGs, Sponsors and everyone who believed enough in the idea behind The Legacy Ride to become involved in some way even if only to check out the website.

The Send-off was fabulous and very well attended considering the heat. We had over 200 bikes line up for the escort and probably 300 more cycle through the dealership parking lot throughout the day (excuse the pun).

Our organization paid off as everything seemed to run soothly and no major snafus whatsoever. Lexi, our MDA ambassador was on hand and she sung the National Anthem and then Tim May of The Skinny Little twits sung God Bless the USA to get things going. Everyone had a great time and the dealership was rockin’, especially due to the heat which kept folks moving indoors. We had great food from Pescado Pete’s and Amigos among others and the Ford Trucks were impressive. Thanks to all our vendors and Hometown Buffet for keeping the volunteers feed for the set-up. The media was on hand; we gave a few interviews and folks got some great pictures of the bike. I was extremely busy trying to meet everyone and still prepare to depart. As 1 PM approached the energy was palpable to me and it seemed that the music was building to a crescendo at the same time.

We departed 18 minutes late, but not bad considering we had over 200 bikes escort us out of the dealership! We even had people come from Salinas (that met us at the Hollister Independence Day Rally) to enjoy the party AND ride all the way to Milwaukee with us! Incredible. As we pulled out of the dealership with a huge lump in my throat, I was struck by the power of the moment and nearly speechless riding past everyone that had lined up to ride as well as those well wishers staying behind.

The ride was without event and the CHP stopped traffic along the route. We had 1 dead battery and after Visalia HOG Assistant Director Phil Kemble stopped got the shop sending help tried to catch up to the group and commented afterwards that it was the first time he had passed a cop and not gotten a ticket!

The folks of Bakersfield Hog were very hospitable and had iced water waiting in the parking lot of Stuart Anderson’s for us, thank you! We ate, relaxed a bit and enjoyed good company before heading out in the heat for the next leg. One of our group lost a small bolt and we had someone go to Pep boys to get it.

Kay and Kelly from the Bakersfield CMA offered to escort us up the hill to Tehachapi and we gladly accepted.

The rest of the ride went very smoothly and we fueled again in Barstow and then Primm.

Approaching Vegas, tired and road weary we could see distant lightning of the big storm that had hit earlier and the wind beat the 100th Anniversary/MDA pins on my shirt against my chest rhythmically reinforcing our reason for Riding Home and keeping me alert for what was in store for us…

8/17 - Las Vegas Celebrity Ride

I’m not finding much time to write on the road which is good because we are so busy getting the word out and fundraising. In brief, today we rode in ht celebrity ride and were in the first group of celebrities which totaled about 10 bikes. I was introduced to Peter Fonda who gladly signed the sidecar and have video footage of my introduction on stage to share when it is available. Nancy Sinatra and Paul Revere also signed. Check out the photos! We attended the Exclusive Party at the H-D Café and I briefly spoke to Willie G. and family letting him know we were here. I had to attempt to talk in his ear as I am losing my voice at present having had to speak so much lately. Our contribution today to MDA was $1300. Awesome day!

8/18 - Las Vegas Harley Davidson

Today we spent mostly at the Las Vegas Harley-Davidson dealership (inside thank God). We met some very wonderful people and a number of folks signed the sidecar for a minimum $100 donation in honor of the 100th. We even met some Aussies that were part of a group that had shipped 360 bikes over from down under for 560 riders as part of The Homecoming Tour as they call it. (See the Photo Gallery for each day) Nice people!

As a note, I highly recommend a stop at this dealership in Las Vegas just to see it, it is the world’s largest dealership (Vegas style of course) and they even have inside the store a café where you can relax and eat while you can watch your scooter being worked on through glass windows nearly the length of the shop. They also have a bleacher area where you can grab some popcorn and watch Easy Rider play on a theater screen! Thanks to everyone there who made us so welcome and put together such a great event especially Dawn Schmidt and MDA District Director Pam Dimond. Today we contributed $466 to MDA on behalf of the Legacy Ride.

8/19 - Flagstaff, Grand Canyon H-D

We ride again! We met at the dealership just after 6 AM on this glorious morning to ride and try to beat the heat. We decided to go over Hoover Dam and then through Kingman. Awesome ride except for some tricks Mother Nature had up her sleeve. As we left the dam and headed up the long grade to Kingman we had horrible headwinds that not only slowed our progress but blew our gas mileage calculations due to our large frontal area that we have to push through the air. As we approached the final hill to Kingman the gas gauge was buried on E and the low fuel light was screaming. I saw a sign that said Cononco to the right 2 miles but is was downhill and with the wind so said a quick prayer, turned away from Kingman. I rolled into the gas station at the bottom of the hill and when I was done fueling I had pumped 4.97 gallons in a tank advertised at 5! Thank God!

We had a nice breakfast in Kingman and split up for the day, Richard and Lydia (the couple we met at Hollister) went to visit friends in Kingman and Jesse (their friend) headed for Laughlin to check it out while we continued to the Grand Canyon H-D dealership in Bellemont (10 miles out of Flagstaff on Rt 66). Approaching our destination, Evy (in the comfort of the chase vehicle) and I approached a squall and it began to rain. I hunkered down behind the windscreen and leaned into the throttle looking through the splattering raindrops on the windshield and wondering just how cold and soaked I would get if this didn’t let up.

Arriving at the dealership in Bellemont, we were greeted by my good friend (and single largest private donor to date) George Doerner who had rented a bike for the day and headed up from his new home in Sedona just to share in the festivities for the day. He helped us put up sign and banners and wipe the bike down despite the continuing downpour that hadn’t let up. Cellular service has been a bit of a problem and finally gave up and was able to get a phone line from the dealer and managed to broadcast some live images from inside the dealership. All in all, it was a good day and thanks go out to Dick Doughton and Kyle for their hospitality and help.

As soon as Willie G. and entourage left, many folks started to head for the barn and vendors began to pack up early due to the inclement weather. We decided to pack up about 6pm and went into Flagstaff to relax and allow me to catch up on the webwork. When we arrived at the Hojo, I realized I had left my credit card at the gas station in Williams where we last had fueled and decided to go back for it in the AM. It poured that night complete with thunder and lightning. I don’t yet have an exact figure of how well we did for MDA there but we will be back for the pancakes in the morning.

8/20 – Flagstaff Pancake Breakfast and Travel Day

The rain finally let up and we collected our things and headed back to the dealership. We had wanted to leave at 9 AM to give up time to set-up in Albuquerque and have a relaxed evening, but this too proved to be optimistic. Once at the dealership, we ate and waited for Richard, Lydia and Jesse. In the meantime, Bill Frazer and his daughter Kristy showed up from Bakersfield and they wanted to ride with us. I went to get my credit card and Evy waited for them at the dealership. My buddy George showed up again with his wife following in their van. We talked and I signed autographs while waiting to hear about Richard and his wife and Jesse. We finally waited ‘til 1130 to leave and called every Motel 6 in Flagstaff and none had anyone left to check out fitting their description so we decided the must’ve’ left before us and decided to go.

Seeing as how we now knew we wouldn’t now get to Chick’s H-D before closing, we took a more leisurely pace to get there and stopped at Meteor Crater on the way. They even had a Subway sandwich shop there, how convenient!

Our ride from Flag was uneventful and we missed all the rain thank God. We fueled in Winslow and then Gallup. Cellular service in this area continues to be a problem for webcam uploads but our GPS should be keeping track of our track, so to speak for when we do get in range. Once in Albuquerque we dropped Bill and Kristy at a nearby Motel 6 and went over to Evy’s uncle’s house for the night.

8/21 – Chick’s H-D Albuquerque

Evy and I got up early (me earlier than her to work on the computer) and we headed to Chick’s H-D for the Dealer party. We got there just after opening and found a Starbuck’s along the way for future reference. We were greeted by a very helpful staff and Katie Hawk got us hooked-up right away with the MDA booth that had already been set-up by Angelique and Carrie.

I cleaned to bike from the previous evening’s long ride and then we got to work setting up banners and tables. Immediately the response to the 100th Anniversary pins as well as our pins and patches and especially t-shirts was very strong. Shortly after getting set-up Willie G. and family arrived and went into the dealership. Mark Kienzle from the American Way magazine then showed up to interview me and take some pictures of the bike. We sat and chatted while I continued to struggle with getting a good cellular connection to upload webcam images.

As the day progressed, there was a steady stream of traffic in and out of the dealership as the storm clouds from up on the mountains surrounding Albuquerque began to gather their awesome and imposing strength. As the gust front approached, a huge dust storm kicked up in the parking lot and we began to prepare for the coming rain.

We put the bike under an awning in the front of the dealership and I went in to buy a rain cover for the seat. The staff at Chick’s were all super helpful including Chick himself as well as Katie Hawk and Karen. Thanks to all for a great day.

After the party we went downtown to Bike Nite more as spectators than exhibitors and it was crowded. Over 5000 bikes were cruising or parked and it was very busy but well organized. After getting greek food we headed back to Evy;’s Uncles for the night to get some rest for another early start. Our efforts accounted for a total contribution to MDA Albuquerque of $2782!

8/22 – Tripp's Amarillo

Awesome day! There is no other way to describe today but Awesome. We had a great ride out of Albuquerque and fueled twice. As soon as we arrived at the dealership we were treated like royalty. The bike and I were whisked into the back service area by Kenneth and everyone got right to work getting our scheduled 2500 mile service done. We were also met by Joe Jones, Amarillo HOG Director and he was waiting with cold drinks for us as we arrived. The GM Shane even came over to personally see if there was anything additional we might require and to personally welcome us and thank us for being there. What customer service, incredible!! We had them service the oil with the new Harley Syn3 synthetic and take the lowers off in preparation for the Parade of Heroes in Milwaukee.

After I finished the service order, I gave a quick on-camera interview to NBC about The Legacy Ride and what it means to me and then we proceeded to set-up. Where they had us was impressive by itself. Tripp’s had taken the furniture store next door and redone it completely to serve as their new HOG hangout complete with a kitchen! Once set up, we got the laptop in from the car and broadcast live images from the booth all day!

There was free water and soft drinks as well as 2 kaluaua pigs, and the best hot dogs Evy says she had ever eaten. After a while, I was honored to be introduced to Mattie, Amarillo’s Ambassador child. He and his two brothers along with Mom came down to check out the fun and I showed him the website we have created for The Legacy Ride. Since I knew the bike might be done, I asked Mattie if he’d like to check it out and so off we went to see The Legacy Ride Motorcycle. The fast wrenches in the service department had already finished our service by the time we got to the bike which had been brought out and parked next to Willie G’s. I gingerly lifted Mattie from his wheelchair and put him in the sidecar and told the security folks to lift the ropes, fired up the bike and told Mattie the only rule was that he had to waive, and we were off. We toured the parking lot to waves and smiles as approving onlookers snapped pictures of Mattie and his engaging smile that would take a while to wear off.

After our brief "road trip" we parked the bike and I showed Mattie how to work the radio and gave him the sign we had used on the bike before we got our license plate LGCY HOG for him to keep and put in his room as a momento of the day.

As we walked back to the HOG Headquarters, we were met by a clown who stopped to talk to Mattie and his brothers. As he spoke to them, he could sense that something special was going omn besides a couple of kids having a great day at the dearlership, and he turned to me and asked what was going on. I began to tell him what we were doing with the Legacy Ride and as I told him the story, you could see the make-up on his face begin to fail to hide his own humanism and it didn’t take long before he was no longer a clown but a fellow human being standing there who could not help but be touched by the moment. He asked me if I took donations to which I replied yes and he reached into his wallet right there and gave me a $20 bill right from his wallet. What a truly amazing moment to witness and share in.

We finished the day in Amarillo by meeting with Lynn Tripp and thanking her for her and her husband Terry’s amazing hospitality at the dealership. In fact, we couldn’t help be touched by everyone we met in Amarillo who embodied the true spirit of Texas hospitality and made a very lasting impression on us. We wished we lived closer to Amarillo just to go to their HOG meetings which, if they are anything like our day in Amarillo, have to be a blast. These people know how to party and have fun! Thank you to Cary McDaniel and her cadre of dedicated people in the MDA office in Amarillo for putting an exclamation point at the end of our experience. Their help was invaluable and helped us raise $1903 for MDA this day.

8/23 – Oklahoma City

We arose in the wee hours for another early morning launch and crossed town to meet Bill, Kristy, Richard, Lydia and Jesse at their hotel. Evy’s daughter Stacy had driven down from Oklahoma City the night before and she also was in our posse as we headed out on to the open road. The day started out humid which didn’t bode well for the weather later in the day. As we rode it kept getting hotter and hotter and by the time we reached Oklahoma City, those of us on bikes we soaked with sweat.

As we arrived at the dealership we were directed around to the side of the building where Christina, The District Director from MDA was already set-up and waiting for us. We quickly got up our suntent and placed it next to the tent that she had already been using and we got to work selling pins and patches since we had run out of t-shirts in Amarillo. Thankfully they had free water and soda being given out which helped stave off the effects of the heat and dehydration that could easily set-in with the themp well over 100 and humidity to match.

We met some great folks in OKC like HW and his wife who have two bikes with hacks, a 95th anniversary model (see the photos) and a 48 knucklehead! We also ran into Lance again who was part of the Wisconsin group that shipped out to Vegas and was riding the Southwest Route with us. He had just the day before dumped his bike and fractured his leg, but true to bike grit, was riding and looking forward to being able to hook his trailer back on his bike and finish the ride as he started it. Christina and her crew left about 3pm and left us to finish the day.

As the day wore on, the clouds began to gather and that sweet heavy smell began to fill the air that usually preceeds a major downpour. As the air started to hang heavy, the band finished, the water ran out and we started to prepare for our exit by taking down the tent and moving our stiff to the car. Just then the crack of the first lightening signaled the beginning of the rain and did it ever rain. Within minutes, it was pouring down so much that the gutters were filled and visibility was limited. We managed to get everything in the car before the heaviest rains set-in but we still had to ride back to Stacy’s in the deluge. Stacy was gracious enough to let us park our bikes in her more than ample garage and we were spoiled by having hot showers ready, cold beer and our own beds. We thankfully took advantage of her hospitality and prepared for our long (hot) ride the next day to Kansas City by way of Dorothy’s hometown Topeka. All told the rain took its toll on our fundraising in Oklahoma City where we only raised $320 but still had a great day with some great people.

8/24 – Topeka and Union Station, K-C

As we headed out on our ride we were missing Richard and Lydia who had skipped Oklahoma City in favor of a detour to check out Branson. We met up with Jesse at his hotel and we were off again. The sweet smells of the morning we punctuated by the gently rolling hills of the Oklahoma countryside and the farms that dotted those hills. The ride was beautiful as we cut through the air that would be at once cool with the mists of the morning, more nearly like a cool fog, and then suddenly warm again, as if to remind us that we were still in the throes of Summer and that it still had a firm grip on the Midwest.

We stopped Double D’s Diner in El Dorado, Kansas for breakfast and gathered ourselves before pressing on to Topeka. I had called the dealership’s GM the day before to confirm our stop there and only got a voicemail so we were unsure what to expect.

As we approached the dealership it was clear it was closed which we had anticipated due to the Harley Drags going on that day and also because this was not a pre-arranged stop on The Ride Home but one we had initiated. We pulled up in front and parked the bike so as to shoot it for the webcam with the dealership behind. As we discussed our nest push on to KC, Ray the GM drove up and invited us in for refreshments. What a sight for sore eyes and dry throats as it was now well over a 100 again and the humidity had not let up yet. Once inside we were blown away at the impressive shop that Topeka Harley was complete with a café and a Museum down in the cellar full of priceless heirlooms and Harley memorabilia from 3 generations of family ownership.

As we were starting to cool off, owners, Mike and Cathy drove up and introduced themselves. They were very hospitable and eager to show off their very inviting dealership. We were given the cook’s tour of the shop and spent a great deal of time downstairs in the museum. Mike is the third generation in his family to own the dealership and he and his wife have done a fantastic job of showcasing much of their family’s history in their museum. I think Bill was so impressed he was ready to just move in to a corner of the basement and live out his years there amongst the Harley history.

After our museum tour, Mike and Cathy presented us with a check for MDA and we exchanged autographs. They signed the sidecar in honor of the 100th and their generous donation and I was given the honor of signing their "window of fame" right below Jean Davidson who had come through previously and stopped to share their wonderful hospitality. We left them with a few patches and pins and they gave us a re-fill on our sodas and a few t-shirts as momentos and we were off again.

The day was brutally hot and humid and the air felt like riding through a blast furnace as we continued toward Kansas City.

As we approached the city center where Union Station was it was clear that we were getting closer to our final destination as the crowds were growing thicker and thicker. The line ups of bikes started quite a ways out and we were lucky enough to find HOG Director Pat Honn who expedited us directly to a reserved tent right in front on Union Station. Just across the rotunda from us, up on the hill, we could hear Charlie Daniels playing to a huge crowd.

Bill was instrumental in the midst of the heat getting the bike cleaned up right away and just in time to. Just as he finished and we greeted the crowd, we were met by a news anchor doing a story on the event and we happily gave her a seat in the sidecar from which she proceeded to give a live report from the event! Right after that, Clem Salvadori from HOG Tales showed up to get some pictures. The last time we had seen him the bike had just been covered with dust and sand from the sandstorm in Albuquerque and didn’t look its best. This time though, and thanks to Bill, it did.

As the day turned to evening, the heat hadn’t let up and neither did the crowd. We were fortunate to have plenty of water and a taste of KC’s famous BBQ with ribs from Winslow’s. Yum!

Pat spoke to Lori Worth Smith and coordinated our parking the bike at the dealership for the night, and after packing up, we followed him over to Worth’s in preparation for the next day.

What a day, great people, great food, and great hospitality, truly unforgettable. My only regret was that Richard and Lydia had missed our adventure this day and had hoped that they were having an equally unforgettable adventure in Branson and St. Louis. Collectively we were able to raise $840 for MDA today.

8/25 – Worth H-D Kansas City

Since the Bike was already in position and so were we, Evy and I decided to catch up on some much needed sleep and we slept in until 8:30am before getting with the routine. We got to the dealership at about 10:30 and it was obvious that we were the only ones that slept in as the place was rockin’, literally. The had a live remote out front kickin’ out classic rock tunes and there was a steady and constant stream of bikes filing into the dealership. I couldn’t believe how many bikes there were and they kept coming to the point that I was sure they were just exiting the back of the parking lot and coming back around again, but I was only half right. They were exiting the back of the lot but only to be filling the giant shopping center parking lot next door!

HOG Director Pat Honn was already working up a sweat directing the activities and the bike was prominently parked right in front on the dealership. We got set-up with banners etc and were busy from then on. As soon as we put out our info and pins it is non-stop ‘til the end of the day. Unfortunately, we had run out of t-shirts so early in the trip, not realizing the demand, and were only able to offer our pins and patches.

I found an electrical plug across from our parking spot and got the webcam up and running and broadcast all day long from our venue right in front. The laptop shared the table Missouri Volunteer State Safety Coordinator (VSSC) Tony Sahlfeld who was passing out info about Rider’s Edge, Harley’s rider safety program. Tony was the second VSSC we had met on the trip. Since Flagstaff we had been riding with Arizona VSSC’s Tony and Cheryl Maichl who were helping teach group riding courses during the day at the KC Factory to Harley Exec’s on the ride. They were riding an Ultra as well and were full of handy tips for us about the bike. They also strongly suggested a parade fan for the Parade of Heroes because even though we had taken off the lowers in Amarillo, with the sidecar, there was still limited airflow around the engine.

As the day progressed we ran into Bill, Kristy and Jesse who were excited about getting their tours of the factory which is the only Harley Factory to produced a complete bike from start to finish, The V-Rod. The tours left regularly from the dealership.

Throughout our journey, we have been continually touched by both the people we met as well as the unique things that had been happening to us. KC was no different in that we had the pleasure of meeting Cameron who was an avid Harley fan and bound to a wheelchair by cerebral palsy. It didn’t stop his infectious smile nor did it temper his enthusiasm for riding. Cameron loves Harleys. In speaking with his Dad, we were told how he even had his wheelchair modified to be able to be rolled into a specially modified sidecar and then be bolted down thus enabling him to enjoy riding while remaining comfortably (if there is such a thing) in his wheelchair. Too cool! Way to go Cameron!

Also of note was meeting Virginia Phillips. She was inside the dealership all day sewing patches on leather jackets and vests with her company Grace Specialties. She kept seeing our patches throughout the day and after I briefly told her what we were doing for MDA, she asked if I would sign her sewing machine! She wanted it prominently displayed for people to see and ask her about in the future. I was truly honored and gladly obliged. This autograph capped my brief, but illustrious, celebrity career in that I had signed helmets, bikes, leathers, hats, t-shirts, a servicar, a window, and now a sewing machine!

When the day was done, we bid farewell to Pat Honn who had again graciously coordinated with Worth’s to again store The Legacy Ride Motorcycle for the night indoors for us and even have someone open up for us in the morning so that we could depart before the heat. Evy and I then went to a local restaurant for some more BBQ and a respite from the heat while we recounted our day and planned our departure. All told, our contribution for the day for MDA was $915.

8/26 – Hall’s H-D Springfield

We arose again early and were at the dealership at 6 for our departure. Jesse had called and said that he had continued on to St. Louis after the factory tour and had spent the night there. He also said that Richard and Lydia were already in St. Louis so that they would all catch us in Springfield.

As we got the bike ready to go, Bill and Kristy showed up, as did another couple from Bakersfield, John and Stephanie Manning who had indicated that they wanted to ride the rest of the way with us.

We checked the map and were told that I70 was full of construction so we elected to head North on 35 and then across on 36 through Mark Twain’s hometown of Hannibal, Missouri, across the mighty Mississippi and then on into the Land of Lincoln and the City of Springfield.

The morning was calm and beautiful and gratefully the heat had yet to be evident although you could tell it would be in its full glory by midday just by the sweet smell of the air. The ride was gorgeous and punctuated by rolling hills, mists that hung in the low valleys, and the sweet smells of freshly cut alfalfa and cornfields… (to be continued)

8/27 – Illinois H-D, Uke’s H-D Kenosha and Our Arrival Home

8/28 – Opening Day Ceremonies and Founding Families Reunion

8/29 – A Day in Thiensvile at Suburban

8/30 – The Parade of Heroes and Another Family Reunion

8/31 – The Cross Road, A Fitting End to A Long Journey