On The Road Again
Rockaway Beach, NY - Rockaway
Beach, CA and back again!
Jameson’s Pub: Sendoff Party
It has been five years since my last cross country adventure and to be sure, none of the excitement has gone out of it. While much of the preparatory work is what I would call mundane, (laundry, shoemaker, bike maintenance, etc. . . .) there is an aspect of my pre-trip ritual that is anything but boring and that is the sendoff party.
These cross country rides that I undertake for charity are somewhat unique in the motorcycling world. Bikers across the country, indeed, around the world, regularly come together to raise money for different causes. Their fundraising efforts go a long way towards eroding the image of the leather clad criminals who rampage through quiet towns breaking windows and running off with people’s daughters. Together, bikers everywhere raise millions of dollars to help fund medical research, assist veterans, house the homeless and aid in a variety of other causes. The difference here is that I am something of a one man band, I am riding solo. There are two young people in my life who are afflicted with Juvenile Diabetes whose situations moved me to action and I decided to get going. So here I am, in the middle of a 10,000-mile solo ride to raise awareness of and money for the JDRF.
I am never really alone though. This past Friday night I was joined by 100 other people at Jameson’s, on Beach 129 Street as they wished me well on my cross country journey. There was a Chinese auction, live music by Dan Mulvanerty and Bob Butler, food and drink, a bike blessing by Msgr. John Brown and an abundance of good will! During the course of the evening we were able to raise $6,900 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation! This is what I call generosity. People that I don’t even know came out to support this cause, they know that we must find a cure. They know that nothing gets done without the participation of private citizens. So to all of the people who came out to see me off, please accept my heartfelt thanks.
Special thanks to Mike Cawley and everyone at the Bronx Supreme Court who contributed $2,300, way to go! To Joe Mure, for his wisdom and leadership, and to my darling girlfriend Mary Ellen, taim ina gra leat, Gra mo chroi.
Somewhere 20 miles west of
Saturday morning: After a hearty breakfast with friends at the Last Stop it was time to get rolling. My buddy Mike Cawley agreed to ride with me as far as the Delaware Water Gap and I was happy for the company. As I threw my leg over my 2003 Harley Davidson Road Glide and looked over at not one, but two Mikes (one on a Sportster and one on an Electraglide) we started off on our ride. As we drew closer to the Crossbay Bridge, Sportster Mike waved goodbye and broke off to go for a swim in the ocean. Mike Cawley and I continued on towards the wilds of Pennsylvania.
The weather report for Rockaway was not very favorable this day. Serious thunderstorms were predicted for the evening and they were coming from the west, great! I was heading due west, right into the teeth of the tempest in front of me. But for the time being I thought, let me enjoy the ride. As Mike and I crossed the bridge into Broad Channel an excited calm came over me. I know that may not make immediate sense to you but it is the best description of my feelings that I can offer. All of the details involving my pre-trip preparations were now settled, I did not have to report for work for a few weeks and there was no turning back. I was on the road again. If all went according to plan I would be sleeping in Cleveland this night. But the storm was out there and we were going to meet, that was inevitable, the question was where?
Mike and I had never really ridden together before but he is an experienced rider with 40 years in the saddle having learned to ride at the age of ten. We soon became acquainted with each other’s riding styles as we interacted like a well oiled machine. Our lane changes were intuitive as one rider signaled a lane change and the other moved first to secure the new position. Cool heads and teamwork brought us to Pennsylvania in short order. As we gassed up our bikes and said goodbye, I couldn’t help but think, this is it, I am on my own now. I put on my rainwear and headed west into the black sky.
The weather was snotty but not what I expected. I motored all the way across the Keystone state with nary a hitch. Some wet roads and a few drops on my glasses were all that was thrown at me. Mother Nature gave me a break for awhile . . . for awhile. As I crossed into Ohio the sky took on a rather ominous appearance. The storm, the real storm, had been marshaling her troops and was now poised to strike. I was 20 miles west of Youngstown when I spotted the exit and the Comfort Inn sign. Hallelujah! That was all I needed to see. I pulled off the road and checked in. As I pulled my bike under the hotel’s marquis all hell broke loose! Thunder, lightning, rain and one-inch hailstones fell down upon the cars in the parking lot. The sound of the hailstones on the car roves sounded like tribal drumming and I thanked God that the sound of hailstones hitting my helmet was not added to the chorus.