My Goal

To raise $100,000 for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation. I can not achieve this goal without your generous personal and/or corporate donations. So please click on Susan G. Komen above and donate today to this worthy cause.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Will the real Dave Clifton please stand up!

What a difference a shave makes!!!
It is now coming up on two weeks since I pulled into my driveway on Captain America. As mentioned previously, I wanted to give myself a few days to decompress before I felt I could accurately reflect back on my entire Cruising for the Cure experience.

The first 48 hours after I got back to San Diego I was pretty much a zombie. Basically, I was worthless. It was like I could finally let down and relax because I no longer had to be “on high alert” from the moment I woke until the moment I fell asleep each day over the past 3+ months. I found myself no longer having to worry about weather, routes, traffic, road hazards, road closures, repairs, animals (live and/or dead), hotels, restaurants, etc., etc. Bottom-line, my body pretty much just collapsed once I took my shower and finished visiting with my family and the neighbors.

Since my return, I still find myself thinking about my journey each and every day. It brings a smile to my face and a sense of accomplishment that is hard to explain. Sometimes it is the big things and sometimes it is the smallest of experiences that literally gets me laughing out loud. No doubt this looks weird to strangers when I am by myself. The important thing is that reflecting back on my trip brings nothing but huge smiles to Smiley. Even the bad times were good in the end because they made me appreciate the good times that much more.

Yes, the weather sucked much of the time and I did have a few too many mechanical problems with Captain America for my taste, but most of these were caused by my aftermarket customizing of my “ride” and not related to Harley Davidson as a manufacturer. That being said, these “challenges” were all part of my adventure and honestly now I would not trade any of them for the world! They tend to tests one’s ability to think on his/her feet and to solve problems as they pop up. Hell, if you don’t solve them yourself, then who will solve them for you.

Many people have asked me if I have learned anything from my trip and were there any real surprises along the way. Oh boy, where do I start?

First, let’s focus on what I have learned and what I got out of making such a crazy journey:

1. I gained so much personal satisfaction from making the trip. First, this was the first time that I have actually taken an active roll in helping a charity out directly without just writing a check. I have always been “too busy with work or family, etc”. I found talking to people about their experiences with cancer of all types and raising money for Susan G. Komen made me feel really good inside. I highly recommend that you all get involved in some form of charity work. You too will receive much more than you give!

2. The trip totally restored my faith in mankind. I was blown away by the friendliness and generosity demonstrated by so many people all across the US and Canada. I was also taken back by the number of people who wanted to tell me their own or a close family member’s cancer stories. Most of these stories were incredible survival stories, but some were as sad as you can imagine. I was also amazed by the number of people who would make a donation to a stranger who looked like hell. People would approach me due to my prominent clothing and bike logos regarding the trip and ask me questions like, “Are you really doing this?” Which state aren't you riding to? (By the way, I had to do everything I could to keep from laughing when numerous people seriously asked me that question.) Are our citizens treating you nicely? Do you need a place to stay? “Can I help you find something?” This kindness and generosity was demonstrated by all races, genders, and/or economic classes. The people of America and Canada are good people and we should all be proud of one another!

3. The vast majority of the United States and the three provinces of Canada that I rode through were truly beautiful and I would put this scenery up against any in the world. Favorites included Idaho, Montana, BC, Yukon, Alaska, Alberta, Kansas, Nebraska, Main, New Hampshire, Vermont, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

4. Traveling by myself, I was forced to interact more with strangers which turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. I have always enjoyed talking to all types of folks, but my journey opened a whole lot of new doors for me. It was obvious to me that the grubbier I got the more I was able to fit in with a much broader section of society than usual. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting almost all of people along the way and with very few exceptions they were “cool”. On numerous occasions I would come away from a conversation thanking my lucky stars that I did not judge the book by its cover!

5. I knew the trip would be mentally and physically demanding, but I really had no idea just how demanding it would turn out to be. No question that weather and the bike issues played into this, but upon reflection I now feel a major reason for the challenge centered on the shear length of the trip and my riding solo. Keep in mind this 23,500 mile ride was over 3 ½ times longer than my previous longest trip in the past.

6. Motorcycle camping is just not my thing! It is either too hot or too cold to camp. In addition, I felt my bike lacked the space I needed to really bring everything I wanted for a “good” camping experience. With hotel rooms averaging only about $90 a day, you will soon see all of my rarely used camping gear on eBay priced for a very quick sale. Any bidders?

7. Plan for anything and everything. Other than the camping gear that I shipped home from Montana, I feel that my pre- trip packing was just about perfect. I highly recommend that you never leave on any motorcycle trip regardless of the time of year or the duration of the trip without having with you great rain gear, warm cloths, a good towing package, your leathers, and a super easy going attitude. You will probably need and use them all!

8. Would I buy another Harley Davidson motorcycle? The simple answer is a resounding YES! During the trip I had an epiphany about my current bike versus the kind of riding I enjoy doing. As mentioned, I only go long haul and seldom ride around San Diego. Captain America is not a “touring bike” but more of a “neighborhood bike”. Over the next several months I will be looking to buy a 2009 Harley Davidson Ultra Classic. This Harley is really designed and built for the kind of riding I know and love.

9. The interest in my sponsor also surprised me. So many folks wanted to know about Titan Sports Media Group, the Olympics in Beijing, and the reasons why the Chinese are getting so motivated regarding living a healthy lifestyle. A day never went by without my engaging in a long conversation or two about these subjects. I enjoyed these conversations greatly and was amazed about the depth of knowledge that so many people have about this incredible country and the great Chinese people. There is no question that Titan should speed up the development of their English website due to the interest that I felt along the way.

I want to thank all of you for following me along my journey and hope you have enjoyed it half as much as I have. At this time I also want to thank those of you who have made a donation to Cruising for the Cure. If you have not yet done so, I sincerely hope you will in the very near future! You can click through on the Susan G. Komen name and it will take you right to their website where donations can be made on line and in the name of Cruising for the Cure. I can not tell you how much both Doreen and I appreciate your important participation in this worthy cause. I am more confident than ever that together we will find the cure and it just may not be that much longer before we can all celebrate.

I also want to thank Doreen and my two great kids for allowing me the luxury of fulfilling my life long dream. Without their support and love this trip would have never happened nor would it have been nearly as enjoyable as it turned out to be. And it goes without saying that I so appreciate Titan and Interval International for also making this journey possible.

At this time I already look back on my journey this summer and it seems like ages ago. No doubt as time goes by I will continue to be living up to my nickname (Smiley) every time I think back on the incredible Summer of 2008. What a "fricking" great adventure it was my friends!!!! Would I do it again? No question about it. I truly had a total blast and feel like I gained so much more than I gave during my Cruising for the Cure adventure. All of the above said, I am really glad to be back in San Diego and looking forward to getting back into the swing of things in Dubai during October. I miss the region and the people greatly.

Enjoy your autumn and be kind to one another. Signing out for now,


Interesting people I interviewed along the way....

While in Flagstaff, Arizona while I was riding down the main drag (street) I spotted an SUV with a huge surfboard on the roof. What made this unusual was the fact that I was almost 500 miles from the closest ocean waves. I could not tell immediately if it was a tandem surfboard built for two people to ride the waves or a surfboard built for one person who always stands on it and uses a large paddle to paddle into waves or to explore lakes, etc.

In the car were Minda Simmons (49 years old) and James Holeman (43 years old). They are boyfriend and girlfriend and have been dating for about 6 months. Minda is from Phoenix, but now lives about 20 miles outside of Flagstaff. She is a landscape designer. James was raised back east and he moved to Oahu, Hawaii 13 years ago. There he was the owner of a successful cigar store. He sold it late last year to come to Flagstaff to be close to his 80 year old mother.

The following is their individual views about their sporting lifestyle:

Minda has been an athlete all of her life. She was a big time runner until her knees finally starting to give her significant problems. She loves being outside and is an avid skier, mountain biker. She said she always has to be doing something outside relative to sports. She never goes to a gym. “Too boring and claustrophobic”. She never liked team sports because they were too competitive. She love individual sports that gives you the opportunity to compete against yourself. James and Minda were getting ready to go out to the lake for a two or three hour paddle that afternoon. Relative to diet she never eats fast food (nor does James) and they both eat very healthy. The do eat some meat, but mainly enjoy organic chicken, salads, and fish... She said she will always be involved in a sporting lifestyle because of the way it makes her feel. “It calms me down and makes me feel really good”. If she could have gone to the Olympics in Beijing she would loved to compete in the Long Jump and just being there would be great and the place she finished would not matter to her.

James feels a sporting lifestyle is the “fountain of youth”. He loves individual sports such as surfing, skateboarding, hiking, and also love running, but as he has gotten older he has moved onto to other activities. He too does not like team oriented sports. He recognizes that they are beneficial for many people, but he views them almost as a mob versus the serenity that one gets from doing individual sports. Both James and Minda do not particularly like big crowds so Flagstaff and their individual sports fit them well. Both he and Minda are beginning to get into “vamping” which is camping in his VW Camper Van. James said his sporting lifestyle makes him just feel good, calm, and helps to keep him centred. When I asked him about the Olympics in Beijing he said he would not even have enjoyed participating in any event due to the fact that there would be too many people there and too competitive. “Not his thing”. He is currently doing landscape work, but is planning on opening a cigar shop in Flagstaff by the end of the year.

Minda and James appear to be a perfect match for one another in their relationship based upon their obvious love of the outdoors, healthy lifestyle, and their focus on enjoying the same kind of activities. They were a lovely couple and I could see this relationship really lasting. Both looked very young for their respective ages. Maybe they are right that a sporting lifestyle is the “Fountain of Youth”!

I met a wonderful young sportswoman while I was in Boone, North Carolina. Her name is Amanda Greer. She is a 22 year old single mother of a darling 4 year old boy named Timothy. She is an avid lover of a wide variety of different sporting activities. Currently she works at a gas station and travel shop in her hometown of Boone.

With the encouragement of her father Amanda took up bow hunting about 5 years ago. She lives, breaths, and sleeps bow hunting in her spare time when she is not working or raising her son. For the first several years of her new sport she focused on archery practice and then began to hunt squirrels and rabbits.

Last year Amanda killed her first deer while on a bow hunting trip. She tracked the animal through the woods and her 40 yard shot was perfect (high behind the deer’s shoulder). When I asked her what she gets out of bow hunting she said that it gives her some badly needed alone time and she loves the concentration and patience it takes, being outdoors, and the sense of accomplishment when she makes a kill. Amanda wanted to make sure that I understood that her family loves venison meat and they now only hunt what they will eat. She is not real strict when it comes to her diet, but tries to avoid fast food and loves chicken and salads. She said she is very much looking forward to the start of deer hunting season again this year. Her entire face just beamed when she was talking about bow hunting.

Other sports Amanda enjoys include horse back riding, 4-wheeling, baseball, basketball, fishing and rifle hunting. She loves both team and individual sporting activities. Team oriented sports provide her camaraderie and the ability to meet new friends. She loves the competitive spirits of both individual and team sports.

I asked her why she seems to like only outdoor sports. She replied that she hates being indoors and loves just being outside every chance she can get. She said she is already raising her son to enjoy a sporting lifestyle and feels that being outside and enjoying a wide variety of sporting activity keeps her in shape and allows her “to embrace the wonder of God’s world”. Amanda feels that participating in all these sporting activities brings her peace in her life and gives her a much better ability to deal with the everyday stress of today’s world and life in general.

I came away from my conversation with Amanda feeling that she is very bright and squared away young single mom. I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with her.

Martin Bell lives in Big Sky, Montana and heads the ski academy at the very exclusive private community called The Yellowstone Club. He is 43 years old, married, and has two daughters. Martin has been a sportsman ever since he can remember. For those of you who do not recognize his name, let me refresh you on some of the history.

He was born into a competitive sporting Scottish family in Dec of 1964 at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. He started skiing at age 6 with his younger brother close behind him at the Karl Fuchs’ Struan House Ski School in Cairngorm, Scotland. His racing career started at age 8 and he went on to become the all time most successful skier in United Kingdom history. Some of his achievements include the following:

1. He was on the World Cup circuit from 1979 to 1995
2. Martin went on to compete in the downhill at 4 Winter Olympic games (1984, 1988, 1992, and 1996) and finished 8th in the 88 Calgary Olympics
On the World Cub Circuit, he has achieved 8 top 10 finishes, more than any other British skier. He won 4 national ski titles.
3. He represented Great Britain in 5 World Championships (1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, and 1993)
4. In 1986 he placed 5th in the World Cub race at Are, Sweden

The bottom line, Martin Bell is the best UK skier ever and I had the opportunity to sit with him for over one hour and talk about his version of the sporting life. Here is what I found out:

1. He grew up camping, hiking, and skiing
2. He also really enjoyed track and field events and international football a great deal
3. He loves skiing to this day for a variety of reasons including the serenity that he gets from looking out and seeing nature and not buildings everywhere…it is very peaceful
4. He loves to hike, run, mountain bike and he goes to the gym only when it is too cold outside – his wife Laura says that she will catch him on a really cold day lifting his ski boots to get some upper body exercise…she just cracks up
5. He likes ski racing because it is a hybrid between individual and team sports – it is all up to you and how you do, but you still have the comradery of being part of a team.
Conventional team sports are fun somewhat frustrating – he does not like to depend on others
6. When Martin is exercising, he feels alive and can work out his current frustrations – it is almost cathartic in nature
7. He does not watch his diet, but says the great thing is he has always liked eating healthy which included a lot of veggies and salads
8. A business partner and very close friend (Simon Carradan) and Martin developed a new ski aimed at the luxury tier of the ski market. These skies are state of the art, aimed at those who want the best ski and best brand, and will sell for prices starting at about USD$13,000. They will begin with three different skies including a pair for powder, a pair for all around, and a pair for groomed slopes.
9. As for his children, he will not force the sporting life on them, but will encourage them to participate in what ever sporting activities make them happy.
Martin knows beyond any shadow of a doubt that he will always be involved in a sporting life – it keeps him happy and sane and encourages others to find their passion outdoors and just do it! He knows he is happier and healthier because of it.

Michelle Blair is a 19 year old recent high school graduate living in Holdrege, Nebraska. Over the summer she is working selling sweet corn and at Pizza Hut, but in the fall will begin attending Hastings Community College, Hastings, Nebraska. She wants to study Human Services (social work).

Michelle is engaged to be married and feels she leads a very sporting lifestyle. In high school she played on the volleyball and track teams. Today she likes to go jogging (usually 1 or 2 miles every two or three days). Recently she has been going on long walks with her fiancee because it is both exercise and gives them a chance to really talk without all the distractions of their day to day lives.

Michelle loves to fish for anything she can catch and she is learning to hunt for deer. She loves to watch basketball, American football (both the pro’s and college), and also professional volleyball.

Why does she like a sporting lifestyle…. it keeps her body looking great, reduces stress, and she just loves being outside. When she walks or bikes she just loves looking at nature. She would definitely go to the gym, but based upon her income, she simply can not afford it at this time, but plans to in the future as her income increases.

If she could go to the Beijing Olympics this year she would definitely like to compete in the tract and field events. Middle distance running would be her event of choice. What place would she be content in finishing? She does not care, just to go would be an honour and her intention would be to have a whole lot of fun as she takes it all in!

She loves team sports because it gives her an opportunity to become close friends with others and loves the companionship. Although her fiancee is not overly athletic, she will encourage her future children to find their own passion for a sporting life and to pursue it because it makes Michelle very happy.

Brian Backer is 26 years old and obviously into a sporting lifestyle. I figured that out when I walked into a liquor store and saw him working behind the counter. He too has been bitten by the sporting lifestyle bug.

Although very small as a child, Brian goes to the gym 5 days a week for a 1.5 hour workout. Although he used to be thin and kind of wimpy, today he is 6’3” and weighs in at 265 pounds. When not in the gym, Brian is always doing what it takes to get his exercise in. He eats very healthy, takes vitamins, and would rather have 5 or 6 small meals per day. This allows the body to process the small amount of food more quickly and keeps his body fat down to a very acceptable level.

Brian also loves to fish. He is not really a big team sports kind of guy. He loves the individual competition aspect of his sport. He really likes fishing… against nature and you only have yourself to blame!

Brian is single and loving it. He would also love to meet a nice Chinese girl to date. He will not force his future children into a sporting lifestyle, but feels it will happen as they see how much fun and enjoyment Brian is having with his life long commitment.

No doubt, if Brian could go to the Beijing Olympics he would like to participate in weightlifting. It is his life and his passion. He would only be satisfied with 1st place or why go?

What does he get out of his sporting lifestyle?

· Satisfaction
· Staying in shape
· And it releases all the stress and strain he is currently going through

Brian knows that he will continue to live this sporting lifestyle for the balance of his life because he remembers when he was thin and unhappy and now everything has changed for the better!

That's it for now folks, later gators!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

"Bring it on home"

Waking up in Salina, Kansas was a bit odd. The weather had definitely turned cooler with the cold front from the north colliding with the remnants of Fey from the south. I got up early that morning and walked outside to check the weather first hand after listening to the Weather Channel in the early morning hours. I ended up starting the day wearing my chaps, a short sleeve and a long sleeve tee shirt, my electric vest and my heavy leather jacket.

My mood for the first time during this journey seemed to be more focused on making tracks and getting home to see the family and in time for my niece’s wedding versus just overcoming the current day’s obstacles. No doubt I would now be gearing up for some long days in the saddle and anxiously looking forward to pulling into my driveway. We have all had the feeling you get when you realize that your vacation is coming to a close.

As I pulled out of Salina that morning I could not help but reflect on the jerk hotel guy from the night before and a really nice guy that I had met at the Harley dealer in Salina the day before. These two guys could not have been more different. Thank goodness on this trip the vast majority of the folks I have met during my journey have been absolutely incredible as was this guy at the Harley dealer. Just nice, concerned common people with a real zest for life.

The weather continued to improve as the days ride went along. I decided that I would see if I could make it all the way to Colorado Springs or maybe even Pueblo, Colorado on that day. Although much of the ride was beautiful, by late afternoon the thunder heads were building, but I knew I was past the worst of the weather from Fey, etc. The Weather Channel that evening said that the temp was going to drop to a low of 45 degrees that night and rain was highly likely early in the AM.

I got cleaned up, got something to eat and hit the rack early because I really wanted to be on the road early due to the forecast for the day. The good news was the farther west I got the weather looked like it was going to be just fine. I woke up the next morning about 5:00AM and did load up Captain America in the dark and had some breakfast and did some work related stuff waiting for it to get light outside. Once daylight arrived, I motored!

Wearing full cold weather and rain gear I roared out of town early that morning. It seemed freezing cold to me and that was a bit of a shock to my entire system. One hour into the ride I was hoping and praying that I would see a place to stop and get a cup or two of warm java. When I saw a place I knew there was a God!!

By the time I got out of Colorado and into New Mexico that morning I knew the good weather was coming my way. At each stop I would take off more of my rain and/or cold weather gear and by Albuquerque I was in my full summer riding uniform… tee shirt and just jeans. Oh, did that feel good. I even broke out more sun block than usual. I decided to push onto Gallup, New Mexico before calling it a night. It was a long day, but definitely a good day of riding. I could tell that I was starting to anticipate the end was getting near and I was actually getting excited about that.

That night after studying the anticipated weather patterns for the next several days it became apparent to me that I would not need my rain gear or all the heavy clothing much past 9:00 or 10:00 AM in the morning.

I knew the next day was going to be hot and a long one. I jumped out of bed in Gallup, packed, and hit the road at just about daybreak. The day was pleasant until after I got through Sedona, Arizona… one of my all time favorite places. The elevation there keeps it much cooler than Phoenix and as I headed in that direction I began to drink a great deal more water and Gatorade. I decided to really push myself that day and see if I could make it as far as Yuma, Arizona. During the day I drank ½ gallon of water and a ½ gallon as the daytime temp reached 110 degrees.

There is no question that I pushed myself to hard that day. As I was nearing Yuma I could feel some weird changes taking place in my body and I realized that I was not that far away from suffering significant heat stroke. I thought I had consumed plenty of fluids, but apparently not. By the time I got checked into the hotel I was really dizzy and felt like I could vomit. All that evening I was unable to eat much or drink anything other than glass after glass of water. Also, my conversations that night with people in person and on the phone were not particularly coherent and I had a difficult time processing clear thoughts or articulating what I wanted to say. It was almost like a fog was over me. This is not a good thing under any circumstances, but riding a motorcycle under these conditions makes no sense at all!

The next day I really realized just how bad my heat stroke must have been the night before when I had to ask directions for the way to get back on the highway that I had just ridden in on the night before. Again, very dumb of me and I will try not to make that same mistake again.

Once pointed in the right direction, I jumped on Captain America and headed into the last leg of my adventure. Knowing that the vast majority of the motorcycle accidents occur within 20 miles of your home, I decided to be extra diligent on this the last day of my Cruising for the Cure journey.

The ride to San Diego and then north to Carlsbad could not have been more pleasant in spite of a brief shower that hit me early on that morning. It was amazing to me that there were very few clouds in the sky, but just enough to give me one last soaking from “the black cloud” that has been hanging over me most of the time since late May. Oh well, what else should I expect? The good news is that the rain ended as quickly as it started and my cloths dried out in short order, but I could not help but laugh out loud about this aspect of my trip.

As I headed into California and hit San Diego and then started on the 30 minute drive north to Carlsbad, I could not help but to think about how important it was to stay focused and diligent during the last hours of my journey. I also could not help but to smile about the fact that I was about to accomplished something that few others have ever done before me. I was tired, beat, but still grinning from ear-to-ear.

As I got closer and closer to home I found myself starting to realize that this incredible journey was coming to a close. I was both happy and sad. Happy that I made it and could now see my family and relax. Sad because this once in a lifetime adventure was now really wrapping up. I decided then to wait several days before making my last blog entry regarding the trip. I want do give myself a few days to absorb and reflect about the highs and lows and what I learned from my travels.

I hope you will tune in for my final entry. At that time I will also introduce you to some more of the great people I met along the way.

Hope you enjoy your day,


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Flirting with Fey, Hanna and Gustav...

As you probably know, I have had to face some significant weather issues along with some mechanical problems with Captain America since leaving San Diego on May 29. I can now confirm that a suspicious black cloud full of rain, hail, lightening, thunder, and God knows what else has been trailing me during most of my journey like a senior detective following a high profile crime suspect just prior to making the arrest. The main difference is that the detective would probably keep a little distance between the suspect and himself.

In reality this culprit black cloud does not just follow me, but dumps on me every chance it gets which is almost everyday. This dumping is kind of like the hazing that went on at the ZAE fraternity house back in 65 while I was attending “Harvard of the West” (aka San Jose State).

Now let’s talk about the oil light issue that I mentioned in my blog update on August 25. I took Captain America into the dealer as planned for what I thought was going to be a very minor repair based what the dealer told me the day before. As it turned out I was that I was stuck in Monroe (not that there is anything really wrong with Monroe) for two days as they worked through the “minor issue” that turned out to be a bad oil pump, a clogged oil pressure release valve, and some bearings that were about shot due to lack of oil. After two long days and $750, I was once again ready to “rumble” once again. The Harley guys even spit shined my bike which was a nice way to get back out on the road. I must say that these guys at the Harley dealer could not have been nicer and more helpful. I really liked them a lot.

While I was in Monroe I studied the Weather Channel and used my iPhone to access the risk of these storms and to develop the best possible route that would allow me to further my goal of hitting all 49 states while trying to shake or at least minimize the “black cloud demon”. After considerable analysis, I decided to alter my previously planned route again and head farther west to ride through Texas, Oklahoma, and then turn back east and ride through Arkansas before heading back to pick up Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, before turning West again for the last leg.

I have to say that I found Texas and Oklahoma somewhat uneventful on this ride. I usually really like riding through both of these states, but I felt a bit rushed knowing the amount of major weather systems that were breathing down my neck. It was not uncommon to hear the folks on the Weather Channel talking about storms that could produce 1 to 2 feet of rain. Needless to say, I wanted no part of any of them because I could be held up for a week or longer if flooding really hit an area that I was stuck in. Once I got into Arkansas my mood became more relaxed and the scenery improved as I rode throughout the state. Great state and great ride with decent, but deteriorating weather.

I also really enjoyed the journey through Mississippi and Alabama. The highlight came when I pulled into Tupelo, Mississippi one very late afternoon. I had planned on getting some gas and then finding a hotel and hitting the rack early that night. I always try to fill up Captain America at the end of the day so as to start in the morning with a full tank. Don’t ask me why I do this, but I think it may be because it is one less thing I have to do in the morning before I pull out of town. While in the gas station I said to the women behind the counter, “Isn't Tupelo the birthplace of the “King”. She smiled and said, “You bet it is”. I asked her, “Is his boyhood home still standing and if so, where can I find it”. She smiled and said, “Yes it is and it is only three short blocks away”. She gave me directions and I headed on over to take a look.

As you can see, there is no doubt that Elvis came from a very modest background. I must confess that I was never a huge Elvis fan when he was alive until his Hawaii comeback concert at Aloha Stadium, but I really grew to appreciate him more and more as the years have gone by. I have to say that I was in total awe regarding the fact that I was sitting on the porch of the home he was born in. This house was build by his father Vernon. Wow, that was “way cool” and it just goes to show you that in America anything is possible! Also, I must say that everyone I met in Tupelo was so nice and the city had a great vibe about it. I would definately go back again at some time and maybe hang around a bit more.

By this time Fey had done its thing and everyone was now focused on Gustav which looked even more menacing, but predicting where it was going to make landfall was less certain.

I decided to make a run for Florida via Alabama and see if I could beat Gustav, Hanna, Ike, etc., etc. I planned to enter Florida north of Panama City and then ride along the Panhandle before heading south to Orlando and then onto Miami. I wanted to visit with friends and colleagues from Interval International in both cities, meet with media, and say hello to the Dave Siegel and his team at Westgate Resorts. While in Miami I also wanted to meet up with my old friend (Fredy Dellis) from my RCI days.

Unfortunately, all these plans had to be scrapped due the Southeast experiencing a very active hurricane season this year. Bottom line, I rode the entire Panhandle in Florida from Panama City to Jacksonville, but never got farther south than Lake City, Florida. Once I hit Jacksonville I headed north and rode through the east coast of Georgia and on to South Carolina.

Although I got hit with on and off again rain, I thoroughly enjoyed my ride through Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. To top it off, my bike was once again humming like a church choir. My only real disappointment in Georgia was that the uncertain weather precluded me from going to see Heidi, Eric and their kids (my cousin Sharon’s daughter and her great family in Atlanta). Oh well, next time!

By the time I pulled into Walterboro, South Carolina last Sunday night the weather had deteriorated significantly. Fey was now raging and Hanna was looming in the wings. It did not take me long that evening to come to the decision that I had only one logical path. Doreen kept watching the weather channel over the last week and on Sunday she gave me some very good advice. She said, “Go high, go high!” With that great advice I decided to see if I could outrun the systems by heading northwest.

I ended up going through North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and I am now in Pueblo, Colorado. Over the past 5 days I have been in rain gear most of the time. By far the most challenging weather hit when I was leaving Columbia, Missouri on Wednesday morning. The news the night before said that Columbia was due to get 5 to 7 inches of rain in the next 48 to 72 hours as Fey was set to meet up with a cold front coming out of Canada. The temp was expected to drop from 90 degrees at 6:00PM the night I arrived and then the high for the next day was going to be in the mid 60's.

The storm hit that night about midnight. When I woke in the morning it was obvious that the rain had started quite a few hours before. After I jumped out of bed at about 5:30AM and looked out the window it was obvious that I had a wet day of riding in front of me. I loaded up and hit the road at about 7:00AM. Loading a bike in driving rain is never any fun, but that day it was obvious that it was going to get much worse before it got better. I had no clue if I would make it 10 miles or 300 miles, but my bet was on closer to 10 based upon the downpour and the quite high winds. Obviously, this makes for very dangerous riding conditions.

That day I made it about 280 miles that day (200 of which were in incredibly heavy rain). At times is was extremely difficult to see and I saw a really bad accident. A big tracker trailer rig going in the opposite direction had flipped on its side and was blocking one lane and the shoulder. The accident had happened prior me going by and the entire cab of the truck was totally engulfed in flames that shot above the cab by about 20 feet. I seriously doubt the driver of the truck got out alive due to the fact that his door was facing the pavement and how quickly the fire seemed to swallow the entire cab. A very scary site indeed and all I kept thinking about was that his family did not even know about the accident yet as I drove by!

To show you how hard it was raining, even with my rain gear on all morning, I had to stop at a rest stop during a huge downpour and open my bag and try to quickly put on two “dry t-shirts” because the ones I were wearing had somehow gotten totally soaked and I mean totally soaked. I went as fast as I could, but the fresh ones were damp by the time I got them on. They were still a lot better than the ones I had just taken off. Several people watch me do this form the comfort of their cars and I could tell that they were feeling real sorry for me by this time, but also real thankful that they were not as dumb as I am!

By the time I got to Salina, Kansas the weather had improved a bit, but it was still not all that great. Once in Salina I wanted to get a hotel room quickly and get checked in, warm, get cleaned up, relax a bit, get something to eat and maybe hit a show. The hotel was the Americas Best Value Inn and apparently it was owned by the South Asian Indian fellow who “reluctantly” checked me in. He kept looking at my beard, my hair, and then my bike before starting over again. I could just tell he did not like what he was looking at. I felt it was kind of weird, not real comfortable, but I tried to be nice and he finally gave me the room key. I have to admit I was looking a bit scruffy after riding the wet ride, but little did I know what was about to “come down”.

After he gave me my key I headed to my room. I always turn on the Weather Channel as soon as I get in the room to start figuring out my route for the next day as I unpack my bike and get settled in. First off, the remote control did not turn on the TV. I figured that the batteries may be dead so I turned it on from the set itself. Just then the motel owner was walking by the open door to my room and I explained to him that the remote did not work. He walked in and took one look at it and started yelling at me saying that I broke the remote. I was so surprised that I just started laughing. I asked him politely if he would just get another remote from another room or change my room since I had not even taken anything off Captain America at this time.

The guy went absolutely “nuclear” on me and told me to, “Get out of my hotel because I have had to deal with people like you before”! He would not even give me my signed credit card slip back unless I gave me my credit card again which I was not about to do. I called the police from the front office and told them about the discrimination this guy was pulling on me. The police told me that it was a civil mater and the cop told me to just leave the hotel and call your credit card company. Before I left the hotel I walked back over to the room and took photos of the way I was leaving it to make sure this wacko did not try to tell Visa that I destroyed the room. Keep in mind, I was not in the room for 2 minutes before "Mr. Personality" came in and starting ranting and raving at me.

For the first time in my life I felt first hand blatant discrimination. I kept asking the guy why he was discriminating against me and why he was being such a jerk. I think I actually used another word other than jerk, but by this time I was ready to drag the guy over the counter and open up a giant can of "woop-ass" on him, but my better judgement kicked in and I ended up leaving and just calling Visa. What a jerk! Now I know I don’t look my best at this point after being on the road since May 29th, but discrimination is discrimination! Would you rent a room to a guy who looks like me?

I ended up going up the road about three miles and found a great hotel, did my wash, had some dinner and got ready for my westward blitz. Weather looks like it is going to be a challenge to the end, but I was now really starting to look forward to wrapping this trip up. I figured some 400 to 500+ mile days were now in order.

The adventure continues and no doubt it will until I pull into my driveway!! Have a great weekend guys.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Poole's "Sporting Life"

Part of what has made my journey so enjoyable and interesting is that, as many of you know, I am interviewing people that I meet along the way about their version of a "sporting life". This is in conjunction with my sponsorship assignment with China's largest sports media group (Titan). I thought it would be interesting and fun for you to have an opportunity to read about some of my new friends that I have met during my adventure.

While riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia I met Richard and Maggie Poole. This 48 year old couple is from Youngsville, North Carolina and have been married for 29 years. Richard and Maggie met while working in a local restaurant while back in high school. Richard currently works for the Materials Division of the Electrical Coop for North Carolina. They have two sons ages 25 and 28 years old (they did have a middle son, but he passed away).

The couple have always enjoyed a sporting lifestyle. Richard is a former baseball player and coached their sons in the sport until they entered high school. They enjoy hiking, fishing and anything that will get them off the couch!

Now that the kids are out of the house, their sporting lifestyle tends to be focused around their bright yellow “T Bucket” (picture attached). It started as a 1923 Ford pickup truck. Maggie calls it “Richard’s Mistress! He found it about three years ago sitting in someone’s front yard. He asked the person out in front of the house if it was for sale. At that point there was only the shell of the body and the frame (no engine, radiator, or transmission). He made a deal with the guy and bought it for $1800. Over the next two years be put another $6200 into it and today this canary yellow T Bucket is the center of their sporting lifestyle.

No question that it is a work in progress, but they now belong to the NTBA (National T Bucket Association) and travel the country to events, shows, and exploring small wineries they find along the way. In the trailer they carry tools, suitcases, camping gear, and Maggie always leaves room for a case or two of good wine they find along the way. Richard admits that he has not yet convinced Maggie to camp, but he said that will come around soon. She just laughed!

They both love their “ride”, being outside, and enjoy all the people they meet along the way. They feel their T Bucket is a great way to stay active, meet new friends it gets them out of the house and away from all of their everyday hassles. They stop frequently along the way to view the scenery and to take short hikes. They both said they never are in a bad mood or have any stress after a nice long ride in the fresh air.

Both Richard and Maggie are so proud of their T Bucket and what this does for them. Richard says that Maggie is always asking him to take her for a ride. He even let’s her drive it, but more often than not he is the captain and she is the co-pilot. They said the car makes them feel young and hip! He said it will do over 100 miles an hour, but he keeps in within 10 miles per hour of the speed limit. They will even take it out of the garage for a spin in the middle of winter assuming it is nice day without snow. They bundle up and hit the road both grinning from ear-to-ear for an hour or two and then carefully put her back in the garage until next time there is a break in the weather.

The current trip they are on will cover over 1,500 miles. Both felt strongly that this is one of the best things they have ever done, but were only able to afford it once the kids were gone. Maggie felt it was a great $8,000 investment and a super way to reconnect with her husband after so many years with the kids living with them. Seeing them both climb up on the rear tire to step into their T Bucket was a real treat for me.

They are already planning on building another T Bucket that will be nicer, faster, and even more fun. They both commented that it has revitalized their marriage, gets them out in the fresh air, and gives them something to really look forward to doing together. Richard said, “It beats TV by a mile”.

The Poole’s feel this new hobby will keep them young and allow them to enjoy a sporting lifestyle for decades to come. Their exercise these days consists of working in their one acre garden that surrounds their house. Both love this work in progress too and said that they get plenty of exercise keeping the grounds up.

Relative to diet, they will pretty much eat what ever they like, but Maggie added that it has to be cooked (no sushi for this kid) and they both love plenty of veggies and chicken. Meat and pork are also high on their list. They seemed to be more interested in living than dieting!

The Poole’s were a great couple for me to meet during my journey and I thoroughly enjoyed the hour we spent together. I saw them two or three other times during the day and we always waved as we passed one another along this scenic highway.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Loved the Northeast! Dodging Southeast storms!

As mentioned the Northeast has been one of the highlights of my journey to date. I anticipated that parts of this leg of my adventure would be good, but I honestly had no idea just how incredible this part of America really is. Any trip to New England is not complete without stopping at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Rutland, Vermont.

One of the cutest towns I have come across was Woodstock, Vermont (not Woodstock, New York). While riding through town I saw three little kids on the other side of the street selling lemonade for only 25 cents a glass. You could just tell that they were dying to have a customer stop and take them up on their offer. I rode past about thee blocks and then decided to turn around and go back to buy a glass from them and to talk to them for a bit about their new business. I don’t know about you guys, but as kids, we had many of lemonade stand and would actually go door-to-door trying to sell soft drinks and/or collect refundable soft drink bottles or extra coat hangers and then sell them back to the cleaners. As I pulled up it was so obvious that they were all so excited to have one of their first customer of the day. There was no doubt that these two brothers and their younger sister were three aspiring entrepreneurial Donald Trump types looking to get on the Apprentice. They were so much fun to talk to and were also so polite. When I gave them three dollars and told them to “keep the change” you should have seen them yelling to their Mom and Dad with such joy. The parents were really cool too. I thought you might enjoy seeing them manning their battle stations like the staff at Starbucks.

The ride through New Hampshire and Main was difficult to top even though weather was working against me much of the time. After spending my first night in Bangor, Maine, I rode up state to Moosehead Lake which was absolutely breathtaking (a must see if you go to Maine). The next day I woke up early in the morning after spending the night in Waterville, Maine with the sun shining bright. This was the first day in quite a while that sun glasses were part of the “uniform for the day”. I was pumped up and decided to take my bike over to a do it yourself car was and get about three weeks of rain, dirt, and crud off of my dear old Captain America before a great day of motorcycling. I jumped out of bed and ever so confidently walk out to my bike only to find out that all my turn signals were flashing when I turned the key on and then I “tried” to start it. Only one issue, nothing happened. I had horn, lights, but no familiar sound of the engine turning over or the rumble of a cold engine could be heard.

What you could hear that early morning sunshine was Dave “going off”. I then paused and took a deep breath and started to determine my next step. I first called the towing service and had them order a pickup. Yes, there is a AAA type tow service for motorcycles. Second, I determined the closest Harley dealer which was about 25 miles away and waited the 30 minutes until they opened.

I got Ron (the service manager) on the phone at 8:31AM and told him that I needed a 10,000 mile service and a new rear tire and then I dropped the bomb on him about having to be towed into his dealership in Augusta, Maine. I described the problem and he casually asked me “if it was possibly that I had my security system turned on”. I said, “No way, I have not had it turned on since the day I bought the bike”. He suggested that I take my keys while keeping him on my mobile phone and that “we” walk out to the bike and hit the alarm button twice that is on my key chain”. By this time I would agree to try anything other than the dreaded “tow truck of shame”. I agreed and then hit the alarm button twice and then hit the starter button and the familiar sound of the roar and rumble quickly returned. Ron just started laughing over the phone. Thank God he could not see my red face over the phone! Apparently the ton of coins in my pocket hit the alarm the night before and disabled the start system. Oh well, you learn something new everyday. Did I feel like a fool? You bet, but what else is new? I was so grateful that decided to ride my bike to Augusta anyway and have the service and new tire put on even though it was a rare sunny day.

From Augusta I took Hwy 3 over to Hwy 1 and had a wonderful ride down the Maine Coast. I ended up spending the night in Brunswick and then headed south on Hwy 1 through Portland, Maine and into Massachusetts. I rode through Boston and out onto Cape Code. Sorry to those Boston readers, but I simply did not “get” Cape Cod!

The ride through Rhode Island, Connecticut, Eastern New York, Eastern Pennsylvania, and New Jersey was deeply forgettable. The scenery and ride started to turn back into a more the positive light once I got into to Maryland and then nature’s eye candy returned once I entered Virginia.

For the next three days the weather could not have been better. Highs in the mid 80’s with sun galore. One of my major goals for this trip has been to ride the Skyline and Blue Ridge Parkway from Front Royal, Virginia (the Shenandoah National Park) to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Virginia was everything I had expected. Warm southern hospitality, incredible green mountains and rolling hills, and the Blue Ridge Parkway had great views around almost every sweeping turn and plenty of tree canopies covering the entire roadway. This is a motorcyclist’s dream.
I had a somewhat bizarre experience in Asheville, North Carolina. As I was pulling into a mom and pop type motel there were a couple of guys sitting in front of the check in office having a beer. One was sober and sane, but the other guy was three “sheets to the wind” and you could tell “a bit down on his luck”. I excused myself as soon as possible once the “three sheets to the wind” guy jumps up in a very aggressive fashion and demands that 8 migrant workers return the $3.00 that the guy had given to them the night before to buy him dinner. The sane guy (who had just met the drunk too) and I looked at each other and concluded that this guy is about to get into a major “UFC throw down” with these guys over $3.00. The situation calmed down after about 5 minutes of yelling.

I ended up going into my room to get cleaned up and then headed across the street for dinner and a beer at a sports pub. As I arrive at the pub I see the sane guy and we talk about the idiot who for $3.00 could have been seriously hurt had these 8 guys decided to shut him up. That being said -within about 10 minutes the drunken guy and one other guy covered in prison tattoos came into the pub. I thought this could be interesting. The drunken guy took off shortly thereafter. The other guy was a really nice guy, but I could tell he had a flash temper… what a story this was about to become.. You know me, I wanted to ask him some questions so I did over a beer. His name was “Tattoo” (surprise, surprise!). The guy was 31 years old and had gold front teeth like the guy in the James Bond movie. He had a medium to thin build, spiked hair, and tattoos everywhere… neck, arms, legs, back, stomach, etc. Here is what I learned from my conversation with him:
1. He has spent just under 25% of his life in prison (7.5 years)
2. He has been arrested for assault 14 times, robbery once and convicted of manslaughter
3. He said in prison you learn to fight or you die! His hands were mangled from all his fights.
4. He has 9 children by 9 different women
5. He has less than 2 years to live due to a rare disease that has destroyed his kidneys
6. He is hoping to stay alive for the two years because he has some insurance policy that will allow his kids to be taken care of when he dies
7. He works as a railing installer and “makes good money” and is trying to do right for his children
8. He has a lot of regrets in his life and would like to have a second shot at it
9. His former girlfriend hit him in the face with a beer bottle in February of this year causing multiple fractures and requiring 75 stitches. He has had to have three follow-up operations since then to try to repair the damage. I asked “Why did she do it?” He said that he took a sip out of her “wine cup” and “she just went off”! He then lifted his shirt and showed us three other healed wounds where she had stabbed him in the past on three separate occasions. He said he is now done with her.
10. He next showed us his forearms… he is what some would call “a cutter” kind of like Angelina Jolie in the old days. He must have had 15 or 20 bad scars on each arm where he said that he used to like to “cut himself”.
11. I asked him how do you do tattoos while in prison? He said that you take a piece of the heel of your shoe and light it on fire with a piece of paper or cardboard held above the flame. The soot sticks to the bottom of the cardboard and this black soot is the basis for the tattoo ink. You then get a paper clip or pen and use it as the needle.
12. He is now having the black tattoos removed (really just neutralized) and then covered up with new colour tattoos (everyone knows they are prison tattoos).
13. He really wished that he never had gone the tattoo route. Why? “Because when I walk down the street do you know what it feels like to see people run in their homes, lock their doors, and close their blinds? He then followed it up by saying, “Do you know how this makes me feel?”
14. He was quite intelligent and I could tell at one time he was a very nice looking guy. He does not read and the only TV he watches is UFC which he loves.

Tattoo was a really a nice guy and I thoroughly enjoyed talking to him, but I could not help but wonder what roll environment, versus heredity, played in making him who he turned out to be. No question he had some real regrets in how his life has turned out. This was quite an experience for me and thanks to my scruffy look these days I was able to talk with Tattoo without him feeling I was judging him. I decided to call it a night when the drunken guy returned and kept butting in and when Tattoo almost snapped and called the guy out. I felt it was high time to get the heck out of Dodge (I mean Asheville).

Guess what happened on my forth day of cruising the Shenadoah Valley? The day started with very dense fog and then it turned into what else… rain, rain, and more rain! By this time tropical storm Fay was raging in Florida and headed my way. I decided to go south and west and pickup Alabama and Mississippi and then head back to Atlanta, Georgia to spend the night with Heidi and Eric (my cousin’s daughter and son-in-law). It would be really fun to see them after the great time we had together in Montana back in July. Unfortunately Fay now had moved up into the entire Southeast section of the U.S. and my plans were again foiled. After riding 430 miles in the pretty heavy rain I ended up in Jackson, Mississippi and the weather was worsening by the hour. The next day I realized that Georgia, South Carolina and Florida would have to wait a bit due to Fay hanging around like a bad habit.

One of the first Coca Cola bottling plants in America (1894) located in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
I decided to try to head west that morning and pickup Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma before heading back east to Georgia, South Carolina and Florida. My plan did not work out too well. I made it only 15 miles when the steady heavy rain turned into a fire hose type event. I quickly realized two things. First, this was dangerous and second that it was no fun. I pulled off and got a hotel room for the night and did some work yesterday and again this morning before heading down the road.

Today the weather forecast was poor at best, but I loaded up Captain America by about noon and hit the road. The rain was heavy most of the afternoon until I got about 20 miles from Monroe, Louisiana and then the skies opened up with the full fury of Mother Nature. As I was pulling off the highway after only doing about 107 miles, I noticed my oil light came on again when I was idling. This happened a few days earlier when I was up in Nashville, Tennessee. At that time I had dismissed it because I checked my oil and it was fine. This time I could not dismiss it again. Something was obviously wrong with Captain America again!

As it turned out there was a Harley dealer only about 2 miles away. I rode over to it in the driving rain and talked to them. Unfortunately their service department was not open today, but the parts guy strongly suggested that I should not continue riding until I sort out this latest “challenge”. I am now scheduled to take in my bike tomorrow at 9:00AM and see if they can get me out back on the road by the afternoon. I sure hope they can so I am not stuck in Monroe for the next few days. After all, I still have a lot of territory to cover.

Oh no, I just got word that another tropical storm (named Gustav) has now formed south of Cuba. Currently winds are already over 60 miles per hour and it could be classified as a full hurricane within the next 24 to 48 hours. They anticipate at least very heavy rainfall and maybe once it passes over Cuba it may well turn north just as Fay did. Here we go again! The adventure continues!

That is about it from here folks. Have a great week and enjoy one another,


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dog of the Week - 18 August 2008

Micheal Phelps has nothing on our Current Champ.

Attached is a photo of Sophie working out for the Doggie Summer Games. I am pleased to report that Precious swam away with 9 Gold Medals at this year's competition. Needless to say, doggie paddling is her fastest event! Wow, can you believe she is this good looking and such a super athlete as well?

Well folks, I wish I had better news to report about Annie’s performance in Dog of the Week, but the facts are the facts. She simply didn’t have what it takes to become “America’s Next Top Model or Dog of the Week”. Personally I think it could well be the Atkins Diet that Sharon and Jon have put her on or she has just aged so much after having to open up a can of woop-ass on all those bears living in Montana.

So, once again, much to my surprise, Sophie has retained her crown as Dog of the Week. That being said, this week I have TWO Contenders this week for her title.

First up is Kodiak Sugar Pants

I would first like now to introduce them to you. First up is a scruffy little scraper called Kodiak Sugar Pants. As you can see from her picture she has little going for her other than the fact that she knows how to sit in a bicycle basket without looking like a total dork. Honestly I have seen a better looking coat on a homeless person in South Philly! This “little jewel” belongs to my brother Andy and his wife Leanne.

I would not ordinarily include in my Dog of the Week competition a 10 year old mix between a tea cup Pomeranian and a Dingo, but I have gotten so tired of all of the whining e-mails and phone calls that I decided to bite the bullet and give her a “legacy driven” shot at the Champ. I think you will agree that Kodiak Sugar Pants is a prime example of why Hermosa Beach California needs to immediately adopt a mandatory spaying law of stray bitches within their city limits.

The Next Contender

The second Contender this week is a pooch with a real problem. Her owner obviously had a bit of a lead foot and “Katie No Pockets” found a womb like hiding place to help get her over her fear of riding with such a maniac. The issue now is that she is spending all her free time at the chiropractor's office!

Well gang, the choice is yours to determine who stays and who goes. Will Sophie retain her crown or will Kodiak Sugar Pants or Katie No Pockets finally be able to do what no other dog has been able to do and that is to unseat the Reigning Champion?

Only time will tell and it is now totally up to you. So, please vote only once and help us all determine “Who is the fairest of them all?”

Tracking Dave's Journey

The Plan

My plan is to have a great day everyday and to help make a difference!

On May 29, 2008 at 7:00AM I will throw my left leg over my modern day version of Peter Fonda’s “Captain America” Harley Davidson motorcycle and I will begin a 3+ month journey of a lifetime. I have dreamt about this trip for years and have meticulously planned every aspect of it from what to take, where to go, what to see and most importantly, what I want to accomplish during such a journey.

I plan to ride the back roads of America through 49 of the 50 states in our beloved country and much of Canada in a single ride while hopefully raising $100,000 for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. Weather and my mood will dictate my direction far more than any set schedule. I am firmly committed to ride through a great deal of every state and not to just clip the corners in order to be able to scratch them off my list. I am planning on both camping and staying in hotels along the way. I anticipate that I will log between 300 to 400 miles per day on most of my riding days.

No riding companions or chase cars for me during this journey – just my own thirst for adventure, wacko sense of humor and willingness to talk to anyone, anytime and anywhere as I motor throughout North America while getting to know the locals along the way. I want to learn as much as I can about their views toward life, family, sports and their careers.

In addition, one of my primary goals is to spread the word regarding the importance for regular breast cancer screening exams and to help to raise money so that we can find the cure sooner versus later. Be it big city malls or small town coffee shops in the middle of rural North America, I want to help raise the awareness about this disease and hopefully get more people committed to help us find the cure as I gain more insight into the lives of people I meet during my journey.

My custom 2003 Harley Davidson Dyna Wide Glide – “Captain America” – has been outfitted with a special handle bar camera mounting system and custom rear rack that will allow me to carry all the essentials for my journey as well as the things I need to be able to continue to update my blog, communicate with my family and friends, and to be able to do some work while on the road.

Follow my Journey

I will be updating my blog at least once a week with stories about my trip, the people I meet, and I will also post photos I take along the way. In addition, I will keep you posted about media interviews I am able to arrange over the next several months as I publicize the purpose for this journey. As you can see, the blog will allow us to communicate with one another and I am really looking forward to hearing from you.

I will try to describe the good, the bad and the ugly regarding my travels. As in any adventure, there will be highs and lows and some incredible experiences and stories that I will no doubt want to share with you. As an example, I can just imagine the feelings of excitement and fear of the unknown that I will experience as I first pull out of my driveway on May 29th. How will I feel after my first breakdown, severe storm, or after a long day in the saddle seeing incredible scenery, or getting to know my first truly fascinating person? It should be interesting and I hope you will enjoy my adventure along with me. Remember, in motorcycle riding as in life, "It is not the destination, but the journey that matters!"

The Why

How many times have you heard someone say that they are going to do “this” or “that” when they have more free time and/or the money? Often their dreams are never realized because “life” gets in the way and the next thing they know it is simply too late for one reason or another. Well, one of my primary objectives in life is not to let this happen to me. What is the old saying, “You only go around once!”

I have been blessed with a great family and career and have had an opportunity to live, work and play around the world. I am combining two of my great passions in life which are my love of motorcycles and a desire to find the cure for breast cancer.

Why Motorcycles?

I fell in love with Harley Davidson motorcycles 15 years ago when Bill (my buddy) first showed up at my house riding his new bike. I only remember three things about that day – candy apple red paint, chrome everywhere and Bill’s ear-to-ear grin! He decided to take up the sport after one of our closest friends (Dick Fletcher) passed away while several of us were surfing in Del Mar. Dick’s passing was a real tragedy and wake-up call for us all. Bill had concluded that life is short and very unpredictable and he wanted to start living everyday to the fullest!

Over the initial concerns my wife had about the dangers of motorcycle riding, I soon followed Bill’s lead and bought my first Harley and have been a long distance rider ever since with some trips covering over 7,000 miles.

Why Breast Cancer?

Because this dreaded disease has taken so many lives and impacted so many others. My family is no exception.

Doreen (the love of my life) is one of the lucky and growing number of breast cancer survivors. It was a real eye opener for us both back in 2005 when she was first diagnosed shortly after our close friend (Gerri Hickman) had just lost her 4+ year battle with the disease. These two events rocked our world, brought us even closer together and made us realize that the years are marching on. It also made our family realize that we do have so much to be truly thankful for and we must treat every day as a gift.

The Beginning

On May 29th I will arrive at VG’s Donuts and Bakery located in downtown Cardiff by the Sea at exactly 7:15AM sharp. You ask why start from VG’s? Because it is the best darn donut shop and bakery in all of Southern California and I should know.

I have been going there religiously for the past 30+ years whenever I am in town. It is not just about the donuts: it is about a great family business that is truly focused on quality bakery products and friendly service. Joe and his family have built a thriving business over the past 39 years. VG’s for as long as I can remember has had fiercely loyal customers from CEOs to surf bums. The best way to describe it is kind of like a combination of Cheers and Central Perk! Oh yes, VG stands for "Very Good".

For more than three decades, I have been one of their loyal customers and a friend. As an example, on May 28th 1977 at 5:00AM I even pulled off the freeway while my wife (Doreen) was in heavy labor with our first child (Brendon) to grab my usual order to go. Needless to say, she was not overly pleased with me that morning as she was not enjoying the wonderful smell of hot coffee and donuts while she was huffing and puffing and getting much closer to giving birth to our ‘little” 9 pound 3 ounce bundle of joy... “Brennie-Boy”. Later that day, and even today, she says, “what the hell were you thinking? We still laugh about it all these years later.

I have chosen VG’s as the starting point for my epic journey so that I can have an opportunity to throw back one last great cup of coffee and maybe a maple glazed and cinnamon crumb or two. It will also give me an opportunity to say goodbye to family, friends, interested on lookers, and any media before I head north towards Alaska on the first stage of my adventure.

I hope you can come down to VG’s that morning for a cup of coffee and a donut or two and give me the kind of send off that only a “wacko” like me would enjoy. I will even buy the coffee and a couple of donuts for the first 50 people who show up to send me off in style... and they say bribery does not work!

At about 8:15AM on that morning I will say my last goodbyes, climb on board “Captain America”, hit my electric starter, the... my journey begins and yes, this will be a day that I will never forget!

Our Family

Our Family
Kelly, Dave, Doreen, Sophie (aka Precious) and Brendon
A beautiful winter day at the beach in San Diego, December 2006
This “Cruising for the Cure” breast cancer fundraising ride would not be possible without the generous support of Titan Media, our sole media sponsor. Titan is the largest sports media publishing company in China with over 7 million readers. Their major monthly magazines included All Sports (the Chinese equivalent of our Sports Illustrated) and Outside. They also publish a series of sporting newspapers that come out several times a week.

The group is very supportive of the “Cruising for the Cure” because this disease knows no borders and more and more Chinese are impacted by it every day.

They are also enthusiastic about running a series of articles in their various publications about my adventure and the people I meet along the way. As you may or may not know, a growing number of men and women in China have adopted a sporting lifestyle in order to stay fit, reduce stress, and to live longer, healthier, and happier lives. They are all very keen to learn more about the sporting lifestyles enjoyed by both Americans and Canadians living in both countries.

During my journey, I will be interviewing young and old alike regarding this subject and sharing what I learn with their readers in both their newspapers and monthly magazines.
Corporate Donors include the following: