You are all the best friends a guy could have. I began writing this a couple of weeks ago…
I found an encouraging note yesterday from Dr. Shapiro, going all the way back to 2015. He was kindly responding to a suggestion I’d made about the group being less dependent on me planning our annual ride, and reasons for such. I find myself in a similar situation now, perhaps even more so.
My passion for seeing and riding with all of you has not diminished in the least; quite the contrary. i crave and cherish your company both as a group and individually more than ever. i just may be constrained to staying closer to home than ever before.
If you’d all like to find a time to come to Portland this summer and ride, I’ll work it out. Rick, who is recuperating and nursing his achilles for the next year, has said he’d join us anywhere just for the fellowship if he can. As a group or individual, if you ever want to come here and rent a bike and ride I can usually work it out. But to be clear, this year I can’t travel out and be with you guys. We’ve rarely had more than 7 of us at a time anyways, and if you could all get to Greg’s or somewhere back east you really ought to do it, imo. Please call me if you’d like more intimate details of what I’m up to, but just in case you don’t read the rest of the note I just wanted to answer the burning question some of you have been asking regarding ‘where are we meeting this year?’.
I began writing all of you just to explain my current life situation, but soon realized that what I was writing is more like a treatment for a film we should make someday. We’re all busy, very busy. I’m busy; I’m not busier than anybody else, less than probably most of you; but busier than I thought I’d be at 63.
When I saw how long this message was gonna be, I decided to keep it in email form so that , if you get into this like I did; you can edit my mistakes, make your own comments, correct the story. I think my memory is decent, but this note morphed into ruminations; ruminations about the past 16 years and how our lives became tangled up with each other without our bodies getting tangled up in motorcycle metal and pavement. So, if… when… I get a fact wrong or you’d like to add a piece, please do! I think we have a lovely story. Sorry, i forgot about our toxic maleness; we have a gnarly manly saga.
Before you ask, lisa is doing well. We’ve had to keep it on the DL for almost a year now, but her doctor is moving next month from Manhattan to Austin, Texas. While i’m sad that this change greatly reduces our likelihood of getting to New York, I think it will help us personally in a number of ways. For some time the trip to New York has been a kick in the teeth financially in spite of the sacrificial help of the Macks. Tenetia and C have kept us as family for years now. We’re still planning on seeing each other, but probably not in New York.
We’ve been invited to come speak in Austin when lisa needs to see the doctor, and have been offered a place to stay so it might be an upgrade in every way except for the lack of cold noodles, the Macks, and getting to watch Rick put his socks on before work once or twice a year. One of my favorite things in life has been to head down the Palisade Pkwy to Sneden’s landing at 5 am just to hug Captain Oh’s neck and maybe have a short but meaningful prayer together.
lisa continues to seem to hold her own against the cancer, but there are other ailments and the current biggest concern is her loss of hearing. She’s been nearly deaf in her left ear for years. Now her right ear has dropped frighteningly. Please keep her in your prayers. And please let us know what we can be praying for when it comes to your needs, specifically. Some of you are in more regular touch with me than others and I have a better handle on who you are and how you’re doing. How your family is and all. But you’re all in my prayers and more importantly, Lisa’s.
Everyone has challenges and mine ain’t any greater than your’s. Moving my parents here changed life much more than i anticipated. i’d hoped to build up the Upside Down Ministry but in the past two months i’ve had to shut down that dream, and move on. The Lord has a better plan and I think, I hope, I’m eager to see what happens next.
10 of us make up the 1*, so there are 10 different versions of how this group formed in the first place, starring ‘you’ certainly, which is how it should be. Of course, my version is the official true one and if you’re not smiling with me, and at me right now, and at my joking benign narcissism then go to heaven. I think we’ve ridden over 30,000 miles together and love each other a lot. I’ve been in at least two groups that said we’d be friends ’til death do us part’ and none of those guys talk to me. You’re a fellowship of men who love Jesus and each other, and hopefully the element of motorcycles… riding together… and the liberty to choose whether you want to be together or not will make a difference and we’ll all grow old together.
After 2003 and being heartbroken over the church in New York there were a number of men who became super close to me. Long before they were called the 1* i called them ‘My Suicide Watch’. I never really came close to hurting myself, but for the first time in my life i understood why people do. Those were really hard months, and the months and the sadness stretched into a move to Savannah, and then Portland, and before i knew it i’d let myself be sad for a long time. Too long. You all became closer than brothers during those years.
Cmack came out to Portland to ride in the summer of 2007. We rented two Harleys and rode to Crater Lake and down through northern California and back up the Oregon coast and stayed in a motel right on the beach. We only had one rule: no maps and no interstates. Ok, two rules.
But C stood on the beach outside our motel room and gazed out at the Pacific Ocean said, “I’d like to see Old Faithful”. Out came the maps and interstates and at the end of that very day we rolled into West Yellowstone, Idaho. The next morning we hadn’t been in the park 20 minutes before a casual elk and line of tourists in front of us driving their rolling cages came to a sudden halt; Cmack bumped into a trailer pulled by the car that slammed on its brakes right in front of him. He bent the rim on his front wheel and we turned around leaving the park, looking for a fix; ended up riding to Boseman 89 miles away and C had to buy a brand new tire and wheel for about $500. That was bad enough, but as we returned home, entering Portland, he had a flat on that same front tire. Called his ‘HOG club’ tow service and another $500 later returned the bike. I think he may have had to buy a second new tire…? … put nearly $1000 on the front of that bike that one trip. Funny part, i rented the same bike 2 weeks later to take a friend on a birthday ride. i called C and thanked him for the new wheel and tire. i’m sure there are pictures somewhere but this was before facebook and i’m not sure where i’ve kept any of those shots. C?
Earlier that same year, in January, Greg and Mike got into motorcycles with a fever. Greg bought a Vrod and he and Mike took a basic rider course. Little did anyone realize the freak we created when Greg became a motorcyclist. Just three months later, in late April, Greg came to visit me and we rented two Harleys and rode in fairly miserable, rainy Oregon mist out to the coast; but greg was all smiles, He’d found his passion and my life has been all the better for it.
In the summer of 2008 Greg and Cmack came out to ride. Greg got here first. I had rented a Ducati GT1000… still one of my favorite all time bikes, and i think Mike agrees… and I had a 95 Harley Nostalgia and my Triumph Thruxton.
Take a knee in reverence and listen to a word about the harley:
In the fall of 2000 i lived on Robin Hood Lane in West Nyack, New York. Rick and Ellen rode up on Rick’s 95 Nostalgia. You know how ducks ‘imprint’? First thing a chick sees it locks onto it? Well, i imprinted on that 95 Harley. Shape, color, sound… from the second i saw it i thought that’s what a motorcycle is supposed to look like. So, if you didn’t know already, don’t be surprised to learn that I’d eventually steal that bike … we’ll get to that later…
Anyway, i rented the Ducati for fancy, Euro trash Greg who’d already dismissed his Harley after getting a permanent case of Italian fever. I would ride my Thruxton, the 95 was all set up for C.
Greg arrived first and I took him skydiving. i’d asked him on the phone earlier if he wanted to go jump out of an airplane and he said…shouted…’NO!’ I don’t think he cussed back then but he was emphatic.
So, jerk that i am, when i met him in the terminal i said ‘i have a surprise, we’re going skydiving! i made a reservation and we can’t cancel it, it’s paid for’ which was all a lie. Greg surprised me, smiled and said, ‘ok!’ I stepped away and called my skydive master and set up the tandem jump for Greg. I was already jumping on my own by then and, we both rode out and went skydiving together; for me it must have been somewhere around solo jump number 10, and for greg it was his first time and, strapped to an instructor, probably the closest he’s ever come to physically clinging to another man. somewhere, there’s got to be a picture of Greg with the biggest grin walking up with his dive master laughing after he’d hurtled 15k feet safely down to earth.
We rode the thruxton and the GT up the interstate to get to Mt. St. Helen and stopped at the 50 mile mark for water and gas and Greg did what would become his ‘habit’ and without a pause or a please demanded, ‘let me ride your bike!’ It’s a rudeness I’ve come to cherish. Before we had nick names we learned each other’s weirdnesses and love surpassed tolerance and laughter beat agitation always.
i’d never ridden a Ducati before and did a wheelie first time i pulled out on it. Greg loved the Thruxton and i’d not even get to sit on my bike again for the next week. you couldn’t pry greg off and I never complained. I could say it’s cause i’m a generous, self denying soul and that I love greg. All true, but i was on a Ducati for the first time and it way outgunned my little Triumph.
C arrived and jumped on the Harley, Greg on the Thruxton and I on the Duke and we set off east for Yellowstone, C intent on completing his ‘Old Faithful’ trip. We got to the Painted Hills in no time…
that’s the last picture ever taken of the harley upright… RIP. Cmack would go hot into a left bend and hit some gravel. When I stopped there was just a cloud of dust and I was sure at the bottom of that explosion was a dead friend. But it was just like an arnold swartzenegger movie and when the nuclear mushroom cloud cleared there stood C, smiling, holding a broken handlebar…
to be continued… if you’d like… next chapter will get us to the grand canyon story…
perfect. just perfect.
except for the fact the I’m not in the story yet.
but other than that…
Continue please. Would you guys who have not responded yet all do me the favor of reading and responding to Steve so he can continue writing the subsequent chapters?
I’m eager to know how he spins the story of trying to knock me off my dirt bike in Montrose @ Peach Valley on the Creede trip. Mayday.
Yup – I called him. I’m curious how he’ll describe my grand entrance – the Chisel Jaw and all…Snap Shot
ReplyReply AllForwardEdit as new