Published in the June/July Edition of our Amazing Sponsor-Biker Living Magazine
Spring has arrived!! Even though Austin failed to experience a winter of any sort, our current weather has been perfect for all outdoor activities. The anticipation of Springtime activities vary with most people…….the appearance of Bluebonnets along our roadways….. the flurry of our young practicing for the upcoming Little League Baseball games……and the numbers of people making the trek to Zilker Park increases exponentially. Then there’s people who see the changing of seasons as the perfect time to dust off our motorcycle, charge up the battery, check the fluids and head on out to wherever we wish.
I personally fall into the latter category but with a considerably more focused approach……..Max’s Ride 2012!! It means so much to realize that I’ll be riding again one more year. This single event is my “Holy Grail” activity for the year. For me to ride from year to year is a gift from above, because I’ve no guarantee of my ability to ride next year and perhaps ever again. The Ride is also important to so many others who are slowly losing the use of their body’s motor functions to Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS). The reasons for this illness remain a mystery. To find the answer’s takes extensive research……expensive research!! Max’s Ride represents one means of helping fund the battle against ALS.
I suspect my perspective of Max’s Ride differs from others. To me, it’s very up close and personal. It’s about ALS. It’s about supporting out veterans. And, it’s about bikers and their love of the ride. That defines me on all levels. Yes, I’m a vet with over 22 years of active duty. Yes, I’m a biker and been one for the last 50 years. Sadly though, I am a victim of ALS. The decision to ride each year is no longer mine. As the progression of my ALS continues, I’m constantly aware of the fact that in some upcoming year I’ll no longer be able to ride. Until then, I’ll fight the ALS beast with everything I’ve got.
Okay, how was the ride this year? I have serious difficulties in trying to put all this in writing while trying to convey feelings instead of just words. I have no problems conveying those thoughts and feelings to anyone who’s ever straddled the back of a steel horse and headed off to the hill country. They all know the feelings from this experience. Riders understand. If you don’t ride, you just don’t know. If you think the smile on a biker’s face is simply to catch bugs between their teeth, you’ve got it all wrong. It’s because they know…….they know the sensual pleasures that come with the ride. You feel the small changes in temperature. You smell everything around you. You feel the power and vibrations that come with a finely tuned V-Twin between your legs. You see everything around you in a way you could never see in any other road vehicle. You hear deep throated sound that emits from beneath you. And yes. You may even taste the ride, although this could be a downer (again, bugs in the teeth). Now take this scene and multiply it by 50+
bikes. The sum of the sound extends well beyond the sound of thunder and you simply cannot imagine the power you feel. And the feeling of freedom of the road? Awesome!! The most sensual pleasure that comes along with the ride is knowing you’re not exactly riding a bike, but more so, that you’re “wearing” the bike as it becomes an extension of your own body. And for me, this ride provides me with a “vacation” from the thoughts of what ALS has already done to me. Strange as it may seem, Max’s Ride allows me to momentarily feel like a “normal” person again. Something that’s quite rare for one with ALS.
During the Ride, people stop. They are quickly aware that this gathering of motorcycles is far beyond just a couple of dozen bikers out for an afternoon ride. People wave. We rode by The Salt Lick which was hosting what appeared to be a wedding and quickly seized a moment from all of those in attendance. They simply couldn’t ignore us and our huge presence. It’s a powerful thing to grab such a degree of attention from others. The crowning moment for me comes as this huge procession of bikes goes slowly down Congress Ave. towards the Capital. The thunderous sound is magnified many times over as it rebounds and reflects through this brick and concrete valley of tall buildings. The bystanders are up close and personal. Many with cameras and cell phones recording this special event. I remain aware that the majority of bystanders can’t begin to realize what this is all about. I suspect that few of them have ever experienced the thrill of a ride. Momentarily, I’ll even have a thought of feeling sorry for those who will never be a rider for this event and who may never experience a bike ride during their entire life. Something I simply can’t imagine.
I thought long and hard about finding a word or short phrase that might describe what Max’s Ride means to me. I just couldn’t help but revive something from my many years in the military:
“Esprit De Corps”
According to Webster’s: “The common spirit existing in the members of a group and inspiring enthusiasm, devotion, and strong regard for the honor of the group”.
From my perspective that definition fits well. Especially the word “Honor”. A word that is actually part of the Max’s Ride mission statement: “In Honor We Ride”. But, the “group” part of Esprit De Corps goes much deeper than just the riders.
With Honor I like to personally salute:
The Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
The Austin Police Department
The band Natural Causes
And to all the wonderful event volunteers, contributors, supporters and all others connected with Max’s Ride, I Salute You!
And finally to Whitney, I Salute You! Even more, I stand in awe of how you’ve nurtured this event these past six years, making it the success it is today. You deeply touch so many with your dedication towards this cause. You’ve a special place in my heart. Something I’m certain is shared by many others. As for next year…sign me up now and if it’s at all possible, you know I’ll be there!
Peace & Love to All,
Save the Date~April 20, 2013 for the 7th Annual Max’s Ride & Concert for ALS Research and Patient Services
Together We Do Make A Difference