I leave in the morning (Sun 29 Jul 2012) for an epic adventure: 5K miles in 14 days, all aboard CERUS, my trusty iron war-horse. I am headed to my first ever Sturgis rally, traveling west from Alexandria via Route 50 to the central valley of Colorado, then north through Rocky Mountain National Park and Horse Tooth Reservoir and Devil's Tower to Sturgis, then east via Mount Rushmore, Milwaukee, Chicago, South Bend, Cleveland (Rocks!), and Waldorf back to Alexandria.
Close to5K miles counting the in-and-around stuff.
I started growing my biker's horseshoe moustache and soul patch the day I retired from the Army, which was about 1/2 " ago. I discovered with some surprise that the 30-year-old, self-inflicted ear piercing is still open. Until I find or replace my long-lost silver hoop, a white gold stud will do nicely. I spent some extra time with my girls. I got a housemate to take care of the house and the cats in my absence. I even checked my tire pressure and changed my oil.
Not only am I physically, practically, and mechanically ready for this trip, I am also spiritually, emotionally, and mentally ready. I have wanted to go to Sturgis since I came back from Baghdad in 2008. Cerus was brand new then, and I made plans with my Baghdad battle buddy, James Daron, to ride to Sturgis in 2009. But then, during my retirement physical, we discovered a problem and I was diagnosed with cancer. Jim and I rescheduled, but then it was Jim's turn for unsettling news: he was also diagnosed, but with a more deadly form of the disease. During my 3-year battle, we lost Jim. I'll be thinking of him as I ride, and Jim, if you are listening, when I get to the Broken Spoke, the first one's on me.
I am also at a momentous turning point in my life. At age 51, I find myself in an extended period of transition and reflection. This year ended my 28-year military career. My marriage, which for all practical purposes ended 6 years ago, is coming to a formal end soon. I decided to withdraw from Walden University, stepping away from 166 credit hours and 9 years of work so I could take the summer off and reconsider the options available to me for my second career.
Lots to think about in the council chamber of my saddle. Ride west to ponder and reflect. Ride east to begin anew. And what of the northern leg? Well, August 3rd marks my First Year in REMISSION! And I will celebrate with my parents in their Alamosa, Colorado home, at the southern end of my westward leg. From there north to Sturgis, where God only knows what mysteries will unfold. I expect to head east with a new sense of purpose. And maybe a silver hoop.
So, pack a sleeping bag, a tent, and a toothbrush. Charge up the batteries.
Tomorrow we ride.