What are the odds? The odds for having a birthday on February 29 are 1 in 1,461. Next, what are the odds that a friend will wish you a happy 14th birthday in Thunder Press? Pretty damned slim, I’d guess. Then, what are the odds that I would mess up and not get it printed in the February edition? Lately this would be a sure bet, so Beci Ladson-Vigil, formerly of Santa Cruz H-D, Happy birthday! Your friend Stoker, of Grand Junction, Colorado, called this in for you… Beci, if it is of any consolation to you, I also messed up in sending out March birthday greetings from Les Winkler to Teno (Rowdy) Cardoza and Rick Hunter Rush of USMC MC. Happy belated birthday, fellas—Semper Fi!… Here is a big shout out for Peter Donovan, a member of the Intermountain H.O.G. chapter in Boise, Idaho. Happy belated birthday, Peter… Another big shout out goes to David Rauen. Happy belated birthday, Dave, and have a good trip to Oak Creek/Sedona, Arizona. Take a run into Flagstaff to get a Thunder Press, and when you do, take Highway 89A for a beautiful mountain road… I know, I know! Messing up is so unlike me, but long story short: My immediate family is experiencing an acute crisis. I was still trying to administer my wonderful stepdad’s estate, when my mother died in late January. Less than two weeks later, someone in the surgery hooked my sister to a carbon dioxide tank rather than oxygen. Despite the odds, my sister may recover. All of this has fried my brains. Bear with me; I hope to pull out of it soon… Happy birthday to all Harley riders who celebrate in April. Happy birthday to IHR members Chuck Brassfield in Los Gatos and Tim Young in Santa Cruz. Happy birthday to Leoni Watts in San Jose; to Jani Albers in Woodland; to Dan DeLeuw and Steve Roi in Santa Cruz; to Iron Steed H.O.G. members Bob Dubois and Craig Reynolds; to Clete Wanner of ABATE; to Laury Chimerofsky in Modesto H.O.G.; to Enoch (Nick) Holland in Salem, Oregon; and to celebrity riders Jay Leno, Ann-Margaret and Jesse James… Heartfelt condolences to friends, family and North County Riders MC members for the passing of Will Brown, who was near and dear to them all. Will was killed riding his motorcycle on February 17 when he rear-ended a bobtail tractor. The accident is still under investigation… Peter Donovan in Boise, Idaho, and Ed Waldvogel in St George, Utah, are asking about the heat shields that save your thighs from the hot Harley pipes. I am really happy with the shields I bought from RJSOriginals.com. I hope they work for you, too… For those of you who follow the column, you will remember stories from those Old Coots, Forrest “Trees” Linderman and Gene “Taz” Thompson, as they hang up their chaps, sell their Harleys and take to four wheels. Taz is a well-known poet and, as promised, here is Taz’s poem on the subject:
We Ride No More
Trees ’n’ TAZ have sold their rides and hung up their spurs.
The open road is now all yours.
TAZ can’t remember a fu$%$# thing.
Trees can’t hear shit… not even the telephone ring.
TAZ knows how to shift and how to pull in the clutch.
But remembering when to do it has gotten to be too much.
Trees is sure every vehicle on the road is out to get him.
He feels like his chances for survival are gettin’ pretty slim.
It’s not an easy thing to give up your ride and call it quits.
Even though I knew this day would come, it’s still the shits.
Riding for me was like therapy, in a way.
How often do I miss riding? Almost every damned day.
The memories are good of the many bikers I’ve met.
Had some really good times and not a single regret.
I rode with Santa Cruz H.O.G. for about seven fun years.
Laughing, joking, eating, drinking and of course shiftin’ gears.
Only one major accident on a bike have I had.
I hit and killed a deer. That was very sad.
My favorite run was the Bridgeport event while it was still on.
Unfortunately it was cancelled. Those days are long gone.
To those who know me and we rode a few miles,
I hope you remember me with fondness and smiles.
… I recently heard from another Old Coot, Pete Gallagher, in Santa Cruz. He said that the stories of Colleen’s, Trees’ and Taz’s giving up riding hit him close to home, and Taz’s comments about riding with the Santa Cruz H.O.G. struck a cord. Pete said, “The only time I ever enjoyed group riding was with that bunch.” Last year Pete put on almost all of his miles in a two-week ride around the western portion of the U.S. He went on to say, “Two months after I returned from the ride, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I thought about the support the Cruz H.O.G. members had provided to the Komen Foundation and how we are all in this together. With the window to my mortality open, I went out and bought a Mustang GT. I had wanted one my whole damn life, and I would not be denied now. I love it. Still, my FLHTC lives next to it. I am not done riding yet and three weeks post-op, cancer-free, I am not done living yet. Someday I will unlace the riding boots for the last time, but that time is not now.” Get well, Pete, and I hope to see you in September.