Yowzer! Yowzer! Yowzer! I told you that I was going to try ABATE 17’s Texas Hold’em poker tournament again. Guess what? I won! Yep, I was the big winner. This event is chaired by Ron Vonsild, and he does it up right. Ron knows poker. He is leading his league, and he has qualified to go to the world poker tournament in Las Vegas. Let’s all wish him luck. But, more about this Northern California ABATE tournament. The earlier you buy in, the more bonus chips you earn. The dealers are pros, and they keep the games straight. Last year was my first time ever to play, but Ron has a beginners’ table an hour before the “real” play starts, and that taught me the basics. Truth be told, this year’s win was mostly a combination of good cards and dumb luck. But it was so much fun, and I’ll be back next year for sure. Oh, by the way, Ron and ABATE 17 payout the largest prizes allowed by California law. I want to see you there next May. Write it on your calendar… Happy birthday to all motorcycle riders who celebrate in July. Happy birthday to Sammy Kain in Scotts Valley. In Santa Cruz, happy birthday to Jeannie Atwater, Wende Fletcher and Theresa Snider. Happy birthday to John Holm of the Mt. Diablo H.O.G. and Jenny McDonald in Vacaville. Happy birthday to a couple of Modesto H.O.G. members: Mike Rampoldi and Sue Chimerofsky. Hey, Sue, thank you for sending the Modesto H.O.G. newsletter. I look forward to reading it each month. Happy birthday to my old friend, James “Ole” Olson in the great state of Texas. Wish I was there. Happy birthday to celebrity riders Charlie Brechtel, Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Toby Keith, Harrison Ford and Geraldo Rivera… Yep. Sue Chimerofsky is the editor of the Modesto H.O.G. newsletter, and she sends me a copy each month. This newsletter is very well written and very informative. Thanks again, Sue. This month, the article written by Doug Kirk, Safety Officer, was right on. Doug spoke about group safety riding. This is a subject dear to me because I have witnessed gross negligence by pack riders who should know better. Doug talked about freeway riding, and we all have to do that from time to time. Use your tail gunner. That is what he is there for. It is his job to ensure that the pack can change lanes safely. Parenthetically, Doug calls this position the “sweeper,” and many other riders do as well. For me, the tail gunner and the sweep are two distinct positions with different jobs to do. He also talked about letting cars move through the pack. I have known riders who would jeopardize other riders just to prevent a car’s getting in front of them in order to enter or leave a freeway. For God’s sake; let them through! Anytime a motorcycle challenges a car, the motorcycle is going to lose. Among other things, Doug also warned riders not to ride behind loaded trucks and not to linger alongside an 18 wheeler. I have known two bikers who were caught behind a truck when the load let go. One is fine and made it through an extremely dangerous situation. My other friend died when a camper came off the back of a pickup. The thing about not lingering alongside an 18-wheeler or any big truck is that their tires frequently blow. This happened to me. I was scooting on around when the truck’s tire blew. A huge piece bounced between me and the truck and went flying over my head. Another smaller piece hit my leg. Imagine if that smaller piece had hit into my spokes. But here is another reason to fly around a truck as fast as possible. The truck driver cannot see you. I know a man who endured back surgeries and braces after an 18-wheeler changed lanes right on top of him… Here is a big shout out for John Talbot of Ferndale. John, I went for a couple of weeks without checking my e-mail, and I missed your note until today. By now, I am sure you noticed that I didn’t make it to the North Meets South Rally in Sacramento. Dang! It slipped right through my fingers. I thank you for the reminder, and I am going to pay closer attention next year… It is no secret that I am a real fan of the Rough Riders MC. They do such caring things for veterans, and they have adopted the Yountville Veterans Home. On July 16, the Rough Riders will hold their annual Ceasefire Veterans Benefit Run. This run is to benefit Yountville, and I promise you will have a lot of fun. Sign in at Iron Steed Harley-Davidson in Vacaville between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. After the run, the party is on at the clubhouse in Dixon. Questions? Call Brewzer at 707.322.9694… May is motorcycle awareness month, and yet, it was a deadly month for motorcycles around here. Vance Hobart was riding with friends on Highway 128 when a dual-trailer semi came toward them. The last trailer crossed over the center line and caused Vance’s death. The truck kept going. I know that hit and run has become a way of life, but Highway 128 has some pretty twisty areas, and I wonder if the truck driver knew what happened. The cab could have easily lost sight of the second trailer, and the driver’s attention would have been focused on the next turn. Either way, the accident was tragic. Heartfelt condolences go to Vance’s friends and family. He will be sorely missed.