Ride of a lifetime: Part I.

This has been one heck of a ride. Truly a ride of a life time. I’m pinching myself constantly to make sure this dream is a reality. And yes, it is. I have the photos to prove it. And it’s not over. Not even close. Now I will be focusing fully on the causes that this ride is all about. I will be connecting with FAP and Desmoid Tumor patients across the east. Sharing their stories via video and photos.

I have connected with so many wonderful people on this ride. Is amazing how people are so warm and willing to take the time to share stories and life experiences. And, how they are so willing to listen to my story. Truly gives me faith in humanity. I can tell you this, there are a lot more people out there aware of rare diseases like FAP and Desmoid Tumors because of these connections. I have met people that I know I will meet again down the road. So many people that are in my heart. I take you all with me on every mile of this ride and beyond.

A major thank you to Ducati for seeing something in my ride and wanting to do what they could to make it happen. And they did. I’m on this ride aren’t I? Stefano, Ryan and the rest of the Ducati North America team have been there for me throughout this ride. I would also like to thank the Ducati Dealerships that have squeezed me into their busy schedules to work on the bike along the way.

I also would like to thank all the people that have supported me in this ride effort of mine. So many of you supported me before the ride even began. Back when the ride was just an idea, dream and website. From the bottom of my heart, thank you all.

Well, I need to load up the bike and hit the road to my next destination. The Trail of Tears Memorial Ride in Chattanooga, TN. Keep checking in on my ride. I will do everything I can to make it worth your while. Take care all.

Two hours after the ride officially started I got caught in a wicked storm that left me soaked in a Madison gas station. The uh perfect way to start a ride. Note to self; when it looks like rain, wear your darn riding pants.

After riding through the night from Wisconsin, I hit the wall at around 2:30 am in the middle of Iowa. I ended up sleeping on a picnic table in a campground near Anamosa, IL. This was the view above when I woke.

So I motored through the rest of Iowa and found myself just across the state line in Omaha, NE. Over a hundred degrees. A temperature trend I would have to get used to for the next day and a half until I got into the Rockies west of Denver.

After getting something to eat in downtown Omaha I decided to do a little sweaty me photo documentation. Back on the road to continue to endure the lovely over 100 temps.

Driven I was to get into Colorado and out of Nebraska. Success came at 2 am after logging an 800+ mile day/night. I decided to get a few hours of sleep at a little motel in Julesurg, CO. I woke up got showered and did a little clothes washing in the sink. The Ducati Multistrada displaying how multi-faceted it is as a clothes dryer.

My first gas station stop in the scorching Eastern Colorado High Desert. Lucky me.

The high dessert in eastern Colorado proved to be an even hotter proposition than the previous day. Temperatures topped out at 110. I could not wait to get into up into altitude. Denver and the Rockies I raced to.

I finally made it to Denver and through all it's traffic to sssweet cooler altitude. The skies were turning stormy and the temps dropped to low 60's. I thought it would be prudent to put on my all my riding gear. It was going to get wet and cold. I decided to ride up to Loveland Pass. It was so amazing to ride twists and turns after sooooo many miles riding in a hot as heck straight line. It gave me a taste of what was to come in Pikes Peak at he Hill Climb race.

So after going on a wild-goose chase looking for a campground late in the night while riding through rain and 50 degree temp on Hwy 91. I arrived at a campground on Gore Creek which is just east of Vail. It was 3am. This photo shows the Multi all packed up the next morning. Further west here I come.

The morning after the first night in my tent. At Gore Creek Campground. I love this tent. All that online research paid off.

 

So i left Gore Creek with a plan to stop at a WIFI featuring eating establishment in Vail for an hour or two to post a blog update to the ride website. After that I would tear up some of the more remote roads in the area. So much for that plan. I ended up spending most of the afternoon working on the post. The bartender at the Bearfish Bar & Grill was quite wonderful to allow me to be there so long on my laptop at the bar. As I was about to leave it started storming. Which happens every afternoon in the Colorado Rockies. I then decided to just continue west on the main Interstate.

A kayaker was kind enough to take this photo of me and Elegia below Glenwood Canyon, CO. Talk about a ssspectacular time tearing down the twists and turns of Glenwood Canyon.

So I barged through the rest of Colorado and found myself in eastern Utah. Back to my ummm old friend heat. As I made my way west through that mega-vast state I passed many signs listing town names. Underneath the names it read "No services". Thank god I did not break down or run out of gas. I would have been uh screwed to say the least. In fact, one stretch of highway had no towns or pretty much anything for 110 miles after Green River.

I motored through high winds and heat to finally catch some altitude and cool air. I tore up a canyon I forget the name of. A grrreat ride. After shortish distance i stopped at a rest stop for a bathroom break. As I got off the bike I looked to my right to discover this amazing view at sunset. Ghost Rock, UT I was taking in. Talk about a beautiful way to ride out the daylight.

A slightly brighter view of Ghost Rock. After this spectacular stop, I tore up some amazing stretches of highway in the night. Was like riding in a tunnel. Only being able to see what was illuminated by my headlights. Wild game crossing signs being a frequent sigh along this stretch that ended at Salina, UT. Thankfully I encountered no critters along the way. A mess avoided.

I rode through the night, passing signs to sooo many beautiful areas. Areas that I would not be able to see. I had a schedule to keep. A tight one. I made it southeastern most part of Utah. Beaver, UT to be exact. I hit that late night wall again. I filled up the bike with gas. Then proceeded to fill myself with energy drinks. Something I never did before this ride. But, It has become a necessity on this ride. With the tight schedule and all. I then went into the lounge in the truck stop to take a little rest. It was 3 am at that point. I waited until it got light and hit the road. And rain.

I managed to ride on through the rest of Utah, a little chunk of Arizona and some of Nevada. I was now in Las Vegas. As I approached Vegas, I debated with myself whether I would stop in Vegas or not. The dumber side of me stopped. So I rode downtown and stopped at the Harley-Davidson Grill. I figured they would have bike parking. Which they did. I forced myself to eat. With all the heat, dehydration and pain I did not have much of an appetite for some reason. A bit of a chronic situation on the entire ride. Anyway, I choked a burger down and hit the road. I was determined to get to Los Angeles before dark.

Here I lay kicked back on bench with boots off after hitting that wall yet again. The heat and lack of sleep socked it to me. I laid on that bench for a nearly a couple hours. It was one busy rest area for sure. I loved seeing the mix of people from all different backgrounds pass by. Which happened between dozing sessions. I watched a native american mother and daughter selling native inspired jewelry for most of that time. Until they left because the police were cruising the parking lot. I guess it is less than legal to set up shop at the rest stop.

After I got done with my dozing off moments at the rest stop, I went for a little walk to take in the view of some of California's joshua trees. Then I got geared up and made my way to Los Angeles. I was ready to take on the heat and remaining miles.

I managed to make it to friends of the family, Lisa and Ramone, in Los Angeles before dark. They were gracious enough to let me stay with them for a few days while I was in Los Angeles. Then next day I went for a little ride along the coast in Malibu area. I also rode through Topanga Canyon and other locations.

Destination No. 1: City of Hope.

I rode thousands of miles and endured days of 100+ degree temps to get here. City of Hope(COH) was the first destination I thought of when I first came up with the idea for this ride. My dad was treated here for the last 4 years of his life until colon and other cancers took his life in 1978. I was fortunate enough to be taken on a tour of  COH by a wonderful woman by the name of Bridgette. Thank you Bridgette. I was also surprised by Doctor Sanchez wanting to talk with me about Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP). The rare genetic disease responsible for my dad’s colon cancer and has continued to curse my family. Damn FAP. I shot video and photography of the tour and my conversation with Dr. Sanchez. That is to come when I have the time to edit the video footage.

I will be creating a blog post that will feature more detailed information and video from my visit to City of Hope when I have time to edit the video and photographs.

If you are in the Los Angeles area and require treatment, I encourage you to contact City of Hope. And amazing facility indeed.

Finally, I found myself at the first destination of the ride, City of Hope. Was an amazing day.

It was the day after I went to City of Hope and I needed to take the bike to Pro Italia in Glendale, CA to get the radiator flushed. They were so great to squeeze me in on short notice. They were super-busy loading up bikes and all for Laguna Seca Moto GP race. After the bike was done with the flush, I decided to take a little ride up to Angeles Crest. A well-known area for riding motorcycles. It is truly an amazing area to ride.

Destination X Ride, via my helmet, takes on Angeles Crest CA.

I took a break at Newcomb's Ranch. A popular stop in Angeles Crest area. Had some good conversation with fellow riders.

And of course, the self-protrait while taking a pit-stop break. Angeles Crest, CA.

Destination No. 2: Laguna Seca for Moto GP race.

I finally was seeing a Moto GP race. And and at Laguna Seca. The fast bikes in the world on one of the most amazing tracks on the planet. Double bonus and then some. Add to it  that I got to meet the Ducati North America team. The folks who made this ride possible by supplying an amazing bike and riding gear. I had an amazing time.

The day after I went to Angeles Crest I it was time to make my way up to Laguna Seca for the Moto GP Race. I said goodbye to Lisa and Ramone. Thanked them for welcoming me into their beautiful home and hit the road. I got a late start, so I knew I would be getting to Laguna well after dark. I ended up arriving at 11 pm. An hour before they closed down the entrance for the night. Phew, made it. I purchased my ticket and camping pass. I camped at the track. While I waited for my ticket and all I had conversations with some other people that had just arrived as well. In the darkness, fog and rain I needed to find my camp area. Which proved difficult in such conditions. The camping was in big fields. No real campsites existed. You just pick a spot in the field and set up your tent or RV. I could not find the camp area that I was supposed to be in. Quite frustrated I was. Just when I was about to lose it a bit, I heard a voice yell out "Aren't you the guy from Wisconsin?". I replied, "That would be me". The voice came from a man that I had been talking to down by the entrance. I explained my frustration trying to find my designated camp area. He then invited me to camp in his group's camp area. After introductions, they all made room for me, bike and tent. Talk about a wonderful group of people.

After talking talking with my fellow Laguna campers and taking a much needed morning shower, made my way down to Ducati Island. I was super excited. I was about to meet all the guys and gals from Ducati North America for the first time in person. They are the ones that made this ride possible by supplying the bike and riding gear. Once I was in the Island, I realized it might a be a bit of a task finding them. Being that they were all extremely busy taking care of the million-and-one details necessary to put on such an event. The first person I met was Ryan. I have had much phone and email contact with him throughout this ride. He has taken care of every detail having to do with the bike. After talking to him for a bit, he managed to track down Stefano. Stefano was the initial person to contact me about Ducat being interested in my ride and wanting to help make it happen. We talked for a bit and then he had to take care of yet another one of those Island details. Ryan then introduced me to Arrick. We talked for a bit, then he was off to take care of business. Ryan and I talked for some more then he had to get back to work. I then walked around checking out Ducati Island and the rest of Laguna. Then I decided to make the hike back to the campsite. I was a tad spent and experiencing pain. When I got back to the campsite, most of my fellow campers were there. We talked about the day, qualifying results, etc.

I had an itch to ride so I decided to take a ride to Monterey. When I arrived I discovered quite an event was underway. Many blocks in and around Cannery Row were blocked off for a ton of motorcycles and motor folk. I have never seen so many Ducati's in one place, at one time. Outside of Ducati Island, of course. And yes, I know there are only Harleys pictured in this photo. You'll just have to take my word on it.

I decided to take a little break from the masses of people to take in a view of the Monterey coastline and a mural painted on a concrete wall that appeared to be the remains of a past structure of some sort.

I made my return from Monterey to the Laguna campsite. As I pulled in I saw my fellow campers gathered around a fire. I parked the bike and made my way to the fireside chatter. It was great connecting with people from around the country, and the world for that matter. We talked about Laguna Seca, Moto GP and motorcycles of course. I also got a bit of my ride story on them. They were quite receptive. And supportive. I'm so thankful and fortunate to constantly come in contact with wonderful people such as these.

I got up and ready the next morning. It was race day. I was about to actually see a Moto GP race. And, at of all tracks, Laguna Seca. Talk about a double bonus amazing day. As I meandered towards Ducati Island I could heard the Moto GP racers in the middle of their morning warm-ups. I have wanted to hear a Moto GP bike in person forever. Hearing them on television just doesn't compare. Talk about making hairs on the back of your neck stand up stuff.

Me with my new ride, Valentino Rossi's GP 11 bike. Ha.

Hanging with the Ducati umbrella girls. Serious stuff. Ha.

The Moto GP race was at the start line. I was taking a hike up the big hill at a fast pace to get a good view of a large portion of the track and then get my arse up to The Corkscrew while the race was still going.

I managed to get up to The Corkscrew before the race ended. There were actually a decent number of laps left in the race. As I found a spot in the crowd I witnessed Ben Spies(Factory Yamaha rider) crash out right in front of me. He just can't catch a break this season. A few laps later, Valentino Rossi(Factory Ducati rider) crashed out, again right in front of me. He has also had a rather rough season. After the race had ended, Rossi's teammate Nicky Hayden came to pick him up for a two-ride back to the paddock. Nicky is a great guy indeed.

Well, the bike was all packed up in the empty field that was previously filled with Laguna Seca Moto GP race fan campers. On the road to the next ride destination.

As I left Laguna Seca I was pondering where I would camp that night. I decided to ride to Santa Cruz to get something to eat. While I was eating at a cool little bar/restaurant called The Red Room, I checked on my phone for campgrounds in the area. The Big Basin Redwood Forest stuck out as the place I should set up camp. I left Santa Cruz at around 11 pm and made my way to Big Basin. I arrived at the campground around 1:30 am. I located a vacant campsite and set proceeded to set up camp.

I woke to this beautiful image of massive redwoods as I exited my tent.

Apparently, the local redwood critters had a thing for the Multistrada.

I decided to spend two nights camping in the Big Basin Redwood Forest. Which allowed me to tear up some of the local twisties. And the beautiful Redwood Forest.

The Starship Elegia

I left the redwoods with Ducati North America(DNA) Offices, which is in Cupertino, in my sights. Ryan at DNA was kind enough to set up a tour of their offices. It was great. I got to talk with Stefano, Arrick and meet Tim for the first time.

Before Ryan took me to lunch, he wheeled out a Panigale for me to take a seat on. For some reason, I had an urge to start it up and get to know it a little better.

Before I left Ducati, Ryan and Arrick suggested I take on a stretch of road they regularly ride in the area. They also recommended that I stop at Alice's Restaurant along the way. So guess what, I did.

I rode through the night to get to Lake Tahoe. I stopped along a highway at 3 am 23 miles from South Lake Tahoe. It was beautiful. The full moon ahead of me and the sound of a roaring river below me. I stayed there until sunrise. It was a tad cold up there. 37 degrees to be exact. I actually realized how cold it was when I saw the little snowflake symbol on the bike gauge that warns of icy road conditions. It got warmer when I came around the other side of the mountain and found sun.

I stopped as I rode up the west side of Lake Tahoe. I was starting hit the wall, a recouping was quite necessary. I guess riding all night took it's toll. A beautiful place to stop though

I motored up the west side of Lake Tahoe and stopped in Tahoe City on the north side of the lake to get something to eat. After I ate breakfast, I kicked off my boots and laid down on a park bench that overlooked the lake. I passed out and was woken by the sound of a lawnmower. I laid down in the shade. When I woke up, not-so-much. The left side of my face was thoroughly sunburned. Ouch. On this ride I have slept on picnic tables, park benches, in truck stops, the ground, etc. Tis what happens when consistently riding through the night. Part of the adventure I guess.

As the sun set and moon rose as I waited for my dinner at the Sunnyside Restaurant and Lodge, I decided to camp at William Kent Campground across the street. The next day/night I was going to do what it took to get close to my next destination near Mackey, ID. The Reel Recovery 3 day fly fishing retreat.

I decided to make a short detour to Donner Lake. Years ago I stopped there on a ride I was photographing for Buell Motorcycles. A beautiful spot I felt the need to see again. A wonderful couple took this photo for me. We talked for a half hour about my ride, it's causes, the husband's health and life in general. I love this stuff. It's what keeps me going.

A little Donner History for you.

Yes, I was in full squint. It was midday. Deal with it. Ha.

I stopped here to buy my Idaho fishing license. I had ridden all day and night from Lake Tahoe( A 600 mile ride). I had about 50 miles yet to go until I reached my destination at the Wild Horse Creek Ranch north of Mackay, ID. The location of the Reel Recovery Fly Fishing Retreat.

A cute little local that livened me up a bit. Which I definitely was in need of. I thought about finding a place for him on the bike. Ha.

Destination No. 3: Reel Recovery Three day Fly Fishing Retreat at the Wild Horse Creek Ranch north of Mackay, ID.

I had been very much looking forward to participating in this 3 day retreat that promotes the healing effects of fly fishing for men who are surviving cancer. I am so thankful that Stan Golub, Executive Director, showed interest in my ride and wanted me to be a participant in one of the retreats.

The Mackay retreat worked perfectly into the ride schedule. Besides being in a beautiful setting, a few of the Reel Recovery board members were there. Oh yeah, and PBS Idaho was there to cover the retreat. They will be airing a show featuring the retreat next February.

It was incredible connecting with my fellow eleven retreat participants. Twelve men sharing how cancer has impacted their lives was simply amazing. Men from different backgrounds bonded together by two common elements, cancer and a love for fishing.

Not all of us had a personal knowledge of fly fishing, myself being one of that set, but by the end of the retreat I think there were twelve additions to the fly fishing club.

Each retreat participant was teamed up with a buddy/guide. The buddies are volunteers. A truly wonderful group of men that admirably so giving of their time and knowledge. My buddy was Tim. It was his first time being a buddy. He was amazing. So patient with my lack of fly casting skills. I have been a fish head my entire life. But, I have been a spin fisherman. I had to unlearn my spin fishing ways when tackling fly casting.

Tim definitely knew what he was doing. He put me into some beautiful cutthroat trout. When I caught my first trout, I think he was even more excited than me.

At the end of the retreat each buddy gave their participant a box of flies with a note written inside. The fly box box included two flies that Tim had chosen, which I caught some nice cutthroat on. When he gave the box to me, I got all choked up and got more than a tad misty. I think all the emotion built up during the 3 day retreat came out, in spades. Thank you so much Tim. And I definitely want to find myself in Idaho again. So we can take land some more cutts on the Lost River North Fork.

I would also like to thank all the guys from Reel Recovery for a truly amazing experience. A life altering experience. I can’t say enough about how much all the work and passion you have put into this organization and the retreats you host. You have positively affected so many men’s lives. Men that have had to endure a life with cancer. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Oh yeah, and thank you for giving me yet another condition, fly fishing. I’m hooked.

I encourage everyone out there to go to the ReelRecovery.org to check out in more detail what they all do. And click on the donate button. They could use whatever you can give to continue putting on these amazing retreats. Also, if you know a man with cancer who likes to fish tell them about Reel Recovery. They could be a participant at one of the retreats in their area.

There will be a blog post dedicated to specifically to this retreat, which will contain video, photography and more information about the retreat and Reel Recovery.

When I arrived at the Wild Horse Creek Ranch I was greeted by a video camera which was held by one of the cameramen from PBS Idaho. After that I was welcomed by this sign.

Talk about an amazing location. And stellar accommodations. A huge thank you to the staff of the Wild Horse Creek Ranch. You all went above and beyond to make sure all the retreat participants were taken care of completely and constantly.

The Ranch. Our ggglorious accommodations. Yeah, we weren't exactly roughing it.

Gear provided for retreat participants.

Getting to know our assigned gear.

Each participant signed the fishing vest they were assigned for the retreat. The vests had the signatures of all past retreat participants. Quite an honor it was to add mine to the list.

Oh look, it's me signing my vest.

Me sporting said vest.

My buddy Tim giving me much needed casting pointers.

Now it was time for Tim and I to Take on the North Fork of the Lost River.

Look at that intensity. Ha.

My first Idaho trout on. A beautiful small brook trout.

Me holding said brookie.

Tim squeezing in some photo-documentation. And doing a fffabulous job doing it. A wearer of many hats.

Beautiful. Yeah, that's me again. And I managed not to land the fly in the trees. That time.

There I am with the first cutthroat I have ever caught. A beauty. And those wading boots I have on, Tim let me break in a brand new pair of his own Simms wading boots because the ones I was assigned had uh issues. Thank you so much Tim. Talk about a true buddy. Love those boots.

And a close-up of that one-heck-of a beautiful cutthroat.

My buddy Tim, another participant/buddy combo and me at the end of our first day on the river.

My one-hell-of-a-buddy Tim and I.

On the last day of the retreat, after a great morning of fishing, there were group photos taken and closing ceremony. Pictured here are the 12. My fellow retreat participants and me.

The entire retreat gang. Participants, staff and buddies. An amazing group and then some.

Our fearless leader Bob giving the closing ceremony address.

A few shots taken around the ranch.

The view from behind ranch.

View from side of cabin I stayed in.

The top of one of the teepees where the buddies dwelled.

Elegia hanging out next to cabin that I bunked in.

Elegia and me working it for the camera by the cabin.

After the retreat ended, I loaded up the bike and hit the gravel road that would lead me through Sun Valley and from there to my next destination, Pikes Peak. As thoughts of the retreat ran through my mind, I noticed something was not right with the bike. I pulled over to realize that I had a rear tire puncture. The tire was shot. I had only made it less than a mile from the ranch. I paced around a bit wondering how I was going to handle this situation. Then the woman that was with Idaho PBS drove by. She was kind enough to load all my gear into her truck and drove me back to the Wild Horse Creek Ranch. When I arrived back at the ranch I unloaded my gear from the truck. While I was unloading my gear Lani, the wonderful woman that ran the ranch walked over to see what the matter was. I explained and immediately she and her son-in-law Gio hooked up a horse trailer to a truck. Gio then took me to the crippled bike and we loaded it into the trailer. Lani then offered to let me stay at her family's ranch while I worked out how I would get the tire fixed. We all drove to their ranch. Once we got to the the family ranch, a sweet girl by the name of Jess, who worked for Lani and her husband Dan, offered to let me stay in the house on the property she stays in. While I was unloading my gear from the truck she prepared her house for me to stay in. After I got all my gear moved into the house, Jess and and Lani's daughter Kayla saddled up a few horses and rode for a bit. I hadn't been on a horse before that in eons. It was much fun. I'm sure the girls got a chuckle watching me saddled up. The next day I got in touch with Ryan at Ducati North America to explain the tire situation. He immediately went into action by locating a tire and had it overnighted to me. Lani and Dan's daughter Ashley was kind enough to let tire be shipped to her place of employment. Thankfully, because if I did not have that option, the tire would not have been able to have been shipped overnight. FedEx tends not to ship overnight to in-the-boonies locations. Which is where I was. So while I was waiting for the tire to arrive, they welcomed me into their amazingly wonderful family for a few days. They took me on a tour of Sun Valley, served me an delicious elk dinner, shared much great conversation and did countless other things to make me comfortable in their home. So the tired arrived. Now I needed to get the wheel off the bike and get the tire mounted and put back on the bike. With the help of Dan and Gio, the wheel was removed. Lani drove me to pick of the tire and get it mounted to the wheel, which was well over an hour away. When we got back to the ranch, Dan and Gio were there to help me put the wheel back on. The bike was ready to hit the road, but was I? It was a quite difficult to leave this amazing family and beautiful location. It got quite misty inside my helmet as I rode away. I do intend on getting back to that Shangri-Lalaland. And Lani, I'm definitely going to take you up on that little cabin of yours that I love so much. You all are in my heart.

At the ranch with mama and her colt.

Little red shed on the ranch.

A lone tree across the road from the ranch. I found myself identifying with it. Sorta.

Lani and Jess took me on a beeeautiful tour of Sun Valley. Thank you so much ladies. I had a wonderful time.

A beautiful valley that we drove a goat trail gravel road through on way to Sun Valley

A stunner of a Sun Valley view.

A little information about the Salmon River via this handy-dandy sign.

Look at me, on top of the world. Well, on top of that big boulder anyway.

A ssspectacular seen on our way back up the goat trail gravel road.

My crew, Dan and Gio. It's all about having the right tools. Ha. Thank you soooo very much for all your help guys.

On the way back to the ranch from fishing I stopped by the little cabin that I love so much. I will make it back. And I will stay here. Lani said I could.

A group photo with Kayla, Jess, me and Gio taken right before I shoved off. And Lani was behind the camera. It was really difficult for me to leave. I started getting quite misty as I rode off. I miss you all. I will return.

Destination No. 4: The Pikes Peak Hill Climb. Pikes Peak, CO.

For years I had wanted to go to the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. And I was unbelievably gggloriously there. Three days of Ducati scheduled activities that allowed me to connect with fellow Multistrada riders and also the opportunity to spend some more time with the Ducati North America Team. And oh yeah, an amazing race that is consistently dominated by two Spider Grips/Ducati riders, Carlin Dunne and Greg Tracy.

So I raced from Idaho to Colorado Springs day and night and day to make it in time for a PPIHC dinner that was Thursday night. I missed it by an hour. Darn Denver traffic gridlock. I spent a bit of time in downtown Colorado Springs taking the local flavor. I secured a campsite at Garden of the Gods Campground. The next morning I made my way to the Marriott Hotel, where the Ducati crew was staying, to meet up for a Ducati organized ride. A ride led by a representative of Butler Maps. It was amazing riding into the lot and seeing a bunch of Multi's and that big Ducati semi. After a short time of being informed about the ride we were about to take off on and talking it up with fellow ride participants, we hit the road. The ride forged through 167 miles of amazing roads. We stopped for lunch at a great little place by the name of Bucksnort Saloon. Love that name. Jeff from Ducati North America did a great job setting up this ride.

After riding through some rain, we decided to take a little break. We got caught in the usual Colorado Rockies afternoon storms

Oh look, more wet weather ahead. Nutty.

Elegia taking a break with her Pikes Peak Edition sister.

Bucksnort Saloon, we're here. A bunch of Multistrada's and a few Dievel's. A great lunch. Thank you Jeff.

Taking in the Bucksnort Saloon interior as having a goood lunch. And no, I took no bucks.

After lunch, Jeff from Ducati North America told us about the rest of ride that day. Thank you for a great day Jeff.

On Saturday, Ducati had organized a ride up to the top of Pikes Peak. A BBQ at the start line area followed. The Colorado Springs Motorcycle Police escorted us through Colorado Springs and led us to the entrance to Pikes Peak. After that, we would meet up with Carlin Dunne and Greg Tracy, the Spider Grips/Ducati racers. They then led us up to the top of Pikes Peak. Along the way we stopped to listen to stories and race information told by Carlin and Greg. Amazing stuff.

Posing with the Ducati semi at the parking area near Crystal Creek Reservoir.

A view of Pikes Peak from Crystal Creek Reservoir.

On top of the world. Well, on top of Pikes Peak, anyway.

You really get a sense of being 14,000+ feet up in photo.

The entire gang letting their state and country flags fly on top of Pikes Peak.

The Ducati Crew letting their flags fly.

Greg Tracy, Carlin Dunne and me posing it up in front of the Pikes Peak Summit Sign.

It was early Sunday morning, race day. I had my VIP pass and was ready to charge up to the start line

The Opening Ceremony for the 2012 Pikes Peak Hill. Yeeehaw, it was finally about to happen. Could not believe I was actually there for it. Fortunate me.

Carlin Dunne by his bike before the big race.

Greg Tracy coming into view before the big race.

Carlin Dunne with Ryan and Stefano from Ducati North America.

Hanging with a Jose and Ernesto who rode Multistrada's up from Mexico City. Had a blast riding with these guys for those three Pikes Peak days.

Before I forged onto St. Louis to visit my sister Kim, which was on the way to the next ride destination in Indy for the Moto GP race. The bike required a much needed oil change. I contacted the service department at Erico Motorsports in Denver. I explained my situation and they squeezed me in. A big thanks to everyone at Erico Motorsports. Check the place out if you're ever in the Denver area. An impressive dealership indeed.

While I was taking part in the 3 days of Pikes Peak bliss, I met a wonderful couple from Texas, Sean and Kelly. They had ridden to Pikes Peak from Corpus Christi, TX. They were riding to the Moto GP race in Indy as well. We had a great few days of riding together on our way Indy.

Sean, Kelly and I burned through eastern Colorado, Kansas and Missouri. We both needed to have our bikes worked on. Sean required rear brake work and I needed the 7,500 maintenance. When we were in Denver I called Called Moto Europa hoping they would be able to fit our bikes in for the required service. I spoke to Dan, the service manager, without hesitation he made time available for us. I have been to Moto Europa multiple times. An amazing dealership and great people. Besides being a Ducati and Triumph dealership they also have a restaurant, a motorcycle museum and Inn. Sean and Kelly stayed at the Inn. I stayed at my sister's near St. Louis. I looked forward to spending some time with my sister and her family.

Oh look at me, I'm squeezed in.

Andrew doing his thing to the beast. Thanks for the great work man.

The bike was ready. In perfect time for –=the rain.

Destination No. 5: The Indy Moto GP.

With our bikes serviced and a little rest under our belts, Sean, Kelly and I motored to Indy for the Moto GP races. This was definitely a different circuit than Laguna Seca. Indy flatness being the main difference. Also, the track was much more compact. Which did make it easier to see multiple areas of the track without too much hiking, unlike Laguna. I was going to be sitting in the Ducati Grandstands which offered a great view of some good turns.

I was excited that I would be staying at the Drury Hotel where many Ducati fans were staying. Unlike at Laguna Seca where I camped. It was nice to stay where so many Ducatisti were. Thank you Vicki Smith from Ducati.net for the information that led to me getting the room booked.

The Indy GP was another race inflicted with crashes. Nicky Hayden crashed in Saturday’s qualifying session. His injuries led to him not being able to race on Sunday. Ugh. Casey Stoner also crashed, but was able to participate in the race. Ben Spies crashed out as well. Talk about a nightmare season for him. Valentino Rossi had yest another unimpressive seventh place finish. Dani Pedrosa ended up winning another race. Good work Dani.

As the day went on, I noticed something developing that I was not too thrilled about. A small bowel obstruction. The pain and nausea was starting to intensify. It was not as bad as previous obstructions have been, but I was still nervous about it. I did not want to have to go to the ER and be admitted into hospital. Which has been necessary with past small bowel obstructions.

After I said good bye to Sean and Kelly, I saddled up and uh raced back to St. Louis. I did not want to have to go to a hospital in the middle of Nowhereville Indiana or Illinois. That and I wanted to get back to my sister’s to spend more time with her. She was recovering from two recent surgeries. Thankfully the obstruction cleared that night when I was at my sister’s. Dodged that ER bullet. Phew.

Talk about a welcome sight, a bunch of Ducs in front of the Drury Hotel where I was about to check in.

Saturday night I went to the Indy Mile Flat Track races. These guys frrreaking amaze me. To ride around a dirt track full out is seriously exciting to see.

After the flat track races I went to the uh circus going on in downtown Indy.

My first view of Ducati Island at Indy.

Valentino Rossi leaning it into the turn before me.

Yup, Ducati Experienced.

Well, looky there, a schmexy Ducati Umbrella Gal.

Stefano and Jeff from Ducati North America in staring unison before the Ducati Grandstand.

Oh look, a Panigale Tri-Color smack dab in the middle of the Island. Instant photo op.

My Multi-buddy Sean working his new Ducati rain suit in the stands.

A little group shot with my multi-state riding bud and buddette, Kelly and Sean taken before we had to say goodbye. I had such a wonderful time with you both. I'm going to need to bump into you both again at some point. Even if it's down in Corpus. Ha.

I made it back to my sister Kim's in the St. Louis area in one piece. The small bowel obstruction I had did not stand in my way. It was good to be back with my sis. Another big bonus of being back what that I was able to meet a good friend of mine in person. Her name would be Julie. I met her at the hospital while she was having blood work done. She has stage 4 colon and liver cancer. She is an amazingly positively inspiring person. While at the hospital, Julie introduced me to her cancer buddy Brenna and her husband. Brenna was in the process of receiving her 3rd round of chemotherapy. It was a difficult time for her. I can't thank her enough for allowing me to talk with her while she was going through that. Seeing her feel worse and worse as the chemo was going into her body hurt my heart. It hurts right now thinking about it. You are in my thoughts Julie and Brenna. You both are very much cancer warriors.

Julie finally introduced me to the elusive buffalo beast I've heard so much about.

One thing I wanted to happen while I was at my sister's was for Kim and Julie to meet. I knew they would hit it off. Julie was kind enough to let up meet her at the hospital while she was receiving her chemo treatment. I captured their conversation on video. Two incredibly strong women having to deal with horrible diseases in their lives. Julie with colon cancer and Kim with MS, FAP and Desmoid Tumors.

Destination No. 6: MS discussion with my sister Kim, Steve and their spouses.

While spending time with my sister in the St. Louis area I wanted to do something MS related for the ride. Kim and Steve agreed to have a conversation about all aspects of living with the dreadful disease, MS. We talked about what MS is, current treatments, their MS stories, coping with this chronic disease, how it affects spouses and families and how they met. This discussion was captured on video.

Kim, her husband Rob, Steve and his wife Patty did a fffabulous job. I can’t thank them enough. When the discussion over I definitely had a better idea of what the disease is and how it impacts MS patients lives.

Having this horrible disease can really wear down people afflicted with it. Depression is quite prevalent with MS. But, to see Kim and Steve laughing and not let the damn disease complete consume them and let it drag them down a MS spiral that they cannot get out of. They live their lives best they can. Kim pours herself into art and craft projects. Steve works his garden as much as he can. Truly inspiring people they are.

I am so thankful that Kim and Steve met at a retreat held by the National MS Association. They and their spouses have become such good friends. It gives me some peace knowing that Kim has support and understanding from such a wonderful couple. And they get the same from Kim and Rob.

I love you so much Kim. You are in my heart and will be with me on every mile of this ride.

Oh yeah, there will be a blog post created in future that will talk more about this discussion and feature the video footage of it.

Before the discussion we all posed for a little group shot in front of Steve and Patty's house. Thank you so much Steve and Patty for welcoming me into your home and allowing this discussion to occur in your home. And oh yeah, thank you for nice dinner you prepared for us.

Random bike photos taken while visiting my sister in St. Louis area.

I went for a little ride which went through the Alton, IL area. I stumbled onto this area and felt the need to stop and take some photos. While I was taking this photo couple of bikes rode in and stopped. A nice conversation began. They invited me to a few day rides with them. Which I took them up on. Truly great times. Thank you so much Donovan, Will and Lisa. I definitely want to keep in contact with you all.

This is the setting that caused me to stop and take these photos. Which was responsible for my meeting Donovan, Will and Lisa. Crazy how things work out.

The great group I rode with up to Pierre Marquette Park.

Donovan on Big River Road at sunset.

Lisa with Will and his beeeautiful bike after the ferry river crossing.

The gang at sunset with the Mississippi River in background.

Elegia on Big River Road.

Elegia crossing the river on ferry.

Series of photos of me riding taken by Donovan and Lisa. Thank you guy and gal.

Don't I look all friendly n stuff.

Riding along Mississippi River at sunset.

Me posing it up during ferry crossing.

Uh, left?

Nope. No time for shopping Lisa. Ha.

Donovan, I feel so distorted.

Gee, it's purdy up here at Pierre Marquette Park. And no branches in the road this time. Double bonus.

Still no branches.

SSSSStretch. Crack POP.

Me getting some rays.

I love this bridge.

Ohhhhhkay, you would be up-to-date on the Destination X Ride. Thank you for taking the time to view this post. Now I have to load up the bike and hit the road. Next stop, Chattanooga, TN for the Trail of Tears Memorial Ride.

One Comment

  1. Posted 13 Sep ’12 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Wow MONSTER post, dude! And the adventure is not even half finished yet. This whole experience is pretty awesome, man. I can’t wait to see what you get into next!
    John Garrett recently posted..Let’s All Do The BitTorrent Together

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