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The real 1%ers

Back from Daytona. Daytona is huge, and the amount of things set up for riders is very diverse and spread out up and down the coast. I have always wanted to test ride a Ninja. Therefore, I was happy to see there were test rides everywhere. It was all fun and I’m happy I went. Enough said!

Here comes the antichrist moment.

While perusing the different venues from “The Dog House” to “Destination Daytona” much of the talk was about the troops. People were collecting donations on behalf of the troops and selling products on behalf of the troops. I even participated in several raffles in support of the troops.  

I was fortunate to have my older brother with me in Daytona. My brother has never been to a bike event because he has been in the military for well over thirty years so I though he would have a great appreciation for all the military support going on here. It was just the opposite.

A venue on Main Street was raffling off a signed guitar “for the troops” and the person on stage was saying, “Come on folks! On behalf of the troops, buy a CD to send to the troops because they cannot get these over there!” I was caught up in the excitement. My money was out! Until my brother lowered my hand and walked me out the door.

Once outside he said. “How do you think that benefits the troops? Is that guy going to knock on a dependent’s door and hand her money? Because the troop benefits we have seen today, except for the Wounded Warrior event you were invited to, were feeding these people a load of crap! Beyond what the military provides, anything and everything can be purchased in the middle east and bought cheaper because the Chinese are there.” 

Hmmm, not what I was expecting! So where are all these donations going I wonder. Is it possible that the majority of people collecting for the troops are just using the word “Troops” as a buzz word to inspire people to hand over cash? Are our military troops benefitted in any way? And if so, in what way?

Only 1% of the American population is on active duty in the military. In addition, backed up by the census, only 4% of the current American population has ever served; this number includes all living veterans of all past wars. Truthfully most people don’t even know any military personnel except for the romantic visions of military hero’s in the movies so it’s easy to also romanticize the donations they give as being some part of a grand romantic plan to support our military men and women.  

My mother contributes much of her time to the Veterans Administration. This past year she was honored as the top volunteer in the state of Kentucky. She was also awarded the honor of top volunteer in the nation as well. I have seen her work; every moment she is creating a project. From a very basic level, she connects people from the “Red Hat Society”, the VFW, the local churches and the University and encourages them to contribute to the troops. And she does it in such a way that every small contribution swells to a flow that directly affects the lives of veterans. She does not hand the money to a nonprofit where she can’t see the benefits, assuming there are any. She and her recruits pay for the medications that the VA (should be)  but is not paying for. They scour thrift stores and the internet for used medical devices, they trade up for electric chairs, and they enlist community members to put safety bars around bathtubs and toilets for the very old veterans. I have met some of her local veterans most are in their 70’s and 80’s. Many of them have nothing. And my God are they humble. My parents and their army of angels spend every spare nickel to make certain that a vet has towels, sheets, a coffee pot, food, medicines and the list goes on.

My parents although retired military, do not believe in state power. They believe in people power. When Vietnam fell and boat people arrived in the US, my folks brought a Vietnamese family and twelve children to our house. If our family could provide food, shelter and love to homeless people and keep them out of state run facilities then I had to sleep with my sister. And that was the last word on it!  I never understood why we always had homeless families and strange children staying in our beds. I used to think it was because my mom didn’t care for us as much as she cared for strangers. She was so focused outside herself. Fortunately, I wised up and saw that by giving of herself she was making a better world for her kids to live in. As an adult, I can see her path more clearly. From my mother I learned that direct action is the best way to be of service to other people. My siblings and I took the same path; hence, my trip to help during Katrina and my faulty belief in the HH people who said they were helping the Lakota people last year. (I know you all remember that clusterf*ck)

Snake oil salesmen aside… Lets zip back to Daytona and the “support the troops” battle cry that is likely to surround the bike rallies this year. Yes! Absolutely support out troops but make certain that whatever you give goes directly to the troops. Stop contributing to venues, organizations or even that guy outside wearing old fatigues and carrying a flag just because he mentions the words military veteran. Stop handing your hard earned money to non-profits who take the lion’s share as wages for their CEO’s and spend the rest on advertising. If you prefer to contribute in this way, first check with www.guidestar.org or charity watch and make certain your money is going where you intended it to go.

On the other hand, you could do what my mother and dad do. No doubt somewhere in your city or neighborhood is a military veteran who needs something but is too proud to ask. Your money would be better spent finding that person and helping him out. Ask your church, veterans groups, old folks homes, etc. Because living not very far from you is a military family who can’t afford to send their kids to college, or who needs child care while the mother takes trips to the VA Hospital to visit her husband while he’s recovering or an old guy who served who can’t afford his medications.  THIS is supporting the troops! Not only will it enrich them but it will empower you in a way that your donation at the bike rally could never equal.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MY MOTORCYCLE IS NOT A TOY. IT IS AN EXTENSION OF MY BEING. I TREAT IT WITH THE SAME RESPECT AS I HAVE FOR MYSELF BECAUSE I AM A BIKER, WHEN AND WHEREVER I GO!

Last year I publically rode across America on a “one-woman, one-motorcycle, 10,000-mile trip” and I asked the online community to Follow me as I explored the America I see from the seat of my motorcycle. My GPS allowed you to follow every mile on line, riders caught up with me to ride or just share a few stories. In my three months on the road; I found myself. It wasn’t that I was completely lost but after twenty years in the film industry, working on sets, I’d lost touch with who I was and what my story was about.

Once home, I finished a script “Road to Sturgis” which is about a woman rider who finds her way to Sturgis during the rally and discovers that no matter where you come from, no matter what personal hell you carry with you; you can find yourself from the back of a motorcycle.

This past January, I submitted my script to “Sundance Film Festival” where it won 1st place in the action-adventure screenplay category. There was no doubt in my mind it could win, because every biker has an interesting story to tell. Bikers are our modern day gladiators. These men and women who mainstream America has deemed unfit because they ride motorcycles are actually the heart of America.

Script excerpt: Old Service Station – Day Ray stops dead when he sees Jessie. “Who are you? Who the hell are you?” He demands. “I was just getting out of the storm.” Jessie replies. Ray kicks the can of dog food. “And who said you could feed that dog?” he spat. Ray raises his whip to hit the nearly starved pup. Jessie quickly pulls a gun out of her waistband and Ray stops in mid swing. Ray moves a little closer to Jessie. “You gonna shoot me?” Ray grabs at Jessie. As she falls backward, the gun explodes, blood spurts from Ray’s ear and he falls to the ground. “It’s just a dog; people dump them out of cars all day long. Nobody cares about a dog.” He screams. “Wrong!” Jessie replies.

Keeping the gun pointed at Ray’s face. Jessie grabs the chain attached to a worktable and secures it around Ray’s ankle with the bike lock. Grabbing the puppy, she backs out the door and stumbles over a pile of dog body parts. Horrified, her screams mingle with the laughter coming from Ray. “What the hell are you?” She screams. Running to her motorcycle, puppy in hand, Jessie flings open her T-bag and throws her things to the ground. She lays the pup into the bag and zips it. Hopping on her motorcycle she slams her foot down on the kick-starter. Nothing! “Woo hoo, I hear ya out there, you’re not going anywhere girly!” Ray bellows. Jessie hears the sound of a chain and something heavy scraping across a cement floor as she keeps trying to start her motorcycle. Suddenly the window of the service station explodes, Ray and the table come flying out onto the pavement as the motorcycle jumps into action.

Do you want to read more or watch this film? Then follow me again. Be a part of the making of this film. For every donation, your credits will roll with ours on the back of this film. In addition, we have exclusive proprietary merchandise just for you when you donate. Go to http://indiegogo.com/ROAD-TO-STURGIS and see what we have to offer you in exchange for participating in making this movie with us.

Script excerpt: Easy Rider Café – Day Garrett and Jessie sit at a table. “Why do you put guards at your motel?” Jessie asks. Garrett shrugs. “ It’s like being a gunfighter in the old west, people who don’t even know you are after a fight. He reaches over and holds Jessie’s hand. “Let me ask you something. Why are you so angry?” Jessie shakes her head. “Why do women allow men to control them?” Garrett ponders the question before he responds. “Jessie, look at all these women riders! For every weak woman in the world there are thousands like you, women who would fight to the death for themselves and for others.”

“Let’s get back so I can fix my bike.” Jessie jumps up and heads to the parking lot. “Why? Don’t you like riding behind me?” Garrett says with a grin. “ That… butt pad is not a seat. You do realize that is not a seat?” She snaps. “It’s a bitch pad!” He quips. “A bitch pad? A bitch pad? How degrading! Do you want to put your butt on that thing? Let me drive!” She demands. “Oh No! Some things are worse than death. Riding bitch behind a woman would be at the top of my list.” He laughs. “Oh ok tough guy. Afraid your friends would make fun of you?” She teases. “No, I’m afraid my friends would kill me!” He responds, wrapping his arms around her and walking her backwards. He stops and kisses her. “Tough girl.” He whispers. “Not really.” She responds quietly. “I know.” He says.

Be a part of “Road To Sturgis” for every level of sponsorship there’s something great to be had; from proprietary materials such as patches and vests to the ability to be one of the Devils Exiles in the movie. Follow me! http://www.indiegogo.com/ROAD-TO-STURGIS

Script excerpt – Cabin – Day Jessie is attached to the wall like a crucifix. Ray places the knife against Jessie’s collarbone and then runs it down to her heart. Jessie stares straight into his eyes as if she could kill him. Ray smirks. “What? No crying, no squealing? Oh if looks could kill.” He rips the tape from her mouth. “What? You wanted to say something?” He grins.

“Go fuck yourself.” Jessie responds. Ray’s head jerks up! “Go fuck yourself?” He raises his fist to hit her. She does not flinch. He walks across the room then runs at her with the knife. She continues to stare him down. He stops short. “Hmmm. I’m not mad about the ear.” He whispers. “I would have done the same thing.” Ray holds up a leather bag and pours it on the table. Human ears and a finger fall to the table. Ray holds an ear to Jessie’s face. ” This ear is on ten thousand missing posters. This is a famous ear. You think you are the first kid I ever found? People throw kids like you away, just like they throw dogs away. They show up willing to do anything for a meal. But not you! You’re a tough girl. You’ve been in the trenches. We’re alike you and I.” Jessie looks away.

“You and I are nothing alike! You’re just one more scumbag in the world. I used to think I attracted them like my mother. But I don’t attract them, I just recognize them.”

“Road To Sturgis” is an independent film and every dollar is welcome because we cannot do it without you. In our next tier of financing, we will be looking for much larger monies from investors who are looking for a return on their investment. Follow Me…http://www.indiegogo.com/ROAD-TO-STURGIS

Thank You, Love and Light,

Alystar McKenneh 

Waterloo and Starbucks.

Waterloo Iowa. Finding a Starbucks in the Midwest is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Does it have to be Starbucks? Well, it has to have WiFi ( with electrical outlets) , oatmeal and coffee that doesn’t leave me with massive heartburn.

McDonalds will do if I have enough battery power and TUMS but really, it does have to be Starbucks. Yesterday, hoping to get to Wisconsin before the DMV closed; I refused to stop. I left Murray Kentucky at 7:30 am and arrived in Platteville, Wisconsin at 10:30pm. Had I slowed down and plotted my ride correctly I would have ridden the Interstate to Chicago and then ridden the Interstate to Beloit, arriving many hours sooner. But no, I can be extremely pig headed at times, much to my own detriment. I wanted to get as close to the border as possible and put myself on a straight line across the country so I plotted map quest to the furthest corner. Map Quest tried to tell me to keep to the Interstate but I refused to listen. So my ride was one of those all day lessons. I spent much of the day kicking my self, cursing Map Quest and finally saying; “It’s OK, I’ve never been on this road before; how interesting a new place, cheer up Al you may never see any of this stuff again!” In reality rows of corn look the same at mile 300 as they looked at mile 2. The smell of cow crap is well hidden in the interior of Illinois because I know I would not have been so saturated had I taken the Interstate.

I zigzagged all over Illinois and ended up close to where I would have ended up 5 hours earlier had I listen to Map Quest. I learned a valuable lesson yesterday. One leg at a time!

I pulled my bike close to the DMV, which by the way is only open on Mondays and Fridays in this town. Thank God my guardian angels took me to the right town at least. If they can’t talk some sense into me, they can get me lost enough to end up in the right place.

I put my bike cover over Tiger Lily and slept on her in a parking lot. The DMV people were in at 7, I was out by 7:15am and I’m a person again. Isn’t it crazy that a person can’t even rent a hotel room with out ID? Cold hard cash is not a motivator any more. Now they feel the need to Google you is much more important. Actually maybe I should have suggested that. My face is on Google; they could see I am me. Holy crap an epiphany!

I’m in Waterloo Iowa waiting for a break in the heat. I promised my sister I’d stop between 11am and 1pm so my brain didn’t get fried. And Starbucks is here. Yeah!!
From here I’m going to try I-35 to Sioux Falls SD and try to stay on the Interstate all the way across SD.

Peace,
Alystar

Back on the road…

Yesterday I was standing under a bridge in the pouring rain in Florida waiting for a tow truck to jump Tigerlily and I should have called Herald Hitt of Custom Riders because I soon became one of the official members of Herald Hitt’s family. After Tigerlily was brought back to life by a very cute tow truck driver; Herald (OK it’s actually Harold but Herald fits him better) rode out to find me at exit 288, we rode through a beautiful late 1800’s Georgia town to the “Hit and Run B & B” (beer & breakfast). Herald served up hot meatloaf, cool melon and a cold beer while I washed the worries of the day away in the shower, then we talked till midnight about bikers and the loss of the biker culture. We haven’t made a set determination of whether it’s lost or just hiding; but in us (we two sitting here) it was still alive.

When I was a kid my favorite memories of the morning were the smell of coffee and the quiet murmur of guys around the table chatting about the state of the world. Being a military kid it was usually politics. Today Herald (Valdez), his friend Ray (Rat) and his woman Irene made my morning a blessed morning because we did just that.

I’ve said it a million times and my mind has not changed. Bikers are the epitome of God’s word. The outward expression of what we believe every good American to be. Pure to the core and ready to take you in if you give them the same respect they give you. (Posers not withstanding)

Thanks to Herald Hitt, my family grew exponentially today.

Today is a good day!

Off to Murray, KY.

I decided to stop talking about the Hoka Hey because it was a cluster fuck that was so sorted that I can’t imagine how I ended up there. It was a masquerade party of jokesters, fakers and pathetic Jerry Springer audience members. From Jon Compton who told me he worked for the Discovery Channel and that his brother was actor Sam Elliot (who refuses to acknowledge him as does Discovery) to Jim Durham/Redcloud who said he was a Navy Seal (nominee for Stolen Valor perhaps?) and from Homer Alaska he declared that he had to go kill a few people because the HA’s were after him (I just had to shrug at that one) ; to John White who smack talked the entire thing while secretly financially supporting it; to the flamer who brought his girlfriend along thinking no one would suspect; to the female version of the Jeri Springer host/wife of the emasculated male rider that has always remained nameless. And of course afterward the threats of harm by palerider57718@yahoo.com 209.159.243.74 who claims to be a resident of Sturgis but her location is out of Black Hawk; to johncyn1@dslextreme.com 68.183.145.4 location Palmdale, Ca. who was interested in asking about the HH because he said he was writing an article but then asked if I knew Harry Bostard. Odd that he should ask that. It’s not a secret of course we all know I have tons of video out there with HB but right here in the middle of the HH debachle? Odd. It all became so odd.

The riders were of course the saving grace and far too good for the cast of jokers who were putting this thing on. I have yet to see the footage I shot for nine thousand miles except as I was transfering it to the mac of the writer/director/camera man/actor/dj/used car salesman/plumber that was given the task of editing it. Nope I’m finished talking about it for now. It was one of those moves I made without council. Not one I would make again. Although now that I have council I’m not really finished talking about it.

Lost in Miami

A few more miles down the road and Whoosh… the group behind us fly past. I continued on with Rob and Bear for a while, we end up in Miami. Bear in the lead is becoming increasingly frustrated. We’re lost! Even though I’m getting great footage of a very frustrated Bear screaming around looking for the road, I think I’d better move on because there’s no doubt in my mind that this may take a long time. I offer to use my GPS to help them escape Miami but they aren’t certain it’s allowed so they turn me down. I GPS myself out of this predicament and head down the road alone. While pulled over, Jon calls to say there had been an accident just up the road could I shoot it. I ride faster hoping I wasn’t going to come upon blood and guts all over the highway. By the time I get there the injured riders have been flown to the hospital. The riders who stopped to help had gone. A gas station attendant told me that he heard the injured rider was shooting video of himself when he crashed. But I can’t confirm that. I don’t believe it so I don’t bother to get a taped interview.

I call Jon and ask where he is. He says he’s on the interstate heading toward Ft. Lauderdale. OK he is NOT following the riders. I am at least two hours behind the starters, God only knows where Jim and his group are but I keep on the trail. Rob and Bear catch up so I ride with them for a while. We’re in the Everglades it’s hot as hell but really pretty. Jon calls, he’s be at the first checkpoint only for a short while then he’s headed to Mobile Alabama area could I just catch the Interstate and meet him there. I ask him to stop and let me catch up with him but he says they need people at the next checkpoint.

I tell Bear and Rob I have to catch the 75 Interstate. Bear says, “Don’t leave! I have a bad feeling about this. Just stay with us”. But my job is different from their job so I assure him I’m fine and I’ll see them at the next checkpoint. 1 a.m. I’m dead tired. I pull into a rest stop outside Tampa. The guard asks me to park close to his truck so he can keep an eye on me. I do. I ask him to wake me at 4 a.m. He says he will. I lay on top of Tigerlily pull my cover over me to keep the mosquitoes out and fall asleep.

At 4:30 a.m. my eyes pop open, I shove my cover into my saddlebag, wave at the guard in his truck and take off. I can’t even count on the cold air to shoot some energy into me because there is none. Thirty minutes into the ride Tigerlily starts blowing oil all over me. I shut her down and glide down an off ramp. It’s too dark to see what the problem is but I lock her down and walk to the nearest gas station. I call my best friend in L.A. and explain the problem even though I don’t know exactly what it is. I buy oil at the station, walk back to Tiger and pour oil into her. The oil pours out all over the ground. I don’t have a flashlight because stupid me put my entire pack in the back of a truck headed for some place other than where I am.

I’m great about having Tiger serviced. I had a full service done a week earlier at my favorite dealership. Kutter H-D in Janesville, Wi. Since I’d left home two months and 14 thousand miles ago I had her serviced four times. Texas, DC, NC and Wi so I wasn’t too worried. Not that I hadn’t had my share of problems. I had started this ride with a friend whose bike broke down nine times by New Orleans so I sent him home there by ending the friendship. In N. Carolina something flew out from under a truck and hit my front tire ruining it. In DC my starter went out. In Wi. I replaced my battery. I had quite a bit of trouble with the air shocks and an exhaust leak. But there was always someone there (put there by a kind Universe looking out for me no doubt) to sort it out and this would be no exception.

I had been Facebooking and Tweeting the entire ride so I wrote on Facebook I was broken down near Tampa. At 5 a.m. the dealerships and service stations weren’t responding but Facebook was open for business and I got an immediate response!

A month earlier in Cherokee I had met a couple Judy and Stumpy. They were straight shooters, easy going and I liked them immediately. Judy had a friend outside Tampa. That friend showed up an hour later with hot coffee and air conditioning. I had pushed Tiger off the ramp and to the nearest open gas station and I was safe but I was truthfully feeling awfully alone. We waited for the tow truck and trucked the bike to this woman’s house. When the sun came up I can see that the bolt that this guy tightened at the start of the run is gone. The cover holding the rods is pulled up and I can see the bent rods. CRAP!!

By the way this woman who didn’t know me from Eve has Fibromyalgia. So the fact that she showed up at 6 a.m. with coffee, took me into her house and offered me a shower and a new toothbrush while she washed my oil soaked clothes was just too much. She will forever be my hero!

When I finally got Jon on the phone my thoughts were to chill out in Tampa, fix Tiger and send him his camera, he could leave my things at the dealership. He said he still needed me on the road because there was no one else on the road. The other camera groups were headed to the Pine Ridge Reservation. So he suggested I leave Tiger there, fly to Mobile where he would pick me up and they would have another motorcycle. He said Jim had a Road King and they would just camera up that bike so bring my mounts and camera’s as well. OK.

I bought a ticket, flew out of Tampa and ended up near Mobile where Jon and the Canadian Kid (still can’t remember his name) picked me up.

Out the gate!

5 a.m. The hotel was buzzing with excited riders lined up in the driveway. I pulled my motorcycle (tigerlily) into the parking area where I ran into Jon Compton. He took me to see Jim Redcloud who I’d seen speak at the meeting yesterday. Mr. Redcloud looked down at me and said, You’re coming with us! and walked away to handle the many people who were pulling at his attention. I asked Jon what kind of camera’s they were using. He didn’t know but would find the guys to put them on. I showed him my helmet cam and bike cam already on my motorcycle, they only needed to put their camera on my front camera mount. He left to find his guys. I continued shooting interviews and just the overall scene with my big camera.

When I saw Jon next he still hadn’t found a camera for me. I asked him if he wanted me to get out front and shoot them as they passed and then just fold into the pack. He said, “no I should wait until the pack left and follow behind”. “That sort of defeats the whole ride with the pack, shoot the pack thing doesn’t it?” He said, “No, it’s safer and I would ride with Jim Redcloud and his guys”.

So I returned to the driveway to shoot riders getting mentally prepared. One guy was doing push ups, one guy was playing bagpipes, children were hugging fathers, the Army Rangers were chanting their battle cry. The tension in the air was palpable. Yesterday they were riders on the same adventure, today they were competitors. Except for the chanting Army Rangers there was no more camaraderie.

I ran into a cameraman I knew from Chicago and brought him over to get footage of the Indian doing a ceremony in the driveway. I had directed some footage the day before with this same cameraman and I knew he’d get a really pretty shot.

I should have prefaced this by saying I didn’t just grab a guy with a camera and say, “here let me tell you what to do”. The film industry is very small. And oddly enough, film people run into each other all the time. I’m not talking about these new people who own prosumer cameras, learn how to operate and now have a business card that says writer, producer, director, cameraman, actor, kitchen sink salesman. God bless them but I’m not talking about them.

I was a union grip at the studios since the milk dried on my lips, I’ve been a 1st Assistant Director for more than ten years now and if I run into another crew person I’m friends with, well that system is still in place. So the day prior, this shooter saw me and asked me to set up with him. I did what I do which was to set up interesting interviews, tell him where to shoot and directed the action. Today was no exception. I still wanted footage for myself, he had a great camera and a good eye, I knew we would be able to buy his footage and Jon had not returned so I shot with this guy for a while.

But there were a ton of folks and interviews going on in that driveway. As Carl and I were shooting the Indian in the driveway I saw Chris Callen walking through the people. I jumped in front of him and said “Hey Great you made it!” He said, Where’s Rob? I said, “I haven’t seen him”. And Chris was off. The girl from Vagabond Choppers passed me. I said, “Hi” and she just stared. I figured she was either really tired or didn’t remember me from the interview at her shop a few days earlier. It felt strange but I know when I’m busy and focused I’m not too chatty myself so I turned my attention back to shooting.

Jon showed up and said the Florida highway patrol had given them fifteen minutes to move out instead of the slower paced groups they had set up for, so Jim Redcloud arrived and suddenly the bikes began to move. They rumbled past the Indian who was using a large feather to wave smoke in their direction as they passed. It was quite interesting. I figured it was some sort of blessing. After the bulk of the motorcycles left there were a few guys who hadn’t heard about the switch up. They came outside from the restaurant with “where’d everybody go?” looks on their faces. One guy who was really angry was assured that in a two week run, a few moments or even a few hours was not going to make any difference in the least. He didn’t want to talk about it but he settled down and rode off.

Jon came to get me, I was taken to a hotel room where I was introduced to some of Jim Redclouds crew. All white guys except Mr. WhirlingHorse and his son, (just an observation). A young french kid from Canada, an older guy Chuck, Peacekeeper (Terry) from Michigan, A young woman Sydney or something like that and Jim’s wife Beth. I was handed a camera for my motorcycle. We returned to the parking lot where Peacekeeper, Chuck, Jim and a few other men were parked. I retrieved my motorcycle and attached their camera to my front mount and removing my windshield because this camera was longer than mine. There was also a truck with a trailer. Jon suggested I leave my personal gear in the back of the truck. This was another one of those “my heads up my butt moments”! I know that being separated from my gear is never a good idea, NEVER! But Jon assured me he’d be on the route right behind me so my stuff would be readily available.

OK. So my job at this point is to ride with Jim and his guys. Get the intro to the race with this group and then chase after the other riders. We’d trailer between checkpoint locations then I’d unload and ride with groups as they left. I’d also be interviewing riders and support teams at the checkpoints. I asked for a map of the directions and was given a map of the first leg. I asked Jon for the entire route so I could hit the highway and move ahead of the group because it was already an hour past the start. There would be riders strung across the state. A thousand riders is not a lot of people when you think of the distance. Jon told me he’d get a map of the route at the next stop but he didn’t have one then.

OK. Rob Keller and his son roll up. Another guy named Barry rides up as well. Jim tells me that they call him Bear. I don’t know if he is a long time friend but they seem to know him and he will be riding with this group. He and Rob are chatting and seem to be getting on quite well. Barry says he was a Navy Seal but is out of the Navy now. I ask him which seal team and he says the same seal team as Chuck and Jim. Someone comes to me and gives me some green dusty weed sort of stuff and tells me to rub it on my face. Jim hands me a yellow strand of braided grass and tells me to keep it on my motorcycle. As these guys are preparing to get on the road, I’m asking Jon about the ride. Where should we meet, what is the first stop. Where are the other crews?

I’m told the other crews had gone ahead to the first stop to shoot the riders coming in. And that there is another guy named Cleveland who’s following some guy specifically and he will be at the next stop as well.
I give my friend Rob some of my potassium pills and Bullfrog. We chat a few moments about nothing. One of the guys says it looks like I have a bolt loose on my bike. He gets an alan wrench and tightens it. I walk around shooting Jim and his friends as they get ready to ride. Jon Compton and the Canadian kid (I’m sorry I’ve forgotten his name at the moment) will be in the truck. There are about eight riders and me in this group. At about an hour and a half after the competitors leave, we leave the parking lot heading out of Key West, Florida.

At first I was in the middle riding with Rob just ahead and Bear beside me. About a mile or two out of Key West Chuck rides up beside us and motions to pull over. We do. He walks back to us, obviously pissed off and says, “Don’t wave at other riders, we don’t do that. You understand!” then he turns around and walks to his bike leaving Rob, Bear and I with “What the fuck was that?” looks on our faces. I have no idea what the guys behind me are thinking but I’m thinking this is going to be an interesting ride and I’d better keep that camera pointed in this guys direction. Everyone takes off. Rob is driving ahead of us now and he’s going very slow. Possibly he’s afraid to get near Chuck, I don’t know. The speed limit is low and one ticket kicks you out of the run for the money but I can feel the group behind us edging up. Any moment I think they are just going to shoot past us and be gone.