Tag Archives: rolling thunder

Things I Think – Thursday 5/20/15

Funerals, Bikers, Love, Pie and Great Friendships

I apologize for not writing last week, I had to attend the funeral of my great Uncle Orman Blythe. So many great things happened that week too, but I was unable to finish and frankly I was not motivated to complete it before Thursday. So this week is a mash up of everything and yes once again I have a section of love, I swear I may never get another blog post without some type of mention of love. Oh the tragedy of being a hopeless romantic!

Funeral

Yes it is a sad day when you have to attend a funeral, especially of a relative. But one thing I learned, is sometimes not all funerals are all that sad. Don’t get me wrong, losing a loved one has to be one of the hardest things to experience, but in this case my great uncle “Bly” was 93 years old and lived a spectacular life.  He is only outlived by my great aunt (his sister) who is 97! My uncle was in WWII and a member of the Waco Police Department for over 30 years. He lived an awesome life, loved his children, grand children and great grand children. Now he is with the love of his life again and I am sure happier than ever.  With full military honors, it was definitely a funeral that took your breath away once taps started playing. We will miss you Uncle Orman!

Bikers

I have been a “Biker” since I was 16 years old. I may not be the “Hells Angels” type of guy you typically think of when you hear the term biker, but that doesn’t mean I am also just a weekend yuppie. Yes I take trips all over the country, yes I wear leathers and yes I have tattoos. Just because a chosen few give most of us a bad reputation, the majority of people who ride motorcycles are not bad people. My mother is a “biker”, my father is a “biker”, and my brother is a “biker” and I have a ton of friends who ride. We are not criminals, we are not Sons of Anarchy material, but we ride.

So it is a shame that the situation in Waco happened last weekend. Everyone has a point of view, I think there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered but at the end of the day, please do not crucify the rest of us for the poor decisions of others. I would argue that there are probably 80% or higher of motorcycle clubs who do nothing but charity work and charity rides. The Patriot Guard Riders with whom I also ride with, are not bad people. So don’t be afraid of someone on an motorcycle and please watch out for them.

Speaking of biker stuff, if you happen to be in Washington D.C. this weekend, it is the annual Rolling Thunder ride. They honor the POW/MIA along with anyone who has served and was lost during our wars, conflicts or whatever you call what we are currently doing. I expect there to be close to a million motorcycles there for the parade which starts at the Pentagon and ends up at the Vietnam Memorial Wall. I have partaken in this even four separate times and every time it was more breathtaking and emotional than the time before.  If you get a chance, grab your lawn chair and watch the parade, salute the veterans and enjoy the sound of rolling thunder echo throughout D.C..

Random thought of the day

circle-questionI think pregnant women are smoking hot. Although I have not experienced it yet, I believe that any woman pregnant with my child…would be sooo smoking hot to me!         #justsayin 

Love

So when I was at my uncle’s funeral, there was a poem in the program, which was my uncles favorite poem. The poem is called “The Dash” by Linda Ellis. Below you will find the whole thing, but here is an excerpt that I love the most.

quoteFor it matters not, how much we own,
the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

Let that sink in for a minute. I think I have mentioned this a few weeks back, crazy, it doesn’t matter what we own or what we have all that matters is how we spend our dash. Go ahead and read the poem if you must but in a nut shell it talks about how we are born and we die and what we do in between those to dots or end points is our dash.

Well you know how I am living my dash, you see it every week. You think I am crazy, I am a traveler, an adventurer and seeker of fun. Well I say YOLO!! When you come to my funeral, I hope you know I lived my life to the fullest and I truly had no regrets in life.  Which leads me to the next favorite verse here:

quoteAnd be less quick to anger
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we’ve never loved before. 

Another example of what I have been trying to do. One of my goals for the year was to love harder.  I think I have been doing that exceptionally well! So if you are in my life and have become more than just an acquaintance, get ready for the wild ride and know I choose carefully the people in my life, so I love all my friends and would give anything for them.

Without further ado…here is the poem:

​The Dash
by Linda Ellis copyright 1996

​I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth
and spoke the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own,
the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
to consider what’s true and real
and always try to understand
​the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we’ve never loved before. 

If we treat each other with respect
and more often wear a smile,
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.

​So, when your eulogy is being read,
with your life’s actions to rehash…
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent YOUR dash?

When I was at my uncles funeral, a friend messaged me to give condolences and then as we were chatting asked me this question which caught me totally off guard “What was his greatest accomplishment?” I was stumped for a second and I wasn’t sure what to answer, so I asked my cousin (his daughter) this question and her answer was “Finding my mom”.  She thought that over his WWII service, his 30 years as a decorated police officer, finding his true love as she put it was his greatest accomplishment. Then the stories went of them cooking in the kitchen, vacations, how family oriented he was and how he loved his family more than anything. A marriage that lasted 57 years and only because his sweet Dot passed away did it not go on longer. I admire that, I admire that a whole hell of a lot. Finding love is so difficult and to have it that long is amazing and something I hope to have someday. Love Hard…live your dash…

Pie

pieTwo weeks ago on our roadtrip to Austin (coming soon) we stopped at one of my favorite restaurants on the backroads to ATX.  So the new motto after this trip is “Pie Fixes Everything” and now I firmly believe it does. So if you are having a bad day, just go and get yourself a nice piece of pie! (PHRASING!)

 Great Friendships

Friendships seem to be hard to come by for me at times, sure I have a lot of acquaintances but if you know me really well and have reached my inner circle, that is saying something. With that said, over the last year I have submerged myself into racing and traveling and the whole OCR world. I have met and become friends with people all over the country. Over the past two weekends I have met some new people who I am sure are going to be good friends and I also created bonds with current friends which have only grown stronger.

IMG_1058I am so proud of my friend Melissa, she asked me one month out from her event to hold her accountable. So we started training once a week together. I put together a program to work on her trouble spots and we worked on her breathing. This was her redemption race as she called it. She wanted to do it without help and all by herself. So we trained, trained and trained.  On race day she wouldn’t let me go with her, she wanted to be alone. So I waited. I figured what her time might be and I camped out at the finish line. I even made friends stay with me and we all waited. Then we saw her, she struggled on the last couple obstacles and did burpees, but she knocked them out like no ones business. I was able to give her, her medal as she crossed the finish and a great big hug. She had no idea that I was going to be there, or anyone for that matter. But as a coach, how could I not. One of the best feelings in the world is watching someone accomplish something they worked so hard for and you helped them attain it. Plus this woman holds a special place in my heart, last year when I finished the Spartan World Championships in Vermont, after 7 hours and 43 minutes, she was the only person there.  She was cheering and hugged me as I crossed. When you are tired and nearly exhausted, that is the best feeling in the world. I was very happy to be a part of her redemption race! Congrats Melissa!

One of the highlights of the second weekend was getting to walk the second super with my friend Meg. With my torn up ankle and she had calf issues, she talked me into walking the super. One of the best times I have had in a while, just not being overly competitive, but hanging out with a good friend for 3 hours while having fun. We even finished the fire jump with dueling cannonballs!

Other friendships sometimes take a different turn.  My friend Natasha and I ran the sprint on Saturday and now have a bond forever. She truly inspires me, when I think my life is bad, well it is not.  If you want to read about our adventure, you can read it here.

Finally, I have to say I have met some pretty incredible people over the last couple of weeks.  But a huge shout-out goes to the friend who set their alarm the morning of my race because they know I get up super early, I mean I get up at 3am. Just to talk to you, just to say good luck, keep you company as you prepare for your race. These people are very rare…keep them.

Another random thought:

circle-questionHave you ever spoken to someone so dumb you had to squint to listen?

 

Music

Now or Never – Phoebe Ryan

Fearless – Jochen Miller

 

My name is Travis and I talk to strangers!

Rolling Thunder XVII – Ride for the Wall

Rolling Thunder XVII

May 30, 2004

Have you ever heard of the phrase “grown men don’t cry?”  Like most American males, we tend to take this statement to heart and we never show our emotions or at the least in the public eye.  If you have not cried in public then you have probably have not participated in one of the greatest motorcycle rides in the United States.  one of the most emotional times of my life was participating in the annual Rolling Thunder Rally in Washington D.C.  Every year the rally grows by leaps and bounds, and this year was by no means any exception.  With over 400,000 motorcycles gathering in the pentagon parking lot, I knew this year was going to be one to remember.

“Rolling Thunder® the Run for the wall”, was started in 1987.  Without going into too much detail, here is the brief history of the Rally.  Ray Manzo and Artie Muler met just before Veterans Day, and at the time wanted to do something about the POW/MIA awareness issue.  They wanted to wake up the American public and educate them on the numerous American POW’s who left behind in Vietnam.  They wanted to pressure the United States government to let them know we were not satisfied with their inaction on the POW/MIA issue. They wanted to shake the hell out of the United States government and expose the cover-up, lies and corruption of this great government that destroys trust.  Ray came up with the idea to do a run, a motorcycle run for the issue at hand.  Rolling Thunder® Ride for Freedom of all POW/MIA’s was born.

I became involved in Rolling Thunder in 2002. to accompany my father in honoring his fellow servicemen on Memorial Day weekend.  My father is a former Vietnam Veteran, who served in the United States Army in 1966-1967.  He was initially in the 11th Armored Cavalry and later in the 1st Battalion 69th Armor.

The day begins close to 6am as we head off to eat breakfast.  First we park in the staging area with a group of near 40 plus.  We head to the Pentagon around 7am, (note to self, always get to the Pentagon around 7am, otherwise you wait forever to get in and you are last to leave.)  Even though we get there at 7am, we are still around 10 rows in.  Next begins the waiting process, as the parade does not begin until noon.  When we leave we will take a route thru D.C. which will eventually end at the Vietnam Memorial. Little did I know that the 45 minute ride to the Wall would be one of the greatest moments of my short life.*

This year was a very special year for the Rally, as the unveiling of the WWII Memorial was also happening this weekend.  This brought more Americans to D.C. than any of the previous Rolling Thunder rides and the made the parade even more of a special event.  I was fortunate enough to speak with a few of our WWII veterans and I personally thanked them for all that they sacrificed in order to make the United States the country it is today.

If you have never experienced the Rolling Thunder ride, either as a spectator or as a participant, I strongly suggest you do.  I can only tell you, I have never felt more pride in our country than I did riding my motorcycle through memorial park in Washington D.C. on my way to the Vietnam Memorial.  I have never serviced in our military, but yet I was accepted as though I did just for supporting the cause of making everyone aware of POW/MIA situation.  I had veterans shaking my hand and thanking ME for being a participant.  I was given several “high-fives” by my fellow Americans who were also supporting the cause lined up on the parade route.  I witnessed people waving our stars and stripes flag and once while we stopped briefly in congestion during the parade, people thanked my father for his service. He proudly displays on his vest all of his patches which represent all his units and veteran status.

At this point in the ride it becomes too overwhelming and your throat starts to swell and tears well up in your eyes.  It truly makes you proud to be an American to see the overwhelming support our country gave to us.  If there were 400,000 motorcycles, then there had to be almost as many people standing in the rain, cheering, waving flags, high-fiving the riders and saluting us.  Yes that was the straw that broke the camels back for me and will be something I will never forget.  A US Veteran was sitting in his wheelchair along the parade route and one of the times we happened to stop in congestion, I was saluted and thanked for riding today as he was unable.  I promptly saluted him back and I told him, “No, thank you for all that you have sacrificed for me to be able to ride.”

It might have started out as a limited engagement to focus on those unaccounted for after Vietnam, but it has become much, much more.  We now support all wars, and not just Vietnam, and you will see someone from every major conflict, war or operation we have been a part of.  Rolling Thunder picked up the banner of accountability its government dropped and carries it with pride and honor into the 21st Century.

Note: Since the publishing of this article, I have attended the Rolling Thunder Rally a total of total of four times.  Rolling Thunder XIV, XVI, XVII, XIX, in 2001, 2003, 2004 & 2006.

* Also a side note that every year the route has been different and better every time.