I start the 8th week of the KURE2013 ride “driving”, but not on the BMW GTRL1600, aka, the KUREmobile. It’s rear tire is exposing steel belt from the middle of the tire, in an about 2 inch strip, and, the smart guys who know about these things, including Mike Hughes from Hollywood BMW where I got the bike, strongly suggest that I do not ride the bike – a blowout is one thing, right up there with an event that causes the rider to be ejected off the bike, that no rider wants to happen. Funny enough, controlling the bike in a blowout is an issue, but somewhat as important is the fact that a blowout usually damages other parts of the bike – steel belts tearing through parts of the bike usually cause more damage than can be easily fixed. Weighing all these issues, I, some say wisely, decide, to not ride the bike, but rather trailer it with the help of my good friends, the Rosche family, Dave and Dick Rosche specifically.
Having loaded the bike onto Dick Rosche’s trailer yesterday, and being allowed to drive his Honda SUV to tow the trailer, Dave Rosche and I get on the road about 8 a.m. for the 3 hour ride to the Cleveland area. We found Stills BMW and, after waiting for lawn mower, weed whacker, and sundry Honda lawn machine customers, the purveyor of the establishment attended to my tire issue – he had two Continental tires, for front and back, which I am told are equal to the ones that came with the bike, but less expensive. I order the tires and Dave takes me to my host’s home to be dropped off – Charlotte Creel, a wonderful young lady with a real zest for everything, said that when they asked who could “put up” a “rider” on a Kiwanis project, she found herself throwing caution to the wind and raising her hand. Visiting along with myself was my host’s niece, also named Charlotte, and her biker husband, so my host got not only a BMW in her garage, but a really nice looking Harley, and I got to visit with three wonderfully interesting persons. My host lived hear the meeting sight and volunteered to take me back to Sills to retrieve the newly “tired” KUREmobile – again, in true Kiwanian fashion, she only asked what could she do to help. This is a trait that seems to run keep in the Kiwanian psyche.
The meeting of the North Olmsted Kiwanis was charged with support for the KURE2013 project. The meeting was run by President, Barbara Schirhart. Charlotte, my host, insisted that she have a ride on the KUREmobile to the meeting – about 5 miles from the home – and, with a helmet from her other guests, off we go. The hardest part was getting on and off – two knee replacements created some small impediment, but after Charlotte got onto the BMW, off we went – all I heard was Charlotte screaming joyous sounds, among them being “slow down”, “speed up”, and “why are we at a 45 degree angle going around this corner” – you know, stuff like that!! Fun ride with my first moving passenger – others have sat on the machine, but none have decided to stay on it. Charlotte now can cross that event off her bucket list. At the meeting, Charlotte introduced me in an eloquent way and my presentation was well accepted – Ohio is part of the KURE2013 effort – many thanks. After the meeting, we then stop at the local VFW, where Charlotte belongs as a member, and have a few drinks, before retiring for the night.
July 16, 2013:
Charlotte and her niece and nephew are up early and assist me with the now somewhat mundane effort to re-pack the motorcycle with the various items I have been lugging around the country. I am set to travel to KURE’s 32nd state, West Virginia, and attend my 36th meeting in Parkersburg, West Virginia. I have been in touch with Barbara Ott and only know that the club wanted to know my “gold shirt size” – that is the least of what this club has planned, as I find out. First, upon traversing much of Ohio, I get to the Ohio River where, upon crossing it, I meet a group of motorcycle riders, headed by Rod Lemley – also with Rod is Lee Starcher from the American Legion Riders and Gary McMahan. These guys are my escort to the meeting, and it is great to see them and ride with some fellow riders.
Upon arrival at the meeting location, Columbos Restaurant, I am greeted almost immediately by an array of smiling and welcoming faces – two media folk, 1 from the local TV station and the other from the local newspaper, and numerous local dignitaries and, of course, Kiwanian members of the club. This is an interclub, so several clubs have members in attendance. The Parkersburg Mayor, Bob Newell is in attendance and signs my log, as is a representative of Governor Earl Ray Tomblins, Sean Hill. I have several duties to participate in with the local media before I can even participate in the meeting – I get interviewed by the TV station, and the interview is posted at http://www.thenewscenter.tv/home/headlines/215757751.html. The paper also interviews me – not sure where it is published.
The meeting is packed and I finally get an opportunity to meet Lois Meadows, the President of the club, and her husband, who is the Lt. Governor, as well as many of the members in attendance. We have a wonderful meal, then I am given a full opportunity to present the KURE2013 program – after 30+ times, I am getting somewhat proficient and directed with the presentation and it sometimes resonates with the meaning of being a Kiwanian – I think my fellow Kiwanians in Parkersburg appreciate the KURE2013 program and embody many of its points. I, for one, greatly appreciate being allowed to visit with these Kiwanians and take some time to talk about what’s good about Kiwanis. My fellow riders sit through the whole meeting and actually help me repack my things and then lead me to the proper spot to head to my next meeting location.
What is even more amazing about this meeting is the substantial support the Parkersburg tickets for our GTR650 drawing. The old record was 26 tickets, but West Virginia now is in the lead with 30 tickets. Many thanks for not only a wonderfully productive meeting, but a fun and productive effort on behalf of the KURE and Eliminate projects. I am now off to Lexington, Kentucky.
The miles to Lexington are over 200, so my arrival is not until early evening, and my hosts, Annette and Manual Eades, invite a few other members of their club to their home and I am greeted upon my arrival with not only friendly faces, but pizza. What also resonates in my ride to, specifically, Georgetown, Kentucky, a suburb of Lexington, is what I see when I get off the interstate – sprawling horse ranches, with beautiful fences separating areas where the owners raise champion horses for all purposes. The road I follow to my host’s home becomes a roaming, curvy, and small “country” road bordered by these magnificent horse ranches. Kentucky is truly a unique destination, and I haven’t even noted the quality of its citizens.
We have some “prize winning” pizza at the Eades home, then turn in after a very active day – Manual is kind enough to allow me to keep my bike inside his garage – there are a few things that my fellow Kiwanians have done that really make me feel like I am at home – taking a cup out of the cupboard for me to have coffee and make room in their garage for the KUREmobile are two of my favorite.
July 17, 2013:
The Gardenside Kiwanis meeting is at an unusual morning time – 9:00 a.m. The morning meetings I have attend are usually at a very early hour – 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. This club meets at a “reasonable” hour, which I was very happy for, given the high mileage travel day and active meeting day I had the prior day. President Sam Sakaskaki was a welcoming leader and I was given a nice opportunity to present the KURE2013 program. Thanks to the Gardenside club for allowing me to visit and the support to the KURE2013 project. I finish my 37th meeting in the 33rd state looking forward to progressing further Westward bound, with my next stop the international headquarters of Kiwanis.
I travel through the countryside of Kentucky and Indiana, following Ms. GPS along, mostly, country roads, but arriving in Indianapolis, Indiana are mid-afternoon. Unfortunately, my committee does not have a response from the Indianapolis Kiwanis community for a host, therefore, the KURE2013 project does not have a host in Indianapolis for me to stay with. I say this only because that requires the project to fund a hotel, which only deprives the project and the Eliminate effort of needed funds, having to spend those on a hotel – it is also, personally for me, so much more enjoyable to be with a fellow Kiwanian, than hold up in a hotel. We are scheduled to attend the downtown club, so I pick Embassy Suites, downtown, however, as I approach its somewhat obscure entrance on Washington Street, I am about to have my fourth not so positive riding “experience” – on a busy street, I cannot see the entrance to the hotel until the last minute, and it is a driveway entrance with a small sign identifying where it is, requiring that the entrant crosses a busy sidewalk. The driveway, for some reason, has about a 2 inch lip, which, like a wave you hit straight on, when taken straight on, would not cause any issue on a motorcycle. However, I only see the entrance at the last minute and I do not know of the lip, so I take the entrance at an angle – then, without warning, the car in front of me is required to stop because a horde of people exit a neighboring theater – I have to come to a sudden and unexpected stop, and my rear wheel is propped on the lip of the driveway, causing it to be imbalanced. Immediately upon stopping, the bike starts to fall over to the left, and, even with a quick and strong attempt to hold the bike up, I simply cannot stop the 600 pound vehicle from tipping, and it goes over on its side – not a position any motorcycle rider wants his/her motorcycle to be in!! Right there, with hundreds of witnesses, the KUREmobile is laying on its left side – none of the baggage latched on the back seat comes off, and almost as immediately as it became imbalanced, I am surrounded by some wonderful Indianapolisians [is that a word?] who all – 5 or 6 of them – lend their assistance to help lift my bike to its upright position, and, within seconds, I am back on my “feet”/tires. What I don’t see, immediately, is that the weight of the bike fell on the left peg that holds my feet stretched out while riding, and the peg is now no longer securely attached, but is limply laying there, limp but still attached to the engine guard. As it was in its broken condition, it was useless to me.
I have used Embassy Suites many times and thoroughly enjoy both their “manager’s welcome” with its free drinks and hordevoirs, as well as a well-stocked breakfast every morning. The Downtown Embassy Suites in Indianapolis, however, had some real issues, and therefore, in my opinion, anyone having a choice to stay in Indianapolis should think twice about staying at this hotel. At every hotel I have stayed in to that date, some of which were Hilton hotels, the same owner as the one that owns the Embassy Suites, my motorcycle was allowed to be parked, free of charge, in a “side area” of the entrance to the hotel, usually under a foyer of some type, sometimes inside a garage, but always at no cost. A motorcycle takes up NO ROOM, and usually not a parking spot. Like charging a motorcycle the same toll, it does seem to me to be appropriate for any establishment to treat a two wheel vehicle the same as a four wheel one. Most times, the bike can go around any of the barriers to a garage and slip in without a charge, as I think should be the case. I ask at the front desk to park the bike outside, but am told that they would “prefer” that I park it in the garage, but that they will “work it out” with me upon check out. I follow this direction, thinking that the hotel will certainly comp my parking – at $22 a day, which is a sizeable amount, given that I ended up spending 4 nights at this hotel. After my second day, I have to take the bike out for the KI publicity shoot, at which time I find out that the garage is “not owned” by the hotel and management pulls one of the “sorry, it’s not ours so we cannot do anything to help” – except, of course, they do put the charge on their bill and they do tell you to park there. The first several days I actually park in an area next to their garage which I find out belongs to an attached apartment complex, so I am not even in their parking garage, and the last 2 days I park in a spot off the main area and not in a parking spot. Guest Service Manager, Grant Coleman, pleads complete lack of any ability to assist in not charging our Kiwanian group an outrageous parking fee, even after being advised that this will reduce the overall funds we have raised to go to this worthwhile charity – sounds like the old “pass the buck” or “policy argument” that we hear in many establishments. I did not expect it from Embassy Suites, nor after the management actually understood the issue - $88 for parking just isn’t right, so anyone thinking about staying at the Indianapolis downtown Embassy Suites, consider this additional cost before you decide to stay there.
I end the day with a meeting with Neil Huddleston of Kiwanis International. Neil is the Western Coordinator for the Eliminate project for KI – he has been very helpful to the La Canada AM Club’s efforts to organize the KURE2013 project. We discuss the success of the ride and the from the some 200 miles of driving and various events of the day.
July 18, 2013:
On this 53rd day of the KURE2013 ride, I spend the morning addressing all sorts of “other” issues, including responding to emails from my office and meeting with my home CEO to continue to operate our life and home with one partner not present. I then meet with the KI employees in the headquarters building and exchange thoughts and concepts and ideas of what the KURE2013 project is finding on this ride. We also discuss what can be done to further promote the project and what steps each of us can take as the Eliminate project is rounding the corner to a final date. The meeting is very productive and needed, as I continue to meet with a Kiwanian club in each state, and, in my opinion, bring further attention to benefit KI’s efforts to promote the Eliminate project.
July 19, 2013:
This morning I have an appointment at Falconi Powersports just up the road from downtown Indianapolis, to 1) talk about my tires and 2) fix the peg broken from my dropping the bike. I also have an appointment to visit the downtown Indianapolis Kiwanis Club, a large club with a paid administrator, Brad Boyd. I arrive at Falconi Powersports around 9:30 a.m. and am hoping to be able to get out of there by 11:30 a.m. to get to the meeting by noon – I am pleasantly surprised when Jeff, the Service Manager, has his crew fix my peg and put a proper amount of air in my tires within an hour of being there – I am out of there by 10:30 a.m. and on my way to the meeting. Man I love it when all goes smoothly and according to plan.
I get over to the One American Square building, a 36 story building, around 10:45 a.m. and Brad Boyd is trying to talk the building maintenance people into allowing us to put the KUREmobile into an elevator and bring it to the 36th floor to put it on display – well, it didn’t work, so we park the bike in the garage and walk up to the meeting sans motorcycle. President Steve Fero runs a great meeting and I meet a number of fellow motorcyclists and very dedicated Kiwanians. I get a few minutes to pitch the KURE2013 project and I get a good response from the club – thanks to the Indianapolis Kiwanian Club for its support and hospitality.
Just when the meeting ends, KI employee, Courtney Meyer, is standing there, ready to escort me to a publicity event – at the Indianapolis “War Memorial” of all places. For a girl weighing all of maybe 100 pounds, she is a pretty insistent person, and whisks me away with some prodding!! With two of us, and with some blocks to go, Courtney becomes only the second passenger on the KURE2013 bike – I waive the helmet rule, since we are going only a few blocks, and we whisk away to the monument, where we are met by Jo Lynn Garing and a videographer. We spend a few hours taking pictures, giving an interview, and riding the KUREmobile around the monument so we get some “moving pictures”. Thanks Guys for all your efforts and I look forward to seeing the results of these efforts. I am back in the hotel in time for the managers drink fest and then, again, exhausted, hit the sack pretty early.
July 20 - 21, 2013:
My next meeting is in Southgate, Michigan, just outside Detroit, and about 275 miles, so a some 4-5 hour ride. Again, we have not confirmed a host at this next meeting, so I plan to stay put for the weekend and head out on Sunday. On the way to Southgate, I take a moment to stop and visit the parents of a good friend of mine – they live in Muncie, Indiana, and offer to drive to the I69 Truck Stop for some lunch – I have a wonderful visit with some darling senior citizens, mostly because, without their daughter present, we get to talk all about her and the stories, from both of us, are just precious - other than this reference, she will never know about it!!! Thanks Mauri and Ruth – you have a great daughter who I consider my sister – all those stories are safe with me!!
The final numbers, as of July 21, 2013, the 56th day of the ride – we have now travelled 8,466 miles, and have 2,734 miles to go to break the record. I have met with 39 Kiwanian functions in 34 states, with 14 states to go plus 2 webcam meetings, and who knows how many more Kiwanian meetings. Thanks to all for continuing to share this experience on Facebook at “facebook.com/KURE2013” and on the web at “KURE2013.com”, and for supporting the effort with your contributions. It is truly a humbling experience as “The Eliminator”!!