In honor of Veterans Day we reflect on the incredible ride we took to Sturgis with the Veterans Charity Ride 2017 and wanted to share this video of Jay Leno surprising the vets with a private tour of Jay Leno’s garage along with a gallery of photos from the journey. It was an honor to ride with a group of true American heroes, though we know by their modest nature none of them would call themselves heroes. But they are.
On the road to Sturgis with the Veterans Charity Ride 2017. (Alfonse Palaima/MotoInsider Photo)
One to Remember – Riding to Sturgis with the Veterans Charity Ride 2017
Dave Frey said it’d happen. He said there’d be that moment when it hits you, where it overwhelms you because there’s something special about this ride. And he’s right.
It hit me in Moab when two young sisters walked up on a stage and handed the veterans letters they had written thanking them for their service. Punched me in the heart. The girls wanted to do something special when they heard the vets were coming to town. It doesn’t get much more special than letters of “Thank You” with hand drawn hearts.
It got me when Scott Prothero, a World War II veteran who had fought in the Battles of Saipan and Okinawa met Josh Stein, a Purple Heart recipient from the island of Saipan who wears pride of his heritage in the form of a tattoo on his left hand. You could sense the mutual respect in the handshakes, in the closeness when they talked, in the smiles on their faces. Just another one of those unforgettable moments the Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis tends to create.
The first clue this group was special came the very first night when multi-dimensional musician Jason Charles Miller surprised the group with an acoustic jam session. After strumming and singing a powerful rendition of “The River” and a couple other tunes he struck the first familiar chords of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.’ When the chorus came around just about everybody in the room spontaneously started singing, the song triggering a flood of memories the way only a good song can. I’m sure some of them sang for fallen friends wishing they, too, were here.
Frey, a former Airborne Ranger, came up with the idea of the Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis a few years back. It takes vets who still suffer the scars of war on the adventure of a life time in the saddles of motorcycles. The ride dishes out heaping doses of moto-therapy and it’s amazing the way riding a motorcycle can wash all your troubles away and make you feel alive. The experience is shared with brothers and sisters, other veterans who understand where you’ve been, what you’ve seen, what you’ve done. There couldn’t be a more deserving bunch.
For nine days I got to be part of this unit known as the 2017 Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis as we blazed a path half-way across America together. We weathered the blistering heat of the Mojave Desert unperplexed, basked in the glory of Zion as one, rode through the splendor of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument together on our way to hero’s welcome in Moab. We’ve felt the skies over Idaho Springs break open and pelt us with hail, braved rain-slick roads collectively, and all breathed deeply in the thin, thin air on Loveland Pass. I’ve witnessed how these veterans band together, how they take care of one another, and the pervasive attitude that’s there nothing they can’t do.
Frey is on to something. Moto-therapy is real. I’ve seen how climbing onto an Indian Motorcycle or into a Champion sidecar can set a person free. It’s evident by the smiles on their faces, the constant joking and laughter in the air, the heads bobbing in anticipation of the ride. I’ve seen ghosts that haunt them chased away with the twist of a throttle. I’ve seen humbleness in heroes as we rode into towns whose streets were filled with people clapping and waving flags. It’s not every day you get to ride with heroes. It was an honor to share in the adventure to Sturgis with them and to fly the flag of the Veterans Charity Ride proudly on the back of my motorcycle.
Moses parts the sea – VCR 2017
Rich and Bry at Continental Divide – VCR 2017
Allegiance – Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis 2017
Jay Leno goes over some of the specifics of a Brough Superior for the Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis group.
Road to Zion – Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis 2017