Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Guest Post by Rocky T - UB Memorial Run

In mid August of 2004 my brother in-law Bruce Rouse died. His health had been bad since 1980. I married his sister in 1981. Now Bruce had been a typical young veteran and living the single life had purchased some fast toys. One being a 69 Chevy SS and the other a 1978 Kawasaki KZ1000Z1R. The Z1R is a sport bike and not a lot were made for that year. Well Bruce put 10,000 miles on the Z1R before his health put him in the hospital and then away from his toys. His toys where then put away and stored.At the time of Bruce's death I had been fighting my own health demons,both physical and mental. 1996 I was discharged from the Army after having served 15 years and 9days. I am a Desert Storm Veteran. I suffer from the Gulf War Illness. I have also suffered from the mental and gut wrenching that goes with being chronically ill. The feeling that you are disappointment and have let your friends and family down. By the time Bruce died I was a shell of what ever I had been and had lost all confidence in myself and second guessed everything.

After the viewing and then the cremation of Bruce. We as a family,went on a road trip from Idaho to Nebraska with his cremains. We buried him close to the old family farm in a little cemetery just outside of Crawford Nebraska. When we got home and I had begun to to help my mother in-law with Bruce's things I asked to have his bike and was pleased to get a yes.

The KZ100-Z1-R was stock and had been in storage for over 20 years!

That fall and winter I carefully restored the Z1R, dismantling that bike and putting it back together. As I restored the bike I realized how I was fighting my demons and moving on. There were days I just read up on what I needed to do to the bike while my body hated me and I was unable to work on it physically. Some days it was a struggle to work on the bike because mentally I thought I was just going to fuck it up.

By March the bike was out of my little shop and was running!! Plans and dreams had been brewing in my head and talked about with my sons as I restored the bike and then slowly got serious. My oldest son (15 years old at the time) and i made plans and registered for the Idaho motorcycle safety class or STARR as it's called. The first weekend of May we took the class. Having a cold,being cold medsthat had me flying and not at all sober, and my nerves, ate me up. The last day my son completed the course, I did not.

June we were back, signed up for another STARR course and ready to ride. We had been riding up and down our country road and getting more confidence.

I fought with my confidence and I was winning. We passed the course,my son for the second time.One of the ideas we talked about over the winter was a run to Nebraska to give our Respects, and say thanks to Bruce. One idea was to make it to theSturgis rally also. Plans soon took shape and we planned our route and what days to go.After passing the STARR course and getting my motorcycle endorsement I started putting on some miles. What seems so minimal and even lame now, seemed monumental. That left lane turn on a busy intersection.Those miles on country roads that I had to make several stops because my body and mind ached. Riding in the wind and varied weather.

We found a bike for my son, a 1984 Kawasaki 440 LTD. Got it cheap and spent two weeks fixing and tuning it up. When it was ready, so was my son. We spent the next few weeks getting some miles under us a a few adventures as well. Some heavy weather rough roads and getting experience riding made for some memorable good times.

We finalized our UB Memorial Run (UB = Uncle Bruce ) plans and packed up.We were excited as hell and a bit nervous as we headed out on a new adventure.Confidences grew with each mile as did the excitement of riding to Nebraska and then to “The Rally” in Sturgis. My son had just turned 16 in July and was taking a road trip across states with me. I was one proud Father!

The UB Memorial Runs are first and foremost a memorial run and secondly a quick ride up to Sturgis.Traditionally we ride to Sturgis the Sunday before the “official”start of the rally on Monday.We see the bikes and riders and sites and head back to Nebraska. When My boys are Older we can do a longer stay in Sturgis we hope.For now we ride to Chadron Nebraska as the base camp and stay at the Economy 9 motel. It’s where we stayed for the burial.Then we ride to Crawford Nebraska to pour a beer on Bruce’s grave and say thanks, a moment of silence before leaving and then a few twists of the throttle to wake the dead as we head out…

The Z1R only made the trip that first year as it gets babied in thegarage for now and I have gone to a cruiser. I have come along way in fighting demons and gaining confidences in me, my mind, and in my abilities. I have averaged 22,000 miles a year since 2005. Physically I find I can ride longer on a bike then in a cage. I have looked a few demons in the eye, stared em down and I’m winning.Riding is my physical and mental therapy.The cliché is not a cliché for me,, Ride to Live, Live to Ride.

I head out for the 5th UB Memorial Run this Fri. the 31st of July.Solo this time. The oldest Son is now in Iraq. He made 3 UB Runs with me. The second son made the UB Run with me last year but his interests are not into bikes and riding so he won’t be with me this year.The youngest will be riding with me next year. He helped me the most on the Z1R and so I gave it to him so it will be rode by him next year for the 6th UB Run.

The 2nd and 3rd Run we made it home in one day. The 4th Run to Nebraska in one day then the ride home in one day.By the route we travel that’s almost 900 miles one way. Challenge met! It’s worth being messed up for a few days to weeks

If ya see a long bearded rider on a red and black Vulcan Nomad running a headlight modulator give me a wave.


the rider said...

Man your story moved me, I too am a veteran - of another war on another continent in another time, but our ghosts are the same.
I wish you strength, I envy you your ride with your son and I can imagine how proud you were. Keep up the good work, concentrate on your present moments and let go of the past if you can - keep riding!

RazorsEdge2112 said...

That was beautiful, and what a memorial. Your telling of it gave this fellow rider goosebumps.

I was invited to join the AF Academy but health kept me out. That notwithstanding, my grandfather bravely served in the Pacific theater of WWII. I think he might like a little 7 and 7 this year. I will bring a beer and on that quiet hillside with all the other spirits we shall share a drink, a few words and part to meet each other again.

Ride safe and proud. There are many watching out for you.