The 10,000 mile Endurance Ride to raise money for Honor Flight Northern Colorado is officially over. Today, I want to officially thank those who made it a success. 

I thought the 10,000 mile Endurance Ride this year would be much easier than last year, boy was I wrong. The hurdles that were placed in front of us were many, but we adapted and counted them as blessings for many reasons which I will get into on the daily recaps that will start next week.

Today is all about thanking those who were instrumental in making this ride what it was.

First of all, I want to thank Rod and Karen Steely from Colorado Crude Carriers who picked up all the ride expenses. Without their help, the ride never would have happened. Rod and Karen have always given to their communities and believe in giving back. They are forever grateful for our veterans who have fought for the freedom we enjoy today and for children who are our future. The money they give to charity is mind-boggling. Their hearts are made of pure gold and to say "thank you" doesn't describe how I feel towards Rod and Karen. They are the true heroes here because without them, I never would have been able to do this fundraiser which will now send another 65 veterans to Washington D.C  on the 2015 September flight.

Mike Neuerburg - Photo by Don Bailey

Mike Neuerburg, where do I start! Mike has been a dear friend for a few years now and I couldn't imagine doing this ride with anyone else. In fact, there is no way I could have done this ride with the demons that were placed in the way without him. There were 3 different times we had to make 30-hour pushes in the saddle and without him it wouldn't have been possible. We pushed each other, kept each other awake and laughed through all the obstacles that should have ended the ride.

When I knew the 10,000 miles would not be achieved in the 240 hours, I gave him the option of heading home because I was determined to get the 10,000 miles in. Mike just laughed and told me to please not insult him and wherever I went he was going to be right behind me. So instead of inching closer to home, we rolled on the throttle and put Colorado in the rear-view mirror.

Mike, you're my brother, my rock, my partner in crime. The memories you and I now share are there for a lifetime and please don't make me use sign language.  (That is an inside joke you will have to ask one of us in person about.)

Erik Jon Barrett

This ride also would not have been what it was this year with out Erik Jon Barrett who was our Mission Control expert based in Ohio. Erik is also a dear friend and those of you who followed the ride on the Facebook page know he was on top of it. Not only did Erik keep the page more than updated, he also kept our inner circle of family well informed as to what was going on at all times. In fact, Erik didn't go to bed until we did. Keep in mind he is on East coast time so to say he was up late, or early, during this entire ride is an understatement. When I had the first major break-down in Dease Lake, B.C., I told Erik that the ride was probably over and he refused to make the announcement. He told me to stay positive until we found out exactly what was going on and slapped me into reality.

Turned out he was right and it was his attitude that turned mine around. Erik was the one who found us hotel rooms along the way and provided exact details right down to exit numbers we were looking for when we had to change the entire ride plan. He called this ride one of the most single fluid situations of his life and I assure you all, he put more work into this ride than anyone can possibly imagine and took this ride to another level. Erik, you too are my brother and I know I speak for Mike as well when I say I am eternally grateful for not only what you did on the ride page, but for what you did for us personally including keeping our family members updated many times each day. We love you brother!

Charley Barnes and Mike Neuerburg

I mentioned earlier this fundraiser will send 65 of our local veterans to Washington D.C. to go see the Memorials and Monuments built to honor them. So, I have saved the best for last. I want to thank all the people who actually sponsored miles and donated money to this ride. YOU are the ones who should be more than proud because everyone together are also the heroes here that are sending those 65 veterans. My heart swells with joy at that fact and it's all because of you and the money you donated. The goal was $50,000 and you not only answered the call but kept coming back to ring the bell again and again.

All in all, Mike and I did 9300 miles, 700 short of the 10,000 but considering everything that was placed in our way, it's amazing we even did that in 11 days. I have MANY stories to tell and I will describe the journey in great detail starting Monday, June 22.  Each day of the ride will get it's own story and I can only hope to do it justice and translate what we went through. Until then...