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Charley Barnes Recounts His 10,000 Mile Honor Flight Northern Colorado Endurance Ride – Leg 6 [VIDEO]

Erik Klinger (75th Ranger Regiment-6 Deployments/Currently stationed at Fort Bragg) and Charley Barnes at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, N.C

Today’s story is Leg 6, on my 10,000 mile Honor Flight Northern Colorado Endurance Ride. Today would bring a much needed oil change, Erik Klinger and humidity.

I had arrived in Augusta very late, or early in the morning as the case was, around 2:00 a.m. local time with an oil change that had previously been set for 7:00 a.m. Knowing I wouldn’t get to bed till at least 3:00 a.m., I set the alarm for 8:00 a.m. and would be at the Harley dealership by 9:00 a.m.

Erik Klinger – Fort Bragg

A good friend of mine here in Loveland, Genie Mjelde, has a son who is stationed out in North Carolina and he has been one of the ride’s biggest supporters not only financially, but spiritually and mentally as well. Erik Klinger was one of those who never had a doubt I could do this ride, and he wanted to be there in support and to escort me from Augusta to the Virginia state line where he would leave the ride and head South back to Fort Bragg.

Erik Klinger is 100% American my friends, and his love and support for all things right and good is amazing. Erik has been on six deployments, just graduated from H.A.L.O., is a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment from 2004-2013, and now at Fort Bragg as an Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate; an all around badass in my book! To have him in my corner was an honor, and to see him standing in the parking lot at my hotel in Augusta with two huge American flags anchored in the bed of his truck kind of set the tone for the day.

We exchanged greetings, as Erik and I have never met in person, and knowing I needed to find Augusta Harley-Davidson, he had taken the time earlier to scout the location for quick access. I decided to follow Erik and within minutes was pulling into the dealership for an overdue oil change, all thanks to Thunder Mountain Harley-Davidson who also own the dealership in Augusta. Jill, and the TMHD crew, totally came through when my Sarasota, Florida deal went south due to the fact they failed to mention they were closed on Mondays, so I had to find something while on the road. (Thanks Mike Neuerburg once again.)

I felt bad because Adam Peoples and Chuck Wheeler came in earlier than normal just to do my oil change, and due to my long day I just couldn’t make it in time and those two never held it against me. When I walked in, Adam was telling the others behind the service counter about “this guy riding 10,000 miles in 10 days” and I said, “I’m the guy.”

In the blink of an eye, Adam handed me a FedEx package from Matt Voris. If you remember in an earlier story, I mentioned losing something very precious to me on the first day: The Honor Flight hat that was given to me the morning I left. I felt so bad when it went flying off in Wyoming and asked Matt on day four if he could send another hat to me in Augusta and I’ll be darned if he didn’t.

Charley gassing up (Honor Flight hat is on) Photo by Erik Klinger

Chuck Wheeler took my bike back into the service bay, and within 20 minutes, all was good and we were given a clean bill of health. My biggest regret that morning was that I never took a picture with the Augusta crew as it just slipped my mind knowing I had many miles to make-up, and was so far behind schedule I was 2-steps from panic mode.

The coolest thing was that Erik knew I had a CB, so he went into his storage and pulled an old CB that he had kept over the years and wired it up so we would have a communication link while on the road. You have no idea what a pleasant relief that was; to have communication while on the road. It’s amazing how well we connected and talked away the miles making plans to come back for a much needed fishing trip in his neck of the woods.

We stopped off at the Airborne museum in Fayetteville, North Carolina for some pictures, and then continued up the eastern seaboard toward Virginia. I stopped for lunch and some air conditioning for this kid. Did I mention how hot and humid it was? Good lord! I need some AC. We found a pizza joint and wouldn’t you know, the AC was down, so all I could do was go wash my head and face in cold water and stand in the cooler for a bit. What a hot, sticky, nasty humid mess it was!

After lunch, and talking about all the toll-roads I would soon hit, Erik gave me a bag full of change, and we made plans for where he would turn back just across the Virginia state line as I would continue northeast up the coast. Toll roads, hundreds of them, what was I getting myself into. The traffic to this point has been bad enough… then I hit Washington D.C.

I reached D.C. just around sundown, and the sunset was amazing once again over the majestic landscape of Washington D.C. All I could think of was how it must have been 200 years ago in this same area. The traffic was a nightmare, and the rush hour had been long over, so the going was very slow, more rain, and I knew my plan was in serious jeopardy after losing a lot of time and was hundreds of miles off schedule. There was no way I was going to make my stop in Portland, Maine and finally gave up in Jessup, Maryland, which was where I would have to call it good for the day, re-group, do some laundry. It was also where I would have to completely re-think my route ahead if I was going to finish my 10,000 miles in 10 days. The heat and humidity was really getting to me at this point, with the lack of sleep and continuous miles and construction zones in the baking sun. It was time to start digging deep for motivation for the coming days; which probably weren’t going to get any better.

The beginning of Leg 7 was the worst and best at the same time, and wait a minute, my hat! Where is my Honor Flight hat?  Did I lose another one?

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