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Charley Barnes Recounts His 10,000 Mile Honor Flight Northern Colorado Endurance Ride – Leg 8

Erik Jon Barrett and Charley Barnes somewhere in Alabama

Today’s story is Leg 8, on my 10,000 mile Honor Flight Northern Colorado Endurance Ride. The day would bring me together with a friend who rode a 1000 miles from his home to intercept me and ride Leg 9 home with me.

I started the day out after a short nap in Wytheville, Virginia about 8:00 a.m., beat to death from the day before and all the rain and road construction that again cost me valuable time, and miles. The day’s relief would come when I met up with Mike Neuerburg that evening who was riding 1000 miles from his home in Ault, Colorado, to intercept me in Wisconsin somewhere and ride home on the last leg with me.

You know what they say about the “best laid plans.”

Erik Jon Barrett, who followed the ride and provided key road information for me along the way, was busy at work putting together the best plan to still get my 10,000 miles in, the quickest way possible. The plan was to skirt I-75 north to I-64 and into Mt Vernon, then I-57 up to Champaign, I-74 west to Bloomington, I-39 to Rockford, I-90 to I-43 to Milwaukee and on to Green Bay where Mike would be holding a spot for me.

Some kid I met in Georgia who had just bought his first Harley. He wanted a selfie after hearing about the ride and I was happy to oblidge

As late afternoon approached, Mike was at a point to head North towards Green Bay but I was still way behind and struggling to keep time due to weather and road work/accidents and traffic. I notified him that I thought Green Bay was not going to happen so Mike turned South and Erik revised the plan for us to meet in Bloomington, Illinois and then ride North together from there as far as I could go.

After more rain and visiting a few underpasses, I arrived in Bloomington via the direction given to me on the road and over the CB radio I heard his voice. I can not tell you how welcoming that was by this point in the day. The loneliness had set in a couple days earlier and now that I had heard his voice a mile away from me, I had never felt better. Those of you who know me know I ride solo a lot. But late in this ride, it did become somewhat of an issue on the overnight runs when the sun went down and it was just me out there. Thoughts of family, my loved ones and my dog all occupied my thoughts. But now, I wasn’t alone anymore and some of the fear that I had never really experienced before, ever, was gone.

Mike and I met at an Arby’s where he had strict instructions to not let me leave until I had something decent to eat and a substantial rest. I woofed down two french dips as we looked at the map and decided that our new goal was Madison, Wisconsin and I’d figure out the rest from there. Two other friends of mine, Dennis and Roger Bissen from Kimballton, Iowa, were also on the road to ride the last leg with me and were already bunked up in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Dinner was over and it was back to business as Mike and I headed North, side by side, for cheese country, Wisconsin. After a short delay for a traffic accident that shut us down for about 30 minutes, we continued on into Madison, Wisconsin, found a hotel and unpacked our gear.

We met briefly to go over mileage as I still had about 1500 to do but I have done more than that in 24 hours several times, so my ultimate goal of completing the Iron Butt 10/10ths was still very real…but it would take one last monster push to do it. The original plan was to have 24 hours to get home from Green Bay with only 1100 miles, but hey, you know what they say about the best laid plans.

A course of action was decided on, a new route set and key people alerted to the fact that all bets were off, and I would proceed with one more 1500 mile push to get home in time.

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