Charley Barnes Recounts the 10,000 Mile Honor Flight Northern Colorado Endurance Ride – Leg 1 [Pics + Video]
Today begins what will most likely be a two-week series. There is a lot to recount and like last year, I will do my best to remember all those fine details.
Leg 1 - 911.2 Miles
(Author's Note: I will include all my GoPro video at the end of the series as one big montage of the entire ride.)
I would have loved to have said the first leg of this journey was pretty much uneventful, but, that just isn't the case. In fact, I am reasonably sure there wasn't even one day that was uneventful and it all started with the first day and my lame brain move before even leaving my home.
The night of June 3 rained harder than I have ever seen it rain. I finished packing the bike and went to bed around 11:00 p.m. and then the rain started. It was raining so hard I thought the basement was going to flood and the hail on the gutters made sleeping impossible anyway, so I got up and scouted the situation. Mike and I were prepared to leave in the rain if we had to but radar showed the system moving out pretty quickly and the forecast for June 4 was still marvelous.
Who needs sleep anyway, right?
I finally got back to bed about 1:30 a.m. and with the alarm set for 5:00 a.m. I went off to dreamland.
The plan was to meet at the radio station at 6:00 a.m. but I got word from mike about 5:30 a.m. that he was just leaving and we would meet at CR 31 and Highway 392 and ride into Windsor together to hang with the Good Morning Guys for an official "on air" goodbye and "thank you" to all those who had sponsored miles.
From there, it was off to the Windsor 7-11 at 7th and Main where Mike and I would get our witness forms signed, get some pictures with family, friends and members of the Honor Flight Board of Directors and be on the road by 7:00 a.m. sharp and make our way to the day's end destination; Calgary, Alberta.
We filled up just short of 7:00 a.m. and with some good friends, including Mike's son Mark, we hit Highway 392 and headed West for I-25 where the guys would escort us up through Cheyenne before pulling off and leaving Mike and I to "get our ride on."
The ride from that point on was incredible. Weather was just right and not even any wind in Wyoming, which I had really dreaded. We breezed through Wyoming and it was about 50 miles from Great Falls, Montana that my stomach sank when I started to think about the Canadian crossing and if I had my passport card since it dawned on me that I hadn't checked the night before.
Now, let me explain the whole "passport" issue. Months before, I had put my passport card in my wallet so I wouldn't forget. How ironic is that! What happened was that I panicked one day about losing my wallet and was afraid if I did lose my wallet, I would never have time to get it replaced, so, I put it back in my safe spot. Keep in mind that was busier than you can possibly imagine the last few months. Not only was I responsible for raising the money but I also had to do all the accounting and keep track of it all so I had way more on my plate than I should have. Still no excuse though; I should have checked. But, in my brain, I knew it was there.
I jumped on the CB and told Mike I wasn't sure I had my passport and he just chuckled assuming I was joking. We racked off another 20 miles or so and at this point I just couldn't enjoy the ride at all until I knew one way or the other if I had it. I finally told Mike we needed to pull over so I could check and sure enough, no passport card. When we got to Great Falls, we called Mike's wife Diane who was watching my house during the trip. Between her and Erik Jon Barrett, our ride coordinator, they came up with a plan to fax stuff up to Shelby, Montana which is the last town before you hit the Canadian border. After several trips down to her office, she faxed everything she could from my legal file including my birth certificate, the passport card (which was in my kitchen) my hunter's safety card and a few other things, just to make sure.
So off we went. We were that close so figured it was worth a try and the worst thing that could happen was the Canadian border agent would turn us around and we'd have to come up with a new ride plan. However, the gal at the border was about as cool as could be and after a few questions and checking my faxed paperwork, she said, "Have a good time and ride safe."
Wow, we were in America's Attic...CANADA baby! I'd worry about getting back into the United States later. By this time, it was well past midnight and we knew we'd never make Calgary so we set our sights on Lethbridge, Alberta and rolled on the throttle.