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Day 8.  Wednesday May 25, 2022.  Asheville, NC to Smithfield, NC.  307 miles.  “Well THAT was interesting!”

Several times today, one particular phrase kept popping up in my mind.  It was: “Well THAT was interesting!”  And I don’t mean that in any sort of negative way.  Today truly was interesting!

I guess that I should start from the beginning.

It rained a bit last night.  Not hard, but enough to make everything nice and damp this morning.  And it was fairly cool.  And there was a TON of humidity in the air.  All in all, it wasn’t a great morning for riding, but it could have been bad.  We were lucky to be right in the “sweet spot” when it came to bad weather.  But did I mention that it was DAMP?  When I started up the bike this morning, I immediately noticed something was wrong.  The on-board computer froze.  The bike ran, but I had no gauges, warning lights, tire pressure, not even a radio.  So I immediately shut off the bike, completely turning off the entire electrical system … … but the computer screen stayed on.  NO electricity should have been running, because the bike was turned OFF!  But that screen just stayed on!  I tried starting and stopping the bike several times, but it didn’t change anything.  I had no choice but to ride over to our staging area and see what happened.  As I was riding down the road, here came that phrase for the first time.  “Well THAT was interesting!”  I guess this is what happens when you joke about Harley’s breaking down all the time!  Karma bit me!

When I arrived at the staging area (a few minutes late), I heard someone playing the flute.  “Well, THAT was interesting!”  So I get up to the stage and there is one of our Riders playing the anthem for each Branch of Service, while the members of that branch sang along!  After the songs were done, someone remembered that we have a few Canadians that are riding with us this year, so we asked them to come up and sing “Oh, Canada!”  Trust me, THAT was interesting, too!

The Morning meeting went along as usual.  We said the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the National Anthem.   The “folded Flag” was transferred to a new Rider again.  Lane Flynn displayed a BEAUTIFUL quilt that is going to be auctioned off tomorrow evening.  Someone is going to go home with an AMAZING souvenir!

After the meeting, I was trying to find an Indian Motorcycle dealership to take my bike into to have the system looked at.  But it was too early to call anyone, and the bike WAS running, so I thought I would just sit at the back of the pack to be safe.  Nope!  Not Going To Happen!  When the Road Guard Captain comes up and asks me to leave now and get ahead of the pack to get photos of the LEO Escort, this Photographer says “Okay!”  But to make sure that there were no surprises for the Officers, I told their Sergeant that I would be standing on the side of the road to get the pictures as they went past.  He said “There is a rally good overpass about 10 miles down the road, but you can just pick anywhere you want to be.  It’s okay with me.”  “Yes Sir, I will find a good spot.”  And THEN he asked “Can you catch up with us and get a shot of the entire squad before we break away?”  To which I answered “You mean you WANT me to ride fast and catch up, and it will be okay?”  He just grinned and said “Yeah!”

“Well, THAT was interesting!”  And I got the shot!  (Sometimes I just LOVE being the Route Photographer!)

I had hoped that the bike would start acting normal once it warmed up.  I was thinking that maybe some of that damp air had caused some sort of electrical short.  But it was still acting the same when we reached our first fuel stop.  I was able to contact a Dealership that would be willing to work on my bike.  When I told them that I was with RFTW they said “Get here as soon as you can and we will get you back on the road.”  “Fantastic!” I said.  “Where are you?”  “Charlotte, North Carolina.  Where are YOU?”  “I am not sure, but if you will send me your address I will find my way there.”  THAT ride was interesting because I had no idea where I was or really where I was going.  I just followed the GPS.

So, I have to leave the Pack and ride all by myself, all alone in a strange town, knowing that I am going to miss the BEST meal on our entire trip! The Siler City Pentecostal Holiness Church feeds us every year.  And I mean THEY FEED US!!!  Steaks, potatoes, sweet green beans, homemade peach cobbler with homemade ice-cream!  I was so sad!  The thought of those juicy, tender steaks, and that hot cobbler with cold ice-cream continued to run through my mind.  All through my ride to Charlotte I could just taste that delicious imaginary meal, and with every bite of my ACTUAL meal, I cried just a little bit.  Stale Fig Newtons just can’t replace a good steak lunch!

But then I got to the Indian Dealership in Charlotte, North Carolina.  As I walked in, I thanked Jackie (the Service Manager) for helping me out.  She said “Oh, I know all about Run For The Wall.”  Her Husband had spent five tours in Iraq.  He hasn’t ridden with us, but he has thought about it.  So I spent some time talking with her about the RFTW Mission, and especially the new Sandbox Route.

After a few minutes of talking, she started telling me about the dealership we were in.  She casually mention that this was Loyd Greer’s shop.  “Loyd Greer, from Lloyd’z Racing Garage?”  “Yeah, you want to meet him?”  Well THAT was DEFINITELY interesting!  For those that don’t know about Lloyd’z Garage, this is the place that is turning out super high-performance engine tunes for Indian motorcycles.  These are the people that are setting up the winning bikes for the national flat track and sprint races, and have been revolutionizing these races for about five or six years.  So here I was in THE premiere high-performance tune-up shop, just having an electrical issue solved.  (Oh yeah, I got an oil change as well.)

Presently, Loyd Greer came out to say Hello.  I told him “Thanks” for helping me get back on the Road so that I could continue to support our Mission.  He wasn’t familiar with RFTW, so I got to spend some time explaining it to Him.  He likes our Mission!  He asked me if I would like to check out the racing garage, and I said (You guessed it) “THAT would be interesting!”  So I got to go into the back and look at all of the projects that they are working on.  I promised not to take photos of the “good stuff” though.  After all, I was in a room with a lot of corporate secrets!

All in All, missing that fabulous lunch in Siler City wasn’t too bad, because I got to meet a racing legend AND talk about the Run For The Wall Mission.

As I looked at my watch, I realized that if I rode just a little “aggressively” that I could possibly meet up with the Midway Route about the time that they reached the Falcon Children’s Home in Falcon, North Carolina.  It took some “interesting” riding to get there, but I made it with five minutes to spare.  (For the record, I did not have to use any excessive speed, but I DID have to take a LOT of twisty backroads and detours.  It seems that no roads lead directly to Falcon!)

This stop is very special to both the Midway Route and the Children’s Home.  This is a school for Kids that are having a tough time in life.  It may be financial, it may be a bad home-life, it may be that they just didn’t “fit in” anywhere else.  The Falcon Children’s Home gives these bright young Men and Women a second chance to make something of themselves.  The Midway Route supports this with all of our hearts.  They have a Graduation Ceremony that we attend each year, where they receive a special certificate from RFTW along with a check to help them out financially.  It isn’t much, but every little bit helps, and the Kids truly appreciate it.

From Falcon, it was just a short ride to our dinner stop, provided by the Bizzell Grove Church.  This is our “Spaghetti Church!”  We have all seen a big pot of spaghetti in our lives.  But have you ever seen a dozen Coleman Coolers FILLED with spaghetti and meat sauce?  I mean to tell you, each of these coolers must have held 20 gallons of spaghetti!  EACH!!!  AND it was GOOD, too!  (It definitely got the taste of those stale Fig Newtons out of my mouth!)

But more important than the food was the people that served it to us, and the people that we ate with.  ALL are part of our Midway Route Family!

Okay, I know that this was a weird SITREP.  But in my defense, I DID have to miss most of it because of my bike issues.  (By the way, it WAS caused by the excessive moisture in the air.  It shorted one of the circuits.)  However, I was assured that the day was pretty much exactly the way I have described it.  Interesting events, interesting roads, and interesting conversations.  I have been promised pictures of the scenic roads that they Pack used, so I will post them when they come in.

Tomorrow will be interesting, too.  It is our last full-day as the Midway Route 2022.  We still have a lot to do, but our time together is getting short.

JIm “Hoofer” McCrain