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FNG Story – Farrell D. Maichel

Name: Farrell D. Maichel
City: St. George
State: Kansas
FNG Story:

Maybe you will all forgive me if I take an alibi round here. There is another post on this thread by me from about a year ago. For me a lot has changed, is changing, and will change. For RFTW 2010, two of us rode from our home to Angel Fire and then rode back up to La Junta before breaking off and heading home. I arrived home safely and there is less sadness and depression in my life. The healing isn’t over and may never be over — but things are better now. My Honda Nighthawk has been passed on to another gentleman who will take good care of her. In her place is a Honda Goldwing, not a new one but a grizzled veteran sort of like me. Probably too much bike for me, but I am learning. I dearly wanted to ride a couple of legs in 2010 and was thinking of linking up in Goodland and then riding through to the Kansas border. My son bought a Goldwing in December 09 and I found my bike in February 10.

A little discussion and I was bringing up Streets and Trips, looking for Angel Fire. I left here with very few miles on the Goldwing and very little experience on a heavy bike. Two days later I was riding up the road to Angel Fire through the Kit Carson National Forest. I had not fully mastered the secrets of pushing a bike the size of a fully loaded Goldwing through tight turns, a fact not lost on the young Indian fellow following us in the white pickup truck. He stopped in Eagles Nest and mentioned to my son, while I was signing in to the motel, that I had been in trouble a couple of times and I was not
riding safely. I bore watching!! My son wanted to ride on up to Taos and, being stupid, I said yes. More twistys as we snaked up over the hills to Taos. But the feelings I had looking over my shoulder at the
Angel Fire Memorial I simply cannot describe. It only happens once and it feels like something is flowing back into your soul. We followed RFTW back into Angel Fire and then made the climb up the entrance road to the memorial. Let me say that I have a short inseam and the Goldwing is a tall bike. Sure enough, I rode up the asphalt onto the rock and then onto the dirt where I promptly dropped the bike on her left side trying to turn in the road. I got it back up, somehow, and the remainder of my afternoon was heart wrenching and memorable. The next morning we were there early for breakfast at Eagles Nest. Pulling into the parking lot I rode from the asphalt onto the rock parking lot and dropped the bike again on her left side trying to make a tight turn. This time a sufficient number of good samaritans were on hand to help get the old girl up off the rock.

We lined up in Angel Fire for the days ride. I was getting better at holding the bike up and negotiating curves at a decent rate of speed, but I still sucked. Through Eagles Nest and up the grade and then off the hill and into Ratone for the refuel (I still don’t know who called my name out as I
rode up to turn in to the fuel stop) and then down the highway into La Junta. Now there was no time for gawking. It took everything I had to stay up. In La Junta we said adios and hit the road east through Garden City and then on home, a total of around 1,600 miles. That’s last years ride. Here’s the changes I have made in my life because of it. I wasn’t a very good rider and I wasn’t in very good health. The riding comes with experience and with experience comes the desire to ride more. I’m getting better, but I still suck. I have spent a lot of time in doctors’ offices since May. I take a few more pills, have submitted to a few more undignified medical tests, and I am trying to change my diet, eat less, and drink more water. It’s working. I now have a dandy set of knee braces for both legs and I can actually walk with a lot less pain. I just finished lining out my ride plans for 2011. We’re riding through Angel
Fire and Taos because my target is Gallup. Every year is memorable.

Every year one single thing stands out. If there is a single memory that I will hold from RFTW 2010, it will not be the Angel Fire Memorial. It will not be the easy friendliness and acceptance we experienced in the bar after registering for RFTW in Angel Fire. It will be the fifteen seconds as the platoons were firing up to leave La Junta. We had moved our bikes out of the line and were standing up by the turn to say goodbye. All of a sudden here comes a purposeful form with the leathers on and the helmet locked in place. Seeing the look of self confidence on Screamer’s face as she fired up her scooter will be what I recall. I’ve seen that look on the faces of American soldiers all to often when things were not good, and maybe even worn that look a couple of times. I had just forgot it. I just stood there in awe and watched that young woman as she mentally went over a checklist, bringing up the things she had to do and then checking them off as having been done. I watched her invisibly do the count as she ran over the riders behind her who were depending on her for leadership.

I know she was circling a couple of those names for close observation. I wouldn’t know Screamer from Adams Off Ox unless she was in her leathers with the name tag. But I know she’s damned good and a dependable force to be reckoned with. I’ve seen that little half smile behind visors before
(pilots helmets) and I know what it means when you see the muscles in the neck below the ear flex. It’s all business then from here until she has her charges to the next point of safety. Its “Do the job, Hell or high water”, then the whole routine starts over. That’s this new generation we sometimes fail to understand and appreciate. That’s the display of character that allows me to rest a little easier. This damned country is being passed on to good, competent Americans and I understand that my efforts were not in vain. Now I’ve got to bring up Streets and Trips. I’ve got a run to plan for in 2011. Hello Gallup! Nighthawk