Is it getting together with friends that makes an event like the May Ride so worth while? Maybe it’s simply feeling good about seeing months of planning come together as hundreds of bikers converge in one area for a common cause.
While both of those ideas certainly play a part in a deep satisfaction that I felt (along with over 50 volunteers), on Saturday May 21 at the Ninth Annual May Ride, it became clear to me when a young hero walked up to me at about 9 a.m. and reached out to shake my hand. He told me that through all of his deployments overseas while he was away from his family it was really the people like us that thank him for his service that keep him going.
I think that’s about all the satisfaction we need to know that helping our troops and their families through Home Front San Diego is such a fantastic cause.
We stayed the night in my pal Rudy’s 5th Wheel, on Friday night before the big day. We had a couple of beers and talked with our friends, Aaron and Kathy, along with Rachael, Sarah and a family friend that came with us to help out the following day. It was exciting to predict how the day would go but I tend to stress out each year just before the event, wondering about the turnout and how much money we’ll raise.
Aaron and Rudy told me to stop stressing and that this year would be the biggest yet…
When the alarm went off at 6 a.m. and I hopped into the shower it was very relieving to hear the Biggs HOG Chapter Members and the Black Sheep roll into the parking lot to help with set up.
Paul and Jessie from Biggs Harley Davidson were on hand shortly after that to assist as well. Of course the event coordinator “Donnelle Smith”, had already put up May Ride signs before I even lifted my head off the pillow and she was ready to kick me into gear.
As the morning progressed, more and more bikes of all types poured into the parking lot. At first little groups trickled in and then larger and larger clusters would roll into the area. A sense of curiousity came over me because this was looking like this really could be our best year.
The vendors were setting up as several volunteers started grilling pancakes for breakfast. The parking lot and the street filled up with canopies, bikes, a mechanical bull and tons of other attractions while registration began.
By 9:15 a.m. we were ready to start the Pledge of Allegiance and my pal Sgt. Doug Levesque held the American Flag on stage as two Purple Heart Recipients from two different conflicts led us as we all followed along. That was my stand out moment for the day.
The time came to line the bikes up and head out on the poker route and I was in the first group led by a friend named Mr. Phil. The beautiful thing about me not leading this year was that not only did I have to get back quickly to help with the execution of the after party, but I tend to make wrong turns when I’m stressed out even though I often do a dry run of the route beforehand. Don’t ask…
Once we reached the first poker stop I peeled off with Rudy and another friend Travis, to head back to Biggs Harley.
Things were pretty slow up until about noon when it was time to bring our first performer “Josh Damigo”, on stage. He plays every year at May Ride and he’s always great. of Rancho Bernardo were selling raffle tickets and folks were starting to peruse the different vendors and everything was coming together.
After Josh, another great band “Six Reasons,” took the stage and got the crowd going with an energetic performance. While they played, we had a tandem stunt bike show with Rome and Randie 2 Up and that’s when I realized that the crowd was pretty big.
By the time pro wrestler Chuck Palumbo and his band 3 Spoke Wheel started playing we had a peak of about 1,300-1,400 people on site. This was incredible to see and by the time the day ended we realized that Aaron and Rudy were absolutely right about the Ninth Annual May Ride being our biggest and best.
We had 475 registered riders, not counting those riders that followed along, the riders that went their own way and those that came too late to register. We were able to raise over $10,000.00 for Home Front San Diego.
This year was an epic event and make sure to put it in your calendar for the Tenth Annual May Ride on Saturday May 19 Armed Forces Day, 2012.
God Bless Our Troops and ride safely!!!