Friday, August 18, 2006

Riding in the Rain

And there was a LOT of rain. We also had a little hail.

But it was totally worth it.

I spent most of Saturday in Cripple Creek Colorado at the 19th annual POW/MIA recognition ride.

First I have to say that I have a great admiration for anyone in the service. In 1975 I missed the draft by 30 days and was very happy at the time. I was no where near mature enough to be in the military and if I had ever been sent to combat I would have probably gotten myself and several other people killed. So the government really dodged a bullet when I wasn't drafted.

The truth is I still haven't matured enough to enlist. Fortunately for me I can use my age as an excuse now.

I have no idea what the actual percentage is but it seems to me that most bikers over the age of 45 are ex-military. So there was a lot of pride (and rightfully so) displayed in Cripple Creek on Saturday.

I rode up with my biker friends Freedom and his wife Sally. They are definitely loaners when it comes to the bike thing. They don't ride with just anyone, I suppose they've just taken pity on me and allow me to tag along with them. This is an event that they have been going to since the beginning, this is my 4th year.

We left very early in the morning to get up to Cripple Creek in time to get some good parking. It's about an hour ride and at 7:00am going up the mountain it was cold. There's nothing like a wind chill around 5 degrees in August to wake you up. I can tell you it's more effective than caffeine any day!

And thank God for that cold weather! It meant that people had to actually dress warmly to be hanging out up there. That meant (mercifully) that none of the nasty women could put themselves on display. There is nothing that causes me to lose my interest in people watching faster than seeing 3 overweight women in row wearing tight clothing the should have the label "Omar the Tent Maker" on the tag.

That doesn't mean I didn't see weird looking people.....

I saw a guy that had skin that was actually gray. He looked like someone had shrunk his skin onto his face because you could see every bone in his skull. I've never seen anything like it. If he was in Africa they would have just cut his head off and left it at that!

The there was the midget that was out with the doo rag, leather coat and all the patches. There was no way that guy was a biker. He couldn't even reach the peddles!

Then there was the 60+ year old severely overweight woman wearing a halter top with her breasts exposed at the (yikes) bottom. Now I know I said it was cold but this women had a layer of fat a seal would have been jealous of. That's why she was able to wear that ridiculous looking halter top.

And that was just in the first 30 minutes.

For the first time we went to the opening ceremony. It was like being at a Catholic mass, without the kneeling. Stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down, geez; can someone make a decision!

It was really quite interesting and they did honor some POWs that had been invited for the weekend. There was on guy that was a World War II veteran. He actually survived the 1945 Black Hunger Death March. Here's a brief description I found on the net from another survivor:

By early 1945, the war was going badly for the Germans, and the Russian army began approaching from the east, so the Germans decided to move the POWs farther west. On February 5, 1945, we started on our BLACK HUNGER DEATH MARCH. This march numbered about 6000 men.

During the day, the prisoners marched four or five abreast. At night, we were herded into nearby barns with any luck. Often, the farmers would not let us into the barns, as they thought we would contaminate the animals with our lice and fleas and dysentery. We often slept on the ground. I remember that, at one place we stopped for the night, the ground was so covered with the feces of the group who had passed before us that we tried sleeping standing up against a tree.

We walked from morning till night every day. This was through one of Germany's worst winters.

We were wet most of the time either from snow or sleet or cold sweat. We got frostbite. We only had GI shoes, overcoat, cap, and winter underwear. Also we had two blankets. Four of us stuck together for protection and to share whatever food we could find. We slept together to try to keep warm.

What they don't tell you is that this was an 80 mile march over 80 days. As far as I'm concerned that guy had a bigger pair (if there was anything left of them) than any man I've ever seen.

There was also a POW from Korea that actually looked like Abe Lincoln. They actually called him Abe; absolutely amazing.

So after the ceremony it was time for a quick lunch. Then when it started warming up and the clothes started coming off, it was time to ride home. We rode through a pretty hard rainstorm and as I said in the beginning; we even got some hail.

And the best part?

Not one person waived.....

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