Proving the Metal– and the Mettle
Story- Randy Twells; Photos- RT & Courtesy Biggs H-D
It was Armed Forces Day, May 17th. In San Marcos, CA where the May Ride takes place every year at Biggs Harley-Davidson, it never applied more appropriately as in the week immediately preceding, our US Military came to the assistance of local and state firefighting agencies to ultimately defeat a week of blazing wildfires that devastated several San Diego County communities and open spaces as seen on local and national news.
High winds and blazing heat fueled the fires. Parts of San Marcos were burning out of control, as twisters of fire goaded by high wind gusts ripped through neighborhoods and open spaces. First responder fire units were outgunned and called for reinforcements. The US Northern Command responded with assets for air reconnaissance & firefighting along with ground assets, facilities and supplies and care of civilians where civilian resources were overwhelmed.
Along with Cal-Fire tankers like the DC-10 flying like a huge albatross yet making minute lean/roll adjustments in flight and dropping fire retardant right on target, military aircraft/helicopter water drops and fire units from all over California attacked at least four large fires that were finally contained having burned over 20,000 acres. Yes some homes were lost, but all in all many more were saved. Residents thank Cal-Fire & all the many Fire Departments from around the region, who in turn along with those homeowners thanked Military responders for their invaluable assistance, saying…
“The military’s assistance was crucial to fight these fires.” Local military commanders’ response? “That’s what we are here for, to protect the civilian population in any type of emergency.” Proving their mettle in spades.
In the week before the May Ride, thick smoke in the area had Howie Wahl, Biggs H-D Marketing Director, and Clint August the event Founder & Organizer & local KGB 101 Radio Personality, both of them being determined AND die-hard bikers, crossing their fingers the fires would not impact the May Ride. I had heard that Howie was evacuated mid-week while preparing for the May Ride. He said, “Yes, and we had to evacuate in 2007 so we knew the drill. I was at Biggs working and noticed the flames on the north side of our neighborhood.
I decided to cruise over to make sure my wife was aware that the fire was approaching our area. When I turned left into our neighborhood my heart took an extra beat because at the end of our street was a fire truck, 3 police cars and a helicopter overhead. As I got closer the police unit drove up alongside of me and said the words I did not want to hear, ‘mandatory evacuation right now sir. Please turn around and leave this area immediately’. I told him that I must pick up my wife and we would leave immediately. I picked up my wife, our cat and 6 boxes she had already packed with pictures and our laptop. I had to leave my Harley so I said a prayer that when I return I would be able to ride my Harley again. Off we went!” However, what was Howie’s main concern, but…. As Howie was quoted later….
“The Show Must Go On.” … and by late Friday, the San Marcos fire was virtually done. Saturday arrived at Biggs, greeting arriving bikers with a full display of flags (placed by the well-known Flag Man) lining the street alongside the dealership, from every military branch and group. Starting off the day, the Big American Flag was unfurled with the help of many people to its full size, which stretched the entire width of the street, for the opening ceremonies.
A Heroes’ Welcome— So appropriate it is that the May Ride proceeds support Homefront San Diego, a military family benefit organization; check it out at www.homefrontsandiego.org . Space is provided for other military support causes too. Of these there were several and I want to spotlight EOD Warrior Foundation. EOD stands for Explosive Ordinance Disposition, one of the most hazardous jobs in the military. EOD technicians willingly place themselves in harm’s way to do their jobs every day, and when things go wrong they pay the highest price. Find out more or how to help at www.eodwarriorfoundation.org.
Tim Chambers the Saluting Marine announced he would soon leave for Washington DC to fulfill his 13th Salute standing at attention for many hours on Memorial Day at Rolling Thunder as the bikes rolled past.
As Clint said later, “We SMOKED last year’s registrations with 540 this time.” Pun intended or not, it was true, and it was the second largest registration count ever in the event’s 12-year history. They did have to re-route the Poker Run a bit to avoid some of the still hazardous burned areas but, an adventure nonetheless.
Team RB Freestyle stunt duo with Randie, the female stunt performer, wowed the crowd with dragging, standing, & half-falling-off stunts that were crazy to watch and you know they practice these to the nth degree… out of the blue, we hear sirens blaring, and lights flashing! Up through the closed off street come the CHP guys on their motorcycles and in the cars, chasing down Team RB, for the ‘moving violations’ just committed all over the tarmac. Coincidentally –OR NOT 😉 –the CHP had their display here at May Ride! These motorcops had their u-turns, tight corners & stoppies DOWN and reminded us all who’s out there doing the tough moves every day, watching out for all of us on the road.
Unknown Industries’ mild-mannered bad boys Buddy Suttle and Kade Gates on their Bobtail Dyna’s proved THEIR metal and mettle too, with smokin burnouts and long haul wheelies that scraped bobtails on pavement and are no doubt half-imaged in hundreds of camera phones as they shot past like bullets from a .45. –and ONCE AGAIN with the Lights & Sirens, it was great- chasing the guys down the road and matching them turn for tight turn and maneuver, again a lesson in who’s out there catchin the bad guys out on the highway. Out came the ticket books—all for fun and the cameras, for sure! It was like watching a movie shoot! Buddy and Kade are also now starring in a new movie, “Into the Unknown”.
The Classic Car Show competition for cash and prizes was run by East County Cruisers Car Club plus the Bike Show, and had winners of course with trophies by S&S Trophies- S&S is for Sam and Shari Murao, ECC members whose beautiful classics were also on display. Hot Rod Holly was here with her bee-youtiful “silver with floral/nature scenes” ’56 Stepside Chevy pickup that has won top honors on an episode of My Ride Rules. ECC has a 1971 Camaro Z-28 up for raffle, $25 per ticket- (boy do I remember my old 1969 Camaro- why did I sell it!! Wrong!! )—winner of the Z-28 to be drawn later in the year at another ECC event! “Wish me luck or buy your own ticket!”
An inventive gal named Dottie, won the Bike Show, with her aptly named “Dottie” bike. She in turn held a contest for guessing how many dots are on her bike and awarded a prize later herself to the contest entry with the closest guess.
The People’s Choice Bike Award went to a gleaming white Harley with impeccable details.
Among all this fun, Mike’s BBQ served up awesome pulled pork and other delights, there were chilled drinks & tropical slushies, some great jerky to be munched, and Biggs supplied water for all, to keep us hydrated in the fun and sun.
Seven Bands on two Law Tigers sponsored stages, Nuns & Moses- what a show- guitarist and drummer in what would loosely be described as nun costumes (apologies to real nuns…) with a guitar that looked like a military assault rifle (a nod to the Guns & Roses aspect…) So over the top, it was hilarious. And they were great! Then they ditched the nuns costumes and, amazingly still sounded great! Not to be outdone, the 8-member troupe Sully & the Blue Eyed Soul Band with brass (sax & trumpet), keys & congas put on a great show.
Speaking of guns, Guns N Buns contest pitted navy man Duke Alford, Jr. and ‘regular guy’ Marshall Oimette against each other along with another guy for the crowd’s approval- and Marshall won the prize after winning the audience with pushups and backside showin off and all around winning poses and good fun.
Then there were Clint’s Babes & Bikes… the Babes just get Babe’er every year. Based at the KGB Booth or their Babe lair they help out with raffle ticket sales. Hooters Girls also helped out and all posed with event staff and happenin makers at one of the gorgeous custom bikes on display. So all Clint’s Babes were on stage and the popular crowd vote selected the top Babe, who took it all in stride as did all the Babes, winners all since they worked their behinds off selling raffle tickets.
There were really good raffle prizes such as wood flooring, a tattoo session from Good Neighbor Tattoo, beautiful decorative blown glass and other sponsor donated items. A $500 cash prize and a $500 Chapter Challenge prize was won by Biggs Chapter with 54 members participating and donating it back to the cause. San Diego HOG was 2nd place with 33 to their credit, and Temecula 3rd in the 20’s. The cash prize winner donated part of it back too, in the spirit of the event. One of the final raffle prizes drawn for a winner was the Black Sheep Quilt, sewn by a Black Sheep member with squares honoring branches of service. Tickets were sold for 2 months prior and the winning ticket was sold AT the May Ride. All proceeds from the Quilt raffle went to Homefront San Diego following the May Ride’s lead.
The craziness never stopped as Clint’s friend Thomas Hootman who has a DJ biz “The Funk Experience” and who was helping out here, got on the mic and started doing funky percussion sound effects into the microphone—
An American Road Hero—During one of Clint’s announcement gigs he got hijacked and presented with a plaque from American Road Hero (loosely quoted) “in recognition for his tireless efforts to support our Troops.” Confirming what we already knew, that “Clint August is an American Road Hero”!
“Thank You to Our Heroes in Uniform,” Clint said at day’s end, “including those involved with the fires and keeping us safe in many ways. Saturday May 16th 2015 is already in the planning stages so mark it on your calendar! God Bless our Troops and their families!”