Sunday, September 23, 2007

Friday, September 21, 2007

I can't believe today is the final day of our journey. I've made so many new friends, shared laughs and tears and ridden some beautiful roads. In addition to riders raising money, some four-legged critters got in on the act. Sidney is one of two "donation dogs" that are with the Sisters of Scota.

Today we headed into Old Sacramento for lunch. We held our Medallion pass ceremony next to the Pony Express statue that is in Old Sacramento. My friend Rhonda works in Sacramento, but I didn't bring her phone number with me to let her know I was going to be in Old Sac. Fortunately, Rhonda is active in ABATE and at their meeting the night before, an announcement was made about the Pony Express coming to Old Sac. Rhonda was there to greet us as we pulled into town. It was great to see her again. Representatives from the local Susan G. Komen chapter were there with hats for all of the riders and to thank us for raising over $57,000 for the fight against breast cancer.

This was the last medallion pass ceremony of the ride. I was again honored to be chosen to wear the ring of memory. I managed to make it through my speech this time without breaking down, although tears were still flowing. I had lunch with Debbie from Oregon along with Tracy and Carrie from Geogia. We ate at Fat City which lived up to it's name...we felt full and fat after lunch! We walked around Old Sac and then headed back to Dobbins for the evening's closing ceremonies.

The closing ceremonies were held with the Medallion once again being assembled, but this time, for the last time of this journey. Awards for the bike show were presented (Josh won with the 1992 Harley-Davidson Heritage he was riding which belonged to his Dad who passed away from breast cancer) and a check for $57,000 was presented to the Susan G. Komen foundation representing money raised by the Pony Express riders.

It was difficult to say "good bye" to all of my new friends. I wish we had more time together but hopefully, we will once again ride together as Pony Express riders. This was an amazing week for me, filled with more emotions than I ever thought possible. I took quite a few pictures and they are posted here if you are interested.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

It rained all night and was very cold this morning. Concerns about ice along the roadways and/or snow at our destination, Lake Tahoe, were raised. Mama Sue called her son who was staying in Lake Tahoe and he assured us that there was no snow, but it was a bit cold. We left one hour later than scheduled, to give it time to warm up.

Even though we left an hour later, it was still very cold. The ride to Lake Tahoe was amazingly beautiful. On our way, we stopped in the town of Sierraville and visited Jean & Jerry's Funny Animal Farm and gas station. Yes, animal farm & gas station...odd combination, I know! After gassing up and petting the animals, we were off to Lake Tahoe for lunch.

We arrived in Lake Tahoe to temperatures in the 40's. The wind blowing off the lake was unbelievably cold. Still, I thought about those who had undergone breast cancer treatment and what they have been through and being a little cold just didn't seem to matter anymore. Another Medallion pass ceremony was held, more tears shed and then we headed through Donner Pass on our way back to Dobbins.
A talent show was scheduled for after dinner, but we were all so exhausted from the cold and riding that the talent show was cancelled. I was in my bunk asleep by 9:00 pm.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

This morning is a bit colder than yesterday morning. Today we were riding for the survivors of breast cancer. Our first stop was in the town of Challenge, which was very fitting for the theme of this ride. All riders were given pink postcards that they could mail to family/friends. The Postmaster in Challenge donated breast cancer stamps to all of the riders and cancelled each stamp with the city of Challenge as the post mark.

After Challenge, we headed to a ghost town near North Bloomfield. We had lunch and then the Medallion pass ceremony. To my surprise, I was asked to carry the Ring of Memory part of the Medallion. When presented with the Medallion during the ceremony, I was asked to state why I was participating in this adventure. I said that I was riding in memory of my friend Donna's Mom, Gerry Hagerman, who lost her battle with breast cancer at the age of 38...two years younger than me.

The temperatures of the day were quite cool and very windy. I was beginning to realize that I did not pack warm enough clothes for this trip! After going a tour through the General Store and Drug Store, we headed to the town of Rough & Ready for ice cream. By the time we arrived at Rough & Ready, it was far too cold for ice cream! Fortunately, we found some hot chocolate and defrosted our frozen fingers.

Tonight after dinner was to be the bike show. However, just after dinner, it started to rain. Judging of the bike show was postponed until the next morning.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tuesday started off with breakfast between 6:30 - 8:00 am. Breakfast and dinners were provided each day by the staff of Lake Francis Resort. At 8:00 am, Woody was giving us the 15 minute signal with her air horn to get the bikes staged and ready to go! Let me tell you, that woman can use an air horn!

The morning was a bit chilly, but again, predicted temperatures in the mid 80's, so I was dressed in layers, prepared for the warm weather. There were 3 groups of bikes -- Early Detection (the "go fast" group), Self Exam (the mid-speed group) and Research Rules (the slower group). Each rider elected which group they wanted to ride in. I went with Self Exam and rode with some great riders. Our first stop was a fish hatchery in Oroville, CA. This hatchery had the biggest salmon I have ever seen! The temperature rapidly warmed up and soon, I was down to my t-shirt and vented jacket for riding. After admiring the fish, we were off to the town of Quincy where we would have our lunch and the Medallion passing ceremony.

The roads were absolutely beautiful and the leader of our group, Jack, did a great job. Along the route, we had "blockers" and "pointers". The blockers would block traffic at various intersections so we could all stay together and the pointers would point out corners where we needed to turn or freeway exits so nobody got lost.

In Quincy, the owner of the local deli donated lunches for all 50 riders. After a great sandwich, we had the Medallion passing ceremony on the steps of the courthouse. There is no way you can get through one of these ceremonies with dry eyes. Each rider who receives a piece of the Medallion states why they are riding. There is Carol who is riding in memory of her husband Bill, who died of breast cancer (yes, men get breast cancer, too). There is Mike who learned to ride a motorcycle this past summer and is riding in memory of his wife, Deanna, who died of breast cancer. There is Bev who is herself a survivor of breast cancer. So many people with so many touching stories.

After Quincy, we headed to the town of Downeyville for ice cream. We rode along Highway 49 which is a beautiful road. You can't buy scenery like this. After gorging ourselves on ice cream, we headed back to the town of Dobbins, where Lake Francis is located.

After dinner that evening, there was a tattoo contest. Many riders had beautiful tattoo's and stories that went with them. Mike has one in memory of his wife, Deanna. Gramps has a beautiful one of 2 mermaids which symbolizes her relationship with her partner and the pain and suffering she went through losing several close family members. Grumbles has a beautiful one of the pink ribbon symbol with "Sisters of Scota" across it and "Riding for a Cure" under the ribbon. It was a difficult decision to pick a winner, but in the end, Gramps with her mermaids took home the honors.

About the Pony Express & WMF

In 1983, Sue Slate & Gin Shear established the Women's Motorcyclist Foundation (WMF) to assist women in their pursuit of riding motorcycles. The Susan G. Komen Foundation has partnered with WMF in fundraising efforts. From 1993 - 2003, several motorcycle riding events were organized by WMF to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. WMF has raised over $2M in the fight against breast cancer.

The Pony Express Relay is a ride where riders solicit donations and ride either one leg/one day or participate in a week-long event. The Medallion is a vital component in this ride. The Medallion consists of 4 pieces -- a horseshoe for the future, a horseshoe for survivors, a ring of memory and the heart of the medallion. Each day, riders are selected to carry one piece of the Medallion. The Medallion is reassembled each day during the pass ceremony when the Medallion pieces are brought together as a whole once again.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I left Rhonda's house at about 8:15 in the morning. Rhonda gave me an alternate route to get into Marysville from the Sacramento area so I would miss traffic. I stopped for breakfast in the town of Lincoln for some breakfast and frankly, to kill time. I couldn't check in to the ride until after 10:00 am.

I found my way in Marysville to Highway 20 which would lead me in the direction of Dobbins. Fortunately, the place we were staying, Lake Francis Resort, had wonderful directions on their web site. I found myself riding on beautiful roads and saw several deer along the way.

I made my way to Lake Francis Resort and there was the Mother Ship...Gin & Sue's RV. Turns out, I was the first one to arrive and get registered! I found my way to the cabin I would call home for the next week. It was very nice with 2 sleeping areas (bunk beds) and a bathroom. My fear was that there would not be a bathroom in the cabin and I'd have to walk through the woods to use a bathroom! There would be 3 of us sharing this cabin, but since I was the first to arrive, I got to pick my bunk. I staked my claim and went back to unload the bike. As I was unloading the bike, I met one of my roommates, HellDog, who rides with the Sisters of Scota WMC. My other roommie was a Sister of Scota named Top Shelf. 2 very nice people who I was happy to have as roommates. After a brief nap, I went to the mandatory riders orientation where the staff went over riding rules (stagger formation, etc.), gave us our goodie bags and introduced ourselves.
Throughout the day, riders were arriving. After dinner, the opening ceremonies were held and I knew this would be a very emotional week.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

At 7:15 am, I got astride my 2004 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic motorcycle that I call Magilla, to start on a 1,700 mile journey. The day was a bit cool to start off with, but I had checked and it assured me that it would be in the mid 80's. Important safety tip...never believe

My first night's destination was in Sacramento at my friend Rhonda's home. I met Rhonda a few years ago and she is also a lady who rides. She is not only a friend, but a sister to me. It was approximately 400 miles from my house to Rhonda's. When I reached my first gas stop in Tehachapi, I was a bit cold, but figured it would warm up as the day progressed. By Fresno, I was still cold. I finally warmed up about 10 miles from Rhonda's house. Figures.

I arrived at Rhonda's at about 2:30 pm and her boyfriend, Dennis, was there as well. We got caught up on the latest happenings and then some other friends, Steve and his girlfriend Amanda, came over and we had a wonderful dinner. Dennis & Rhonda cooked up some very tasty giant prawns, beef ribs, corn & potatoes. Steve made a wonderful cheesecake for dessert.

After great food and fun conversation, I was beat. I headed off to bed, very excited about starting the Pony Express tomorrow.