Will I Care About This When I’m 80?

Francis Gangley, Gadsden Alabama

D-Day survivor and motorcycle enthusiast Francis Gangley, Gadsden Alabama

Editorial – Scott Cochran

I’m sure it’s happened to all of us at one time or another. Pumping gas, putting on your gear in a parking lot, or eating in a restaurant. A total stranger will walk up to you and start a conversation about motorcycling.

It happened to me in Gadsden Alabama. I was at a restaurant counter waiting on my order when 82 year old New Jersey native Francis Ganley walked up and asked me if I was on that motorcycle outside.

Over the next few minutes, I learned Francis stormed the beach (Omaha) during WWII, and when he came home he bought a used Iron Head HD for twelve dollars! When he recalled the decades he’d spent riding various motorcycles, you could hear the longing in his voice to take one last ride before his passing. But, he knew that wasn’t possible. He said he couldn’t trust his knees, and watching him walk, you knew that was an understatement. The strength was no longer there to balance a bike, or even straddle the seat of a trike.

My food arrived, and I thanked Mr. Ganley for the conversation. I told him how much respect I had for him, and wished him a good day.  After lunch, I was outside getting ready to gear up when Francis appeared and asked me if I minded if he took a closer look at my motorcycle.  “That’s a good looking bike” he said, as he walked around it. “I had a FLH once with leather saddlebags.” I could tell there was something he wanted to ask but he wasn’t sure it was appropriate.

“Would you like to sit on her?” I asked.  “Do you mind?” He replied.  “Be my guest.” I said.

I moved in to help steady him in case he decided to straddle the seat as most would, but Francis sat down sideways, gently reaching to the handlebar. What he did next caught me completely off guard.

A big smile lit up his face and he twisted the throttle and playfully said, “VROOM VROOM!”

As his smile faded, Francis said, “I’d give anything to be able to take one last long motorcycle ride, but my knees won’t let me. But I sure do miss it.” I took his photo and thanked him again for his service to our country. He stood by and watched as I cranked up the bike, waved and rode away.

An hour later, as I was carving the twisty roads along Lookout Mtn Parkway and Little River Canyon in North Alabama I caught myself obsessing about deadlines, balance sheets, and business opportunities. I pulled off at one of the overlooks. As it was a Monday afternoon, it was deserted and peaceful. The only sound was the occasional bird and the tick, tick, tick of the v-twin as it cooled.  As I sat there I thought about that old man and our conversation. Here I was, doing the one thing that he longed to do, and I wasn’t fully appreciating the moment.

Sitting there I realized how important it is to occasionally view your life from the perspective of your future. Asking yourself, “Will I care about this when I’m 80?” is a good way to prioritize your life.

I wanted to go back and find him and apologize. I wanted to go back and shake his hand and tell him that from now on I will enjoy every minute I get to spend on two wheels because one day (If I live long enough) that pleasure will be taken from me, just as it has from him.

But there was no going back. Even if I did, I wouldn’t know how to find him.

Godspeed Francis. I hope you feel the breeze one more time before your day ends..

Until next month, ride safe, and always take the road less traveled.

GEICO Honda Team Survives Texas, Earns First Podium Finish of Outdoor Season

WORTHAM, Texas (May 28) — The most brutal stop on the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championship tour lived up to its billing Saturday as the
top riders in the world fought to survive 95 degree temperatures that scorched Freestone County Raceway.

GEICO Honda rider Justin Barcia, just a few weeks removed from his Supercross Lites championship, led his team with a runner-up result in the second moto of the day to fashion a fourth-place overall finish. Stablemate Eli Tomac also showed well, going 5-6 on the day, while new team member Lance Vincent and veteran 450cc rider Kevin Windham did their best on the severely rutted and sun-baked course.
Barcia was razor-sharp out of the starting gate in both motos, earning a pair of holeshot awards. But racing with 39 other riders proved costly in the first turn of Moto 1 as a rider clipped him from behind and knocked him off his bike, moving him all the way back to 39th place. He had to ride hard the rest of the way but somehow made it back to ninth.

Wishing to separate from the pack immediately in Moto 2, Barcia had an even better start and rode away from the field until getting passed with just two minutes left in his ride, which dropped him to second place. The points he earned on the day lifted him to sixth in the season standings.

“I just got tired at the end there,” Barcia said. “This is the hardest race of the year and you really just want to survive it. The track is so rutted and hard. The whole day I was just squeezing my bike as hard as I could to hang on.

“The first moto took a lot of effort because I got knocked way back at the start so I was charging the whole race. That caught up to me later in Moto 2. Considering this was easily the toughest ride I’ve had all year, to end the day on the podium feels good.

“I’m really happy with my bike and me and my dad have been working on my starts every day at home, just doing dozens and dozens of them. All that hard work paid off.”

Tomac was solid in both races, riding to fifth and sixth in his two motos for an overall finish of fifth place, which lifts him to third in the championship points.

The Geico Team Gets Ready Before the Race

“Just another okay round for me,” Tomac said. “A fifth and a sixth, fifth overall, not exactly what I was looking for but it wasn’t bad either. I need to get up on the podium next round. That’s the main
thing for me right now.

“I’ve trained a lot for the heat, especially thinking back to what happened last year here when it just crushed me, and although it’s still unbelievably hot, I feel like I handled it much better this time around. There’s still another level I need to reach but I’ll get there.”

New team rider Vincent, sporting No. 245 on his GEICO Honda, took 16th in Moto 1 before improving to 10th in Moto 2 to finish 13th in the overall Lites standings. Although this was his first race of the
outdoors series, he’s already in 19th place in the championship rankings.

“The track was so gnarly and the heat was just ridiculous but I managed to make it through the day and I’m not laid out right now,” Vincent said. “The team and the support they gave me is unreal. I
couldn’t ask for more. They motivate me so much.

“First moto I got a good start, maybe fifth or so, and then settled into about eighth place and was there for a good 20 minutes until I clipped a hay bale and went over the handlebars. By the time I got up
I as 16th and just rode it out. My start wasn’t as good in the second moto and I tipped over early so I was playing catch-up the rest of the way. I still ended up in the top 10, which is what I wanted, so it was
a solid day.”

Windham was frustrated by his visit to Texas, despite two fairly decent rides. He started strong in Moto 1 but his Factory Honda 450cc machine encountered some mechanical issues late in the race and he was unable to finish. He was credited with a 28th-place result. In Moto 2, he outlasted several riders that wilted in the heat and finished ninth. His 28-9 finish earned him the 17th slot in the overall
standings.

 

“We had a little mishap in the first moto and I wasn’t able to finish,” said Windham, who slipped a few spots to eighth in the 2011 rankings. “The bad part was it happened pretty late in the race so I
had spent a lot of energy. We got into the second moto and I just hit the wall. Somewhere around the 15-minute mark this Texas heat just got me.

“It’s frustrating and I’m a little embarrassed. I was late getting ready for the outdoors. It was an unexpected move and I entered Round 1 after just a few days of preparation. It was crazy to think I could
catch-up right away, especially coming to heat like this in week two. We’ve got an off weekend now so hopefully we can use the extra time to get better and have a good showing in Mt. Morris.”

The AMA Lucas Oil Motocross Series next races on June 11 in Mt. Morris, Pa.

To The American Soldier

The Soldier Book Project came about because Mary Sweeney wanted a way to thank to our soldiers for their dedication and their service.  Our freedom in this great nation is one of our greatest commodities and the sacrifices it takes to maintain that freedom is something that should never be taken for granted.

Our soldiers, both active and veteran, are the ones to thank.  They are the ones who put their lives on the line each and every day so that we can live our lives without fear. We will always be indebted to these fine men and women and we should always do whatever it takes to ensure they feel the gratitude that they deserve.

To The American Soldier is an anthology of literary artists giving thanks to our service members through poems, short stories and notes of thanks.  Our military personnel need our support now more than ever. They are out there every day putting their lives on the line to ensure we have our freedom.  They need to know that we support them.

For every book bought, Mary will give a book to a service member, active or veteran. If you have a request that book be sent to someone you know just email Mary and let her know. Email Mary with any questions. msween2008@gmail.com. Please spread the word. This book can also be found on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles. This is a word of mouth campaign. I met Mary at a motorcycle event and I have to say that she is an inspirational lady and I admire her for what she is doing for our military. It is the little things that can make a big difference to someone.

The next time you see a veteran or military person go up to them and say “Thank You For Your Service”.  Watch their reaction, it is priceless.

Tina – HarleySkyAngel

American Woman Riders  www.americanwomanriders.com

Remember To Find Joy In Your Journey

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