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Posts Tagged ‘Oregon Veterans Motorcycle Association’

US-FlagGrilling, pool parties and retail discounts.  I’m talking about Memorial Day!

This coming Monday is a day to remember and honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.

So as you cue-up your music playlist for a ride on this holiday and/or prep the BBQ’s to spend time with family and friends, it’s important that we take a moment to pause and remember our fallen heroes.

If you’re looking for Oregon Memorial Day events to participate in then visit HERE.

Photo taken by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Flag-SpokaneWhen Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner” almost 200 years ago, he called America “the land of the free and home of the brave.”

Those words are as true today as they were back then.  Throughout our Nation’s history, American soldiers (Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coastguard) have bravely answered the call to defend our freedom.

Join me today, Veterans Day,  to honor all the men and women who have served our country and preserved our many freedoms.

Photo taken by author. 

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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The brass marker on the deck of the USS Missouri marking the spot of the signing of the surrender of Japan that ended WWII

The brass marker on the deck of the USS Missouri marking the spot of the signing of the surrender of Japan that ended WWII

Monday is Memorial Day, a day we remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.

Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a day of rememberance for those who have died in our nation’s service. It was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on Union and Confederate Soldiers graves in Arlington National Cemetery. Ever since, Americans have set aside a day in May to observe Memorial Day and pay tribute and honor those who died in defense of our nation.

For many of us it’s a holiday and in between the BBQ’s and spending time with family and friends, it’s important that we take a moment to pause and remember our fallen heroes.

Photo taken by author on the USS Missouri.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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“Redux” is often used in literature and film with the meaning of “brought back or restored.”

This time it applies to a motorcycle ride which took place back in 2008 under some clouds of controversy.  I won’t bore you with details of the past because it’s been 3+ years since that ride which had record attendance on a bright sunny fall day in the northwest.

Just mark your calendar as the Free The Colors ride is being resurrected from the ride “tool box” and planned for April 15th.

The ride is not about rules of engagement.  Rather it’s about a journey and it seems to me that the best trips in life invariably involve some detours and improvisation to smooth out the bumps in the road.  Sometimes when we’re lucky, they also involve motorcycles and meeting new friends.

And speaking of friends, the Oregon Veterans Motorcycle Association (OVMA) will be celebrating 22 years of service to Veterans, their families and the Community on Saturday, April 14th. The current State President, Stefan Dudley ‘Taz’ (HDE, Bend area), asked that the West Valley Chapter plan and run the Free The Colors ride on Sunday April 15, which will result in a full weekend for OVMA.

The ride route (see map) will start out at 12 noon (sharp) from the VFW Post #584 on 1469 Timber St, SE, Albany.  From there they will be going to Lebanon, visiting the site where a new Veterans Home will be built. Then on to Scio, visiting a Veterans Memorial, then to Jefferson, from there to I-5 N, they will be stopping at Rest Lawn Cemetery in W. Salem, (OVMA has a Memorial there), and from there to the Independence Veterans Memorial.  They plan to fit in a lunch and/or rest stop somewhere on the ride, and from there back to 99W down to Albany, and to the Legion.

There will also be a breakfast at the VFW from 9-11:45am

Hear that sound?  It’s time to ride and let the sun shine in on April 15th!

Poster photo and map courtesy of OVMA

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Stimulus_PlanStimulus watching as a lifestyle is boring.  I’d rather be motorcycle riding, but none-the-less how our tax $$ get spent has reached the Northwest Harley Blog.

The blog theme isn’t changing.  There are lots of sources for stimulus-related blogging that serious government-watchers can find. However, coffee drinking colleagues down at ‘bucks’ started tracking stimulus as part of their retirement concerns and because I’ve put energy into promoting Vet’s and Veteran Motorcycle Association topics in the past, I wanted to forward this information.

Nobody does spending plans—complete with color-coded spreadsheets and embossed covers full of eagles and seals and other important looking symbols—like the U.S. military. Check this report out (.pdf).  The stimulus bill, by the way, became law on February 17, 2009. The Pentagon plan was released on March 20th, right on the deadline.

You may recall the Recovery Act includes approximately $7.4B in Defense-related appropriations, which accounts for less than 1% of the total $787B stimulus package.  In the stimulus bill, Congress allocated $2.3B in construction funds to the Department of Defense. The surprising part is what the specific provisions require: No war-fighting facilities, but rather the construction of “child development centers,” “warrior transition complexes,” hospitals, family housing, renewable-energy projects, and, in general, infrastructure for the Pentagon’s softer and earth-friendly side of the business.  In part, they are going to put soldiers and their families ahead of big-ticket technology—or at least on equal footing and the Department intends to spend this funding with unprecedented transparency and accountability. 

milcomapFor those with military experience you might agree that given all its failures to live up to soldiers and their families, and for all of its catch-22 double-speak, anyone who walks around inside the U.S. military quickly sees that it is one of the best-run bureaucracies in the federal system.  The website, www.Recovery.gov, is the main vehicle to provide everyone with the ability to monitor the progress of the recovery.  The DoD also has a website HERE, which links to Recovery.gov. 

The DoD intends to spend its funds as quickly as possible in the following categories:

  • $4.2 billion in Operation and Maintenance accounts to improve, repair, and modernize DoD facilities, including energy-related improvements  
  • $1.3 billion in military construction for hospitals  
  • $240 million in military construction for child development centers  
  • $100 million in military construction for warrior transition complexes  
  • $535 million for other military construction projects, such as housing for the troops and their families, energy conservation, and National Guard facilities 
  • $300 million to develop energy-efficient technologies  
  • $120 million for the Energy Conservation Investment Program (ECIP)  
  • $555 million for a temporary expansion of the Homeowner’s Assistance Program (HAP) benefits for private home sale losses of both DoD military and civilian personnel  
  • $15 million for DoD Inspector General oversight and audit of Recovery Act execution  

I did a quick scan (.pdf) for Northwest based projects and notice Camp Withycombe, OR will get a Storm Sewer MILCON upgrade and the Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island, WA will have a new Water Distribution System & Energy Conservation.  There are several other projects embedded into the document specific to the northwest if you have a desire for more detail.

Photo courtesy DoD and blogger Steve Coll.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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For those of you participating in the Free The Colors Ride, below is the finalized OVMA ride route. The map is only an approximation of the ride route:

  1. (A) Join the ride at the beginning in McMinnville. Leave Shari’s parking lot at 11:00AM SHARP! Be there early.
  2. (B) Join the ride at the first scheduled stop. Leaving the parking lot of K-Mart on Hwy 22 in South Salem at 12:10PM SHARP! Be there early.
  3. (C) Next scheduled stop. I-5 Northbound Rest Area (near Wilsonville). Time will be contingent upon the time it takes to ride from South Salem to the rest area. Riders need to be there by 12:20PM SHARP!
  4. Ride will depart rest area and proceed toward Wilsonville to I-205 North to the Oregon City exit for McLoughlin Blvd to (D) Ross Island Bridge.
  5. Ride will cross over to 99W and proceed to King City. Will then head out on Durham Road back to I-5 South.
  6. Ride will proceed I-5 South to (E) Salem Harley-Davidson

Some other important items being communicated through various channels by the OVMA deserve being repeated:

Law Enforcement will be providing traffic control assistance and the OVMA has expressed their appreciation and gratitude.  This ride is to celebrate the OVMA and its 16 years of service to Oregon State veterans and their families, and to demonstrate their continued intentions to be good neighbors in the Oregon MC community-at-large.

As stated in previous blog post/comments HERE, the OVMA will not tolerate bad actors.  Attitudes should stay at home.  The OVMA will cooperate with Law Enforcement fully and on all matters, as they have in the past.  There is no plan nor was there ever any intent to route this ride anywhere near other MC clubhouse’s or any other organization’s meeting areas.

The OVMA State Road Captain is currently working on placement of riders, and assigning assistant Road Captains, and road guards to assist during the ride.  Flyers will be available and passed out with the appropriate hand signals for those who are unfamiliar with group riding.  It’s predicted we will have large numbers of riders show up for this ride.  If you  are unfamiliar with group riding and/or have a question please ask someone for assistance.

First and foremost is SAFETY along with showing courtesy on the road to others we will be sharing. This ride is about Freedom, Fellowship, Comrades-in-Arms, and Brotherhood.

The theme says it all – “For Those Who Fought For It – FREEDOM has a Flavor the Protected Will Never Know”

Enjoy the ride and be safe out there!

UPDATE: September 27, 2008 – The ride results are HERE.

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Most everyone has heard of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall.

We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall

The chorus got up the nose of England’s establishment as they viewed it a protest or anti-education song. It was a political knee-jerk reaction to a song that had little to do with the education system… it was about a much bigger topic of reminding people not to conform.

And speaking of non-conformance, if you’ve followed previous post/comments on this blog you’re already aware of the intimidation “rain clouds” creeping into the northwest.

But, did you know about the state-wide efforts this Saturday, October 25th as ‘Free the Colors’ Day? It’s a grassroots state-wide show of support for the Oregon Veteran’s Motorcycle Association’s (OVMA).  Riders from every corner of the state, regardless of affiliation are planning to support OVMA’s stand against intimidation.  You may recall that at the heart of Pink Floyd’s ‘Brick Wall’ story is how a group of school children from north London came to sing and express freedom on one of the music’s most iconic records… we’re not kids anymore so understand this freedom issue is bigger than just the OVMA.

Hopefully freedom to associate resonates with you and you’re planning to participate on October 25th.  For any non-OVMA biker friends, if you do ride on ‘Free the Colors Day’ on behalf of the OVMA, you can show your support by flying America flags and/or tying a twist of blue ribbon and gold ribbon on your bike or around your right arm (the colors of the OVMA) as a sign of support.  The support will help send a message.  For those riders who plan to join the OVMA West Valley Chapter sponsored ride:

  1. Join the ride at the beginning in McMinnville.  They will leave Sharis parking lot at 11:00AM SHARP!  Be there early.
  2. Or join the ride at the first scheduled stop.  They will be leaving the parking lot of K-Mart on Hwy 22 in South Salem at 12:10PM SHARP!  Be there early.
  3. Or join the ride at the only other scheduled stop.  I-5 Northbound Rest Area (near Wilsonville).  Time will be contingent upon the time it takes to ride from South Salem to the rest area.  Riders need to be there by 12:20PM SHARP!
  4. The ride route will be determined by the OVMA State Road Captain and approved by their State President.

OVMA member ‘Pappy’ has assigned the following statement to the run which represents what they would like to make known: ‘For Those Who Fought For It – Freedom Has a Flavor The Protected Will Never Know’

UPDATE: September 27, 2008 – The ride results are HERE.

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Army Harley-Davidson

Army Harley-Davidson

Military life is a lot about adrenaline (shooting weapons, parachuting out of planes, repelling from Blackhawks, etc.), not to mention the amount of testosterone filled “hoorah” recruits go through during basic that gives many the feeling of invincibility.

However, military personnel and motorcycles are a lethal combination as the News Observer reports that since 9/11, more American troops have died in off-duty motorcycle accidents than fighting in Afghanistan.

I’m not going to debate if the military personnel buy high-powered motorcycles and hit the streets to burn off adrenaline, testosterone or boredom.  Or if it’s due to a lack of maturity, a lack of training or inexperience riding powerful sport bikes.  Or if it’s due to psychological stress that lingers returning home from combat.  I’m interested, but will leave that to the experts to determine.

I want to talk about motorcycle accidents and Dealer responsibility.  But, first a couple of background facts:

  1. All military branches of the armed forces have seen significant increases in motorcycle fatalities.
  2. As of October 1st, 24 deaths have occurred in the Marine Corp which breaks the previous record of 19 fatalities set the year before. Nine of the 24 were from Camp Pendleton. In 2000, when the Marine Corps started keeping track of motorcycle fatalities, seven riders died.
  3. The Marines have had a higher fatality rate than the civilian population, according to Peter Hill, head of engineering with the safety division at Marine Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C.
  4. A survey of motorcycle use in the Marines, has so far counted 17,348 riders nationwide, 56 percent of them on fast sport bikes, and the count is projected to reach about 25,000.
  5. Military personnel are required to take a three-day basic rider course or a one-day experienced rider course before they are allowed to ride on/off base. However, most know how to get around the requirement by storing motorcycles off-base either at dealers or friends home.
  6. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there are about 7.5 fatalities per 10,000 civilian riders. In the Marine Corps, the rate was about 9.5 per 10,000 riders this year, according to Marine Corps statistics.
  7. For every mile traveled, motorcyclists are about 32 times as likely to be killed as someone in a car, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  8. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, sport motorcycles generally weigh half as much as a cruiser-style motorcycle and have about twice the horsepower.
  9. In the civilian population, the fatality rate is four times higher on a sport bikes than on a cruiser.
Marines Walk By Sportbikes

Marines Walk By Sportbikes

I’ve written previously on motorcycle safety HERE, HERE and on alcohol related accidents HERE.  I’m sadden by the above statistics and especially dislike reading about our young veterans getting injured or killed on motorcycles.  Many AFTER they’ve returned from the Gulf.  My efforts here are to bring visibility of a growing problem and maybe in some small way help reduce motorcycle fatalities.

But, let’s return to the role of the motorcycle dealer and their prevention responsibility, if any.  First, I fully believe they have a lot of responsibility as the first line of “defense” so-to-speak and doing a good job of “fitting” motorcycle to customer, but unfortunately know they are also simply a corporation that makes money selling motorcycles and motorcycle accessories. The owners of these dealers and the manufactures they represent want you to believe they are biker’s best friend, but at the end of the day it’s all about business and what will bring them the most sales volume and the best return on their investment.  I’m not arbitrarily discounting their genuine desire to avoid or prevent motorcycle accidents, but most all dealer’s have many more requirements to rent/ride a motorcycle from their business than they do to purchase one!  Some dealers pass out vouchers for customers to attend local safety classes, but do you think a sales person would ever say… “You are just not ready for that 175mph super bike, let’s put you in a big scooter” or “Sorry, but that chrome laden Ultra Glide is just too heavy a motorcycle for you and might I suggest that you step into a Sporty”.  Yeah right like that would ever happen!  

Yet another example of the great lengths that dealers/manufactures will go to catch the military personnel attention is the rising popularity of motorcycle sales at overseas military exchanges, which offer two American makes, Harley-Davidson and Buell, at bargain prices. After the Afghanistan war started, sales jumped nearly 50 percent, to more than 4,000 a year thru this channel, and have held steady, according to figures provided by the different services’ exchanges. At exchanges in the two combat zones alone, troops bought more than 1,500 motorcycles in 2005 (last year of stats) and took delivery of them on their return to the U.S.

I know it’s crucial to draw a line between courage and recklessness.   Knowing your limits, respecting others on the road, proper training, and being completely aware of what’s going on around you are all factors in why people stay alive on a motorcycle.  Now if we could recalibrate the mentality of the dealer network from the operator assumes all responsibility mind-set to more along the lines of it being critical to reducing fatalities and maintain your customer base.  If you’re in the “channel” I welcome your comments or ideas…

Want more training info?  Look at a MSF course which is an intensive two or three day classroom and riding course supervised by expert riders. Or if you’re a veteran be a life-long learner and take a refresher course.  Team Oregon has consistently been rated very high in motorcycle training too.

Marine photo courtsey of North County Times and Hayne Palmour IV – Staff Photographer

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“I sure as sh*t seen everything now.” – Bartender

I didn’t start with that quote just because it’s funny….I stuck it in because I can relate.  When it comes to motorcycle “clubs” there is a part of me that admires the so called “outlaw biker”.  They turned riding in the wind into something to live for.  They made the motorcycle the cornerstone of their identity and it’s the metaphor for their personal freedom.  Hollywood romanticizes this image.  In fact, many outlaw bikers envision themselves as social rebels who promote personal freedoms, by exercising their right to choose and their freedom to associate.

I figured I’ve seen pretty much everything in all my years on this earth, but I was caught off guard by the number of comments  from people who expressed outrage here and on many other motorcycle “boards” about the topic of large 1%er “clubs” trying to dominate thru intimidation and impose their will on other clubs. I didn’t even write the article, but the comments had a life of their own!  Sometimes clubs are forced into, or willingly accept, “support” roles for a 1%er club. Smaller clubs who resist a large 1%er club have “voluntarily” been forcibly disbanded, e.g. told to hand over their colors or risk war.  In turf wars, patches feud not people, but people get hurt.

OVMA

OVMA

Should we care about 1%er business?  Not really.   The “hornet theory” (leave them alone and they will leave you alone) has served most of us motorcycle enthusiasts well.  We’ve certainly read press reports that the larger 1%er MCs are rivals with each other and have fought over territory, patch rivalry and other issues…as the local CoC (Confederation of Clubs) work to eliminate most of these interclub issues.  But this isn’t about 1%er rivalry.  It’s about the Oregon Veterans Motorcycle Association (OVMA or cached version HERE), a legally registered non-profit organization with a membership of 600 and 12 chapters state-wide, who have been ordered to close its doors by October 24th by a 1%er “club” in Oregon.

I do care about my personal rights.  I’m talking about the constitution and the right of free assembly, the right to privacy, the right of free association and the right to defend ourselves against oppressors, both foreign and domestic.  These are the very rights that I connected to those social rebels, the so called outlaw biker who has been vocal in evangelizing those freedoms for all.  But isn’t this hypocrisy?

The issue of “clubs” preying on each other which then spills over to preying on all of us…means you and I in the biker community loose.  I grew up in a time when everyday life was simple…you worked, obeyed the law, cared for your family, looked out for your neighbors and respected your country.  At least that was the creed of the working class, which does most of the of the country’s heavy lifting.  How is this any different than the “Crips” or “El Norte” street gang doing their best to instill fear in local area residents?  If certain groups among us are successful of shutting down a legal non-profit veterans organization then who is the next target from the mainstream motorcycle clubs or riding associations?  Is it the Harley Owners Group, Honda Riders Club of America or the BMW Riders Association?  Or maybe it’s the Patriot Guard Riders, who provide funeral escorts for military veterans?

A larger issue is the very real dangers regarding laws and legislation that is not specific and general in nature with regard to “clubs” or gangs and how those clubs are defined. When laws and legislation are not specific or is left to individuals or even the court’s interpretation and discretion… we should have cause for concern. It’s very likely that some opportunistic politician will leverage this situation, evangelize how Biker gangs are out of control in Oregon and use it to introduce a bill in Salem that will limit motorcycle association rights.  They are probably scheduling a press briefing right now to tell us how its “good for the motorcycle economy”!

Don’t believe it’s possible?  Then check out how Myrtle Beach decided to eliminate motorcycle rallies! Where is the line on a rally vs. an event in the legal system?  Well the attorney’s will get wealthy because the litigation is starting and it’s the first of motorcycle association rights that effect you.

So, in the interest to educate the motorcycle enthusiasts of the northwest mark your calendar on October 25th.  It’s called “Free The Colors”, a grassroots initiative in Oregon inspired by “Pappy” and I’m helping to bring visibility.  See more information HERE.  On that day every rider regardless of club affiliation should openly and peacefully support the OVMA’s courageous stand against intimidation.

Let’s exercise our right to peaceful assembly, to choose and defend our personal freedom of association with the OVMA while honoring our veterans.  I’m just one person advocating for a just society.  Now excuse me while I go rent a Mary Poppins video and buy a popsicle for little Billy (before he gets hooked on meth)…

UPDATE: October 19, 2008 – Ride details available HERE for Free The Colors Day.

UPDATE: September 27, 2008 – The ride results are HERE.

OVMA photo courtsey of web site.  Legal books courtsey of  VBI.

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Every year on Memorial Day, many of us pay tribute to all those who have died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day was first observed in May 30, 1868 as a way in which the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers would be decorated with flowers.  The holiday’s name was changed in 1971 and became a federal holiday.

The Oregon Veterans Motorcycle Association is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to Vets who ride motorcycles in Oregon.  There were many observances across the state from Eagle Point National Cemetery (Medford), to Willamette National Cemetery in Portland.  I spent some time there earlier and even with a mix of cool and not-so-nice weather, looking over the acreage and thousands of flags is a solemn reminder and incredible site.

I wanted to do a “shout-out” to all those in our Armed Forces serving in combat areas now and to those who have served to defend our country and our freedoms in the past.

Thank you seems hardly enough, but it’s one small way to remember and take pause for our Veterans.

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