For those of you not yet familiar with my recent rants about Hogs For Dogs, let me give you a quick rundown. Two good friends are riding their '04 Ultras with Harley sidecars around the country on a 48-state, 8-9 month journey to raise awareness of and funds for the Guide and Assistance Dog community. More than just the "seeing-eye" dogs we're all used to hearing about, assistance dogs help the mobility and hearing impaired as well. Millions of people are affected and no Federal monies are available to raise, train and place assistance dogs with those who need help.
In each of those sidecars will be Max and Bailey - two large Golden Retrievers who act as the 'spokesmen' for the cause. A really good and informative website is available at www.HogsForDogs.org for more detailed information.
The Outer Banks Bike Week was a perfect pre-ride shakedown cruise for the Hogs For Dogs team. Held three weeks before the May 1st departure, this weekend ride to Nags Head on the Outer Banks was a final opportunity for a fully loaded test of their riding and packing skills.
I'll give no excuse for shaming you into going to their website, getting familiar withtheir cause and asking you to donate. For those of us who can still throw a leg and ride off into the sunset, a little helping hand to those who just want some help opening a door, crossing the street or answering a phone is the least we could do.
With this being a 48-state ride for charity, hundreds of people are already stepping forward to help them in their little part of the country... from someplace to stay to help with local media events. Even local schools are jumping into this in a big way with fundraising events and donations. Think about what you can do to help, too.
OH... as of this writing, they've recieved very positive interest from Jay Leno and the Tonight Show, Oprah, and several of the National Morning shows... time will tell which will come through, but from the response we've seen from local media sources, this will be a big event.
The day started off early, 7:00am at Griffin's Diner in north Raleigh for breakfast with the Hogs For Dogs event coordinator, and Board Member, Steve Metz. Steve also acts as Activities Coordinator for the Raleigh H.O.G. Group, and works at IBM helping to maintain accessibility standards for their Websites. Granted 7am was fairly early for me, especially coming from Durham, 30 miles away, but this was going to be a fun and very leisurely ride to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We wanted to get an early start.
15 miles further west, we picked up Jesse, a fellow H.O.G. member and someone who wanted to join us on the ride. Jesse was riding a really sweet custom Fat Boy, and riding behind our two Ultras at 70 mph, bore the brunt of the morning chill. By the time we pulled over near Greenville, to wait for the two HFD rigs to join us from Goldsboro, Jesse was a bit frosty on the edges. He was shivering so hard his coffee was spilling over on the edges - hopefully warming up his blue hands.
Blaine and Janet, on their Ultras and their custom sidecars to accommodate the star attractions, Max and Baily, pulled up moments later and immediately gathered a crowd. Donations were already being put into the can and some local media people already stumbling onto the event asking for coverage. I hope they build in a lot of delays on their trip, cause this turned out to be pretty normal throughout the weekend.
Pic #09 and 10 were a short rest stop along the way on Hwy 264. Long enough for a few cigars for us and a bowl of water for the dogs. Pic #11 is just as we entered Manteo, NC on the mainland side of the new bridge going to the Banks. I always stop at The Weeping Radish for a litre of their darkest draft beer. That and a sampler plate of German sausages and a bowl of onion rings - just a mid-day snack, mind you! Later on that day - after checking into the motel overlooking the ocean in Nags Head, we all met at Tortuga Lies for dinner - excellent food and cold beer! Follow that with a ride to Kelly's for a beach party (too many people, too loud and too many guys in one room) where we spent most of the evening in the parking lot among hundreds of others, shooting the shit and drinkin' beers.
This is a roof-top view of the Poker Run Headquarters, after many of them already took off on the run.
I had met Maurice and Kevin, the Owner and General Manager, respectively, for the Nags Head/ Elizabeth City and Portsmouth dealerships along this coast on my earlier ride called Rumble Through the Tunnels. They both came over for a picture (#22 and #23) and pledged their support for a mid-summer event when Blaine and Janet come back east after covering the middle states. Might be a good contact to have for their first tire changes, too.
We skipped most of the Poker Run stops, and took a 60 mile ride down the sliver of sand to Hattaras, and stopped in at The Reef Restaurant where stop #4 of the poker run was to be. Backing the dogs up into the shade, we seemed to gather as big a crowd as the poker draw table. The pups did their best to look bored with the whole thing, to the amusement of everyone watching.
We took a quick stop in front of Cape Hattaras Lighthouse, and then the 60 mile ride back to the dealership for the final activities and prizes.
From here, we went back to the condo, put away the camera and had a fun evening - steak dinner, and a couple hours bullshit on the balcony. We met back the next morning for the expected wet ride home - we weren't surprised when the sky's opened up and thunder cracking all around us, so we took shelter under an abandoned Gas station canopy.
All in all, it was a great ride - proved their rigs held up well, all needed items stowed away adequately and their homemade sun covers for the dogs worked all right. Blaine and Janet peeled off near Tarboro, Jesse near Knightdale and Steve in Raleigh, while I pulled in with a group of other riders for the ride home to Durham.
As for the future of the Outer Banks Rally? I do think it'll catch on. April is a dead month on the East Coast and it is a beautiful place to ride...can be a tad chilly still in April, though.
I have equal confidence in the Hogs For Dogs venture. I urge you to check it out at http://www.HogsForDogs.org and see what you can do to get involved. Their goal is to donate over 90% of the proceeds to the various Assistance Dog groups who have signed on as Charity Partners. The website will have many updates throughout the ride, at least weekly, so you can check out their progress. This is a good thing they're doing, so hop on in.
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