Monday, June 4, 2012

Summary for Rolling Thunder, Kiwi Mike

I was honored to have been asked to do this build as I know it would mean so much to so many and hopefully it would make people smile and be proud.
Riding the bike all the way to Washington DC was a challenge I put upon myself riding on America's back roads, not freeways which would be the easy way out. To trailer this bike to me is against the rules. The Coast Guard puts itself on the line and to the test every single day and so did this bike which we appropriately named CG-1.
For this particular bike to be the lead bike in the Rolling Thunder parade was quite an honor to say the least. The Coast Guard normally would go last in the line up of the 5 services and honorary bikes however since she endured every challenge that was bestowed upon it crossing this great nation, to go 1st and be the lead dog was an extremely high honor. I was representing the Coast Guard and I wanted to do every Coastie proud. Mission accomplished!!!
This was my 1st experience visiting Washington DC and it has something meaningful to everyone who should visit. For me I connected with the 3 memorials, WWII, Vietnam and Korean Memorial. I was standing at the Korean Memorial comprehending what was before me and a Vet was having a problem putting flowers in a holder. I immediately bent down and cleaned out the hole with my pocket knife for him. He said that it was very important that every hole be filled with flowers as these guys didn't have the chance.
I went on to scale the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and stood where Martin Luther King gave his "I have a dream speech". I would never have imagined a 21 year old young man leaving New Zealand in 1982 would be here in the United States of America doing the things I have been able to do let alone build a bike for one of America's top Forces.
I had a very special request from a dear friend to “make sure I get the bike photographed next the Vietnam Wall Memorial”. Little did I know that this was an impossible task that was going to take nothing short of a miracle.
Just like the US military, it slipped in and then slipped out like no one was ever there. Mission accomplished!!!
In 2009 I became a US citizen and this project I felt was giving just a tiny bit back to such a great nation, its people, its services and POW MIA’s.
Throughout this build I was connected with current serving and retired Coast Guard men, women and military Vets who made a human connection for me and I wanted to serve them well.
This bike build was no small feat. One has to understand to build a masterpiece from a pile of junk parts is hard yaka (work). The frame and forks have to go through extensive straightening, other parts have to be tweaked and massaged while others need major repairs. Every single part has had my hand (as well as my craftsmen guys hands) on it in some way to master it to perfection as that's my way of doing things. Perfection, just like our servicemen and women perform every single day.
This bike has become part of me that I now give up for a greater cause for others to benefit from.
Yes I did get sentimental during my speech as this bike and the trip I embarked upon with it and what it now means to so many connected deep within me on a personal level like no other.
Here is my “I had a dream” speech.

"SEMPER PARATUS (Always Ready).
This original 1945 Indian Chief has patrolled the shores of California,
Endured the Mojave Desert,
Scaled the mountains of New Mexico,
Galloped across the Texas prairie,
Cruised the Nachez Trace Parkway,
Climbed the Blue Ridge Mountains,
Conquered the North Carolina Tail of the Dragon and
Slid to a stop at the Atlantic Ocean.
Like the Coast Guard, this bike never faltered in its mission. In 4133 miles, this vintage machine was always ready for its next challenge. SEMPER PARATUS!!!"

Thank you all for giving me an experience of a lifetime and to allow me to serve the Coast Guard so proudly.
Mike (Kiwi) Tomas

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pictures are up!

Go here to see the pics!

Ride to the Wall, Kiwi Mike Finale

Saturdays presentation of the bikes went real well.

Jay Allen’s Army bike was built about 8 years ago and it is the bike that gave him the idea for this whole thing.

The Air Force bike was built by Billy Lane. Billy’s bike was of Speedway styling. Bourget’s Marine bike was cool and Bridget made up a Vietnam era story about the bike. Dar of Brass Balls Bobbers created the Navy bike. It is interesting to see 5 builders all create something different from the other and each bike was great.

I get a bit sentimental when public speaking to crowds especially on stage about stuff like this that means so much. I’m always scared of messing up and forgetting something that I shouldn’t have. I think it went over pretty good.

While with our bikes in the staging area up on the stage before the presentation, a Military serviceman presented each of us builders with a special medallion. It read "Presented by Sergeant Major Bryan Battaglia, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Today was the big day for the ride through Washington DC starting at the Pentagon. It was an early start leaving the Hotel at 6.15 am. Off to downtown DC to pick up the bikes and then ride together to the Pentagon. While riding from the Hotel to downtown we were crossing the Potomac River bridge and a Coast Guard helicopter passes over us. I love it when a plan comes together.

I've never experienced Washington or anything like this before which are all powerful places to see. Ted, Walt and Ray started Rolling Thunder 25 years ago and have some pull in this town on this special day. This days ride is also signifies to show Washington that bikers and these good folks have a loud voice that will be heard.

It has been very hot and humid during the last few days here and another one again today.

Our friend and Editor of IronWorks magazine Marilyn Stemp jumped on Greg's bike for some non regular picture opportunities while Carolyn was on the back of CG-1. Chris Maida from American Iron Magazine was also in close proximity.

Staging took forever, from leaving the hotel at 6.15am till we actually rode off at the Pentagon at about 12 noon. A lot of hurrying up and waiting. While waiting at the Pentagon another Coast Guard helicopter did a couple of flyovers and circled us. I love it when plan 2 comes together. My mate Dar (Brass Balls Bobbers) built the Navy bike and I looked over at him and his builder Brian and said, top that one mate. We had a good laugh.

Riding out from the Pentagon, CG-1 lead the half million bikers out, wow what an exceptional honor. From then on all 5 bikes shared the lead. 2 other Bourget bikes tried crashing in on our parade and pushing their way to the front but I put a stop to that shit. I've been on rides before and they are very rude and like to muscle their way in front of the cameras like media Ho's. This was not going to happen on my shift and I made sure it did not.

We all equally put a lot of effort and TLC into our bikes and in my case I rode CG-1 across this great nation to the nations great Capital, Wash DC. No one was going to take anything away from those 5 bikes.

The ride traveled across the bridge, down Constitution, past the White House and Capitol Building. Wow what a sight. I couldn't help but engage the siren by these 2 buildings and throughout DC as it'll be the only time I'll be able to get away with it in my lifetime.

Half million riders leaving the Pentagon parking lot takes approx 5 hours. Wow. The veterans in this country are a very strong group and it was great to see them out in force. This was their day and they shined. It was a honor us builders could give back just a little.

Today will be the last day I get to ride CG-1 for a year. While I feel a loss of not being with her, I know the benefit it will bring to many others in all walks of life while on its tour across the US and abroad.

It truly has been an awesome experience being here in Washington DC. It’s still sinking in and it’s hard to believe that our list of fantastic experiences continued on this weekend. Afterwards we just sat next to the Pharmacudical building (on Constitution) on the grassy bank in the shade to take in all the bikes still entering Constitution. A marine stood at attention saluting every rider who entered Constitution. He never quivered even once in the extreme heat.  

My final part of my speech was as follows which I think is a nice way to say good bye till our next adventure. There will be more, a trip to Alaska and then an around the world adventure and yes, of course on Indians.

Enjoy the final words and thank you for sharing in our real life experiences and allowing us to be candid. Good bye until next time, it’s been one hell of a ride!!!

This is part of my speech which I gave upon the presentation of CG-1 up on stage that hits home of our ride accomplishment and the Coast Guard.

"SEMPER PARATUS (Always Ready).

This original 1945 Indian Chief has patrolled the shores of California, endured the Mojave Desert, scaled the mountains of New Mexico, galloped across the Texas prairie, cruised the Nachez Trace Parkway, climbed the Blue Ridge Mountains, conquered the North Carolina Tail of the Dragon and slid to a stop at the Atlantic ocean.

Like the Coast Guard, this bike never faltered in its mission. In 4133 miles, this vintage machine was always ready for its next challenge. SEMPER PARATUS"!!!