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My motorcycle riding buddies Pete and his wife Bun sent a message late last week inviting me to do a charity ride with them. The ride was on Saturday, a very uncharacteristically cold day for June. It turns out that this was to be Bun’s first ride since having major surgery back in November where part of her face had to be rebuilt. She is still recovering and only had her trach tube removed a couple of weeks ago. Of course, I was going to make that ride!

The ride was to be the last one of 20 annual rides. Sponsored by the Vermont Red Knights Motorcycle Club Chapter Two, Paul’s Ride originated in memory of Paul McAuliffe, and funds raised have been turned into gas cards to assist with travel expenses for folks being treated for cancer. According to retired Brattleboro Fire Chief David Emery, Paul’s Ride has given out about $40,000 in gas cards during the past 19 years. This has been done by a firefighters motorcycle club chapter in Vermont with just 42 active members! However, Emery said that Red Knight Chapters from New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, as well as the Monadnock Harley Owners Group, have been big supporters of Paul’s ride.

So what about the ride itself? It was exceptionally well planned, with a great route that took us into Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and then back to Vernon, Vermont where the ride originated. While I knew all the roads quite well, it was 100 miles of really good riding where we locals felt comfortable, and I’m certain that guests from out of the area found it scenic.

My friend Pete lead a small group of five riders. Pete was the Road Captain for the Monadnock Harley Owner’s Group for many years. I’ve followed along on rides with Pete and Bun for over 34 years, so regardless of road conditions, I rode with confidence. In our small party was a fellow that I got to know on a radio station-sponsored ocean cruise some 14 years ago. It was Brattleboro’s Fran Timney, and it was great to catch up with him. He told me that he had sold his motorcycle and that this was his last ride, he was hanging up his leathers and helmet for good. All motorcyclists will choose that eventually and it was sobering to think about it.

The best part of motorcycling for many, is the camaraderie when you spend time with others who enjoy the same pastime, and Paul’s Ride was no exception. At the end of the ride there was food and fun, and who could make an event more fun than Dave Emery, one of my favorite people? I suspect that he and his wife Shirley have put an enormous amount of work into this event over the years, and while it was my first time doing the ride, it is sadly the last. You can only do a work-intensive event for so many years, and the ride’s time has come to an end. However, as Dave happily explained to the attendees, Paul’s Ride as an entity will still gladly take your money and continue to supply gas cards for folks who need to travel for cancer treatment. Dave also noted that folks who have enjoyed Paul’s Ride for the past 20 years will continue to get together for a sort of remembrance ride to be announced in the future.

It is often true that the last of something is often the best. Paul’s ride certainly was memorable for me, and I’ve been on lots of charitable motorcycle rides over the years. This one was special. Thanks to the Red Knights Vermont Chapter two and the folks who planned and executed the ride over the past 20 years.

The Morning Almanac with Arlo Mudgett is heard Monday through Saturday mornings on radio stations Oldies KOOL FM 106.7, 96.3, and 106.5 and over Peak-FM 101.9 and 100.7.