*Submitted by Why We Ride fan, Jeff Christian.
As a 17-year-old who snuck his way into the Army in early 1942, little did he know that the Tank Destroyers training at Camp Hood, Texas would soon be training on Harley ’42 WLAs. Iron was in his blood from that day forward. He walked alongside halftracks after they landed on Omaha Beach at D-Day +8 all the way across France, mainly just to stay alive. But it was the motorcycles back at Camp Hood that fueled his dreams.
I thought about my grandfather, Floyd Patterson, and his time in the war as I listened again to the song “Men of Iron” from the “Why We Ride” soundtrack. I thought about how much I loved riding on the back of his beat up Shovelhead in the mid-1970s. He would throw me on the back of his motorcycle to go out into the pastures to chase the cows. Those Beefmaster cows and steers must have considered us a strange sight, a leather-skinned Irishman in a cowboy hat on a Harley hauling around a five-year-old toehead with a Dutch-boy haircut.
Plain and simple, the iron in his blood somehow made it into mine. I have been riding now for over twenty years, all over Texas and many of the surrounding states. Thousands of miles, and almost every one of them feels a connection to him, even though he died when I was only 12.
The look and feel of the WLAs from the war, his ratted out Shovelhead that did not even have a kickstand—(he just laid it against a wall in the carport)—and my bike today are all connected by the iron in our blood. My own simple answer to why I ride is that I have never known anything different. I cannot imagine anything better than a two-mile ride to work, or a thousand-mile ride from Houston to Denver. But with every mile I ride, long or short, sunshine or rain, the feel of iron in my blood only grows more obvious.
About the Author:
Jeff “Truck” Christian is a member of the Houston chapter of the Gypsy Motorcycle Club. He is currently in the middle of a writing/riding project called “10,000 Truths” at http://trucksjourney.blogspot.com/
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