History of the ride
It was early in 2014 when Charley Barnes came across a story about how many World War II veterans we were losing every day; about 630 to be exact. The last known survivor from World War I living in the United States died in 2011 at the age of 110 and the last known survivor worldwide died in 2012 which brought World War II survivors to the forefront.
The Honor Flight Network was created in May 2005 by Earl Morse and Jeff Miller as a way of saying thank you to those survivors from World War II by taking them on trips to Washington D.C. to see the Memorial that was built to honor them. There are hubs in every state and the Honor Flights quickly evolved to include veterans from Korea and Vietnam as well. Charley has always been a huge supporter of our local hub, Honor Flight Northern Colorado, which was started in 2008 by Colonel Stan Cass, a helicopter pilot from Vietnam. To send a veteran from the Northern Colorado hub, the cost is $1000, Charley wanted to come up with a fundraiser to help pay those expenses. Many people who do fundraisers bake pies, wash cars, sell raffles tickets, etc. but in his words, he's really not good at any of those. He decided in April of 2014 he would do what he is really good at and make it a fundraiser. His passion is extreme endurance motorcycle riding and that was his tool.
One of the most difficult Iron Butt rides is called the 10-10ths where a rider must complete 10,000 miles in 10 days, or 240 hours. The ride clock starts when the first gas receipt is obtained and the 240-hour clock starts ticking. His idea was to raise $10,000 to send 10 veterans on the September 2014 Honor Flight from Northern Colorado. By the time he left on 4 June 2014, he had raised $35,000. He decided he would make it even more difficult and try something that had never been done before and that was to combine three extreme Iron Butt rides and do them at the same time. He started with the Border to Border Insanity ride which took him from across the Canadian border to across the Mexican border. Rules state it must be done in 24-hours and he did the 1,480 mile ride in about 22 hours. He got a few hour of sleep and then embarked on the Coast to Coast ride which took him from Point Loma beach in San Diego, California to Jacksonville beach in Jacksonville, Florida. Iron Butt rules give a rider 50 hours to do that and he did it in 46 hours; two solid days of about 1,270 miles each day. From there, it was up the East Coast before returning back home but when the 240-hour mark rolled around, he was less than 150 mile short of the 10,000 needed in that 240-hour span.
CRUSHING to say the least and very emotional considering all he had gone through.
He decided to try the ride one more time in 2015 but this time, his best friend, Mike Neuerburg would ride along with him in support of this monumental effort. The goal in 2015 was to raise $50,000 however, when the ride left on June 4th, $65,000 had been raised for Honor Flight Northern Colorado. This attempt would be plagued by mechanical breakdowns that were quite severe and the duo rode several legs of 36-hours or more, 1,800 mile stretches at one time to try and catch up on miles but when the 240-hour mark rolled around, it just wasn't going to happen but they promised 10,000 miles so they kept riding and extra two days to make up the lost time and miles. The daily stories that Charley wrote on both attempts can be viewed here on the website and are fascinating stories if you'd like to read them.
As they say, third time is a charm but as it turned out, 2016 would be plagued with more mechanical issues than can possibly be imagined. After many breakdowns with Charley's bike in Washington, California, and Arizona which included a broken head pipe, a faulty security system and broken fuel pump, the riders got back on track with another 24+ hour push and an all-nighter to gain back time. However, Charley's motor finally called it quits and left the duo stranded in Odessa, Texas for 5 days; officially ending the ride and forcing Charley to trailer his bike back home to Colorado.
Charley has decided to try this one last time and without a doubt, this is the last time. Since Charley was only 136 miles short of the 10,000 miles when he first attempted this ride, he has decided to go back to pretty much the same exact ride route with a few minor adjustments. The fundraising goal this year is $20,000 since there are two riders again with Mike Neuerburg riding and watching his 6.
None of the money being donated goes to the riders, all ride expenses for both Charley and Mike have been provided by numerous friends and family.
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