SCRC Loudoun VA Featured Member - March, 2009

Name:   Dan Matthews

Marital Status:  I am very married! My wife, Robin, and I met in essence the first year my family moved to Upton. I was six and she was four. We were friends immediately and while always saw each other we never were an item until our teens. We were married very young, impending parenthood being the principal reason. Robin was 16 (but only for two days) and I was 18. That was 1971 - here we are now some 37 years later, still friends after all these years. As kids, we attended the same church, we lived 1.1 miles apart, visited the same soda fountain in the center of town, she was in the drill team and I was in the band so we saw each other all the time.

Location:  Ashburn, VA and Panama City Beach, FL

Hometown:  I was born in Newton Massachusetts (November 19th, 1952) and spent my first six years there. In 1958 my family moved from the concrete jungle of the Boston suburbs to a dairy town in the south, central part of the Commonwealth, a town called Upton. In Upton we lived on a vegetable farm (part-time farm, my dad worked for AT&T) of over 100 acres and lived what is essentially a rural country life. Adventure was my favorite school subject and I did as much of it outside the stuffy confines of the school as I could - in other words as I grew older, I grew more absent - cars, speed and girls crowded out school. Not worry - I finished school and college and Graduate School.

Children:  We have a daughter, Tracy Cunningham, age is 37. She, her husband and two boys, Jim, Matthew and Aaron, live in Dayton, Oh. We have one son, James Roland or Rollie (as Robin calls him) or JR (as I call him) or Jim as his friends call him. The whole name thing for JR is a long story - perhaps around the campfire I will relay the story. A shortened version is I wanted another child but was shipped of to Southeast Asia (Thailand) at the end of the Vietnam War and Robin didn't want to be with child while I was on a "combat" tour. When I came home I no longer wanted a child and the story of the "boy" is in the compromise!!

Age:  I am now 56 and eligible for a fully funded retirement!! It don't get no better than that!

Occupation:  Computers. Subsequent to marriage plans I enlisted in the United States Air Force. During my time in the USAF I trained as a computer operator and programmer. I have since been employed by Sheller Globe (they print the Readers Digest Condensed books), Warner and Swasey Corp (they make Gradall back-hoes that tear up the highways) and Lockheed Martin (over 20 years now). In 2003 I was appointed by President Bush as the Chief Information Officer of the United State Department of Transportation and elected by the CIO's of the 25 largest Departments to be the representative of all CIO's to the White House. My biggest kick was a day at the DAR Hall waiting for President Bush to address the Senior Executives. Secretary Norman Y. Mineta introduced me to the entire Cabinet - everyone except Donald Rumsfeld, the one cabinet officer that was not in the building as one cabinet appointee must always be absent to assure continuity of the Union. Needless to say it was an awesome event.

Current motorcycle(s):  Okay, in my early teens I learned to ride on a Vespa scooter. It was fun. From there I moved to a Honda 350. With a baby at home, being in the USAF and living in Virginia (yep, that is how we got here) I stopped riding bikes. My son (Army Airborne) was sent to Uzbekistan after 9/11. When he returned home he was a changed young man. As a part of his therapy (self imposed) he bought a Harley Custom Softail and rode to reflect and consider things. Having served in Southeast Asia I was sure I knew what he was feeling. So, I announced to Robin that I wanted to buy a bike and ride with my son - just cuz I love him and war really sucks! After some negotiations, I bought an '06 H-D Heritage and I trailered it to North Carolina where JR and I rode for three straight days. His wife, also a rider, understood what was happening and let us have our space. Now I own the Heritage and an '09 Ultra Classic - cuz I love to cruise great distances with the stereo blasting. My aim is ride that bike straight into hell, with the stereo blaring and the American flag waving. Along side the flag will be the POW-MIA flag - did you know the US left over 2,700 MIA in Southeast Asia? Yep, and that is why I support Rolling Thunder, a day to remember 2,700 Americans who never came home to Mom, Dad, wife, brother, sister, babies! They are lost in the jungle somewhere - in Hell's permanent casket!

How did you hear about the SCRC and when did you join?
MaryAnn (Lady SpeedGo) mentioned the club to me. It seemed like something I was interested in - a club that didn't care about the bike you rode - it cared about the rider and the ride. BINGO!

How long have you been riding?

Have you ever taken a motorcycle safety course?
Yep, and loved it! What a cute little thing that Honda Rebel was. I rode it and made putt-putt sounds the entire time.

What was your first bike?
Vespa scooter that topped out around 35 MPH.

How many bikes have you owned?

Why do you ride?
The freedom of the road and the openness of the motorcycle capture my imagination. I like the scenery, the smells and the breeze.

Have you ridden with an organized group before?
Yes, HOG Chapters. Groups of 4-12 are a lot of fun.

What modifications have you done to your bike?
The Ultra has only one change - addition of an electronics hook-up for the Garmin. The Heritage has pipes, PCIII, many electronics added, cruising seat, heated grips, etc.

What accessories do you want to add to your bike?
None. But, you never know!

What is your dream bike?
The Ultra.

What kind of riding do you like to do — straight-aways or twisties?
Twisties are a lot of fun. But, while cruising through Appalachicola National Forest in Florida the road was straight and flat - what I thought would be a so-so ride. Well, the forest is a massive stand of ram-rod straight Ponderosa Pines and they were standing on the left and the right at the roads edge. It was like riding in a chute and the aroma of pine was powerful. For 20 minutes the ride was a terrific treat and it gave me a stronger love for Florida. So, in the final analysis I know I will love seeing the great stretches of America's highways across the Great Plains and into the desert southwest. Sign me up for scootin' down the straight-aways.

If you have a nickname, how did you get it? Tell the truth!
Tell the truth! It's Dan and my mother gave it to me.

What is your favorite riding route?
Yikes? I haven't had them all, have I? So far it is US 60 across Florida. From Tampa to Cocoa Beach. You pass through cities and sea-sides; orange groves and cattle ranches. If you don't watch you petrol you can discover there is a stretch about 60 miles where there are no gas stations and no cell signal.

Do you ride your bike to work?
Yes, but not more than every two weeks - work requires me to wear a suit and to come and go through DC so my car is best.

What is the fastest you’ve ridden?
Over 120.

What is your favorite time of year to ride?

Have you ever been down? If so, how were you hurt and what did you learn from the incident?
Yes. I learned that motorcycles can be dangerous. Stay awake, stay alert and never, never take your eyes off all the points of an intersection - including behind you. I don't think I broke anything but I might have cracked my collar-bone. I had a massive case of road rash that was filled with dirt and sand - I crashed on a dirt road at about 30-35 MPH. I am sure I got a lot of the speed off before I hit the ground. Also, I have learned that some days you just aren't alert and when that happens it is better to stay off the bike until you "clear-up".

Have you ever done an "Iron Butt" ride?
960 Miles is the longest. I did look into doing an "official" Iron Butt but then decided there was enough going on that I didn't want to concentrate on making the ride an official "Iron Butt" ride. Hey, what was another 40 miles??

If not, what is the furthest you’ve ridden?
One trip was 960 miles to ORlando. The longest single day was 545 miles.

What was the worst weather in which you’ve ridden?
When I led a ride up to Shanksville, PA to the memorial site of Flight 93 it snowed, rained, sleeted and had pea-soup thick fog. Very scary - VERY SCARY!! Fog scares the heck out of me.

Do you know how to work on your bike?
Yes - but I no longer do it unless its absolutely necessary. It always takes longer than you think and I hate it when there is a screw left over!

What is your favorite road song?
Wow - one favorite song?? Man, I listen to tunes all the time when I ride. But, if I had to pick just one that sums up riding for me it would be Johnny Cash's Ghost Riders in the Sky (The Outlaws have a version as well). I will play it during the ride briefing the next time I lead a ride!

A close second is Billy Joel's "Still in Saigon". Did I ever mention that there are over 2,700 US Servicemen still on the battlefield - left behind, though we NEVER leave America's sons (and daughters) behind. Loved one's at home don't even have a grave for their babies - but, that is a different story!

What was your most adventurous ride?
Riding the gauntlet at Bike Week in Daytona - sheer lunacy!

What rallies or events do you like to attend?
Rolling Thunder. Why you ask? Imagine this. Every state in the union has an SCRC Chapter present with 50 members for a ride somewhere. It would be 2,500 riders and would look like three of the 10 wide columns at Rolling Thunder. That represents the number of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines that we (the US) left in Vietnam. We left them behind, we no longer ask Vietnam to account for them and we never mention them. Anyway, that is what Rolling Thunder is really all about - not a rally at all. This year let's walk all the way over to the front of the line and meet some of the Vietnam Vets that still carry the banner of remembrance.

Is there someone who rides "two-up" with you?
Robin, my wife, when she wants to.

Off the cuff from...Dan
I love to ride with my son. Hands down, any ride with him is the best ride I have ever been on. We are planning to ride to Cooperstown's Baseball Hall of Fame this year - I can't wait.

Okay now here is a real piece of me. I was born and raised in the Northeast - I hate it. I am in love with the South and all things western. I love America and have great trouble with things we have done as a nation. I will defend her to the end but question her at every turn. Family is very, very important. Five minutes after you leave your job they will not remember you but your family will. So, families matter. I really do not have any answers but I have faith that the Almighty knows the answers and that is because He wrote the questions. And there you have me: God, country and family.

Now, sit down, shut up and let's ride!