An early nap turns into a big surprise.
It’s Thursday, November 21st, and it’s a brisk morning in North Carolina. Myself, GWRRA President Abel Gallardo and photographer Carl Schultz are all here to meet a man with an 18-wheeler that’s carrying some very special cargo. In just under an hour, the three of us, along with several other GWRRA Members, will be dropping off that package to its new home and new owners. Assuming he wakes up, anyways.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take a moment to talk about what this mysterious package is, where it came from and where it’s going, shall we?
A Ticket to Ride
In the Fall of 2012, GWRRA came into possession of a brand new 2012 Honda Gold Wing in black. It was a beautiful bike, and after some debate around the office, it was decided that we should give it away to one of our Members. The contest was called Ticket to Ride, and everyone was eligible to win. Someone was going to take home that Gold Wing, it was just a matter of finding out who.
In the interim, the bike sat parked in the front room of GWRRA Headquarters, safe from the elements and there for anyone who came in to see. It sat there for at least nine months, and then, almost a year to the date after the purchase was made, we held a drawing to determine who would be taking the bike home. There were 163,000 entries, and to find out who would be the lucky recipient, Abel picked a random number using Random.org. Shortly thereafter, a winner was determined.
2,160 miles away from the Home Office, Steve Crane and his wife, Trisha, are hanging out at home. Steve owns a Gold Wing himself, a 2008 that he picked up from a nearby Cycle Center with just 10k on the odometer. It was supposed to be his last bike ever — he had ridden before, but now, with his wife involved, he wanted something that could carry both of them in comfort. No reason to get anything else, he was just fine. That’s when he gets a phone call on his cell phone.
The caller explains that they can’t talk to Steve, they actually need to talk to his wife. Why? Because it’s a surprise for Steve, that’s why, and so he passes the phone to his wife and goes on his way.
Now for anyone else, this might have aroused suspicion, but not Steve. Through a wacky coincidence, it turned out that his birthday fell right around the time of this phone call. As such, he assumed that this mystery caller was just helping out for a surprise party or something similar, so he decided to stay out of it. Shortly thereafter he forgot all about the phone call and went on his way.
Meanwhile, Trisha is ecstatic. After working out the logistics and taking care of some of the behind-the-scenes work, she arranges a time when we can come out and deliver the bike. More coordination happens, flights are booked and hotel rooms locked in. On November 7th, the ’12 Gold Wing was loaded into the back of a trailer managed by JC Motors, and set off for its cross-country journey. As for the Abel, myself and Carl, well it was time for a road trip.
A Plan in Action
The amount of coordination that goes into shipping a motorcycle across the country, giving it to someone and keeping it a surprise is fairly difficult, particularly when so many people know so much about it. But amazingly, Steve was blissfully unaware of what was coming his way down the interstate. Come November 20, Abel, myself and Carl hopped on our flights and headed out to North Carolina, ready to deliver Steve’s surprise.
As usually happens with these types of things, we ran into a snag along the way. Initially, the bike was going to be delivered around 1pm, which meant that we had planned our day around that schedule. But a last-minute change required us to give the bike away at 10am instead, which meant that we had to do some hustling. Steve and Trisha lived about a 90-minute drive away from the nearest airport, which was also where us three were located. So we packed up and left early to meet the truck at a Food Lion in Steve’s hometown, taking off around 7:30am.
We had put out the word to the local Chapter Members, and around 15 people showed up to witness the event. They had all kept the secret, and were as excited as we were to give the bike away. Then came the next kink in our plan, and one that a Member had already worked out for us.
Steve and Trisha live in a very nice community, surrounded by a golf course and lots of trees. To get to their house, you can either go right and get there quickly, or go the back way to the left and circle around. To keep things stealthy, we were told by that Member (whose name I never found out) that we should take the back route, unload the bike and then Steve should be in the dark. We formed a caravan, and drove towards the house as quietly as possible.
Once there, I cleaned up the bike with some Meguiars polish and Quik Detailer, then we ran into our next snag. Initially, we were going to roll the bike up quietly so that we didn’t have to turn it on. But now we found ourselves at the bottom of a hill, and no safety gear to ride the bike ourselves. Again, a Member came to the rescue (and again, I didn’t get their name), and rode the bike up to Steve house. He parked it in the driveway, and that’s when Carl, myself and Abel made our approach.
Trisha met us at the door, full of smiles. As it turned out, Steve had taken a nap and was passed out in his study. After the three of us snuck inside, Trisha woke Steve up and told him that he had visitors. When he walked out, sleep still in his eyes, Abel introduced himself and explained that he was in the area and wanted to welcome Steve to GWRRA. Wait, did we forget that part?
Steve is a new GWRRA Member. He signed up in August, and only had one entry into the Ticket to Ride contest. Just one.
Back to the story.
As Abel and Steve walk out the front door and to the right towards the driveway, Abel says, “We don’t normally welcome all of our new Members to the Association but … “ and that’s when Steve saw the Gold Wing for the first time, surrounded by his friends and fellow Members. Abel handed him the keys and shook his hand. “Congratulations Steve, it’s yours.”
With that, the still stunned Steve walked over to the bike, full of smiles.
Not the End
After an hour or so of talking, we learned a lot about Steve, Trisha and their history with motorcycles. For Steve, having a safe bike that was fun to ride for both himself and his wife was paramount, which is why they bought the ’08. But now that they have their ’12 GL1800, they’ve got two rides to choose from. Not too shabby.
As we packed up our cameras and said our goodbyes, I asked Steve what was next on his plate for the day. He turns to Trisha and says, “Wanna go for a ride?”
Congratulations to Steve and Trisha on their new Gold Wing. Here’s to wishing them many long and safe rides in their future.
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