Veterans cross-country motorcycle ride to stop in Steamboat
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Small-town America has a special kind of magic. That’s why the annual Veterans Charity Motorcycle Ride will be stopping in Steamboat to have lunch Thursday.
“These men and women have fought and blown up and given so much of their body, mind and soul protecting this great country. You know how few of them have seen these parts of the country? Very few of them,” charity ride founder and U.S. Army veteran Dave Frey said. “And most of them have been withdrawing from society and the community.
“Our program is gearing them back into society and the community. We love coming to places like Steamboat.”
Inspired by his own cross-country ride in 2014, Frey started the group motorcycle ride in 2015, taking wounded and amputee veterans from Los Angeles to Sturgis, South Dakota. This year, the ride starts in Las Vegas because Frey has discovered that the mountains are a favorite for riders.
The idea is simple: Take Veterans across the country to help them assimilate back into civilian life by interacting with small communities.
In years past, the ride has stopped in Craig because U.S. Army veteran David Grabowski knew Frey from his unit overseas.
“It’s fantastic. For the first two years, I just helped when they stopped in Craig,” Grabowski said. “It’s great to see the community support them and help them adjust back to life.”
Grabowski chose to ride last year and proposed the idea they stop for a meal in Steamboat this year to see the town.
“David was instrumental,” Frey said. “He set up a lunch, and so now we’re excited to come to Steamboat. Dude & Dan’s, this iconic lunch spot, is the epitome of small-town Colorado.”
Aside from its small-town feel, the ride is a proven therapy for veterans.
When you’re riding a motorcycle, you’re part of the environment. The smells, sights and closeness to the ride are meditative.
“You also have to be riding safe, have awareness and plan where you’re going,” Frey said. “You have to be very much in the moment to be a safe, good motorcycle rider, and that pulls the guys out of the anxiety of the past and brings them into present.”
Frey has been in the film and production business for more than 15 years since coming back from Afghanistan, so when he started the ride, he had the connections necessary to raise money.
Jay Leno and Mark Wahlberg serve as chairmen of the ride, which is now its own nonprofit based in Moab.
Frey said he keeps the ride limited to 18 veterans, so the men and women can bond and build trust. Veterans go through a nomination and selection process, and from there, the motorcycles and overnight stays are paid for.
The riders will be rolling in from Eagle and stopping in Steamboat at about 11 a.m. for an early lunch before departing for Fort Collins at 12:30 p.m.
“We’d love to invite everybody to come meet up with us for lunch, ride across town and just hang out with us to see what it’s all about,” Frey said.
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Peak Health Alliance, a health care purchasing cooperative created in Summit County in 2018 after it had one of the highest average health care costs in the nation, is looking to expand to Routt County.