Thursday, April 08, 2004

Vladimir Update

I am cross-posting the following message from the IBDone list. I posted about Vladimir's accident several months ago and am SO happy to provide this update:

Vladimir Send-Off April 17, You're Invited!

It's been nearly seven months since Belorussian motorcylist Vladimir Yarets regained consciousness in a Peoria hospital and wondered what the heck hit him.

As you might recall, what hit him on Oct. 13 was a semi on I-74 east of Peoria. The impact sent him flying and very nearly killed him. He was found in the ditch with many broken bones and a huge bump on the head. The truck, which jackknifed and flipped, squashed and killed Vladimir's beat up Jawa 350 that he was using on his world-record attempt to be the first deaf and mute motorcyclist to ride around the world.

It has been a painful, long recovery, but Vladimir is probably the toughest (and most stubborn) 63-year-old you'd ever meet, and he's ready to continue his attempt at the world record. He'll probably need to find a spot on his new bike for the cane he still needs, but for anyone who has seen pictures of how he packed that old Jawa, that shouldn't be a problem.

All of you are welcome to stop by at a send-off party that will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 17, at Tag Sport, a motorcycle dealership located in Geneva, a suburb west of Chicago. There's a map how to get there at It won't exactly be a ride to eat, but Bill Kautz, owner of Tag Sport, will have refreshments as the send-off coincides with a BMW open house that day.

We could do a triple-Zulaski account here about how many people have helped Vladimir since last October; most of them are motorcyclists, and most are from Illinois. If you are ever going to get yourself run over by a truck, Illinois is the place to do it. Hats off (or helmets off) to the good Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, who run the hospital where Vladimir spent 50 days, as well as the nursing home where he spent three months in rehab. They gave him the best care you could find anywhere in this country, and it was their gift to him.

And as Bill Kautz puts it, it's the employees and customers of Tag Sport who are giving Vladimir a pristine BMW-650 GS to continue his journey. Bill also installed long-distance goodies on the 650 that include a lowering kit and center stand, full set of Givi bags, and a super-bright tail-light system (good idea!). BMW is giving Vladimir new riding gear to replace the stuff that was cut off him in the operating room.

There are dozens and dozens of people who have stepped forward in one way or another to lend Vladimir a hand over the past months. The core group have become known as the Vladimir Pit Crew, and they include doctors, nurses, social workers, translators, lawyers and especially motorcyclists. It was pretty amazing to see how they worked together to glue Vladimir back together and help get him back on the road.

Vladimir is about half-way through his trip, which so far has taken him through 29 countries and all 50 states. From here he heads to the bottom of South America, where he'll catch a ride to Australia. Eventually, he'll wind his way through Asia, Africa and finally back home to Belarus.

You can stop by and wish him well on April 17, or you can mail him a good-luck note to the home of Paul Klopfenstein (where he's currently staying but not for long) at 1600 E. Jefferson St., Morton, IL 61550-9355, or you can leave him a message on the Caring Bridge Web site at

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Kindness of Strangers

I had the opportunity to be kind today. I suppose I have the opportunity every day but don't always make the effort, but today, I did.

I drove to lunch today and parked next to a gorgeous '71 FLH. The rider sat at the bar and had there been room, I'd have plopped in next to him to be social but that wasn't the case so I took a table. I couldn't help but notice as I was finishing my lunch that the guy couldn't get his bike started. He had a restaurant employee give the bike a shove but it just wouldn't turn over. I paid my bill and went outside just as the rider was finishing a phone call. I complimented his bike (did I mention it was gorgeous?) and asked if he needed a lift somewhere. He paused and said he thought someone could come help him out, I said no problem and told him that I had an '01 FLHT. He smiled and said this bike (his GORGEOUS FLH) was its granddaddy. He then asked me which way I was headed, "no direction," I said, and extended the offer once again for a ride. He accepted, gave me his name and thanked me for the assistance. The bike had a new battery in it and he said he just knew he needed to charge it longer than he did but he was hungry and the day was calling him to ride. "I completely understand" I said and I complimented his bike yet again.

It wasn't until I told him "you're very welcome" and I drove away that it hit me, maybe that kindness was a payback for a kindness he'd given someone else down the line or perhaps it'll be one in the bank for me if the time should ever come when I need a helping hand. Ya just never know. Calvin was a nice stranger and I'm truly glad I could offer him a hand.


... just had to point that out ...

Yes, I'm Still Here!

I wish I had some spectacular explanation as to why I've been absent recently but alas, there's no grand reason to give. I didn't jet off to Tahiti nor did I ride to Ushuaia, Argentina, the world's southern-most city. I've mainly been around home although I've taken a handful of short rides over the last couple of months just to prevent being too stagnant. I appreciate the concern and encouragement I've received in emails, etc... y'all are some pretty nice folk to follow up on me. THANKS!

As always, I have kept up on my correspondence. Dana thought she was REALLY funny when she sent the following article to me from her visit to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico:

Labor Dispute Halts Mail in Ireland
(NYT 3/23/04)

Ireland's state-owned postal service stopped delivering and accepting mail in Dublin and five surrounding counties as a result of a dispute with its labor union. Union members are refusing to use new mail-sorting procedures because management says the company lost money last year and cannot pay salary increases.

Dana's comment to me: "I know you are grieving with the people of Dublin."
My comment to Dana: SMART ASS! ;)