I first heard about Keith's bike through a good friend of mine Ben Kelly a.k.a. Squirrel, who is a member of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association and a member of the Patriot Guard Riders as well as a US Navy reservist. I first met Keith at the staging area in Ottawa, Kansas while riding a mission for SPC Michael Brown with the Patriot Guard Riders. After taking a look at his bike I knew Ben was right. This bike has to be one for our readers at Cycle Connections to check out. So without further ado let’s get right into this awesome bike and interview with Keith Gray.
CC: Keith, why do you ride?
Keith: I find nothing more relaxing than fun in the sun rides. I also ride in the cold, rain, snow and ice with the Patriot Guard and Post 370 American Legion Riders to pay tribute to our fallen heroes.
CC: How long have you been riding?
Keith: I started riding about five years ago after my kids were grown.
CC: What was your first bike?
Keith: My training wheels bike was a Honda 600 Shadow.
CC: How many bikes have you owned?
Keith: Four. The Honda Shadow, a H-D Fat Boy and two Honda Valkyries .
CC: How many bikes do you currently own?
Keith: Just the Valk.
CC: What do you like most about your Valkyrie?
Keith:The paint. gets reactions from other Vets, the emotions it generates, and the respect.
CC: What is your dream bike?
Keith: A digger Valk, which is a 12-foot long bike with a Flat-6 cylinder motor.
CC: What is your most memorable riding experience?
Keith: The first local mission that Post 370 performed for a fallen hero. We escorted from KCI to the funeral home at night with big flags waving in the headlights all through downtown KC; very moving!
CC: Are there any other experiences you’d like to share?
Keith: That same mission for Kevin Ziegler, in which we were asked to act as pall bearers into the funeral home after the escort. I've never felt so honored in my adult life. You don't feel the weight of this or any war until you have carried the weight of one of our fallen heroes.
CC: What motorcycle rallies & events have you attended, and which is your favorite?
Keith: I rode 2100 miles one way this year to Reno, Nevada as part of the American Legion Legacy Ride, which raises scholarship money for the children of our fallen heroes. I then I rode back to KC in a day and a half. I that I think qualifies me as a 'biker.'
CC: Do you have a favorite bike night hangout?
Keith: Yes, The Brickyard in Olathe, Kansas. Mark and his family are the greatest and he runs a great little joint, and does a lot of charity work out of there including the biggest breast cancer run in KC.
CC: Do you have any tattoos?
Keith: No, which I’m sure sounds funny because I spent 20 years in the Navy and I have no tats. Go figure!
CC: Do you prefer riding in a group or by yourself?
Keith: I like to ride by myself or with a small group of our ALR guys for fun.
CC: Who are some of your closest riding buddies?
Keith: The American Legion Riders and the Patriot Guard Riders. You can't ride with a better group of folks!
CC: Just for fun, which of your riding buddies is the best rider?
Keith: I would have to say that 'Doc' Peterson, 'Tank' Hughes or any of those Viet Nam Vets, which are just a hair older than I am but ride in the worst weather conditions for our troops, their families, and our fallen heroes. They are real men.
CC: Just for fun, which of your riding buddies is the worst rider?
Keith: I don't think I know of any. All of us who ride have our 'bad' days or 'bad' riding experiences. The American Legion Riders promote motorcycle safety and we participate in group riding classes so I don't know if we have any 'worst' riders or just sometimes 'worst' days!
CC: Thanks Keith for taking time and letting our readers see and hear about your Valk Patriotic Bike. I must say it is a site to see in person. Thanks also Keith for all that you do with the Patriot Guard Riders in honoring Americas fallen Hero's.
Interview by Phil Peeler