US veterans join 'brotherhood' of bikers on ride through the Alps
By MARTIN EGNASH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 23, 2018
GARMISCH, Germany – The thundering roar of Harley Davidson motorcycles broke the sound of cow bells ringing in the Bavarian Alps on Saturday.
More than 250 veterans, servicemembers and families rode their motorcycles through the jagged, gray peaks that mark the highest points in Germany as part of the annual Ride the Alps biker event this weekend.
The ride, put on by Edelweiss Lodge and Resort Armed Forces Recreation Center, circles around the Zugspitze, the tallest mountain in Germany.
“They're seeing castles and Alpine lakes and just amazing scenery,” said Brad Hays, Edelweiss spokesman. “I’m sure it’s a memory that they will take with them their whole lives.”
The entire 161-mile route is marked with beautiful scenery. Some of the highlights include driving past King Ludwig’s Linderhof castle, pulling over at a turquoise stream that flows into the river Isar, and dipping into the Austrian Alps.
Sgt. Jesse Leuschel, a U.S. airman stationed in the Netherlands who “rode the Alps” for the third time this weekend, described the ride as “wind therapy.”
“It’s an amazing route. Absolutely breathtaking. You get this sense of freedom. It clears your head,” said Leuschel.
Some bikers went on the Alps ride solo, but many were members of veterans motorcycle clubs like the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association and easy to identify from their matching patches and jackets.
“I think the reason so many veterans join motorcycle associations and clubs is the same reason why so many veterans join the American Legion or VFW. It’s a brotherhood,” said Sgt. Maj. Micheal Sutterfield, the command sergeant major of U.S Army Garrison Bavaria and fellow motorcycle rider.
“When you’re in a faraway place like Europe, riding your bike with fellow veterans gives you a sense of community,” added Hays.