St. Cloud man rode motorcycle in 48 states over 18 days; raised funds and awareness for vets

Michael Spaude has traveled to more states than most can name and was given a hero’s welcome upon his return from his 18-day road trip on a Harley-Davidson.

Michael Spaude, of St. Cloud, stands by his Harley-Davidson at the motorcycle dealership in Sauk Rapids where his friends, family, veterans and supporters welcomed him home after his long road trip to raise awareness and funds for veterans. Photo by Frank Lee

The 66-year-old from St. Cloud rode his motorcycle in all the lower 48 states and raised awareness for veterans and more than $10,000 for the Sauk Centre-based Eagle’s Healing Nest, a place to heal the “invisible wounds” of those who served.

“Some days stretched a little longer; some days were a little shorter,” Spaude said of the time he spent on the road. “My shortest day of riding was 375 miles, but that still took almost 12 hours.”

In one day, he rode 946 miles, but he traveled a total of 10,578 miles when he ended his solo trek at the Viking Land Harley-Davidson dealership in Sauk Rapids on July 28 where friends and family were waiting to greet him with banners and refreshments.

His plan was to ride his 2003 Harley-Davidson Road Glide to every state in the continental United States and collect T-shirts from a dealership in each state, but some dealerships that he stopped at turned his request down, Spaude said.

And the trip did not go without a hitch. His motorcycle broke down in Utah and had to be towed to Las Vegas where it was 110 degrees when he took off again. And some nights, he had as little as two hours of sleep because of the miles he had to travel.

“Everybody was wondering, ‘Are you going to quit?’” Spaude said. “And I said, ‘No, I’m not quitting, but I do need to get back on schedule’ because I had made hotel reservations all the way down the line, and they were all non-refundable.”

The husband and father plotted out his ambitious journey, which was a fundraiser for the nonprofit that opened in Sauk Centre in 2012, with the help of Google Maps before he took off on July 10, but he said he still managed to get off course.

“When I left Albuquerque, N.M., toward Flagstaff, Ariz., to the north of me, I think you’d have needed an ark to go anywhere up there that day; it was black and it rained, and I thought if I hadn’t broke down, I would be in the middle of that,” Spaude said. “It wouldn’t be a road trip without some trouble, but it hasn’t been anything that I couldn’t handle.”

Delores Spaude was anxiously awaiting her oldest son’s return to Minnesota on July 28 at Viking Land in Sauk Rapids; the widow was concerned about his welfare.

“He wanted to do this for the veterans, specifically because he was not in the service due to a ruptured hernia, so he was not accepted,” Delores Spaude said. “His dad was in World War II in the Navy.”

Michael Spaude’s wife, Jane, also rides a motorcycle because the 63-year-old loves the freedom of the open road and the wind in her hair.

“It’s a whole different perspective than being in a car,” Jane Spaude said as she waited to greet her husband who would be accompanied by 14 motorcycles, four cars and a van during his home stretch in Sauk Rapids.

Loved ones eagerly anticipated his return and were at the local Harley-Davidson dealership waiting to welcome him back with hugs, cookies, cake and coffee.

“You have to know Mike. When he decides he wants to do something, he’s going to do it,” said Jane Spaude, who had a smartphone app that tracked his whereabouts and progress. “I said before he started, ‘If this is what you want to do, you go ahead.’”

Outpatient treatment and therapies are available to veterans, military members and their families by the Eagle’s Healing Nest, which also plans recreational activities that build “community connections and a strong support network.”

“Back in 1969 when I went — like every young man, I suppose — to take a physical for the military, they found out I had a hernia,” said Michael Spaude, who was not in the Vietnam War but had lost friends who had served their country.

Jane Spaude (far left) holds up one end of a homemade banner inside the Viking Land Harley-Davidson dealership in Sauk Rapids in anticipation of her husband’s return after an 18-day road trip across the country to raise awareness for veterans and funds for Eagle’s Healing Nest of Sauk Centre. Photo by Frank Lee

The team at Eagle’s Healing Nest wants “to ensure we do not lose another generation of veterans to homelessness, broken family units and suicide.”

“One of the guys I knew basically drank himself to death,” said Spaude, who is on the board of directors for the POW/MIA hot air balloons. “He had an ulcerated stomach, and it killed him. … And he had terrible nightmares.”

Eagle’s Healing Nest provides board and lodging with special services to veterans and members of the military to prevent homelessness. Programming and support, groups are offered in life skills, 12-step traditions, peer support and spirituality, according to the nonprofit.

“We took four pick-up loads of toiletries … and the guys there were just so overwhelmed,” he said. “And the more I learned about these guys with PTSD, the more it grew on me, and the more I figured that I really owed these guys.”

Donations can be made at www.eagleshealingnest.com or mail a check or money order to Eagle’s Healing Nest, 310 U.S. 71 N., Suite 881, Sauk Centre, Minn. 56378.