Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Meet The Rider Robert Saunooke # 814

I am a citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and currently serve as President of the National Native American Bar Association. When I am not riding I am spending time with my family and volunteering in any number of charities as well as promote and help increase diversity within the federal judiciary.  I serve as chairman of the ABA Judicial Clerkship Program, teach federal indian law and policy, volunteer as a coach and boy scout leader as well as maintain a practice of law serving Native American communities throughout the United States.  In my spare time I am finishing my first book on motorcycle riding and the people I have met around the country and will be starting a second book on Native American crimes and gaming.

I want to ride the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge because, For me it is a personal challenge of spirit, emotion, intellect and physical limits.   It reminds me I am still alive and that America is a great country with great people.  It gives you two weeks to disappear from the world, leave behind electronics and the distractions of day to day and take time to find who you are and what you really want from life.  It is about more than just riding.  It is friendships, connections to real people for no other reason than the thrill of riding on the open road.

This is not my first time but on my first Hoka Hey I only wanted to finish.   Each day I would say to myself "I am closer to the next check point than to the last.  Might as well keep on going."  I do not have other expectations because the road, weather, route and bike issues are unknown.  Finishing is the only focus for me. I have ridden every year since 2014, 2016, and  2018.

Best advice you have been given about riding the HHMC?
Ride your own ride, do not ride what others ride. Do not try and keep up with other riders.  Know yourself, your limits, your bike, and when you have had enough of the day, night or weather.  Stop and rest.  Take time to eat.  This is not a race but a journey.  A journey of discovery, self reflection and survival. The biggest challenge is balancing work, family and time.  HHMC is a month away from family, work and home.  Navigating without electronics is not new to me.  I ride year round and regularly put 70 to 80 thousand miles a year on my bike.  The real obstacle during the HHMC is to balance sleep, food, night riding and map navigation all at the same time.  For those who have never done it you will find yourself questioning so much during the journey that you may not enjoy your first Hoka Hey as much as the others you ride.

The attorney that rides Gabe Carrera had a booth in 2014 that had HHMC information and he and I agreed to do it together that year. I had just turned 50 and it was a way to prove that I was still able to do challenging, new, and unknown things.  I needed to go out and prove to myself that I was still of value.  I needed to find and reconnect with a brotherhood that I had long lost when I stopped playing football.   I did not know it at the time but i would accomplish both on the road to Alaska.

I support various Native American Domestic Violence organizations throughout Indian Country such as the White Buffalo Calf Women's Shelter; National Native American Bar Association

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