“We live for Harley-Davidsons,” Kevin and Sandy Spangler declared on their Facebook page.
Kevin Spangler, 49, loved his Harley. He loved Sandy and his two children even more. The young couple — married just a few years — lived just outside Buchanan where Kevin graduated from James River High School.
I met them through the Roanoke Valley Harley Owners Group (RVHOG). They were a fun-loving couple and we joked that we represented the extremes of the geographical boundaries of the motorcycle group — they in the far reaches of Botetourt County and me in Floyd. We had a friendly rivalry during the Muscular Dystrophy riding challenge this year to see who could raise the most money by collecting a penny a mile from April 30 through Sept. 10. I rode the most miles — more than 19,000 — but Kevin trumped me with a $1,000 donation from his company. I pretended to be mad but it was all in fun. The important thing was the money we all raised for a good cause.
Sandy ran for a club officer position this year. They showed up last weekend for a ride to Shatley Springs with a decal saying “Vote for Sandy” on the windshield of their Harley and they handed out breakfast biscuits.
“Young lady, you know how to campaign,” I commented while munching on a chicken biscuit.
Sandy said she didn’t make the biscuits. Kevin did.
“He’s the cook in the family,” she said.
On our way back, we stopped at an overlook on The Blue Ridge Parkway. Kevin asked about my encounter with a fawn on Virginia Rte. 8 a week earlier. I clipped it with the engine guard of my Super Glide and it slammed into my leg.
I stayed upright.
The deer didn’t.
“You were lucky,” he said.
Most of us planned to get off the Parkway on Rte. 8 and head towards Floyd. Kevin said he and Sandy would stay on the Parkway and head home to Buchanan.
“Watch out for Bambi,” I said to him.
“You’re the deer magnet in this club not me,” he laughed.
On U.S. 11 on the way to Buchanan later that day, a full-grown deer darted out in front of their bike. They hit it and went down. The crash hospitalized Kevin with multiple broken ribs, a busted collarbone and internal injuries. Sandy went home with bruises and injuries to her hand.
UPDATE: During a stop on a ride to the North Carolina Barbeque Festival in Lexington Saturday, one of the RVHOG members said doctors were still deciding on whether or not to operate on Kevin.
Later in the day, one of the group’s cell phone rang with an update.
Kevin Spangler died from his injuries. Arrangements are pending.
He leaves behind a young wife and two children, along with many of us who knew him as a fellow rider, a fellow lover of Harleys and a good friend.