Rolling Thunder Ride – Day Six

Once again the day started at 4:00 AM and at  5:00 AM we started the Harley’s and hit the road.  The plan was to ride to Grafton, WV to participate in a parade with other Legion Riders.  The ride was damp and foggy.  The traffic was light leaving D.C.  We made a stop in for breakfast in Hagertown, MD and ended up sitting across from a local coffee group.  Two older gentlemen were discussing politics.  One was a Hillary supporter and the other a Trump supporter.  It made for some good entertainment.  After breakfast we continued on our way and ended up finding out the other Riders would not make the parade.  As they were the organizers we made the decision to alter our plans.  We ended up pulling into Cumberland, MD.  I figured we may as well check out the town.  We happened onto American Legion Post 13.  They were getting ready to start their Memorial Day services.  As we parked the Harley’s, they were already extending invitations for us to join them for their program and lunch.  We watched as they laid a wreath near a Veterans Memorial and listened to the speakers. We then joined them for lunch and after we expressed our appreciation for their hospitality and departed.  Traffic back to D.C. was congested.  Upon our return we arranged to have dinner with a fellow chapter member, David Reidlinger, who is living in the D.C. area.

I will be turning in tonight knowing I will not hear an alarm at 4:00 AM.  We get to sleep in a bit.  🙂  Tomorrow we are planning a mid-day departure and will be riding through the Shenandoah National Park on Skyline Drive.   It will be nice to leave the big city environment and get back to rural roads.

Rolling Thunder Day 2017 (30th)

My first ride in Rolling Thunder – It what was an honor and an unforgettable experience. Thousands of people lined the streets and overpasses all waving flags, holding signs thanking the veterans, and giving thumbs up. It was evident there are many people that appreciate veterans and those that gave their all. We saw people, spectators and riders, smiling and crying. It was a very emotional experience I will never forget.

This year was the 30th anniversary of Rolling Thunder.  Our alarm clock went off at 4:00am and by 5:00am we had the Harley’s prepped and riding to the first formation at American Legion Post 177.  The American Legion Riders made a great showing with several hundred Riders.  At 6:30am we departed the Post and as an organized group escorted by many law enforcement officers.  We rode to Patriot Harley Davidson where we joined the Patriot Guard Riders.  We went from a group of several hundred to several thousand.  The Fairfax and Arlington Motorcycle Police Squads joined us at the front of the formation.  We next rode in the Community Patriot Parade.  They closed down streets and entire freeways for the Riders.  It was like a movie scene where we had the highways to ourselves.  At the end of the ride we arrived at the Pentagon and went into the military mode of “hurry up and wait”.  It took what seemed forever to be positioned in our assigned area of the massive parking lots.  Unless you have been here, I believe it is difficult for someone to comprehend the number of motorcycles.  Try and imagine a several hundred thousand motorcycles forming up for an organized ride.  It would be like taking all the motorcycles that show up for the Sturgis Rally and lining them up.

The Patriot Guard and Legion Riders were part of the lead groups.  When we finished we wandered the Washington monuments.   Hours after we completed our ride the two columns continued to thunder through DC.

Per the Rolling Thunder web page, the Rolling Thunder Run mission is to educate, facilitate, and never forget by means of a demonstration for service members that were abandoned after the Vietnam War. Rolling Thunder has also evolved into a display of patriotism and respect for all who defend our country.

Rolling Thunder Ride -Day Three Complete

Day three started with a ride through Indianapolis, Indiana traffic.  The traffic wasn’t bad but dodging the pot holes on I-70 required skill and luck.  Some of the potholes I would consider dangerous.  We crossed Indiana, Illinois, Ohio.  The farmers in these states take a lot of pride in their properties.   Most didn’t have a blade of grass out of place.   I was pleasantly surprised when we crossed into West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.  The forests were impressive and the hills were higher than I imagined.  It was fun riding the Harley up the long steep roads and then back down the other side.  I would cruise at about the speed limit and the locals would leave me like I was standing still even with the large number of troopers along the highway shooting us with laser radar.  We stopped for fuel in Friendsville, Maryland and found a great store with interesting local items.    We rode down out of the hills as the sun settled.  It was dark as we hit the outskirts of Washington D. C.   We hit the freeways and I felt like I was riding in a pinball game.  The traffic was traveling at a high rate of speed and maybe one out of every ten cars was traveling much faster than the rest of us.  It was like the ball slamming back and forth across a pinball game.  But these were cars not able to decide which of the six lanes they wanted so they used them all.  I was riding lead because I have the GPS.  Scott did a great job of sticking with me even in the dark.  But luck didn’t stick with us.  The GPS told me to take a direction with little warning and Scott wasn’t able to follow because of a bus that was larger than the Harleys.  I looked back and I could see Scott disappearing into the maze of cars, trucks, and buses.   We arrived at the hotel a short while later and had received a text from Scott explaining he would find us.  We figured it would be later but maybe fifteen minutes passed before he came riding into the parking lot.   It was a great ride…..

 

 

Rolling Thunder Ride -Day Two Complete

Total miles ridden was 603.9 miles.  Total time in the seat was 10:37 minutes.  Left Omaha early and went south to St. Joseph, MS.  Stopped at the waffle House for breakfast and the Harley dealer to check it out.  Rode across Missouri, Illinois, and into Indiana.  Spending the night in Indianapolis.  We arrived at our friends house late but had a relaxing evening.  Thanks so much to Keith for the hospitality.  I wish we could sleep in but we’ll be up early on on the road.  Did I mention they have more humidity and a few more bugs in this part of the country?

Rolling Thunder Ride -Day One Complete

.The day was windy, the highway was straight and sometimes bumpy.  But it was a good ride.  We rode 589 miles crossing South Dakota via I-90 and then turned south on I-29 through Sioux Falls, SD, Sioux City, IA, and into Omaha, NE.  The interstate through Sioux City felt like we were riding off-road.

On this trip I am using a Sena 20 helmet communicator and a Sena Freewire.  The devices worked flawlessly through the day until the 20s battery decided to retire for the day.  It gave three beeps to warn me then immediately shut-off.  So there was no communicating the last couple hours.  Lesson learned is on a long riding day, charge the headset while eating lunch.

Its late and we have another long ride tomorrow.

Preparing for our first Rolling Thunder

Adventure 2017

I relate preparing for a motorcycle trip to my days of preparing my backpack for a trek in the mountains. You are concerned about ounces and not pounds. Every item packed is scrutinized for its actual need and carefully packed. You have to move from all the comforts to being a minimalist. But, I enjoy traveling by motorcycle. It makes a road trip into an adventure.

Soon we’ll be loading the bare necessities on the Harleys and traveling east!  There will be two Harleys on this adventure and three Riders.

Riders

Fred – A U.S. Air Force veteran.  Former RC-135 aircraft crew chief and Air Training Command (ATC) Master Instructor.  Riding a 2016 Harley Davidson Ultra Limited.

Micheline – Mrs. Fred, an avid motorcycle navigator/trip photographer and co-pilot.

Scott – A retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major.  Riding a 2008 Harley Davidson Electra-Glide.

Fred & Micheline                              Scott

Introduction

I ride a 2016 Harley Davidson Ultra-Limited.  Modifications include a Mustang Super Touring seat, a Klock Werks 11.5″ Flare windshield, Screaming Eagle Air Cleaner, HD Super Tuner, Vance and Hines Power Duals with Monster Rounds, and Legend Air Suspension.  My wife, Micheline, rides along as navigator and photographer.

I am a U.S. Air Force Veteran and Road Captain in the Black Hills Chapter of The American Legion Riders.  We ride as a group and serve veterans by providing escorts to their final resting places as well as stand flag lines.  We participate in parades, poker runs, fund raisers, and other activities.  We support the four pillars of the American Legion; Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation, National Security, Americanism, and Children and Youth.

On the personal side, Micheline and I have ridden across the United States twice experiencing both the east and west coast. When we’re home in the Black Hills we try and ride regularly.

The purpose of this blog is to document our rides as well as share some moments serving our veterans.

Ride safe and ride often…