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President’s Message January 2017 (Hotels)

Run For The Wall Riders,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Happy New Year! I hope that everyone has made it through the Holiday Season unscathed and ready to RIDE! May will be here before we know it, but then again, not soon enough for some. We are all in the process of gearing up our preparations for another successful Run, which includes, of course, making our hotel reservations. I include myself in that statement. There are those who will say that being President of the Board, I have inside information and was able to make my reservations early. You should know that with only a few exceptions at hotels where I stay every year, the overwhelming majority of my reservations were made on January 3rd. I was not able to get into the Host Hotel in every case, and in one instance I needed to make a reservation outside of the reserved “block” of rooms. So be it.

That brings me to a critical reason for my writing a message at this particular time. It has been brought to the Board’s attention that at some locations and at some hotels some riders are not reacting well to the news that an establishment is sold out for the desired night or weekend. Some have become nasty and abusive. This is very unprofessional and totally uncalled for. I know how frustrating it can be when you want or need a room and can’t find one that meets your needs, be they location or financial in nature. Please remember that you represent hundreds of other riders when you communicate with hotel personnel and how you interact with them reflects on our group as a whole. The unfortunate situation in which you find yourself is not the fault of the hotel. They have set aside a particular number of rooms for us and when they are all accounted for, well, we have to move on to another. In many cases they must hold a number of rooms for their regular guests. We only come through once a year for one or two nights, while they have guests who regularly stay several nights every week or month. If they lose that business it can be a significant long-term issue. Sometimes the number of rooms relegated to us is set by their corporate office and the locals can do nothing to change it, at least not on the spur of the moment. In any case the desk clerk or reservation agent with whom you are speaking has absolutely no control over the matter and to grant a reservation outside of their delegated authority would put their job in jeopardy.

SO – Please be cordial with the representatives of the hotels that we have contracted with for holding rooms and granting special rates. If they say that the block is sold out, just move on, don’t argue or make a scene. To do so only jeopardizes our ability to get any rooms set aside in the future. That could create a real problem for future years.

We historically publish the Hotel Lists on January 1st. This allows time for people to make a decision nearer to the actual Run than a full year in advance and gives FNGs a fighting chance at a room in the Host Hotel. On occasional years there may be snags in that system for any given route, but it has worked pretty well in the past. If you find an opportunity to make a reservation early and it works for you, well, then, more power to you, however going on the Forum and announcing that a particular venue is accepting RFTW reservations early will end up with that venue being sold out within a couple of days and pretty well defeats that system. We try to ask the hotels to refrain from accepting our reservations until after the list is published, but we have no control over when they “open it up”. SO – Think of the RFTW ridership as a whole and keep your “good Luck” to yourself or to a closely knit, limited group of friends.

Now, having gotten that off my chest, I need to remind everyone that we need to make sure that we are getting other things in order as well. Severe weather is, as I write this, dumping heavy rain, snow and ice on major portions of our great nation. Now would be a good time to get out to the garage and get your bike in shape. Make sure that you are gathering what you need for the run and making a list of what items you need to acquire. Our newsletter publishes a list of recommended supplies. Don’t try to take everything, but select those items that you feel you will really need. The Holidays are behind us and if you are like me, you have put on an extra pound – or ten; so we need to make sure that we are getting ourselves in shape as well. As most of our veteran riders know, RFTW can be quite demanding physically and emotionally and it is never too early to start preparing our minds and bodies for the ordeal.

As you make your preparations, please keep in mind who we are, what we do and why we do it; those we ride for and those who ride with us. Also – ALWAYS – remember those who support us along the way, whether they are business establishments, veterans associations, or dedicated individuals, they have earned our respect and we need to treat them with gratitude and courtesy. Many of us are very proud veterans of the military who have served the greatest nation on earth, or are supporters of those veterans, and we need to show the public that we are above the drama that seems so prevalent in our society these days. Personally, I was a soldier, I am a soldier and I always will be a soldier; I strive to maintain a POSITIVE AND CALM ATTITUDE in the most stressful of situations. My very existence depends on that — especially as I get older.

Thank You, and


Harry “Attitude” Steelman

President, RFTW BOD, 2016-2017
Remember All Who Serve — We Ride For Those Who Can’t

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FNG Story – Kristen Ranker

I had the privilege of joining this run for the first time this year in 2016. The idea was planted in my mind in 2015 from a few gentlemen I had met during Rolling Thunder.  They had me traveling across the country with no idea what exactly I was about to get myself into. Only the promise that it was an adventure that would open my eyes to ,many things, especially the treatment of our military service people.

I had a basic concept as I watched it and read about it numerous times, but this was entirely different and was worth the time I spent getting to know this group. Tough, rigid, well organized, and yet kind, caring, and complete awareness of why this Run means so much to so many. While on this trip, I had a rider ask me… why are you here? You aren’t even military. I wondered the same thing at first. But after several days and numerous conversations with others… it came down to this: I may not be military, but I believe that everyone who has made the commitment to protect and serve this country takes tremendous courage, and shows tremendous bravery and sacrifice, on so many levels.  Because of that… I am in awe and believe that these same individuals deserve my utmost respect and gratitude. It’s up to me to show it, and this event is a perfect way to do that.

I wondered why I was doing this, as I sat on my bike that morning in Ontario, CA. The answer: We ride for those who can’t. 2017 is fast approaching and I already feel the anticipation building. Looking forward to meeting more wonderful people and being part of something that makes a difference with all who have sacrificed.

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FNG Story – John Watson

I’m an in-country Vietnam Veteran. I’ve owned motorcycles most of my life. Currently I own two. The 1989 Honda Goldwing I bought new in 1990 (last years model). Twenty-six years later and 90 some thousand miles later, I bought a 2011 Harley Electra Glide Classic with 21K on the clock.

I hope to make this ride in 2017 with my son and grandson. They will ride the ‘wing. They’ll fly down from their residence in Oregon and we’ll ride out on the Southern Route. After the event in D.C., we hope to ride back with some of the group that ran the Central Route back to Kansas City, KS where we’ll split off and head towards Oregon. After getting them home, I’ll give the ‘wing to my son and ride home to Southern California.