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Central Route Coordinator News – December 2017

No, it’s not May yet. However, it is December and that means Christmas is a few weeks away. As you enjoy the holidays with family, please remember the reason for the season and keep Christ in it.
The planning for the 2018 Run for The Wall event continues with our State Coordinators taking the point on arranging our hotels and camping sites. When you see a State Coordinator, I ask you to please take a moment to thank them for the hard work they do to make this Run possible.

The planned route is shaping up pretty much as it was for 2017. The one exception is that we are going back to Hurricane, WV, as the construction should be completed by May.

The Leadership teams are in place and they are anxious to get on the road as much as I am. I have added another motorcycle platoon for this year, the 30th Annual Run, anticipating that our numbers might be larger due to more exposure via social media.

Online registration for the RFTW 2018 Run is open at www.rftw.us. I encourage you to register now as it helps in our planning to make 2018 smooth and successful.

We added a Family Outreach team to the Central Route for the 2018 Run, which is modeled after the program instituted by the Southern Route. The mission of this team is to visit Gold Star families along our route to let them know we are remembering them and their fallen solider. Eamon tells me that planning and coordination is going very well with the cooperation of State Coordinators.

I can report that the Central Route Coordinator’s Welcome Video has been posted to www.rftw.us. I owe a great debt of gratitude to Chuck Brown for the editing and production.

December Safety Tip: In last month’s Safety Tip I talked about how we want to look sharp and squared away in our Group Formation as we approach overpasses lined with flag waving supporters who have waited for our arrival. I mentioned that small THROTTLE inputs are the key to formation riding. That holds true as we approach those overpasses. As tempting as it may be to look up at the crowd and wave back, do NOT lose your concentration and roll off on the throttle. Keep that right hand on the throttle and maintain your position. Rolling off power sends a ripping slowdown to the Pack behind you.

Merry Christmas,
Harlan “Whitebirch” Olson
My Wall is Your Wall

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Central Route Coordinator News – November 2017

Here it is November ALREADY (I know, some of you are saying, “Is it May yet?”) and the planning for the 2018 RFTW Run event continues.

I’d like to reiterate that Run For The Wall is here for ALL, repeat, ALL veterans and welcomes non-veterans and patriots alike. RFTW began 30 years ago as a motorcycle event and continues in that tradition. As I mentioned in October, RFTW is group riding on steroids and takes a high level of concentration and commitment. If it has been a few years since you’ve ridden, find a riding group and brush up on your skills. Enroll in an advanced riding skills course, such as Ride Like a Pro or MSF. You’ll be glad you did.

The Central Route Coordinator video is complete, and can be viewed here:

November Safety Tip: When you ride with Run For the Wall, you are participating in “Group Formation Riding”. The expectation is to look squared away, just like we were taught in basic training. If you are in a side-by-side platoon, it means just that: ride side-by-side and the following rows are evenly spaced. If you want to ride in a staggered platoon, then the right track rider drops back and whatever that rider establishes as the spacing interval should be replicated through the rest of the platoon. Which of the controls on your motorcycle is the most important in maintaining your interval spacing? If you said, THROTTLE, you’d be correct. Constant small throttle inputs are the key to a respectable looking platoon. And you can ride proudly when you ride under an overpass lined with people waving and shouting.

My Wall is Your Wall,
Harlan “Whitebirch” Olson
Central Route Coordinator

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Central Route Coordinator News – October 4, 2017

We are heading into the fall season, and I can report that the State Coordinators are busy with planning our May 2018 coast to coast adventure.  The only route change to report is that we are planning to go back to Hurricane, WV, as they will have the construction project completed.  We are talking about sending a breakout platoon into Nitro to show our appreciation for their hospitality last year.

The Central Route leadership team is in place with one exception, that being the Sit-Rep Writer.  I am waiting for a yea/nay commitment from last year’s writer. 

Janelle and I rode to Kerrville, TX, over the September 22nd weekend to attend the RFTW Riders reunion.  I participated in rides on Friday and Saturday, led by Sapper, through the West Texas hill country.  It was two days of amazing scenery and camaraderie.  I missed two photo opportunities: the hundreds of cowboys boots hung over fence posts; and the young guy wading in a stream fishing, wearing only a white cowboy hat and swimming trunks.  I am hoping that someone on the ride captured those moments.  The Saturday evening was a wonderful event with good food and prizes.  It’s on my calendar to attend again next year and I encourage riders from all routes to attend.  And… they passed the hat to raise $$$ for M25 in support of the recent hurricane victims.  At last report, I heard the $$$ amount was $2001 and more added later by reunion auction sales, which topped the Angel Fire Reunion at $1605.  Be sure to check out the October addition of the RFTW President’s Message for details on M25 hurricane relief.

The Central Route Coordinator’s video message has been shot and is in the editing process now.  Hopefully, that will be completed in the next couple weeks and posted on the RFTW website.

Online registration for the RFTW 2018 Run is now open for all three routes.  I encourage you to complete your registration early because it aids the Route Coordinators to plan accordingly.

The Run For The Wall event is meant for ALL veterans and is welcoming to non-veterans/patriots as well.  If you are considering RFTW for the first time, you should be aware this is NOT anything close to a Sunday afternoon HOG ride.  It is group riding on steroids.  It takes a high level of concentration and commitment.  If it were up to me, I would require a certificate of completion from an advanced riding course, such as MSF Advanced Riding or Ride Like A Pro.  If you have limited group riding experience, I would encourage you to get involved with an organization that does, such as a Harley, Honda or BMW riders group.

October Safety Tip:   It’s been my experience that most accidents involve inattention to changing speeds while riding in the pack.  One of the unfortunate characteristics of group riding is “rubber banding” which can cause a “slow down”.  This happens when riders don’t hold a constant speed using throttle control.  A rider needs to be alert at all times, to be on guard, watching for the possibility of a “slow down”.  This can best be done by observing several bikes ahead.  A tip, that I learned while teaching rider classes, is to look and observe 10 to 12 seconds ahead of your position.

My Wall is Your Wall,

Harlan “Whitebirch” Olson

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Central Route Coordinator News – September 6, 2017

I can report to you that the planning for the Central Route portion of our May 2018 Run from California to Washington DC is well underway.  Nearly all the Central Route leadership has agreed to return for 2018 and that contact list is now posted on www.rftw.us.  Of course, there are small changes made from week to week. 

The State Coordinators have all agreed to take on their roles again for 2018, except for West Virginia.  Roger Keller and Ronnie Stone have stepped up to assume the WV State Coordinator roles.  State Coordinators are being asked to review the itinerary for changes, such as stops, hotels, campgrounds, and road construction.  The SCs have begun work to make 2018 successful and meaningful.

Platoon leadership is mostly in place, making up a total of twelve platoons.  I have decided to add another motorcycle platoon, making a total of nine, for two wheelers.  Platoons #1 thru #7 are side by side, platoons #8 and #9 are staggered.  Platoon #10 is made up of trikes.  Platoon #11 is trikes with trailers, and Platoon #12 is bikes with trailers.  When online registration opens, and that should be soon, we encourage everyone to register early.  These registration numbers will help us decide if we need to add more platoons.

We have had a lot of help from the Southern Route in getting the Outreach Program established on the Central Route.  Eamon Tansey has done a fantastic job in getting this organized continues to do so.  He has asked Nick Nicholas to be the Lead Coordinator.  I am excited to see this program in action.

The annual Angel Fire Reunion took place this past Labor Day weekend.  I am happy to say that all three routes were represented.  I was especially thrilled that Chad O’Dell, the 2018 Southern Route Coordinator, was in attendance.  We laid 414 bricks along the sidewalks honoring veterans as a service project.  There was a banquet on Saturday evening at which Gunny Gregory gave a talk.  The RFTW Board of Directors was introduced and entertained questions.

My Wall is Your Wall,

Harlan “Whitebirch” Olson  


*Photo Courtesy of The Book “Run for the Wall – A Journey to the Vietnam Memorial”©

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Central Route Coordinator News – August 2, 2017

The month of July has been busy with beginning to plan for the Central Route May 2018 venture from California to Washington, DC. One of the first checklist items was to introduce the prospective Assistant Route Coordinator to the RFTW Board of Directors for approval. That has been done and I am happy to say that Eamon Tansey is the Assistant Route Coordinator for the 2018 RFTW event.

The Southern Route has had an Outreach Program in place for several years that reaches out and visits with Gold Star families along the Route. I have asked Eamon to spearhead that effort on the Central Route and he tells me that good progress is being made.

The next checklist item was to contact the State Coordinators from past years along the Route, to ask if they are willing to remain in their capacity for the planning of the May 2018 Run. I have written all the State Coordinators and have received commitments from about half of them. A major key to a successful Run lies in the early planning by the State Coordinators.

Eamon and I have been talking about what can be done to reduce the number of incidents that happen on the road. What are the main causes? Is it lacking information, training, skills or (fill in the blank)? We are dedicated to promoting whatever it takes to improve safety.

Going into August, we will continue to assemble the Platoon Leaders, their Assistants, and Tail Gunners. On the Central Route, we have been blessed with good experienced leadership and, hopefully, that will continue into 2018.

There is a reunion coming up in Eagle Nest/Angel Fire, New Mexico, over Labor Day weekend which I urge you to attend, if possible. Run for The Wall riders lay commemorative bricks along the walkways for any who have served in the Armed Forces. This is an RFTW service project to honor our veterans from all wars. This reunion is open to all riders. To register for the reunion and for more information, check out this link.
The itinerary for Angel Fire/Eagle Nest is here.

My Wall is Your Wall,
Harlan “Whitebirch” Olson


*Photo Courtesy of The Book “Run for the Wall – A Journey to the Vietnam Memorial”©

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Central Route Coordinator News – July 14, 2017

RFTW Riders and Supporters,
My name is Harlan Olson, and I have the distinct privilege of being nominated and selected as the 2018 Run For The Wall Central Route Coordinator. The RFTW Board of Directors at their Face-to-Face meeting during the Springfield Summer Reunion last week approved Eamon Tansey to be my Assistant Route Coordinator. I am also happy to announce that Tom Miller has committed to return as Central Route Road Guard Captain. We are in the process of putting together the leadership team for 2018.

We are excited to be introducing the Outreach Program into the Central Route, and will be depending on the Southern and Midway Routes to help us accomplish this task. One of the facits of the Outreach mission is to contact families of the fallen along our route to let them know we still remember.

My Wall is Your Wall,
Harlan “Whitebirch” Olson


*Photo Courtesy of The Book “Run for the Wall – A Journey to the Vietnam Memorial”©