As I write this, we are 45 days away from lifting our kickstands in Ontario, CA. I also see that 561 participants have already registered for the Central Route to play some role in our coast-to-coast crossing of these United States to Washington, DC to show our solidarity to remember those who have given their all to protect our freedoms.
The State Coordinators are closing in on their responsibilities to arrange and plan within their respective states to make this a memorable year for you as a rider. Our Advance Road Guard team, led by Chuck Brown, is mapping out our Route, planning freeway exits, entries and egresses at our fuel stations. Our Fuel Crew, led by George Creacy, is working out specifics to quickly fuel all the motors in a safe and quick timeframe. Our Staging Crew, led by Steve Berniklau, is working out details on where and how to park motors for morning staging, fuel stops, and evening stops.
Leadership, who are responsible for moving motors, has been meeting regularly since January to discuss and look at satellite views of each stop using GoToMeeting.com conference/video meeting program.
In addition, Eamon Tansey and I gathered your Platoon Leaders for an online conference meeting to discuss expectations, procedures, and safety concerns.
So what have you as riders been doing to prepare yourself for this tough and grueling journey? Are you exercising to build your stamina? Think about starting your hydration routine at least a couple weeks before the Run. How are your riding skills? Have you enrolled into a motorcycle riding class to sharpen your skills and break bad habits? Find an open parking lot to practice tight turns. Can you make a U-turn within 3 parking spaces? If so, see if you can reduce it to 2 spaces.
Communications…. After much consideration. I purchased the Sena 30K and Sena Freewire system. I am quite impressed by its’ performance and am thinking of new ways to apply it. According to Bruce Bartolomeo, I understand Sena is offering some smoking deals for Run For The Wall riders. If you are interested, check out this link which is on the RFTW.us Forum
On Friday Evening, May 25, 2018 in Washington, DC, you have the opportunity to attend the Marine Corps Evening Parade, featuring: “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, “The Commandant’s Own” The United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, the Marine Corps Color Guard, the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, Ceremonial Marchers, and Cpl. Chesty XIV, the official mascot of Marine Barracks Washington.
April Safety Tip… We have a member on our leadership team who is responsible for communicating with truckers as we move the Pack along the freeway. Our communications leader is Dave Talley, who is a trucker by trade. He sent the following email to Eamon and me a few weeks ago, and I thought it appropriate to include here in my monthly update.
Dave writes…. For about four or five years I’ve been telling RFTW about the collision mitigation systems installed in tractor trailers. I never had much information on these systems other than they existed and could cause the Run problems. I have been driving with this system for ten months now. It is seriously flawed and we have been approaching it wrong. First if an obstacle like a bike or several bikes is detected by this system it WILL slow the truck down, if a driver is using cruise control the system will back off the throttle (driver won’t notice until cruise shuts off due to loss of momentum). If obstacle stay to close to the truck (1 second or less) the system will activate engine retarder system and brakes (again driver received no warning it just happens). If obstacle slows braking occurs faster, and a report of unsafe following is generated to company safety department. Not our problem right? Wrong! Our pack is often 5 miles long and if passing the truck we will have riders behind it. During initial slowdown there are no break lights. During collision mitigation there are brake lights, but the computer is basically panic stopping an 80,000 pound vehicle. Our bikes to the front and side will be okay, but bikes behind it will also be in a panic stop and possible multiple chain reaction accident involving our riders and vehicles behind them. In addition, some of the newer trucks and cars have lane departure anti yaw systems. These systems work by braking and steering vehicle back into lane…lane splitting causes drivers to swerve away from bike doing it, these systems counter the swerves, possible dead biker, or worse truck locks up brakes or runs off road. Almost every truck with these systems have dash cam. I shudder to think of RFTW all over YouTube because we caused a wreck.
Solution 540 feet or six seconds before moving in front of any truck. That is 8.5 truck lengths. The average car moves over at 1 second in front of a truck, the average biker does it at .5 seconds. Neither is a problem if they keep moving away from the truck. The Run doesn’t always keep moving, someone waves at an overpass and we stop. If we do that in front of a truck with a collision mitigation system our people in front of it are probably safe, but the people behind it ARE NOT.
We need to rethink how we do what we do I need 3 minutes a day every day to tell and remind people how far 540 feet is. In the last five years I’ve gone to platoon meetings. All of them some days because leadership has felt giving me 3 minutes isn’t worth it. Tell that to the family of an FNG who didn’t know when he bumper dives a truck that he is risking the lives of everyone behind him and the mission.
That’s all for now, let’s be prepared.
My Wall is Your Wall,
Harlan “Whitebirch” Olson
2018 Central Route Coordinator
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