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2018 Central Route SitRep – Day 0 – Ontario, CA

Hi Everyone, we are back for another great, fun filled year on Run For The Wall trip. Similar to last year, I will be posting daily at this location and I hope you will find it interesting. I will not be reporting on the daily schedule as much as I will be writing about some of the events and people that help make this RUN, the “Greatest Run In America”. That may sound boastful but if you stop to think of all that takes place on this RUN, you may change your mind. When you consider the tens of thousands of people across America who buy and prepare the daily food, who do rallies to purchase and pump the gas, the many who line the streets to cheer their support, the national and local leadership who do all their service for free, all the work to set up and tear down each event, the many hours of the traffic and road guard people. Then consider all the healing that takes place in the lives of the participants. We have countless stories of men and women who have found healing for emotions, help and encouragement in their lives because of what this RUN does. Needless to say, I am a fan and I have been on this RUN for 11 years being a platoon leader, ambassador and Sit report writer. So if you are home and reading this, make plans to be with us this or next year and come be a part of something bigger than yourself and be a blessing to many!

If you want to keep track of the RUN and its progress go to the web page, scroll down and click on where it says to keep track of the RUN. C1 will be Harlan in the lead and C2 will be the tail end of the RUN. it is always on when they are moving so have fun and keep up with us.

The first day there are many meetings,  as all of the RUN information needs to be communicated in a short time and that is done through bulletins, emails and meetings. Through leadership, FNG (Funny New Guy) meetings, and then each platoon leader will meet with their riders and sort out the many questions that riders will have. There are also the fuel guys, the road guards, the ambassadors, Chaplains, chase vehicles, missing man, and etc.

One of the special leaders for the RUN is a guy better known by his road name, “Bullet” (Don Pierce)  He is one of a kind that is always there in the middle of the action and always there when needed. He is one of a few “89ers” group that help start the RUN in 1989. He now serves as “Law Enforcement Liaison” for the RUN and has served in several other capacities over the years, such as platoon leader (although there were no platoons then). Some of his early memories of the RUN were when a Kansas trooper headed all the riders off onto an off ramp and had them circle around to and open field by Colby Kansas where they had a meal prepared and people waiting to serve them. They were unaware of this event until it happened and were really touched by the caring people. Bullet says that was the first time anyone was told “Welcome Home” and it is now an often heard sentiment on the RUN. Another memory he has was a semi tanker fuel ruck had pulled into a field and was ready to fuel the RUN’s many bikes but the fuel man was disappointed when they only had about 30 bikes. Oh for the good ole days huh, actually we have many, many people who step up and help us with our fuel costs, may God richly bless them! Although Bullet helps many to get to the Wall, he still finds it difficult himself to make it to the Wall. He has over 70 buddies whose names  are on that wall and it is an emotional event when he does go. Bullet has the best attitude about all of it as he says, “he tries to look forward as he can’t change the past but he can build a better future”. Bullet you are a great example to us all and thank you for being there for all of us!!! We are very thankful for you and for what you do for all of us.

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Don (Bullet) Pierce

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When I hang around the entrances to the hotel I run into many special long time RFTW riders. One of those was Jim (Scout) Hoffman. He road on the RUN for 15 years starting in 1999. He road a FJR Yamaha. I remember Scout, he was always where he was needed and he moved pretty fast on that bike. He was and is a treasure that the RUN has had for many years. Jim told me that he kept coming back because he wanted to give back and he liked the camaraderie and the friendships that he developed over the years and I would add to that, I know the RUN really appreciated his expertise on the road guard team.


Part of my work or duties on the RUN are being part of the Outreach Team. Our job on that team is to stop and honor any Gold Star parents that are located along our route. So, one of those parents we talked with today is Deana Howard age 50, and she lost her son 20 year old  Mark Howard on 4/28/12. He was Army  Airborne. PFC. Mark was the kind of guy that liked to make people laugh and he loved learning new things and he had wisdom beyond his years. Deana now works 120 to 140 hours to make ends meet and she takes care of other children. When talking to Deana, we all could see that she is a hard working lady who is determined to better herself and family and she has put the RFTW on her bucket list for maybe next year. Deana, we would very much like to have you on the RUN next year.

Ok, that is it for today and I am already behind but figured you would like the early bonus.

Roger (Pops) Hageman, make it a good day tomorrow!

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Central Route Coordinator News – May 2018

As I write this, we are exactly 16 days away from our departure from Ontario, CA.  I also see that 672 people have registered for the Central Route.  Yeah! Gulp!

Your leadership teams have been busy for the last 11 months preparing for the May 16th departure and the 10-day journey across this great country to call for an accounting of those still Missing In Action from all wars.

All the leadership teams are in place and ready to perform their duties to make this a successful Mission.  I look forward to the challenges of leading the Central Route and have spent many hours in preparation, exploring details, anticipating what could or could not go wrong.  My real concern is your safety.  I ask that you also think in terms of making this a safe journey.

I want to make a special call out to our State Coordinators who have been working hard to coordinate activities within their respective states. As of now, I know of three areas of road construction.  The first being just north of Raton, NM, the second is near MM 405 on I-70 in western Colorado and the third is in West Virginia on I-64 between Milton, WV and Nitro, WV.

This year you will have the capability to use your computers and smartphones to track us, as each of the three routes will each have GPS trackers on their motors.  When you go to the soon to be published web site you will see labels that will begin with as CR, MR and SR.  For Central Route the ones you will be interested in is CR1 and CR2.  CR1 is me in the front leading the Pack and CR2 is the Last Man vehicle.  The other two are assigned to Eamon the Assistant Route Coordinator and the fourth is assigned to Nick Nickolas who is leading the Gold Star Family outreach.  I have been told that the web link won’t be activated until Tuesday May 15th.  I have been lobbying to have it turned on now so folks can get familiar with it.  If you agree please send an email to

I’ve been stopping by the local parking lot when I’ve been out riding to practice tight turns.  I’ll find a spot in the pavement and do figure eights over the top of it.  Remembering to turn my head because that is where the motor will go.  I follow that up with trying to make a U-turns inside two parking spaces.

So… what have you been doing to sharpen your riding skills?  Have you started a hydration program?

May Safety Tip…  I mentioned this a few months ago, but it bears repeating.  Most accidents happen during a speed change maneuver, such as entering and exiting roadways.  When entering a highway, I will increase speed in small increments until I reach our maximum highway speed of 65 MPH.  When exiting the highway, I will begin the slow down process about 4 to 5 miles out.  This is when you need to bring your A-game. You need to be watching beyond the motor in front of you to anticipate a sudden slow down.

I was in a Ride Like A Pro class last Sunday morning, which was being taught by two motor officers.  One of the officers told us of a study where seven cars were lined up and traveling in a line.  If the lead car reduced its speed by 5 MPH, in a short period of time the last car would have to come to a full stop.  They went on to say that a mere tapping of the brake (brake light flash) sends a ripple slow down effect rearward.  The message is…. use small accelerator (throttle) control corrections when making speed changes to correct interval spacing.  If throttle control isn’t enough, then down shift, using brakes as a last resort.

All for now.  See you in Ontario.

My Wall is Your Wall,


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Central Route Coordinator News – April 2018

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 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 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.

Register Here for the Marine Corps Evening Parade – It’s Free for RFTW.

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.

Thanks, Dave

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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Central Route Coordinator News – March 2018

I checked the countdown clock on a few minutes ago.  It shows that we are at 73 days, 20 hours and 32 minutes away from “kickstands up” in the Ontario, CA, parking lot on May 16th.  As I scrolled down a little further, I noticed that 481 of you have completed online pre-registration to participate in the Central Route in some way.  That doesn’t mean 481 will be departing Ontario on Wednesday.  We know that some of you will be joining at one of our overnight stops, and others will be dropping off to return home for work or other family commitments.

Your State Coordinators have been doing outstanding work to make the 2018 Run a success.  They have arranged and worked with local volunteers for our fuel and lunch stops.  They have negotiated hotel rates at our overnight destinations.  In addition, State Coordinators have worked with local law enforcement agencies to let them know we will be riding through their areas of Jurisdiction and advised them of our Mission statement.  In many cases, local law enforcement offers escorts to protect us.  In the days leading up to our May 16th departure, we will be depending on the State Coordinators to keep us apprised of road construction in our path of travel.  Be sure to seek out the State Coordinator volunteers and thank them for their hard work.

I spoke with Tom Pogue, Central Route Missing Man Coordinator, a few days ago.  He told me that he has a few slots available for those wishing to ride for someone in the Missing Man Formation.

If you are wondering about the 2018 itinerary, it is in final editing and will be going out for review.  I am anticipating that it will be available online in the next 7 to 10 days.

According to Jimmie Royce, 50/50 Rouser, if you are not standing anywhere near the PA sound trailer during each morning gathering prior to the MANDATORY morning riders meeting this year, you will miss an excellent opportunity to purchase items provided by some of our major brand supporters.

If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to check out the online merchandise store.  The 2018 shirts are available.  My favorite is the purple polo.

March Safety Tip:   Last month I talked about our preferred “snake around” method of passing traffic.  I’d like to add a footnote to that.  When you are in a passing situation, you may see a Road Guard (yellow brassards) in front of a truck or car. He/she is there for a reason … to pace the truck/car.  You will safely return and move back to the traffic lane well in FRONT of the Road Guard.

My Wall is Your Wall,

Harlan “Whitebirch” Olson
Run for The Wall
2018 Central Route Coordinator

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Central Route Coordinator News – February 2018

Guess what?  It’s February and we are a few days away from the 100 day mark when we lift the kickstands in the Ontario, CA staging area on May 16th.  The leadership teams are in place and ready to serve.  You can check out the various teams at this link then click on the “2018 Central Route Contact” button.

The State Coordinators for each of the states we are passing through are putting final touches on our gas and lunch stops, plus our overnight hotels and dinners.  Our State Coordinators are the backbone of making this event successful and we owe them our utmost gratitude.

We are currently working on the 2018 Itinerary and anticipating it will be published sometime in late March or early April. So far it remains pretty much like it was in 2017 except for a date change for each day.  If studying last year’s itinerary, remember we always depart Ontario, CA on Wednesday.  If you do that you will get the right date.

The RFTW Board of Directors is holding their first Face to Face meeting of the year on February 10th.  The Route Coordinators and Assistant Route Coordinators from Central, Southern, and Midway routes are invited to give respective reports and hammer out logistics for Ontario and Washington DC.

I’ve been in contact with Jimmie Royce, who is our 50-50/Raffle Rouser this year.  He has been working very hard on obtaining some very, VERY nice items to auction off at our daily morning meetings.  I would advise to be within earshot of the PA system every morning.

February Safety Tip:  Passing….  One of the maneuvers that we face is to get platoon elements around slower moving traffic.  There are a couple of ways to achieve this task, however, a method that we have found which works well is the “Snake Around”.  But it has a drawback, which I’ll explain in the last sentence or two.  It works something like this.  When the platoon leader determines that the passing lane is clear, he will signal and move into the passing lane.  The riders behind will each head check the lane and when clear move over as well.  If we are passing on the left, for example, the left track rider will wait for his riding partner in the right track to get well clear of the traffic before moving back into the travel lane.  When the right track rider makes the move back, the left track rider will do the same keeping pace.  To complete the passing maneuver, it is the responsibility of each right track rider will get well clear of the truck/auto before moving back into travel lane.  DO NOT simply follow the motorcycle in front of you, that is a deadly trap that many falls into.  Do one or both of two things to be sure you have a safe distance before moving over.  You should do a head check and/or check your mirror to be sure you can see well above the top of the truck/auto.  Pulling in too early is a common mistake and it takes real concentration not to put yourself and others in danger.

My Wall is Your Wall,
Harlan “Whitebirch” Olson

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Central Route Coordinator News – January 2018

I sincerely hope you all had a joyous Christmas holiday with family and friends. Janelle and I sure did, as we drove to Decorah, Iowa and Minneapolis, MN to be with grandkids and family. It was very cold there and I remembered why we live in Colorado.

It’s not May yet, but it is January and that is when the hotels on each end of the 2018 Run opened the registration desks in Ontario, CA and Arlington, VA (Washington DC). I trust that you have started making your overnight arrangements, whether it be hotels or camping.

Because we received some negative feedback after the 2017 Run regarding camping facilities in the After Action Reports, I had asked our State Coordinators to put extra thought into arranging for riders who use camping facilities. As I was gathering hotel and camping information from the State Coordinators for publication on January 1st, I think that request has been met.

I gotta add, when you see a State Coordinator next May, be sure to stop and give them a hug and thank you for their hard work. They are the best!

We’ve had a couple requests to add Breakouts in central Kansas area, so that should make a total of 6 Breakouts along our route if it comes to fruition. This is in addition to the Outreach program.

Eamon Tansey, our Assistant Route Coordinator, tells me he will be finalizing the plan for the Outreach Program stops within the next few weeks. I find this added aspect to the Central Route exciting and hoping it is well received.

I remind you that online registration is open at for the RFTW 2018 Run event. Early registration is a BIG help in our planning for a successful 2018 Run.

January Safety Tip: In looking at previous years accident reports, it is quite evident that most accidents in the Pack occur due to a speed change. One of these occasions is in the process of getting the Pack up to highway speed after one of our many stops. Once the Route Coordinator, in the lead element, has entered the roadway, he will not exceed 35 MPH until the Last Man vehicle has reported on the highway. There should be no reason for your speed to exceed 40 to 45 MPH to close any gaps to get into place. It is the responsibly of the Platoon Leaders to set a reasonable pace to get the platoons in position as we await the call from the Last Man vehicle. Once that radio report is received, the Route Coordinator will incrementally increase speed until our highway speed is reached, not to exceed 65 MPH.

My Wall Is Your Wall,
Harlan “Whitebirch” Olson

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2018 RFTW Hotel Lists Posted

The Hotel Lists for all three routes: Central, Midway, and Southern are now posted within the respective Route Hubs under > Run Info from the Main Menu of the RFTW Website.

These also include booking links for Ontario, CA and Washington, DC/Arlington, VA.

Central Route Hotels
Midway Route Hotels
Southern Route Hotels

See you in May!

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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 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 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