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Southern Route Coordinator News – April 2019 – It’s almost MAY Edition!

Howdy from Weatherford, TEXAS!

Today we are less than 4 weeks away from KSU! Through the past 11 months of hard work and preparation, your leadership team has ensured the plans for Southern Route have been set, checked and re-checked. In this last month, they are taking the opportunity to make small adjustments and improvements that will pay off for us all on the Run next month.

Last month’s message was all about getting ready. I won’t repeat those lines here, but I do want to STRONGLY EMPHASIZE the part about having ALL your registration paperwork available in hand when you check in – especially if you are planning to check in with minors!

Our 11th Platoon Leader, Angie “Den Mother” Uhler wrote a great Facebook Article about many preparation tasks including bike preparation and packing/repacking to ensure you can actually carry all that you may need. She also presented a great suggestion that Riders print out the Emergency Medical Form and fill it out prior to arrival to ensure it is correct, complete, legible and ready to go in your lanyard pouch. You can find that form at the following link on our web site: “”.

So with this month’s message, I’m not going to dive further into the minute details of what everyone needs to do to get their bikes and themselves ready for the Run. There are dozens of those messages out there already. I want to spend this last Newsletter focusing on why we ride…

While producing this year’s Southern Route video, I was moved by thoughts of experiences on the Run, conversations with Gunny about the early days and conversations with my mentors about finding the focus of the Mission. Seeing Gunny’s 1989 interview video brought all those things into clear view, and that focus was made stronger than ever. It’s something about which I’ve written often as a continuous underlying theme of why we do what we do. It’s about people – our family. Family by blood, family by oath, family by service, family by shared adversity, extended family, our family’s family, our missing family, our lost family. Our family that loves deeply, supports courageously, defends honorably, gives generously and prays incessantly. That’s why when Gunny mentions LtCol Higgins or Col Shelton and asks “Where are they?” it doesn’t matter that you don’t know them – because you know them. They are family and we don’t leave family to suffer at the hands of those we know seek to do them harm. After the disappearance of loved ones, we don’t leave family alone to wonder, “Where are they?” We don’t leave our active service members to wonder if their sacrifice is worth the cost. And we don’t leave our honored service members returning from the life changing experience of combat to deal with the healing without the support. Those are the applications of our mission statement and when we ride for those who can’t, THIS is why we ride.

 As I’ve said before, we all have stories about what brought us to the Run and the strong urge to reconnect with our family is what brings us back. While we’re all together for this glorious 10 days of reunion, remembrance and renewal, I urge everyone to savor every moment, because you all know it will pass much too quickly.

For all those who have gone before, those with us now and those who would be here if they could…

TOGETHER WE can make a difference! This is why WE RIDE!  



Very best regards,

Billie “Bugs” Dunlap

Southern Route Coordinator

Run For The Wall XXXI

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RFTW SR RC Newsletter – March 2019 – Ides of March Edition

Howdy from Weatherford, TEXAS!

It’s just 60 days and a wake-up before we are KSU on RFTW XXXI! Are you ready? While we still have time, here are a few important issues that should catch your attention…

Registration on line – Some people like to wait till it’s closer to the event, but keep in mind that the $30 fee goes up to $50 at midnight on April 30th.

Check-in to the Run – When you check in at Ontario or at any location after that, you MUST HAVE ALL YOUR PAPERWORK available for the registration team to review. That means current Driver’s License, Registration, Insurance, etc. If you don’t, then you won’t be checked in and you won’t get an arm band or handlebar ribbon.

Minors on the Run – Read the Minor Registration Policy very carefully and comply to the letter or that minor will not be checked in on the Run. Keep in mind that the Policy may require notarization of the Minor Release Form – if required by the policy, that notarization cannot be waived.

RAFFLE ROUSER – We still need a Raffle Rouser for the Southern Route – it’s the last open job on the roster. There are some very impressive items for the Raffle this year – if you’d like to be a part of the fundraising process and get more involved in the workings of the Run, this may be the step you’re looking for. It’s a great way to meet EVERYONE on the Southern Route!

Mechanical Condition – Be sure your bike is in good condition for a 3000 mile ride. Tires, oil change, scheduled servicing will all be available somewhere along the way but doing it during the 10 days of the Run will take away valuable time you would otherwise have available for the Mission.

Physical Condition – The Run always includes long, hot, cold, dry, wet, misty, enjoyable days on the road. Be sure that your mortal engine is ready for the long haul as well. Some people start hydrating early so they get used to holding more water – your choice, but be prepared to drink a lot of water along the way!

Mental Condition – I’ve written a lot about PMA – Positive Mental Attitude. Keeping that in mind, we all bring our own ideas and expectations for what the Run will mean to us and what we would like to get out of it. Be positive, talk positive and share positive with others. For me, this positively incredible event is a 10 day family reunion with a purpose and a Mission Statement of Healing, Accounting, Honor and Support and I have high expectations!

A pastor once told me the key to success for an organization is relationships. That translates to people. Some of us have close relationships with our bikes (OK, understandable) but the relationships we have with the people of our Run family is what makes us – what makes Run For The Wall – a lasting and effective organization. It takes all of us with the diversity of our abilities and talents to touch on the various tenets of our Mission Statement. To mention a few, I think of Jerry “Partner” Plent and M25’s work to watch the overall physical, emotional and spiritual well being of our riders to promote a healing environment. I think of Gunny’s words from the 1989 1st Run video interview to call for accounting, naming names and asking “Where the #&!% are they?” I think of Joe “Gump” Hudson’s work as our Missing Man Coordinator and the memorial visits to honor the memory of fallen soldiers. I think of Karoni “Hoops” Forrester and her dedication to family visits in support of our past and present military personnel. Whatever your abilities and talents, there is someone on this Run for whom you will be the face of the Mission. That same pastor I mentioned above reminded me that sometimes you minister, and sometimes you are ministered to. I believe that we all get a little of both on this pilgrimage – to heal and be healed. That’s what a family does…

TOGETHER WE make this Run more valuable than the sum of our separate efforts could ever be. TOGETHER WE execute all aspects of this Mission and touch the hearts and minds of Patriotic Americans across this great land. “TOGETHER WE” depends on all of us planning ahead to complete all aspects of preparation from paperwork to mental readiness as we come together in May to RIDE FOR THOSE WHO CAN’T!

So I ask again… Are you ready?


Very best regards,

Billie “Bugs” Dunlap

Southern Route Coordinator

Run For The Wall XXXI


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RFTW SR RC Newsletter – 25 FEBRUARY 2019


99 Southern Route Riders,

I have heard and provided alternate lodging info to about 90% of the folks who lost rooms at the Comfort Suites in Grand Prairie.  As promised a week ago today, below is the info that was provided to those who contacted me…

La Quinta Inn, 2131 W. Interstate 20, Grand Prairie, Tx   214-412-3220

25 rooms at $99.00/night + tax

Heritage Inn, 2615 Outlet Pkwy, Grand Prairie, Tx  972-623-1998

15 rooms at $69.00/night + tax

I was told that the La Quinta may be full now, but it has not been confirmed.

Big THANK YOU to our North Texas State Coordinator, Mary Anne Hand for acting quickly to secure group rates for alternate lodging when we found that our Host Hotel was cancelling rooms.


Best regards,

Billie “Bugs” Dunlap

Southern Route Coordinator

Run For The Wall XXXI


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RFTW SR RC Newsletter – 18 FEBRUARY 2019


****UPDATE 19FEB2019 – See “On a happier note…” section below****

99 Southern Route Riders,

If you have a Southern Route Day 4 lodging reservation at the Host Hotel, Comfort Inn & Suites in Grand Prairie for the night of Saturday, 18 MAY 2019… your lodging is in jeopardy.  We have just learned that the property will be undergoing renovations and a change of ownership and they will not be able to accommodate all of the reservations that they have accepted for our stop in Grand Prairie.

Please call them and check on your reservation.  If AFTER you call them, you find that you no longer have a confirmed room there, we have already arranged another group lodging rate at a nearby property.  Please write an e-mail to me and/or the ARC and/or the North Texas State Coordinator CONFIRMING that 1.  You HAD a reservation at the Comfort Inn in Grand Prairie and 2. They told you that your reservation has been cancelled.  If you convey in an e-mail that both of those apply to you, we have an alternate lodging location for you.  On Monday, 25 FEB 2019, I will publish to the SR Hotel list those additional group rate arrangements so that anyone may have access.

On a happier note…  (**** UPDATE 19FEB2019****)

We also just learned that the Comfort In & Suites in Odessa, TX has lowered their nightly rate for our stay there to $119We were just notified that they’ve lowered the nightly rate AGAIN to $99 saying they “…wanted to do more for these Patriots!”  Still no action required on your part if you already have a reservation – the new rate should be retroactive to your previous arrangement.  If you don’t have a reservation – there may still be rooms available…  See the Southern Route Hotel list for contact details.

Update on the Itinerary Book…

We have been working diligently to complete and compile the 2019 Southern Route Itinerary Book and it is very near completion.  It should go to press in less than two weeks.  A pdf version will be published on the Southern Route Hub just after it is accepted for print.

That’s all for now…

May is just around the corner, and there is plenty left to do – for all of us.  Mental and emotional preparation for the Mission is just as important as the physical and mechanical.  We always say “No Attitudes on the Run!”  But I’m here to tell you that everyone coming on the Southern Route has this assignment – bring with you to Ontario the biggest bag of POSITIVE ATTITUDE that you can carry.  Bring enough to share.  Bring enough to pass out some to everyone you meet along the way.  Do that, and your bag will never go empty because the more POSITIVE ATTITUDE you take out to share, the fuller your bag will get!  That’s how WE will work together.  That’s how TOGETHER WE will make a POSITIVE difference in people’s lives along the way!  That’s how WE RIDE!


Very best regards,

Billie “Bugs” Dunlap

Southern Route Coordinator

Run For The Wall XXXI


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Southern Route Coordinator News – January 2019

31 JANUARY 2019

Greetings from Fort Worth, TEXAS! 

…currently one of the few places in the U.S. not suffering from global warming, er, I mean the Polar Vortex FREEZE!  My coldest ride ever was 22°F for the Big Texas Toy Run several years ago.  I’m sure many of you will easily have that beat!  Let us know in a reply – Who’s the toughest Polar Bear on the road?  Just be safe out there family!  Warmer riding days are coming, and I look forward to sharing them with you on the Run in May.

SR RC Welcome Video

The long-awaited Southern Route RC Welcome Video is almost complete and should be published very soon.  Big thanks to my Daughter Cara “Bug” (FNG 2017) for being my Director/Videographer and to Gunny for providing some RFTW 1989 Interview footage.  I believe we should all occasionally look back to where we started as a heading check towards where we’re going.  I hope you’ll all enjoy watching.

50/50 & Raffle Rouser

There are two very important jobs still open on the Southern Route…  We need a 50/50 Rouser and a Raffle Rouser – yes, I’d prefer two volunteers so that each can focus on one of the tasks.  We’ll have some very impressive items for the Raffle this year and the 50/50 drawing every morning on the Run is always an exciting way to start the day.  If you’d like to be a part of the fundraising process and get more involved in the workings of the Run, this may be the step you’re looking for.  Besides, it’s a great way to meet EVERYONE on the Southern Route!

The Itinerary

We’ve been working hard to tweak the Itinerary to take advantage of some of the great comments received on the After Action Reports this summer.  BIG THANKS to our Road Guard Captain for coordinating and confirming the entire route and to our ARC for participating in the detailed review sessions.  It’s not just a cut and paste from last year – we plan ahead for known upcoming highway construction and for changes in our fuel stops – we’ve had a few Gas Stations close or that will be under construction!  The Itinerary book goes to press at the end of March and will be released in digital form as soon as it does.  I can tell you that for general planning purposes, the basic route, lunch stops and daily destinations are very much like last year’s plan.

Phone Calls & Texts

As we get closer to May, things start moving faster in the planning world.  With so many FNG’s (Welcome Home!) coming out for the Run this year there are bound to be questions.  Most all critical info and a lot of good gouge and planning info are available on the website.  But I do get the occasional call or text asking some basic questions, because as hard as we try, someone will think of something we didn’t cover.  So, if you urgently need a piece of info that is nowhere to be found, your ARC and I are here to help.  Just introduce yourself and ask away – I don’t have everyone’s phone number in my contact list – yet!

Track the Pack during the Run

Last year, we were fortunate to have the use of Scout GPS Trackers ( to help us keep real time location on the pack.  This year, we’ll be working with the good folks at Scout again and will be equipped with their latest updated systems.  There will be a link on the website that may be used to find where the pack is at any point along the Run.  We hope this is especially useful for our supporters along the roads and bridges as well as for our advance teams as we approach fueling stops and staging areas.  Look for the link on the website as we get closer to May and plan to use it!

The Mission

So, the Vietnam War ended almost 44 years ago – at least according to our government – the Korean War ended (sort of) almost 66 years ago.  So why is it so important that we keep pushing forward to keep this mission alive?

First of all, the termination of hostilities and even the declaration of Armistice ends only the active involvement of national conflict.  The “War” is endured in the hearts and minds of those personally involved and I don’t mean only those in service.  Everyone who has served in uniform or as a civilian had someone back home that was just as deeply affected.  Especially so, if those in service did not return.  The focus of our Mission is on people – even a quick glance at the RFTW Mission Statement makes that obvious.  When that mission statement is boiled down to its base, we can see that it is borne of one of the oldest creeds of the “Brotherhood of Arms” – LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND.  For us, “NO ONE” – includes family and friends.

Secondly, our collective attention to the issue of those left behind is important to help keep the people of our country and of our government aware that we have NOT FORGOTTEN.  In an age where it appears most our politicians are more interested in staying in power and opposing people they don’t like, our unbiased attention to the real issues facing our patriotic citizens is more important than ever.  I may not agree with how all our RFTW family members feel about political issues, but I will lock arms with all of them to keep the pressure on to bring home the TRUE Patriot who was lost or missing in the service of our great nation.

 Finally, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency ( is an office in the Pentagon that is funded by our tax dollars and their mission must be kept in the spotlight!  Whether you love them or hate them, the DPAA is a staffed and funded function of our military infrastructure and they are moving forward.  From the latest stats published by the DPAA, the numbers of missing are as follows…

________________Missing as of 25JAN2019______Accounted for in 2018_

World War 2:                                72,747                                              160

Korean War:                                   7,671                                                43

Vietnam War:                                1,590                                                11

Gulf War:                                             5                                                      0

I was encouraged to see that 88 of those recovered from WW2 are from Pearl Harbor – the USS Arizona Memorial Site there is as sacred to a Sailor as the Alamo is to any Texan.  It is also worth noting that of the more than 82,000 missing, 75% were lost in the Indo-Pacific region, and over 41,000 of the missing are presumed lost at sea.  The bottom line is that we are not just shouting in the wilderness – there is an agency working for us to seek out and recover our missing.  We are the watchdogs.  We must help keep the focus where it belongs so that the spark of hope can become the warmth of closure for our honored POW/MIA Families.


This is why WE RIDE…

TOGETHER WE can make a difference…



Very best regards,

Billie “Bugs” Dunlap

Southern Route Coordinator

Run For The Wall XXXI

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RFTW SR RC Newsletter – DECEMBER 2018

Greetings from Fort Worth, TEXAS!

“Enjoy your retirement” they said. “You’ll have more time at home” they said. “You won’t have to go to sea again” they said. Things often don’t go as expected – since retiring in July, I’ve spent 5 weeks at home and 4 weeks at sea! But the truth is, I have very much enjoyed my partial retirement – I’ve even grown a beard!


As of this 01 DEC 2018, there are only 164 days until Kick Stands up on Wednesday, 15 MAY 2019! For those of you keeping score, that means we’re more than half way around the sun with only 5½ months to go. It’s never too early for the long-range planning of health, fitness, equipment, route and lodging. Speaking of lodging, I’m fielding a lot of e-mails asking about publication of the Hotel List…

Hotel List for the Run

For those who don’t know or may have filed the info away somewhere, the Hotel List for all routes is expected to publish on 01 JAN 2019. Your State coordinators are finishing up the final negotiations for a good group rate at several hotels local to each of our overnight stops. The Hotel Lists will be published on each Route’s respective Hub on the web site. Your clue to its publication will be when the title changes from “Southern Route 2018 Hotels” to “Southern Route 2019 Hotels”.

RFTW President’s Message

If you haven’t done so, please take the time to read the RFTW President’s Message for NOV/DEC 2018 under the “Scuttlebutt” tab on the main page. It’s terrible to think that one person’s reach for dollars nearly forced our setting aside this great Mission and relegating the Veterans and Patriots we support back to the dark days of silence and neglect. Like Easy said in his message, “…veterans suing veterans has consequences…” I can think of several combat analogies to that act, but none are pleasant and may even cause distress in the reading – I’ll not add to the pain. But the good news is we’re still on track despite this individual’s efforts and RFTW XXXI is getting ready to roll!

Bucket List

There’s always talk about the Run being more than a ride, and all of us who’ve lived it understand that. If your friend tells you it’s on their “Bucket List” when you talk about RFTW, just grin and tell them, “It’s time to fill the Bucket!” You and I both know this Mission quickly overflows that bucket and just like the old potato chip commercial said, “It’s hard to eat just one!” Besides, how many of you before RFTW knew that there was more out there and felt the need to re-connect with your family of service – whether military or civilian. You may have joined in that one leg of the Run and then decided to stay for another – and another while feeling there was something there that you couldn’t quite categorize. Then the next year you joined from your hometown to ride into DC and really grasped the magic. Then the next year – ALL THE WAY! The bottom line is that we all have a story of what led us to the Run, and it doesn’t matter if it was a Bucket List or a dire need to connect with your veteran family. I’ll be glad you’re here and I’ll be proud to ride with you for 1 leg, 1 day or ALL THE WAY! You’re all part of the story, part of the Mission and part of the Family!

The Mission

While we’re thinking of the mission and being on track, it’s a good time to remember what that mission is…

The mission statement of Run For The Wall reads:

  •        To Promote healing among ALL veterans and their families and friends
  •        To Call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action (POW/MIA)
  •        To Honor the memory of those Killed in Action (KIA) from all wars
  •        To Support our military personnel all over the world

While we strongly emphasize the Mission when we’re on the Run, we all know in our hearts that the Mission is alive every day. When I read of Wizard’s weekly visitations with our honored veterans or Wonder Woman’s trips to DC to keep the MIA search in the focus of our government or see the way we as a nation pause to honor the passing of truly revered war Veteran and President – I know that spark is alive in more people than we realize. Our job, as we CONTINUE THE MISSION, is to keep feeding that spark and fan it to flame whenever and wherever we can.


I’d like to wish a very joyous Christmas season to all my RFTW Family. As we reflect on the blessings of life and liberty that we all enjoy in the greatest nation on earth, we also remember those standing watch to ensure we may continue to do so. May God continue blessing each of us in the new year and guard us to safe pathways along the roads we ride.


Very best regards,

Billie “Bugs” Dunlap

Southern Route Coordinator

Run For The Wall XXXI

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RFTW XXXI – SR Assistant Route Coordinator Intro & Newsletter

This months opening Newsletter is from our RFTW XXXI ARC, Bob “Captain America” Nelson.  V/r, Bugs

October 2018 Newsletter – ARC Edition

Greetings from the high desert of Northern Nevada. First, I would like to thank Bugs and the BOD for allowing me this honor to serve as the Southern Route Assistant Route Coordinator for RFTW XXXI 2019.

Secondly, I would like to introduce myself to those who do not know me. I was an FNG, just as we all were once, in 2004. I am a veteran of 10 Runs For The Wall, US Navy (Vietnam ’72 – ‘73), US Army (Afghanistan ’03) Retired in 2010.

I believe that RFTW was founded by Vietnam Veterans who likely never envisioned these situations we face today as a Nation.   We will need to continue to adapt and evolve to live up to our stated Mission. That means we will need to strive to understand the issues and challenges that face our recent era of Veterans and Welcome Them Home. That does not mean that we abandon our heritage but build upon it to include ALL who need our support.

Lastly, I would like to clarify a subject the is often misunderstood and misinterpreted, that is Saluting by United States Members of the Armed Forces and Veterans while not in uniform.

Although it is not widely known, a provision of the 2009 Defense Authorization Act changed federal law to all US Veterans and military personnel not in uniform to render the military hand-salute when the National Anthem is played and during the raising, lowering or passing of the flag.   As for the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, follow the guidance of subparagraph ( C ) below.

Here is the actual text from the law:


Section 301(b)(1) of title 36, United States Code, is amended by striking subparagraphs (A) through (C) and inserting the following new subparagraphs:

(A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;  (B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and  (C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it  at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart;

Note: Part (C) applies to those not in the military and non-veterans. The phrase “men not in uniform” refers to civil service uniforms like police, fire fighters, and letter carriers – non-veteran civil servants who might normally render a salute while in uniform.


Bob “Captain America” Nelson

Assistant Route Coordinator RFTW SR 2019


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Southern Route Contact List Update

Southern Route Riders,

The Southern Route Contacts list has been updated for the current list of Platoon Leadership assignments, Road Guards, Ambassadors, Staging, and State Coordinators as well as many other important jobs.  The Fuel Team and Chaplain assignments will be posted as soon as they are available, but the contact info for those team’s leaders are listed if you need to reach them.  If you’re interested in volunteering for one of the teams, please contact the Team Leader for more information.  You may also contact me or the ARC, Bob Nelson for more info or to volunteer for some of the direct support positions.

Very best regards,

Billie “Bugs” Dunlap
Southern Route Coordinator
Run For The Wall XXXI

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RFTW SR RC Newsletter – SEPTEMBER 2018 – Part 1

Greetings from Fort Worth, Texas!

Yes, I’m writing from Fort Worth having returned just this past weekend from the RFTW All Route Kerrville Reunion. Cowboy and Sam and the cast of family supporting the effort outdid themselves again in presenting the best Kerrville Reunion EVER! The weather didn’t cooperate like we all hoped it would, but you can’t rain out the Run and you can’t rain out the spirit of the Mission which was obviously as strong as it was last May.

Besides the Reunion, your Southern Route Leadership Team has been hard at work coordinating the events and support leading up to next May. We are very close to announcing the entire Platoon Leadership assignments, but in the meantime, your RFTW XXXI Platoon Leaders have been assigned as follows…

Six Pack:          Don “Mid-Wife” Jordan

1st Platoon:     Lennie “Big Red” Hodson

2nd Platoon:   Ralph “Sidewinder” Sorenson

3rd Platoon:    Mike “COB” Pittman

4th Platoon:    Robert “Old School” Reavis

5th Platoon:    David “Buzz” Mullen

6th Platoon:   Adam “Copper” McElroy

7th Platoon:    Van “Silk Tie” Robinson

8th Platoon:   George “Mr. Magic” Howard

9th Platoon:   Dennis “Pop” Schwartz

10th Platoon:  Angie “Den Mother” Uhler

The Assistant Platoon Leaders and Tailgunners are being notified now and the full list will be published very soon.

I’ve also sent out a coordination message to all the Southern Route State Coordinators looking for information concerning their areas of responsibility and information about their team supply requirements. If you are a State Coordinator or Assistant and you don’t have an e-mail in your inbox from me, please contact me ASAP.

On another note, online Registration for RFTW XXXI is open and the on-line geedunk store is stocked and ready to take your orders. At last report, there were almost 200 folks already pre-registered across all routes. The incentive to register online is even greater this year in that on-site registration will now be $50 – online registration remains at $30. Don’t wait – register now!

Finally, I want to express how proud I am to be a part of this family. Regardless of your politics, or what brand of motorcycle you ride or whether you say pee-cann or pee-cahn, it just doesn’t matter when we get together to reinforce the bonds that make us strong. And those bonds are STRONG! I can’t tell you how many people have told me – “I’ll do any job you need me to do!” and they mean it! Those are the folks with their eye on the mission and know that ALL the jobs are important. I challenge all of you who look forward to May, to keep in mind that the Mission goes on year ‘round and the job you do to advance that mission is just as important now as it will be then.

Watch for Part 2 coming soon…

Bugs out!

Billie “Bugs” Dunlap

Southern Route Coordinator

Run For The Wall XXXI

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RFTW SR RC Newsletter – AUGUST 2018 – Part 2

Greetings from Pax River!

With Part 2 of the August Newsletter, we begin discussions of Rider Safety and Operating Procedures used on Run For The Wall. It’s never too early to start getting ready and a clear understanding of how we ride is a primary factor in creating and maintaining a safe environment on the road. So, Kick Stands Up – here we go…

Stagger Formation – A Basic Guide

Formation riding can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience when everyone in the group is locked on and the formation remains tight and consistent. When the opposite occurs, the formation ride may become frustrating at best. Very often the difference isn’t necessarily due to rider ability as much as a basic understanding and uniform approach to how the formation is defined. The Stagger Formation is basic to any group ride. It allows for efficient passage on highways, flexibility in traffic, group integrity through intersections and can be safely executed by riders of almost any experience level.

I had the honor and privilege of leading a Platoon in Stagger Formation on RFTW XXVIII in 2016. Along the course of close to 3000 miles that we road together, this group set and held a textbook Stagger Formation that was truly impressive to behold – really, I’ve seen video! Here’s how we did it…

As with any large or complex task, the success of execution depends on attention to the details. A successful Stagger Formation depends on a consistent application of its individual elements.

The Roadway
     >The roadway lane is divided into three tracks – Left/Middle/Right.
     >The Stagger Formation will use the only Left & Right tracks.
     > DO NOT ENTER THE CENTER TRACK except for safety of the lane.

The Formation
     >Each two bike group is a “Section”: Bike 1 & 2, Bike 3 & 4, Bike 5 & 6, etc.
     >The Bike on left is the Lead Bike of the Section, the Bike on right is the Wing Bike.
    >The Lead Bike maintains a set spacing on the bike directly ahead, in the Left Track.
    >The Wing Bike maintains half that spacing on their Lead Bike, but offset in the Right Track.
    >The Wing Bike maintains their spacing on their Lead Bike regardless of the Lead Bike’s spacing except for safety of the lane.

Maintaining Position
    >The Lead bike should watch ahead 2-3 bikes to anticipate fluctuation.
    >Think “Micro-adjustment” of the throttle, no big accelerations or decelerations.
    >Sight Picture – The Wing Bike should observe and set a sight picture in the correct position such as aligning the Lead Bikes right mirror to a spot on the windscreen. As long as the sight picture is lined up, you’re in position.
    >BRAKES should be used only when stopping the formation – spacing is maintained by judicious use of throttle and down shifting.
    >Accordion Effect – The smallest change in speed is magnified as it affects each following rider.
    >Bike Overlap – Unless the formation is coming to a stop, NEVER close the formation to create an overlapping condition between the Lead and Wing Bike.
    >Deceleration Discipline – When the formation slows down, do NOT create an OPENING/INCREASING GAP in front of you. Slowing more quickly than the bike in front of you steals space from the bike behind you.
    >If a rider drops out, the riders on that side move forward to close the gap.
    >When stopped, the formation collapses to side-by-side, then reforms the stagger when rolling.

This concept of the Stagger Formation removes some variability since the primary spacing is maintained only by the Lead Bike of each section. Less experienced riders are often more successful riding in the Wing position. But regardless of position, a good briefing and clear understanding of each rider’s responsibilities will make for a tight and consistent formation, even if you’re NOT riding 3000 miles.

Watch for Part 3 coming soon…

Bugs out!