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SR Day 1. Wednesday, May 17th

It’s here!!  Day 1 of our journey to D.C.   After an inspiring talk from RFTW Founder, James “Gunny” Gregory, & a brief opening ceremony, everyone started getting ready – and we were off!  It went relatively smoothly, getting out of Ontario and the whole L.A. area.  Then we headed to our first fuel stop at Coachella & Spotlight 29 Casino for a break & short meeting. This is always a very welcomed stop—they’re practically like family now.   And speaking of “warm,” the temp is already warm!  Let me rephrase that – it is HOT! Already 93° and it’s only 10 o’clock in the morning!

Now, on to Blythe, CA, where we know it’s even hotter…but the people treat us like royalty.   After lunch & lots of water, we gear up for the afternoon ride—which is long & very challenging.   This is where you quickly discover if you kept yourself sufficiently hydrated.   We made it to our afternoon fuel stop in Tonopah, AZ.   I would bet money that we were standing on the asphalt parking lot that was at least 120 degrees.   The air temperature was ranging from 100 to 102.  Wow….   

On to Casa Grande, though, for supper at the Elk’s Lodge.   And it was surely a welcomed site.   Many of the towns people were there, waving us in and greeting us at the Lodge.   They fed us a great supper of Mexican food, which really hit the spot.   The Elks people were just fabulous.   And what made it even more special was that we had some pleasant surprise visits from a few riders & road guards in the RFTW family that no longer ride with us.    Another great thing that happened today was that we were either right on time or early on our scheduled stops!    Getting in early rarely happens, which meant we got off the hot highway & bright sun.    Now—we’re off to the hotels for a cool shower & rest for Day 2.     After a grueling 406 mile day, tomorrow will be slightly easier at 354 miles.  Plus, the weather is SAYING that it’ll be cooler….  We’ll see!

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SR Pre-Run. Tuesday, May 16th

An early start today—-some of us were here in Lot D to send off the Midway Route on their journey eastbound to D.C.!  Yes—-Midway Route is leaving a day earlier, yet will be in DC at the same time.   Leaving a day earlier is something that has been talked about for several years, but 2023 is the first time it’s been implemented as a “trial run.”   They will be taking a little “down time” in Cookeville, TN.   But back to Lot D—-as in the past, the great folks from the local CMA chapters were out in full force with breakfast burritos, pots of coffee & snacks for the riders to take along.   The Elks Lodge was out there, as well, passing out various items & snacks.    After the brief opening ceremony, it seems everyone was ready to hear the infamous horn blow.   And finally, with a wave good-bye—they were off.

For the other riders who weren’t out there, many headed over to the Lodge, where the Elks people were fixing us breakfast burritos, as well!   In fact, they had a great line-up of meals planned, once more, for us today, as we conducted meetings & met up with friends.    The Elks volunteers have gone above & beyond for RFTW—there is no doubt in anyone’s mind.

This morning we had a leadership meeting, and the excitement was just buzzing.  For all who stayed for lunchtime at the Lodge, we were treated to some great entertainment from the 1st Division Marine Band of Camp Pendleton.  These band members are also active Marines!  They played everything from jazz to 1940’s classics.  Awesome musicians—especially since it’s not their primary job!   Of course, they ended with the “Armed Forces Medley” and “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

For this afternoon—both Central & Southern had the FNG and the All Riders meetings out at Lot D.   All I will say—-is it was acclimating us to the heat!  :-).    Seriously, though, as several members of the leadership team went over vital points, it was good to be reminded of things that we “old timers” had forgotten.     Once the meetings are over—-it’s time to buckle down & get yourself and your gear ready for tomorrow morning—-loading the bike in the dark and heading to Lot D to stage.   I remember well the last minute jitters….     Tomorrow—-for the FNG’s——it’s an adventure they have never experienced before—-and won’t ever forget.

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SR Pre-Run. Monday, May 15th

What a way to start the day!   The great folks at the Elks Lodge not only opened up their place for our meetings, but also is providing us 3 meals a day at great prices.   And what do we have for today?   The awesome Ontario Fire Department, working with the Lodge,  came out, fired up the griddles & made us pancakes.   For lunch, we had hamburgers, & the smoke from the outdoor grills cooking those patties just made your mouth water.   To top it off—-they served an awesome steak dinner for the evening.   This place was hopping all day long—with meetings, registrations or just socializing.   Back at the host hotel, the parking lot was busy as well, especially the merchandise trailer.   Many other “logistic duties” & errands were getting done by all routes.

This afternoon there at the Elks Lodge, we had the special privilege of watching Army Specialist Stephen Peterson, from the Middle East Conflict, receive his bike from Combat Hero Bike Build.   This is always a great, yet humbling thing to witness.

Tomorrow will bring something entirely new to the Run!   Something not ever done before—it’s exciting, yet, with anything tried out for the first time, it’s nerve-wracking.  “Stay tuned” as they say.

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Pre-Run. Sunday, May 14th

It’s finally here!    MAY is upon us and the official 2023 RFTW Ride is only days away!

My name is Diann “Mojo” McKee, and I’m the Southern Route’s sit-rep writer for this year.   Of all the jobs I’ve held on the run during my years, I’ve never been sit-rep writer.   So—-here goes!    Just a note—-the sit-reps will not have any pictures attached.   This year, “Eyes,” our RC, has a Social Media person who will be taking & posting MANY pictures throughout the day and on all the media sites.  What a great way to really see what’s going on——all throughout the run!

Here it is—Sunday.   Excitement is building as the riders keep arriving during the day.   Hugs and handshakes are abundant.   The parking lot is filling up rapidly with bikes trying to find a spot, and the merchandise trailer is already doing a brisk business.   It’s wonderful seeing old friends, again—being glad that they were able to make it one more year.

Talk about organized chaos. All the different leadership teams were trying to get things distributed to their team members throughout the day. But excitement was everywhere. Tomorrow’s schedule is packed with many meetings, along with some special events.   And tonight offered a church service at the host hotel.    Yes, today was a time to relax (i.e. release some of the pent-up energy!) with our RFTW family. Then, getting a good night’s sleep—ready for leadership meetings— and seeing even more old friends AND greeting new FNG’s as they arrive.

As the evening progressed, you could see many gatherings of old friends in the different hotels. To see the riders getting together, socializing and catching up on their lives is what makes everything so worthwhile.  Not to mention that it helps calm the “run jitters,” despite how many times we’ve already done it.    THAT never goes away.   Comparing our similar little personal trials with each other seems to help us forge ahead for the intense days facing us.