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Day 10: Arrival!

The day started under black, rain-laden skies. We rode for the first few hours in the rain through the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Gas was donated at all the stops today and lunch was provided at the New Market Civil War Battlefield by Honor Bound where we also honored a friend of the RFTW who no longer is with us. Our Route Coordinator, Tom, gave Lt Col Troy D. Marshall’s family a plaque in remembrance. We picked up an LEO escort at our Toms Brook fuel stop, who ushered us safely to Arlington and left us a few blocks from the Holiday Inn host hotel. Tonight is a night to relax and prepare mentally for what is to come.

The Wall is a powerful, imposing memorial to a band of brothers who far too often were shown disrespect instead of the honor they deserved for answering the call of service to their country. The parade across our great nation and our visit tomorrow to remember their brother’s sacrifices will change that. We respect you, we honor you. This run from Ontario to DC was for you and all of those who cannot ride.

There isn’t too much else to write about today except the joy we all felt at arriving in DC. The mission, to date, has been rigorous and challenging in many ways. Some of our days saw temperatures range from the forties up to the low one-hundreds. We rode through a brief sandstorm, planned around wildfires, and then again planned around a snowstorm. Riders not comfortable with riding side-by-side in close proximity to the bike in front of them are now the experts who will teach next year’s FNGs how to be comfortable doing so. We’ve developed relationships and now call each other sister, brother, and family. Tomorrow we complete the mission at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Typically, we arrive en masse at the host hotel and park in the top parking lot where photos are taken, hugs are shared, and people make plans for dinner and times to connect later in the evening. That was somewhat circumvented due to us arriving on the heels of the Southern Route. Our LEO escort moved our timetable up by an hour so instead of the Southern Route arriving, then moving to the bottom level parking, we were pushed to the bottom level and those who weren’t staying at the host hotel were asked to ride on to where they are staying. For me, this meant I missed getting both hugs and pictures after our arrival at the host hotel. The photos you see here taken after our arrival were provided by Jean Galt.

A quick note about the countless number of overpasses and people who came out to line roads to cheer us on. Thank you so much for supporting the mission and our Veterans. I cannot express just how much this meant to all of us. You gave each of our heroes the welcome home parade they deserve. The very last overpass we passed under on our way into DC that had supporters on it held two of my coworkers. Thanks, Ben and Randy for following along with the RFTW these past ten days and taking the time to come out in poor weather. The short video and media below of us on the road were captured by them.

CR just outside of Arlington