Posted on Leave a comment

Day Six – Forrest City, AR to Cookeville, TN. 349 miles

Fun In The Sun!

After the emotionally charged day we had yesterday, we were all looking forward to a “simple” day of riding.  No real agenda other than making it to Cookeville, TN.  Well, that isn’t exactly true, because today was Sunday, and that means “Church with Chaplains!”  (That’s not what our church service is really called, but let’s see if we can “make it a thing.”)  This morning, “Blister” and his lovely Wife offered us a worship service filled with song and scripture, and enough patriotism mixed in to make everyone happy!  Our Sunday services are “non-denominational” so that they may include everyone from all religions and faiths.  Over the years with RFTW, I have heard Baptist, Episcopalian, Church of Christ, Pentecostal, and several other ministers speak to our crowd.  It’s funny to say, but our Preachers are never “preachy” but always talk about Gods love for us and how our faith redeems us. Today was no exception.  Our Chaplains offer encouragement, enlightenment, and healing for all who need it, regardless of their background or faith.  We got a GREAT start to our day!

We threw a leg over our saddles right after church and headed out on the open road.  Or should I say “closed highways?”  Yep, we had LEO (Law Enforcement Officer) escorts all day long.  We had another presidential escort to get us through Memphis, we had the Tennessee State Troopers take us down most of the highways, and had local police in every town.  They were all great and saved our own Road Guards from a lot of hard work.  That doesn’t mean that they had it overly easy, though.  When not under a Presidential escort (all lanes closed), there is still traffic on the roads.  There is an Officer or two at the front of the pack to guide us, and one or two in the back to slow down the traffic.  It is up to the Road Guards to take care of the Riders in between the two ends.  They still have to block intersections, move traffic along instead of letting them sit in one position next to the bikes, and do what is called a “rolling block” so that the pack can safely change lanes.  It is hard work!

But the Road Guards love doing it.  I can tell you from personal experience, having been a Road Guard for a few years, that riding moderately aggressively is fun, but you had better be sharp and on your game.  Dealing with traffic jams while trying to catch up and pass the pack is challenging.  But they you’re your Photographer) put up with the hassle to make sure we all arrive safely at our destination.  (And get pictures along the route, as well!)

One of the payoffs for this morning’s work was arriving at our lunch stop in Dickson, Tennessee.  We paraded through town to thunderous applause and screaming children, all waving flags and holding up banners.  We stopped at the Dickson Cumberland Presbyterian Church and had an amazing stuffed baked potato and a salad with TONS of additions like olives, bacon, pickled beets, ham, cheese, and all sorts of other good things.  (Yes Kathy, I had a big salad!)  We washed it all down with a big ol’ glass of sweet tea and then finished off the meal with the most decadent chocolate cake!  It was so good!!!

But do you know what was even better?  The people that welcomed us into their church.  From the youngest little girl that handed each one of us a Gideon Bible, to the oldest Lady that served me the tea, these people were all smiles, hugs, and handshakes.  They do this for us every year, and we greatly appreciate it.

There is another special group that helps out with this meal that I want to mention.  I don’t know how it got started, but I am glad that it did.  When we arrive, there is a group of Men standing apart from the crowds, up the slope of a little hill, just standing in the shade.  They always wear a bright yellow shirt and some black and white striped pants.  They are inmates from the local prison.  These Men found themselves on the wrong side of society and the law and have been incarcerated.  But this group has worked hard to turn their lives around and are getting ready to rejoin their community.  They do “community service” work, such as lawn maintenance, setting up our chairs and tables, and cleaning up after we leave.  Several of us make it a point each year to go over and talk to them.  We don’t treat them any different that we do our own friends.  We thank them for what they have done for the Church, ask if there are any Veterans in the group, joke about the weather, some talk about sports, … You know, just being people!  Hopefully, by not ostracizing them or being “afraid” to associate with them, maybe we can help them regain their pride and they can become productive members of society again.  Gentlemen, Thank You!

Then it was off to Nashville, which is always “fun.”  Thankfully, we had another LEO escort which made it much safer AND quicker than if we would have had to do it ourselves.  I rode well ahead of the pack so that I could get to “Uncle Pete’s” and take pictures of the entire pack arriving.  I don’t know who Uncle Pete is, but this fuel stop is very popular.  There are BIG parking lots, lots of fuel pumps, and extremely friendly people there to help us.  There are always a group of Patriot there to greet us, chief amongst them is the local Fire Department!  They bring out a couple of ladder trucks and fly a HUGE American flag that we ride directly under.  It is quite a sight, and that flag makes a great backdrop for photos.  I felt like a little kid in a candy store!  Thanks to all the Riders that posed for me, but even more thanks for not running me over!  Standing in the middle of 250 bikes, all with engines running, looking for a good photo can be a little nerve wracking.  But I trust these Guys and Gals, and we enjoy “playing” at times like these.

After that last fuel stop, things get a little more intense.  The road from Nashville to Cookeville is beautiful!  “There are trees and hills and plants and things, and the sky is turned to blue.”  But there is also a lot of traffic on these winding roads to be wary of.  Especially after that big lunch and the strength-sapping heat that we have been enduring.  But we soldiered on and arrived in Cookeville just in time for … ANOTHER MEAL!  (I will probably gain some weight on this Mission!)

The City of Cookeville is a marvelous place, and they really treat us like royalty.  We again parade through town, with hundreds of well-wishers lining the streets.  They welcome us into their community with food, speeches, music, and all manner of hospitality.  We like Cookeville so much, that we have decided to stay here for TWO nights this year.

But that is a story for tomorrow.


Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
Midway Route Photographer and SITREP Author.




If you would like to see all of the “quick edit photos” that I have been posting on Facebook, you can view the entire gallery at:   I will be adding more photos to it each day.   After the Run is completed, I will be editing thousands more photos and posting them to individual day galleries on the same location.

Leave a Reply