Day 5, Midway Route. Sunday, May 19, 2019.
Shawnee, OK to Forest City, AR.
Wow! What a glorious day! Perfect weather for riding, starting cool and getting “almost” hot. (But not TOO hot!) With it being Sunday, we started our day with a church service, where our Senior Chaplain “Good Wrench” was thanked for having such a great connection with the Man Upstairs. His prayers yesterday must have been so good that God decided to grace us with even better weather than before. No pressure Good Wrench, but we are expecting you to continue asking for our protection and care!
Well, let’s talk about the riding today. I saw some things that were amazing! First, as the photographer, I sometimes zip ahead of the pack to get onto an overpass. Early this morning, I saw our group of 350+ Riders round a corner and come straight towards me … in almost perfectly straight lines! Remember, many of these people have not ridden in a formation before, and some were completely brand-new to RFTW Riding. They did such an amazing job and looked so good. It was thrilling for me to see this spectacle, and I have been doing this for 6 years!
And the Riders weren’t the only beautiful sight to behold, either. Everywhere I looked, on street corners, road-sides, parking lots, and on more of the over-passes, there were civilian supporters out to greet us and wave us along. You really cannot fathom what that means to these Riders. I can see them sit a little taller in the saddle, tighten up there already flawless formations, and then (safely) wave to the spectators. And then when we get to our next stopping point, they laugh and smile and say things like “Did you see that guy with the flag, sitting in a wheelchair?” or “I wanted to salute but I didn’t know which flag to look at!” or “How are we supposed to ride while crying?” You see, YOUR support is what these Veterans need. It helps them heal the wounds that aren’t visible. Thank You for supporting them!
WE got to show our support for a very special Family today. The Mother, Sister, Brother, and Wife of James W Herrick JR were at our lunch stop today. Why was this special? Herrick went missing In Action 50 years ago in Vietnam. His Family is still waiting for answers so that they can have closure and peace. THIS IS WHY WE RIDE!
After our lunch, we headed back down the road. It was “kind of” warm today, so everyone was REALLY wanting to get to the hydration trailer for some drinks and snacks. (Provided by the M25 Chaplain Corp!) But before they could get the drinks, they had to fill their gas tanks. I have NEVER seen a fuel stop go so smoothly or quickly! Our fuel Team is amazing! They can fuel all of our bikes (350+) in about 20 minutes!
All good things must eventually come to an end, and so it was with this great day of riding. We safely traveled 396 miles through beautiful countryside and ugly construction zones, to get to our evenings destination. The Ridgewood Baptist Church in Forrest City Arkansas supplied us with a fried chicken dinner that truly hit the spot. But they did more than just feed our weary bodies: They fed our weary souls. From the Young Man that sang our National Anthem to our Patriotic Musical Performer, the evening was laced with joy, happiness, and spiritual blessings. We hugged our Brothers and Sisters, we shook hands with all of our supporters, and we promised to look out for each other and to help each other any way that is needed, as we get up tomorrow morning and do it all again.
Many years ago, my Father wrote a short story whose title perfectly sums up our Mission: “I wonder what today will bring?”
Jim “Hoofer” McCrain