Day 1 Wednesday, May 17, 2017
And we were off like a heard of turtles. Well not quite. Today was the start of the ride or race across the US. To most of us it’s a mission; one we’ve done plenty of times. Up at 0430. Packed the night before thankfully. Breakfast started at 0600 at the hotel. So after pounding some of the usual fare we headed over to the staging area. Our platoon got quickly arranged and we made the usual introductions. This year I have all the riders with trailers and all our platoon members, except leadership are FNGs at least to start off with. I was all smiles. It was great to have all of them.
Then the boring and excruciatingly long “mandatory” meeting. Will they ever be even slightly shorter or a little more practical? Doubtful. As if we couldn’t brief hand signals better or faster at the platoon level, we were dragged through the corn field yet again. I love the FNG introduction, colors, prayers, singing of the National Anthem with signers participating, thanks given to everyone involved in RFTW, flyovers, especially the flyovers, but sometimes enough is too much. Sorry to sound like complaining here. It’s one thing I’m good at.
Platoon Leaders had all of 10 minutes to brief riders on everything they needed to know to be safe on the road riding together in a group. Regardless, we abandoned the Radisson and downtown Ontario and headed up Cajon Pass …in the fog. Anyone plan for riding in the fog? No, didn’t plan on that. Our platoon performed even better than expected with only a 10 minute brief. In fact, they looked quite good riding together, especially after they caught up. Did someone forget to sound the 5 minute horn? Anyway we all made it to Barstow for a drive by of the MCAS Logistics Base. Many people greeted us including several fire truck units with sirens. Thank you MCAS Logistics for your patriotism and allowing us entrance to your facilities. We thank you.
We then headed to Ludlow for fuel. The cost of fuel had been donated. We have the best supporters and sponsors on the Midway Route. After Ludlow, we left California and the windy high desert behind and headed into Arizona for our first fuel stop. It was two years ago I met a friend here at the Havasu Standard Station, I hadn’t seen in 50 years. When I walked past him he called out my name. When I turned he said his name and we embraced. What a blast from the past. We grew up neighbors and friends and both attended the same high school and were on the swimming and water polo teams together. He is also a veteran, a Navy SEAL and Army Ranger. It was great to see my buddy again. We made plans to meet again before next year’s run.
Before entering Kingman our Arizona State Coordinator, Queen Bee had made arrangements for the Highway Patrol and Kingman Police to escort us to our fuel stop. First they thought we needed to be briefed on how that would happen. So we spent 30 or so minutes (maybe it was only 20) riding up and down a side road then parking and chatting a while, then finally getting back on the Interstate, heading pell-mell into Kingman.
Another donated fuel stop. Thanks again. At Mother Road Harley Davidson we were treated to a great lunch and the usual thanks from Bandit to contributors. There were a lot. Queen Bee took up most of the plaques to be handed out later.
We departed for our fuel stop in Williams. As we did I noticed what I thought was a problem with my bike so I stopped to check it out. The oil temperature gauge was pegged. According to the reading, my engine oil was 360 degrees. I knew that couldn’t be the case, so after checking it, I decided to ignore it. I’ll look at it when I have more time. It took me quite a ways to catch up to my platoon. I announced my arrival and my Assistant Platoon Leader allowed me to slip back in formation.
Our fuel stop in Williams was again donated, our thanks once more. A few miles down the road we turned off and were escorted into Flagstaff to the VFW by LEO again this year. What a warm welcome we received there. The Mayor of Kingman showed up to welcome us as well. The Boy Scouts of America took great care of us. Everyone was quickly served, and seated. Again, thanks to all participants were announced by Bandit with the usual plaques being handed out. Then seconds were announced. Yum. Is it possible to pass up a second sloppy joe? From here we were given the rest of the night off.
Tomorrow we head into New Mexico. We will visit Milan Elementary School. Last year, the children recited a second verse after the end of the Pledge of Allegiance. It goes like this:
“I pledge to be a person of character;
to help others when they need it;
to treat others the way I want to be treated;
to be caring, respectful, responsible;
be a good citizen;
be fair and trustworthy.
I count! You count!”
Wouldn’t it be great to hear everyone recite this verse with the children?
**** Names on the wall for Arizona (619), For Flagstaff, AZ (16) ****
Day 1 is in the books
We Ride For Those That Can’t
Tom “Twotone” Lystrup / Platoon 6 Leader / SitRep Writer / email@example.com