Day 3, Las Cruces, NM, to Odessa, TX, 348 miles
I’ve never ridden in such an intense riding situation. There is no lollygagging. There is no looking around. This is a mission and you look front and forward all the time. It’s a close-riding formation with rules for which you may get gigged. It can go from 70 mph to 30 mph in less than a heartbeat and you must gear down, working hard to not hit your brakes. I admit I’ve done it a bit. But a proud moment for me when our Platoon Leader told me I was a good rider. In a mostly men’s ride, that’s a high compliment indeed.
The only updates I’ve had is we have about 1,700 riders so far, more than last year. Our Southern Route has about 400 bikes and about 45 more are expected to join us in Texas. Yahoo. It’s huge. Logistics must be a nightmare and yet everything appears to run mostly smoothly. When I worked I did one-day events. I’ve worked on three-day Harley Owners Group events. This is TEN days. I cannot even imagine the work that goes into this. There is a fuel crew, a staging crew, a photographer, our platoon leaders, road guards, chaplains, and so many more. And our leaders are on call 24/7 while we’re on the run. Kudos to all of those who have organized and volunteered to make this happen.
We started at the American Legion this morning and left for a wreath-laying ceremony at Veteran’s Memorial Park. The ceremony took place in front of the Vietnam War Memorial. What a beautiful park. It has a statue of the Bataan Death March. What a sad story. And there are footsteps are in the walkway depicting their footsteps. I did not understand fully what this was last year on my FNG run. But I’ve been reading books about WWII and came across some of the history of the death march. How sad. How awful that men can treat other men so badly.
Our keynote speaker at the Las Cruces Memorial Park this morning was Larry Nichols. Army. He said something that will stay with me as I live with a Vietnam vet, Marine. He said, “Once a Vietnam veteran, always a Vietnam veteran.” How true I find that … and now I’m starting to understand more of who the person is that I live with.
We stopped in Van Horne, Texas. We were provided lunch and got to listen to more bagpipes. This run has a love of bagpipes. So do I. Amazing Grace on bagpipes and I was bawling like a baby.
We arrived in Odessa about 6:30. After dinner at the Crossroads Fellowship Church we went to see the Chris Kyle Memorial. He was the Navy Seal, of the American Sniper movie fame. The statue has notes carved in it from his wife and children. I left a painted rock and discovered many bullets that have been left on the memorial as well.
These towns sure know how to treat people and show us that the American people are way more good than bad, that patriotism is not dead, and that the RFTW means so much to so many.
We finally got to the hotel about 9. These are long days starting with wake up at 5 am or so.
I’ve ridden to Milwaukee multiple times, I’ve done other rallies and rides, Patriot Guard Escorts and parades. This is way more than that, and compares to nothing else I’ve ever done in my years of riding. For those of us who ride HD, there’s the saying that, “If I have to explain it, you wouldn’t understand.” That is the RFTW.
“We will remember those we loved, who died to keep us free, on foreign shores they fought for us, from sea to shining sea.”