Greetings from sunny southern New Mexico! I know that many of you have been buried under piles of snow over the past few weeks, but Spring is coming, and you know what is right behind that!
We are now less than 4 months to KSU on May 16 in Ontario, California and your Southern Route leadership crew has been working hard to make this 30th Run the best it can be. There will be a few changes this year that should ease some of the route challenges we’ve had in the past and we’ve built on lessons learned from last year with a revised plan for Platoon rotations. I’ll publish more of the details as they become final but here’s an overview of where we’re heading…
Day 1 Destination – Getting out of Phoenix from the west side of town on Day 2 has always been a challenge. The early morning rush passing through town presents us all with an immediate thrust into heavy commuter traffic just as all our riders are beginning to settle into the Run. To alleviate much of this issue, we’ll be landing on the east side of Phoenix at the end of Day 1 where we’ll be hosted by Chandler Harley Davidson. These extra few miles will allow us to pass through the heavy afternoon traffic in the relatively well protected HOV lane before exiting directly to the host location. The next day’s departure should be much easier as we roll out on I-10 well beyond the heavy inbound traffic.
Day 5 Route – I think I’d rather ride crossways over a railroad track than ride over the 15 miles of humps and bumps along I-20 through Shreveport, Louisiana – especially with 400 bikes flowing through behind me! With the construction completed on the I-220 bypass, we’ll be taking the extra 2 miles to get around that less than desirable stretch of highway with smoother sailing on a new stretch of pavement. Unfortunately, we’ll still be galloping along over the rest of I-20 into Monroe but we all know what will be waiting for us at the Shriner’s Hall – WORTH IT!!!
Platoon Rotation – Like it or don’t, the Platoon rotations last year were an experience that generated a lot of discussion. This year, we’ll be running a revised rotation plan that gives everyone a shot at the smooth air near the lead of the pack but will be accomplished over a shorter span of days at the beginning of the Run. When we cross the Mississippi River into the dense traffic of the southeast, we’ll all be settled into place and looking good!
Our Road Guard Captain, Bob “Captain” Mazzone has done a great job so far in coordinating an awesome cadre of Road Guards and has a plan to make this another safe Run For The Wall. Big thanks to Kelley “Gonzo” Perry for working out the route and timing details.
Also a big thanks to all our State Coordinators for their hard work in arranging the hotel accommodations and group rates that play such a big part in making this Run affordable. But you should all keep in mind that they do MUCH more than just call ahead to the hotels. They also plan ahead for all of our stops, act as the point of contact for supporting organizations all across the country and generally put themselves out as the Face of the Run until our thundering herd arrives on the appointed day in May. So when you see one of these folks in a maroon colored “State Coordinator” hat – be sure to give them a big Thank You Hug as they welcome you home in their state.
I would like all riders to remember why we ride. We ride for accountability for our POW’s and Mia’s from all wars. There are many things that go on in our everyday that we lose sight of the mission, but for some of our run family there is never a day that goes by without losing sight because their loved one’s that have not come home. After many years of involvement on the run I have become close with a small number of those families and it’s my personal mission to help bring closure for them. I am not a veteran but many of my family members are and have done their part to protect and serve this great country and allow us our freedoms. My way to give back is to help organize and lead the 30th run to keep our mission strong and remind the public that are people who do care and will continue to push forward this mission.
That’s about it for now, Bugs is calling me again and I gotta get back to work!
See you all in May!
“Ride With Heart”
Chad “Slacker” O’Dell
Southern Route Coordinator 2018