America’s 911 Ride #395301 (1 + 2494 more)
From: Carl Schelin
Subject: America’s 911 Ride (very long)
Lines: 265
Date: Mon Nov 12 19:03:37 EST 2001

Hey all,

I’m back and the drinks are on me. Diet Coke for me bartender.

I just did a quick scan back and didn’t see anything about this weekend’s ride. I’m not sure if no one knew, cared, haven’t had a chance, or what so here’s my ride report.

URL: there are pictures up now.

I’ve been trying to get my wife out on a group ride. Arguments mainly being that it’d be safer in a group and she’d enjoy the ride better than alone.

She must have heard this on the local classic rock station (94.7) because she brought the web site to my attention.

The purpose of the ride, as stated on the site, was to honor the folks who gave their lives in New York and the Pentagon and to _bring_ funds to New York instead of sending money.

So we made our arrangements, grabbed our gear, and headed to DC Saturday morning. (By the way, I think we were one of the few with orange vests on over our jackets, in case you were there and saw us.)

It was a bit on the nippy side so I had my longies on as well as my belly belt. We pulled in at the Washington Monument and there were probably 1000 bikes of all types and styles. I wandered around looking for someone I might know and the wife headed to the porta-potties.

I get the feeling the coordinator didn’t expect so many folks to show up. There were three porta-potties and only two were in use. The third one being locked. Rita said that while she was waiting, a police office came up to cut the lock off of the third one when a lady from the teepee (there’s a teepee set up on the lawn) ran up and said that the porta-potties were hers and that she was letting us use two of them out of the kindness of her heart. I say we raise a glass for her right now (_salute_).

We had a blessing of the bikes at pretty close to the official kick-off (10am) and Rita trotted up a few minutes later. We got geared up and hopped on the bike.

As we were pulling out of our parking place, I saw someone’s white and power blue bike start forward (about 20 bikes up from us) and almost tip over. A couple of guys grabbed it and helped him get it up. Close call.

So we headed out of the parking lot, to the right. As we were making our right turn on 14th street, my right floorboard dragged on a hump in the road. Pretty heavily too.

We went up behind the Holocaust Museum and on to 395, police escort all the way. We hit the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and headed north. At times we were hitting 80 mph to catch up with the pack. At other times, we were inching along with the accordion effect.

We got stuck in traffic up towards 695 (Baltimore Beltway) as the police stopped the folks in the right lane. We slid over to the right as we got there and headed out at speed again.

We zipped up to the exit for 95 north (nice curved exit) and headed through Baltimore. Along the way the police were stopped at entrance ramps to 95 stopping oncoming traffic. At places, people were standing outside their cars and waving at us as we drove by. It had to be impressive (and a little annoying) to see all those bikes going by but it was exciting.

We approached the first toll booth. Back at the beginning, everyone paid for the tolls up front. They tied an orange plastic tape around everyone’s arm. This was so they could count the riders as they went through the booths.

At the first booth, the Maryland Police paid for all the tolls so we all drove right through. Raise a glass for the Maryland Police (_salute_).

From there we headed to our first stop. Maryland House service area. This completed the first leg of the trip. 72 miles according to the web site and it took about two hours to get there. We were running behind schedule since we were supposed to be there at about 11:15 or so.

We all hit the pumps, bathrooms, and food areas. I took my long john top off and we all took about a 30 minute break. Several of the folks at the area stopped us and asked what we were doing.

At the end of 30 minutes, we all gathered our gear, hopped on the bikes, and moved out.

Again, the police were blocking traffic. At the next service area, they were at the exit ramp, forcing the cars over to the side of the road.

The next leg was about 40 miles and the stop was at Mike’s Famous Harley-Davidson in Delaware. There isn’t really much to say about this leg. When we stopped at Mike’s, we pulled off of 95, around the front of Mikes, looped around to the back and to the front of the parking lot. The folks there gave us a ticket for a free fountain soda and 15% off of merchandise at Mike’s.

I got in line for hotdogs and Rita headed in for the sodas. She didn’t like the line and bailed.

We went into Mike’s and checked out the store. One guy came up to the cashier with about 200 bucks of t-shirts. I was checking out the bikes (there were about 30 on the floor) and saw the one I have (’02 FLSTC) going for $23,999. The FLSTCI was marked at $23,499. I wanted to pick up a leather vest but not for $200, thank you very much.

Still, it was an interesting place, with lots of cool stuff.

We bailed from there and headed for the third stop in New Jersey.

We headed up to 195, 130, 1/9 and towards New York.

The police would ride up to the lights and keep people from going through the intersection. Then they would fly by us at a pretty good clip to the next light. At some points, they would force cars to the side of the road. We got separated from the front of the pack by some lights that weren’t blocked or by someone who moved into the flow and stopped for the light. A couple of times, the two rows of bikes split to either side of the stopped cars so we could continue on.

I saw several riders stopping at gas stations.

We hit the third stop, a small gas station where we overwhelmed them with our service. Several folks were pointed to another gas station a couple of miles up the road. When we got to the pump, I found that the nozzle leaked gas on my tank. We whipped out our rags and stemmed the flow. We paid the guy but he didn’t have any change so we got the tank for 3 bucks.

Several of the guys couldn’t wait for the gas station bathroom so headed out behind the station to take leaks. No no, we didn’t take any pictures 🙂

One of the organizers (Ted maybe?) hopped out as we were getting ready to go and apologized for us getting split up. He told us that he would personally run the cars off of the road if they got in our way again.

So we headed off again on the final leg of our journey to New York.

It was getting dark as we came over to bridge leading to New York. We stopped at the beginning of the Holland Tunnel as toll arrangements were made. The picture at the lower left (the dark one) might have even been us sitting and waiting.

Once that was taken care of, we headed in. It was the loudest most awe-inspiring sound you’ve probably ever heard.

As we hit Manhattan, Rita had us pull out of the pack and head to our lodgings. The YMCA at 63rd Street and 8th Ave just off of Central Park. Going up 8th Ave was quite interesting as traffic was everything you might expect. There was a crane in the middle of the street and we were close to be nudged several times by the cabbies.

We found the YMCA, got our keys, and dragged our stuff to our room. Bunk beds, a TV, and a bathroom/shower down the hall. The height of luxury.

We headed out to New York and grabbed something to eat. We wandered around a bit and headed back to our room. We watched TV for an hour or so and hit the sack.

My sleep was broken several times by me trying to wake up. I thought we were still on the road and I was forcing myself to wake up before I hit the guy in front of me. That was a restless night.

In the morning (6:30am), we got up and headed out to the city. We hit breakfast at Cafe Edison on 47th street and took in some sights.

We hit the subway and headed down to Ground Zero. The concrete dust was blowing around, getting in your eyes. The police were blocking access to the site so we skirted around. We stopped at the church with all the signs on the fence and read them. Some of the faces I saw as we walked around were very grim. Others were just tourists (“quick, get a picture of me with the WTC behind me”).

As we hit the side where Battery Park is, we were able to see what was left of the World Trade Center. It was sobering, I’m sure.

We went down to Battery Park and looked out to Lady Liberty and Ellis Island.

We headed back uptown. We stopped in at Lincoln Center (we were across the street from it) and one of the Trump buildings. We went back to our room (the bike was still there in front and totally unmolested), grabbed our stuff, suited up and headed home.

We left at about noon and headed out Lincoln Tunnel to the NJ Turnpike. We hit the first service area, stopped in line behind some other riders but decided to head to the next one because of the lines.

We gassed up at the second one and headed south. We skipped the third one but stopped at the fourth. There were three bikes there that we saw and more pulled up as we were hanging around. One of them was the guy we were riding behind on one of the legs north. As he put on a second pair of pants and socks (it was quite cold going home), he brought us up to speed on his adventures from when we split off.

There was some further delay after getting in to Manhattan before they finally hit their rooms.

In the morning, the riders went down to the same church we were at (but later in the morning) and left a sign (you’ll see it in the pictures). Then they were escorted out of New York. I’ll let someone who was there detail that part if they want.

For the rest of the trip down the Turnpike, I used the thumb wheel (cruise control 🙂 which actually worked pretty well. The quick spin off at the toll booth was interesting though.

At the first toll booth we were ready and had the money out, but at the next couple, I had to take off my gloves and get the money out and keep moving. An experience I’m sure many of you have experienced.

We stopped at Maryland House again on the way south and took a few minutes break. The sun was almost down in our eyes and it was colder. Rita threw on another pair of pants, a shirt, and had a towel under her jacket to keep warm.

We hit the road again and caught up with three other riders. We pulled in behind them and kept up with the pack, safety in numbers don’t you know. When we got to the last toll booth, I pulled up next to the last rider and basically asked if they didn’t mind if I tagged along. He said sure and shouted to Nick at the front. We had our dollar out and ready for the booth but apparently Nick paid for us too. We didn’t expect it but wish to express our thanks for his generosity and want to raise a glass to Nick and the others (_salute_).

As we were pulling out, I experienced something that I’d read about, and even tried to be careful about all the other times. We slid a bit in the slick at the booth. The guy next to us pulled over just past the booth. We stopped to make sure everything was ok and he was just putting his glove back on. We were almost clipped by a car as we stopped.

We picked up the other riders on the other side of the tunnel and headed through Baltimore and south on 95. Just past the rest area, the guy at the rear peeled off and left. Home or gas, we didn’t know.

At the 95/495 turn off, Nick headed west and we headed east. We headed on to the beltway and took off ourselves at 295. We waved at the last guy while we hit the exit ramp.

We went down New York Ave to 385. Damn near got hit at “The Mixing Bowl” by two cars who were arguing about who should be in the left lane. We hopped off at the Fairfax Parkway, hit Rt. 1 and headed home.

All in all, it was an interesting trip since it was my very first group ride. The police blocking traffic for us was an experience. Rita loved the ride up and complained about our speed on the way home. In a pack at 80 is one thing. On our own at 75 is a bit too fast for her.

Still, I had to wipe a few tears away when I think about my friend Jeff Simpson, a VA EMT who lost his life at the WTC. It was a moving experience.

If you’re still here, raise the glass to the folks who died doing their job at the WTC (_salute_), raise a glass to the folks who died at their job and their families (_salute_), and finally, raise a glass to the veterans who died and may be dying for our country now (_Salute_).

’02 FLSTC (Natasha)

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