Total Pageviews

Monday, May 16, 2011

Friday - Vigil Day

Friday brings the Candlelight Vigil ceremony for Police Week.

Last year we participated as escorts for the families as they arrived at the Memorial for the Vigil. This year we all decided that we were going to forego that and have a little down time. Michelle actually left this morning to return home. John decided to hang out at the hotel for a bit and actually ended up getting a massage (really ?). Mark and I decided to go out and do a little sightseeing in DC.

So for those of you that have not been there here are a few photos.

The Washington Monument.

The Lincoln Memorial. An interesting fact that we learned on the tour bus. Abraham Lincoln was an advocate for the deaf and the use of sign language. When this monument was constructed this fact was not left out. When you look at Lincoln sittin in his chair his left hand is signing the letter "A" and his right the letter "L". Pretty neat.

It was at the Lincoln Memorial that Martin Luther King, Jr gave his infamous I Have A Dream speech. On the top steps of the Memorial there is an inscription on the very spot that his dais was set at the time he gave this speech. The photo on the right is standing on this spot looking out on the Mall as Dr. King would have that day. The reflection pool is undergoing some renovation at this time, but what a magnificent view. Hard to imagine having been there among a sea of hundreds of thousands of people at the time of his speech.

The Korean War Memorial.

The Pacific entrance side to the World War II Memorial. And a photo of the fountain in the middle of the Memorial. This is an impressive Memorial and we heard it is absolutely stunning after dark, maybe next time.

Of course the evening brought the Candlelight Vigil. This year since we did not participate in the welcoming ceremony we went in civilian clothes and stood to the rear of the crowd for a little different perspective. The ceremony is attended by about twenty thousand people. It is an impressive site. Craig Floyd leads the ceremony and this we the key speakers were Janet Napolitano and Eric Holden. Prior to the reading of the names inscribed on the wall this year is the lighting of candles. Here are a couple shots as we looked out on the mass and their upheld candles. There is also a blue laser light that goes from the dais where the speakers are. The photo on the left is where I tried to capture the laser as it fanned out. You can also faintly see it in the photo on the right.

This year there were 316 names read. This included the 150+ officers that were killed in the line of duty last year. The remaining names are those that were located by researchers as having died in the past. This year what is believed to be the first police officer ever killed in the line of duty was added.

I'll add an additional post a little later to cover the things that we did on our last day (Saturday).

Stand by ...

Arrival day - 12 May

The morning took us from Annapolis to RFK stadium in DC. Once again the weather was absolutely outstanding. Although the ride was relatively short in nature it was probably the most hilly day we have experienced. We still kept a pretty rapid pace which made the constant rollers a little challenging for some as we got closer to the city. There is alot of anticipation on this date as we all know it is the finish of our journey. Getting to RFK is always looked forward to, even though we know once we get there we will sit around for a while waiting for the other chapters to arrive.

Here we are preparing to leave the only rest stop that we had for the day. This was at one of the Target stores. Target is an amazing sponsor for the Unity Tour. They host some of the rest stops for us and provide us with bananas, Gatorade, water, fig newtons and various other things. It is always a good place for us to stop.

Here is our approach to RFK stadium. This is the stadium in the background. We came to the stadium from a different side this year. We were welcomed this year by an area where the Army had set up some various vehicles to include three helicopters. The helicopters were running when we arrived and took off a little after we were in the parking lot. Here is a photo of the choppers while they were hanging around.

This is John and me hanging out with the chapter President Pat O'Brien at RFK stadium. As I said we get here and have to wait for a bit. This year we were one of the first groups to arrive. Another chapter arrived a short time after we did and then about an hour or so later the riders from the Challenge Ride arrived. This was the group that Michelle was with so it was good for us to see her.

Once everyone arrives at the stadium we all get formed up to make the last 3 or so miles into the Memorial. This year we again took a little different route than last year to make our way to the site. Here are a couple of photos on our way there. This is about the only time that the pace is very slow and all of the riders abide by the "two by two" rule (riding two abreast). It is a great time to reflect on the past three days and the meaning of the ride for each of us. It is also a time of great anticipation as we all know that within a few minutes we will be greeted by thousands of people at the Memorial.

We made sure once again this year that we were on the left side of the column as we rode to the Memorial. Our four officers are on the west wall of the Memorial. So we line up on the left side as we ride in so that we are on the west side as the riders split and enter the Memorial site.

This year we were met there by one of our fellow officers (Jeff Carroll) and the chief and his wife. It is great to ride into the Memorial to honor our fallen and to see some faces from back home there waiting for you also.

Here we are with the chief (Bret Farrar) after our arrival at the Memorial and prior to the arrival ceremony.

After all of the riders arrive there is a ceremony conducted to welcome everyone and present the Unity Tour donations to Craig Floyd of the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund. This year the Police Unity Tour donated $1.5 million.

It is all such a worthy cause and a great honor to paricipate in the ride.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Hello everyone,

Sorry that we kinda dropped off the face of the earth there. Once we roll in to DC there seems to be many things going on and time is short.

I wanted to let all of our followers know that the day three post was not the end of the story. I will be posting information for day four and the couple of follow on days very shortly.

We thank you for following along with us!!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ride day 3

Today was the second of our long days. Once again the sun was out and the weather was great. We have been spoiled this year with the weather. After speaking with several people along the route today that have done the ride for multiple years, this year is by far the best weather. Today was the day of the ride last year that was just miserable for us. We had temperatures that were probably in the mid 40s to low 50s and it rained in the afternoon. Kinda like home actually :-). So to be able to ride in sunny weather was great. We actually paid a little more attention to our surroundings rather than focusing on making it to the next rest stop and ultimately Annapolis.

Essentially today's ride took us through the city of Wilmington in Delaware and then out into the Maryland countryside. We spent most of the day riding through small towns and lots of pasture land. They are certainly in full swing of preparing for crops as the smell of manure was quite thick at times.

Here are a few pictures from lunch time.

And here is the ride marshal at work :-)

So after we left the lunch area we were tooling through the countryside when a helicopter appeared on the horizon. Shortly thereafter we realized it was a Maryland State Police chopper. Last year we briefly saw the chopper as we were coming into Annapolis. Today it hung around for little while before disappearing. At one point it hovered near the head of the pack for a bit while several bikes passed under. It was very neat to see them again this year and to hang around for so long.

The day ride ended with our arrival at a park just outside of Annapolis. Here we loaded our bikes on trucks and were bused into the city and to our hotels. After spending some time getting cleaned up Mark, John and me went downtown for dinner. We found Annapolis is a pretty neat city and wished that we would have a little more time to explore. It was nice to sit outside and have dinner and interesting to see the Naval Middies walking around in uniform. The campus to the academy is huge and parts of it border downtown. Here are a couple shots from the ride and a one from the academy, where it is very possible that one or more of the members from Seal Team Six attended that took care of business recently. And of course where many more leaders are being molded to do great things in the future.

Tomorrow brings our final leg of the journey and our arrival in DC. Again the weather is forecast to be great. We are very much looking forward to the ride into the city and to the Memorial again. We will also hopefully get to see Michelle tomorrow. She has been particpating in the challenge ride which takes a different route into DC from New Jersey. They began riding on Tuesday and will meet with us at RFK Stadium to ride to the Memorial. It will be good to see her and hear what she has to say about her ride.

We'll update you all tomorrow on our arrival. :-)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Day 2 - 10 May

One hundred mile day #1 is over. We have another one to go tomorrow and then the home stretch on Thursday.

We put in 55 miles before lunch. There has been alot of talk on the ride amoung those that have ridden before that the pace seems to be faster. This was validated a little later this evening when I spoke with one of the motor support officers who said we were flying today. We all recognized that we were traveling faster than the suggested 15 MPH for the ride.

We are starting to see a few more accidents happen as we go. However, there have not been nearly as many as last year. Today there was a pretty nasty spill that sent one of the riders to the hospital. She was riding just behind Mark who looked back just in time to see her going over the handlebars. John and I rode up as she was sitting in the roadway and being attended to. We saw her at the rest stop just prior to the last leg. It was good to see her there, but she is going to be pretty sore as she was scraped up pretty good.

It continues to be heart warming to see the number of people that come out to the roadway as we are riding past and thank us. A number of daycares and a few schools have the kids come out to greet us as we ride past. Numerous citizens step out of their homes and businesses to wave, clap and shout words of encouragement. There are of course a number of people that get a bit upset waiting at intersections for us to pass by, but all in all the citizens are positive.

There were not many photos taken today. So I will attach a few photos from the Ground Zero ride yesterday that John took and a photo of the trio from our last rest stop today.

Tomorrow takes us on our next 100 mile day and brings us from Wilmington, DE to Annapolis, MD. This portion of our ride last year was the toughest weather wise. It was pretty cold and very wet. At least for now the weather forecast looks nothing close to this, for which we are thankful.

Until tomorrow ...

Monday, May 9, 2011

9 May - First day of the Tour

Today started early as they all do when we are out riding. The ride started just a little bit after 7, so that means there was breakfast and getting our bags to the trucks a good little bit before that. It was just as impressive to see the number of riders assembling in the parking lot as it was last year. the nice thing this year was that there was no wind and it was at least ten degress warmer.

Here are a couple of parking lot shots.

John getting a little stretch in pre-ride. John and I getting ready to roll.

This year Mark took on the role of ride marshal. We could not find him prior to the beginning of the ride to get a group photo. As as a reminder Michelle is doing the challenge ride this year and was actually arriving today. Because she is going this alternate route we will not see her until we get to the stadium in DC.

So far we could not ask for better weather. And especially when we compare it to what we experienced on the first day last year. As you can see pretty much everyone was wearing shorts this morning. Unheard of last year. By the time we reached our first stop pretty much everyone shed the riding jackets and finished the day in their riding jersey. We even ended the day with noticable tan lines ... crazy.
Hey there he is. We were able to catch up with Mark at the rest stop. This shot was taken before we ventured into Manhattan and Ground Zero.

Each year there are a number of motorcycle officers that participate as support officers for the Tour. Most of the motors come from around the general area. It is impressive and good to see when motors are participating from the west coast. Last year Oakland PD brought over 20 motors out. This year the LAPD and LASD brought numerous. The riders on the left are LAPD and the right is LASD.

So one of the highlights of the day was riding into Manhattan. We got to accomplish this via the Holland Tunnel. John and I were able to get very near to the front of the line to make the trip into Manhattan and Ground Zero. The photo on the left is us about to enter the tunnel. The center is travelling in the tunnel and the right is John's smiling face as we made our way. For those that are not aware, the Holland Tunnel is just about 1.5 miles in length. It was completed in 1927 and runs under the Hudson River connecting Manhattan and Jersey City, NJ. The tunnel was completely closed to vehicular traffic to allow us to make our trip into the city and back. Pretty awesome.

Without doubt the highlight of the day was our trip to Ground Zero. The only drawback to it was that we did not get to stop and take a more in depth look. It was surprising that the area the Twin Towers once occupied is truly not that large. The buildings in the area are very close to each other and these were the same. Of course there is a lot more depth to the area then these pictures depict, but it was an awesome experience to be there and see the location of this most harrowed of attacks.

We came back to Jersey City after our visit to Manhattan to have lunch. Here is a shot of the ride marshals having their pre-departure meeting. Mark is in there somewhere. Last year we had the honor of meeting Craig Floyd at this stop. Mr. Floyd is the president of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Foundation. This is where the money raised by the Police Unity Tour goes to support such things as cleaning/maintenance of the wall and the new Law Enforcement Museum. This year we had the honor to meet Chief William Bratton. Chief Bratton is the former commissioner of Boston PD, Commissioner of the NYPD and retired as the Chief of the Los Angeles PD. We took a photo with him but it is on John's camera. I will try to get it uploaded soon.

As last year on our way out of Jersey City we ride by the main police station. Greeting us were several department employees including their honor guard. Great traditions here on the east coast.

Tomorrow brings the first of our back to back 100 mile days. Many of the riders have had little training time because of weather conditions where they live. We certainly fit the bill on this one. As a result the increased temperature today made for a lot of very tired people. If tomorrow bringst the same for weather it will be a long day.

Stay tuned ... and thanks for following.