I finished. All 230 miles. I feel great.
We rolled out of Warrenton at 8am and had a pretty good ride ahead of us. Although it was "only" 55 miles, there were still plenty of rolling hills to get over. As we got closer to our destination, folks started lining up along the streets, holding signs and cheering us on. It really gave us a boost to get up over some of the steeper hills! Fairfax County had their helicopter hovering over us for a good 15-20 miles and it kept swooping and swerving. At one point, it got low enough that the wind from the rotors mimicked a pretty good headwind. It was pretty cool.
I don't remember if I mentioned it before, but we had a team of Motor Men (motorcycle officers) that were part of our group and provided an escort for us the entire trip. They would ride behind, along side, and ahead of us to stop traffic and make sure intersections were clear for us to ride. They did a super job and kept each of us safe. Having them zoom up along side with sirens blaring provided a bit of an adrenaline boost. Of course, after 3 days of that...I'm a little sick of sirens ;-)
My left knee & right foot were bothering me a bit, and I was starting to experience pretty annoying chafing issues, so I was ready for this ride to be over. I started feeling better when I began recognizing signs and landmarks and knew we were close. As we rode over the Memorial Bridge (which was temporarily shut down for us) we stopped for a group photo. When we started riding again and officially crossed into DC, I actually got a little sad. I couldn't believe it was almost over.
We rode through the touristy parts of DC and waved at all of the gawking tourists. We finally made it over to RFK (which was mostly filled with people for the Chili Cook-Off, yuck) and met up with the other chapters that also rode. People rode from all over the place. There were at least 1500 of us. A sea of blue & white.
When it came to ride out as one big group to the Law Enforcement Memorial, it was a bit of a nightmare. Trying to funnel 1500 riders out of one exit, up a hill...well, I saw a few crashes. One guy gouged his leg pretty badly on his chainring. Ouch. It seems most of the riders forgot their riding etiquette and passed each other willy-nilly, and wouldn't stay in in their lines. The worst part is that our motor escorts seemed to have disappeared ( I think they were sent on ahead to the memorial), so none of the intersections were secured for us. We had to hope and pray that impatient motorists & pedestrians didn't try to run us over or dart in front of us.
When we pulled onto E Street--where the memorial is located--folks lined up along the block and cheered us in. They high-fived and shook our hands as we entered the memorial. It was something I've never experienced before, but I hope to again.
I found The Boy, who had showed up to see me arrive, and we relaxed & chatted for a bit. It was good to see him again. He had to work later that night, so he left before the ceremony was over. This was fine, because he was able to take my suitcase for me so I could ride Kermit home.
I stayed for the ceremony (which was nice) and went to the section of the memorial where Cpl. Aigner's name had been etched. I was hoping to find family members/coworkers there, but I didn't. The place was mobbed with people, most of them survivors. It was a very moving experience.
After the ceremony, I grabbed my medal and got out of there since there was about to be hundreds of people trying to get to their respective hotels & destinations. I hopped on Kermit and rode to Duffy's, where I had a well-earned burger & beer. Then I was in danger of slipping into a food coma, so I rode home and napped with The Boy until it was time for him to leave for work.
I'm really glad that I had the opportunity to participate in this experience. I earned every mile. I can't wait for next year. I'm already making a list of things to remember for next time (foam roller!*). I want to thank all of you that donated so I could do this ride. I hope you know that it is going to a very good cause.
|Motivational card. I like the bad guy yelling Ahhhhh!|
|Rest stop sponsored by Target|
|On of our trailers & our very own bagpiper|
|Cpl. Aigner's panel|
|Semi-group shot. Not everyone was here for the photo.|
*Poor Miriam was suffering from some very painful neck cramps and kept complaining that she should have brought a foam roller with her. The next morning, while we were loading our luggage onto the truck, we saw a huge bag FULL of foam rollers that the support staff either "forgot" to give out or hogged for themselves. If you guys could only have seen the look on her face! I've never seen her go that particular shade of livid before.