The National EMS Memorial Bike Ride, Inc. honors EMS providers by organizing and implementing long-distance cycling events that memorialize and celebrate the lives of those who serve every day, those who have become sick or injured while performing their duties, and those who have died in the line of duty. Long-time rider Mike Kennard reports from Kentucky-DC route, which started on May 19 and ends on May 26. Check back for daily updates.
Final Day: May 25, 2012
I forgot to mention that on Thursday in Harrisonburg we stopped at one of the gas stations for a break, where we met a group of motorcycles heading to D.C. for the Rolling Thunder Ride. One of the riders is a trooper from Pikesville, KY, where we began our ride and someone whom Bryan knew.
It’s hard to believe we’ve been riding for the past six days and today we set out for our final leg. We’ll bike 45 miles to the Manassas battlefields, where we’ll then put the bikes on the vehicles to take over to Glen Echo Park in Maryland for the final 22 miles into Alexandria, VA, and the completion of this year’s journey.
There was a hiccup along the way to Manassas; we got caught up in stopped traffic for a motor vehicle accident. It was on a downhill with a steep embankment. It looked like the vehicle went off the shoulder and rolled over. Our motorcycle escort went to the front and spoke with one of the troopers on scene explaining who we were and what we were doing out there on the road. Permission was given that we could pass through the accident scene as long as we walked our bikes through. That saved us a lot of time. Our sag vehicles had to backtrack about 10 miles and get on the interstate and go to the next exit. It took them a while to catch up with us. As we passed the accident site the rescue crews were packaging the patient.
We finished up our morning with riding through Manassas’s battlefields, a somber moment after what happened here so many years ago.
Meeting the East Coast riders is always a bittersweet moment. We’re 22 miles from the end of our journey—that’s the bitter—but reconnecting with so many of the friends we’ve made on this journey over the years is the sweet.
We were escorted from Glen Echo Park by park rangers along one of the numerous bike paths around and through Washington, D.C. On Entering Alexandria we were met by Alexandria Fire and Police and escorted through the city to our final destination, the Westin Hotel. This was a special escort for the fire department as they lost one of their paramedics this past year.
On Saturday, May 26, we held our annual closing ceremonies with guest speakers and a reading of the names of the people whom we rode for. After the ceremony we gathered for refreshments and entertainment, swapping stories accumulated during our journey and also saying our goodbyes for another year.
There were many highs, and some lows, during this ride. I didn’t write about them all because I feel it’s something one has to experience for themselves, either on the Kentucky or the East Coast ride. I’ve done them both and they hold special meaning and moments all along the journey. I encourage anyone reading this to join us as a rider or a wingman; both are rewarding. I guarantee you won’t go home the same person you were when you started.
Until next year, stay safe
Day 6: May 24, 2012
Overcast, cool temperatures and visibility less than one-eighth of a mile is what we faced this morning, but fortunately it cleared quickly. Today was a 90-mile day and all the riders rode the whole time, even the geriatric medics from New Hampshire.
We are riding through rolling countryside, no large hills, so everyone was able to keep up a good pace. I was riding with Robin Weeks. We had set our goal for today to ride to lunch and see how we felt. At lunch, we both felt spent, but decided to keep going as the countryside was quite scenic. As we kept riding, lunch began kicking in and we felt energized. At one point we got caught in a shower, but it was at least warm and, as soon as the shower was over, the sun came out and we dried out quickly.