To view additional photos of the ride, see our media gallery.
It usually takes me a couple of days to recover from participating in the National EMS Memorial Bike Ride (NEMSMBR); not only from a physical perspective (though I was really close to getting on my bike the day after the ride ended), but also from a mental/emotional perspective. To me, it’s like a movie with a lot of action; you need a couple of days to let the experience sink in and remember everything that happened.
In 2011, it seemed like we rode through rain every single day. This year, we had one really rainy day (which now has me convinced that one of my jerseys has a precipitation curse), but in general, we rode in sunshine. By the way, putting newspaper in wet shoes really does dry them fast. That's something I don’t know if Heloise has ever covered or not.
The opening ceremony for this year's ride was spectacular, with Boston EMS giving us an amazing sendoff from Castle Island in South Boston. All the agencies we visited throughout the ride were very hospitable and amazingly gracious.
We were once again fortunate to be able to ride through New York City, and I still contend that there is no better way to see the Big Apple than to be riding a bike past Central Park, down Broadway, through Times Square and into Lower Manhattan. Of course, the NYPD escort helps as well.
We were given the opportunity to go to the 9/11 Memorial and see the progression of the construction of the Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center site. To see how that area has evolved over the past few years is impressive and a great testament to the resolve of New York City. It is so special to see a large building dominate the skyline of Lower Manhattan once again.
We then were given a ride from Manhattan to Staten Island via FDNY Fireboat 343, which was named in honor of the 343 FDNY personnel who perished on September 11, 2001, and which was made from parts of the Twin Towers. The boat ride gave a unique view of the Statue of Liberty, as well as one of the oldest Coast Guard ships remaining in the fleet.
The rest of the ride took us through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia. The weather got hotter, and the hills got higher and steeper.
The East Coast and Kentucky routes met at Glen Echo Park, in Montgomery County, MD. A small memorial service was held for Lori Foster Mayfield, a paramedic from Reno, NV, who rode on the 2010 and 2011 bike rides and who passed away unexpectedly in January 2012. A number of riders came from the Reno area to ride in Lori’s honor, and I think she’d have been impressed with their enthusiasm and dedication. Lori continues to be an important part of the ride.
The end of the ride always produces mixed emotions. Part of me is glad to be off the bike (I know my backside appreciates it), but there is always the part that doesn’t want it to end…I honestly think we’ll actually go cross country one of these years.
At the beginning of each ride, everyone is given a set of dog tags to wear, with the name of one of the people we are riding to honor. This year I rode for Josh Weissman, a firefighter/paramedic from Alexandria, VA, who died in the line of duty on February 9. Josh and I had a lot in common: he and I got started in EMS at an early age and in the same general part of central New York. I also have many good friends with Alexandria Fire and wanted to honor them by riding for Josh. At the end of this year’s ride, I was proud to hand over Josh’s dog tags to Ray Whatley from AFD. It was a very emotional moment. That same feeling is shared by everyone who has to turn tags over to a family member or a member of an honoree’s agency.