This past weekend, I had two annual “for honor” motorcycle rides in which I have participated before, but due to my regular promise to my spouse and sr. pals, I could choose only one of them to participate in. Each weekend, I give one and a half days for work around the house and sr. pal support, and then one half-day to ride. Tough balance — but there is no way I can take two full days of a weekend to ride. Such is the life of a guy who works full-time and has only weekends for personal time.
Which ride did I do, and why?
I was unhappy that fellow firefighters scheduled the “chief’s ride” on the Saturday before the “Law Ride” on Sunday. I like the chief’s ride because you get a police-escorted ride all through my home county and have an opportunity to ride with fellow firefighters and others in the community. (N.B., I am not a firefighter, but I am a life member of my local fire department, so I am considered part of the family.)
That ride is long, though, and tiring. (Read my recap from last year.) Also, the weather on Saturday morning was wet and the roads were slick with heavy drizzle. Drizzle is worse than a regular rainstorm, because drizzle doesn’t wash the oil off the roads so asphalt is much more slick. I did not want to ride on such slick roadways.
Instead on Saturday, I took my spouse and some sr. pals grocery shopping; chopped out a dead shrub from the front and replaced it with a new one; negotiated with the home supplies retailer to give me credit for 10 rolls of dead sod they sold me and allow me to take 10 fresh new rolls to place in our yard where we haven’t had grass in a long time; power-washed the algae off the siding on the back of the house; and planted tomato plants that my spouse grew from seed. Five pairs of boots and three showers later, I was beat but happy that labor was completed.
Sunday morning, it was moderately warm and quite humid. (Definitely *not* leather weather; too hot.) I pulled on plain tan cloth breeches, my Chippewa Hi-Shine boots, a t-shirt, and my club colors vest. I prepared my spouse his usual great gluten-free waffle with fresh fruit topping breakfast, and had an egg & toast for myself. As I was preparing to leave to meet my buddies for Sunday’s ride, I decided to pull on my Fox Creek leather shirt. (Glad I did — more drizzle again for a little while.)
I rode to a shopping center next to a doughnut shop — why there? I was meeting cops (or retired cops.) LOL.
We rode lickety-split down the interstate and into Washington, DC, where we arrived at RFK Stadium where the 20th annual Law Ride was being staged.This year, I truly regret, it was the worst-attended (by cops) than ever before. I have gone on this ride for over a decade now. In years past, hundreds of motor officers from all over the United States participated in the event, but over the years, the number of officers who participate in this even has decreased noticeably each and every year. This year, there were just about 30 cops from only five agencies. There were several hundred supporting riders, of which I consider myself one. But very few cops. Real disappointment.
But if you were there to see what’s pictured here on the right, there were far fewer of them. (Hi to fellow boot buddy and reader of this blog who I saw there taking pictures.)
I spoke with some of the cops who were there, and they all pretty much acknowledged that they were there for one reason — they lost someone they knew (or in their department) in a line-of-duty death this past year, and they were there to honor their colleague. But, regretfully, there were far more cops who died in the line of duty during 2014 also, and no one from their agency to ride. So as the motto for Law Ride goes, “if we don’t honor them, who will?”
We rode, as usual, through the streets of DC, past the U.S. Capitol Building, and to the Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial. We viewed and prayed at a wreath-laying ceremony. I solemnly observed several family members making tracings of the names of family or friends from names inscribed on the wall of honor.
It is a moving experience, even if poorly attended.
I took video from a helmet-mounted GoPro, and will post it when I have a chance. It takes much more time to process videos now than ever before.
Life is short: honor those who have served and paid a terrible price when they lost their life in the line of duty.