Dennis and Andrea's Ride to the Wall "99"
Welcome to our page about our ride, Memorial Day weekend 1999 to Washington D.C.
For those unfamiliar with Rolling Thunder, it is a ride on Washington, started twelve years ago to bring attention to the POW/MIA issue, which our government would have just as well left in the closet. The ride started for us in Medina, our hometown, at about 5:00 in the morning. We rode to Batavia about 25 miles and met up with a group of about 16 motorcycles and a chase vehicle from our area, Medina and Lockport NY mostly. The we I refer to are my daughter Andrea and myself. Brave and loyal daughter she is, she decided Dad wasn't going alone, thanks honey. We left at about 6:30 after a minor delay, the making of a beautiful day starting.
The ride went uneventful, except for me, had a saddlebag cover come off. Thanks to a great chase vehicle, they picked it up for me so I didn't have to back track for it. Another rider, Hank stopped and waited for me, then we proceeded to catch up with the group at the first stop, about 100 miles. At this point I knew I was with a good group of guys, as I personally to this time only knew a few. The rest of the ride went uneventful. Just a great day, perfect weather, maybe a little warm, but when on a motorcycle that's not a problem.
Our rides of about 100 miles and half hour stops, except for lunch, put us at our motel, the Days Inn at Frederick,MD, at mid afternoon. The rest of the day was spent getting cleaned up and relaxing, then a little later riding to a near by Lone Star Restaurant for some dinner, a great meal I might add.
Most of the group are going to ride up into the mountains for a scenic ride. Andi not having been to Washington before wanted to go sightseeing so we broke off by ourselves for the day and rode into Washington, about 45 miles from Frederick. This had the makings of another beautiful day. We got in early as I wanted to visit the wall before it got real busy, then did some shopping. By this time it was after noon so we thought we'd better do the tourist thing. This turned out to be a mistake, it was so hot and crowded we didn't enjoy it at all. We retreated back to the area of the memorials for some photo taking and to look at some of the hundreds of bikes parked there along with ours. Being it was getting later in the afternoon we decided to head back to the motel. Again getting cleaned up and relaxing as the rest of the group filters back to the motel. A little later going to get dinner, Andrea staying behind and ordering in, no wonder why as the afternoon temperatures were in the upper 90's. later a few of us wandered over to Charlies, a local establishment, with live country music. A couple beers and back to the motel and bed for me too.
Everybody was up and around by 7:00 as we, as a group, were going to breakfast at 7:30, gas up and from there head into Washington for the Parade. Most of the group have made this ride before, but it is the first time for a few of us. As we travel towards Washington we see more and more motorcycles, some single or in pairs, some in groups, all going the same direction. As we get near Washington, going through some residentual areas a few of the louder motorcycles set off car alarms along the way. After parking the group head for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to leave a flag from the union where most of them work.After this the group split up, deciding to meet back at the bikes at a preset time. Andi and I walked around looking at the thousands of bikes parked all over, checked out some vendors wares and found a good vantage point for the parade. What was to follow was awsome to say the least, thousands of motorcycles four to six abreast just kept coming. I had questioned, why not ride in the parade, now my question was answered, this just went on and on, unlike anything I have seen before. After the parade and things settled down slightly we all headed out of Washington, got split up into two groups, but everybody made it back to the motel safely. Once back everybody relaxed, some went swimming, some just hung out, deciding tonight to order in, pizza.
Well, the word last night was "be ready to roll" at 7:30, so up at about 6:00, coffee, juice and donuts, courtesy of the motel. Then clean up my motorcycle, windscreen,etc, check oil, pack up and get ready to go. Well 7:30 and we are ready, down the street to the gas station, those who didn't fuel up last night fuel up and off we go. Weather still holding out great, looking like another beautiful day. We headed out looking to get some distance before we stop for breakfast, which we do. Andrea and I have a special interest in the ride home. My other daughter and her husband have gone to New York for the long week end and are now on their way south on the same route we are headed north on, hoping to get a glance at each other at least. Through Maryland and into Pennsylvania, no sign of them and is about time we should see them if they left on schedule. Just south of Harrisburg we stop for breakfast, not more than five minutes later a car with north Carolina plates pulls in, it's them, they saw all the motorcycles and figured it must be us. We had a short but nice visit, ate breakfast and were in our way again. Riding along now in the northern part of Pennsylvania in some construction and yelp, it happened again. Offgoes my saddlebag cover. Well this time I wasn't so lucky, our chase vehicle got it. Not his fault at all, though I think Stan felt bad. With the construction, no place to go to avoid it. This time Hank picked it up, we found a place to stop and I got it back on well enough to keep everything from blowing out. A few miles down the road we caught up with the rest of the group, one of the bikes front brakes were dragging and overheating, possible scoring the rotor. This bike was loaded into the trailer for the rest of the ride home. The rest went uneventfully, just nice riding the final part of our journey. The ironic part was we were home no more than fifteen minutes and yes, rain, what a way to end a beautiful week end, a free bike wash.
I'd like to thank each and every one I rode with. Andrea and I had a great time. It was our first run of this type, we were made to feel welcome and part of the group.
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