So let me start by saying that anybody willing to ride for any reason in this Seattle monsoon season gets my respect. But today was special. It wasn’t really about us as riders, rather the men and women previously serving our country with their most precious lives. This ride was supported by many in the motorcycling community and brought many riding organizations together. I heard about it through Greater Seattle and Puget Sound Motorcycle Riders Meetup and there 1285 members. http://www.meetup.com/bikers/events/165377942/. While I used to go to these type of group rides when I first came to WA as a way to meet friends and learn places to ride, they aren’t usually my first choice anymore. Now I remember what I was missing.
Today however, I felt compelled for three reasons: 1st, I had not seen my friend Tim Walls in way too long; 2nd I was doing some demographic research for our new business and 3rd I was moved by this cause. While I have never directly served in our military, I have nothing but the utmost respect for those that have. To think that some could die fighting for their country and not be properly honored or even buried seems like a true shame. Therefore, I geared up in all my high-tech and very waterproof gear and road my odd-man-out BMW with a couple hundred leather clad supporters. My hat is off to all that made it. Here is some supporting information about the event, the hosts and the organizations:
Join us in honoring 15 recovered Veterans by escorting their remains to Tahoma National Cemetery on Saturday, March 8, 2014. (Thanks to Lawless Harley Davidson in Renton for hosting.) Ceremony begins at noon. Traffic control is provided by Elite Motor Escort Service. These 15 Veterans were recovered from Funeral Homes and Crematories in Western Washington. Special thanks to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office for their support in the search for these Veterans. This event was in support of the Missing In America Project: http://www.miap.us/index.asp “…focus of the MIA Project will be a massive, nation-wide effort to locate, identify and inter the unclaimed remains of forgotten veterans.”
Now, it is quite something when hundreds of motorcycles (estimated at about 200 or so) get together in a parking lot and a whole other thing when flashing escort lights stop traffic and the parade stretches as far as the eye can see. Then you know it is something special. For these type of rides it is not about you as an individual rider, rather how well you can pay attention and travel well in a herd. Not easy given the very extreme accordion effect that kicks in with group rides. This happens with about 7 or more and only gets amplified in larger numbers. If you are a new rider – please don’t do something like this in your first six months or few thousand miles. Travel by yourself and with a small group of friends first. You will be happy you did. Today was an easy enough ride and when you have the “I am not in a hurry mindset” it is all good.
Seeing old acquaintances Tim, Pat & Matt and meeting new friends like Kim, Stig and many others is always a highlight for these type of rides. If you are new to the area riding with others will expand your circle exponentially. But I digress as it was riding to the Tahoma National Cemetery for this service that was the real point. http://www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/tahoma.asp. Riding through the surrounding communities to get to Covington was pleasant and mostly uneventful. (Not sure the Escort Rider meant to go down in front of his/her buddies ;-) All fine as far as I could tell.
Seeing the cars stopped and people sometimes lining the streets with hands waving, smiles and thumbs up is always heartwarming. Pulling into the actual burial site however made all my hairs stand on end. Yes, even wedged in a helmet and heavy rain gear. Silently walking up to the ceremony provided moments for important reflection. Mostly thoughts of thanks for those that serve and gratefulness for what we have – much of it thanks to them. Countless flags, veterans all at attention and 6 gun salutes will definitely give you a chill.
After the service, Tim and I sat and chatted for a while in the rain. We spoke of the old days, people and his great new-to-him bike. Beautiful and sounded great too. If I know Tim, he is eager to get out on some spirited rides and some long distance hauls. He gets kudos for being one of the smart ‘pack light, pack right’ kind of guys. (Thanks Tom Mehren of Soundrider.com (http://store.mm411.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&product_ID=1082&ParentCat=179). My meandering ride home in the pouring rain was pleasant enough as I found some choice and undiscovered to me roads. Things where getting just too darn wet so I turned east and made the climb up Tiger Mountain Road where a warm show and some fresh home-roasted and carefully brewed coffee was just minutes away. A day well spent.