>Amazing Grace

>Just attended the Candlelight vigil tonight, aslong with 20,000 others, including the US Attorney General and the Secretary for Homeland Security.

It was an incredibly moving service and worth cycling 300 m iles to attend.  So many people and so many stories to be told.

I’m proud to have helped raised funds for this cause. The US certainly know how to look after the survivors of such deaths. (Survivors being the relatives and loved ones of the deceased).

Incredibly enough, like me, the officer stood next to me has relatives from the Isle of Man! I couldn’t believe anyone had even heard of the place.

A Relative from the Isle of Man?

The Thin Blue Line

Candles in the Wind

So, its homeward bound tomorrow 😦

I will be updating this blog with more thoughts and photos over the course of the next week, so its not over yet.

>I Have a Dream

>Well no cycling today. The ride is over.  This is National Police Week in the USA and events culminate tonight with a Candlelight Vigil at the NLEOM. I am heading off there very shortly.

I spent today walking round Washington. I went to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the Lincoln Memorial, the WWII, Korean and Vietnam War memorials, the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building.

I also visited the NLEOM and the related resource centre. It was sad to see so many names on the walls and so many survivors there to remember their loved ones. So many wreaths, hand written letters, notes pictures etc.

I have a number of photos and pictures of today, but I can’t upload them at present. Will have to do it at the weekend when back home.

The only downside of today is that my knee is killing me. The walking has been very painful and has definitely aggravated it. Strangely, the cycling all week was fine. All offers to massage my knee will be gratefully accepted, and I’ll rank the offers in terms of the prettiness of the offerer!!!!!
Right- sorry this is so short, but need to get ready to go out.

PS 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue  is…. look it up yourself

PPS I Have a Dream – MLK’s speech was made on steps of Lincoln Memorial

>Keep Right on Till the End of the Road

>Wednesday brought the end of the ride, but not the end of the adventure.

Wednesday started out in the beautiful seaport of Annapolis which was where Kunta Kinte was first landed as a slave. (Think Alex Haley’s book and mini series “Roots”). Michael, my host and I had a ride down to the seafront before our ride started this morning to see the harbour.

When we arrived back, the start of the ride was delayed owing to the problem in finding one rider;s bike. Fortunately, it was eventually located and we set off in the burning sun towards Washington. A hilly ride to our first rest spot @ 19.8 miles was in store. Indeed I finally had to use my granny ring on the bike, but not the granny gear on that ring. I was one of the first to arrive at the rest spot and felt good riding. The hilly route was what was needed as it actually made me do some work. (Yes dad, I remembered what you taught me last year riding up Shap Fell. I also remember Underbarrow and still have not forgiven you for that detour!).

From the rest stop to RFK Stadium in Washington, I rode with Dee, an Ohio State trooper with whom I rode much of the trip. I must say thanks to her for her company and her help and support.

The RFK Stadium in Washington was where we met up with all the other rides. It was a fantastic sight to see some of the other rides arrive. They were much smaller than our ride, so I can only begin to think how our ride must have looked.

After all the rides had arrived, we set off in convoy for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial (NLEOM). I’m not sure how many riders there were, somewhere between 1200 and 1700 I believe. The procession looked fantastic and it was a moving experience to see so many people out on the streets to cheers us on.

The NLEOM is a fantastic feature and it was so moving to see so many personal tributes to officers on all the walls along with the names of the fallen. A short ceremony was held at which Craig Floyd (see Sunday’s post) mentioned some of the moving stories behind some of the riders, including one officer who had been shot a number of years ago and was expected to be paralysed, but he has recovered to enable him to ride. Others rode in memory of fallen spouses and siblings. I have to say the courage of so many people made me feel very humble.

While the ceremony was going on, I received a tap on the shoulder and was told by one of the ride marshalls that 2 men wanted a word with me. When I turned round there were 2 Metropolitan Police Officers in uniform there. I remember thinking “Oh dear, what have I done…” Fortunately they just wanted to say well done on the ride. Now, why did I have a guilty conscience?

The ceremony ended as a thunderstorm broke. We all received a commemorative medal for the ride. A nice touch.

At the ceremony, it was announced that this year’s ride had raised $1,100,000 for the NLEOM. This is after deducting the expenses of the ride. A truly fantastic achievement.

Tomorrow night is the candlelight vigil. That I am told is very moving.

Hopefully, I will be able to post pictures soon.

>Raindrops keep falling on my Head

>This will be rather brief as I’ve managed to damage my laptop. This muppet shut the laptop whilst there was a metal badge on the keyboard, so the screen is damaged and only 45% of it visible.

Today was the longest ride – 96 miles in pouring rain and freezing temperatures. 50+ miles were very wet and the temperature was below 50F (around 9C). So, it was miserable going, but the company of some good riders made it more pleasurable. One of my riding partners today was a lady from Oakland whose brother was one of the 4 Oakland police murdered in a single incident this year.

We are now at Annapolis which is in Baltimore – apparently.

I enjoyed the day thoroughly, despite the temperatures and the rain. The only shame is the ride was only 96 miles. I could easily have done another 30 miles today. I was also one of the strongest rides on the hills – must be going well!

Tomorrow is the ride to Washington DC and then the parade into the city itself

>Philadelphia Freedom

>Well day 2 of the ride is over. We rode from Edison NJ to Wilmington in Delaware. The ride today was 89.8 miles long and was over a varied terrain. The first 10 miles were coming out of Edison and very slow moving – ie < 10mph. The next 14 were on  sometimes undulating terrain, then a morning break. There then followed a further 28 miles of undulating terrain until lunch. During this stretch we passed by Philadelphia. The skyline looked spectacular!

After lunch I nearly came a cropper when the 4 riders immediately in front of me all came down. Fortunately, my superior bike handling skills ( or was it because I was so far back off the pace?) enabled me to avoid coming down.

The rest of the early afternoon session, some 28 miles, was spent chatting to Dee, an Ohio State Trooper. She works as a Highway officer. We had a good couple of hours chatting about life the world and the law.

At the afternoon break, a ceremony was held to mark the loss this year of an officer from the Delaware Riper Police Authority. A moving occasion and a reminder of why we are riding.

The afternoon break preceded what was described as a terrible climb up a bridge over the Delaware River. It was about 1.5 miles uphill, but was a doddle. I never even had to use my granny ring, never mind the granny gear on it. The rest of the ride into Wilmington was relatively uneventful and relatively painless. i was surprised how good my legs felt at the end of the 90 miles. I could have carried on a lot further, which is good as tomorrow is longer – somewhere between 93 and 103 miles long.

I must just pay tribute to these boys.

They are our motorcycle escort team. 24 of them came over from Oakland California, (Yes, real life CHIPS) in memory of their 4 colleagues murdered this year. They have joined the other escort riders and closed all the roads for us, kept us safe and worked outstandingly to make the ride so pleasurable. Great work guys, you are much appreciated by us all.

One final thing for tonight. I know from chatting to others this week that some people reading this  have photos that would complement those I’ve taken. Can those of you who offered me pictures email to  me via this site – thanks

>Walk Like A Man

>Well day 1 is over.  We rode 57+ miles and climbed 2400 feet and rode from New Jersey to New Jersey via Newark in New Jersey.

The wind was fierce- and as we zig zagged across NJ we often rode into a head wind.

I can’t do today justice, but it was literally awesome to see 600 cyclists riding in a peloton through the closed streets of New Jersey. The crowds lined the streets to cheers us on. The cars held up and their occupants also applauding us.

At lunch we we joined by the New York State riders who had started their ride at Ground Zero. Prayers were said for the fallen officers. The CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial provided a moving speech about the ride and even mentioned me as the only rider fro England on the Chapter 1 Ride.

The people on the ride are so friendly. I’ve never been so popular with police officers! From the Ohio rides that I met and drove with yesterday through so many riders today. Too many to remember them all. Everyone has a story to tell. I must just mention Michelle from near Sacramento (California) who was riding in memory of her husband who died on duty in a car accident leaving her with 2 young children. She had never ridden a bike before starting training for this ride. She was also away from her children today ( Mother’s Day in the USA). That is such devotion to the memory of her husband.

Last year there were about 120 Police Officers killed in the USA – the lowest total for many years. The slogan of the ride is WE Ride for Those Who Died – its a moving statement and so very true.

So many things to mention today. Had meal tonight at Albert’s – an Indian banqueting centre. He donates $000s every year to this event. He is a true star.

Thanks to everyone who supported the ride, the marshalls, the helpers, the organisers, the public, the motorists.

The Ohio Crew – Erik (Police Officer) Lisa (DA) Me, Michael (US Postal Lawyer

Craig W. Floyd is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund

The Backdrop to Lunch ( The Empire State Building) – King Kong doesn’t Work Sundays

Fire Service Welcome us to Lunch Stop

Memorial Service @ Lunch Break

Have you worked out the song title yet?

No, miles in the saddle haven’t left me walking like John Wayne. Its from the Musical Jersey Boys – and we rode all day in New Jersey

>Driving in My Car

>The title sums up today – a total of around 500 miles driven!

After attempts to chat to a loved one online proved unsuccessful, I bade goodbye to Phil, Tiffany and family, but not before Ralph & Bonnie kindly made a donation to my sponsorship. This was a most unexpected but very generous surprise.

I drove about 10 miles to meet up with Mike, Erik and Lisa, my riding companions from Ohio. We drove in 2 vehicles the 400+ miles to East Hanover where we are to start the ride from. It seems everyone is aware of my joining the ride. Fame or is it infamy? Should I be worried that in a hotel full of police officers, they all know about me?

After an evening meal and a chance to chat, we had to drive to the hotel for tomorrow night’s stay to drop off Mike, Lisa and Erik’s van. They have no driver to take it on each day. Fortunately for me, I can drop my car off in the morning to the hire company – problem solved.

I have reassembled my bike tonight and after some problems managed to fit the pedals on. However, I appear to have a slight problem with the front wheel. I suspect the bearings are going. I hope it manages to get me through the next 4 days. Tomorrow is a relatively short day – only about 60 miles to ride, but the weather forecast is for it to be cool/ cold and with 40mph winds – not good.

I’d like to end by just saying thanks again to Phil, Tiffany and family for hosting me and making me feel so welcome. I look forward to seeing you all in the summer when you come over to England.

>Singing in the Rain

>Just a quickie to say the tornado didn’t happen. Great thunderstorm, lots of rain etc.instead. It made for excitement anyway.

I’m pleased to report that Tiffany’s parents arrived safely. It was good to see them again for the first time in 18 years!

Must go now as its breakfast, then my 450 mile drive!

I did think about phoning home this weekend, but it seemed pointless as I’m not home to answer the call!

>Help

>Dear Diary,  Help – as I type this Friday 21:20-ish the local news is broadcasting tornado warnings for where we are now. I’ve never been in a tornado before! What makes it worse is that Tiffany’s parents are driving here  through the storm and her daughter is out at a school dance. The weather is worsening here, thunder and lightening etc. Not nice. Hope it clears before the morning and my car is not damaged by hail. The whole house is shaking in the thunderstorm.

Well, the weather channel is warning people to be prepared and is warning of golf ball sized hail as well. HELP!

Well, I was going to post about another great day in a beautiful place. I spent most of the day shopping at another outlet mall with my retail consultant advising me on the purchases to make.Thanks Tiffany, I’m sure you are right and the leather chaps will go down well at the football or down the local pub.

Seriously, lots of good shopping help from Tiffany, but I fear I may need yet another new bag for my purchases… Think Customs may be getting me when I get back to England! Tiffany and I had lunch at Subway (fine dining eh?) but I still never got to try the banana peppers there as they had run out. So, can anyone tell me what are banana  peppers?

I must also than Tiffany for the cooking ideas she has given me. Some new ideas to try out when I get home. For example, who would have thought of putting baked beans on a slice of toast for a meal?

Tiffany played the perfect hostess today, indulging my desires, like shopping, finding the drugs store, surfing the net, going to the soccer game etc. This is my last night with Phil and Tiffany and it has been absolutely fantastic to see them both and their 2 children. I have never been made to feel as welcome by anyone. Nothing has been too much trouble. Phil even gave me an alcoholic tour of his beer collection. I have to say the local brewery brews some fine beer.

Tomorrow morning begins the next phase of the adventure with a 450 mile drive to East Hanover NJ to start the bike ride. I am meeting 3 other cyclists at a motorway service station nearby and travelling with them to East Hanover where we will be staying overnight in a hotel before the ride begins. Its a long day tomorrow and I’m not expecting to be at the hotel until early evening at the best.

Hopefully by then Orient will have survived in League one for another season. Tom, you are supposed to be texting me the scores.

>Shopping

>Well after last night’s pathetic attempt at a post, I thought I would try to do a bit better today.

Yesterday (Wednesday) started with me driving to an Outlet Mall some 30 miles south of Pittsburgh for a spot of retail therapy. The ladies would be proud of me- I managed to spend several hundreds of dollars in only a couple of hours. What have I got to show for it?

Well, some Van Heusen shirts and ties, some shorts and a t-shirt from Timberland, a top and a shirt from Banana Republic, other bits and pieces and a winter leather jacket. It seemed ironic to be buying a winter leather jacket lined with thinsulate inner liner when the weather was 80+ degrees. Only problem is that I now have too much luggage for my cases to bring back. I’ve had to go out to buy another holdall. I’ll be paying excess baggage now.

I returned to Pittsburgh to the AIST Conference, and assisted Phil to pack away his concession. See- you knew I worked in the iron & steel trade didn’t you?  

CVM Systems’ Head of European Operations

I then had a chat via MSN with Michelle – the power of modern technology  enabling real time conversations and video with people 000s of miles away. Sadly conversation was rather short as Phil and I had to head out to the baseball game.

I’m sure that I irritated Phil with my constant questions about the game, the rules etc. Well, I was a baseball virgin, but no longer. It was a very enjoyable game with a passing similarity to 20/20 cricket. It was good to have vendors bringing beer to us in our seats- very civilised.

After the baseball game, we went to a bar opposite our hotel for 1 beer before bedtime. However we got chatting to a fellow bar visitor and 1 beer rapidly became 2, then 3 then 6. Whoops.

This morning brought a couple of rather sluggish visitors to the hotel breakfast. We also had to drive 100 or so miles from Pittsburgh to Hudson Ohio. I’d rather have slept than driven but…..Nothing prepared me for Hudson Ohio. Phil and Tiffany hadn’t told me they owned a mansion. Their garage is bigger than my house. The house is beautiful and huge. They even have dear roaming around in the rear garden. I need a map and compass to find my way to my bedroom.

For lunch today, Tiffany took me into downtown Hudson which is like a picture postcard town. It has a beautiful town square and is the most delightful place. I have fallen in love with the place. Afterwards, Tiffany showed me some of the other properties in Hudson which make their house seem small – hard to believe I know.

This evening, we all went to watch Phil & Tiffany’s youngest (Cassie) play in her softball league game. I didn’t know what this was before today. Basically, its a form of baseball played by girls, using a ball slightly bigger than a baseball. I must give a big thanks to all the parents there who made me feel so welcome. They showed, it wasn’t just the architecture of Hudson that is nice.

Finally, I got back home in time to surf the net to see the election results in the UK. Its 10pm EST (0300 in UK) as I type this and it seems no one is winning the election, but the electorate as usual will be the losers. I told you all that you should have voted Monster Raving Loony Party.