>Memories

>Well, you thought I’d forgotten this blog eh?

Its taken me some time to get a new laptop and get the chance to finish off this blog.

To bring you up to date, after the candlelight vigil on the Thursday evening, Michael (the lawyer who told me of the event and to whom I am eternally grateful) and I went for a beer and a bite to eat with a couple of police officers who were down simply for the Memorial Service.  A good chat over beers about the merits of US and UK gun control laws ensued. Mike was taking great interest in the Boston v Cleveland( or for the USA readers Cleveland v Boston  ) Basketball game on the TV. It was the semi final of the play offs and Cleveland lost much to Mike’s disappointment. That meant another year without a trophy for Cleveland.

I gather from Michael that Cleveland are a bit like Newcastle United- ie without a trophy many a year. They also seem to have in James Le Bron a player a bit like Alan Shearer ie a star who is far above the club he is at.

Friday brought a rather sad day. A farewell breakfast was taken with Michael, Jenny ( Colorado officer and one of the ride marshalls), Dee (Ohio State Trooper), Judy (FBI officer) and others (my memory for names is dreadful- so sorry to those who I missed out). After breakfast, I had to box up my bike ready for the flight home and take it back to my hotel from the neighbouring hotel. Thereafter I said goodbye to those I had breakfasted with and I went for a walk round the neighbourhood of the hotel and generally chilled before heading to the airport with some officers from Oakland Police.

Check in at the airport was swift, but the security checks were interesting, especially when I was selected to provide a hand swap which is tested for both explosives and drugs. Fortunately I passed the test, so it was through to departures and a bit of last minute shopping. Note to self duty free shopping at US airports is a bit like shopping at the corner shop – over priced and rubbish selection.

Boarding the plane brought the news that the plane was completely full, unlike the outbound flight. We left the gate on time, taxied to the end of the runway and stopped – for 2 1/2 hours with the pilot telling us every so often he had no news of a take off time. Apparently there was a severe thunderstorm off the Eastern Seaboard of the USA and all flights across the Atlantic were suspended. The issue for me was I had a wedding to attend in Crawley and delay would mean I risked missing it. I tried to let Michelle know what was going on, but the last she heard was we had no departure time. When pilot announced departure time, it was immediate and I couldn’t text her. So until about 0900 Saturday morning she didn’t know if she was attending the wedding solo or not. Fortunately all turned out well and a very enjoyable time was had at the wedding, albeit I was shattered by the end.

REFLECTIONS

The Police Unity Tour is an incredible event and something that I will never forget.

  • To see several hundred cyclists riding 2 abreast in a peloton stretching hundreds of yards long is impressive.
  • The Crowds on the streets in New Jersey and Washington DC cheering us on was very heartening.
  • The mutual acknowledgement of the crowds by the riders again was nice to see.
  • The great banter all the way from NJ to DC made the ride very enjoyable and passed many miles with ease
  • The stories of some of the survivors was moving and very humbling. I have mentioned some of them in my earlier posts. These people are very special and their achievements on the bike and their mental strength should never be forgotten.
  • The sight of all the motorcycle riders escorting us and operating a rolling road closure was impressive. Those boys, including all the CHiPs kept us safe and rolling – thanks guys.
  • The support operation for this ride was again impressive. Each morning, we just dumped our bags outside the hotel and that night they were in my room at the next hotel. Rest stops were provided with all we needed to eat & drink and the portaloos that were essentials. Feeding the 5000 is hard, but feeding watering them and providing portaloos is more than in the Bible. There were certainly more than 5 loaves and 2 fishes at each rest stop.
  • Two men who cannot be praised to highly are Patrick P. Montuore and Harry E. Phillips the founders of this event and the organisers of the ride. Their motivation, their drive, their dedication is unbelievable. I want to say a personal thanks to them for allowing me to take part in this ride.
  • The people on the ride were so friendly and so many people went out of their way to make me feel welcome and part of the ride. From talking to me through some of the more difficult parts of the ride to making sure I had company on an evening. Thanks to amongst others, Dee, Judy,  their (& my) friend whose name I can’t recall ( sorry!), Jenny and others. Dee you rode with me for so much of the ride and made the ride fun. Thanks so much.
  • At this point I must thank all the Delaware riders for their support including my roommate Daniel. By the last day, I had managed to get the Delaware support vehicle to take my luggage for me instead of the main vans. I had a couple of great meals with them in Annapolis and in Washington DC. Thanks to you and apologies for stealing your seat on the bus in Annapolis back to the hotel.
  • Erik, Lisa and Michael from Ohio, thank you so very much for inviting me (Mike) and making me feel so welcome on this ride.
  • Lisa (a prosecutor from Ohio)your determination to ride despite your injury was a tribute to you. I hope to see you next year at this event. I  have tried to suggest to the CPS that our prosecutors should be armed like your prosecutors are but it seems not to be seen as a good idea!
  • Erik (an Ohio police officer), the most laid back person I’ve met. Does anything phase you?  I’ll not forget your sleeping at rest point, so laid back.
  • Michael, its down to you that I learned of this ride. You looked after me every step of the way. You introduced me to so many people and made sure I was treated as a friend by everyone. Thank you so much. However I hope you have got over that silly idea about not doing the ride next year. I’m coming back if they will have me and want you to join me again.

America, you and I may nominally share the same language, even though Michael may disagree (cheers Michael) but what we do share is a sense of respect for the sacrifices made by so many police officers in the course of their duty. Yes we may get annoyed by the actions of some officers at times, but they put their lives on the line for us.  Only this week in Cumbria, it was police officers who were the ones hunting the gunman who killed 12 people on his rampage. They were putting their lives at risk to keep us safe.

I would like to think that perhaps with the USA Police unity Tour we could arrange a similar event in the UK. I know Pat was interested in this idea, so watch this space…

Hampshire & Maine Police Officers

Candlelight Vigil with some of riders who befriended me

With Michael and Dee

The Law Won

A Great Bunch to Ride With – Thanks Guys and Girls

THE National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial Rose

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue aka The White House

Is That Brian Haw on Holiday in the Tent?

Lincoln Memorial with the Reflecting Lake in front. (Remember Forest Gump?). The lake is empty- what does that say re  the Relections of the USA?

The Capitol Building

The Ford Theatre – Where Lincoln was shot

The medal for all riders

The Brits are Coming ( and no Paul Revere in sight)

The last 5 weeks have been hugely influential on my. The whole trip to the USA has taught me a lot about myself and my life and what is important to me. Thank you to all who have enabled me to have this experience. The who;e trip to the USA has made me re assess me own values and lifestyle and what is important.

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About spen666

I'm a 40 something football fan and cyclist. I've been a football fanatic most of my life and have completed the 92 football league & premier league grounds Added to this numerous non league grounds, a number abroad and you start to get the picture. I took up cycling in around 2000. Although my father was a former World Vets Champion, I got into cycling accompanying my son to ride in London. This was followed by my commuting to work each day into Central London. Then doing some Sunday rides, then some audax events (www.audax.uk.net) and then a week's cycling holiday in France with a friend. From there, I got more and more into cycling and in 2009 completed LEJoG and in 2010 rode in the USA with the Police Unity Tour. I completed blogs for those events at www.aminearlythere.blogspot.com and www.bothesidesofthepond.blogspot.com Feel free to read them and learn more about me. I live alone which suits me as it gives me time at weekends to pursue my interests of cycling and football. (Well what did you expect me to say? That I'm sad at being single?) I'm currently looking for my next challenge. Any suggestions gratefully received.
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