Today was the third day of riding on the Police Unity Tour 2011. We rode from Wilmington in the state of Delaware to Annapolis in the state of Maryland.
PREPARING FOR DAY 3 (With Michael T)
The day started off with 2 surprises, one good one bad. As I put on my cycling shoes, I discovered that the left cleat was very worn. This could be a problem if the cleat fails as I will not be able to clip my foot into the pedal. (BTW, why do you clip your shoes into clip less pedals?). Fortunately, the cleat has survived today, and hopefully will survive tomorrow as well.
The pleasant surprise was whilst waiting at the roadside for the rest of the ride to reach us. I was called over by a fellow rider (from Connecticut) to meet a couple from England who were there to see us off. This couple from West Yorkshire had been coming over to the US for police week for the last seven years with a friend of theirs who is a survivor, having lost her daughter (a police officer) some seven years ago. I also met their friend who presented me with a badge in memory of her daughter. This is now proudly on my saddle bag as I ride to Washington DC. All three of them will be in Washington DC tomorrow when we arrive at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. It would be great if I was able to meet them there.
Now, do you notice anything unusual about the flag? Well, it is apparently upside down – an international distress signal. The reason it was this way up was to make it look correct as the riders came under it.
Now, we joined the other riders 8 miles into today’s ride as we had done those miles last night. The first rest stop was at a home for people with special needs. It was some 21 miles from where we joined the ride, and we reached there at an average of 14.7 mph. this was much quicker than last year. It was even more impressive when you realise the temperature was already reaching the high 60s Fahrenheit.
This temperature resulted in me drinking lots before we got to the school and at least a litre and a half at the school. Now, bear in mind it was not yet 10am! A hot day was surely in store.
At the rest stop I also met Yossi, an Israeli police chief riding the Police Unity Tour for the first time. Lisa and I had our photos taken with Yossi as foreign riders together. Thanks to Michael for taking the picture!
From the home, we only had a short ride to lunch, some 18 miles on. This was ridden at a leisurely pace of only 12.9mph. The ride was through some gently rolling countryside and had one or two interesting climbs such as this bridge.
THE THIN BLUE LINE
Yes, we did ride up and over that bridge.
Lunch again involved lots of fluid being taken on board.
After lunch we had the longest stage of the ride to date, some 33 miles. We rode the first 20 miles at a cracking pace. We were averaging around 17-18mph. This had the effect of spreading out the ride over I’m told a distance of a couple of miles. I was really enjoying this pace and was with the very front group. Our pace being limited by the lead car. This meant we were unable to speed down hills and had to start uphills from a relatively slow speed with little momentum. The temperature during this section was now above ambulance and partly to re group the ride. As the police were closing the roads on a rolling basis80 degrees.
We eventually had to stop partly because of an accident further back down the field that required an , we needed to keep the group together to minimise the disruption to motorists. After this pause, we slowed the ride down to the rest stop. We still had an average of 14.4 mph on this section.
From the afternoon rest stop we rode much slower for the final 15 miles only averaging 12.9 mph. This was a very pleasant ride. I spent most of it chatting with one of the ride marshals, Ryan. He is an officer from Rhode Island. It was good to chat about the differences in law enforcement in the UK and the US. We discussed firearms, Tasers, and patterns of crime. As with other officers I spoke to they are envious of the UK’s lack of gun culture.
The ride ended at a park on the other side of the bay to Annapolis. We had to load our bikes into trucks and get buses to our hotels as we are not allowed to ride over the Bay Bridge. Tonight we (Michael T, Jeremy & Lisa) went out to eat and then had a walk round Annapolis Harbour and a look at the memorial to Kunta Kinte. Those of you that know about my heritage will understand why this has a significance to me.
The night ended with plans being made for tomorrow and the weekend in Washington DC. Tomorrow Michael will be meeting one of the survivors who is attending the memorial for the first time. Her story is truly horrific, she was present when her son and another officer were murdered whilst on duty, and she had to call the incident in. This was whilst she was visiting her son in Alaska from her home in Florida. The loss of a child is dreadful, but to see your own child murdered and to have to radio in the mayday call is awful.
Tomorrow we have a 50 or so mile ride into RFK Stadium in Washington where our 650-700 riders will join the other rides and then 1200-1300 cyclists will ride into Washington DC 2 by 2. The thin blue line!
The only downside of today has been that we finished riding too late in the day for me to speak to Michelle online. I think I may have no or limited internet access between now and Monday, so may not get to speak to Michelle or even be able to communicate with her for several days
Finally, Tom has asked to see my cycling kit with the England Flag on it, so Tom, these are for you.
The tradition on this ride is that you wear the patch from your police department on the back pocket of your shirt. Obviously I do not have a patch, so to aid identification of me, I have a St George Cross patch. I am therefore known to many rides as “England”