Police Unity Tour 2011: Reflections

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The Police Unity Tour is in its 15th year now. It started off with 18 riders. This year there were around 1500 riders riding from New Jersey, Virginia and on the Challenge Ride. There is also an army of volunteers, police motor cycle riders etc. contributing to this event.

On the chapter 1 ride alone there were around 650 cyclists plus helpers. Thus in each town we stopped accommodation had to be found for the best part of 1000 people. No mean undertaking.

The purpose of the ride?

According to the PUT website it is as follows:

  • The primary purpose of the PUT is to raise awareness of Law Enforcement Officers who have died in the line of duty
  • The secondary purpose of the PUT is to raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial and Museum.

There are in my personal view a number of other purposes of the ride including (this is not meant to be an exhaustive list):

  • Providing a place where officers from across the system, both county, state and federal officers as well as international officers can meet and share a common purpose. This in my view helps bring a better understanding of the whole legal system.
  • Helps provide support for those officers who have experienced the loss of colleagues.
  • Helps provide support for those relatives of fallen officers, who choose to ride the event. The fact that survivors come back to ride again proves this.
  • The ride raises the profile of law enforcement officers across the USA and reinforces that they are normal people doing an extra ordinary job.
  • The ride provides a challenge to the participants many if not most of whom are not regular cyclists. Riding 300 miles over 4 days is a challenge to the body.
  • Perhaps the most important thing it does is let the survivors know that they are not alone and that all us riders care for them and the loss they have suffered. The sight of so many PUT clad people at the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial during Police Week is an indication of this to the survivors and the thanks and gratitude of the survivors to the riders is humbling. We only ride  bikes, their spouses gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Thanks To The People Who Make It Happen

The planning of such a ride is a task that is beyond the imagination of me. The booking of the hotels in each town, the arranging of transportation of luggage, the arranging rest stops and the necessary food and drink as well as portaloos, the route planning, the obtaining permission for road closures etc.. Not to mention the first aid, mobile workshops, sag wagons etc. There is a whole army of people involved.  I don’t want to start to list people because I’d be bound to forget some and offend them. Every single support person raises funds to enable them to take part in this event. They are the real heroes.

The people who were handing out the sunscreen at the rest stop when we had forgotten ours. The people who managed to find spare kit when we had lost or damaged ours. The people who were there with words of encouragement when the going was hard. The people who somehow managed to find lost luggage. The people who managed to help arrange for friends and relatives to meet us in Washington.

The people who volunteered to pick us up at all times of day or night from Newark Airport and drive us to East Hanover for the hotel.

Great Riding Conditions and Route

The route followed a similar pattern to previous years except this year we were able to ride through the Holland Tunnel into NYC and past Ground Zero. The route is not flat, neither is it too difficult for an experienced rider.

Day 1 is mainly around Newark and Jersey City, the roads are very potholed, there are a lot of short steep ups and down. The pace is varying. It is a bit like riding a criterium racing, lots of speeding up and slowing down. It is relatively short however.

Day 2 was the longest day at just over 100 miles. There were several short steep inclines and at around the 85 mile stage was the Commodore Barry Bridge which is over 2 miles up and over. This is a toll road that is closed for us.

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THREE VIEWS OF THE COMMODORE BARRY BRIDGE

Day 3 was another relatively long day at around 90 miles. It is traditionally the fastest day. We are travelling a relatively flat route through the Maryland countryside. This year we reached the afternoon stop 1 hour ahead of last year.

Day 4 was a short hilly ride to DC and then the fantastic parade into the memorial. All 1400+ riders from the three rides.

The weather for the ride could not have been more perfect. We had four days of glorious sunshine with temperatures hitting the 80s. There was little or no wind. The only dangers were sunburn and dehydration. On day 2 I drank the best part of 6-8 litres of fluids.

Good Company

I must mention Team Ohio for their great company and support.

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Part of Team Ohio – Erik, Lisa Craig Floyd (CEO of the NLEOM), Myself, Michael T and Jeremy

Michael T – who talks to anyone and everyone and who invited me and also Lisa to ride in the PUT. I roomed with Michael T this year and he had the cheek to complain about MY snoring.

Dee & Michael – State troopers from Ohio. Dee I rode with for miles last year and Michael who had done the ride before, but wasn’t there last year

Erik – the most laid back of the Ohio riders. Again, he rode last year. This year we spent the day of the candle light vigil sight seeing. Erik took me to the restaurant that was the first President Obama was seen eating in in Washington after his election. The very unpretentious Ben’s Chili Bowl.

Jeremy – along with Lisa, He was a PUT virgin. He also tried to get the record for the most water bottles lost in a single event. I think by the end of the ride he understood that water bottles go into the bottle cages, not dropped onto the road. Jeremy shared his photos with Lisa and I, so some of the pictures on here belong to him. They were taken with his mobile phone- a Motorola Droid and are simply excellent quality pictures. A great lad and I hope to meet him and his charming wife again next year.

Lisa – like me, Lisa is an adopted Ohioan for the PUT. Again, like me Lisa is an employee of HM Queen Elizabeth II. Lisa is a Canadian and as I said above was a PUT virgin this year. Lisa who hadn’t ridden a bike until last October proved to be not only a good rider who completed the ride easily, but she was also a dab hand at massage, sewing, a provider of herbal potions and substances for easing aches and improving performance ( well maybe not performance enhancing).

Finally, I must just say thanks to everyone who sponsored me. The ride has raised over $1.5 million this year so far. Your sponsorship is much appreciated

 

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The National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial in Washington – the destination of our ride

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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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