PUT 2012: The ride is Over–The Pain is forever

Well, I am back home from the USA. Its time to reflect on the event.

Firstly, let me recap on events since my last post. We arrived in DC on Saturday 12th May. The last day of the ride was the shortest of the 4 days at around 35 miles, but it was also the hilliest. We had a stop after 20 miles at a Target Store. Then we headed for the short trip to the RFK Stadium in DC.

With about 8 miles of the PUT left (270 done), we passed a female pedestrian who asked:

“Where are you all riding to?”

“We’re going to DC”

“You’re crazy riding all the way to DC”

Que the laughter from all those on the ride at her thinking 8 miles is a long way to ride.

When we arrived at the RFK Stadium we waited for the other rides to arrive. This was time for us to have a drink and something to nibble on.

I’m not saying it was hot, but I drank between 3 and 4 litres of Gatorade during that stop. It tells me that I did not drink enough during the ride. Cycling can be dangerous in the heat as it is a sport where you are kept feeling cool and dry by the feeling of the breeze, so that you do not realise how much you are dehydrating. Thus it is easy to get too dehydrated. Not usually a problem in English weather!

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The Brits Have Arrived: Myself & Paul at RFK Stadium (and no, we are not smuggling anything under the shirts!)

We left RFK . rode into Washington DC. some 1500+ cyclists riding 2 by 2 and  into a crowd of thousands at and around the National Law Enforcement Memorial (NLEOM). The welcoming ceremony informed us that we had raised $1.65million so far this year. A fantastic achievement which was up $0.15 million on last year despite the recession.

We also got our medals for completing the ride.

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As I said in my last post we went for a meal on Saturday night at Pentagon City Mall, near our hotel.  This was a chance to reflect on another rider done. For Mike, it was number 9, my 3rd, Lisa’s and Jeremy’s 2nd ride and Paul and Maggie losing their PUT virginity this year. After the meal, Jeremy, Paul and I had a few beers back in our hotel and continued to reflect on the ride, life itself and generally speaking rubbish- at which I have to profess to be an expert (well that’s what Michelle tells me).

Sunday 13th May was the day of the Candlelight Vigil and a day free to sight see. Paul, Jeremy and I went to the NLEOM in the morning to reflect on the messages left in memory of the deceased officers. The messages are so poignant and put into place any feelings of pain us riders felt after the ride.

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The West Wall – one of 2 walls with 20,000 names thereon

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The Loss suffered by a family is painful to view.

 

 

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Inscription on the Memorial

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After visiting the memorial, we went to the “Tent city to have some lunch, view the stalls and have a quick beer before returning to Central Washington to go to the Chop House which is a restaurant and brewery that is famous for its special beer, “Copper Ale” which it brews once a year in Police Week and the special glass that comes with it.

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With Paul and Jeremy in Chop House – a well earned beer

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After thisw Paul and Jeremy had to leave to go back to the hotel to put their uniforms on as they were taking part in the Honour Guard at the Memorial. I went back to the NLEOM and met Mike. We viewed more of the tributes at the wall.

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Heart-breaking

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Mike and I then went for a meal at The Green Turtle restaurant with Lisa and her Canadian colleagues who had come down for the Vigil. We were honoured to be joined by the daughter and widow of a police officer killed in the line of duty and in whose memory we had ridden. We were also joined by a journalist from Cleveland Ohio who was writing a piece about the ride.

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The Green Turtle Restaurant Meal

We then went to the NLEOM for the Vigil. Despite knowing Paul for a couple of years this was the first time I have seen him in a uniform.

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He scrubs up well!

The Vigil was attended by the great and good in the US legal system, including the Attorney General. One noticeable absentee AGAIN was the President. He has not attended once since taking office and this is a black mark against him.

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The Thin Blue Line During the Candlelight Vigil

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After the vigil we went to a bar for a debrief, before heading back to our hotel for further debriefing. Before you start, we had no more than 3 or 4 beers all night. It was more about reflection than drinking. We also exchanged photps we had all taken over the week.

Monday morning, we all said our good byes. Paul and I had a few hours to kill, so we went on a whistle stop sightseeing tour of DC. We managed to see The White House, The Lincoln Memorial, The Korean War Memorial. The Vietnam Wat Memorial. The Reflecting Pond, The “nd world War Memorial, The Washington Monument, The Capitol Building and part of the Smithsonian Museum. Not bad for a couple of hours. Thereafter it was time to get to the airport for our flight home.

At the White House, there was a protest outside by some Ethiopians. They were being monitored by the US Secret Services. See pic below

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How did I know it was the secret service monitoring the protest? Well, the badge on their car was a clue.

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So what is secret about a uniformed secret service who advertise this on their motor vehicles?

 

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The White House

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The Second World War Memorial

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The Korean War Memorial

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Outside & Inside the Lincoln Memorial

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The Washington Monument

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Looking to The Capitol Building from The Washington Monument

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Looking to The Lincoln Memorial from The Washington Monument

Sadly, the Reflecting Pool was empty as it is being refurbished and the Washington Monument was closed, but I’m not sure why.

 

Since arriving home, I have been ill. I appear to have picked up some sort of infection. I slept solid for 15 hours on Tuesday night – given I usually manage only 5-6 hours a night, this is exceptional. Combined with a throat infection, upset tummy etc, I am feeling a little bit sorry for myself. Now, I know that some people will think I am skiving work or suffering jet lag, but if I tell you that I have not eaten anything since I left the USA on Monday and its now Thursday, I am sure you will realise I MUST be ill. I have plenty of food in the house, but cannot face eating it Surprised smile. I still have not unpacked my travel bags. In fact I have slept most of the last 48 hours.

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On reflection, I have to say that I have had a fantastic time in the USA. Thank you so much to everyone who sponsored me. Your generosity astounds me. Thanks must go to the support team on the PUT who put so much hard work in to make the ride such a pleasure. You guys are the star of the PUT. We cyclists just do what we enjoy for 4 days- riding our bikes.

The ride is a challenge, but the riders aqnd support team make it a pleasure. It was good to see friends again. Everyone on the ride makes me feel so welcome and it is a pleasure and an honour to be allowed to ride in this event.

 

At this point, you probably are left wondering what I mean by “the pain is forever” in the title of this post. This relates to the pain of the survivors who have to live everyday with the loss of their loved ones. You have seen in this blog some of the messages left at the wall. To see the faces of survivors as they arrived for the vigil, it was painful to see the pain they were in. I took a few pictures initially as the survivors arrived, but stopped and deleted these as it was not appropriate  to intrude in their personal grief.

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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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