Its that time of year again. Too late to do more training, too late to wish I had lost some more weight and too late to have bought a new bike/ travel box for the bike. These were all my intentions at the end of the 2010 Police Unity Tour and again at the end of the 2011 Police Unity Tour, and funnily enough at the end of the 2012 Police Unity Tour.
Too late, the bike is boxed up, the kit is washed and folded and I am almost on the start line. Just got to re assemble my bike, get my GPS used to the new location and psyche myself up. Some would suggest (perhaps a little unkindly) that the only type of psyche I need is a psychiatrist. Yes, Michelle I am looking at you!
Despite that fact I have three Police Unity Tour’s under my belt, it is always a little bit scary wondering how I will get on this time. Who will be the new young bucks and has everyone been doing more training than me?
The truth is in reality that it doesn’t matter as the camaraderie is such that everyone helps and encourages each other round the course. Some people have little idea on a bike and find themselves in the Sag Wagon frequently. Some people have not done any training at all. Some people are so determined to ride in memory of a fallen colleague that they do not let little things like a lack of fitness worry them.
Then there are those who are determined they must be at the front of the line all day everyday. They seem to take some pride in being at the front, even though the pace of the ride is slow and it is controlled by the lead car. Then there is me who is determined to win the sprint for the portaloo at each break/ rest stop. Why? Because I have a weak bladder and don’t want to be 250th in line for the loo.
[Loo? Better revise my vocabulary, its the bathroom or the porta -potty. Then I must remember they don’t have lorries here, they are trucks. Then of course chips are the US equivalent of what Walkers make and what we call chips, they call French Fries.]
Cycling 300 miles in 4 days along closed roads at a leisurely pace may seem like fun and a relaxing holiday, but 5am breakfasts are not my idea of a relaxing time!
Still, its 4 days of very different cycling. The first day is 60 miles through the rough streets of Newark and Elizabeth. When I say rough, I am talking about both the crime and the state of the street surface. Its true, everything in the USA is bigger than in England- especially the pot holes. Day 1 is often like a criterium race, with lots of speeding up and slowing down owing to the terrain and the fact that many new riders don’t appreciate it is not a race.
Day 2 is a long day and is around 100 miles in length. It is a long slog although it is devoid of many hills. There is enough to make you realise it is not easy.
Day 3 is a long flat day through Maryland and in the afternoon we have a fast stage which at around 35 miles is the longest single stage.
Day 4 is a strange day. Everyone is relaxed as we only have 35 – 40 miles to ride and are so near to Washington DC and the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial and the thousands of well wishers to see us home. However, it is also the day with the hardest hills. They are rolling and there is not time to recover from one hill before you hit the next one. Determination gets most people through to the RFK Stadium from where it is a 3 or so mile parade into the Memorial.
Then its time to meet the survivors of those you are riding for. It is always an emotional time. You have ridden in memory of someone who gave their live making the country a safer place and feel rather humble. however, the survivors are so grateful to you for having ridden and they want to thank you for riding your bike. I always feel humbled. I have just had 4 days of great cycling with my friends and don’t need any thanks.
Once in DC, its time for a few beers and to remember forgotten colleagues. The last 2 years we have been out with survivors of those we have ridden for.
To each and everyone of you that has donated anything at all to the cause, then I salute you and thank you on behalf of each and every survivor. Remember every death is that of someone’s parent/child/ brother or sister. Not only a life ended, but for many others a life destroyed.
It is not too late to make a donation