The Police Unity Tour is not about punishing yourself, its not a race or even a competition of any sorts. It is an event set up by police officers to honour the memories of their colleagues who have died.
I arrived in East Hanover NJ last night after being met by NJ officers at Newark Airport and was escorted for that scene. (Some of you will say that wouldn’t be the first time I have been escorted from premises). I was taken to our hotel in East Hanover, the Ramada Conference Centre and checked in, and headed straight for the bar. It was 8pm there, but 1am back in England. A couple of beers and a chance to chat with friends from previous Police Unity Tour’s. Two or three beers later and a few late night texts to and from Michelle to confirm I had arrived safely over here , then time for bed. Well it was until Tom texted me to tell me about Sir Alex Ferguson resigning and Wigan losing to Swansea which helps Newcastle’s position in the relegation fight. Quite why Tom was up at 02:30 am in England I’m not sure, especially as its a week night.
I had met with a couple of Colorado officers who had arranged for me to ride in memory of a fellow Englishman who died whilst serving in the Lakewood Police in Colorado. They handed me two items re James Jeffery Davies, a card with details of his life and his date of death (aka End of Watch) and the bracelet I will wear all the way to Washington DC.
The laminated card includes the Welsh Flag in the background as James was a Welshman by birth. This was a nice touch by his colleagues from Colorado.
However, the card and the bracelet are a reminder of the reason for this ride. James gave his life and his widow, children and parents are suffering everyday as a result. It is the thought of those people and their loss that keeps you going on the hard parts of the ride.
Wednesday morning brought torrential rain, and the forecast is for more rain each day on the ride. Not ideal riding conditions, but I would rather be riding in such conditions than going through the same as James’s family are going through.
I should also mention the US Postal Service Inspector Preston Parnell whom I am also riding in memory of.
Wednesday morning after the rain, thunder and lightning had ceased, I took a walk out in East Hanover to the local bike shop to buy some cleats before returning to the hotel, registering for the ride and getting my welcome pack and details of my hotels for the rest of the week. Good news is we are staying in Washington DC and not Arlington this year.
I fixed my bike up after un boxing it after the fight, and sorted out the transportation of my bike box to Washington. Then it was time to meet my room mate Mike. He is the inspiration to me to do this ride and also the inspiration for others. This could potentially be Mike’s last PUT as he retires from his job later this month.
I then was able to have an hour long chat with Michelle via Skype. It is incredible to think we can have a video chat for so long for no cost at all. It helps to make the distance seem less, only thing that is difficult is the time difference.
After the chat to Michelle, it was time to finish sorting out a present for Mike from Lisa and myself to say thanks for the last few years on the PUT. We had arranged a digital photo frame loaded with photos of Mike on the PUT with friends. This was accompanied by appropriate music. It was appreciated by Mike, even if he doesn’t admit that it brought a tear to his eye.
The rest of today was taken up with a meet and greet social session with fellow riders and a few beers. Its always nice to meet new riders and to discuss the ride to come and rides past.
Its time to head for bed now, and get a night’s sleep before the start of this year’s pilgrimage to DC and the heavy rain forecast for us to ride in.