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Riding a Motorcycle from California to Washington D.C.

Updated on November 29, 2012

All About Riding Across Country.

I have ridden my own motorcycle across country 10 times, from California to Washington D.C. The trip is grueling, thrilling, challenging, awesome and amazing. This particular ride is with hundreds of bikers in groups of 30-60 bikes with less than 1/4 mile between the packs, often riding side-by-side, which is a "learned skill."

I learned to ride when I was 51, and wrote an article about it. Lady learns to ride.

Our annual cross-country ride is with an organized group called

Run For The Wall.

It is a POW/MIA awareness ride. It is a Veterans ride. It is so many things that it is hard to comprehend. I want too document how riding Run For The Wall the last 9 years has changed me. For months before the ride leadership is working in each state that we ride through making preparation for fuel and meal stops. They report any route changes to leadership so that a route book can be prepared in advance.

When the ride starts in California, we hold rider's meetings to orient the new riders and remind returning riders of the way we ride.

A NOTE ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: This is me at a rally in Mexico in 2009. Riding to the event in Puerto Penasco was very intimidating and the roads were a harsh environment, but arriving was an amazingly beautiful view. The only complaint I had was the speed bumps made up of bowling ball size 1/2 cement balls side by side in all "important" parking lots. They were a bear to ride a motorcycle through, I nearly dropped my new bike several times.

Click on this picture for a list of what I pack on my bike.
Click on this picture for a list of what I pack on my bike.

Click on the picture to see what all I pack for the Run For The Wall ride.

We stay in motels - the camping packing list would be much greater.

To start with, Run For The Wall (RFTW) has orientations and registration in Rancho Cucamonga, California 2 days before we leave for the financial teams, since they open registration and merchandise as riders are arriving. Team leaders and their teams start arriving, get registered and start meeting, comparing experiences, and going over any changes from previous years. New riders, called FNGs, (Fine New Gal, or Fine New Guy) of course, start arriving all anxious, nervous and full of questions, so experienced RFTW riders start answering questions and relieving fears.

The majority of the riders who come along on Run For The Wall are either Veterans of Vietnam era or they are family or friends of veterans or someone lost in a war. We also are starting to get a lot of more recent veterans, like Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan War veterans, and some active duty on leave. It is an incredible honor to meet people with a PASSION FOR LIBERTY.

My involvement in RFTW has been pretty diverse. I rode RFTW as an FNG in 2003. I jumped in and helped at Registration once I was registered and helped with merchandise sales along the route because they got a little backed up. It wasn't long before people were using me as a "go for." Which I loved. I made some awesome friends that year.

The next year my husband was asked to be the Chaplain for the Central Route. There are two groups that leave the same location in CA. Central and Southern. About 300 riders start out on each Route. Some ride for a day, and others ride all-the-way. We have new people join us every morning. It becomes a 3 mile convoy of riders headed to Washington D.C.

After being Chaplain, my husband helped establish a Chaplain's Corp made up of several ministers who ride. They ride at the back of the pack to assist with any incidents (accidents) that may occur. Then we helped for 2 years with merchandise. I was asked to be the Board Secretary in 2007, and continue to serve my current term, as Chairperson, through June 2011.

The changes we've seen have ramped up safety, and simplified the process of registering up to 2000 people along the route. Run For The Wall would not succeed year after year without amazing dedicated volunteers.

People video the Run For The Wall and put it on YouTube - This is our arrival in Junction City

Stop the video at :28 seconds and see the side by side sport bikes, that's me and my husband.

... to maintain a safe, supportive and private atmosphere in which all participants can reflect ...

Can you name the states where we have not ridden our motorcycles?

We've ridden to Canada and Mexico also.

Places we've ridden.

The Motorcycle Helmet Debate - Do you wear one? Why or why not?

This debate is as old as the helmet. Let me know what you think.

Do you wear a helmet?

Wearing a helmet should be a choice.

Wearing a helmet should be a choice.

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    • anonymous 4 years ago

      Life is a calculated risk, I choose to wear a helmet even though it is not required in my state. Riding is dangerous, I try to make it as "safe" as I can, but let's not kid ourselves, if that semi crosses the double yellow 10 feet in front of me- the helmet won't make a difference.

      HOWEVER- it's not my job to tell you to wear one or not.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      Why take a chance , I choose to wear a helmet .

    • bikerministry 6 years ago

      I feel safer riding with a helmet, and wear one even moving my bike in a parking lot - see pic above. I dropped my bike and my head hit the curb right at the back of my helmet - leaving a yellow mark from the curb paint. This convinced me, I got a new helmet because of the fall - flip face with a sun shield. Wouldn't ride without it now. Loved the wind in my hair, bandannas, the sun in my face, goggles, everything about riding free without a helmet, but I'm not the only person on the road.

    Helmet laws need to be the same across the country.

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      • limited279 4 years ago

        Always...if I can find it!

      • TransplantedSoul 5 years ago

        Illegal here (Canada) not to wear a helmet!

      Harrison County Scouts video the Run as it arrives in Corydon, IN

      At 1:03 on the video if you pause it, that is us, me and my husband, he led the pack that year. Law enforcement and our Road Guards ride ahead of the pack, scouting out any incidents in front of us and setting up staging and parking at our stops.

      First - read the book. - It's a great study on the culture of the Vietnam era veterans.

      I do have some essentials that I always take on my bike when I ride Run For The Wall. Also you can order the book below!

      Run For The Wall had an excellent book written about the journey,

      and I've done a pretty thorough review of the book online.

      Their web page is: rftw.org

      We have rights, "freedom" is a popular word among Bikers.

      I had a severe motorcycle accident 14 years ago and lived to tell about it (had a helmet on).

      I love feedback. - All the Gear All The Time is a great topic.

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        • profile image

          anonymous 5 years ago

          Great lens. God bless!

        • TransplantedSoul profile image

          TransplantedSoul 5 years ago

          That looks like a fun ride!

        • bikerministry profile image
          Author

          bikerministry 6 years ago

          Oh my goodness ... I got blessed by GramaMom. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

        • profile image

          wheelbound 6 years ago

          What a wonderful lens. Good luck on all of your rides!

        • bikerministry profile image
          Author

          bikerministry 6 years ago

          @AnnRadley: Thank you for the comment. We love traveling and meeting all the different people is definitely a plus. Arriving on a motorcycle does open many conversations, the old-timers have so many stories to tell, the young parents look forward to a time when they can travel as a couple and our peers are everywhere on bikes. We love what we do.

        • AnnRadley profile image

          AnnRadley 6 years ago

          Well I've never driven a motorcycle. I've just driven from the midwest to the west coast in 5 days - and it was rich with experiences and meeting different people. Good for you in riding for vets - and all that that means

        • bikerministry profile image
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          bikerministry 6 years ago

          @Diana Wenzel: We love what we do.

          My first year of riding (I was 51 when I took the Rider Safety Course and got my first bike) I was very nervous. I did a lot of miles just riding to the right and back a bike length from him. I was and still am super cautious. My SUPER TIP for new and experienced riders - look way out ahead of you at all times, constantly glancing into your rear view mirrors, remembering that you see everything between the horizon and the bike you're sitting on, it really works.

          Thank you for looking - and for the comment and congratulations on your one-year anniversary. It's a huge accomplishment. I just rolled over 120,000 miles ... over the nearly 12 years I've been riding.

        • Diana Wenzel profile image

          Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

          This month is my one-year anniversary of riding. Just love it! Haven't done any events yet. Needed to practice safe riding first so I would be comfortable in the midst of lots of riders. Looking forward to making some riding friends. Your ministry sounds awesome!