I just edited my friend Chuck's notes he took chronicling his latest tandem bike ride adventure. This ride benefited families of fallen police officers in North Carolina. It took me nearly 4 hours of uninterrupted editing, but I think the story merited the work. Enjoy!
ENTER, CHUCK MILLER....
My May 2015 bike ride from Charlotte, North Carolina to Washington D.C.
“I know who you are.” I heard a woman’s voice say.
“I’m sure I’ve never met you,” I responded.
She persisted. “Yes, I saw you on FoxNews.com just the other day.”
I was speechless. The gate attendant commented that she considered me a celebrity, and insisted I travel first class. She escorted me onto the plane and introduced me to the flight attendant. Unaccustomed to VIP status, I discreetly enjoyed my first time in first class.
Upon deplaning in Charlotte, my tandem bike pilot and friend, Richard Robinson, met me and we set out to ready Richard’s bike, the “co-motion,” for the trip. Fernando, Richard’s relative, loaded the bike into his van for transport to Mecklenburg Police Department, the starting point. Then off to the dinner of champions: pizza and beer.
A windy, rainy day and miles of slippery road ahead that took us to Climax, a tiny North Carolina town. We did not feel it.
Time to SAG. In cycling, SAG stands for “support and gear.” SAG stations and SAG cars offer help to bike riders in need of help with their bike or their person. Paul was our SAG driver and he chauffeured us for part of day three, so that we only had to ride the last 65.5 miles into Richmond Virginia for our overnight stay. (My prayer still works: No Terrifying Tyler in sight.)
Richard stated that we would SAG the first 70 miles to ensure that we could do the last leg of the journey into D.C. The last 31 miles of the ride included a D.C. police escort, guaranteed to stir emotion, and we didn't want to miss it.
After lunch we took off first to get a head start. For 90 minutes Richard and I outpaced the pack for 40 miles, passing one rest stop by mistake. Five miles past the rest stop several riders caught up with us to let us know we had passed it. We decided to press on and offered to let the other riders draft off of us. Drafting refers to being pulled in the wake of another bike. A tandem offers a great draft. Once we arrived at the next stop the riders told us they would have never made it without our help.
As we rode into D.C., cheering crowds greeted us. Richard and I pulled ahead of the group. While dodging dangerous potholes, a motorcycle cop pulled us over, which escalated the stress I already felt riding on a substandard roadway. He said we were going too fast and that if we got out in front of the group again he would ticket us. Guess he’s not a fan of group rides. A little ditty began to play in my head, “every party has a pooper…”
We arrived at the hotel with fanfare and congratulations. My allergies became overwhelmed again. I need a tissue…Bikes stored, tears showered and pressed, we danced off to dinner (and perhaps a beer.)
Day Five: Free Day, May 13, 2015
What to do in Washington, D.C.? How about a tour of the White House and the U.S. Capitol? Capital idea. We left the hotel at 6:30am and walked to the White House. After going through the security checks we made it into the basement. A secret service agent approached me and told me that they offered a special mini tour for people with blindness. He asked Richard and me to follow him.
As we walked, I touched the wall that had been burned during the British siege of 1812. I hope this wall doesn’t trigger my allergies. A few steps later, we nearly bumped into President Obama’s oldest daughter Malia, who was helping with the main tour.
Day Six: HOMEWARD BOUND, May 14, 2015
We loaded onto the bus bound for Charlotte with the exuberance and sadness of kids leaving a fantastic summer camp experience. The bus broke down about 25 miles outside of Charlotte. A replacement bus arrived one hour later and we were back on the road to reality.
I owe y'all another beer!