Tour of Honor; Riding for the Memorial (Trip report)
A few months ago, browsing through the IBA web looking for my next ride, I stumbled across the Tour of Honor 2012 link which had an SS1K or SS1K Extreme tagged on it. TOH said it was noted as “A Ride to Remember”. Going to the site it seemed to be a great way to hit the road visiting preselected memorial sites within our state or throughout the Nation that are tied it to honoring our heroes and those that contributed to our countries freedom. To complete a TOH/SS1K, you would need to visit 4 sites covering 1000 miles in 24hr and the other noted as EXTREME was visiting all 7 sites over 1000 miles within 24 hours. Well, I was looking for something challenging and the extreme fit the bill. Stopping at 7 memorials meant at least 30 minutes off highway for each waypoint plus our fueling points for the ride. This would take some planning! The icing on the cake would be that we could also pay some respect at the memorials. Decision made and I recruited one more rider on a CanAm Sypder Tour to roll with me. We later tied the TOH in with the IBA annual MEMORIAL SS1K ride in which I would be riding carrying my father’s burial flag memorializing both him and my uncle while Phil (prior Army) who was a prior Honor Guard in DC, would honor those fallen from his Active Duty Days.
Some of the challenges for this IBA ride would be the off-highway time (approximately 30 minutes each memorial) and getting through DC unscathed! Phil and I worked the logistics out for about 6 weeks, got a solid route planned (posted as google map link if you would like to look) and finished prepping our bikes. We would ride to within 30 minutes of the first memorial, then start at 0630 to get out of Hampton Roads without traffic and hit our 2nd memorial right before it opens that morning. It was the only one that was locked behind a gate and that drove the whole ride. Saturday morning, 0430, house lights start coming on and garage doors opening (we live across the street from each other) as we ease the bikes out for the days ride. One final look over the bikes, review of the maps and ensuring that we had plenty of water and snacks as well as tunes (this was projected to take every bit of 20 hours) and off we went.
We met up with Will to witness our start after I had missed our exit to the meet point. I say I was checking to make sure Phil would follow me anywhere (which he did) but others say I was lost…. Finally, 0630 and we’re off to NAS Oceana Flame of Hope. Very moving at dawn, if you are local, you should swing by and see it before sunrise. We made our way to Richmond ahead of schedule (almost 50 minutes) where we got stuck waiting on the gates to open back up. Somehow they locked us in the court yard. We got our pics with the Lincoln/John statue inside the old Iron Foundry (Need to go back to that one some day) and headed out finally. As we left Richmond Va, we had a chance to travel some of the back roads making good time (avg 50mph overall) and seen some great twisted and back roads. Route 60 to 24 to 460 into Bedford Va where we would pickup the National D-Day memorial. Unbelievable memorial which we were just floored! It was almost overwhelming, we could NOT just roll back out so we spent a good 30 minutes there paying our respects. This is just off the entrance to the Blue Ridge Park Way so you can easily make a day ride to Bedford, visit and back up the BRPW and back home.
Our next 2 stops at V-Tech (Medal of Honor memorial) and Bristol (Veterans Remembrance Memorial) were challenging to say the least. 20-35mpg head/cross winds took its toll on us and our time. We were slipping into mid 40mph overall which would continue to haunt us the remainder of the trip. V-Tech was no problem despite the game that was going on (close call) and we both were very touched when we read a inscription at Bristol that said (Dedicated so that all would have a place to remember). It was hard to push through these memorials, as each one had its own grip on you of what they stood for. Touched, that is all I can say.
Turning North on 85, we rode hard and dusk soon set in. The difference on fuel consumption between my Vic and Phil’s CanAm was creating unexpected challenges causing us to shift our pre-planned fuels points a bit. We would later be able to get back on our original track but not without some headache. Six hours went by and we were entering D.C. Wow, finally the last turning point. Here we would stop at Pentagon memorial (its about 1030 at night) to grab our next pic. All I can say is this, if you have not seen the Pentagon Memorial at night honoring those lost both there and on Flight 77, I STRONGLY encourage you to do it. It was extremely hard to leave. One lighted bench for each of the 184 lost in the tragedy. No words to express the impact of this at night. We moved on to Iwo Jima and took our last pic then headed south towards home.
Now over 18 hours into this with almost 4 ˝ stopped, we were surprisingly energized with all that we had seen and both agreed to press on cautiously due to our total time on the road. We briefed before and during the ride that if either one of us became too tired or felt unsafe that we would call the ride.
Suprisingly, we did not see 1 deer, plenty of BEARS (the four wheeled kind) but no critters. We talked about what we had seen that day and got to within 1 hour of being home before the rain started letting loose. LOL, didn’t even phase us. Phil said “At this point, it feels great…. Ride on” and we did, uneventful to our completion point meeting our riding buddy Steve who was our final witness.
Our bikes performed flawlessly, fuel consumption and traffic got very challenging at one point but we regrouped and overcame. We were obviously tired but anticipating the EXTREME ride, we had been watching our health, got plenty of rest two days preceding the ride, stayed hydrated, ate the right foods (minus one quick quarter pounder) and briefed at each stop. 17 stops total, 21 ˝ hours and 1040 miles honoring those the memorials were dedicated for knowing sacrifice was in order.
Was it challenging? Yes, it was an extreme ride. Was it worth it? Absolutely!
I think in some way what gave us an untapped energy was each time we talked about our hero’s throughout the ride. This took a lot of planning, was VERY challenging and was unbelievably rewarding.
If you have not visited the TOH web, google, TOH 2012 and check it out. I will do the 7 memorials next year again, not in an IBA format, just the ride but it is a RIDE TO REMEMBER!
If you have questions about this ride or riding IBA in general, feel free to shoot me a PM.