Riding With the Patriots

(Update:  Here’s the video from Catherine Read.  About the 20th bike coming out has me on the back, wearing a blue checked shirt and waving at camera). 

This morning was the annual “Ride of the Patriots” from Patriot Harley-Davidson in Fairfax City.  The day  starts  at 7:15 a.m.with parade down Fairfax Boulevard and a ceremony in front of the dealership.   

Beginning at 9 a.m., the Ride itself rolls out from the dealership, heads down Rte 50, then turns left on Nutley Street.  It takes the ramp on to I-66 and heads east.  From there, the Patriot bikes roll in formation down to the Pentagon parking lot, which is the gathering point for the “Ride to the Wall” this afternoon.

Every year, I tag along on a Harley and this was no exception.  (Thank you to the beautiful “Mo” of Oakton who let me ride along).  It’s one of the high-lights of the year.

The purpose of the Ride, which attracts riders from Ohio to Alabama, is to honor those who died for our nation, and do it in a way that’s full of life.

For example, Christopher Mayce of Vienna was killed in action last year in Afghanistan.  Before the rally, his mother wrote a note – read this morning by Patriot owner Bob Dehaven –asking us to remember her son with the Memorial Day tribute.   We did.  Mrs. Mayce was there with her family in front of Pan Am Shopping Center to wave at the riders, when we rode past.

That’s what it’s all about.  

The police escort gave us an unobstructed ride down I-66, with onlookers cheering at each overpass.  We reached the Pentagon about 10 a.m.  It was a mob scene of bikers, vendors and tourists, at least 50,000 people (and they were still coming in). 

I ended up taking the METRO back home, holding my helmet all the way.  At Vienna, I got a ride from a Nepali taxi driver, who expressed his admiration at the thousands of bikers coming to show support for the fallen.  He told me how he’d left Nepal because of its political instability and was now living in Manassas and working for himself.

That’s also what it’s about.

There are a lot of events this weekend commemorating Memorial Day.  I’ll be at several others myself.  But the “Ride of the Patriots” stands out for its color, passion and noise.

Thanks to the Fairfax Harley Owners Group for letting me be part of it (again).

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