03NR29 - Motorcycle Riders Foundation: In Memoriam
MRF E-MAIL NEWS
Motorcycle Riders Foundation
P.O. Box 1808
Washington, DC 20013-1808
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Tom Wyld
September 11, 2003
#03NR29 - MOTORCYCLE RIDERS FOUNDATION: IN MEMORIAM
The Board of Directors of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation joins all Americans in a day of remembrance for those lost two years ago today. May we never forget the day our liberty was attacked, and those who continue to serve to protect it. On this day may we all rededicate our devotion to our country and the freedoms we cherish. May we always celebrate our great nation.
On September 11, 2001, Tom Wyld sent the following post . . . an extraordinary account of his ride home from Washington, D.C.
Ladies & Gents,
The barricades were still up around the Capitol as I made my way home tonight. The same Capitol Hill police who would share a friendly wave just stared at me as I motored past the Supreme Court building a block away from the MRF office.
This is a changed city.
Rolling down 2nd Street, toward the Library of Congress building that spills down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the House office buildings, desolation was everywhere. I stopped for a red light, flicked my visor up, looked around and took in the sight. No cars ahead, none behind, none to the left, just a barricade, with officers, some in S.W.A.T. gear, to the right. I was at the red light at Pennsylvania Avenue that usually takes two or three cycles to get through. An officer approached me and said, "Just go ahead."
Why not. No one else was on the streets.
"Thanks," I said. "A safe night to ya."
"Thanks," he replied.
Bev and I normally scoot right after that, behind Cannon, Longworth and Rayburn then onto the 14 St. Bridge. Five minute leg, max.
You could not access 395 from Capitol Hill, because authorities didn't want Capitol Hill accessed from 395, or from anywhere. Every major artery in the city is blocked. I was routed through the city, coming upon barricade after barricade, scores of law enforcement from every possible federal agency, at virtually every corner. Just me, two or three cars driven by equally incredulous motorists, and groups of officers and agents, in teams of four to eight, at every corner.
I spent a good half hour in a strange nation's capitol, just trying to go, as the crow flies, about, oh, 8 city blocks to access the 14th Street bridge from Washington to Virginia. There was no direct route. There were no crows flying, not anywhere in D.C.
Still trying to pierce the envelope of security, I ended up near Union Station, a threatened inter-modal transport site. I was stopped at the light on Mass. Avenue. That corner of Massachusetts Avenue was owned by a team from the Border Patrol. Being a northern Southerner, I had never even seen their patrol cars before. The light switched to green. Instinctively looking right for a red-light runner, I saw one. He wasn't hard to miss. A DC Metro police car, lights flashing. Waving the car behind me to a stop and pumping my rear brake pedal to convince him (Lord, why don't motorists just freakin' get it?), I waited for the officer to proceed. A good thing, as he had company. Nearly 100 Hum-Vs in camo green motored along in convoy behind him. "Military Police" read the stencil on the sides of their vehicles. About 100 in all, each with about a half-dozen MPs. The light cycled three times before the convoy ended, and I could proceed.
I finally caught 9th Street, a left off Mass. Avenue, which signs said I couldn't. I knew that, heading further, I would get closer to the White House and who-knew-what form of the 100 or so law enforcement agencies that were out in full force to protect the Government of the United States. It was an illegal left turn, but the drivers ahead seemed as clueless as everyone else in the District, so I built the revs in the Triumph Triple, cursed the Sagem fuel injection system that always seems uncertain at just the wrong moment, and just flat bolted left when the light changed. I hit 50 before the next light to put some distance between me and any cantankerous cabbies who might have taken offense. (I remember the guy at the custom shop in Maryland I visited a few weeks ago with the Small Business Administration guy who's become a real champion for us; "ride it like ya stole it," he said, as he bid us farewell. Tonight, I rode it like I stole it, and it worked.)
The 9th Street tunnel burrows below federal buildings in D.C. before coming up on the D.C. side of the Potomac. Me and four cars (who finally caught up at a light) in Washington, D.C. Five vehicles in Washington, D.C., at 5 or so p.m. Unreal.
The drivers seemed as stunned as I was. We motored along as a group for a while, astonished by barren streets. I think we all proceeded slowly in the tunnel out of fear that something dastardly might happen. Getting tired of the desolation, slow speed and inactivity, I popped down a gear just to get through it and put it past me, knowing I would soon cross the Potomac and see the Pentagon, thinking, just thinking, get through it, just get through it. Don't look. Don't think about it. You're riding, not driving, think about riding, don't think about....
Couldn't do it.
The 9th Street tunnel usually pours you into a mess of cars and trucks, where you swim in an asphalt aquarium of vehicles, where you keep your eyes open, your head spinning, your mirrors burning with the image of your eyes darting back and forth, high revs, hot braking, fast peels to get out of the way of this shark or that.
It was empty.
The 14th Street Bridge, which I affectionately call "the meat grinder," was ... empty. Frankly, I didn't know how to take the turns, even at the posted speed limit. It was strange. Didn't know this bump would unsettle the suspension. Didn't even know about that bump, never felt that way before. What was the speed limit again? Where are the cars?
Up the rise and onto the bridge, that's when I saw it.
A lonely, tiny U.S. flag on the parade side of the Pentagon, that's what I spotted first, a flag that, frankly, seemed so little, buried in a huge, low cloud of brown smoke that still poured from the building that houses the U.S. Department of Defense.
Crossing the bridge, though, there were few cars, everyone proceeded at 25 mph in that 55 zone. Cops of every stripe were there to wave people on, but it wasn't working. People just pulled off to the right shoulder, stopped, stunned, overcome, undone, shaken, staring. One woman was just lying across her parked car, crying, a Virginia trooper helping her.
Even to this moment, I still smell the smell of that brown smoke. Can't shake it.
I passed several motorcyclists rolling the other way on 395, and onto 66.
Every day, like a ritual, sport biker or Harley biker, there's always our customary left-hand handshake into the wind.
Not even one.
One guy on a Harley rolled past, going the other way, on 66.
He shook his head slowly. I nodded in agreement.
Worst ride ever.
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The first motorcyclists' rights
organization to establish a full-time legislative advocacy presence in Washington. The Motorcycle Riders
Foundation is the only Washington voice devoted exclusively to the street
rider. MRF established MRFPAC in the early 1990s to advocate the election of candidates
who would champion the cause of rider safety and rider freedom. MRF proudly claims state
motorcyclists' rights organizations and the very founders of the American rider rights
movement among its leading members. Motorcyclists worldwide can thumb-start their search
for rider rights and safety on the web at www.mrf.org.
© All information contained in this release is copyrighted. Reproduction
permitted with attribution. The Motorcycle Riders Foundation, incorporated
in 1987, is an independent, membership-based national motorcyclists' rights organization headquartered in Washington D.C. which operates in
co-partnership with State Motorcyclists' Rights Organizations
nationwide. The MRF is involved in federal and state legislation and
regulation, motorcycling safety education, training, licensing and public
awareness. The MRF provides individual and SMRO member-volunteers with guidance, support and information to protect motorcyclists' rights and
advance motorcycling and its associated lifestyle. The MRF sponsors annual regional and national educational seminars for motorcyclists' rights
activists and publishes a bi-monthly newsletter, THE MRF REPORTS.
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