The end of the ride is in sight... With an unexpected 'bonus' for me...
We rode out from Lewisburg, after getting to hear from one of the former Rainelle students and residents, who happened to be living and working in Lewisburg. She gave a very poignant and moving speech to send us on our way to DC.
About that 'bonus' ...
As we rode towards Staunton, under escort from the Virginia State Police, my helmet and scalp were giving me fits, as I didn't have my skullcap positioned quite right. I fidgeted with it, until I could stand it no more, and my bladder was threatening mutiny. So, I Tapped Out as the pack neared the I-64/I-81 split.
At this point, I'd gotten these unscheduled Tap Out breaks down to a science. I could get to a gas station, use the facilities, and get back in the saddle in under 10-12 minutes. Once all those needs were met, I jumped back out onto the super slab, knowing that I had to be back with the pack at our lunch stop at Shenandoah Harley Davidson. After lunch, our platoon was going to be breaking from the pack to do a presentation at the VMI Civil War memorial, and I did not want to miss that.
So, knowing that I had about 12-15 miles to make up, I set my cruise, as I had with previous breaks, at 10 over the posted speed limit, which was 70 mph. That speed would allow me to safely navigate any traffic backlog as I worked on rejoining the pack. As with past experience, everything was going smoothly, until I went to pass a car on a straight stretch.
I didn't want to be in the cars' blind spot for any longer than absolutely necessary, so I blipped my speed up to 85 momentarily. Wouldn't you know it, there was a VA state trooper camped out in the median. As soon as I passed him, out he came. Choice words went ripping through my mind, and I may have even uttered a few. This was another delay in rejoining the pack that I just did not need. I could tell that The Lady was no more amused with this than I.
I proceeded towards the shoulder, looking for a safe spot to stop that was wide enough for us, and with long enough sight lines that would minimize the chances of us getting hit by an inattentive driver. At this point, I need remind you that The Lady and The Tramp were decked out in various stickers that identified me as a Run For The Wall participant.
I parked as far off the shoulder as I could, hit my hazards, dropped the side stand, and shut the engine down, leaving The Ladys' lights blinking like a christmas tree on steroids. As the trooper was getting himself together, I, with slow, deliberate motions, did the same. Helmet off, and hung on a side mirror, jacket unzipped, wallet at the ready, I put my hands in plain sight for the troopers approach.
The troopers' first question was "Are you armed?", to which I replied in the negative. He then peppered me with questions, and attitude, about 1) Why I was not with the pack, and 2) Why was I going 85, the speed at which he clocked me, all while I got my documentation out of my wallet. I explained the pit stop, and how, until I passed his and the car I was passing, I was not averaging 85, that I only wanted to get out of that cars' blind spot. Despite acknowledging our mission, and its importance, he didn't seem to be all that understanding about my need to rejoin the pack quickly, but safely.
I knew that he was only doing his job, and I have the utmost respect for LEOS, EMS, etc., having been a volunteer EMS dispatcher and firefighter in my youth, but man, was he prickly, despite my remaining respectful throughout our interaction.
In the end, he wrote me a ticket for 80 in a 70 mph zone, which I appreciated, as it otherwise would have been a citation for reckless driving with more serious implications. The irony of having ridden cross country, issue free, until I returned to my old home state, was not lost on me. Nor was the fact that, in all my years of being a motor vehicle operator, this was only my second violation, of any kind, anywhere, and they both came from different VA LEO entities.
So, after this additional 15 to 20 minute delay, I got back on the road, following my GPS to the Harley dealership to rejoin the pack for lunch. After parking at the dealership, I explained my delays to my platoon mates, all of whom were incredulous to hear that I got cited in the first place. I then learned that the platoon/pack often takes up a collection, especially for FNG riders, when these rare situations, as one platoon mate put it, 'with asshole LEOs' occur. That ticket ended up putting $134 into the VA State Police coffers.
Onward to Toms Brook, via the VMI Civil War Memorial...
After lunch, our platoon headed out, ahead of the rest of the pack, to the VMI Civil War Memorial. The memorial was set back, just off the interstate, along our route.
A brief presentation ceremony was had, and we headed out to rejoin the pack, after a few wrong turns trying to get back out to the highway...
The final leg, into northern Virginia, with video...
At our refueling stop in Toms Brook, I explained to my platoon mates that I'd be tapping out before the pack arrived in Arlington, as I was going to be meeting up with family.
I'd been coordinating my location along this last leg with my niece, an aunt, a cousin and her fiancee, so that they could watch us enter northern VA from one of the overpasses on I-66.
As we approached the Manassas, VA area, I got more and more excited about getting to see those family members. I knew on which overpass they would be, and I hoped to be able to see them. As it turned out, they'd chosen an overpass that was not crowded with other supporters.
Jess & Trudy were able to shoot video of the pack as we passed beneath the underpass. In this video, you can get a really good feel for just long big/long the pack was when in formation. The pack was in platoon order, so we, platoon 9, bikes with trailers, are towards the end of the video. You can see The Lady and me as we approach, headlights pulsing, horn beeping and me waving like a fool. The video, IMHO, is awesome, but I might be a little biased.
I tapped out at the next exit, to return to Trudy & Scotts' place, in order to meet up with them.