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Discussion Starter #1
5/14 – Monday was the ride down towards Ontario, CA. It was a good ride. I shared most of the experience with a fellow RFTW rider who is on a CanAm Spyder. Looks great and comfortable but in the LA traffic, we couldn’t split lanes; oh well, but we got there after a pretty long day. We registered and went our separate ways. I’m staying nearby at a friends house that I grew up with and hadn’t seen for too many years – good time and being treated very well. Below are some pics from the ride down and a partial on the parking lot full of bikes. As of 12 noon on 5/14, this is how many bikes are registered for the ride:
Central Route: 651
Midway Route: 374
Southern Route: 618
Total: 1,643
A variety of bike but mostly big bagger Harley’s. I’ve yet to see another VStar but I haven’t seen enough yet. Many Goldwings, BMW’s too. Today, Tuesday, I met the guy I’ll be sharing a room with and he’s a good guy and expect we’ll get along fine. That helps a lot with the hotel costs on the way there. Being a retired guy and on that proverbial fixed income, plus I’m cheap, that helps. On the way back I expect to be visiting family and friends and will go back slowly – I think.
I’m going to do my best to record the travel on the Relive App. The hardest part is remembering to start the app or make sure it didn’t auto-pause during a long stop. Below is also a link to Monday’s ride on Relive.

So, I started this in Morgan Hill forgetting to start it at home. That was about 1.5 hour, 90 minutes, had traffic.
https://www.relive.cc/view/rt10005172237

The big start at 05:30, taken by my wife


First fuel stop


Lunch break:


Parking lot (partial) at the host hotel

 

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Great write up. I feel like I'm riding with you. Hopefully the rest of the trip goes as smooth as day 1. The Relive app is pretty cool. Be careful and watch out for other rider not paying attention. Looks like a pretty good load on your bike. Is it very top heavy. On your back might want to just take what you need and mail the rest back, Just an idea. Look forward next write up.
 

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I would be interested in the gas prices you see in different states. If you remember take a shot of the prices as you fill up.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Today was an interesting and hard day, mostly because of the heat. I also forgot to start the Relive app to record when we first left Ontario so I started it at the first fuel stop.
So, we left Ontario around 07:45. It was quite an experience because of the number of bikes. All three routes were starting from Ontario so they had all of us staged by route. The amount of police presence to cordon off the on ramps and escort us was pretty cool. This was commute time so I expect a lot of people were pissed off to be blocked from the lanes while their trying to go to work but luckily it’s only once a year. This escorting continued at many of the stops or places we traveled through. Lunch was at Blythe California and they directed us through town where all the streets were blocked and we’re going through the red lights towards the fair grounds where we had a good lunch that was donated by local companies and folks doing other fund raising activities including desert of Girl Scout cookies! Awesome lunch, pulled pork sandwiches. The whole experience was actually pretty cool. They had everything ready with good food and the picnic tables were covered with large paper sheets where the kids decorated the tables with drawings of different things. Going thorough town, it was like a parade with most of the residents out there waving and honking horns. So many of the bridges/overpasses we went under had people up there waving at us with American flags. There was one where a fire truck was up there with a huge flag hanging from the extended ladder. Really nice stuff. After that, we went on through the dessert to end up at Chandler AZ where a local Harley Davidson dealer put out a spread for dinner. Again, all donated. Another interesting process was the fuel stops. They lined us up to go two deep on each side of the pumps with multiple islands of pumps and two deep at each pump. When the bike closest was fill up, the handle was handed to the outside biker and he started pumping while the inside biker drove to the staging area. The first two stops were donated fuel from LifeStyleCycles. Awesome. Once out of CA, the prices dropped quite a bit. Tomorrow I’ll try to get pics of the prices but in the low to mid $3.00. And, we didn’t have the extra rubber “fume capture” thing to manually pull back on so you could pump past where the pump simply stops at. It’s a California thing… I also need to state the heat was real high. I recently bought a camelpak and I’m glad I did. That made it possible to keep drinking with the helmet on while driving. I had it attached to my bags with the tube you suck out of hanging towards the front – worked well. There were times I was getting light headed and started wondering if I should “tap out” which let me pull out and stop but not able to join my platoon until the next fuel stop. But, I made it along with everyone else. Once at the Harley dealer in Chandler, one person ended up going to the hospital due to heat stroke.
Tomorrow were leaving Chandler at 07:00 so time for the rack.

Remember, this Relive was started at Coachella, not Ontario. Too many things were going on to remember to start the app.

https://www.relive.cc/view/rt10005205259

A Pano of the parking lot with all three routes


Presenting the color guard prior to leaving


Some of the Southern Route at the first fuel and hydration stop. This is where I started the Relive App.


Lunch from Blythe, CA and great supportive people


Another fuel stop


The Harley Dealer and dinner to be served soon.
 

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.Really like the write up. Sounds very organized. Definitely stay hydrated. How's the bike doing? How's your butt doing? Looks to be enough breaks so y'all aren't getting too saddle sore. The next few days you will be in heat so really watch the intake of fluids, sunblock too. Please keep reports coming.
 

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Most excellent reporting! Its both good and bad, though. Good because it makes me almost feel that I'm there! Bad because I miss not being there!! Darn the bad luck! I love to pack mine up and hit the road but I rarely get the time free to do so.

Now, for us uninitiated and ignorant folks: Pray tell what is "RFTW"? And where did your adventure start from? Where are everybody headed to?
 

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Interesting. I have not seen diddly about this in the other forums I'm in. Aside from THIS thread, I'm in the dark about it.

I'd like to see other, regional rides later in the year for this.
 

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Perhaps some clarification is in order. Yes, I've long heard of Rolling Thunder and am aware of what it is. But I've not heard the RFTW part.

When I hear about "The Wall", I think about "the wall" that is currently a political topic which is the border wall between the US and Mexico. So I initially thought this was a run to support building the border wall.

Seeing the above poster combining the RFTW term with Rolling Thunder, I put it all together. Still, I've not seen a peep about this in other forums.

I wish these guys luck because there is some nasty weather to go through along the way.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
750 Chris, your catching on. A quick recap, Run For The Wall started 31 years ago and this is the 30th run from the LA area to Washington DC and the Vietnam Veterans Wall. The mission is to "Ride for those that can't". It's purpose is to keep the fact that we having MIA's and POW's that are still out there and never accounted for. The few guys that started this 30 years ago did it spontaneously and kept it up. It's going to keep going for a very long time. Rolling Thunder is shutting down after this year, I'm not sure why but RFTW will keep going. The support we receive along the way is incredible. I'll try to get a post for today going but it's been a long day and I'm having problems with my phone charging in the cradle I attached to my bike. Consequently, the Relive app died about 2/3's along the way today.
 

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750 Chris, your catching on. A quick recap, Run For The Wall started 31 years ago and this is the 30th run from the LA area to Washington DC and the Vietnam Veterans Wall. The mission is to "Ride for those that can't". It's purpose is to keep the fact that we having MIA's and POW's that are still out there and never accounted for. The few guys that started this 30 years ago did it spontaneously and kept it up. It's going to keep going for a very long time. Rolling Thunder is shutting down after this year, I'm not sure why but RFTW will keep going. The support we receive along the way is incredible. I'll try to get a post for today going but it's been a long day and I'm having problems with my phone charging in the cradle I attached to my bike. Consequently, the Relive app died about 2/3's along the way today.
My friend I’m riding with is friends with the VP of Rolling Thunder. He said the reason this is the LAST YEAR is because of opposition by local officials and some govt officials. The city is making too difficult to get the police escort and support needed. Not to mention he said the Pentagon Parking Lot where everybody assembles is costing them $300,000 ! You’d figure the govt would donate something like that to show their support, unfortunately no.
Another fly in the ointment is that this event has grown HUGE!!! Estimates currently are up to almost 1 MILLION MOTORCYCLES showing up in DC for this event. Rolling Thunder will not do National Rallies like this in the future, but there is talk of holding Regional Rallies to help break up the sheer size of it.

BTW, I’ll probably run into you there @Boots. I got your number and our group is leaving from Pennsylvania on Friday. I’m headed up there on Thursday to meet up with the group.
 

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Like I said, I haven't heard the RFTW phrase used before. I've seen The Wall close-up. Right after the first Gulf War (Desert Storm) there was a parade through DC. My base, Carswell AFB (B-52s) sent two representatives for the parade: one enlisted and one officer. I was the Msgt enlisted guy and a Major went that was the bomb-nav on a BUFF aircrew.

The parade in itself is an interesting story for another time but after it was done, we had "X" amount of free time to wander about. Before I knew it I stumbled across The Wall. I didn't even know I was near it but there it was.

It was a strange thing. I was both impressed and disappointed at the same time. I thought it was going to be bigger than it was. I thought I'd be more emotionally affected by it but I wasn't. This surprised me as I'm quite the flag waving patriotic fellow. Perhaps it was because none of the names on The Wall were people that I knew or from families that I knew. I don't know. I retired from the USAF right at 25 yrs ago. I still enjoy watching the flag go up and come down and I'll still salute it to this day. I enjoy hearing the National Anthem played/sung AS LONG AS its done correctly and respectfully and not "modernized and/or personalized" by the singer. And there is simply zero comparisons between a military funeral and a civilian one. I am deeply proud of my personal military service and of this country but there was something about The Wall that just didn't produce the emotions I get from any of what I just listed. I'm still confused about why.

Anyway, when I hear the phrase "the wall", I think of the one down south. Be that as it may, I wish that I had the time and the funds to go on something like this. But I, too, am living on an adequate but limited budget that will not allow living out of hotels/paying for meals for that length of time. Nor can I get away from family commitments (babysitting grand babies). So seeing the wonderful pics and reading about the travel experiences is as close as I'll ever get to doing it. Although, that being said, I may be able to get away for regional, more local activity. And my riding leather jacket is my POW/MIA jacket. KEEP THE REPORT COMING!!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thursday, Day 2 – 5/16/2019
Today was a great day in many ways. Very hot still but were all trying to hydrate a lot to keep the fluids going. Today was my opportunity to ride the “Missing Man Formation”. The missing man formation is intended to let FNG’s (fine new guy on the web site but coming from the military, Frigging New Guy is reality, and yes, your imagination is correct) ride for someone they want remembered from any war. I rode for my brother Richard as he was drafted into the Army, went in country to Vietnam and came home with what we would now call PTSD. He’s alive and well, living a decent life but that first couple of years after coming home were significant. We have a lot of Chaplains along so we said a Prayer for Richard and all the riders going today and then I rode in side by side formation with the right side empty for Richard. First, we’re all assigned to platoons. I’m normally in platoon 6 with approximately 20 bikes in a platoon. There are 10 platoons of regular riders with multiple other platoons of support riders and a lot of road guards. And, today, for the first leg, I was the 2nd bike in front of the entire bunch. It was quite an honor to be up there riding right behind the Route Coordinator who’s in charge of the entire route. After the first leg, I spent the rest of the day in the SP (support personnel) platoon which had me within the first 10 riders of the group. Tomorrow I go back to platoon 6. Riding further back is great in it’s own ways but there are some frustrations. We’re supposed to have the first 3 platoons riding side by side and then the following platoons are staggered, But, we’re trying to keep a tight formation so whether it’s side by side or staggered, we’re supposed to keep 2 bike lengths between each rider. The reason for a tight formation is to keep cars and trucks from trying to cut into our lane for some reason. With this many bikes, it’s not hard to understand the importance of keeping a tight formation. With a group of 500 bikes doing 65 or 70 on the freeway riding real tight, we all have to be constantly on alert. If someone gets a little close and hits the brakes and then others hit the brakes, a rubber band effect starts and towards the middle to the back, all of a sudden we’re hitting the brakes and speeding up again. It almost feels like back in basic/boot camp where were all trying to learn how to march as a group. I hear it was better today towards the back and hopefully that will continue to improve. Another perk to be up front is being the first to hit the fueling station and more time to find the restroom and hydrate. Lots of free waters and gatorades along with salty snacks are available for us. They are taking good care of us. I mentioned yesterday about the fueling process. It’s amazing how all the bikes get fueled up in 20 to 30 minutes. That’s the advantage of going two deep on each pump and handing the hose over and keep things rolling, all on one big purchase. Today, we had a couple more donated refueling stops.
Lunch was amazing. Wilcox AZ. A small town that really turned out for us. There are so many things that are amazing regarding the way people are going out of there way to show us respect as veterans, feed us and show amazing appreciation for being vets. Today’s lunch had us walk through a line up with about 150 school age kids shaking our hands and thanking us for our service. Then, there’s a great lunch spread with all homemade stuff including cookies. They spoil us!
Another component about this ride is the help we get from law enforcement. We also have the road guards that help in this but picture 500 bikes getting onto the freeway at the same time. They close the roads so we can get right onto the freeway regardless of red lights. Then they close the right most lane, the slow lane, prior to our entrance so we can all get onto the freeway as one group. The leaders don’t start speeding up until a mile or so down the freeway and then we start slowly accelerating from ~40 up to 65 and then up to 70, sometimes a little faster. We’ve been in 75 mph zones most of the way. Once we are fully up to speed, then we start moving a lane or two over to avoid the traffic of getting on and off the freeway. While were still in the slow lane gathering speed, the on ramps are closed so vehicles can’t jump in on us until we’re fully passed. If interested, the RFTW web site has a page where the progress of the three routes can be monitored. For those that might want to learn more, there’s a lot of options about the history of this mission on https://rftw.us/.
Today and possibly more this week, I’m having trouble with the charging of my phone on the cradle I installed on the bike. The phone died about 2/3’s of the way across the route today so the Relive App does not cover the whole day. With all that’s going on, I’m not sure when I’ll get it fixed but I’ll figure something out. Away from home and the tools makes it challenging but I think it’s the USB cable that’s going bad. It’s powered off the same relay I installed for the heated grips and LED fog lights and they work great.

Not many pics today because of the charge problems.

Missing Man Formation - at the start



Found another VStar 1100 Classic on the run!!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Like I said, I haven't heard the RFTW phrase used before. I've seen The Wall close-up. Right after the first Gulf War (Desert Storm) there was a parade through DC. My base, Carswell AFB (B-52s) sent two representatives for the parade: one enlisted and one officer. I was the Msgt enlisted guy and a Major went that was the bomb-nav on a BUFF aircrew.

The parade in itself is an interesting story for another time but after it was done, we had "X" amount of free time to wander about. Before I knew it I stumbled across The Wall. I didn't even know I was near it but there it was.

It was a strange thing. I was both impressed and disappointed at the same time. I thought it was going to be bigger than it was. I thought I'd be more emotionally affected by it but I wasn't. This surprised me as I'm quite the flag waving patriotic fellow. Perhaps it was because none of the names on The Wall were people that I knew or from families that I knew. KEEP THE REPORT COMING!!
This will be my first time to see the Vietnam Veterans Wall so I'm not sure what to expect but I think there will be a huge influence from all the people I'll be with. Reports will keep coming, glad their appreciated. I'm bummed about the picture situation but I'll figure something out. BTW, I was an Air Force guy too. I only did four years and got out in early '76.
 

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I was the Msgt enlisted guy and a Major went that was the bomb-nav on a BUFF aircrew.
You may have to explain what a BUFF is to all the non Air Force types.

I did Rolling Thunder in 2014. It was fantastic. I'd love to try this cross country trip sometime.

Being from the deep south The heat probably wouldn't bother me as much as you Northern folk.

Prepare yourself for the ride through Louisiana, The roads can be horrible.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Another thought to add here, I just got an email from someone on our route that is doing SitReps for the official RFTW web site which includes a nice video and shows some of the things that are arranged for us and this was primarily a fuel stop. A donated fuel stop and they do all this for us. Makes you feel humble. That is https://rftw.us/day-2/

Not as impressive, the Relive result for a shorted capture is:
https://www.relive.cc/view/rt10005221348
 

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A BUFF is a B-52. Polite version: Big Ugly Fat Fella. Most popular version: ….. well, you can figure that out.

How often do you stop for fuel? With that many bikes there has to be dis-similar ranges they can go.

Doing 70 to 75 mph, which my 750 can easily do, my MPG drops significantly down to maybe 32 mpg. So at 95 miles of travel I'd best find a gas station. By 125 miles I'll have already been pushing it for the last mile.
 

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How often do you stop for fuel? With that many bikes there has to be dis-similar ranges they can go..
According to the RFTW web site, they stop every 100 miles for fuel. So no reason to overfill the tank. I'd imagine if your in the back of the pack the wait times for refuel can get tedious.
 

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What a privilege to ride along and hear your story! Thank you all for serving our country and leaving family and love ones while you protected us. So thankful for the freedom we have. The pictures are magnificent, as well. To learn how people receive you into these towns, etc. is a feat in itself. Our country still demonstrates its care and love for fellow man!

Ride safe and keep hydrated! Praying for all of you on this journey....YammyV
 

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Thank you Boots, I am really enjoying this thread I saw the traveling Wall in Sacramento and was really moved. Took a couple of etchings of names of family members this trip you're taking is on my bucket list.
 
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