Run For The Wall 2017- A motorcycle trip that changes lives

Posted by Wild Ride Radio Crew May 4, 2017 Comments are off

Run For The Wall

A motorcycle trip that changes lives

By Dallas Hageman, Wild Ride Radio Host

www.WildRideRadio.com

Ah Spring, the time flowers come out to say hello, the grass pokes it’s head above the brown carpet it lay dormant in for months and tiny babies roam around once again; products of a very long winter that kept their parents cooped up in small and dark rooms. Spring holds lots of meanings for people but for me it means packing tons of underwear into small compartments, changing oil and checking the tread on my tires… all in preparation for a cross country motorcycle ride that happens month called Run For The Wall. I guess I’m not alone in getting excited when seeing the products of warmer weather come to fruition though. As with most Bikers, we tend to get amped up when warmer weather hits. Now, some may be thinking “I ride all year round, Spring is no different” and while I am in your corner and ride all year long as well, I tend to appreciate the warmer weather that doesn’t cause frostbite and provides more comfortable riding. I have ridden in minus 25 degrees and 115 degrees and believe me, the latter is much more preferable. However, this article isn’t going to focus on which weather is better to ride in but rather what happens during this time of year all across the United States.

What is the Run For The Wall?

Unbeknownst to a lot of Riders, for the past 29 years Spring has brought together Bikers from all over the country (and the world for that matter) to complete a very solemn and rewarding Mission. This Mission, coined the Run For The Wall was born out of sheer pain and solitude as twenty nine years ago two Vietnam Veteran heroes called James Gregory and Bill Evans got together a couple of their Brothers and decided to make a statement about the thousands of men and women still unaccounted for from all wars. They went to any TV and Radio station that would hear them across the country on their way from California to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. to spread awareness of those POW’s and MIA’s. The tradition the carved into asphalt continues to this day and the RFTW stops at many of the same locations it did nearly 30 years ago. The group has grown some however… going from around 20 participants to nearly 10,000 per year. Needless to say James and Bill struck a nerve with the public and Riders around the world, and it shows.

How the heck do you pull this off?!

While this massive group makes it across the United States in the 10 day journey is a noble and worthy cause, the technical “how the hell does this happen” probably pops into your head. Now, if you are like I am, you’ve been on a poker run or local dealership ride that has little more organization than cats in a rodeo and the “how to” of this journey may escape you. I will try to do my best in describing just how the RFTW is organized and believe me; it’s nothing like what you may imagine. For example, the RFTW routinely is able to fuel 500+/- motorcycles in just under 20 minutes, about the time it would take to fill up one single diesel truck… and it’s nothing short of awe inspiring. The RFTW is organized into sections and starting out in the front we have the Route coordinator who is responsible for the entire route, as well as the State Coordinator who is responsible for the current state’s route we are located in at the time. Behind them are various other leaders whose sole mission is to help guide the participants on the pre-determined journey. Directly behind that group are anywhere from 8-15 groups called “Platoons”. These Platoons have the Platoon Leader and Assistant Platoon Leader in front and Tail gunners in the rear. All four are responsible for safely guiding their particular Platoon within the massive formation of bikes. These groups can have anywhere from 15-60 riders (and more). Following the Platoons is the Medic Corp. comprised of trained and certified medics and behind that group is the Chaplains Corp. made up of men of the cloth. Behind them are the chase vehicles carrying water and supplies and finally (hope I haven’t lost you yet) are the-oh so important chase vehicles. These vehicles are tasked with picking up and transporting anybody whose bike has broken down. They transport the broken down bike to the nearest dealership, free of charge, to get the rider fixed up and ready to continue the Mission… On a side note, since I own a Harley, I’ve utilized these vehicles more than I’d like to admit and they are a great example of our Mission to “Leave No One Behind”.

This structure is, in a nutshell, the core of the Run For The Wall group inside the rolling pack. Since the pack routinely stretches 4-6 miles long and we ride in formation (side by side front to back) there are other groups outside of the actual, rolling pack. It may sound a little convoluted, but believe me, it’s a thing of sheer military precision and beauty. One such group existing outside of the pack is the Road Guards. These riders act as our rolling “Police Force” and block intersections and keep riders tight and in formation at all times. Their Mission is the safety of the pack and they do one hell of a job. We also have the fuel crew, responsible for fueling bikes and the staging crew that helps direct the pack into the next stop and stage for the next roll out. We also have a group that was formed a few years back and born out of necessity to say “thank you” to the legions of people lining nearly every overpass (and I mean EVERY OVERPASS) as we go under across the entire United States. They are dubbed the Ambassadors and, in fact, you may meet these people if you do stop and watch the RFTW on one of the overpasses as we go across the country. One inspiring and interesting note about all of these people working in various positions from the Board of Directors right down to the Tail gunners- they are ALL volunteers. Not one single person takes a paycheck and in this day and age of “get all you can for you” that fact right there is nothing short of awe inspiring.

Who does this?!

You might think that, with a name like Run For The WALL this group of Riders would be comprised of nothing but Vietnam Veterans, and you’d be dead wrong. The RFTW consists of a myriad of Veterans from all wars and supporters. I myself am not a Veteran and honestly thought that when I got to California they would string me up by my big toes for having the audacity of thinking I could ride with them. What I got was the exact opposite and genuinely changed me to the core. I love Veterans and know that every day I get to suck air is because of two things: 1. the good Lord still wants me wandering around this rock for a little longer and 2. Someone in a uniform put their life on the line for my freedom. Quite frankly, I believe that if you don’t see eye to eye about Veterans saving your bacon from destruction I’d like to kindly invite you to pull your head out of your backside it is undoubtedly and firmly lodged in. Veterans are a pillar and one of the rocks that this country is built on. I found out on my first RFTW that these Men and Women in uniform are literally the salt of the earth, and the more I loved on them, they returned the favor. To put into words what and who the RFTW is made up of would be selling it for short of what it actually is; it’s an event that must be experienced to be fully appreciated. My plan was to go on this ride only once… but after over eight years of participating in it, I find that I couldn’t possibly conceive of forgoing the Run, nor my Brothers and Sisters, to do something else during the time the RFTW takes place.

What do you need?

Well this may surprise you, but not much. Obviously you’ll need a good and mechanically sound bike but don’t overthink it. You do not need the latest and greatest gadgets to get this job done. For years I went on a stock bike and did just fine. This year I did pull the trigger and put a really nice Legend Suspension system on my ride which will help greatly on the coast to coast trip (and probably my marriage) but you don’t need to go all out and buy the most expensive bike to do this trip. Just bring yourself, your bike, a tent, helmet and some extra clothes. All meals are taken care of and sometimes gas is paid for by supporters of the RFTW. Know this; I’ve never seen someone in need go without on the RFTW, we all step up and help out anyone who wants to go on this Mission. We leave no one behind. Period.

Can you do it..?

You can do it. Let’s put it this way… I don’t even know you and I know you could do it. Do you want to know how I am so confident? Well, a few years back a 70+ year old woman drove her Vespa (yes you read that right) from coast to coast and did it like a boss. So, if you think you’re too old, or your bike won’t hold up, or it’s too far, or the weather might be bad or your panties are in a twist about something else then let me remind the “big bad biker” in you that a 70+ year old woman just made you look like a schmuck. It’s not easy and I’m not saying it is, but if you are determined enough, and want some serious street cred at your next poker run, come with us. This is more than a ride, run, or trip. It goes deeper than I think most of us can still fathom but I want to really encourage you, especially if you have served or are serving, do not feel alone. There is a legion of Riders and fellow Brothers and Sisters who want to know you, who have been where you are and who love you immensely. Come with us and let us prove it.

More info

There is still time to join us. The route I’m taking is the Central Route but for more information and to look up our three separate routes that meander their way through the country and find one that may work more with you and your schedule go to WWW.RFTW.US. If you’ve been listening to my radio show, Wild Ride Radio for a year then you’ve no doubt heard the details explained. This year we’ll do another show, from the road, and I personally invite you to tune in. You can stream all shows on our website at www.WildRideRadio.com and we’ll also post live videos on our Facebook page.  I hope to ride with you this year with some of the finest people on this planet, all participating in one, unified Mission: to honor and support our POW’s and MIA’s.

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