The Latest: Chartered Club News

BMWBMW provides moto crew support for veterans

Thursday, January 19, 2017   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Jose Abiles

I don't recall the specifics of how I got involved with the Face of America (FOA) ride, but the allure of motorcycle riding and supporting our wounded veterans was something I could not pass up. The FOA ride is a two-day cycling event put on by World T.E.A.M Sports (WTS). The event consists of wounded veterans riding adaptive and regular bicycles, their supporters, Ride Marshalls and a support crew of recovery trailers, cycle mechanics and passenger vans – and of course the Moto Crew. The participants rode from Arlington, Virginia, to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

The popularity of the event in past years allowed WTS to add another ride in 2016 starting from Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. That group linked up with the riders from Arlington in Gettysburg, for the final leg of the ride through the battlefields and to the ending point. The total number of riders was 493 on the southern route and 70 on the northern route.

The Face of America, from national non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports, is an inspiring weekend of bicycle and hand cycle rides that bring together civilians with retired and active military and first responder riders, including adaptive veterans and civilians from across the United States. For 14 years, thousands of Americans and riders from throughout the world have participated in the Face of America ride. From its launch as a cross-country ride in the summer of 2000, through two years of serving as the official 9/11 commemorative ride from Ground Zero in New York to Washington, to the current Washington-to-Gettysburg route, the Face of America ride has brought together civilians, active duty military, first responders and adaptive veterans in an inclusive bicycle ride. The Face of America is more than just a bike ride. It is an opportunity to share stories and build camaraderie with more than 500 participants while honoring America’s disabled veterans and the American spirit during an inspiring event.

The Moto Crew consisted of an eclectic mix of riders from Maryland, D.C., Virginia and as far away as New York. We rode a mix of V-twins and other brands and were well represented by BMW (most of whom were members of BMW Bikers of Metropolitan Washington (BMWBMW). (MOA Chartered Club #40)

The Moto Crew provided invaluable support primarily conducting traffic control at key intersections, as well as warning cyclists of road hazards and encouraging riders during uphill climbs. The Moto crew would start off ahead of the cyclists, with the Crew Chief placing motorcycles at key intersections; the Crew Chief would signal with a raised fist and fingers designating the number of motorcycles to man the intersection and providing verbal instructions as needed. The Moto Crew would continue along the route, manning key intersections ahead of the cycling group. As the last of the cyclists and support crew cleared the intersection, the motorcycles would leapfrog ahead to the next designated intersection.

Moto Crew for the southern route. Photo by Tony Granata.

This is when much of the fun and danger of moto duty occurs. The cycling group can be stretched out over as much as two miles and the motorcycles must weave in and out of the cycling pack in order to get ahead. A motorcycle must be adept at passing small groups of cyclists, but also be skilled in slow speed maneuvering as they make their way to their next assignment. The key to leapfrogging is to always keep a safe distance from the cyclists and be wary of oncoming traffic. Safe operation of our motorcycles and the safety of the cyclists is of paramount importance.

Support for the event was also provided by local law enforcement, firefighters and EMS crews. As we started our ride from Arlington, the cycling group was led by the Arlington Moto Squad, through the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery and the Iwo Jima Memorial, and providing unhindered travel through the congested areas of Arlington and the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C. As we traveled through the more open countryside of Maryland and Pennsylvania, local police and volunteer fire and EMS squads provided support.

Moto Crew giving directions to riders at a key intersection. Photo courtesy of World T.E.A.M. Sports.

One of the unique challenges of the FOA Ride was dealing with the traveling public. Imagine a two-mile-long peloton coursing through congested urban areas or limited access back roads. Needless to say, there were some disgruntled residents whose valuable time was affected by our ride. It was incumbent on the Moto Crew to exercise public relations skills and explain to the people we stopped what the event was about and emphasize that we were helping wounded veterans. Once they heard that the event was supporting wounded veterans, most of the people understood and weren't quite as upset with the hold up. Still, there were others who couldn't be appeased no matter the reason. In either case, the Moto Crew made every effort to let traffic through gaps in the peloton as long as it was safe.

This was my third year supporting the FOA Ride and I will be sure to volunteer again. It was inspiring to witness the determination and drive of the many disabled riders, as they overcame their limitations and achieved their goal. We were able to enjoy great riding weather and rode through some beautiful countryside. It was also a great pleasure to have a disparate group of cyclists and motorcycle enthusiasts come together in a team effort in support of a great cause.

Marshalls and a veteran having fun on the ride. Photo by Tony Granata.

Find more information about the Face of America on the World T.E.A.M Sports website.

Cyclists grind out an uphill run. Photo by Tony Granata.


Edward Pfister says...
Posted Thursday, January 19, 2017
Awesome event, awesome riders - thanks for the article Jose Abiles!

Membership Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal