After Two years of talk reality set in. We had to qualify to make the team by riding 96 miles with over 9000 feet of climbing in Ellijay. 12 guys made the team. We invited a few Friends to ride with us from Atlanta to Ellijay which was the first leg of the journey. This journey represents ALL the victims on 911. 343 is the number of Firefighters. The Courtyard Marriot gave us a night for free in Buckhead. Thanks very much We needed it. We had an awesome breakfast at Brick tops at Termius building were the start of the ride begin. Riders starting showing up around 7AM in the morning. Press and Radio stations were like Honey Bees asking questions. Photos shoots and Big Time Energy. We all had a wonderful intrduction on a stage at Termius courtyard. Police escort through the City of Atlanta without stopping at any traffic lights. We stopped to meet the Fire Chief of Atlanta for a prayer send off by the Georgia trade centers. We started North bound to Ellijay . The temperature on the road hit 107 to 112 and it was hot. Dehydration hit everybody hard during the uphill journey to Ellijay. We had people on the side roads cheering us on with signs and a lot of love. New York City is a long way from Atlanta and we were riding bicycles via the Blue Ridge parkway to complete this journey. The energy from the riders who join us on the first was the Best sendoff you could ask for. Atlanta Fire Rescue, Cobb County Fire, Woodstock, Cherokee Fire, Pickens, Gilmer CO, Ellijay Fire was out on the roads showing support for the Cyclist. The Gilmer county Chamber of Commerce provided a big meal for us at Ellijay Fire station 1, Ellijay Aarons gave us a warm Welcome into Ellijay. The support crew : Dennis O’Brian Motorcycle support with water supply and traffic safety, Captain Steven Hill Logistics officer, Phil Chovan Chief operating officer, Jim The Master Moody, Steve Travers retired Atlanta Fire Captain Sag and water support, Trevor Ross multi-tasking and Lucky Dawg support, Eli and Amy massage therapist and Cheerleaders! Queen B Terry laundry lady Queen B, The Master Mechanic and Life Saver Big Allen. Alex The Film Maker. Chewey are mascot. Thanks to you all. More to come second day and Drama report and how this all started. Thx Mike
August 27, 2011 Ellijay GA to Cherokee North Carolina. 115 miles with plenty of climbing. Special Thanks to Mulberry Gap for hosting the Team for the night and One of the Best breakfast you could have before a Big ride. Ande, Jim, Justin, JD, Ryan, Marylyn, Doctor D and Lois showed up to see us off from Downtown Ellijay at Cartecay bike Shop. Special Guest for the ride: Joe and Katie Palmeri, Teresa from SBL, Celia Coach, Hill Billy, Big Troy Adams, Stuart great energy also Farmer G! The team traveled up boretown road towards Blue Ridge and on the first climb of the day on Bullen Gap Ian the Young Blood decided to jump into a 2 foot ditch on one of the switch backs. Ian turned into a Mountain real quick and made out of the ditch. Good Job Dawg. Cutting through Blue Ridge up to Mineral Buff We had to ride on the four lane for a few miles up to Morganton and left turn on GA Hwy 60 to Cutcane road which is a back road that runs parallel with GA Spur 60 to Murphy NC. Joe, Katie, Teresa decided to turn back to Ellijay giving then a 60 mile ride. Stuart and Farmer G locals up Murphy way decided to join us. Farmer G makes the best Hot Sauce in the world. Hill after hill is We encounter on this leg of the ride before hit Murphy for lunch. HillBilly Wayne Nix gave us the nickel tour of all the roads and within less than a mile outside Murphy Bam! Elbows and Assholes were flying up and over bikes road and ditch. All I know it looked spectacular. Ian was involved some kind of way? Doug, Randy and Jim fell down hard. Doug bent his rear derailleur and his Ego. Randy was hurt but could figure what was wrong with his back. Jim jump up like he was fighting in World War 2 again. Allen came running out of the Van to help. We felt like we were in a Tour Day France crush. Later we fine out Randy broke 3 ribs. After the chaos we had a lunch stop at the Murphy pizza shop. All you can eat . We ate everything we could find. Once we finished lunch the Saturday farmers market in Murphy all stood up and clapped for journey to New York. Troy and Hillbilly took us on the flattest road in Murphy to Andrews North Carolina before The Nantahala gouge climb which was about 4 mile straight up at of Andrews. The climb was long and fairly steep. We had to deal with a Funeral procession during the climb. While riding in the back we had a big land yacht cruise by swearing at us, it was and 500 pound Women that needed to be riding with us instead of screaming at us. OH! Before I forget Guy G needs to pe.
On with the climb. Everybody made the climb and we had a break at the top. Next is the downhill into NOC. The downhill was fun but a little dangerous at times. All made it safe and sound to the Noc were We took are last break before Cherokee. This was the longest day and guys were getting tired. Beautiful ride through the gouge and ye again one more stop in Bryson City for a newspaper interview. Then on to Cherokee on flat roads to the finish. Long day and it was good to stop and eat and go to bed. Special Thanks to Gracie, Kendall, Mia, Katie. You go Girls.
P.S. Day 2! Do not forget Farmer G’s Hot sauce and the wonderful goodies Queen B purchased at the Murhpy farmers market. All the people in Murhpy were cheering us on. HillBilly is Famous in Murhpy NC. A great place for Hill Billy’s Ladies to hide from the Fed’s.
Cherokee North Carolina to Enka North Carolina outside Asheville NC. Troy Adams, Hill Billy Wayne Nix, Celia our Life Coach gave us all enlightenment of the torture we were about to receive. A Two mile flat start to the entrance of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Mile marker 469 and Forty Five thousand feet of climbing to follow. A right turn outside of Cherokee and Up! Up! And away We go Twelve mile climb. After the first climb We had a five descent to only encounter a Thirteen mile climb to the highest point of the Blue Ridge Parkway. MT. Pisgah. Right before the top there is a fresh water spring that Troy pointed out. Man! The best water in the world. Stopped at the top for photo opportunities. A long downhill for lunch while watching Guy G Money, Hill Billy, Troy fly down using the Hill Billy method of sitting on the top tube. Once down the MT Pisgah lunch was served! Bless the support crews heart for all the amazing work. A special guest appeared at lunch and old friend of Jim Moody’s. The Forest service Ranger came by (Not for Lunch) but to explain permit request for Big groups. Our Two logistics Officers flew in for the rescue operations. Great job Steven Hill and The Wizard Phil. Once We filled up the fast group took off to Enka. The slow group, Oh well we got lost in space once our lead car took off to the Motel. Ten miles out of the way We decided to stop and call 911. Luck was our side when Terry showed up in the Pope Mobile. Long day on 3. Asheville FD had us over for a Steven Hill pasta dinner with gluten Free noodles. Thank You Sir. Great guys at Ashville Fire.
P.S. Special Thx to Amy The Rolfer Totally! Big Allen on repairing all the bikes. Eli on the word amazing Thx Big Dawg!
Weather was beautiful departing the Hotel in Enka NC. First climb of the day up and over MT Mitchell the tallest road East of the Mississippi River. Our destination was Big Lynn lodge in Little Switzerland . Big Lynn lodge is place everybody should take time to drive up and stay the night. Big Lynn was one of my favorite places to stay. Uneventful day. Tunnels will Freak you out. Each Tunnel We rode through We all would scream out Bruce Dickman! Bruce Dickman! Bruce Dickman! Pro Gold Lube. We Love Bruce and by screaming his name kept us safe in the dark tunnels. Thx Bruce!
The food at Big Lynn lodge was great. Steve from trips for kids rode with us today and gave us plenty of help in the back of the field. Beautiful roads from Asheville to Big Lynn highly recommend this trip if you can make the time. The food and scenery are wonderful.
Big Lynn Lodge to Boone North Carolina. Cool morning with a wonderful breakfast at Big Lynn lodge. When you visit Big
Lynn Lodge tell the owner you followed the Freedom Riders and He will take care of you. Quiet morning for takeoff because of the cool weather. Magnificent views along with Climbing 101 today. We climbed all day until we jumped on the Queen B shuttle to Boone a 30 mile ride to the hotel. Quick shower and off to Golden Coral for you can eat buffet. Three plates of food and two deserts was all she wrote. The excitement for the night was hearing about the babes at Wal-Mart. Back to hotel and Good night.
Boone NC to Christiansburg Virginia - The Day of the Detours! Road closed on part of the Blue Ridge today. The team had to shuttle up to a county road outside of Boone to start playing Detour mania on plenty super hilly roads climbing out of the valleys onto the parkway is a challenge. Special guest today! Amy The Rolfer part of our night muscle relaxer rode with us today. Amy rode very well and is pretty cool Mountain biker. Amy can beat Bruce downhill. After several PePe stops We finally finished the last county road climb up to the Big Blue Ridge Parkway once again Hammer time. This was a hundred plus day today and hot. We had Eight and half hours of riding and the pain was hitting us hard on the saddle and the guys were ready for Christiansburg Virginia. By the way GrandMother and GrandFather Mountains are fantastic sites to see. The viaduct bridge that floats out of the sides of Mountain’s makes you feel like you riding on air. The road contours the ridgeline that just blew us away. We stopped on the bridge and talked for about 35 minutes. Please take the time to visit GrandFather Mountain. Once We crossed over the State line into Virginia the terrain started change to soft puffy rolling hills. The scenery had a wider view, you could see way out yonder. We were trying to motor on before dark and everybody was feeling the heat of the day. Descending off the parkway into Christiansburg was fun and fast. The Hotel Welcomed us with Burgers, Hotdogs and plenty of fix ins. The rooms had brown paper bags with water and a Pay Day candy bar courtesy of the Hotel. I cannot remember the name of the Hotel? Maybe someone will help the Dawg out. Help! OH Yeah! We all got the chance to see Amy in a Swimsuit and Jon Huggins went nuts O! Amy’s toe nails are painted orange, Eli’s were red, Terry’s were Red, Chewey’s well she is the Dog. Doug’s Pink!
The Fire Chief stopped by and gave Captain Hill the 100 anniversary coins for all the guys. The local News station was there waiting on us and man! Wow ! Bruce took off because the young lady was Hot! Doug beat Bruce over for the interview and it was game on. The next day would be interesting on the media blitz. Great story on day 7. Ian, Doug, Allen all gave the local news a great story about the ride.
Laundry, Bike mechanic work on 12 bikes, planning the route, purchasing breakfast, lunch, dinner, folks getting sick took a lot of hard work from Captain Hill, Allen Grove, Terry Queen B, Trevor get loss Ross, Steve retired plenty of Beer in Hand Travers, Jim The Moody, Phil, Alex The Film Master, Kendall The Lady Craig, Gracie G Money, Mia Mack Daddy, Katie Good Morning America Star Curry, Amy The Rolfer and cyclist, Eli Hands on Amazing. Thank You All Very Much get ready for day Seven dedicated too Bruce!!!!! Dickmans interview in Virginia channel 13 Baby.
Christiansburg Virginia to Roanoke Virginia 86 mile day. This was Bruce Dickman Fifth teen minutes of fame on a Virginia News station. Queen B told Bruce that a NBC affiliate news crew would be filming the ride. The reason for this was to keep Bruce in the group of riders. Story continues : We enjoyed our intercontinental breakfast and loaded up in the Van to shuttle over to the parkway for Mountain climbing 107. Seven days of all up hill. The morning ritual consist of calling Dennis O’Brien our motorcycle waiter on wheels. Dennis would bring me three sport legs tablets, two GU’s, Two Nuun’s a electrolyte pill you put in your water bottle for hydration. Don’t forget your Butt cream Boyz. Our team Captain Doug Kerns Dalton Fire would give us the speech of the day. Be safe ride as a team remember the mission. First stop in Floyd Virginia a small Hippy town at the base of the Blue Ridge parkway with a super cool coffee shop. High test coffee for the Drunken roads ahead. This was day to hang on and see how it goes. Once We hit the road outside Floyd the first climb was around six miles and all I could think about was lunch. The intercontinental did not fill the Dawg. Virginia is a beautiful State as I saw it through the Blue Ridge parkway. Highly recommend anybody who read this to drive, ride, walk, motorcycle, fly the Blue Ridge Parkway. Once We all gathered for lunch there was News 13 from Roanoke to interview the Freedom riders. The one man show walked around asking questions and interviewing the guys about the ride, mission statement and were we all are from. Meanwhile during the break we ask the News Dude to play a joke on Bruce Dickman. Maybe you ask who the heck is Bruce Dickman. Bruce is a mountain biker slash race announcer, slash ladies’ man, slash fun guy to be around if you like loud noise. Watch out here we go. The news Dude was informed about Bruce and we ask him to pretend to interview Bruce while the camera would not be rolling. Bruce went to the make-up room and made sure he was dressed up for his interview in front of our ProGold Van. The news dude set up and had Bruce march to the front of the van with lipstick on to start the interview. Bruce was ask to say his name and spell. Bruce started to talk and the news dude said sorry my battery just went dead. This was super funny and we all had a big laugh. Bruce rode with us today and we had fun without feeling the pain in our legs. There is a really cool descent going into Roanoke, as you come down the Mountain you can see Roanoke way off to your left and man it is a beautiful site on a bicycle cruising down the mountain. A very nice day and we had a big steak dinner after a long day on the bike. Thanks to Bruce’s entertainment . Queen B, Terry paid for it, she had to do the late night laundry run.
Roanoke to Waynesboro Virginia. Happy Birthday Ride for Eleanora! Eleanora is one our massage therapists working on all the riders after every day ride. This morning We shuttle up to were stopped yesterday. This would be our last day on the parkway heading to Peaks of Otter and Skyline drive. Over 5000 thousand feet climbing this was supposed to be and easy day. Sunny part of the day and cloudy with rolling fog across the mountains. The fog screaming across the road was really cool, look like winter moving in on a summer day. This was the breaking point for many of the guys, Randy from Columbus fire had three broken ribs, Doug was nursing a sore knee, Jim and Guy were over coming colds, Ian had sore knees, Rodney had sore knees, and we had 5000 feet of climbing to do. These guys are hardcore and worked hard to finish. Again the support provided moral support on and off the road as well as food, fluids, during the ride. Dennis O’Brien our motorcycle Angle would drive up next to you and ask you what you needed, Water, Gels, food, sport legs pills, Advil, he was a waiter on wheels and we were spoiled rotten spandex riding fireman. Yeah! Spoiled Rotten. All we had to do was ride bicycles as a team, eat , drink, massage, sleep and do the same thing each day. Nothing to complain about? Well most of us did. The support crew would work before and after each ride each day. My hat is off to the support crew. A must see site on the parkway is Peaks of Otter super cool place. All the guys completed the ride today without any problems . Well the Dawg had a bottom bracket bearing set explode . Bruce and Allen to the rescue. The company shipped the overnight on a Friday to a bike shop in Virginia to arrive Saturday morning very nice. Thx to Allen and Bruce and Steven Hill retrieved it. Team work! The next day we would make our way off the Parkway heading toward Washington DC. One more Big climb and let’s go see the President.
Culpepper, Virginia to The Capital, Washington, DC.This was the day of the chase after Two bike break downs. Culpepper was hosting a yearly motorcycle rally. A police motorcycle group called The Blue Knights crashed the town of Culpepper. Party time 1970 style . Bell Bottom pants! B52 Hair Doo’s, Funky Glasses and Polyester fabric shirts. The Blue Knights invited the Freedom Riders over for all the Beer you could drink. The massage Girls Amy and Eli had a room overlooking the party. A Fun night indeed. We had a chance to get to know a dear Friend who rode with us a couple of days. Kris Bedsaul from Chris King Bicycle products gave us positive energy and help during the next day from Culpepper to Washington D.C. Chris and his Family purchased dinner for us in Culpepper that night. Once We finished dinner Kris gave a few us a ride over to DQ for a cool treat. Two treats for the Big Dawg. Thanks KrisJ The next morning? We started out of Culpepper with an easy pace toward Skyline Drive and everybody could not wait for the rest day in D.C. We all wanted to ride flat roads. Yes Sir! In the distance you could see the Mountains coming forward and the pace slowed to save energy for the Four mile Drunken road to our Capital. We pulled over right before the climb so Guy Greene could use the bathroom. Refuel and start the climb in the hot Sun. Once we crawled to the top of the climb we took one more break to make sure everybody made it. On the descent which was super-fast at the start , My front derailleur slipped down my seat top causing the pedal cranks to stop turning and Bam! You pull over to the side of the road and wait for Help. Thanks to Big Allen Grove he is Super Man. Ten seconds and he had me off trying to caught up to the group. After about a mile Captain Douglas Smoke Diver Kerns was slowing down to nurse me back to the group. Finally after a Three mile chase We caught the group. Watch out here comes 50MPH downhill and caught the group. Super-fast downhill to the rolling hills of Virginia. Once We were all together it was a stressful ride dealing with traffic. Yes traffic. The guys were used to the Blue Ridge parkway. No traffic lights hardly any automobile traffic on the parkway. This was a wakeup call. A reality check. The support crew and guide cars had to step the safety operations for the team. The support Van our Pope Mobile’s alternator took its last breathe and Terry was stuck on the side of road. We all rode up and took a break; unloaded the van so it could be towed to Fredericksburg, Virginia for repairs. Guest what – this was a Holiday weekend. Labor Day. We would be without the Pope Mobile for a few days. Man! Chewy had to be transfer over to the ProGold Van and hang out with Allen and She loves Allen. Every now and then Chewy will bark out a Bruce Springsteen song. Thanks Allen for the music therapy. Once back rolling we started entering old towns heading into D.C. Bruce Dickman has family in D.C. and guest what! A twin brother! God help us! Bruce gave us a nickel tour as we were riding into D.C. crossing over the Potomac River into Georgetown which was cool and crowded. Walls of people everywhere and Bruce would yell out in heavy traffic standing still mind you , We are the Freedom Riders from Atlanta Georgia riding to New York City, We are the Freedom Riders from Atlanta Georgia riding to New York City ! People started cheering and asking questions about the ride. Georgetown is packed full of folks. After snaking our way through Georgetown We finally made it to D.C. A little tired perhaps but happy to have a rest upon us. That is what you think! Negative Sir! Someone had the idea to get up at midnight and ride to all the monuments. Who was this? Maybe after they read this article someone will fess up. Wait until you hear this story – Midnight ride, Chewy chasing Rats in a park. Watch out. Thx Dawg.
Day 10 and 11
Washington D.C. The rest day ? Upon arrival into Washington D.C. everybody was looking forward to our only rest day after climbing Mt, Everest Two and half times. The legs needed a well-deserved break. Once We hit the hotel took a shower and headed out to the Presidents favorite restaurant called PIE. Pizza was great Thanks to Alex. After dinner We hiked back to the Hotel. Word got out, that we were all riding at midnight to tour all the monuments. Now who ever had this idea hit the nail on the head. Midnight! Be ready at midnight. Meanwhile Chewey (Our Dog) needed to be walked. A block away there was a park . Chewey and I headed over to the park for a poty break. The City park was home for many locals. The locals were bedded down for the night, while Chewey with her tail up spotted several large Rats traveling around like they were headed to the subway. Chewey started chasing one after another and it was spectacular to watch. Rats did not fear people, but when Chewey arrived the Rats started screaming out ( A New Sheriff is in Town) Chewey had a ball darting side to side up and down chasing Rats as big as Cats. Imagine your Dog running in a City park at night while people are sleeping and chasing Rats. Chewey and I enjoyed our walks in the park. The monument tour at midnight would take your breath away. Lights shine on all the monuments and a midnight tour even while We were all super tired was well worth the time and fun. First stop, a right turn straight onto the White House driveway lead by Bruce The Beautiful Dickman, and Bam! Police and several other unmarked dudes start screaming Stop! Wrong way! Ah! We high tailed it out of there and really did not know what was going on at the time. Maybe We could have rang the Presidents doorbell? Bruce is from Virginia and says he knows his way around. Yeah right! All We needed was lights on the front of the bikes. Amy and Guy G would get lost due to pee breaks, while Big Bruce leads us around the Mall showing us all the Memorials . I highly recommend visiting Washington D.C. We as Americans have so much to proud for. Special Thank You to our Veterans .
The next morning before the rain started a few guys decided to go back and visit the Memorials once again. We slept late . Breakfast was unique as we marched down to the Ford Theater and across the street was a place called Little Lincolns restaurant. Packed full of tourist and the food was awesome. The service was good too. Rest Day was like a media day before the Super Bowl. We had and escort take us to three different Washington D.C. Fire houses, plus D.C. has a very nice Fire museum at Fire House station 3. The floor is made of Georgia pine. Aarons Lucky Dog showed up for and interview and grand tour of the museum. Super nice guys in D.C. next stop Fire House Sixteen meet and greet time. Raining all day we finally made it over to the Fire house that answers the call when the President and Vice president fly’s out by helicopter these guys standby. Ruth Chris provided dinner at the Fire house for everybody and it was superb! We had a chance to talk to a few Firefighters and one guy was telling me he travels from Charlotte North Carolina to D.C. six and half hours of driving. Man! After a busy day it was nice to head back to the hotel. The next day we would ride all day in the rain to Denton Maryland. Basically this was waking up in the morning to step out in the cool rain dealing with Monday morning traffic in D.C. Traveling in traffic on a tour can be dangerous. Maybe in took a little longer to get out of D.C. but with the Logistic of Steven Hill and the Lexus Freedom ride car he figured it out. Rain and rain as we headed toward Annapolis the Navy Academy which was a site everybody should see very nice. Once we crossed over the bay Hill took us through old small towns before stopping for lunch Terry and support crew had us hot soup on a cold, rainy, windy, day. We had to car pool over the Chesapeake bay bridge, while waiting at a convenient store everybody made friends with one of the managers and she called the local paper for interviews and gave dinner for the night. Fried chicken in Denton. From this point the roads were flat and easy pedaling to Denton. The roads are slippery and upon our arrival Douglas Kerns Team Captain always would tell locals what we were doing and mind you he did a great job as a public information officer. During Douglas Kerns stop before the Hotel in Denton he spoke to the locals and once he took off on his bike he put on a show of crash and burn in the McDonalds parking lot in front of all his fans. Now, for Douglas to fall is like a Cat not landing on his feet. Douglas we still love you, but that was funny man. Finally we made it to the hotel in Denton. Next day Lewes Delaware a wonderful secret beach town in Delaware. That is right Delaware! Beach Town. Be ready for this story.