1,000 Miles for FairTax
FairTax Memorial Day Activities
Never in my life did I think I would be one of those women on the back of a bike out on the Interstate. Last week, given good reasons - to support our veterans and the FairTax, I hopped on the back of the FairTax bike to head out to Rolling Thunder this Memorial Day. So we packed up the meager gear that fits on a bike, along with FairTax info and supplies and headed out.
I am not a "biker chick," this being my first road trip on the bike. I'm nervous about this new experience. I'm used to riding in a car with music and conversation. Traveling on a bike, it's another world. Nothing separates us from the road except apparel. I can smell the honeysuckle as we drive by, or the fertilizer. I feel the wind coming at 65 miles per hour at me, and gusts from every direction as trucks pass or nature breathes. With every curve in the road, the bike leans to accommodate it. I'm very conscious of the road conditions, as after 100 miles or so, my bottom aches and every pothole or little crease in the asphalt reverberates through me. Unfortunately, the tank holds enough gas for 140 miles and I am at the mercy of the ride captain or my driver for relief. The sun beats down and after the first leg of the journey, I realize 15 SPF is not enough. With no music or conversation, the drone of the bike is very conducive to thinking. I'm alone with my thoughts.
The first two hours I spend watching the speedometer, the other traffic that I'm certain are trying to hurry us to our demise, the road ahead with bumps and debris. I start to wonder if I'll make it all the way to DC or flag down the chase vehicle. I'm scared to death. My legs are cramped and aching from trying to hang onto the bike with them. I don't know where to put my hands. The only place to hold on is under my seat cushion. I'm tensed up wondering why these biker people like this.
Then a car pulls up along side us. I look over to see two smiling faces with adjacent thumps-up. We're riding the FairTax bike and they're supporters. I smile and wave back. My thoughts are thankfully taken off potential harm and re-focused on the mission - promoting the FairTax. This bike sends a message, loudly and visibly. I now think about all the people we've met in the FairTax movement and the potential supporters we'll be meeting this weekend. I start to enjoy the sun, the wind, the movement, the scenery. We pass through America, seeing the homes and businesses of my fellow citizens. I see farms and animals, strip malls and lone businesses of every size. I am witnessing each of their American dreams come true. I'm in love with this country.
We have a weekend of activities planned at Fort Washington and the Rolling Thunder parade. We spend Saturday at Fort Washington Harley-Davidson where Rolling Thunder was first organized. Thousands of bikers from all over the country come here to buy gear, souvenirs, partake in free food and enjoy the festival. We join up with Brian Whitcomb, captain for the RoadKill Side Show Chapter of the Grass Roots Freedom Ride for FairTax in Atlanta GA. He's broadcasting his weekly radio show from this event. We roll the bike into the lot and put out brochures, FairTax info and stand in the sun for 8 hours in 90 degree heat. A tent didn't fit on the bike. Most of these folks in this crowd aren't politically oriented, but we talk to them anyway. They like the bike, they see the need for change... most of them like the idea of FairTax. One by one, we plant the seed and hope it takes root with our visitor in their home town with their peers.
A 17 year employee of the treasury dept. stops by. He blesses us, but tells us we're too late. He sees what goes on first hand. Dressed in biker garb, it's hard to believe this man wears a suit in normal life. His words are both saddening and inspiring. I will not capitulate. I cannot let our country's woes overtake us without a fight. The treasury dept guy leaves wishing us luck and hoping he's wrong. I know he is - the table is not without a constant flow of bikers, despite the heat and burning sun. Drawn in by the FairTax Bike, every biker can take this message home. Some sign the petition right there. Others sign up for the newsletter to join us on rides. Some just take the info.
Non-bikers may not know what Rolling Thunder is - I didn't til last year. For the last 22 years, bikers have converged on Washington DC over Memorial Day Weekend to honor to our veterans. The entire city hums as bikers from across the country arrive. On Sunday, over 500,000 bikes roll into the Pentagon parking lot starting at 5 in the morning. The roar of the bikes can be heard above the normal roar of a big city for blocks, as bikers arrive. At noon, with bikes still arriving, the roar continues as they start the procession around the Mall, up Constitution Avenue and back down Independence Avenue. The entire distance is filled with people, waving, thanking and blessing our veterans and bikers, both veterans and those who support them. Citizens of every color and shape are united under our flag. It's hard to keep tears from welling at the outpouring of gratitude for the men and women who have fought for this country. Hands are out-stetched to the bikers for a quick handslap from the passing bikers. Signs expressing love for our country and our servicemen are everywhere. Our POWs and MIAs are not forgotten at this time and place. The day is devoted to remembering - remembering both the foundations of our country and those who served to protect it.
We left Washington DC right after the parade to start the long journey home, opting for side roads rather than the Interstate. Avoiding the traffic and the trucks, this path holds new dangers. One of our riders nearly hit a dog who charged the bike, a common situation that will put a bike down. A motorist busy on his cellphone left the road, over corrected and nearly hit both our bike and the bike in front of us. Thankfully Mr. Cellphone swerved within a foot of the bike and opted to go off the road from whence he came.
We had dodged rolling thunderstorms all day. Fifty miles from home, our luck changed. The last hour of travel, was spent in thunderstorms of such force, I would not have driven a car. But having kids and jobs, this band of FairTax biker warriors could not put off the journey. The worst scenario was not having daylight during the storm and we were running out of time. So we stopped when the rain came in buckets under gas station pavilions and continued when it only came in handfuls. Getting to a safe spot left me terrorized. The rain came so strong it was impossible to see. The shield on the bike was covered in water, the shield on the helmet was covered in droplets, my glasses were covered in droplets. The road was a maze of deadly puddles. I took off my visor to feel rain stinging exposed skin. My boots were filled with water and soon the lining in my helmet was soaked. This was truly an experience I could do without. Thankfully we arrived safely home just as twilight was waning, equally wet and thankful to the core.
The FairTax bike's next journey is to Murhreesboro TN, Springfield MO and finally to Columbia MO for the Midwest FairTax Rally. For the rest of the rides, I will be in the chase vehicle listening to music and watching my husband, praying for safe journeys as we travel the country. Mike loves biking; I now better understand both the joy of biking and the potential for harm. Please pray for our safe journeys. Please support this effort to bring FairTax to a new segment of America. As much as Mike enjoys the ride, he's turned his retirement dream into a full time FairTax commitment. Along with the Grass Roots Freedom Ride, he's currently working on opening The Grass Roots Cafe in Horse Shoe NC, where FairTax will be a focus. He's a dedicated FairTax supporter with iron buns.
How You Can Get Involved
1. Pledge A ride - Check out where we're going next and let us know you support us with a $25 donation. We're a full time volunteer promotional team working for FairTax. As thanks we'll send you a 1.5" cloisonne FairTax pin.
2. Buy a raffle ticket - even if you don't bike! If the winner redonates the raffle bike, we'll put it up for raffle again. These dollars go to supplies and grass roots ideas. If you keep it, you'll love riding this custom beauty.
3. Create or Join a Chapter - we'll do whatever we can to help you "make some noise" in your town.
4. Buy Some Flags - we've got lots! $20 on line; $15 at our events or free with membership. Special bulk pricing available.
5. Pray for Safe Rides - Mike thinks it's fun - it must be since bikers are everywhere. Pray for them all and be mindful of bikers when you're in your car. Their lives depend on our good driving.