Been meaning to do a post but damn if I ain't been wiped out since the trip.
Left home at 2:30am to meet up with a group that had left the Pittsburgh area the evening before. Idea was to get around the beltway before too much traffic started. Met up with them in York, PA, along with the local po po and Fox43 tv. TV crew did a nice story on the trip for the 5am newscast and the LEOs were kind enough to block traffic at about 4 lights on Rte 30 to give us a straight shot to I83. Once on 83, we had pretty much an uneventful ride around Baltimore and onto I95 north of Washington. The group pulled into a rest stop along I95 for a much needed break.
While at the stop, I found out that they planned on waiting a couple hrs for a bunch of PA groups before making the final 30 mile run to the staging point at Washington Harley Davidson. Now, I ain't a patient man and was only up at 2am to avoid rush hr on the beltway, so I decided to make the final leg solo. Made it to WHD before 8am and was parked right in front of the store, about the 50th bike to arrive. Over the next 3hrs, I watched a sea of bikes roll in. The Prince George County police ended up closing the road in front of the store because they ran out of room to stage the bikes arriving.
So many bikers showed up, that the organizers decided the best thing to do would be to have everyone ride as one group for a lap around the DC beltway, return to the dealership and then break into smaller groups to do various rides into DC. At 11am we started pulling out of the lot. As I mentioned, I was in the 1st 50 bikes or so and after pulling out of the lot, we traveled by at least 5miles of bikes staged 6 to 8 wide! It was truly unbelievable.
Local police got us onto the beltway without incident by blocking all traffic. Once on the beltway, we were on our own. The only complaint I have of the ride, is that about half the participants had no idea what it takes to ride safely in a large group. I am use to riding with people I know and we generally ride staggered with a 2 sec travel time between bikes in the same 1/3 of the lane. Well these people didn't do anything close to that, it was pretty much a free-for-all. I lost track of the number of times I had some riding right beside me in the same lane. When some folks tried to ride staggered, it wasn't long before someone would pass on the left or right and squeeze in. Now if we are traveling at 70+ mph and I can reach out and touch you, someone is riding where they don't belong. I tell you, it was the most stressful group ride I've ever been on and it is a miracle that only one or two bikes went down.
My smaller group ride was to the Pentagon area, which worked out well for me as I was able to jump on the Geo Washing Memorial Parkway for a nice ride out of the DC area.
One of the nicest parts of the ride was that each rider was given a sticker with the name of a 9/11 victim on it to take with them as they traveled the DC area. I ended up with a pair of them and will tell you it was very moving to attach them to my helmet. So much so that I decide to put some clean tape over the names and leave them there for as long as they last. I've seen all sorts of estimates of the total number of bike that participated, everything form 20,000 to 1.2 million. I have no idea what the real count was but do know that I've never seen as many bikers in one place for one reason before. It was a surreal ride and one I intend to do again in 2014.