The morning got off to a very quick start. When I arrived at the track, a close friend of mine, Scott W., was waiting for me. Scott planned on riding with me for the first one hundred miles or so. As we were preparing to get started, we noticed a news helicopter circling around, so we quickly got on our bikes and started doing laps in case they were filming. As it turns out, they were and that footage made the evening news with channel 13! After the helicopter left, we finished setting up the shade, chairs, tables, food and water and did an interview for channel 3 right on the track. THEN the riding started. The weather was great! It was not too warm and the wind was fairly mild and kept changing directions. Scott rode very strongly on his recumbent, stopping occasionally for water, bathroom breaks and a bit of stretching.
We pulled off the first 100 miles in less than five hours which put me way ahead of schedule. At about that time, people started showing up to support the memorial ride. Some of the firefighters that I work with as well as Scott's wife showed up first, then as the afternoon wore on, others that had seen news footage brought their bicycles with them to ride some laps on the track and keep us company. That was very helpful. When I was alone on the track, I kept up a pretty fast pace, but when there was a visitor, I could ease up quite a bit and we rode socially around the track and talked a lot. It made the time go by a lot faster.
Late in the afternoon, Scott packed it in with an impressive total of 160 miles, his longest ride ever! I was at 200 miles when my family showed up a short time later. My wife brought me a hamburger so I sat down to eat it. It was the first break I'd taken the whole ride. As the evening turned to night, more folks started showing up. Some I knew from cycling or work, others I didn't. My kids all rode a lot of laps and my 13-year-old daughter rode 40 miles during the evening.
We opted to have the track lights remain off at night. There was some ambient light from some of the security lights on the premises and also some light from the flood light shining on the American flag at the track. This only left one dark spot on the track which was half of turn two. It was spooky coming into the black corner, but there was never anything to worry about. Nobody rode with headlights but we did use the little red, blinking tail lights so that you never ran into anyone from behind. At one point at night, we had eight guys flying around the track in the dark. It was a blast! The wind also got pretty stiff during the night and the laps became difficult, but nobody complained and everyone just kept riding.
My wife eventually took the kids home (school night and all) and after that, we packed it in for the night. It was about midnight and I had ridden 280 miles. Everyone else headed home and I slept on a cot next to the van right there on the track. Security checked up on me a couple of times and I got a pretty good rest. I woke up at about 5 a.m. and rode the last 50 miles.
We got some more visitors in the morning, some more media attention and three firefighters form the Clark County Fire Department came to ride the last of the 343 miles with me.
We rolled into Firefighter's Memorial Park quietly, shook hands with each other, and the ride was done. I noticed that someone had placed some flowers already that morning; it was nice to know that other people were also trying hard not to forget. Again, we did a couple of interviews for the media and headed out. There were no festivities planned at the park; maybe we'll change that in the future; maybe we won't. For some reason, it seems correct that the finish is anti-climactic. The other guys rode home and I took the vehicle option for the ride back to the track.
I would very much like to thank all those that contributed. I also would like to acknowledge and thank Scott Woodford and his wife for the tremendous amount of hands-on support. The speedway acted like a first class organization and I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to patronize them when possible.