A Ride to Honor and Remember
Mike Newell holds vivid memories of the day mass terrorism struck our shores on September 11, 2001. He felt a deep kindred spirit with those who lost their lives in New York, Washington DC, or the fields of Pennsylvania. Like all of us who recall that day, Mike remembers where he was, what he was doing, and the feeling of shock and horror as the reality of what unfolded sank in. He was serving in the USAF Special Operations Command at the time, his unit deployed to Iraq soon thereafter, and eventually seven men from his command gave their lives in the global war on terror. Mike served as a firefighter and EMT with the city of Winder, Georgia upon returning to civilian life, which along with his work at Cycle World of Athens, still holds a special place in his heart. So the tragic loss of life among the public safety, first responders, military, and airline civilians on 9-11-01 is deeply personal to him.
This year marked the 13th annual Ride to Remember on September 8 hosted by Mike and the crew at Cycle World of Athens, and the event surpassed all expectations, in attendance and enthusiasm. A beautiful ride route, a well-organized event, and a fitting tribute to the heroism displayed on that fateful day, 18 years ago.
What began as a customer appreciation ride back in the early 2000s quickly morphed into the 9-11 Ride to Remember by 2007, growing from a healthy 300 to over 1000 riders this year, according to Mike. The event is free to all, but donations go to a variety of “fallen heroes” foundations and public safety support causes in the southeast.
The ride began at Cycle World, then wound through numerous small towns in north Georgia such as Statham, Jefferson, Commerce, Cornelia and Cleveland, among others, snaking through various winding roads up in the mountains, ultimately arriving at Copperhead Lodge in Blairsville, Georgia. Riders were then treated to a free barbecue meal on site, sponsored and provided by the Athens HOG chapter.
Mike Newell, the marketing director for CW Athens and ride director for the event, gave us some amazing additional details. “There are dozens of local groups and clubs that come together behind the scenes that make Ride To Remember happen. 26 public safety agencies assisted along the 130 mile route. A group of American Legion Riders led by Robert Wilson performed as scouts along the route to ensure the ride was clear and safe. We couldn’t do it without these guys.”
Every town we rode through, local PD assisted in coordinating and blocking traffic, every FD elevated flags on ladder trucks, and locals poured into the streets to wave, salute, display flags, or just snap photos. Even some churches brought their children’s classes out to enjoy the spectacle as the procession rumbled by. As the entourage wound up through the north Georgia mountains, great care was taken to insure riders didn’t bunch up but kept moving through the frequent twists and turns. Copperhead was fully prepared to receive the massive numbers, and the afternoon feeding and festivities came off without a hitch.
Mike noted, “The entire biker community is just amazing. Clubs, groups, organizations and individuals that may not normally associate, join as one group of patriotic Americans and ride together as one… that makes me so proud to be part of this event.”
We at Road Dirt were humbled to have participated in this momentous event, and proud to support our military, public safety, and first responders every day. May we all #NeverForget.
Rob & Phil
*Photos by: Rob, Phil, & Brooke Bryant
*Drone photos by Mike Boyd
And one more gallery of photos because, well, we absolutely loved this event.