The East Coast Route of the National EMS Memorial Bicycle Ride completed on May 19th after completing over 530 miles in 7 days. “The National EMS Memorial Bike Ride, Inc. (NEMSMBR) honors Emergency Medical Services personnel by organizing and implementing long distance cycling events that memorialize and celebrate the lives of those who serve every day, those who have become sick or injured while performing their duties, and those who have died in the line of duty.”
The group started in Boston on May 13th, completing the first two days in cold and wet weather. But they persevered on, and had one of the most challenging days on day three, climbing about 6000ft in elevation over 70 miles ending in Poughkeepsie, NY. Day four was a century day (100 miles) ending in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. I joined the family (yes, it is truly a family) on day five, riding 90 miles through the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with near 90 degree temperatures. Day six started in Harrisburg, PA, with a ceremony overlooking the Susquehanna River, and ending in Frederick, MD. The final day brought the ride to an end by concluding in Arlington, VA, to participate in the National EMS Memorial Service.
Each day of the ride, the names of the fallen are read and a bell is rung in their honor. Riders and support personnel carry two dog tags of those EMS providers who are being honored. At the conclusion, one dog tag is passed on to a family member or friend, while the rider keeps the other to continue honoring the fallen.
You see… It isn’t about how many miles you completed, the number of days ridden, or about being the fastest. In fact, I stopped on my second day after 35 miles, because I simply ran out of gas. This ride is about pedaling harder, even when it hurts, to remember the fallen. It is about helping your brothers and sisters up a hill when they are having trouble. It is about celebrating those who serve. Every person who participates is dedicated to honoring and remembering those who have gone before us. Will you be part of the family? The Southern Route kicked off on May 21st, and registration for the West Coast and Colorado Routes is now open.
Darren Girardeau has been participating in the NEMSMBR since 2013.