Chip Nelson has been riding dirt bikes, ATVs and motorcycles since he was a child, but, recently he took the ride of his life.
At 4:30 a.m. on the morning of Sept. 11, Nelson climbed aboard his 2007 Suzuki Boulevard and left his home in Holly Meadows to participate in the 1.2 million motorcycle ride in Washington, D.C.
The National organizers of the event were “Top Fuel” Bill Williamson and Belinda Bee. The ride was the grass roots idea of Bill, and Belinda is the co organizer. When word got out the event grew and grew as 1.2 milliom bikers rode in Honor and Remembrance of the victims of 9/11, Benghazi, and the fallen Heroes and military still fighting.
Nelson said “I saw this on facebook and thought ‘Hey, I am going to do this’.” He contacted childhood friend, James Vance,who grew up, near Parsons, in the Blackman Flats area and currently lives in Hayhurst, Va., to see if he would be interested in going along. Vance agreed to meet Nelson at their assigned checkpoint at the Harley Davidson Dealership in Fort Washington Md.
Nelson said “Bikes were stationed at different check points, there were approximately 70 thousand bikes at the Harley Davidson Dealership where James and I checked in.” The Harley lot was full as well as numerous mall parking lots. A stretch of highway that runs along the dealership was closed for the bikes to park on as well. “We had bikes parked eight abreast for approximately a mile.” Nelson said,
Nelson said that patriotism ran extremely high, not only for the bikers, but, for motorist as well. Most of the bikes carried American flags. “People, were waving and saluting us.” stated Nelson. Nelson said the most amazing site he saw on the ride was as they were approaching an overpass near Marshall, Va. “There were several fire companies and EMS units lining the overpass. The firemen and EMTs were standing on top of their units saluting. The fire trucks had their ladders crossed and there was the largest American Flag hanging from them that I had ever seen.” Nelson said. He said the worst part of the ride was some store owners near the check points raising their prices, near the Harley Davidson check point a bottle of water, at the convenience store, cost $5.
At the check points stickers with the names of people who died in the events of 911 were passed out. Nelson rode in honor and memory of Michael G. Lowe while Vance rode for Kristen Montanero. Many rode in honor of our fallen and serving military.
Police officers from many states were seen helping with traffic. Nelson said they did not have a DC police escort, but he did see police cars from Alabama, Tennessee and Pennsylvania stopping traffic. Nelson said “I can only think they came to take over the protect and serve purpose of the DC Police Department, although, we did get a DC Police escort when they got in front of us and tried to lead us away from DC… didn’t work, we still hit DC.”
Vance said the ride was special in more than one way. “Chip and I were friends growing up, but, we haven’t seen each other for 25 years. We have communicated some on facebook. Chip said when he retired and moved back to West Virginia we would go on a ride, so when he asked me if i would like to go the answer was a bid yes. Vance said.
Nelson graduated Tucker County Hgh School in 1989 and joined the US Navy. He was stationed mostly back and forth between Jacksonville, Fla. and Patuxent River, Md., with many overseas deployments. He retired, as a Chief Petty Officer, in 2010 and moved back to Tucker County in 2011.
Nelsno said, “I had a great time and helped bring out the patriotism in this time. Hopefully the ride opened some eyes. I am ready to go again next year.”