The day started out cooler than the last few days or weeks have been and I was up at the break of dawn unable to sleep. Today was the day.The first annual Brian’s ride in memory of my good friend Brian Mello a fellow rider, friend, confidant, firefighter, father, brother, son and husband. Brian was senselessly killed on March 24, 2007 when an elderly driver hit him when taking a left turn through a group of 3 riders. Today however, was a beautiful summer day, with a cool morning and clear sky’s threatening to warm up the day as the sun rises to attention.
Anticipation, shaky nerves, and the memory of my good friend all heavy on my mind I headed to the garage. I looked at the fleet and it came to me, clear as day. When Brian would ride with me, he would choose a sport bike, don my race jacket that hangs in the garage that only he ever wore and we would go for a short ride and enjoy a friendly lunch.Today, I will ride a sport bike and leave the Harley at home even though I know this will be a Harley day and the sport bike attendance will be few at best. I strapped his jacket onto my rear seat; it only felt right that I should take it along for this ride.
After my morning coffee, too many smokes, and much pacing in the garage I decided it was finally time to hit the road. I slabbed it to the staging area in Raynham as I wanted to be one of the first to arrive; I was to park in the VIP section and am in the first group to lead the ride.Somewhere along that ride I got that same strange but familiar feeling, which I often get and realize that I am on this journey of life, alone.This will prove to be an emotional day for me, and I must support myself. A quick stop at the Dunkin Donuts for more fuel for me, and an encounter with a character I wish I had not had the misfortune to encounter today but that is a whole other story, a quick stop for fuel for the bike and I entered the staging area.
In the far end of the parking lot were two fire trucks from local departments, proudly flying their flags from the boom extended over the area coned and taped for orderly line up of the participants. As I expected, I was one of only a few sport bikes in attendance, but I knew if Bri was riding with me today, he would be proud. The next two hours was spent looking at the bikes and talking to many participants that traveled from as far as Toronto just for this ride, and making some new friends. A 1964 short track Ducati single carb 250cc bike catches my eye and for the first time I realize that I never remembered to grab my camera. I will have to take it all in and just remember.
Just before the ride was to commence, we gathered, some 450 biker’s many with passengers, to thank the Massachusetts Motorcycle Survivors Fund, the participants, remember Bri, and a short prayer for a safe ride. We exited the parking lot under an arch created by the fire truck booms with the fire department and American flags proudly displayed. Emotion was riding high, and I felt a bit shaky again, but once underway, the comfort of being on my two wheels took over. The ride was nice, a good pace, nice country roads, courteous riders, and showed a police and fire presents that would have made Bri proud. As we passed ‘his’ station, the firefighters where lined up in front of yet another truck with an extended boom over the street.
The day ended at a local pub with the parking lot converted into a gathering ground for the participants. Food, drink, raffles, good music and friends all here for the common good. To raise money for the Massachusetts Motorcycle Survivors Fund, who is dedicated to helping accident victims and surviving family members, whose organization, members, and volunteers alike worked diligently to organize an outstanding event. I met many great people and was shocked at the amount of people with nice things to say about Bri. Shocked even more at the attitudes of the Harley riders here today, as I did not meet one with the stereo-typical attitude. They were here for the same reason I was, to support, to remember and to honor.
As I parked the bike in the garage I looked at the odometer, 101 miles today, exactly. Although I think I traveled a lot further.
I hung Bri’s jacket back on the hook where he had been the last to place it. Good day today Bri, we will ride again next year.