Freedom Run 1997
Originally published on the ABATE of Washington Web site in February 1997
I took my first real winter ride on Friday (1/24). We got up early, bundled up in extra layers, checked the weather forecast one last time, and headed out from Snohomish to pick up a friend near Silver Lake. Nearing the top of Seattle Hill Road, we saw a few random snow flakes. They were still coming down as we pulled into Ron's street. He was sitting on his Tour Glide, waiting. We wasted no time in heading out to join the 6:30 am commuters (oh, joyous prospect--NOT).
We took back roads to Bothell, then joined the caravan on 405 South. I was excited about my first real ride since October. Just when traffic began to really slow down approaching Kirkland, we hit snow on Totem Lake Hill. The slush thickened to about 1/2 inch, traffic slowed almost to a stop, and the stinging snow blew into my face where I had cracked open my face shield to stop it from fogging up. It was wet, cold, tense, slippery, and it sucked.
My bike does not like to go slow. It idles way too high for anything under 15 mph, and going through stop-and-go traffic is hard on my clutch hand. I was getting a cramp in my left wrist, the snow kept coming down, my rear wheel kept pulling to the right when I eased out the clutch, and the cars continued to change lanes without warning, to stop suddenly, and to try to run us over.
Luck was with us, however. We crested the hill and descended the other side in lighter slush. At the top of the next hill, the slush disappeared. We rode on through Bellevue, Renton, Kent, Auburn, Pacific (took a short break at the AM/PM), Puyallup, Nisqually, and finally arrived at Olympia before 9:30 am. It was great! The three of us parked our bikes, then headed to the General Administration Building at the capital.
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You see, this wasn't just any Friday. This Friday was Black Friday, the January Freedom Run. We were on a mission to talk to Hans Dunshee, John Koster, and Val Stevens from the 39th District. Hans and John are members of the House of Representatives. John Koster is one of the sponsors on HB1242, the bill to amend motorcycle equipment legislation. Hans was not committed to our cause, and we really needed to determine his position. Val Stevens sponsored the Senate bill, SB5256. We wanted to thank Val and John for their support.
We started in the ABATE hospitality room, gathering handouts on the legislation and a map of the capital campus. We talked to Texas Larry Walker, the Freedom Run coordinator, and others who have worked very hard to get the proposed bill read this early in the legislative session. We talked to other bikers who made the trip in the cold on a work day to talk to their representatives.
We did not have appointments, but we went to try to arrange some anyway. We were very successful with the 39th District. Ron is in the 44th district, and his representatives were in meetings for the day. Oh, well. At least Ron learned that they would be holding Town Meetings in Mill Creek this weekend, and he went with us to talk to the 39th District reps.
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We saw Hans Dunshee first. We waited a few minutes for him to finish a meeting, then 6 of us took turns asking for his opinion on various issues, not just the helmet law. He stated that he is 99% behind us, at least until he attends the hearings. He is against the bill to require fingerprints on driver's licenses, and he supports the Mariner's and Seahawk's stadiums.
When we went to search for Val Stevens, we met John Koster in an elevator. We chatted briefly, and learned that he was expecting us. We promised to connect with him after 1:00. We arranged to meet with Val Stevens about the same time.
We wandered around the buildings for a while, and joined the photo session on the capital steps. The rally was canceled, and the 6 state troopers loitering on the steps had very little to occupy themselves with.
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The meeting with John was very productive. He talked with 5 riders, and candidly answered our questions. He is very interested in the cheese-cutter guard-rails along I-5 north of Marysville--that's his home territory. He wants to see the studies the DOT used to based their purchase of these rails. John is on the transportation committee, and he oversees funds for DOT.
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The meeting with Val Stevens was unbelievable. We (4 of us) finally caught her about 2:00 pm, and she insisted that we take her for a ride! YES! We were thinking of leaving about 2:30 to head for home, but we just could not disappoint this spunky Senator. She was very excited about going for a ride, and she brought jeans and a leather jacket along. We agreed to give her 30 minutes to change, and we went off to borrow gloves and a helmet.
Ron's bike was chosen as Val's ride. He has an excellent Queen seat on the Tour Glide--I've tried it myself. I gave Val my full face helmet, and I wore Karen Bolin's beanie. The official Senate photographer took pictures as we suited up Val and explained how to lean with the bike. We mounted the bikes and started off for a slow ride around the campus. The photographer took several shots, and then we headed for the highway. Yes, she wanted to go on the highway, too. So we went for about a six-mile loop from the capital to Tumwater. I felt a little nervous about riding off with one of our Senators, but I was determined to just enjoy the moment. Buck lead the pack, with Ron and Val behind. I was behind Val, admiring the attitude stickers on the helmet on a Senator. Eugene brought up the rear.
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All in all, it was a fun ride. Back at Val's building, she thanked us for the ride, and talked more about her vision of government and how it belongs to the people.
I don't have any great quotes. The whole thing was more like taking a friend of a friend for a ride. The media tired of waiting for news, and the only photographer present was the official senate one. I kind of like that. I'm disappointed in the media coverage of the entire event, but I'm not disappointed with what we did.
What are you doing to protect your freedoms? What are you doing to be heard in Olympia? Call your elected officials. Write them. Email them. Just don't sit around and hope that someone else fights for you.
BeNO3 (beryl nitrate)
Sky Valley Chapter
Biker Home Page
Beryl Nitrate and Buxhog
lack of organization
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www.hogbytes1.com/biker/97freerun/97freerun.htm-- Revised: 20 JAN 2004.
Copyright © 1997-2004 Beryl Nitrate