Motorcycle 911 through Leesburg

Motorcyclists ride through Leesburg during a previous year's 9/11 ride. 

America’s 9/11 Ride will be roaring through Leesburg again on Aug.17 after a one-year hiatus. The motorcycle tour to the three 9/11 memorial sites, founded to remember those who sacrificed their lives, raises scholarships for family members of active duty and paid volunteer first responders.

In spite of a few unexpected challenges, founder Ted Sjersuth is confident the ride will bring as many cheers and tears as it did in previous years.

“We can’t forget what occurred,” Sjersuth said.

Sjersuth started the ride in November 2001. Motorcycles gather in Somerset County, Penn., near the site of the Flight 93 crash, circling through Leesburg to the Pentagon, and then up to New York City and the 9/11 memorial. The ride’s popularity grew over the years, gaining national attention and respect.

By 2016, 1,700 motorcycles took more than 30 minutes to cruise through Leesburg. However, when Sjersuth stepped down from his role as coordinator, the new board decided to cancel the ride. Many, especially in New Jersey and New York, were incensed the ride was ending. Sjersuth remembers talking to a frustrated interviewer who asked him, “Isn’t the motto to never forget?”

When America’s 9/11 Foundation raised no money during the hiatus and 1,400 children of first responders competed for the nonprofit’s 15 annual scholarships this year, Sjersuth knew the ride needed to happen again. He stepped up to coordinate the 2018 ride.

It’s been something of an uphill battle as Sjersuth has tried to reestablish relationships with various municipalities. Leesburg town staff initially told Sjersuth they’d charge $4,800 for police and public works support. They charged nothing in the past.

Sjersuth went to Town Council during its July 24 meeting to request a waiver, wheeling a bin of scholarship applications up to the speaker’s podium.

“I was floored [about the fee]. The board was floored,” he told council. “It takes away two and a half scholarships.”

Council voted unanimously to waive the fee this year and in the future.

“This is obviously for a good cause and the benefits seem to outweigh the costs,” Councilman Tom Dunn said.

Though America’s 9/11 Ride will still feature an impressive police vanguard and hundreds of motorcycles, this year’s event will be a little different. Sjersuth is capping riders at 600 and the police escort at 102 to ease logistics. The police escort is full, and a little more than 500 motorcyclists have signed up so far.

One tradition that will be making its last appearance for a while is Sjersuth’s vibrant red, white and blue Harley. At the end of the ride, Sjersuth will donate the bike to the World Trade Center Museum for display—the bike records the names of the fallen and signatures of first responders.

Sjersuth says Leesburg, Cumberland, Md., and Hightstown, N.J., are favorites along the ride because of the large and enthusiastic turnout.

“There’s not a dry eye of anyone on the ride,” Sjersuth says of the group’s trips through Leesburg.

The ride is expected to come through downtown Leesburg between 1:30 and 1:45 p.m. on Aug. 17.

 

(15) comments

nevix

The riders who participate in this event are putting their money were their mouth is. They pay $160 per rider and $40 per passenger to participate in the event. Not to mention they pay for their lodging. Not to mention many do things out-side this ride to keep the memory of those lost from fading into history.

Jeanne T

Ed Myers:

Do the "past tragedies" you think we should "move beyond" include the Western slave trade? This country fought a bloody and divisive war to end it. Is it time to "move beyond" this issue as well?

amerigirl

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.George Santayana. So why not keep it but move it? The past should not be a major cost to the present.

romano

lots of anger from our liberal friends toward anything or anyone proudly pro-America....

MAGA Morons Are Governing America

You have a very liberal view of what's pro-America, Romano

amerigirl

Pro-American? just cause you fly a flag doesn't mean anything. Is it pro-American to expect taxpayers to pay for your parade? Like I said before, there are other routes . and the people will come. The anger is not at the bikers, it's about having to pay for them and the cost to businesses that can't conduct business for that time period.

Jeanne T

"just cause you fly a flag doesn't mean anything."

No on is saying that. So what is your point?

Pocoyo

While I think most of us could agree that not every event should expect a free police escort from the Town, I don't think it's too much to ask the good people of Leesburg to pony up for something like this.

EdMyers

I think we should move on about past tragedies. This ride picks at the scab of anti-Muslim emotions to weaponize the resulting pain for political gains.

MAGA Morons Are Governing America

Feel good ride by bikers who like to ride bikes. Wouldn't it be better if they actually engaged in something that had a tangible result?

springerdad

I suggest they post comments on the LTM like you do.

MAGA Morons Are Governing America

Thanks for the kind words, stranger. Glad you like my comments.

EdMyers

Instead of demanding taxpayers fund their ride, how about restructuring the ride so that it doesn't require a police escort. If they didn't go through red lights, cross the double yellow line because they are riding 2 and 3 abreast instead of single file, and if they yielded to pedestrians in crosswalks as required by law while respecting other traffic, then they could drive through Leesburg without $5,000 in special services. Very few of those riders live or pay taxes to Leesburg or Loudoun county: how can they extort money from those who do?

amerigirl

It is a good cause but I have to agree with you. Can't they have a dedicated lane on the bypass for that 5 hours? If people want to see them they will show up.

Jeanne T

"how can they extort money from those who do?"

Now that is rich coming from you, of all people.

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