Friday, May 20, 2011

IFMR Arrival in New Orleans

   What an exciting day!  We met in the parking lot of the Baton Rouge Harley dealer at 9 AM for coffee and fellowship.  As we waited for the arrival of the Blue Knights (off-duty motorcycle policemen who provided the core of our escort), more local Rotary motorcyclist joined us for the final ride to New Orleans.  By the time the Blue Knights arrived at 9:30 we had a total of 52 motorcycles, plus several passengers; and we had them pose for a photo before we left.

We were escorted by a squadron of 8 Blue Knights, including police from New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and cities along our route, plus numerous state troopers' vehicles and local police in the cities we passed thru.  Once we got on the interstate, the Blue Knights and other police vehicles blocked every intersection as we progressed.  We traveled most of the 85 miles from Baton Rouge at 70-75 mph to minimize the time we were tying up other traffic on the route; and the police were traveling faster past us as they finished blocking one intersection then raced past us to block intersections ahead, or blocked traffic to permit us to change lanes when required enroute.  It was quite an impressive performance!  And we all arrived safely and on time at the convention center.  Here's a photo of a line-up of some of our bikes in the convention center parking lot.

   We were greeted on our arrival by a huge crowd of Rotarians and photographers along the street.  After we parked our motorcycles and went inside, we were welcomed by RI President Ray Klinginsmith and Rotary Foundation Vice-Chair John Germ.  We held a brief ceremony and press conference in which I presented John Germ with a ceremonial check prepared a couple of days in advance and I indicated that we had continued to receive donations since the ceremonial check was prepared, so that we estimate that IFMR riders have collected about $50,000 for POLIO PLUS.  John Germ and I were then interviewed by video crews, as well as posing for this photo of me presenting John with the IFMR check for POLIO PLUS.

As we finished the check presentation and the press conference, there was a big round of applause and congratulations from the crowd that had gathered around us.  It was really exciting to be part of something like this; and we were all proud of having contributed to the success of the campaign (and to POLIO PLUS) while also enjoying our love of motorcycling.  It was a marvelous day!!!   And thanks to all of you who helped us make it happen.

I want to especially thank Mark Shirley, who orchestrated the arrangements in Baton Rouge and our police escort to New Orleans.  The Blue Knights deserve a huge 'thank you' for their outstanding performance of moving us 85 miles in heavy traffic and arriving safely and exactly on time.  I also want to recognize the Ride Captains who led their groups to New Orleans from various parts of the country -- Marc Baker from Seattle, Doug Holck from Sacramento, Dave Phelps from Chicago, and Allan Leggett from Miami.  And my co-Ride Captain from Albany, Charlie Foote, who helped me keep up with 17 motorcycles in our group by the time we arrived here.  POLIO PLUS rider Bob Mutchler in his side-car rig, who was instrumental in helping me initiate the idea for this fund-raising ride in the first place and whose bike is on display in the IFMR exhibit booth at the convention.  Foundation Vice-Chair John Germ and Foundation chief executive John Osterland also provided exceptional assistance and encouragement all along the way, as did numerous other Rotary leaders and staff members.  Without the participation, encouragement, and support of all these key people this project would not have been possible.  It has been a HUGE team effort we can all be very proud of.

           :-)   Bob Shriner, President, IFMR-NA

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The IFMR POLIO PLUS Treks to New Orleans Have Begun

   IFMR members Marc Baker, Otto Rieve, and Elisabeth Saunders reported that they hit the road yesterday morning and ended their first day on the road at Meridian, ID.  They also reported they were bringing over $13,000 in donations for the Rotary POLIO PLUS campaign to END POLIO NOW!

   IFMR members Bob Shriner, Charlie Foote, and Blair Campbell report they are now in Albany, NY, and will depart on their trek to New Orleans tomorrow morning.   Bob says the riders in their "Albany" group, most of whom will be joining the ride as it progresses southward, have also collected about $13,000 for POLIO PLUS so far.

   Stay tuned!  Ride Safe!  And we look forward to seeing everyone in New Orleans on Friday.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mississippi Flooding Update


    As you've doubtless heard, the Mississippi River is setting all-time records for flooding as the crest moves southward toward Baton Rouge and New Orleans from Memphis.  It is expected to reach Baton Rouge and New Orleans about the same time IFMR riders do, or a day or so later.  We've been watching this situation closely because of it's possible impact on IFMR riders and others traveling to New Orleans.  I checked yesterday evening with Mark Shirley, our Baton Rouge IFMR liaison (and pp of RC of Baton Rouge Capital City, plus past area HOG board member) for an update. 

    Mark reports that local officials are fairly confident that their existing levee system and other measures by the Corps of Engineers are sufficient to protect both Baton Rouge and New Orleans from flooding, but outlying areas may be affected.  In order to lower the level in the river itself and reduce the strain on the levees, the Corps is opening the flood gates of tributaries all along the river, which is resulting in flooding in low-lying areas along these tributaries, often as far as 30-40 miles from the Mississippi itself.  Interstate highways are unlikely to be affected; but state and local roads may be.

    If you are traveling to Baton Rouge/New Orleans from the west, to minimize the risk of encountering flooded roads, Mark recommends that you plan to cross the Mississippi BEHIND the crest of the flood, which means at Vicksburg, MS, or further north.  This may mean changes in your current route plans.  He suggests crossing at Vicksburg and continuing east to I-55, then using I-55 or one of the other major US highways to travel south toward New Orleans.

    Mark is coordinating with RI convention staff and local law enforcement on changes in the route from Baton Rouge to New Orleans due to flooding.  He will also serve as a 'control center' for IFMR riders enroute to Baton Rouge who want to check with him about changes and local conditions as they aproach the area.  I encourage you to do that.  You can reach Mark at his office 225-769-5711 or cell 225-931-9744.  If you call him, be sure to thank him for the great volunteer Rotary service he is providing to help make the IFMR POLIO PLUS rides a success.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

IFMR Dinner Meeting in New Orleans, Monday May 23, 7-9 PM

IFMR Dinner Meeting in New Orleans, 
Monday May 23 7-9 PM


   IFMR Master Ride Guide Bill Fee has finalized arrangements for IFMR's annual dinner meeting during the New Orleans RI convention.  The event will be held at 

           Deanie's Seafood Restaurant & Market
           841 Iberville Street in New Orleans' French Quarter
              Right off Bourbon Street on the corner of Dauphine and Iberville     

              7:00 - 9:00 PM, Monday, May 23, 2011

   Deanie’s is recognized as one of New Orleans’ best seafood restaurants since 1961. In a town famous for great seafood, Deanie’s Seafood is in a class by itself. Their giant seafood platter is loaded with succulent fried oysters, shrimp, catfish, soft-shell crabs, and crawfish balls, and their boiled seafood is consistently rated by locals as one of New Orleans’ best.  

   Bill Fee has arranged for IFMR to have a 7-item buffet, with a cash bar, for a price in the range of $40-50 per person.  It will be a wonderful opportunity for IFMR members and friends to have great food, great fellowship, and a brief business meeting.  Whether you're riding, driving, or flying to New Orleans, if you're an IFMR member, past or present, you'll want to attend this event to meet and greet your fellow IFMR members from around the globe (several international members will be participating in the IFMR POLIO PLUS rides to New Orleans, while others will be arriving by air).
   To help Bill and Deanie's prepare properly for the event, please make reservations for the event by sending an email to Bill Fee at with the subject line 'IFMR Dinner Reservations' not later than Monday, May 16.  Give him your name, address, New Orleans hotel, number in your party for dinner, and your cell phone number.  Attendees will be billed separately by the restaurant.  If you want additional information about the event, Bill can also provide that if you ask him in your email. 

    We look forward to seeing you in New Orleans on May 23!

    Please pass this message along to any other Rotary motorcyclists or friends who might be
 interested in joining us on May 23.

   POLIO PLUS Ride Captains, please make sure all your riders receive a copy of this email.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hotels for Westcoast to New Orleans Ride Group

From Ride Captain Doug Holck

    The following Hotels have been contracted and have set aside blocks of rooms titled "International Fellowship of Motorcycling Rotarians"  and/or "Motorcycling Rotarians".
    Each rider needs to call each hotel and make your reservation, specifying type of room desired, floor level etc.  If the block does not contain a suitable room, let me know or feel free to negotiate an upgrade or book an alternate hotel in the area.
    I have tried to keep the room expense affordable, there are always higher priced (sometimes better quality) rooms availabe usually right  next door or across the street from these listed, so use your own judgement as to what's acceptable for you. Some may even prefer to camp and are welcome to do so, meeting us at these hotels for morning departures.
5/14 Starting from Sacramento vicinity
Barstow, Ca 
408 miles
8:30 am meeting location is Hwy 12 / I-5 McDonalds
Lunch meeting location in Bakersfield to be announced.
Quality Inn On Historic Route 66

1520E. Main St
Barstow, Ca 92311
$58 + taxes
Flagstaff, Az 
353 miles

Quality Inn 
2000 S. Milton Rd
Flagstaff Az.
$59 + taxes 2nd floor
$64 + taxes 1st floor
This hotel does not have an elevator.
Albuquerque, NM
323 miles

Western Star Inn
2015 Menaul Blvd
Albuquerque, Nm
$39.99 + taxes
Amarillo, Tx 
288 miles

Comfort Inn and Suites
2300 Soncy Rd
Amarillo, Tx
$65.99 + taxes
Plano, Tx 
344 miles

Southfork Hotel 
1600 N. Central Expressway
Plano, Tx 75074
$79 + taxes
Oppertunity to attend a local Rotary meeting this night.
Baton Rouge. La
447 miles

Comfort Suites 
3045 Valley Creek Rd
Baton Rouge, La
$65.99 + taxes
New Orleans, La 
Each rider is responsible for locating thier own suitable Hotel.
There is no organized return route or Hotels

    There are many sights to see and places to visit along our route.  You are encouraged to deviate from the freeway route, meeting up each evening at the Hotel.
    Please advise Ride Captian Doug Holck of your daily route plans and if everyone decides to stop at a special venue he will adjust the route as needed.
   Ride your own ride at speeds comfortable to you. 

Safety is rule # 1. 
   Make sure your motorcycle is properly serviced and maintained, check your tires for tread and pressure.
   How old is your battery? A fresh battery can save time and money on the road.
   Wear proper motorcycle protective clothing, boots, gloves and helmet.
   It can be HOT! so make provisions to carry water to remain hydrated.
   It can be Cold!, especially mornings, plan accordingly by packing/wearing layered clothing that can be removed as day  warms up. 

Westcoast Riders List (as of 15 Apr 2011): 

1. Doug Holck, Lodi, Ca

2. Jean Dores, Anza, Ca

3. Bob Hirsch, Sebastopol, Ca

4. Gary Wegener + 1, Woodland Ca

5. Roy Mankins, Pahrump, Nv

6. Jose Osorio McCormic +1, Tegucigalpa, Honduras

7. Wade Nomura, Carpinteria, Ca

8. Harald Westendorf, Fremont, Ca

Monday, April 18, 2011

Reasonably priced New Orleans hotel for IFMR riders

IFMR member Bob Hirsch reports that he made New Orleans hotel reservations that are much cheaper than the ones nearest the Convention Center! if any IFMR riders would like to change their reservations, stay at same hotel, and save money too:

Clarion Inn 100 Westbank Expressway , Gretna, LA, US, 70053 Phone: (504) 366-2361 Fax: (504) 362-5814

   AAA rate for standard room with 2 double beds is $112.50 on Fri-Sun, $98.50 Mon-Tues.They still have quite a few rooms available.
   This hotel has all the normal amenities PLUS a full buffet breakfast, free parking PATROLLED BY THE CITY POLICE FORCE, and a free shuttle that takes you to the free Canal Street Ferry which is walking distance from the Convention Center, French Quarter, Etc.
   It appears that parking and motorcycle security may be a problem, so this property solves those problems. And it's only about 5.2 miles (11 minutes) from the Convention Center.
   It would be great to have a large contingent from IFMR staying together!

    --  Bob Hirsch, Sebastopol, CA

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Special processing for POLIO PLUS donations in $Cdn cash

    Several Canadian IFMR members have asked for clarification of the procedure required by the Rotary Foundation for handling cash donations to POLIO PLUS in Canadian dollars in order to assure that donors receive proper credit and acknowledgement from the Foundation.  Here is the clarification provided by Clare Monroe, Supervisor, Rotary's $200 Million Challenge, The Rotary Foundation:
   " In the case of cash donations (by Canadians), we would recommend that the Canadian IFMR member to write a check for the cash made payable to the TRF Canada office. When he sends the check in, please have him include the completed donation forms which will allow each donor to receive a Canadian tax receipt." 
    If you need additional information or further clarification, p;lease contact Clare Monroe directly at