Thousands of bikers ride through Maryland Saturday to remember 9/11

With their bikes' pipes roaring and chrome shining in the morning sun, thousands of motorcyclists and riders traveled through Harford and Cecil counties Saturday in a convoy to honor the memory of those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against America.

The bikers, who came from around the United States, were participating in America's 9/11 Ride, hosted by America's 911 Foundation, Inc., and many stopped at the Maryland House rest stop near Aberdeen on the ride north from the Pentagon inArlington, Va., toNew York City.


The convoy stretched some 17 miles along the interstate, according to police who escorted it.

As the bikers rode through Harford County, many people stood on overpasses and waved American flags.


Police escorting the convoy estimated as many as 2,300 motorcycles had joined for the trip through Maryland Saturday.

The Maryland House was a planned refueling stop on the Saturday leg of America's 9/11 Ride which started out Friday morning from Somerset, Pa. The first leg ended Friday evening near the Pentagon.

The Maryland House was a planned refueling stop on the Saturday leg of America's 9/11 Ride which started out Friday morning from Somerset, Pa. The first leg ended Friday evening near the Pentagon.

Parking lots adjoining the two gas stations at the Maryland House, which is just north of exit 80 on I-95 south of Aberdeen, were blocked off, waiting for the barrage of patriotic motorcyclists to arrive.

More than two dozen people with hot pink shirts that read "Pumper Team" were stationed at the fuel pumps, ready to get each motorcyclist prepared for their next stretch of the journey to New Castle, Del.

A little after 9:30 a.m., the bulk of the motorcycles began to arrive.

One after the other, a never-ending line of bikes rode up the ramp to the rest stop from northbound I-95.

Some motorcyclists wore American flag-themed helmets. Others had American flags waving from the back of their bike. One rider had a small video camera strapped to the top of his helmet.

As the bikers pulled into the gas stations, all were greeted with cheers, waves, claps and other signs of support from other travelers and well-wishers who had stopped at the Maryland House.

Many took photos of the men and women in the biker convoy, most who looked to be in their late 20s to early 70s, as they passed by.

One mother, Arline Eppler, of Lutherville, and her two daughters, Katie and Lauren, waved American flags next to their parked van.

The van, itself, showed support to the thousands of riders, sporting a large sign covering the entire windshield that read "Thank you. Ride proud and safe."


When asked why the three braved the traffic to be at the Maryland House Saturday morning, Eppler replied, "I don't understand why anybody else wouldn't."

Her husband, Brandt "Chomps" Eppler, a volunteer firefighter, was part of the three-day ride, which began Thursday around various parts of the country. Eppler's husband also participated in last year's ride.

"It's important to never forget," she said of all of the people who died and put their lives in danger on Sept. 11, 2001, adding how important it was for her daughters to be there and experience this event.

In addition to riding in the convoy, Eppler's husband was also responsible for an operation that helped put people on bridges and overpasses to show their support for the motorcyclists as they drove by.

One of those locations was the Route 155 overpass in Havre de Grace, where a crane held a large American flag over the railing and onlookers waved.

As the bikers left the Maryland House to resume their trip north, traffic on the southbound side of the interstate was backed up.

Motorists had been forewarned by the media and through state traffic advisories, as well as message boards along the convoy's route, to expect possible traffic delays and ramp closures to interstate highways.

Glassboro, N.J., resident Mario Marra, an avid biker for over 20 years, said he learned about the ride through various motorcycle clubs.

Marra had started his day in his home state, rode down south to the Pentagon and was one of the first bikers to arrive at the Maryland House Saturday morning.

"Any good cause I'm part of," he said.

While Marra wasn't personally affected by the Sept. 11 attacks, he has several friends who are police officers and EMTs. More recently, one of Marra's friends, who served as an Army Ranger, was killed in Afghanistan.

This ride was for them and their families, he said, adding: "The biker community is a great group of people."

The sponsor of Saturday's ride, America's 911 Foundation, is a nonprofit organization founded in 2003 and aim to help families affected by the attacks and those who continue to put their lives in danger to help others.

According to the website http://www.americas911ride.org,the organization has given scholarships to more than 70 children of first responders totaling $180,000. The foundation has also donated more than $250,000 to first responder departments and their families.

In addition, this year 15 college scholarships of $2,000 each will be awarded through the foundation.

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