Andrew Rivas celebrates Memorial Day in a special way. He remembers his brother, Raymond, with a long-distance memorial ride.
His brother died in 2009 from a wound he suffered while serving with the U.S. Army in the Middle East.
Rivas is retired from the military and now makes his home in Flagstaff. This is the third memorial ride he has made for his brother and this year the route will bring him to Payson around 4 p.m., Saturday, May 26. He plans to reach the Payson Airport, where he has been given permission to camp for the night, at about 4 p.m.
“I send messages out to local veterans’ groups and media along my route prior to my ride and provide my itinerary so that other veterans can join me along the way,” Rivas said.
So, any cyclists, bikers or others around the Rim Country that would like to join Rivas as he makes his way into town can station themselves along the way between Flagstaff and Payson Saturday and catch up with him.
Those that have joined him in the past have sometimes stayed with him for several days, while others have kept pace for only a few miles.
“I have had federal agents, local police, firefighters and civilians ride with me. Others that have ridden with me have been ROTC members, retired federal agents and coworkers and local municipal leaders,” he said.
While Rivas rides “unsupported”, his brother’s best friend from childhood has ridden with him most of the way.
The first year he did his memorial ride, Rivas traveled from Flagstaff to Ruidoso, N.M., which was a total of 650 miles. Ruidoso was selected because it is where his parents live. The second year Las Cruces, N.M. was his destination. The town is where he is headed this year too – it is where he and his brother Ray were born.
“The main reason I do this ride is that I cannot think of a better way to celebrate Memorial Day than to bring attention to all those that gave their life in support of our country,” Rivas said.