Spotlight360: Matt Nechodom

By Wellness360 Magazine

Tell us about your career as a police Lt. with the Gainesville Police Department?

I retired after serving 27 years with the Gainesville Police Department. During my career I worked as a patrol officer and then later as a shift supervisor. I was a member of the department’s canine unit during which time I had a Belgian Malinois as my partner and then later a Labrador retriever. I also had the opportunity to work in investigations as part of the detective division and as an investigator in narcotics and later as one of the unit commanders for the narcotics unit.

What do you love most about Harley Davidsons and riding motorcycles? What bike will you be riding during your Lunch for Law Enforcement voyage?

I will be riding my 2013 Harley Davidson Street Glide during my trip. I have had several bikes through the years including a Honda and a Yamaha, but my Harley has been my favorite. I enjoy the camaraderie shared among Harley owners as well as the history of the brand. Most importantly it is a comfortable and reliable motorcycle to take on long trips.

What inspired you to decide to do the Lunch for Law Enforcement voyage and tell us about the people you are helping and why?

Two years ago, I took a trip on my motorcycle from Gainesville, Florida to San Francisco, California, traveling through the Southern part of the United States. I promised my wife I would take a year off before I set off to tour the Northern parts of the county. This year, I will begin in Sanford, Florida on July 18, where, after I host a dinner at a police station there, I will board the auto train with my bike to Lorton, Virginia. There I will begin my journey on my bike. I will end on August 7 in Seattle, Washington. The more I planned out the trip, the more I thought the trip should have a purpose rather than just riding from point A to point B.

This past year has been tough on everyone in this country, not just law enforcement, but having worked in the profession I could relate specifically to the struggles the profession has been going through. I remembered times towards the end of my career at GPD where numerous strangers would provide food to the department and how that small act of kindness by complete strangers lifted the spirits of the officers. I saw the impact that the food had in my department, and as a result, wanted to share that same experience with other departments along my trip. I have planned to deliver food to 26 agencies along my route and all food that will be served will be from local area mom-and-pop owned restaurants that were hit hard by the pandemic.

You are planning on riding your motorcycle from Virginia and end in Seattle, Washington. That is a big trip! What you are excited about and who is going with you?

I am excited to see parts of this great country I have not seen yet, such as Mount Rushmore, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone Park and Glacier National Park. Just like my last trip, I will be going by myself. Friends of mine who I ride with would love to go but cannot take off of work for almost a month to go along for the ride. I have a great boss who has allowed me to take the time off for the trip. I am looking forward to meeting with the men and women of the departments, and hearing not only how this past year impacted them, but also sharing our collective experiences in the field and bonding over how we have a passion for helping our communities thrive.

What is the hardest part of traveling that long of a distance on a motorcycle?

Dealing with Mother Nature. I have set up my trip with a pretty tight schedule knowing that I need to be at the various law enforcement agencies at a certain time when lunch is being delivered. One severe storm could delay me from reaching the department on time and set me back on my schedule. In the event I cannot make it to a department in time for lunch, I have arranged for the food to still be delivered as planned. The second issue I have to deal with is the route I am taking will bring me into areas with a lot of big wildlife, deer, elk and moose. I would love to see them on my trip, but I just don’t want to see them at the last-minute standing in the middle of the road. When it’s moose vs motorcycle, moose wins every time!

How many miles will you be doing each day and how does one prepare for that?

Each day is different, but on average I will ride 260 to 300 miles a day. I had to take into account the time I am spending at each department into my planning. I usually don’t start riding in the morning until 8 a.m., giving wildlife time to settle down and get off the roads. I end my day before nightfall so I can get my campsite setup and have dinner. I don’t ride at night if I can help it. To prepare for the trip, I make sure my bike has been serviced and is mechanically ready for the trip.

What physical training if any do you need to do for a ride like that on a motorcycle?

No major training involved, but at the end of the day you do feel tired. Best thing to do is to allow your body to get used to it as you ride each day.

What is your #1 favorite food place to eat while traveling on motorcycle?

I have nothing against franchise restaurants, most serve great food. As my family knows I have a rule when we travel and that is we always eat at a locally owned restaurant which you cannot find anywhere else. Over the years we have discovered some amazing restaurants as a result. I will continue to seek out these local small restaurants on my trip.

What are your must-pack items when traveling on a motorcycle?

Helmet, rainsuit, first aid kit, camping gear and bourbon. Bourbon comes in handy at the end of the day when you are sitting around a fire at your campsite.

Living a 360life is all about living balanced. How do you live a 360life?

I try to maintain a balance with work, which has me inside, with getting outside to enjoy exercise, fishing and riding. One wonderful thing about traveling this trip alone is learning about myself. You can’t learn about yourself, if you do not spend time by yourself.

Share anything else you would like us to know!

A GoFundMe, Lunch for Law Enforcement, has been set up to receive donations for providing lunch for the law enforcement officers I will be visiting. 100% of the donations goes towards the purchase of food, none of the money is spent on trip expenses. Florida House Representative Chuck Clemons has been a huge supporter of my trip and introduced me to Nathan Steen. Nathan is a film student who will be helping me during the trip posting videos and pictures to a dedicated Facebook page and YouTube channel.

It was important to me that the donors had the ability to meet the men and women from the various agencies they provided lunch for and to hear their stories.

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