There are a lot of “firsts” when you begin to ride. I certainly experienced a lot of firsts last Spring and Summer. My first group ride; first bike run; first long distance ride; first time getting caught in the rain; first night ride; first ride with a passenger; and of course, the first time having a big piece of gravel come up and blast me in the sunglasses… thank heavens it didn’t hit my pretty face (wear a face shield on your helmet, ladies). There’s also a lot that you’ll learn about the biker community in that first riding season, and what you learn will make you proud to be part of it.
In April of 2017, I participated in my first charity bike run, this was to help with medical expenses for a friend. Tony is a valued member of both the biker and local music community in my home of Youngstown, Ohio. The run started out of a local bar and skipped across town to several other locations. I parked my bike in line with the others – I should say “with all of the Harleys”… (remember ladies, it’s not about what you ride – as long as you’re riding). We had good weather that day, there was good food, live music, and lots of camaraderies around. As we started out, I found my place in line and matched my speed to that of the riders in front of me. That was about the time I heard loud pipes approaching on my left – several riders were heading to the front so that they could block traffic at the upcoming traffic light, ensuring that the pack didn’t get separated. A good time was had that day, and we succeeded in helping out a friend in the process.
In June 2017, I went on my second bike run – this one was to benefit the Fallen Firefighters Memorial. Leaving from a local bar, there were pre-ride festivities, a performance of our National Anthem from a local singer, and a prayer to send us off. More than 100 bikes participated in this destination run to a lakeside bar and grille. Firetrucks, ambulances, and other emergency responder vehicles blocked intersections along the way to let the group through – and we had a police escort. Some firetrucks along the route had American flags flying high and their ladders were raised for us to ride under. It was an awesome experience.
My best friend Theresa was my first passenger, and she was riding with me the first time I got caught in the rain. I should’ve listened when she said that we had better get moving to beat the storm. The rain started about 3 minutes into our ride home. It felt like needles hitting my face. I told her to put her head down and she refused. An extremely selfless person, she said that if I had to feel it, then so did she. There’s no one like her.
I had my first group and long distance rides with my Theresa’s family (my adopted second family) – a group of Harley’s and, if you play your cards right, Uncle Randy might bring out the Boss Hoss. They put me in the centre of the pack and kept a watchful eye on me. Later, her Aunt and Uncle gave me the best “new rider” compliment ever… they told me that I did very well and that they were impressed with the way I rode. There aren’t words to describe what it meant to me to hear that from them.
It’s all of these things that make the biker community special. Coming together as a group to support a fellow rider or their family, a charity or a worthy cause. It’s that left hand you extend to greet and show respect to an oncoming rider. It’s the bike in the front of the pack who leads and signals as to what’s up ahead, and the bike in the back that looks out for everyone and follows if you need to pull off. Ultimately, it’s looking out for and being able to rely on each other.
It’s a group of 50+ bikers in Indiana escorting a bullied 11-year old boy to his first day of school. It’s the Femme Fatales Women’s Motorcycle Club in Ohio partnering with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to raise money to purchase a sidecar so that a little girl with Epilepsy could ride with her father. It’s the Confederates Motorcycle Club in Louisiana raising money to provide underprivileged kids toys for Christmas ($30K worth of toys were distributed in 2016). Unavoidably, it’s also the mass of motorcyclists that line up at the funeral home to escort the casket of a fellow rider to their final resting place. Loyal and respectful to the end.
Ladies – you’re not just buying a bike and learning to ride. You’re becoming a part of a community of extraordinary people who do extraordinary things. You are guaranteeing yourself a riding season of fun, fellowship, and involvement in worthy causes – year after year. Taking this leap is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I’ve met many people and done many things all of which I would have likely missed out on. I’ve experienced loyalty and respect on an entirely different level. Literally “throw your fears to the wind” and get on your brooms and ride.
— Michelle Amicone
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