I am hoping to start writing more about motorcycles in the near future. I want to try and help raise awareness as much as possible about bikers and clear up some of the stereotypes out there. For this blog, I wanted to let people know about the good things bikers do for the community.
Over the last few years, I have been a part in many fundraisers as a biker. Most of the fundraisers are Poker Runs. Poker Runs are when a large group of bikers get together and ride to raise money for someone in need. It may be for a fallen biker, a child with a rare disease, or perhaps a biker’s child that has cancer. A Poker Run is a ride where each biker pays a fee for the rider and a passenger should they have one. They then go to three more stops before returning to the starting point. At each stop, they get a card. At the end of the ride, whoever has the best hand wins a prize.
Last year, a group I ride with every Wednesday night during the warmer months did a poker run for a member’s daughter. She was diagnosed with cancer and the ride was to raise money to help with medical bills. In the months leading up to the Poker Run, members of the group went to local businesses looking for donations to help raise money by entering those prizes in a silent raffle. There was also a 50/50 raffle the day of the ride. If you are unfamiliar with a 50/50 raffle, tickets are sold throughout the day. At the drawing, 50% of the money from tickets sold, goes to the fundraiser, and the person with the winning raffle ticket gets the other 50%.
After the ride was over, we met back at our usual meeting place and had dinner and a band played for us. People entered into a silent auction for the prizes that had been donated, hopeful they would be the winner. At the end of the night, the money was tallied up. The group had raised nearly $8,000 dollars for this young girl’s medical bills. It is an amazing feeling to be part of that.
Riding in a group that large takes focus and cooperation. Everyone should know the rules of riding in a group. There are guidelines and hand signals that you must know to keep everyone safe. The bikes behind the lead bike are blockers (if used). The blockers stop traffic that could come from side streets and split the pack up, keeping everyone safe. The riders behind the blockers and through the rest of the pack must ride in a staggered position. If the riders do not stagger and ride side by side, it could be dangerous. Should one of the bikes have to swerve to miss a pothole or dead animal in the road, there is a chance they could take out the rider next to them and then cause a chain reaction. Because of this, the bikers are to ride one bike on the right, and one bike just behind on the left, then one just behind that one on the right and so on and so forth.
In the back of the pack, there are a few sweepers. The job of the sweepers is to pull over with anyone in the pack should they have an engine problem. The sweeper will then assist them in getting back on the road, or calling for help. If all of these things are done correctly, the pack will be safe and no accidents will happen. Here is a chart I found with the proper hand signals for riding in groups;
Imagine this, if you will. You are in a pack of 100 motorcycles, riding to raise money for someone in need. In front of you, you see bikes for a mile. When you look in your mirror, the same thing. It is a feeling I will never forget.
I want to make the public more aware that all bikers aren’t bad guys. Sure, there are some that are. But a good portion of the bikers that participate in these events are Vietnam Veterans who risked their lives fighting for our freedom. They deserve a huge thank you for all they do for the community. If you see a Vet, please thank them for the freedoms we have today…
**Image Courtesy of Group Riding Hand Signals