Bikers are a funny bunch.
Whether your ride is a Harley Davidson, Ducati, Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha, some classic or even custom chopper job its amazing when you stop, take a step back and actually look at the riders themselves. I mean aside from all the stuff thats been written time and again about coming from different backgrounds, professions or even ethnicities, I'd like to think that we all consider ourselves as part of the same big family. There's the common bond of riding that gives room for conversation at a traffic light, rest stops or even if we catch each other at the store that wouldn't have been there if we'd met in any other circumstances.
But just as we see ourselves as one scattered and distantly related family, the non-riding public groups all bikers as one tight knit group with the actions of one reflecting on the whole.
This was apparent as I read about two unrelated police raids on motorcycle clubs in different parts of the country. The first one that made the news and caught my eye was reported by WKYT in Tennessee where the police raided Satans Motorcycle Club in Konx County which resulted in six arrests, a call to social services and charges of bootlegging, drug possession and endangering the welfare of a minor.
Then just minutes ago I read about the second unrelated raid which happened in New Brunswick, Canada and was featured on Brandon Online's news website. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (insert related and obvious jokes here) arrested three men after two raids in southeastern New Brunswick, one at the clubhouse of the Bacchus Motorcycle Club and the other at a house. Although charges won't be filed until early next week the RCMP seized a number of firearms, including two handguns and several rifles, along with a quantity of drugs.
I'm the first to admit that with a name like Satan's Motorcycle Club you're bound to catch unwanted attention of law enforcement officials, but still a non-riding reader of either of these publications could possibly, if not purposefully look at the next biker they meet with a little concern.
Even though there's a bad element in every crowd, we as bikers should make an effort to leave a good impression with non-riders in every little way we can. Politeness never hurt anyone and last time I looked it was free. Consideration of conversation topics and language should take into account whoever's within earshot of our group of riders. I know this all sounds like the Political Correctness everyone hates to follow during work hours, but can you imagine that older lady telling all her friends how this daunting looking leather-clad biker held the door open for her at the cafe this morning after breakfast?
Don't get me wrong, I think bikers do so much good for the community and thankfully the different chapters and organizations such as ABATE are always quick to have any charitable events make the papers. Not three headlines down from the Canadian raid was a news story about the Nashville chapter of Ruff Ryders fundraiser organized to raise money for the American Red Cross to benefit Hurricane Katrina survivors.
The Tenessean reported that about a 100 motorcycles 'flooded a parking lot near Watkins College of Art & Design for several hours. Clad in their bike club uniforms, mostly black leather jackets with embroidered logos, the riders gathered to dance, eat and hang out.'
I've had the chance to write about many other fundraising efforts benefitting everything from disasters, awareness of 9-11 victims and even raising money for supplies to be given to local schools. Right now up and down the country Toy Runs are being organized that will feature literally hundreds of riders in each event for those less fortunate children during the holidays.
But we all know that the negative stuff sticks in peoples minds and the difference in a persons perception of bikers can hang on whether or not you hold that door open for a few seconds and let the mother with the overloaded pram and crying kids in tow get into the book store that much easier.
Just a thought.