Monday, January 21, 2008

Why Join a Club?

In 2004 I joined the Southern Cruisers Riding Club, after discovering there was a chapter close to my home town. I wanted to find friends to ride with, and I figured I would find them in the SCRC.

I didn't really know much about the SCRC, aside from looking at some of their chapter photos and web forum. But it looked like a place where I could find friends.

I stuck with it for a few months, and then learned that the SCRC was a very large organization, with the reputation of being an "all-embracing" club. People talked of it as the "bottom rung" of clubs, where anyone could become a member without having to demonstrate their riding skills, or proving their value to the club. Anyone could come in off the street and become a full-fledged member by submitting a web form, and buying their patch online. Membership didn't give me much sense of accomplishment.

Not long after, some former members of the SCRC formed a new riding club, one that was much more exclusive, and more difficult to become a member of. They invited me into it. So I joined them, and became a charter member.

I stayed with that club up until August of 2007. By that time, I was a founding member. A couple of us founders did our best to create a reputation of riding often, riding hard and fast, and always riding together. A couple other founders tried to create a reputation of being partiers and swingers. The club was struggling to define itself, and it started taking on a new reputation, that of being troubled and full of turmoil.

I quit the club, and about 3/4 of the club's membership either quit with me, or became inactive in the club, and now we ride together as friends.

And now we're talking about starting a new club.

What a club basically does, either as a riding club, or motorcycle club, is associate you with a reputation. In short, it helps define who you are. It's like being a Republican or Democrat; most of us have political and social philosophies, but it helps others to understand where you're coming from if you tell them you're a Republican.

That's what a club does for you.

In truth, no one needs to join a club to enjoy motorcycle riding, and you don't need a club to find friends to ride with. But you join a club because you like the idea of being part of an organization that stands for something special.

Ideally, you want your club to be known for good things. If you're in a riding club, you want to be known as skilled riders, who ride often, and ride hard and fast, and are part of something exclusive. That's the reputation we're now trying to build.

Imagine yourself being in a very exclusive riding club, where each of you are skilled riders, who ride everywhere, all the time. When you guys pull into a bar, you want the people to recognize your patch and say, "I've heard of those guys before, I hear they're really skilled riders, and you gotta be really good to get in." You want that reputation to precede you.

So think about some of the clubs you're familiar with, be it riding clubs or motorcycle clubs. What are the thoughts and feelings that first come to mind when you see one of these clubs pull into the same bar that you're at? That feeling you feel, whether it is good or bad, is exactly what these clubs are trying to create.

4 comments:

  1. Steve, I'm actively involved with HOG which is considered a "social club" rather than an "MC". I think different HOg chapters have different personalities. My chapter seems to just ride together. Other chapters take the club thing a little further, perhaps they party together. When you mention a club, does HOG count as a club to you? Can you explain what an MC is? I want to use and understand the term "club" correcly.

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  2. Road Captain, read my previous article, "Clubs that are not Clubs", where I talk about this further...

    http://www.bikernewsonline.com/2007/07/clubs-that-are-not-clubs.htm

    Years ago riding clubs and motorcycle clubs were quite different. But today, they're pretty much the same thing. I know some riding clubs that are pretty much motorcycle clubs, and I know some motorcycle clubs that are better off as riding clubs. The lines have pretty much blurred.

    But generally, riding clubs put an emphasis on riding, while motorcycle clubs put an emphasis on the social aspects of being together.

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  3. I read the post. I'm not saying I agree with your definitions but a great post that started a great string of comments.

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  4. I think "social club" is where it gets blurred. A social club should be a non-patch club. Less confusion. A riding club should be a single patch wearing club with no rockers and be affiliated with the AMA. After this it gets complicated. When you decide to be a rocker wearing patch club. You have pretty much made a commitment to something more serious than just a club of friends who are proud to ride together. A serious riding club can certainly be exclusive and serious about cameraderie but they will most likely never be involved in violence or criminal activity of any nature. they just want a patch to show they are part of a team. That is not true of most MC's especially those that are dominants or 1% clubs. They are much more serious and should be respected for such at all times. They will defend each other to death. Education is everything. You can accept this or not. It really makes no difference. The fact is that most 1% MC are hard working regular joes. They get enough bad press and go out of their way to avoid more. That being said. If you mess with them get ready! It is best to keep your distance and remain respectful. The fact is, SO WILL THEY! They do not care about some family oriented one piece patch club running around with their friends having fun because those kind of clubs bring a positive outlook to the motorcycle world. Riding clubs are very often involved in countless charity events and this is good for all riders in any club. It provides a positive image for all. they do care if you become some arrogant jerk and try to play tuff guy and cause problems. That is bad for all clubs. When your a riding club with a one piece patch. You are already telling the hardcore MC's that youre about respect. You are letting them know that you are no threat and are not looking for any trouble. I have never had problems with any 1% club. But I have always respected them and remained truthful with them. You also do this with your actions. But before you decide if your going to be a tarditional MC with rockers or just a riding club with a single one piece patch. I suggest you get an education before you get yourself into trouble. In any motorcycle club where a patch is worn. Even if it is a riding club with a single one piece patch as opposed to an MC with rockers. The significance of the patch can not be understated. The reason being is that the individual that has attained their patch has done so much more than just meet the requirements of earning the patch. They have by their actions, proved that they are dedicated to the club's members, it's paticular philosophy and that they are proud to be a part of it. They are showing by wearing their patch that they are committed and they understand that the patch is the outer symbol of the camaraderie felt within. It is much like a team uniform and shows that the individual cares enough to be part of the team. By wearing the patch they show that they are proud of their team. This is one of the many reasons behind the passion of a club patch and it is something to be proud of. Regardless of which club or what type of club. When I put my club patch on it is a feeling of pride and of belonging to a group of friends that all care about the whole. For this reason and others, you will very rarely find me not wearing my patch. I am in a riding club not an MC. But I am very proud of my club none the less.

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About Steve

San Diego, CA-based motorcycle rider who likes long road trips, old rustic bars, craft beer, and tough women. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, writing about the mysteries of life. (Read more...)