Saturday, April 5, 2008

Riding Clubs That Push Boundaries

bad ass bikersA year and a half ago, I published an article entitled, "Got My Ass Kicked Out of Star", which described a web forum of folks who used to be members of Yamaha's sanctioned riding club, "Star Touring and Riding". For one reason or another, these folks left Star Touring, or got kicked out, and now congregate on GMAKOOS to compare their thoughts.

Just today, that article received a comment from someone who said they've seen some active Star Touring members pushing the limits of their riding club...

Recently have seen on more than one occaision Star folks wearing their bottom rocker well off their logo patch, making it almost looks like a hmmmm, territory claim. I guess the days of Riding Clubs flying under the real deal are over. The new, "I'll wear what I want when I want" mentality seems to be rapant.

Someone suggested bringing differences to the CoC. LAMO, well, I imagine we get to many groups of Riding Club folks wearing territory rockers thats exactly where their officers will end up. Explaining to the CoC why the little fish decided to come swim in the big fish pond.
I can't vouch for this, since I don't really ride with Star Touring, and while I do see them riding around from time to time, I don't pay much attention. However, I can agree that riding clubs today continue to evolve, and in some cases, blur the lines between what separates them from motorcycle clubs. I can also say that some motorcycle clubs are perhaps better defined as riding clubs. So, it's mutual.

In some states, the COC include riding clubs into their membership. Here in Southern California, the local COC doesn't (at least as far as I am aware).

But as long as some riding clubs continue to take this "It's a free country, I can do whatever I want attitude", I fear that the COC will eventually take action, and force riding clubs to rethink their memberships and organizational structures.

Riding clubs here in Southern California can pretty much exist without any concern for the COC. It would be prudent however, to partake in COC sanctioned runs and events, be active in ABATE, support charitable causes, and generally do what you can to give bikers from all walks of life a good image.

Creating this "good image" is largely what riding clubs give back to the motorcycle world. The general public doesn't really know the difference between riding clubs and motorcycle clubs. So when they see riding clubs as normal people, enjoying comraderie, being considerate of others, and supporting charitable causes, it gives motorcycle clubs a better image.

But those members of riding clubs who don't understand this, end up pushing the boundaries. And as long as it goes unchecked, it gets worse and worse. They simply don't understand the decades of bikers who paid the price with their own life and blood to create the stereotype that these RUBs and posers now delight in as role play.

If they continue to show disrespect to motorcycle clubs, or continue to cross the line, someone, somewhere, is going to have enough, and will take it upon themselves to educate in a rather uncomfortable way.

The leaders of riding clubs generally do understand these dynamics, the problem is that some of these clubs have "open memberships", where anyone can join without qualification. All they have to do is fill out a form, or pay a membership fee. Within seconds they become full-fledged, patchholding members, representing their club and fellow members.

A riding club like that, with tens of thousands of members, simply CANNOT control their members. They don't have the discipline. That's where the problem starts. You get some idiots wearing the patch of their riding club, acting foolish and disrespectful of motorcycle clubs. Or in the case of the above commenter, altered their patch to make it look like a territorial rocker, and infringed on the territory of another MC. That's why I left the large riding clubs and stuck with the small ones; I don't want to share a patch with someone I don't know.

My senses tell me that this is going to get worse before it gets any better.

In America, you certainly do have the right to do whatever you want. However, the motorcycle community is not like the square-dance community, or the scrapbooking community, or even the model airplane community. There's a method to the madness, and you have to pay your dues if you want to play.

10 comments:

  1. Brotherhood isn't bought, Brotherhood is not a weekend thing. It is something that a person earns through demonstrating who they are to a group.

    One of the things people in riding clubs need to remember is this. In an MC, there is brotherhood and total committment, You hang around along time and then prospect, and only when voted in do you get a patch. It's not about motorcycles, Riding motorcycles just happens to be what an MC does together, it is all about brotherhood and committment and the bond between them. It doesn't matter how cool your bike is how how much flash or how crazy you ride, it's all about how you fit in with the unit.

    Getting together for a weekend ride to starbucks a couple towns over isn't even close. A 100 mile ride to a restaurant.....nope, not brotherhood, it's a ride.

    Why do grown people want to pretend. Pretend and make believe is the realm of children. I have several small daughters, both under 10 who love to play "dress up". Why try to look like something you are not, and yet, hold yourself separate from them?

    And for those who say, "we can wear what we want, where we want, when we want", sure, you can, anyone can do anything in this life, if they are willing to pay the price of their actions.

    Wise man once told me, the patch does not make the man, he is the same man with or without the patch. The patch is just a symbol that a group of like minded and committed individuals have accepted that person into their fold. He was a man before he got the patch, that is why he got it. He got it with sweat and blood and effort and committment and being there when his brothers needed him.

    He sure the hell didn't get it for 36 dollars on the internet.

    The difference between MC and RC? Never met a riding club member who would defend his patch and brothers to the death.

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    1. I was an MC member and i know full patchers who wouldnt defend thier patch or brothers wearing them. Some are givin just to freely these days......smh

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  2. I know many people who would lay it all down for their friends in the Brotherhood of their choice whether it is a MC, or as you put it RC, or just hanging out together. .
    I have gone to bat for many people in my life, biker, or otherwise, I have been riding for 37 years, mostly Harleys, I have seen many people have their attitude adjusted in that time, funny thing I haven’t had to have my attitude adjusted because I understand my limits, and respect what others have subscribed to in life, whether they ride a motorcycle or not.
    I lived in New York (Da Bronx), and trust me there a lot of people who could care less about a patch, any patch they would turn you for anything and a patch will not stop them as a matter of fact a patch makes you a target in many neighborhoods (Hoods), but disrespect was the quickest way to earn a beating. Again if you know your limits and understand respect you will probably fare well, no guaranties.
    I belong to STAR, our chapter and many of the chapters we associate with do a lot of good for different charities. Our membership gives us visibility. We wear our patches the way they are meant to be worn, we claim no territory. The location on the bottom rocker is meant to signify where we are from to other chapters and nothing more. To make more of the STAR bottom rocker then that is an injustice to a lot of people with good intentions for the most part. Our membership gives us visibility. I can’t speak for other chapters, or their members, but I know I put down roughly 20K+ miles a year on a motorcycle, and many of the other members do the same thing, or more, and yes many don’t they do the 100 mile lunch run and what’s wrong with that. I suppose it is better than BAR hopping. I have meet other STAR members in NC, VA, PA, TN, VM, CT, NH, RI, CT, MA, and Canada, and I haven’t run up against what has been described here about STAR members. Other then the fact STAR member’s ride motorcycles they are harmless to others. Beating the life out of a STAR member would be much like beating any good natured person for no good reason, it would be wrong.
    Your right about the patch does not make the man, you have to be a man first. I believe that Brotherhood should be about helping each other and if you’re not man enough to understand that then you can not belong to any brotherhood, MC, RC, or otherwise.
    Dictionary definition;
    Brotherhood “1 : the quality or state of being brothers 2 : FELLOWSHIP , ALLIANCE 3 : an association (as a labor union or monastic society) for a particular purpose 4 : the whole body of persons engaged in a business or profession”.
    What many don’t get is the difference between 1%’ers, and 99%’ers. Yes if you are posing at anything in life someone will take you down a peg for it, and it doesn’t have to have motorcycles in the equation.
    Even many clubs that are 1%’ers say they have their wild ones and that they stand behind them as any Brotherhood should, but they are in a motorcycle club and what they belong to is just that a motorcycle club. I have no illusions about this, I understand what they mean, and respect the power in their words.
    You mentioned an old bike who had taught you about the meaning of patches and manhood, well I was taught on the streets of New York, you don’t F#CK ME I WON’T F#CK WITH YOU, YOU F#CK WITH ME I WILL KILL YOU. That is a pretty strong statement, but if you can understand it you will do all right with most people. I have traveled many places in this great country and run into many people who in the right wrong circumstances could have hurt, or killed me, patch holders, or not, but again I knew my place and understand respect, not cowardness, respect.
    As for your comments about dress up, that is a matter of perspective, many Police officers would say all bikers (motorcyclist) are playing dress up, and that the Police are the biggest club/gang in the USA/World. They have weapons, motorcycles, aircraft, boats, communications…etc. I know many will say if you took their badges away from them what would they be? Well what would someone be if their patch/badge was taken from them? There are plenty of examples on both sides of that table; they would be people with no brotherhood, exiles doomed to the wrath of their former Brotherhood.
    If you knew/know of members of STAR that were acting improperly by wearing the bottom rocker not as it is/was suppose to be displayed by being flush with the club patch you could/can say something about it or contacted STAR though the website. Granted you have a point about the selection of members is liberal, but our chapter has told people who didn’t fit they were not welcome. No one is looking for trouble, and backing down from it is any individual’s choice, I for one would not if I saw a friend being wronged whether they are in a club or not, rode a motorcycle or not.
    Yea it is about Brotherhood and many don’t get it when they are with STAR, or any other organization, and we live our life’s as we choose and it just happens we ride motorcycles also, so what is wrong with that. There are too many people trying to take what we hold dear to us every day so let’s not make a target out of some people just trying to get through another day some they can go home to the ones they love, and enjoy what comfort they find in any Brotherhood.
    Most of the members of our chapter are Veterans’, many combat Veteran’s at that, we understand respect; we live it every day of our lives though trying to help others.
    Why paint a group of people with a bad image when for the most part they are just trying to enjoy life, have a little fun, and help others.

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  3. Yes, most motorcycle groups are just out to enjoy nature at it's best. Not all want to cause trouble. But you have admit that there is the gangs that do.

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  4. Earned patch, fee bought patch, HD, Metric, same ol' antiquated thinking again.

    I respect the RIDER over the ride or patches. If the guy/gal is an asshole; Aggressive, violent; you know, kind of person that wants to stick you, involved in shady business around me and mine, attracts trouble into my circle, can't enjoy a good and civil time with others, so on and so on. I refuse to ride with this person, much less lay down my life for this jerk. Get away!!!!There are more evolved, good people I'd rather ride with or die for. I made my stand and I will live and die by it.

    Furthermore who gives a hell if people want to play dress up! Why should they 'Pay the price of their actions'.Unless they're doing you physical harm. If you have a problem with them and wanna beat them up (and involve 3 or more of yer friends), you've got the bigger problem to deal with. They may live in an imaginary world, but that really doesn't harm anybody. You, on the other hand, want them to pay for it, or think they are going to pay for it. Why should they? I think the people you think are going to take care of this 'imaginary'life by invading his/her real life is the real problem that needs to be addressed here. LIFE, say it with me...REAL LIFE..respect that!

    Real bikers vs wannabees:
    It's been watered down already. Vets we're the real bikers from the beginning. All that left over testosterone and Adrenaline from being in those horrific, scary, fear laden war zones, laying down their life for their buddies. Sound familiar? Coming back to a society and finding that...well it wasn't suited for the state of mind they developed in the military and fighting a war. They are Soldiers, Warriors! After all that life could not meet the needs of these warriors. They had to once again re-adjust,re-acclimate to the surrounding....or did they? Instead they became the real, original Bikers. I salute you vets.

    In the year of'62, I used to watch, the already being watered down, biker, chopper rider. Thought it was the coolest thing. I knew that's what I wanted to do, wanted to be. Ha! There's the word again, 'Wannabe'. Do ya got a problem with me wanting to ride a motorcycle yet? For about 40 years now. How 'bout this...I do yoga so I could ride as long as possible into my old age and I'm already a senior citizen. Does that bug you a bit too?

    Your imaginary world doesn't seem to like their imaginary world...my aberrations hates your aberrations.. The thing you hate about them resides in you. 'I am he as you are he and we are all together', sung by John Lennon. Aren't we all just a bunch of lunatics? Nothing new under the sun. Same ol' thing.

    As Jim Morrison sang, Break on through to the other side. We're all having some fun while on this earth. I for one like to see happy people. Wannabe (like me) or not.

    Go for ride it should make you feel better.

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  5. Brother hood in a motorcycle club I believe it means once that set of rags is thrown on your back, that now your not only representing what you believe in but your standing ground for what you and your brothers and your club stand for, and once that first set of rags is thrown on your back there will be no one that will take them off with out a fight!

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  6. I believe that there is more to motorcycle riding clubs than just a group of people who have the passion for motorcycling. I believe also that a good riding club must a members with commitment, camaraderie and good relationship with each other.

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  7. This was a good read. I am in a women's RC. We do know the difference and enjoy being in a RC. I would like to say that we have "hang around" periods before the "probationary period" begins. We do earn our patches. When we put our leg over that bike, we all take the same risks no matter what.

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  8. We all love riding...cant we all share the road?

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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...)