Monday, August 25, 2008

Can Foreclosures Kill Riding Clubs?

Over the weekend, I learned that a local riding club around here is in jeopardy of closing up. I don't have first hand knowledge on why they're falling apart, but it was explained that many of their "core" members have moved away in the past year.

It sounds like other members of the club have failed to make good on their commitment as patch holders and keep the club moving forward. Now, the two remaining founders are thinking of shutting it down and joining a motorcycle club.

Funny, where have I heard that before?

It's perhaps a non-issue if a riding club has chapters all over the USA where someone can transfer to a different chapter, but this particular club was a small, localized club.

It's really tough to find people that can step up within a club and take on a leadership role. Most people don't want to take lead in anything. Taking lead is not necessarily becoming a President or First Officer. It just means organizing an event, leading a ride, putting together a care package for a Marine, or just calling up a bunch of guys to go have a beer. Most people just wait for someone else to do something.

So when the active members of a club are forced to leave the club, it's rare to find anyone that can step up to save the club.

The root of the problem is that riding clubs require very little commitment. Even within those riding clubs that implement a prospect-based membership process, all the members still understand that there is very little hanging over their heads to keep them active.

Those of us who act as leaders in a club, riding club or motorcycle club, don't want to become babysitters. We want members to take their membership seriously. The question I ask is if they didn't plan on being an active member, then there's no need to become a member. Just come out and ride with us whenever the mood strikes you. The back patch is only for people who can make the club proud.

In the riding club I'm in now, I've been telling all of our prospects and hang arounds that the difference between joining the club versus hanging around is that members all make a commitment to make the club beneficial to everyone. If you can contribute to the overall fun and well-being, then you're welcome to wear the patch.

But in reality, people can promise to be an active member, and then be active for a short while, and slowly fade into the background. The best thing a riding club can do is foster close-friendships between its members. The friendships and good times make people want to get together, and make it a tough decision to move away.

5 comments:

  1. Well, I sort of see a club as a group the help each other out. You don't find that anymore.

    You make a good point on the leadership deal. Leaders don't want to babysit, but then there are alot of babies around and require some whip cracking. As soon as you crack a whip your a tyrant and the babies leave. It is a real balancing act. You really have to be good with people and understand them...sort of like a politian. The only way to keep a group together is to make it through some tough times together. I think if you can survive that then the club is going to become legendary.

    How many club members would pitch in to make a house payment or help with rent if one member ran into hard times? How many would mortgage their house to post bail for a member if he got into trouble? Not many. This is how some of the legendary clubs have survived through the years.

    Good thoughts.

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  2. Whoa, sorry about my spelling. I was in a hurry. lol

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  3. You have prospects and hangarounds for a *riding* club??? Why? If emulating an MC is so important to you, why not just join one and do it right?

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  4. Hey anonymous, we're not emulating an MC, but then again, we don't want to be HOG either. In any club, you're always going to have people who hang around. The reason why we have prospects is because we want to control who gets to be a member. Make sense?

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  5. You wear a back patch. You say you have hangarounds and prospects. Your RC is emulating an MC. I've belonged to both, so I know what I'm talking about.

    You're playing a risky game with that, especially in SoCal. Check this link if you're interested in learning about MC culture and why pretending to be an MC is a bad idea: http://forums.delphiforums.com/MC101/start

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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...)