Motorcycle riders can be found in all professions

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The Independent Thursday, July 17, 2003
Motorcycle riders can be found in all professions

National Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Day inspires breakfast gathering in Grand Island

Hall County Judge David Bush and about 30 of his motorcycling friends gathered Wednesday morning for breakfast to kick off National Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Day. Bush sent e-mails, made phone calls and posted notes to gather the group that included city employees, police officers, a dentist, a doctor and retailers for the 7 a.m. meal at Perkins Restaurant.

The purpose of the national event is to raise public awareness about the people who ride motorcycles, he said. Bush, who has been riding since high school, joked with the other bikers about who was going to pay for breakfast as they sat and talked about motorcycles and trips they've taken on them.

Dentist Les Bowden, who has been riding for eight years, sat with the judge and swapped stories with the others about trips they've to Sturgis, S.D., and Milwaukee. "I enjoy being with other guys who ride bikes," he said. Don Meyer, to whom Bush referred as the "dean of motorcycles," attended the breakfast with his son and two friends.

He said he doesn't ride as much as he'd like to because work gets in the way -- he has owned a heating, air conditioning and electric service business for about 50 years. Meyer said he has been riding for 45 years and hundreds of thousands of miles, and attended the rally in Sturgis for 37 years in a row. He doesn't have any plans to attend this year, but that could still change. His first trip to Sturgis was in 1965 when the bikes took up two blocks and were only parked against the curbs. Now "they take up the whole Black Hills," he said.

One of the four women who rode to the breakfast is planning a big trip this summer. Carole Evans was leaving with a companion on Wednesday and heading to the East Coast. They hoped to see the sights in

New York City and Washington, D.C. Evans started as a passenger, but has been riding on her own for 11 years. During that time she has traveled to Milwaukee, Atlanta, Arizona, Tennessee, and South Carolina, among other places. Evans, a bookkeeper at Tommy's Restaurant, enjoys the freedom and "shock value of a woman on a big bike." She said her 1997 Harley-Davidson is a good conversation piece and she believes National Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Day is important because it shows others that not all bikers are outlaws."People from all walks of life ride," she said.

Those bikers include City Clerk RaNae Edwards, who started riding her Honda Shadow four years ago when her husband bought a Harley."I'll never ride behind anyone again," she said. She joked that she attended the breakfast "because the judge said to." Wednesday was her first time to ride her motorcycle to work and she was looking forward to the reactions of her co-workers. She and her husband, Grand Island police Sgt. Bud Edwards, are planning to ride to Sturgis on Aug. 7 this year, a trip she has taken annually since 2000. "It's just amazing," she said. After the rally, the couple will ride through the Black Hills. "I don't get as tired when I ride like I do in a car," she said. "There are smells and sights that help. It's a lot more intense." Although he was on vacation, Grand Island police investigator John Gericke came to Wednesday's breakfast. He said he should be at a Blue Knights gathering in Virginia Beach, Va., but instead decided to spend his days off at home.

The Blue Knights are an international law enforcement motorcycle club. For every 10 law enforcement agents, one person without arresting powers can be invited to join, he said. The club's meetings have all been held in the United States and Canada, but Gericke expects that to change as more people from Europe and Australia join. Gericke, who has been riding for 40 years, has taken a trip on his motorcycle with his wife, Pat, since 1985. Pat Gericke rides her own bike, except when extensive interstate travel or city traffic is on the agenda. The couple said Wednesday's breakfast was a first, but they expect it will become an annual gathering from now on.

© 2002, American Motorcyclist Association