I was a new rider and the butterflies were bouncing around in my stomach. We were getting ready for a group ride, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Everyone else seemed to be so confident. Laughing and joking with each other, easy and comfortable with their bikes and gear.
Vicki Chase, motioned for me to come over to her vehicle. When I approached her truck she was smiling and holding a pair of leather gloves. She’d noticed that I hadn’t gotten a pair of leather gloves yet and thought that I could use a pair of hers. They had been hers when she had begun riding.
I took the gloves, a smile growing on my face. With that one small gesture, the butterflies started to settle down. As I looked at the like-new gloves, my mind focused on the fact that every person here had once started as a new rider, unsure and nervous. As I looked up into Vicki’s face, and the faces of the other riders, I understood that it didn’t matter how long I had been riding, or what I rode. I was welcomed here. I started to understand the close-knit community that I was becoming a part of. It wouldn’t take long before I started calling them by another name: family.
Joined by the Love of the Ride
One of the key elements of the founding of the Southern Cruisers Riding Club (SCRC) was that it didn’t matter what type of bike you rode. What mattered was: do you love to ride, and do you love to ride with other people and have fun?
In today’s world it is too easy to fall into tribalism or elitism (you have to have this much money, you have to have this expensive car, you have to wear super-fancy gear, and so on), intimidating new people and creating an air of competition instead of cooperation. Yet, for most motorcyclists, we are joined by nothing more than one simple fact: do you ride?
It doesn’t matter if your ride is new or old, slow or fast, or even has three wheels! If you know the feel of the air in your face, the sound of the engine, the rhythm of the ground or pavement running under your wheels, you are a brother (or sister) no matter where or what you ride. This is proven by the fact that the SCRC has grown quickly over the past decade from its humble beginnings as a few friends getting together to ride around Memphis to having chapters all over the United States and even Canada!
Motorcyclists are family, and as a family we help each other out, like when Vicki offered me her gloves. It wasn’t just the gift of the gloves because I could have bought a pair. But these had been hers when she had started riding. It was an act of family. It was her way to start supporting me, an opening to assure me that everyone starts somewhere and that I would be okay. It was a way to break the ice and welcome me to the group. To the family.
Beyond the Ride
As a family, we care not just for the other riders in our club but other people as well. It isn’t strange to see us riding a poker run for our favorite charity, St. Jude’s. We believe so much in this charity and in giving back to the world around us. One of our greatest joys is giving back to this larger community that we live in and sharing with them our love and community. It is our way to give back, to pay forward the generosity and love that were shown to us by other riders that came before. It also allows us an opportunity to share our community with people who may not realize how family-oriented our club is.
We are all joined by the love of the ride. We are all family, and as a family support each other, on the bike or off. We laugh. We celebrate. We fall and grow and get back up together. Riding by yourself is great but being part of a family takes that fun and multiplies it exponentially. It’s said that life is better on two wheels. What’s even better is sharing that ride with all your family.