Summer is just around the bend, and motorcyclists are out and about enjoying the sunshine and pleasant riding weather. Along with a leisurely ride, many motorcyclists are finding ways to help those in need.
Fred Woak of Niles, better known as local radio personality Fast Freddie of WNCD 93.3 FM The Wolf, is a motorcycle enthusiast and said that motorcycling is huge in the Mahoning and Trumbull areas.
"Our area is huge for motorcycle activity," he said. "It's bigger than a lot of places. Sometimes there are four or five poker runs every weekend, and this goes for biker nights and rides to Conneaut Lake Park and Geneva-on-the-Lake. The people that go out in the community for charitable causes make the experience worthwhile."
Photo special to the Tribune Chronicle
A previous Bike Night at Quaker Steak and Lube in Sharon is shown above and below. During the spring and summer months, many local motorcycle enthusiasts take their bikes out for charity, participating in poker runs and other benefit motorcycle runs.
Mike Swartz, president of the Warren chapter of the V-Twin Cruisers Motorcycle Club, said that the idea of motorcycle runs is to help the community.
"It's usually our way to give back to the community," he said. "We do a run supporting the troops every year."
Swartz said that some of the other benefit runs the V-Twin Cruisers have done include the Naughty Nurses, which is a breast cancer benefit run, the Fallen Riders Memorial Fund, the annual Run for Santa and the Warren Family Mission Toy Run.
Upcoming runs and events
Warren Harley-Davidson H.O.G. Chapter events (open to the public)
American Legion Riders Howland Chapter 700 Legacy Run
Location: Registration is from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Starbucks on state Route 46 in Howland.
Bikes leave at noon and the run concludes at Leon's Bar, state Route 46 in Howland.
ABATE of Ohio Inc., Region Zero events
Not "Just" Another Damn Run
Date: July 16
Location: The Bristol Inn, located at the corner of state Routes 45 and 88, Bristolville. For more information, call Ron Blanton 330-272-2265.
ABATE of Ohio Inc. Region Zero Hog Roast
Location: Pooch's, state Route 88, Cortland. For more information, call Tammy at 330-638-1969, 330-272-2038 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Children's Miracle Network third annual Fun Ride and Poker Run
Location:?The ride and poker run starts at Bike Town, 5700 Interstate Blvd. in Austintown. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. and the first motorcycles goes out at noon. For more information, call 330-385-5035 or 330-708-1363.
West Side Cats first Poker Run and Bike Show
Location:?The poker run starts at the Covelli Centre, 229 E. Front St. in Youngstown. Registration starts at 10 a.m., the first bike goes out at 11 a.m., and the last bike goes out by noon. The ride ends with a bike show. For more information, call 330-792-4228 or visit www.westsidecats.com.
Western Reserve Fish and Game Shooters and Scooters Run
Location:?The poker run starts at Western Reserve Fish and Game, 1058 W. 3rd St. in Niles. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the motorcycles go out at 11 a.m.
For more information, call 330-647-2763 or visit www.wrfga.com.
"We give motorcycle runs to help those who are having a hard time," Swartz said. "We enjoy the benefit and freedom of our country, and it's our way to pay back."
"The biker community is always ready to help the area," said Fast Freddie. "We do motorcycle runs to help out the community. This includes helping residents pay for medical expenses, funeral expenses, helping the fire department get new equipment, helping the police department get a canine, helping someone buy a tombstone, and also helping animal charities."
Pamela Schaffer, service manager at Warren Harley-Davidson in Cortland, said a lot of work goes into planning motorcycle runs, something she knows from experience. Every year, Warren Harley-Davidson puts together a poker run, called the Metz Memorial Run, in memory of Schaffer's father, Bill Metzenroth, who passed away in December of 2005. Schaffer said her father was a motorcycle enthusiast all of his life.
"This year is the seventh annual Metz Memorial Run, and this will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Over the past few years, we've raised over $10,000 dollars for the Make-A-Wish Foundation," Schaffer said.
Schaffer said that the poker runs are popular events. She said that it's like the game of poker, but involving motorcycles for a good cause.
"We have five stops, and it's a route with predetermined routes," she explained. "Riders will draw a card in a sealed envelope. They will follow the route and pick up five cards. When they get back to where the poker run ends, they go to the registration table and open the envelope with the card inside. Riders compete against each other with who has the best poker hand."
Schaffer said the winner of the poker run will win a plaque or prize. She said that these events require extensive planning.
"We have to lay things out in preparation for the poker runs," Schaffer said. "If we sell T-shirts, they have to be designed and ordered. We have to have people work the stop and the registration table. Most people expect to have food at the event, so we have to plan for food. We also provide entertainment for the event with a disc jockey."
"When planning a motorcycle run, it's important to plan the routes and to see how traffic is going to flow," Fast Freddie said. "It's always important to plan a scenic route, where it will be fun and to make sure there will be no traffic trouble. It's also beneficial to make sure the area bars around the motorcycle routes have enough drinks and food to serve everyone. It's also important to find sponsors for the event."
Knowing the unpredictable ways of northeastern Ohio's notorious weather patterns, weather is important to keep in mind when planning any outdoor event.
"We might have a motorcycle run all planned out and then it rains," Fast Freddie said. "It's always important to keep in mind the weather."
Many motorcycle clubs have a particular cause or charity that they support.
Jess "Hercules" Matheson of Cortland, state president of the Second Brigade Motorcycle Club, said that the Second Brigade is all about helping out veterans in the community. The Second Brigade has successfully helped veterans get their lives back together after traumatic experiences at war.
"We support veterans' causes," he said. "Every motorcycle club has their own cause they want to help out. Some motorcycle clubs do benefits for the homeless, and we help out the vets. The money we collect from motorcycle runs and benefits have gone towards veteran needs such as paying to install wheelchair ramps or helping them pay bills."
"The biker community is very patriotic and big on benefiting veteran causes and helping out the servicemen," Fast Freddie said.
"It's gone a long way from how people stereotyped bikers in the past," Swartz said. "A lot of guys in my group are businessmen."