There is a season of charity events on the biker calendar here in New Zealand, and it constantly amazes me how many of these there are in such a short period of time. Pretty much the whole of spring, and early summer, there is event after event.
Fat Bikers, SSR, Kinsmen, Brootherhood, BRONZ, all have events that are pretty much one straight after the other.
The term ‘big arses and even bigger hearts’ comes to mind when I ponder this part of the year.
These scruffy looking hoodlums in scuffed leathers and stained denims, badges and patches signifying rallies and events attended flapping in the breeze, just give and give, all going back to the very communities that they live in.
I mean look at the last 3 months alone.
Starting with the Blue September ride, then the Pink Ribbon, and then we had a ride for a friend called the ‘Little Pink ride’ (Hayley has a barely understood bone disease, we helped her get overseas for a trial treatment type gig) through to the SSR ride for wee Che, a boy with a very rare form of cancer. Then there is the Kinsman’s poker run coming up, the White Ribbon ride just passed through, and on the near horizon is the ‘not a Toy Run’ run with the Brootherhood, and the BRONZ SPCA charity ride…. phew!
And those are just the ones we have direct interaction with! There are many more events I have not been able to attend, or are too far away, or are with clubs I do not follow.
This year, the same as last year, we have a house guest who will also be attending the SPCA ride.
Mel Fox from BRONZ Taranaki has a new bike to take for a run so he is coming to ride the Wellington event with us. This is good news, as it means we can take young miss 14 (going on 40) with us to the run as Mel’s pillion.
His new Boulevard 800 will be a nice change of pace for her. Then again, she will probably bail over to Byron’s Nightrod if his pillion seat is empty… after all it’s a Harley! (She is so image conscious, a mere Suzuki or Ducati will not do if a Harley is spare.)
It’s a bitter sweet event this year though, and unfortunately a memorial one.
About 4 years ago, BRONZ Wellington was re-born anew after years of inactivity. As our previous event the Toy Run was now run by other clubs we decided we would support the local SPCA, especially as they get overwhelmed in the holiday period.
On the same day nationwide, all the other BRONZ groups in New Zealand have a Toy Run. It is a day we all recognise as the ‘unofficial BRONZ Day’ when all our regions do their annual community service together.
Last year, tragedy struck the New Plymouth BRONZ group when a van travelling the other direction crossed the centre line and collided with several of the bikes as they passed through an intersection with a bad reputation for horrific accidents.
The scene was described by witnesses as a war zone.
The ride continued on to its final destination in respect of the fallen riders. Tragically the convoy was now short several bikes, 2 of the riders, were tragically never to rise and start their bikes again.
It is little comfort that they died doing what they love, and less that it was quick. It should never have happened at all.
While BRONZ regions are secular, we all make up a larger body called the BRONZ Federation, every member of BRONZ throughout New Zealand felt the pain of this tragic incident.
As also I am sure did all regular attendee’s of these rides, we all thought to ourselves how hard we work to avoid this very scenario and how it could have been me…
I can only imagine what the families went through.
RIP Kelly Reardon, and Gordon McKay.
You are both close to our hearts as the 1st anniversary of the event approaches.
Our thoughts drift to your families and loved ones as the anniversary approaches. Kia kaha. They will not be forgotten.
Which is part of the reason why we at BRONZ Wellington have detailed pre-ride safety briefings, engage with local road management teams, inform emergency services we have a ride on, and engage practised Ride Martials with communication gear to shepherd our event along its 130 odd kilometre route as safely as we possibly can.
If you create an event like this with potentially hundreds of bikes in one group ride, you need to get everyone into the same mind set.
With the gathering of so many big arses and even bigger hearts comes a responsibility to them to ensure we the hosts have done all in our power to make the event safe, legal, and worthy of the generosity and energy the biker community gives.
And they, the riders, give their all expecting very little in return.
What we do expect is, that as we pass with a large group, the cagers give us room, do not push into the pack of bikes, and stay on their side of the white line.
This is all we ask when on a run, and you know, that run may be one supporting little Johnny, or wee Che, or your sister, cousin, mother.
Stay shiny side up out there this summer. And don’t forget for every leather clad Neanderthal passing you on the highway, there a big arse and an even bigger heart atop that chunk of steel and chrome.