Biker friends. I left Georgetown on my Harley about two weeks ago to ride solo up to northeastern Kentucky to meet up with some friends from Chicago, the High Road Riders. Our rendezvous was Carter’s Caves in Olive Hill, Kentucky. These men are friends of mine from the five and a half years that I lived in Chicago working with World Relief as the North Regional Director.
I met these guys while attending church there and then began working as a volunteer small group leader/pastor with them. Since moving from Chicago I have maintained contact with them and every spring we have met somewhere in Kentucky for a long weekend ride together. I am really close to quite a few of them. There were five of us sharing a cabin while the whole group was approximately 45 scattered in the remaining cabins.
It took me a day and a half of riding to get there to meet them and then we rode Saturday and Sunday together. Everyone was leaving on Monday morning heading back home, except for myself and two of the guys in our cabin. John, Ken and I began another two day ride together up into southeastern Ohio on some really curvy hilly roads. These roads were just as great for riding as were the ones we rode in Kentucky and West Virginia in the previous days.
Originally my two other friends in our cabin, Terry and Cal had planned to stay and ride with us, but at the last moment things came up that required them to return back to Chicago with the larger group. John, Ken and I had a blast for the extra two days of riding we had together, even if John’s GPS did take us on a 2-mile stretch of rough gravel road that first day. Gravel roads and large Harleys are not made for each other, to put it mildly. I’m sure in time it will make a pleasant memory … just not yet.
There are lots of good memories from those days of riding with the whole group, lots of laughter and fun. We were all different; we all spoke English though some with a heavy accent. Most were from Chicago, they of course had their particular accent but there were Hispanics and one from Poland, and of course I was from the Deep South. Each was different and had many other interests in life. However there were a couple of things that bound us all together, our love for the Lord and our Harleys.
Gary was the group leader who had planned this annual men’s ride down to Kentucky. He had his immediate group of helpers with him to help plan and make sure all the activities went off as planned. A couple of guys came down in a car pulling a trailer in case a bike broke down, and they also brought other supplies. On Sunday night we had an outdoor cookout and other special activities, one of which included giving biker names to those who did not yet have one.
Biker names can be funny or serious names, but they are always based on some trait, habit circumstance around the biker. There were for example Slider, who had a habit of laying his bike down and sliding, and in fact did it on this trip too, Lazer, Jewels, Doofus, Wiz, McNalley (don’t ask) and my own name Be Rad.
More than any other purpose, biker names tend to bind bikers together in a closer friendship. I love each one of these guys. They will do anything possible to help a biker friend out, from covering their meal if short of cash to helping move furniture from one house to another. We are friends in the real sense of the word. The whole group is one. It doesn’t matter, the language, accent, color of the skin or even how educated one may or may not be. I’ve seen them head out with a trailer to pick up a fellow biker whose bike quite on him, hundreds of miles from home. One phone call and help was on the way. If one falls or has bike trouble on a group ride, he is never left alone to fend for himself. Your buddies are always there for you. You know you are never alone.
At a gas stop, somewhere in West Virginia, there was a woman who was talking with several of the bikers and she asked the question, “What gang do you belong to?” There was laughter and surprise on the woman’s face when she was told, “We are not a gang, we are a church group.”
Yes, there are misconceptions about bikers. The majority are not gangs or “Motorcycle Clubs” which are more commonly referred to as the "2 percetner‘ers." But even they have the above mentioned camaraderie.
We Americans in general are much like bikers. We think we are all different, with our backgrounds, languages, accents, skin colors, likes and dislikes. Whether we are from different parts of this country if we are citizens, we are Americans. That is what should bind us together as one. Americans. Our other differences are just our personal preferences. It doesn’t mean we all have to be identical twins. We are not. But we are Americans. And I for one am proud to be an American.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12:6 (NIV) “There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” Each of us has our own work to do. We are all different, none are identical. This means that no one is better than another, just different. Just like bikers stick together because they are bikers, what should unite us together more than anything else is the fact that we all are Americans!
Brad Morris, a retired minister originally from Georgetown, served as a pastor and then as a missionary in Costa Rica and Ecuador. Reach him at email@example.com.