Throttle Jockey: Rites (and rides) of Spring

I talked last week about getting your bike and your body ready for the riding season. In places that aren’t sunny and warm year ’round, it takes a bit to get your bike back in gear and your riding mojo back in sync. I hope it’s going well.

One way to find an excuse to get your gear on and check the tires is the “spring opener,” a ride organized by you, your buddies or a local club. Here in Portland, we’re fortunate to have two major spring opener rides each year, both put on by local organizations.

This past weekend, Portland’s Flying 15 Motorcycle Club, which has been active in the city since 1934, held their 19th annual Spring Opener ride, and despite some typically uncooperative Oregon weather, hundreds of riders on all manner of bikes turned out. The next one, sponsored by the SFRC, is May 24th. Do join us, all are welcome.

The events take place rain (typically) or shine (rarely), and usually include a poker run and other shenanigans. The Flying 15 is motorcycle club and SFRC is a riding club (there is a difference), they are not “biker gangs;” most members ride all manner and brands of bikes so it’s always a great mix of new, old and unusual machinery. These rides are always open to all motorcyclists on all kinds of bikes. However, participating in the poker runs and so forth usually involves a small fee ($10 or so).

This past Sunday, everyone met at Kelly’s Olympian, a very cool motorcycle-themed Portland bar that’s been around about as long (likely longer) as the Flying 15 club. After a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, bacon, and some bacon, I rolled around the crowd, camera in hand, taking in the various machines in attendance. At 10 a.m., engines roared to life and riders headed out on a day-long journey capped off with music, food and refreshments at the end of the ride. Good times.

If you’d like to hold a “spring opener” ride (or any group ride), it’s pretty simple. Pre-ride a route and make it worthwhile by picking some scenic roads – get out of town if at all possible. Make some simple maps, then spread the word, perhaps with a post on the motorcycle boards on Craigslist in your city. People will turn out, but good weather helps.

It’s a great way to start the riding season.

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