What a Long Strange Trip It's Been
Written by FastFred Ruddock, August 13, 2007
Shortly after writing last month’s report the North Carolina General Assembly reinserted language adding FMVSS 218 into North Carolina’s current helmet law via House Bill 563. After January 1, 2008 you may be ticketed for wearing a novelty helmet just as someone not wearing any helmet is now. CBA has created a legislative subcommittee tasked with creating a helmet defense packet; I am a contributing member of the CBA’s Helmet Defense Project Subcommittee.
I wish to apologize to the many Coastal Area members present at the Hot Springs Motorcycle Weekend; I enjoyed your company and regret leaving you out of last month’s report. I also want to thank the fine folks at Low Country Harley Davidson for the warranty service I received. I enjoyed the use of three 2007 Harley Davidson shop bikes while I waited three weeks for the extensive warranty work to be completed; my final bill was $50 including all the work and rental fees. Stop by LCHD and say hi to Chad if you are in town.
Missy, Cliff, and I rode to dinner on Friday the 13th with Buncombe County CBA. The CBA folks made us feel right at home as we enjoyed some down home barbeque in West Asheville. Later in the evening around midnight our good friend Mark Lyons of the Asheville Brews Cruise asked if we would like to visit Helen’s Bridge. This is a haunted location know to most locals; photos are posted at BikerEzine.com for the brave to view. Sunday Cliff and I visited Poinsett Bridge in Greenville County; Poinsett Bridge was built nearly 200 years ago. You may be noticing a theme of mixing fun with motorcyclists rights work.
I stayed in Charleston the weekend of July 20-22 to support the East Cooper ABATE Hose and Heels Night Tour and watch the Palmetto Police Motorcycle Skills Competition at the North Charleston Coliseum. I was impressed by the number of ABATE members across the state and bikers from every walk of life that attended the Hose and Heels Run; Ron and his chapter did another excellent job of showing everyone a great time in Charleston. Make plans to attend next year’s Hose and Heels Night Tour. The skill displayed by officers during the Palmetto Police Motorcycle Skills Competition was quite impressive. Motor officers maneuvered quickly through many tight circles and turns. The weather was hot and humid but the rodeo was exciting and educational.
The weekend of July 27-29 was extremely busy. I logged over 900 miles attending motorcycle rights events representing ABATE of SC. The first stop and visit was at the Pickens County Dice Run in Easley. Despite cloudy skies and rain many members and bikers came out to support Pickens ABATE. I had an enjoyable time comparing notes with another lidless riding freedom fighter. I left this event charged back and ready to work harder.
The second visit was to the Joey Mathis Benefit. Joey is a loyal member of ABATE who is in his hour of need for new kidney. If you can find it in your heart to help please send a contribution to the “Joey Mathis Transplant Fund;” P.O. Box 944; Easley, SC 29641. Joey has played a key role helping ABATE get reorganized in the Spartanburg area. Let’s show him some appreciation for his efforts.
The third stop was at Riders Roost to spend time with Buncombe County’s finest freedom fighters. The attendance was low but the company was great and the weather was perfect. I had a large time; the last time I had this much fun was at a Grateful Dead concert on Summer Solstice. If you want to learn the details you’ll need to visit next year.
The final stop was Antique Bikes on Main in Chesnee. This was a typical small town event except it was all about motorcycles. Some very old bikes were ridden to this event by their owners. I do not believe I saw a single trailer. You need to see the photos at BikerEzine.com to appreciate my above statement.
Once again the City of Charleston’s Motorcycle Apartheid Style Parking Policy has struck home. This time I was denied parking access and missed a business meeting as a direct result. The Charleston County School District provided me parking vouchers to use the park garage directly behind district’s main office. This garage was built with my taxes and for the purpose of serving the school district. I am at a loss how this sort of Jim Crow behavior can exist today. Please join with me in opposing this abuse. Join the list server to help solve the problem at fastfreds.com/articles/motorcycleapartheid.html
Our August state meeting was well attended. However unpreventable events caused the meeting to be moved at the last minute. The fine folks at Over Yonder unselfishly arranged a backup location. Over Yonder was robbed and the business across the street was set afire; we arrived to many police and emergency vehicles in the parking lot and road. My first thought was a terrible accident had occurred but I was relieved to find otherwise. We enjoyed a lively meeting and a nice group ride following the meeting. I thank one and all for taking the time and effort to attend and participate.
During these many visits and rides I found time along the way to soak in a few notable sights in Western South Carolina and Western North Carolina. You may view photos and learn more at BikerEzine.com. Get out and ride the Carolinas and see all there is to experience; the effort will likely make you a more rounded and productive citizen.
Recently national leaders of Bikers Of Lesser Tolerance (BOLT) invited me to join their ranks and help organize in the Carolinas. BOLT has led the way in challenging helmet laws in court. Many of you are aware of Quigley’s legendary efforts in the California Courts opposing the helmet law. Others might be aware of Tony "Pan" Sanfelipo’s efforts in the biker rights community dating back to the founding of ABATE of WI. Members of BOLT believe in civil disobedience and taking matters to the courts. If you are ready to join the company of uncompromising biker freedom fighters make contact. There is no conflict of interests in belonging to both BOLT and ABATE; BOLT’s efforts in the courts nicely complement ABATE’s legislative efforts at the Statehouse.
During the weekend of August 9-12 2007 a legislative retreat was held in WNC at GRCMMCC for interested Carolina bikers. Many members of ABATE of SC, CBA/ABATE of NC, and BOLT of the Carolinas attended and shared brotherhood and ideas. This legislative retreat was made possible by the generous donations of Fred and Lynn Uibel, Cliff and Missy Dalton, and Scott Gilreath. Additionally I would like to thank everyone in attendance who contributed funds to help cover food and beer expenses. Saturday a nice group of members from N.W.S.C. rode up just in time for our barbeque and we still had plenty of leftovers. The freezer is full of provisions and all are welcomed to stop by again for future visits. Photos of this retreat are available at BikerEzine.com.
Saturday evening the beer lovers present at our legislative retreat took a fun excursion to Asheville to take part in the Asheville Brews Cruise. We visited three local breweries and a beer specialty store. FU provided fun activity sheets for all participants between each stop. FU’s wife Lynn, our Team Mother, provided name tags for everyone on the brews cruise. All present seemed to have a really good time, especially Festus. There will be another organized brews cruise near Winter Solstice so make your plans to attend now. You may join a list server for the latest details at fastfreds.com/cgi-bin/dada/mail.cgi/list/WNCtrip/
Speaking of long journeys I have held one or more state positions in ABATE of SC longer than I have worked my longest paying job. From creating the first professional website for ABATE of SC to serving as Coordinator I have often placed the interests of ABATE and her members above my own. As with most journeys the end of the journey is often bitter sweet. I am proud of the improvements I have helped bring to ABATE such as the annual scavenger hunt at the statehouse on the opening day of the legislature, the calling post phone alert system, the abatesc.com website, our improved press relations, the two-fold increase in membership. I am additionally proud of the increasing number of chapters that are resulting in a greater coverage of the Counties of South Carolina and an increase in our political influence. However none of this would have been possible without your hard work and assistance.
The duties of State Coordinator have taken a toll on my time and personal finances; motorcycle maintenance costs and replacing tires have become quite expensive as a direct result of attending meetings and events across the state. Due to my acceptance into BOLT and my desire to be more active at the personal level in our battle to repeal laws and ordinances that discriminate against bikers, I will no longer be able to commit the necessary hours needed to volunteer in the position of State Coordinator for ABATE of SC. Additionally I will use my sabbatical to address many personal and household projects that have long been on hold while I performed duties for ABATE.
I am sorry if this causes any inconvenience. However please let me know if I can of assistance in the continuing fight for biker rights. I am only a few clicks away at BikerEzine.com or just one call away at 843-345-5926.
Again, I appreciate the opportunity you have provided me and the many close friendships and relationships that have formed during this long journey. I learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed the experience as well. It is my heartfelt desire that ABATE of SC continues to prosper and grow while spreading into every county of the state.