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“Why We Belong to GWRRA”
By Dorothy Richards, Chapter Director, NC-X
Wake Forest, North Carolina
Once in a while you meet someone who asks why you belong to a GWRRA Chapter. They question why adults want to dress alike, wear vests covered with patches and pins, and do silly stuff like attend rallies and ride in a structured group. Somehow, even though you explain the benefits of GWRRA and the fun you have as a Chapter Member or Officer, they just don’t get it.
I want to share an example of how joining GWRRA and making friends from across the country provides benefits that cannot be achieved by being a lone rider.
In June 2009, several Members of Chapter NC-X joined with Members from NC-F2, and NC-F Jacksonville, North Carolina, and rode to Americade in Lake George, New York. We had so many folks that we split into two groups, each with a lead and a sweep. The trip was expertly planned by NC-X Member, Fred Haynes, so that we would arrive in Maryland for lunch with friends from several Maryland GWRRA Chapters.
After lunch, we picked up the Maryland District Directors, Allen and Gwen Willingham, and several folks from MD-J. We continued on to New York, where we had a wonderful time at Americade. While there we met friends from Canada, New Jersey, and the New York District. On our last evening, several of us met at “Grandma’s Back Porch” for a celebration of Judy Haynes’ birthday and the 25th wedding anniversary of Sandie and Rosy Rosenthal, all from NC-X. Upon leaving the restaurant, one of our group encountered difficulty negotiating a very steep exit from the parking lot. She dropped her bike. Immediately, GWRRA training kicked in. Several Members secured the road so that oncoming traffic would not hit her or her bike. One of us helped her off the road while another retrieved her bike. I called 911 and requested emergency medical assistance. The EMT arrived quickly, and determined that she should be brought to a hospital for a more thorough check and x-rays. One of our group rode with her to the hospital with her identification information and her special envelope that contained all of her vital information. The bike was just a bit scratched up and was ridden back to the hotel. After being checked at the hospital, she was released with just bruises. She was not seriously hurt but was unable to ride her bike home. I rented a car to drive her home. In the meantime, we were able to contact our GWRRA friends from the New York District; and they agreed to drive the bike to their home in Binghamton, New York, and store it until we could make arrangements to get it back to North Carolina.
That same evening while we were packing up our trailer, we noticed that the weld on the trailer hitch was separating. Upon checking with the hotel desk clerk about the possibility of getting someone to weld the hitch, we learned that the husband of the desk clerk was a welder and lived just a few miles from the hotel. He spot-welded the hitch, and we felt confident that it would hold until we got back to North Carolina. We departed Lake George, most on the bikes and a few in the rental car.
When we reached Maryland, where we would spend the night, we discovered that the weld on the trailer hitch had broken again and that the rear shocks on the bike were not functioning. Once again we called on our GWRRA contacts for help. We contacted GWRRA Members from MD-A. They brought a truck and trailer to take the bike to a Honda dealership in Maryland and also hitched up the trailer to one of their bikes and took it to storage, where it will remain until we can get the bike and trailer back together or ride it home to North Carolina.
The group in the rental car increased by one more passenger and a bit more luggage. Had it not been for the friendships we have made over the years with GWRRA Members from across the United States, we could not have made the return trip from New York to North Carolina on time, or with the confidence that the bikes and trailer would be cared for as we would care for them ourselves. Thanks to the following Members of GWRRA, we can say that our trip to Americade was safe and fun. We also know that the return trip to retrieve the bikes and trailer just provides another opportunity for several of us to see the beauty of the United States and share time with our GWRRA friends.
A special thanks from all of us to Ed and Dottie Bahrenburg, GWRRA District Directors, New York; Tom and Gail McCormack and Sidney Spunt from Maryland Chapter A and the Maryland District Staff; Lorraine & Earl Knight, GWRRA Northeast Region Directors; and Jack and Donna Seeley, GWRRA New York District Treasurers.