Catch us live on BlogTalkRadio every

Tuesday & Thursday at 6pm P.S.T.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

San Diego,Ca, It’s easier riding for local motorcycle club members


By Karla Peterson, UNION-TRIBUNE

They love feeling the wind in their face and the sun on their back. They love the rush of freedom and the surge of adrenaline. What many local motorcyclists do not love is being alone out there. And in the San Diego motorcycle community, it seems they never really are.

“The motorcycle culture is really a brotherhood and sisterhood of kinship and loyalty,” said Kimberly Malasky, 41, a motorcycle enthusiast and entrepreneur from La Jolla. “Very seldom do you see people who don’t know each other bonding the way we do.”

That bond was tested and strengthened this week after the horrific Imperial County crash that killed four riders associated with the Lakeside Saddletramps motorcycle club. After last weekend’s crash, fellow motorcyclists came forward to offer food, money and other donations to the victims’ families. The San Diego Harley-Davidson store on Kearny Mesa Road is holding a blood drive for the injured survivors on Saturday.

For outsiders whose acquaintance with motorcycle clubs is limited to the Hells Angels or the goofy “Wild Hogs” film, the flood of support probably came as a pleasant shock. The cliché is that motorcyclists are a bunch of rugged individualists. The reality is, they are a bunch of rugged individualists who are all in this together.

“In San Diego, there are motorcycle clubs for anybody and everybody,” said Malasky, who rides with several local motorcycle clubs and started her Bikers Bling company to customize accessories for female riders. “For every type of person you can think of, there is a club out there for them.”

Because our weather is predictably mild and our terrain is all over the map, San Diego is a motor-biking mecca. Like most places, it can also be a challenge. In 2008, the county ranked second in the state for the number of registered motorcycles and second for the number of motorcycle-involved fatalaties. (Los Angeles County was first in both catagories.) And when Caltrans ran electronic freeway signs earlier this year reminding drivers to “Share the road” with motorcyclists, response was more negative here than in the rest of California.

So while the owners of our more than 74,000 registered motorcycles have plenty of great places to ride, they also have many great reasons to ride with other people. And they do.

There are local motorcycle clubs for Harley-Davidson owners, BMW owners, vintage-bike riders, dirt bikers and scooter enthusiasts. There are clubs for singles, families, Christians, women, veterans and recovering alcoholics. They meet for breakfast rides, wine-tasting rides, and weekend trips to Borrego Springs and Julian.

“In a club, you are with like-minded people and you are with people who have the same kinds of bikes,” said Joe Michaud, 62, a writer for national motorcycle publications and a member of the San Diego Antique Motorcycle Club and the Perros Viejos Motorcycle Club. “But I think the main attraction is the camaraderie. When you’re in a club, you don’t have to explain why you’re riding.”

When Lillian Schleif started the San Diego Female Sportbikers meetup group two years ago, she was definitely looking for camaraderie. But first, she needed comrades.

“I had no one to ride with,” said the 46-year-old Schleif. “My husband didn’t ride, and I was such a beginner, I would make him follow me in the car in case something happened, and that was very boring for him. So I thought, ‘I’ll start a meetup group and see what happens.’”

Now, the San Diego Female Sportbikers meetup group has 122 members, and Schleif has plenty of company.

“I would much rather talk motorcycles with another girl,” Schleif said. “When we get together, we talk about rides and bikes and new cool roads. We talk about our clutches. If I invited my sister to a meetup, she would be bored to death.”

And when tragedy strikes the San Diego motorcycle community, club members have someone to talk to about that, too. Someone who won’t ask them why they ride, or when they’re going to stop.

“Most people I know who ride are addicted to it,” said Randy Lazar, a 48-year-old construction-forensics consultant who started the San Diego Adventure Riders club in 2001. “When something like that crash happens, it’s very saddening, but it would never make me stop riding. I just love it too much. It’s a risk motorcyclists are willing to accept for the love of motorcycling.” This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it • (619) 293-1275 • Twitter@karla_peterson