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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Bikers greeted by police roadblock on poker run

           Police stop motorcyclists on the Appleby Straight during the Sun City Poker Run on Saturday.

Drivers got a pre-lunch police alcohol check near Richmond, courtesy of a motorcycle gang poker run around the district.

The 60 bikers from various groups, including patched members of Hell's Angels and Prospects 81, gathered in the car park at the Abbey Bar and Grill on the Appleby Straight ahead of the mass departure at 12.15 on Saturday and police set up a checkpoint nearby.

They stopped bikers and motorists alike. There was also a police photographer on hand who appeared to be gathering images of every rider.

A Nelson Mail photographer was politely but firmly asked to stop taking pictures by someone wearing a Prospects 81 Auckland shirt. The "81" indicates the positions of "H" and "A" in the alphabet, with only admitted Hell's Angels members permitted to wear the full name patch.

As well as those involved in the alcohol checkpoint there were a number of police cars parked along the roadside and officers stopped traffic to allow the bikers to leave in an unbroken stream as the Sun City Poker Run began.

Nelson Bays police acting area commander Inspector Mat Arnold-Kelly said there were no significant issues with the event and few infringement notices were issued over the weekend. "It was a very quiet weekend. We had extra road policing staff out but there were no issues. It was fantastic."

As in previous years, the event was promoted as a benefit for Richmond ambulance and first aid company Medi-Max.

Owner Maxwell Clark was at the Abbey with one of his ambulances and said he would follow the run for part of the day. He understood the riders would initially head for Tapawera.

Asked how he felt about being associated with gangs in this way, Clark said there would be a donation at the end of the day and last year's had allowed the company to buy a traction splint.

"We used it three weeks ago at the Nelson Lakes when a chap fell off his motorbike and broke his femur and we had to rescue helicopter him out. I explained to the family where the money had come from and they were very pleased. He was a fireman from Christchurch."

Clark said the donation was "community minded".

"I treat people as equal and I have no problem with that. We don't ask people if they belong to a certain club, or the Rotary Club. We cover a lot of motorbike events and we're happy to provide the service to anyone that needs it."

The poker run was advertised for British, European and American motorcycles only, with an entry "donation" of $20 and a first prize of $500 for the best poker hand from the cards collected at the various stops.

The event was to wind up back at the Abbey for an evening gathering.

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