Spring brings out the motorcyclists

Some enthusiasts say it's the best stress reliever. Others say it's a great experience of sight, smells and sounds of the open road, a feeling of freedom and wind in the face.

Alvin Galster
Press Photo by Beth Wischmeyer Alvin Galster, an independent motorcyclist from Dickinson, sits on his Harley-Davidson on Thursday in Dickinson.

Some enthusiasts say it's the best stress reliever. Others say it's a great experience of sight, smells and sounds of the open road, a feeling of freedom and wind in the face.

Springtime means a lot of things, but for many motorcycle enthusiasts, it means they can get their bike out on the road and enjoy the nice weather.

Some area motorcycle groups do charity work, while others say it's simply a social activity that allows them to spend time with friends and relieve stress.

Kevin Wojahn, American Bikers Aiming Toward Education area representative, said he's been around motorcycles since he was about 12 years old.

Wojahn is the representative for Stark, Billings, Golden Valley and Dunn counties. The group has about 30 members.


"Traveling across the country is kind of neat on a motorcycle," Wojahn said. "You get to experience the sounds and the smells and the sights out in the open."

Wojahn also works on his bikes at his job at Patriot Custom Cycle in Dickinson, and said he has been a mechanic his entire life.

"I've always been wrenching on something," Wojahn said with a laugh.

ABATE does charity work throughout the region, including fundraising for local food pantries and hosting benefits to raise money for medical expenses of those in need. The group also recently sponsored an annual Easter egg hunt.

72-year-old Alvin Galster, an independent rider from Dickinson, said he's been riding since about 1955, and said there's one sound he's always happy to hear.

"I like the sound of a Harley-Davidson," Galster said Thursday. "It's just got that sound, especially the straight pipes."

Galster joined members of the Retreads, a group aimed at riders over 40, on Thursday near Pizza Hut in Dickinson to prepare for a ride to Gladstone.

From May through September, members of the Retreads try to meet every Thursday at 6 p.m. near Pizza Hut and do a ride together, said area representative Ron Bachmeier of Dickinson.


"It's a feeling of freedom, with the breeze hitting your face, getting out on the road," Bachmeier said, describing how it feels to ride a motorcycle.

Retreads is a national organization, he added.

The Retreads take Thursday evening rides that may encompass anywhere from 100 to 140 miles roundtrip, going to places like Medora, Mott, Bowman and Buffalo Gap, Bachmeier said.

Riding motorcycles is a "head clearer," said Dickinson resident Tony Wilkens.

Wilkens rides with an independent group of motorcyclists that try to meet up every Thursday at 7 p.m. at The Spur Bar & Lounge to go on rides.

"We're pretty flexible," Wilkens said. "Anybody is welcome, no matter what you ride. If it runs, it rides."

Although there's no regular weekly ABATE ride, Wojahn said members of the group try to get out and ride on Saturdays or whenever people have time.

"We might plan a ride for a Saturday afternoon, ride 100 miles, stop at the various towns," Wojahn said.


Some area motorcyclists say when the roads are decent and the weather's not that cold, they'll take their bikes out on the road during the winter, but when the weather's not nice, it can be tough and some get the itch to ride.

"It gets to be a long winter sometimes," Wojahn said. "One nice thing is, working on motorcycles on a daily basis, you're around them all the time. It kind helps give us a little taste now and then."

Bachmeier said when winters have been milder, he's been able to go out and ride at least once a month.

While Wojahn said he's aware of some of the stigmas involved in how people view motorcyclists, he said he thinks it's gotten better over the years.

"People think you're a hoodlum sometimes," Wojahn said. "It's getting a lot better though because there's so many upper-scale people that are riding bikes nowadays.

"Motorcycles nowadays, they don't break down as much, so anybody can ride them."

Being able to do something he loves along with doing some charity work gives Wojahn a since of fulfillment, he said.

"It helps portray a better image of the biker," Wojahn said.

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