For many, gone are the days of leather, loitering and Hellâ€™s Angels.
Thereâ€™s a new face of motorcycling, and itâ€™s a kinder, gentler one.
â€œIâ€™m more proud of the image Iâ€™m trying to portray than anything else I do,â€ said Wade Roberts, owner of Trick 1 Customs.
Trick 1 Customs is just one of many companies and organizations sponsoring this weekendâ€™s Hog Happenin.â€™
Such community outreach, now a major goal of many biking groups, signals the end of what many may consider an unsavory past.
â€œWithout sounding cliched, we have the yuppies now. We have lawyers, doctors and sheriffs riding motorcycles,â€ said Concerned Bikers Association Western District Coordinator James Buckner. â€œThey all want to come into the biking community.â€
The Concerned Bikers Association, a Hog Happeninâ€™ sponsor, takes part in a variety of community service activities in addition to lobbying the government on behalf of bikers statewide.
â€œOne of the bylines of our constitution is to improve the image of motorcycling,â€ said Buckner.
He feels they do just that, sponsoring events at Veterans Affairs hospitals, displaying their bikes and educating others on motorcycle safety.
â€œWe want to put a smile on peopleâ€™s faces,â€ Buckner said.
Concerned Bikers Associationâ€™s most significant volunteer effort involves their â€œMotorcycle Safety and Awareness Program.â€ Volunteers instruct high school driverâ€™s education classes on appropriate behaviors around motorcyclists on the road.
â€œPeople look at us and say, â€˜They ainâ€™t a bad bunch of guys,â€™â€ Buckner said.
Another Hog Happeninâ€™ sponsor has a distinctly religious bent.
The Christian Motorcycle Association, a national motorcycling ministry now in its 31st year, promotes evangelistic outreach and community service.
â€œAnything that gets the community involved in a family event is helpful to promote the positive aspects of motorcycling,â€ said Christian Motorcycle Association Events Coordinator Missy Parmenter.
Itâ€™s hard for her to deny, however, that the negative stereotypes that some still association with biking.
â€œThese negative connotations go way back,â€ said Parmenter. â€œWe have members who may appear rough around the edges, but itâ€™s whatâ€™s in their hearts.â€
by Katie Rozycki