Don Ehre likens his passion for riding his Harley Davidson to the motorcycle lovers before him.
“One of the first motorcycle clubs were the pilots returning from World War II. It gave them the feeling closest to flying in their airplane,” he said. “There’s a certain amount of freedom, and that’s a big thing with me.”
Ehre, owner of New Hartford-based engineering firm Boulder Consultants, has done his own flying on motorcycles since his brother handed down his bike before going to college.
As a member of the Erie Canal HOGs – the local chapter of the Harley Owners Group – Ehre is able to share in that freedom with local bikers, especially with the days getting longer and the weather finally thawing.
“I’m not going to say we’re fair-weather riders, but it makes it that much more enjoyable,” said Ehre, a 64-year-old Utica resident.
The Erie Canal HOGS is one of several riding clubs in the area. Some are separated by make and model of the bike, and others can be occupation based.
For example there are local branches of the following groups:
* The Punishers is a club that brings together current and retired law enforcement personnel, firefighters, active EMS personnel, and active and retired military.
* The Blue Knights, another LEMC, is a group of active and retired police officers.
* The Red Knights Motorcycle Club, NY 19, gathers firefighters with an affinity for bikes.
But just because dozens of bikers might be out together, don’t assume they’re in the same club. Spring becomes the season of biking events, often focused on charity events.
Marcy native Dave “Satch” Deno has been around bikers all of his life. It’s the “group I grew up around,” he said.
And though you’ll be hard-pressed to find him on a motorcycle of his own, he organizes several events involving the local “bike-enthusiast” community. On Saturday, May 11, to combine his love for animals and bikes, Deno is hosting a 50-mile benefit ride and auction to raise money for the Stevens-Swan Humane Society.
Getting bikers involved in charity events is not hard to do, Ehre said.
“Most of the people we have in our group are community minded,” he said.
Deno agreed, adding that bikers are not always the rough-and-tumble group that pervades media.
“There are so many negative shows that try to illustrate that motorcycle people are bad people,” he said, citing “Sons of Anarchy.” “But they’re really big teddy bears.”