My experience with motorcycles and the people who love to ride them has been, for the most part, limited to what I’d observed by vacationing in Ocean City, Maryland, during Bike Week. And I wasn’t there with a bike. I was just another vacationer surrounded by the motorcycles, their riders, and the noise. I was not especially impressed.
A couple of years ago, my nephew Chad was going through a rough patch in his life. He found himself with time on his hands and an ache in his heart. He made a decision to get himself a Harley and enjoy the sunshine on his shoulders and the wind in his face. Even then, I was indifferent to the whole motorcycle culture. All I knew was that Chad really enjoyed his time on the road and his time with his friends.
When the worst scenario imaginable played out last September–Chad’s motorcycle accident and his passing as a result of injuries sustained in that accident–I learned a whole lot more than I ever expected to know about bikers and the ties that bind them to each other. Chad’s friends showed up during the hours following the accident and during those early days of grief to express their love to our family.
Last Saturday, July 25, 2015, they did it again! They held the First Annual Chad Miller Memorial Ride–a benefit ride organized by bikers and friends who knew and loved Chad. The purpose of the ride was to honor Chad’s memory and to raise money for Chad’s two children. The money raised will be a blessing, but I believe the bigger blessing was the show of support from Chad’s fellow bikers to his family. These men and women showed our family and community that when the chips are down, it’s good to have some bikers by your side.
The day of the ride dawned bright and clear, and just before noon, all heads bowed, and my sister–Chad’s mother–prayed. She asked God for safety and blessings in the name of Jesus for the bikers who gathered to ride their more than 100 motorcycles on a thirty mile course in memory of Chad.
At noon, the bikers were off! My sister and my niece gave the sign, and they left the parking lot in a cloud of dust and an ear-blasting roar of their engines. The last biker out of the lot was riding Chad’s Harley which the new owner had restored to its original beauty.
It was an emotional ride for Chad’s friends who visited a few of his favorite places. The course even included a solemn ride past the accident site. Those of us who weren’t participating in the actual ride were waiting at a local park. Approximately two hours after the ride began, the bikers began to roll in.
Saturday was a beautiful day for honoring and remembering Chad. The camaraderie of the bikers, their love for Chad, and their genuine concern for his family were truly heart-warming. Chad’s family members were overwhelmed by the generosity of those who attended. They shared old memories and made new memories. They laughed and cried. It was quite a day!
One of the women who helped with the event jokingly asked me if I ever expected to be attending a bikers’ party. No, as a matter of fact, I never did, but I was glad for the opportunity to attend this one. This time, surrounded by bikes and bikers, dust and noise, I was very impressed!
To those who participated and to those who will never forget what a great guy Chad was, I say, “Thank you…. and ride on!”