Motorcycle Social Clubs, Riding Groups & Owners Groups: Are They for You?

Diana Green Lady (Princess) Biker

Having a good experience with any club or owner’s group is like finding a great husband.   It’s got to be a good match.   

I have heard people say that clubs are not for them for many reasons. Some complain the clubs only take quick trips around the corner.  Some complain the lead riders go too fast or too slow.  Some complain that they don’t see where their dues are going. And others feel like outsiders in the group. On the other hand, I know many people who enjoy their club experiences.

The fact of the matter is that whenever you have a large group you will never be able to please everyone.  There are bound to be sub-interests within the group.  But that is okay.  Also, you will always feel like an outsider until you make yourself a part of the group.  I suggest you volunteer to hold a position with the club such as webmaster, photographer, or whatever!  Find yourself a niche within the group and you will likely find it to be a wonderful experience.  If you cannot accomplish that, then you probably hooked up with the wrong club!  It is like a marriage—you have to do a little work to find the right fit, and even when you do it takes effort to keep it going successfully.

Maybe I am just lucky.  I am a relatively new rider.  I used to spend many weekend afternoons riding over the same old routes, going nowhere.  Then I joined the First State Chapter of the Harley Owner’s Group in order to meet new people and get new ideas of where to ride.  It has been a fabulous experience!  I found a wonderful group of people who like to take all-day trips and see sights.  Beautiful scenery and good food are usually large parts of our trips.  I have found many new places to ride with them, and have shown them a few new places I’ve gone.  We focus on safety and responsible riding.  They have helped me to develop into a better rider, and never made me feel inadequate for not having ridden since the sixties (hell, I wasn’t even born yet)!

To mix things up every once in awhile, the group plans overnight and weekend trips.  This past fall we traveled to Pennsylvania’s Little Grand Canyon and to Virginia’s Skyline Drive.  I played a large part in planning these events, and they turned out to be great rides (particularly with some help from Mother Nature).  I would never give up the experience that I have had with First State HOG.  No, all 300 members do not go on every ride—we usually have about 10-15 bikes and 15-20 riders.  But I can assure you that those of us who put something into the club get a lot more out of it!  Our dues (minimal as they are) are well spent, so long as you choose to take advantage of what the club offers.

I guess clubs are not for everyone.  Marriage isn’t either.  To each his own.  But if you are looking for camaraderie on the open road, I am sure that you can find a group that suits your taste.  Don’t just write off the entire idea because your first time didn’t work out.  Play the field until you find the right match.  Then settle down and you will never regret it!

Check out our photo albums from the above mentioned trips – click here

11 Responses to “Motorcycle Social Clubs, Riding Groups & Owners Groups: Are They for You?”

  1. Very well said Lady Di, very well said.

    I love the marriage analogy. Yes, it IS work, which is why there will always be those on the fringe. Some are lazy, some are shy, and others, well I guess they just like being on the fringe. As you said, the key is to get INVOLVED. What some members don’t seem to remember is that it’s as much their Chapter as it is anyone else’s. It’s a cop out to claim that the same “clique” runs the group, and doesn’t “want you.”

    We all learned in school that there will always be cliques, and HOG is definitely not immune to them. But, what’s wrong with joining the clique? It’s not hard. In my Chapter, it’s always the same people who step up to organize and run the events. It’s also the same people who have plenty to say, but don’t want to actually DO anything. I’m sure you’ll agree that anyone who wants to step up and help is ALWAYS welcome.

    Being in a motorcycle club is like just about anything else you can do with your life – it’s what YOU make it. That’s why that in First State, in Blackstone, and probably in all HOG Chapters, it doesn’t matter if there are 300, 150, or 50 members. What matters is who shows up to be a part of it.

  2. Joker,
    Last summer when Jay & I first joined FSH, we couldn’t figure out why we had over 250 members (& growing) but only the same dozen ever came out on club rides. Over 100 show up to the meetings every month (200 show up when we have free food)! But practically no one rides???? Hello…I thought this was a club for motorcycle riders!

    Anyway, after going on a few weekend trips and talking to some of the regulars, we decided that it was not worth the effort to try and figure out what these people wanted out of the club. We joined to ride, so ride we do! It took only 3 months before Jay volunteered to be the Activities Officer, and another few months after that I was appointed (in absencia) to be the Volunteer Coordinator!

    Now there’s no looking back. We are involved, we are having a blast. We have dozens of new great friends, new places to ride, and new experiences. Maybe some people would rather just get their free meal once a year and let their bike adorn the end of their driveway? I don’t know, but if they are not satisfied with our club, it is definitely not the club’s fault!

    As far as the marriage analogy…Jay & I have both been through previous marriages that did not work out. So we both know all too well how much work it is to find the right fit, and how precious it is when you do. 🙂 We carry that philosophy across to all other aspects of our lives.

  3. I would like to clarify that I do try to get in the heads of our members and figure out what they want to get out of the club. Then I try to deliver it! It’s a challenge I enjoy. As the Acivities Officer I try to make activities that attract more participation but I temper that in that I feel HOG should be about riding. I’m not about to organize non riding events in the middle of summer. On top of that, I really don’t care much for non riding events. I joined a motorcycle clube to meet new people and ride. That’s it! I already had friends I could party with before I bought a motorcycle. We have members who belong to our club but don’t ride with us. For them I do two things. I entertain and educate. I try to make my presentation at the meeting funny and worth coming out for. I also try to share valuable information that again makes it worth coming out for. God bless HOG!

  4. Very Well said indeed. You touched on many good points. I really liked the advice to “find your niche.” This is so important. Nature has a hierarchy, our nation has a hierarchy, the military and the business world has a hierarchy. We all play a part to make the machine run. No part can run without the others. Clubs and Rider Groups fail so often because everyone wants to be “the leader of the pack”, or the leader fails to recognize each members individual value or contribution. No man does anything truly great on his own. I believe that to be truth. Keep up the good vibes. It’s funny. I have been pondering this subject in my own life lately. Not in the terms of a riding group but what you talk about can be applied on a much larger scale….Holy Cow mate!….you may have actually solved the mystery surrounding the subject of how to bring about world peace!!

  5. What you said about the free food is SO funny!

    The members of Blackstone I’ve gotten to know who’ve been around for a while tell the same story. Our annual Christmas party used to be free, and the way they tell it, when it was, loads of members nobody ever saw on rides or at meetings would be there. Then, they started charging 20 bucks a pop for it and all of a sudden it’s down to mostly the regular crowd. What does that tell you?

    It’s too bad it has to be that way, but I think it’s just the nature of the beast, and takes us back to the posers/riders debate. Some folks just can’t wait to let the rest of the world know that they belong to a motorcycle club. Of course, the rest of the world doesn’t really give a crap, and it wouldn’t know that the person wearing those rockers almost never rides on two wheels anyway. Only the other members of the club know who actually rides, and who’s there so they can wear a patch.

    In the end, as long as both our Chapters have enough involved members to run the rides and events, then I think we’re good. The way I look at it: Hey, if YOU want to pay money and not participate, WE’LL take it and just say THANK YOU! Nothing quite like the end of a hot dusty ride when you grab that first cold beer and bite into a hot dog that was paid for by a poser.

  6. Nobody gets more annoyed about the correlation between free food and attendance than me! If you see the above link Diana put in her article to our chapter website you will see a huge club, without yours truly in the picture. Diana is sitting on the gound to the right in a purple T-Shirt. This picture was a retake on free food night and I boycotted the picture. I’m in the real picture that was originally taken on picture night. There was probably less than 30 members who showed up just to take the picture (the real picture, shown below). What kills me, is the food isn’t even good. Please stop the madness! No more free food! There are no free lunches in this life and there must be a good reason why!First State HOG 2007 - the real picture

  7. Jay, thanks for getting the “real” chapter photo posted.

    Dave, world peace??? I had no idea I was onto something this big!!! 😮

  8. this is a good subject to touch on, I have been riding for 20 plus years and in this last year after buying my first Harley (2007 street bob) I have finally found out what the hoopla was about comraderie. I always rode with a few friends, that close knit group of people you knew that rode, but we never did anything like what occurs in my new group FSH. I did feel for a short time, that outsider syndrome, but cause I am a big mouth, and other characteristics we dont need to speak about here:)…..I grew out of that, and have come to feel a part of this group of eclectic individuals, from all walks of life with one commn intense factor….Motorycycles…mostly Harley’s, but scattered on our rides we find others join in the fun trying to be part of this experience. I for one am sad and excited, sad cause it ook me so long to enjoy this brotherhood that has exhisted so many years, and excited now to know my time spent on what I consider doing what I love most, cruising to new adventures, will be done as a part of a group as crazy, as intense, and as excited as I am about my two wheeler……ride safe….ride often….let those who ride decide!!!!!

  9. We love riding with you and having you on our adventures. I’m glad you joined FSH and joined our adventure to Skyline Drive. It wouldn’t be the same without you!

  10. Skip,
    Thanks for the comments. We joined First State HOG to make new friends, and you are definitely one of them. Hope you come along on some of the great trips we are planning for this riding season…if it ever gets here! (I tell ya, I am getting really tired of the cold and the rain. Isn’t it spring yet??)!!!

  11. You are going to find there’s people that ride and people that show up for food.
    Common feedback…..You ride too far, your rides are too short, your rides don’t go to good restaurants, your gas stops are too expensive etc. Fortunately some people show up to ride and show gratitude by telling you how much they appreciate you taking the time to lead them some where. Sometimes people forget your job isn’t Road Captain. It’s a hobby or as I like to say “Passion”. If you’re lucky to get to share this passion with others. Yes, I’ve been very lucky!
    Volunteers always seem to be the same core group. If something goes right it usually gets treated as “business as usual” but if something goes wrong……..yes, you’ll hear about. Mostly by people that don’t ever show up for anything and these are the same people that will never be on a volunteer list. Joining a riding club can be the best experience you’ll ever have but it will also have it’s ups and downs. I had the opportunity to meet some really great people because I joined a riding club. I call them my extended family.

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