Motorcyclists enjoyed a weekend on the Vineyard, while contributing to Island charities through the 29th annual Run to the Rock.
Mike Dow, president of the hosting nonprofit group, the Martha’s Vineyard Harley Riders, said the weekend went well. Last year the event raised $50,000 for Vineyard charities and Mr. Dow said they expect to do even better once all the money is counted this year. The riders came from all over New England, and from as far north as Canada and as far west as Pennsylvania.
“A lot of the participants wrap their vacation around this visit,” said Mike (Panhead) Fuss, who runs a business called Offshore Cycle in Vineyard Haven and is a Harley enthusiast.
This year’s run was dedicated to three friends who died this past year: Fred Legg, Rachel Dow and John Gibson. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place at the opening ceremony.
The ride is pretty simple. Riders participate in a number of rides around the Island. They tour, driving anywhere from Aquinnah to the west, to Edgartown in the east; they don’t visit Chappaquiddick. They soak up the sun and the fellowship, sharing their love for their bikes. There was a significant meal, some riding events, a motorcycle show and rodeo, games to demonstrate skill, and a weekend-long social.
Many of the bikers parked their bikes in front of the Wesley Hotel Friday night into Saturday morning. There were more than 100 of them. A private party was held in West Tisbury later in the day, and to make sure it all went well, and was perceived to go well, a hired police officer stood at the entrance. Many of the organizers wore orange shirts. A spirited private cookout was offered to the participants. Top chefs included Lanie Bonito and Barbara Humber.
“It was a heck of a feed,” said Mr. Fuss.
Mr. Dow said people would be amazed at the diversity of the group. Many of the riders are professionals. “There are doctors, lawyers and police officers,” Mr. Dow said. “They all really gave a lot this year,” Mr. Dow said.
The Run to the Rock, translates to the Run to Martha’s Vineyard. The event is one of a number of fund-raising events held by the club. The Harley Riders also have a Toys for Tots ride.
This past weekend’s event raises money for the general fund, but the organization will turn around and donate money to a number of Island organizations in need. Last year, the club gave to the Red Stocking Fund, the YMCA, Camp Safe Haven, to Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, and others.
“I like to see everybody come over and have a good time. Plus, it gives a good positive spin to motorcycles. For me it is one of the best days of the year,” Mr. Fuss said. The local Harley Riders group is made up of about 60 members, with at least 20 of them being the core organizers.
Kerry Alley, a cochairman of the Red Stocking Fund, said: “They have been longtime supporters of the fund. They are one of the top contributors, the chilli contest being the top.”
The Red Stocking Fund provides clothing and essentials for youngsters and families facing the holidays and a difficult winter. “They are wonderful at doing this all on their own,” Mr. Kerry said. The riders have had a history of giving as much as $14,000 in one year to the cause.
“We are eternally grateful to them,” Mr. Alley said.