Thanks to spring’s arrival, members of Alaska Bikers Advocating Training and Education (ABATE) and other fans of motorcycling activities are finally able to ride again without packing on layers of winter weather wear.
On Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna’s Peninsula Center Mall, the charity motorcyclist group’s first event of the year will bring those riders together and give the public a chance to check out some tricked-out two-wheelers.
“Everybody’s been thinking about riding all winter, and this is the first chance a lot of us will get to see each other and talk about the rides we’ll do,” said Scott Hamann, an ABATE member who helped organize the bike show.
“A lot of us” refers to the 30 to 40 members of ABATE and the many other motorcycling enthusiasts on the Kenai Peninsula. Bikers can enter their machines in the show for a $10 fee, and most of the motorcycle dealers on the Kenai Peninsula will be on hand to show off the latest gear.
The event is open to bikers of the not-so-loud variety, as well.
“We actually did have a couple of bicycles entered last year, so if people want to pay the fee, sure, they can bring them,” Hamann said.
The entry fee goes toward the charity work of the organization, which includes sponsorship of bike safety training courses that allow riders to bypass Department of Motor Vehicles motorcycle testing, donations to the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank and The Salvation Army’s Toys for Tots program, and many others.
The group that gets the biggest chunk of ABATE’s charity donations is May’s Shriners Outreach Clinic in Anchorage. The clinics, which happen three times a year in Alaska, offer the care of visiting doctors from Portland to needy children at Alaska Regional Hospital. Two years ago, the group gave $20,000; last year, the total was $15,000, and Hamann expects the group to give at least $15,000 this year.
“Traditionally, we were only giving them $5,000, but we decided to make it a priority a few years ago,” Hamann said. “It’s a really heartwarming experience to help those kids.”
The help can be heard from blocks away when it comes. The group rides to Anchorage for what it calls the “ABC Run,” this year on May 13, to deliver the funds and meet the children.
The ABC Run follows ABATE’s May 7 Bike Blessing event, one Hamann said has become more popular each year since it started about five years ago.
“We all attend church, then people line up outside in the parking lot and we pray for safe riding through the year,” he said.
The bike show’s kick-off to the riding season this weekend will have around thirty bikes competing for first, second and third place honors as determined by three judges. Anyone attending the event, which is free to the public, can vote for the people’s choice award.
Hamann said the bike show is a good introduction for people who may not own bikes, but have an interest in them.
“If there’s anyone even curious about it, there will be a bunch of people wearing leather who’d love to talk about bikes with them.”
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