This is the second in a series of special guest posts by Paul Elshoff, Founder and First Officer of the Winnipeg chapter of the Southern Cruisers Riding Club. Here he reminds us of an often overlooked meaning behind biker patches and riding in general. We hope this article encourages you never to take advantage of the precious privilege you have of riding.
My biker club patch holds many meanings, some obvious, some not so obvious. My patch shows that I'm a member of the Southern Cruisers Riding Club and that I'm proud enough of that membership to wear the club's logo on the back of my vest. However, that's only part of the significance of it all.
That patch represents freedom to me! It means I live in a country (Canada) where I enjoy the freedom to join any organization I choose to belong to. It means I have the freedom to own any vehicle I can afford. It means I have the freedom to ride my beloved Goldwing anywhere I want, without needing permission from some government functionary ahead of time and justifying my ride to their satisfaction.
How often do we don our riding gear, throw a leg over our bikes, and take off for a few happy hours in the saddle, oblivious to those freedoms we take so much for granted?
Those freedoms are not a universal right enjoyed in every country on earth. Rather, they are rare indeed. Most of the world's population doesn't have half the freedom we enjoy. In many countries where they do have the freedom to own and ride a motorcycle, the average citizen's income prohibits owning anything more expensive than a bicycle. The countries where the combination of freedom and income both allow motorcycling for the average man in the street represent a minor fraction of the world's population.
My oldest friend Tom, whom I have known since my early teens, just passed away. Tom joined the Canadian Navy while I went into the Air Force. We were cadets at the same time, went to high school together, drove cab together in Toronto after leaving the service, and later drove cab together in Windsor, Ontario. I was best man at his wedding to Rhonda, who with their son and daughter survive him in British Columbia. Tom and I learned to ride together in the early 1960's—he on a Harley, I on an Indian. We both donned our country's uniforms to protect the freedoms I mentioned.
The next time you see someone riding a motorcycle and wearing a club patch, reflect on what that simple sight means—that you are blessed enough to live in one of the freest, most affluent countries on Earth, and be thankful for your good fortune. I know I am.
Paul Elshoff was born in Toronto but has been a resident of Winnipeg since 1976. He has been a motorcyclist since 1961 and is the Founder and First Officer of the Winnipeg chapter of the Southern Cruisers Riding Club. In addition, he has served in various armed forces and cadets and has been a licensed private pilot since 1963.