Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 25, 2018

‘Wind therapy’

Motorcyclists flock to Central Park for Burgers and Bikes
Sep 12, 2018
Photo by: Grace King Chris LaMore, owner of Big Dog Tattoos, assisted in organizing Burgers and Bikes, a Main Street Mt. Pleasant event in Central Park on Tuesday, Sept. 11. The event also saluted first responders as it coincided with the 17th anniversary of 9/11.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News

 

A sea of motorcycles surrounded Central Park in Mt. Pleasant Tuesday night as bikers gathered for the second-annual Main Street Mt. Pleasant Burgers and Bikes.

The square was alive with music, conversation and, of course, good food as the evening slowly slipped into nightfall. The party began with a scavenger hunt around Henry County. Bikers were given clues that led to historical places and memorials and led back to the square where Dan “Defiance” Moyers, of Burlington, sang the night away.

“The motorcycle community is a brotherhood,” said Art Tousignant, State Representative for the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association and scavenger hunt organizer. “Riders tend to go out with other riders.”

With his scavenger hunt, Tousignant wanted to honor first responders and mark the anniversary of 9/11, adding that not only is he a history buff, but this is definitely not the first scavenger hunt he’s organized.

Clues such as “where Nero fiddled,” “standing tall like a statue” and “the great northern stop on the Freedom Train” led to Rome, the New London soldiers’ monument and the Lewellyn Quaker shrine in Salem.

Bikers were able to start as early as noon and had to be back in the square by 6:30 p.m.

Kathy Beechler and her son John Geiger, of Salem, forgot to attend the first Burgers and Bikes a year ago. This year, however, they planned for it, writing the event on the calendar and reminding each other daily.

The family of motorcyclists call riding “wind therapy.”

“Right now, I like riding with my kids. That’s my big thing,” Kathy said. They ride all over southeast Iowa together, often riding up for hours from New London to Mediapolis to Muscatine.

“It could be a short jaunt, or it could turn into six hours,” Geiger said. “It’s freedom. That’s our happy time, to get out there and forget the world. Your mind goes blank.”

“Some people go and see a therapist. We ride,” said Tim Beechler, Kathy’s husband.

Bringing riders like Kathy, Tim and Geiger to the square is the whole idea of the event, said Chris LaMore, owner of Big Dog Tattoos and event organizer. Not only did LaMore hope the high attendance numbers of the event would bring commerce to the square but allow motorcyclists time to swap stories from the road. Tousignant hopes events like Burgers and Bikes show people bikers aren’t their stereotypes. “People see black clothes, patches, skulls … it’s not about the lifestyle, it’s about taking care of others,” he said. “We would sacrifice all for anybody and a lot don’t realize that.”

Tousignant explained that it’s something motorcyclists value intrinsically. A lot of them have seen the ugly parts of life and are veterans, he said. That’s also a reason bikers sometimes don’t get along with law enforcement, Tousignant said. They will handle what needs to be handled and sometimes it’s a “gray area” in protecting those who can’t protect themselves.

Regardless, Tousignant was more than happy that local law enforcement and first responders were represented at Burgers and Bikes Tuesday.

“No one likes to see blue lights in their rearview mirror, especially bikers,” Tousignant said. “ … The community at large needs to see we don’t hate them and they don’t hate us. They’re just doing their jobs.”

To thank the first responders, Tousignant was also collecting stuffed animals at the event to donate to law enforcement officers who in turn can give them to children as a source of comfort when they come across traumatic situations.

Rich Martin, with the Blue Knights, a law enforcement motorcycle group, disagrees with Tousignant that bikers and law enforcement officers inherently clash. As a retired police officer with 27 years experience, Martin said he didn’t see that motorcyclists and police officers were at odds. “Motorcycle people are a lot of good people who support law enforcement,” he said.

Martin was hopeful Burgers and Bikes might inspire someone who is thinking about purchasing a motorcycle to go for it. It’s better than looking at an iPhone, Martin said. Riding is a way to convene with nature, take to the open road, feel the wind and be a part of the elements.

Ray Vens, who helped organize Burgers and Bikes, said the motorcycle community hardly have any public motorcycle events. It’s just good to get together, hang out and maybe introduce more people to motorcycles.

“The more they see motorcycle service clubs out here helping, the better the image of motorcyclists is going to be,” said Ray Vens, who helped organize Burgers and Bikes. “There’s more motorcycles (around town) than people know. There’s a lot of treasure around here.”

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