Cycle Connections held our very first poker run Saturday, November 19, 2005, to help benefit Habitat for Humanity and the hurricane evacuees who are living here at Oak Mountain. We know that the willingness to help others in need runs deep when it comes to the motorcycle community anywhere in the country.
To this end, Leigh and I decided, after so many of our friends were affected by the hurricanes, that we should do what we could to help, and what better help to enlist than that of the motorcycle community here in the South.
We have already been in touch with Habitat for Humanity regarding doing an “off-location biker build” home to go down to the Gulf Coast or New Orleans, but that won’t happen until after the first of the year.
We discovered while pulling all of this together that there were around 70 families that had been displaced by the hurricanes that were living here locally, so we decided to adopt them for the holidays. More on that in a minute!
Three of our major sponsors for our poker run, also our three main stops, were Bessie’s Cycle Barn in Irondale, Riders Harley-Davidson in Trussville, and Lightning Strikes Family Fun Center in Trussville.
These businesses also have recently become advertisers in Cycle Connections. We greatly appreciate them! And to show our appreciation, we like to do what we can to help promote these and any other businesses who advertise with us. With wonderful people like these to work with, it just makes my job that much easier.
Saturday morning everyone awoke to below 30 degrees outside. Also, we had this “little” football game going on in South Alabama--The Iron Bowl Alabama/Auburn! With that said, we had around 38 bikes to register. Registration started at 10 a.m. at Bessie’s Cycle Barn in Irondale, where Jeff and Sherri had hot chocolate and coffee with a few pastries waiting for everyone inside where it was warm. Waiting for us in the parking lot was a friend of mine, Jan Jacobi, whom I had talked into doing one of our stops. The Christian Motorcycle group had given us a large bag of their rags to give out, and Riders had given us a bunch of Harley ballpoint pens. To that we added some Cycle Connections Koozies, and that is what everyone got who registered, along with a flag sticker for their headlight.
We registered for about an hour, with Jan’s help, in her new Cycle Connections T-Shirt I might add! This gave people time to go inside, warm up, and buy a facemask or gloves! Sherri wanted to play with us a while longer, so she decided to go and take our next stop. She had supplied us with several large Crown Royal bags to do our draws from, and I had gotten Harley playing cards to go in them. Also, Danita from Total Printing in Trussville had printed our cards to record the draws on, with the magazine’s web address on the top and one each of the card suits going down it, with five draw spots next to them. I loved it!
Leigh rode with everyone, and I took the truck and went to the third stop, Riders Harley-Davidson in Trussville. Krys Garrett, the manager at the Crestwood Hooters, had sent assistant manager Nicholas Holman, along with Tiffany W. and Carmen S. and free hot wings for everyone, so I needed to see that they had everything that they needed. Also, another friend of mine, Rhonda Robinson, who is a reporter for our local Fox 6 News Network, was to meet me there and ride the rest of the poker run in the sidecar of general manager of Riders, Tim Peek. Linda, who is in charge of clothing at Riders, took Rhonda and got her leathered up for the ride, as well as getting her a nice thick Harley blanket to put in her lap.
We wanted everyone to stay at Riders for a little while, so we decided to give away a few door prizes. We had a pretty captive audience, with the Hooters girls around, and the hot wings. Rhonda had brought a few goodies from the station, so we added them to the two Harley shirts and Harley hat that we had to give away. Tiffany and Carmen seemed to enjoy hanging out with the bikers as much as the bikers enjoyed having them there. They wanted their picture taken with one of the bikes, so we put them on the Harley drag bike. One lucky little girl got to get in there with them and have her picture taken. Hooters was having an Iron-Bowl party, so they all left when we did.
Tim packed Rhonda, and everyone was off to Jan’s stop, the fourth stop. She had also met us at Riders and helped out there, which was a damn good thing! I went on to our fifth and final stop, Lightning Strikes Family Fun Center in Trussville. Leigh and I had already taken most everything over there the night before, which was also bike night.
We had brought 60 pounds of chicken from Marshall Durbin, and we had several vendors scheduled to be there, so there was still a lot to check on. As it turned out one of our vendors didn’t show because they had gotten their dates mixed up and couldn’t find their driver; another had a blowout on their trailer on their way to us.
We still had some of the best talent around. We had Michael Swann from Swann Graphics doing pinstriping and setting airbrush appointments. Michael is one of the best artists in the state to do pinstriping, murals or graphic artwork on your bike or your car. He has had many of pieces of work in shows all around. Shawnie Woodley was there to work the kinks out of all (well most) of us with her chair massage. She is always a lot of fun to have around. I could have used an hour on the table, not the chair! Stewart Doak was there sewing on patches that Sherri had brought from Bessie’s to sell. He also brought some of his bike seatwork to display. I hope he got a lot of appointments set for people wanting him to do their seats on their bikes. This is what he is really good at.
Marc Brenner and Stacy from Lightning Strikes were our chefs for the day. They had a big turkey fryer, a grill and the oven going cooking all of that chicken. They also added some barbeque to the menu. And Augie Brenner had all of the walls of televisions inside on for the ballgame, and he opened the bar. That soothed the savage beast momentarily. Leigh said they had picked up a handful of bikes at Riders that just wanted to get with them and ride. A couple of them were “Ninja Turtles” that had never seen a poker run and wanted to run blocker for them. Leigh said that every now and then he would catch them acting like they were rowing a boat, or kicking their feet out like they were peddling. I think they wanted the ride to go faster. But they still had fun and stayed for the game and everything! We decided to do the door prizes as well as announce the winner of the run at half time. No one would have heard us before that!
There were so many nice, generous businesses that were more than happy to donate things for our winner’s bag and door prizes. Michael Marinberger from Lear Truck in Centerpoint donated this very heavy, Orange County Chopper tag plate. Bob and the friendly staff at Westwood Auto donated a deep socket set. The wonderful ladies at About Face in Trussville donated a complete makeover. All bikers need that! Actually, I was thinking of the women that would be at the Poker Run. J.R. Ridlehoover from Icon Motor sports in Trussville donated this great Orange County jacket that we decided was too nice to give away as a door prize so we raffled it off at five dollars a ticket to raise a couple more dollars. We also raffled off a $100 gift certificate from the Tattoo Jungle in Trussville. Darrin, Jason and Jeff from the Tattoo Jungle had also donated a $50 gift certificate that we included in the winner’s bag of goodies and a $35 certificate that we gave away as a door prize. We had Cycle Connections T- shirts that went in the winner’s bag as well as a few for door prizes. Lightning Strikes had put up some of their T-shirts with free bowling games, for the winner and door prizes. Riders Harley-Davidson had generously donated a beautiful denim jacket with a suede leather patch on the back for the winner’s bag, and Leigh had picked up a few dogs gambling prints from Bill’s Custom Framing in Alabaster. One was a bulldog and his buddies playing cards entitled, “Winner Takes All.” It went to the winner; the other print was dogs shooting craps that we gave as a door prize. Bessie’s Cycle Barn had put a $50 gift certificate in the winner’s bag. When I picked up the Harley cards to draw from, I also picked up a couple of Harley tins that had two decks of cards in them that we put one in the winner’s bag, gave one to the worst hand, and one to our buddy, Billy who was such a big help to us all day.
Mr. Gerald Duncan won our poker run with his three 6s. I think he was a little overwhelmed by all of his gifts. Don Chamblee was the lucky recipient of the worst hand prize.
We all had a blast, and everyone stayed together for the whole ride, which doesn’t always happen in a poker run. And best of all, there were no accidents—you couldn’t ask for much more. Leigh and I felt very blessed! We have so many really good people around here to do things with.
We are very thankful to all of those who participated in our first (of many to come) poker runs, and we especially want to thank all of the generous businesses for their donations. A very special thanks goes to our main sponsors, Bessie’s Cycle Barn, Riders Harley-Davidson, and Lightning Strikes.
At the end of the day we had a check that we can now take to Habitat for Humanity, as well as adding a little to our toy fund that we had started at the bike show for the hurricane evacuees. Also, we have several locations at which we have placed donation cans, and a few of them will also have Angel Trees that I have put together. Our goal is to be able to take Christmas dinner to all of the hurricane evacuee families here and provide gifts for all of the 41 kids. With all of the kind-hearted people around the Birmingham area, I have no doubt that we will meet our goal!
Thank you for your generosity, and we wish each of you a very Happy Holiday season, and a Healthy, Happy, Prosperous New Year!
Write-On and Ride-On
Story and Photos by Lynn Reynolds and
Leigh Lilly - Birmingham, Alabama