The national Freedom Cruisers Riding Club got its start in California in 1999. Motorcyclists in the Auburn, Forest Hill, and Sacramento vicinity had been getting together for group rides organized by Jeff (Big Dog) Davey. The idea of bonding as a riding club was suggested by Ray (Ryder) Snyder, a former member of the Sacramento Cruiser Riding Club. The concept was to promote riding freedom in every form--freedom from major commitments, freedom from initiation fees, freedom from dues, and freedom from club politics. Many members of the newly formed club were veterans, and a patriotic spirit was very much in evidence when the new club patch was unveiled. Ray became the first State Director, and Jeff was the first Chapter President.
As membership grew, it became impossible to keep everyone in contact by telephone. A website was set up to provide information to members. A side effect was that club information became available to motorcyclists over a vast area. E-mail inquiries started pouring in from all over the United States, and the state club changed to a national organization. In 2001, Mr. Clay (Bones) Lowe accepted the position of National Director and took over responsibility for the club website. The current National Director is Tony (Diceman) Sesso. With nearly 800 members in 18 states and Canada, the club continues to promote motorcycling, family values, unity, travel and camping, and member camaraderie.
I recently had the opportunity to meet the Missouri State Director of Freedom Cruisers, Mike (Doc) DePeralta and Chapter 38 President Mark (Thud) Rideout, along with several other club members at the 210 Grill in Kansas City, Missouri. In spite of very cold temperatures, many of the members arrived on motorcycles. We talked about the Kansas City area Freedom Cruisers:
CC: When was the local chapter established?
Mark: Mike started the local chapter in December, 2004.
Mike: I know there are other bike clubs in the area, but for some reason when I read about the Freedom Cruisers, I thought I would like to start a chapter here. I had been out of riding for a number of years and had not done much group riding until I got involved with this club. It has worked out well. We have a bunch of good people, some with lots of riding experience and some new riders. We welcome all. In January of this year, I became Missouri State Director and Mark took over as Chapter President.
CC: How many chapter members do you have?
Mark: We currently have twenty-eight on our roster. Typically a dozen or more show up for meetings or rides.
CC: Like the national club, there are no local dues or initiation fees?
Mark: That’s right. We’re just here to ride and have fun.
CC: How do you communicate with your membership?
Mark: We have a local website. We communicate by e-mail or phone, and our website has a forum page.
CC: How often do you meet?
Mark: We try to get together at least twice a month to ride and another time for a dinner meeting. Most of our rides involve eating.
CC: Who plans your group rides?
Mark: It’s up to anybody. We’re always open to suggestions. We like to involve all of the members in planning.
CC: Do you have a standard starting point for your rides?
Mike: We recently started meeting here at the 210 Grill. It’s a good centralized location.
CC: Judging from the variety of bikes in the parking lot, I take it that all brands of motorcycles are welcome.
Mark: It doesn’t matter what you ride. We welcome everyone. You don’t have to be a member to ride with us.
CC: Do you participate in local charity events?
Mark: Yes. Last year we attended five charity rides as a group. I think we’ll add a couple more this year.
CC: Do you get together with the closest chapters in St. James and in Lawrence, Kansas?
Mike: Those chapters were both established on January 14 of this year. They are brand new chapters, and we plan to get out and meet their members within the next couple of months. We want to welcome them and help them get established.
CC: What would you like for people to know about Freedom Cruisers?
Mark: We promote safe riding and family participation. All of our events are family-oriented, and the kids are welcome to come along. We do camping trips and things like that. Last year we had a weekend campout at Wallace State Park. This year we are planning a trip to Big Lake north of St. Joe. We are open to helping novice motorcyclists develop their riding skills.
CC: How does someone join your club?
Mike: There is a membership application on the national website. There are also links to all of the local websites. If there is no local chapter near them, they can start a new chapter or can become a member at large.
CC: Guys, thanks for inviting me to your meeting and for making me feel welcome.
For anyone who is looking for a group to ride with, the Freedom Cruisers Riding Club is worth a look. There is a great deal of information available on the national and local websites. This could be the club you’ve been looking for.
Story and Photos by Stripe