The cavalcade of motorcycles flowed over the California countryside more than 30 strong, shared a certain symbiosis as they started, stopped and changed lanes as one. Every time Brian Klock twisted a little throttle ahead of me I was privy to the sonic waves unleashed by the exhaust of the Jack Daniels 150th Anniversary Indian Springfield he rode. To our left, waves curled then pounded the shoreline as the mighty Pacific stretched as far as the eye could see. To our right, yellow blossoms lined the road and the tops of trees slanted perpendicular to the ocean, the Escheresque lean painted by the perpetual winds that whip onshore.
“Today as I was going through there, watching this thing of 30-40 bikes, I just feel like, look at this family, it’s unbroken. A car can come in and cut us in half for a little bit but the minute it leaves we just form back together and there’s just something amazing about that,” said Why We Ride producer Bryan Carroll.
Though we came from different walks of life, we gathered for a common cause, the second annual Why We Ride to the Quail, a fundraiser for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation (PBTF). The two-day ride included an overnight stop at the Seacrest Hotel in Pismo Beach for drinks and dinner at a fireside gathering. Then it was on up the incomparable California coast to Carmel to attend the 8th annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering, a wonderful assembly of enthusiasts and incredible motorcycles.
The fight of the foundation hits close to home for Why We Ride producers Carroll and James Walker. An assistant editor on the film, Joe Northrup, lost his life to a tumor not long after the movie was completed. Northrup battled valiantly throughout filming but passed soon after its completion. Carroll said the last time they saw Joe was at the premiere, adding “I really miss him.”
Considering the motivation behind the ride, it’s not surprising attendance doubled in only its second year. The sponsor list grew exponentially as well, going from a dozen last year to 30 this year, including OEM’s Indian Motorcycle Co. and Kawasaki. Many of the sponsors came from outside the moto industry, a strong indicator of how the event’s popularity has grown in two short years.
And though most started as strangers, sharing a stretch of road together fosters a special strain of intimacy. Come around a corner and you’re whipped by the same wind. Breathe deep and you inhale the same salty air. End-of-the-ride conversations are filled with concrete details and rekindled emotions of the day. Before the Why We Ride to the Quail was over, we grew closer, an extended family.
Members of this extended family were as diverse as the motorcycles on the ride. There was big-hearted Steven Squire, National Campaign Manager of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation who rode a Honda NC700X DCT. Squire had been a volunteer with the PBTF since 2000 until getting the managerial position last August. As a spokesperson, he informed us that “The Ride for Kids campaign is the longest-running and most successful motorcycle charity event in the nation. It is the cornerstone for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and the leading non-profit funder of research into one of the deadliest forms of childhood cancer.”
Then there was Tommy Montgomery, a mechanical engineering student at Boise State University who was riding an Indian Chieftain. He also happened to serve in the U.S. Army as a Calvary Scout and was one of the lucky ones who got to do the Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis sponsored by Indian Motorcycle last summer. Before the Why We Ride to the Quail, Montgomery got a chance to visit Arlen Ness Motorcycles in Dublin, California, where he not only got a special tour but went to dinner with Arlen and Cory as well. His adventure didn’t end at the Quail as Montgomery kept traveling up the northern California coast on the Chieftain as he made his way back home to Meridian, Idaho.
Former Olympic skater and World Champion Lloyd Eisler was another who commented about how he counted those he met at the Why We Ride to the Quail among his extended family. Eisler rode up on his Harley with the high apehangers while his wife, actress Kristy Swanson, rumbled up on a new Victory Octane. Eisler praised Swanson, who at first was a little intimidated about commandeering a motorcycle, for learning to ride six years ago, saying “I’m so proud of my wife because she’s a good rider and I’d ride behind her or with her any day of the week.”
Another member of the Why We Ride to the Quail family, Steve Moore out of Sylmar, California, personified the spirit behind the event and deservedly received the “Spirit of the Ride Award.”
“This person has been through a lot these last few years. One of the most inspirational men I know by the way he lives and the way he speaks and what he lives for. Last year he was on the ride with us. This year, he was going to be on the ride with us and then said I can’t, and I said you are going to be on this ride with us somehow.
“But I didn’t have to say that because he’d already made plans. He’d just went through surgery, thought he was going to be able to make it, and then injured himself again and then said ‘I don’t care, how do I get on this ride.’ And I said, we’ll we have a chase vehicle, and he said I’m going to ride in the chase vehicle, whatever you guys need. This person, many years ago I got to camp with him and he kind of got me thinking about motorcycles again. But the fact that this year his daughter, he got her registered, he’s probably one of the biggest, I want to say missionaries for motorcycles. He literally is out there preaching and saying what good things they are,” said Carroll.
Taking the stage to accept the award, Moore said “I’ve known Bryan for a few years now. And once he told me that he was doing this event I said I’m in it till the last sunset. I will do this ride every year that you have it, somehow if I have to crawl here, I will do this ride.”
By all measures, the second annual Why We Ride to the Quail was a huge success. Not only did the ride raise much-needed money and awareness for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, but the producers are donating the sales of Why We Ride DVDs in the month of May to the PBTF as well. The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is also doing its part to help out. As an affiliate partner of the PBTF, the AMA will donate $5 for each new membership and $2.50 for each renewed membership using the code PEBRTU to the foundation.
And while attendance doubled for the second annual ride, Carroll and Walker are hoping to triple that number next year as well as hoping another manufacturer or two jumps on board. Considering who the ride benefits, we wouldn’t be surprised to see them reach those goals.
In parting, we share this toast from Indian Motorcycles’ External Relations Manager Robert Pandya, who graced our group with these words in honor of a dearly missed friend in the moto industry, Kyle Clack.
“Let’s toast the next ride, let’s toast the next drink, let’s toast the next kiss, let’s toast the next sunrise, the next sunset and the next time we all get together for Why We Ride.”