Learning what biking is all about at Bikefest

Published 3:46 pm Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I, against the warning of some friends here in Bainbridge, attended the annual Bikefest event. I went in search of an adventure, an exploratory dissection of the subculture of leather, war stories, gasoline and tattoos. What I ended up finding was a world more interesting, more complex than that stereotype.
Friday night after the newspaper was well on its way to mail trucks and sliding off of the press, I drove out to Pondtown Road. I joined with some folks from the Decatur County Sheriff’s department and we rode around the campgrounds, taking it all in.
For those who have never been to Bikefest, imagine a giant campground of Rvs, campers and even some tents, add in lots of golf carts and motorcycles and there is the atmosphere.
There were different motorcycle clubs occupying different parts of the area — there was even chatter about some outlaws lurking around.
Once 2 a.m. and a full moon fell over the camp, the place turned into Bourbon Street — the part of the festival that gives it a bad reputation among Bainbridge locals as a place of debauchery and wild nights. While riding with the deputies I did witness a few interesting things (from afar of course.) These sightings, which included things that were furry, and glow in the dark, had me itching for a shower.
But I returned Saturday morning for the 411, the lowdown, the hearty meaning of being a biker.
Before I could interview anyone with their face painted like Gene Simmons, I interviewed several people from a motorcycle association that really changed my mind about what biking is really all about.
They told me that bikers were not just into Harleys, but also into motorcross racing and extreme sports. Some are into camping. Some are old and some are my age.
Several people with the Christian Motorcyclists Association shared with me that many bikers, who may physically look just like every other biker, are Christians. Some are recovered drug addicts and others are scarred war veterans who now look to Christ and not motorcycle clubs for their comfort.
These people at the Christian Motorcyclists Association were the only folks I could interview before a monsoon came down and dispersed the bikers to their campers and Rvs. I wanted to get the juicy story, profiling odd people, their beards and nutty stories but I guess there was something more in store that I was supposed to talk about it.
Sure local Bainbridge folks can roll their eyes at the crazy stories from Bikefest and laugh about that particular weekend and its craziness, but there are people there using it as their ministry and the event in its entirety provides for charity.
I for one am proud that an event of this size occurs each year in my city and I cannot wait to see how many lives are changed for the good with a ministry like the Christian Motorcyclists Association attending each year.

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