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Camaraderie is draw for motorcyclists

Staff writer

With temperatures in the 70s and spring in bloom, the thunderous rumble of motorcycles won’t be far behind.

Jim and Peggy Wilson of Marion have already prepped their Harley for bike season. Jim checked the air pressure and tread on the tires and all the fluids to make sure the bike was in top shape. Peggy made sure they had jackets and gloves in the bike’s storage compartments. Even when the weather is warm, a biker has to be prepared for all the elements. The Wilsons have ridden in rain, cold, wind, and searing hot temperatures.

Not that the Wilsons ever stop riding.

“There’s usually two days every month that are fine to ride in,” Jim said. “Any time it’s in the high 40s.”

Among their travels is going to Cassoday the first Sunday of the month where thousands of other motorcyclists converge.

The Wilson’s motorcycle enthusiasm is twofold: it’s an enjoyment of the outdoors — the panoramic scenery of a long drive, fresh air, and the relaxation of the drive — and the companionship with each other and other bikers.

The Wilsons are apt to take long trips when the weather warms. They’ve ridden to Arkansas and Missouri and they’re planning a trip to northern Minnesota this summer to visit relatives they recently connected with on Facebook.

“The scenery is really nice,” Jim said. “You can see everything up above. You’re out in the elements.”

The rhythm of the ride and the enjoyment of the scenery put Jim into a zen-like state of relaxation.

“If you’re uptight, or something, you can get on a bike and feel better,” he said. “Maybe it’s because you have a lot of time to think.”

The kinship among bikers is a pleasant side effect of sharing a common passion. Peggy said that when she sees other bikers on the road she always waves. When a bike is stopped on the side of the road, bikers will stop to offer assistance. Bikers will also try to warn one another of dangerous conditions on the road.

“These are strangers,” she said.

But, bikers don’t stay strangers for long. Jim and Peggy said when they moved to Marion riding was an important part of making friends.

“It’s amazing how you don’t know somebody and you become really good friends,” Peggy said. “It helped us when we both moved to Marion. I don’t know if we would have met as many people as we know (without riding).”

It’s a simple evolution. A common interest leads to common activities. Riding can lead people to drive to Cassoday on Easter morning to meet fellow riders for breakfast, as Peggy and Jim did this past Sunday.

They were a little bit ahead of the crowd. Jim said Cassoday can expect 5,000 bikers to descend other Sundays.

Common activities can grow into trips that forge friendships. Jim and Peggy have joined other couples on vacations. Jim has also driven with a group of six other Kansas riders to meet in Sturgis, S.D. for the annual summit of American motorcycle riders.

Riding — a hobby Jim and Peggy said was born out of disposable income when their children grew more independent — can bring a marriage of nearly 35 years closer together.

“You’re going to a destination it’s just you and her,” Jim said. “It could turn into a romantic situation.”

Last modified April 8, 2010

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