Laconia & the NYC Fire RidersFire Riders
During this past June we sent a group of NYC firefighters to the Laconia Rally in New Hampshire. Each day we had one of their representatives relay the days events, at least what was fit to publish here, to our beat writer Dawn. -Ed.
The New York City Fire Riders MC was founded in January 1985 by the late Battalion Chief Junius Rahn of Engine Company 263 in Queens, New York, to help unite firefighters and promote motorcycle safety. The club started with 16 members, and has since grown to over 250 members, expanding to include honorary membership to other first responders as well. These guys don't just ride, they've also been involved with hundreds of charitable events, especially after Sept. 11.
I used to host a local motorcycle show on the CW Network in South Carolina, and was down in Myrtle Beach covering Bike Week when I first met some of the Fire Riders. I taught computer classes at the Pentagon for years and was in the Pentagon on Sept. 11. After finding out I had lost a good friend, Army Major Cole Hogan, I had the date tattooed on my arm the next day. Hughey Lennon, one of the club members, noticed the ink right away. I found out later he was the only one brave enough to come over and talk to me - but it's led to a great friendship with this club over the years. Several of the club members were on-sight busting their butts and risking their lives at Ground Zero, so if you ever see that patch make sure to buy them a beer, or four.
The camaraderie in this club is like nothing I've ever seen. On one hand, they always have each other's back and on the other, they are completely relentless with never-ending one-liners for any member who gets out of hand. They definitely know how to have a good time, but they're always quick to help out if any emergency situation arises. I first met Ken "Whitey" Christiansen at one of the Fire Riders parties during bike week in Myrtle Beach. An instant bond was formed, as we both sported matching Indian Larry tats (the red question mark accented with an Iron Cross). My class schedule in June blasted any plans of being able to make the Laconia Rally this year, so when I found out Whitey was heading to Laconia with the club, I asked him to be my eyes and ears.
A little background on Whitey. He was a Lieutenant with Ladder 78, who, after being diagnosed with Sept. 11-related breathing issues, had to retire about two years ago. He's been riding since he was 18 and has been a member of the Fire Riders for almost seven years. He's happily married to a great woman who supports his many road trips, and has two daughters.
Laconia is celebrating its 86th Annual Rally. The record books say the rally actually started in 1923 with the Loudon Classic motorcycle race, although motorcyclists had started gathering there in the summertime as early as 1916. In 1930, the Federation of American Motorcyclists officially recognized the event as part of the Gypsy Tour, and the rally became famous for its motorcycle races and hill climbs.