News Item: Bikers born to run -- into the law
(Category: Biker News)
Posted by MJF
Monday 05 June 2006 - 12:57:06

Montgomery Advertiser
Bikers born to run -- into the law
By Mike Linn

BIRMINGHAM -- Just north of downtown, on streets with little traffic and light, young men are getting their kicks on motorcycles.

They stand on their seats, pop wheelies and ride on their front tires. After about 20 minutes, they bolt to evade the uniformed men and women they love to hate.

Their world is extreme biking, an up-and-coming daredevil sport that might make Evel Knievel proud but makes motorists and police shudder.

Across the state, more and more teens and twentysomethings are hopping on sport motorcycles and learning tricks once relegated to skateboards, bicycles and surfboards.

They can be seen zipping through traffic on Interstate 85 between Montgomery and Auburn or popping wheelies on Interstate 65 near Clanton.

"The sports bike scene here is blowing up," said John Moore of Close Call Riderz, a Birmingham-based extreme biking club made up mostly of college students and younger professionals.

Close Call Riderz's 15 or so members have turned city streets and interstates into their personal playgrounds, and they have become adept at pestering police officers they say are simply out to get them.

"They'll pull you over for anything," said Moore, 22, who is studying to be a pharmacist. "It's gotten to the point where you just can't enjoy it anymore. They treat us like we're a bunch of drug dealers running cocaine or something."

Authorities say they're merely protecting the driving public and the bikers themselves.

Statistics from the Alabama Department of Public Safety show how dangerous motorcycles can be. Motorcycle-related fatalities in Alabama hit 75 in 2004, up from 52 in 2003 and 45 in 2002. Last year, the number of motorcycle-related fatalities was 60.

"We're seeing more and more of these guys engaging in high-risk behavior," said the department's Sgt. Tim Sartain.

One weekend this spring, when a sports bike show was going on, troopers used a helicopter to help apprehend speeding bikers on highways in the Birmingham area.

Without a helicopter, troopers find it nearly impossible to catch the speeders because the foreign-made bikes, commonly referred to as ninjas or crotch rockets, can accelerate to 165 mph in seconds, Sartain said.

Extreme biking was spawned from an Ohio-based motorcycle club, Starboyz, more than five years ago and is most popular in big cities, according to the American Motorcyclist Association.

Tim Langley, who owns the motorcycle resort 29 Dreams north of Birmingham, said extreme biking is particularly popular among the younger riders who don't have the money to afford Harley-Davidson bikes.

"Any time you can send a 17-year-old kid to a Kawasaki or Yamaha dealer, and they can buy a motorcycle that goes 150 mph with no money down ... I think you're putting a machine in a kid's hand that he's not capable of handling," he said.

Most of the 6.6 million motorcycle owners in America, though, obey speed limits and are safe when they ride, according to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, a national safety advocacy group.

"The younger, less experienced riders give the majority of sport bikers a bad reputation," said Tim O'Dell, 33, who lives in Ashville. "We pretty much look down on those guys. We try to get the message out that that's not the cool thing to do. We try to promote riding at the track where it's safer and wearing the proper gear."

Extreme bikers say such animosity is a sign they're misunderstood.

J.T. Hunt said he and other Close Call Riderz members do their stunts only on roads and highways where there is little or no traffic.

Racetracks and drag strips have too many rules, said Hunt, 27, an electrician.

"If we had a place where we could play, a place where we could do our thing and express ourselves besides a racetrack or a drag strip ... then we wouldn't be taking illegal activity to the street," said Hunt, who admits to 43 wrecks trying to learn a trick. "All we want to do is have fun."

For Moore, members of Close Call Riderz are like family -- and he doesn't want to lose that.

"It's a lifestyle," he said. "These guys are the best friends I've ever had. It's not fair we have such a bad stereotype."

This news item is from White Trash Networks
( )