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Motorcycle enthusiasts form club to restore vintage bikes

Vintage motorcycle enthusiasts in the Mountain State now have a way to connect with similarly minded individuals in their home state.

A group of motorcyclists has successfully petitioned the Antique Motorcycle Club of America for a new chapter in West Virginia. The chapter's charter was approved earlier this month, and was in the hands of the chapter's president, Rick Rogers, last week.

"The objective is to promote the restoration of vintage motorcycles," Rogers said, standing by his 1947 Indian bike at his home in Dupont City.

The new chapter, dubbed the Mountain State Chapter, is the first in West Virginia. It joins more than 50 other AMCA chapters across the United States, Canada and Europe.

The only other chapters close to West Virginia are in the Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Washington, D.C., areas.

Rogers said so far, the club has 48 members and has met formally for five months. Monthly meetings are usually held at a fire hall in Flatwoods, but sometimes the club meets elsewhere in different parts of the state. Members hail from Huntington to areas near Cumberland, Md., and everywhere in between, Rogers said.

There aren't any requirements to join the chapter, except for an enthusiasm for older motorcycles. Ownership of a vintage bike isn't necessary (There are requirements for entering bikes in AMCA shows, though).

"You just have to have an interest in antique motorcycles," Rogers said. "You don't have to have a motorcycle."

Rogers said one of the benefits of being part of a club is interaction with others who have the same interests.

"I enjoy the opportunity for communication to start that potential friendship," he said.

Dave Harlow, a club member who owns Harlow Cycles & ATV in Chelyan, echoed Rogers' sentiment. He said in a way, the club becomes a "system of networking," whereby members can share information and advice with one another.

The idea for a chapter got started several months ago.

Rogers said he started getting into antique bikes after a longtime interest in antique cars and other old memorabilia.

He was already a motorcycle enthusiast anyway, previously serving as the president of the local chapter of the Blue Knights, a motorcycle club made up of active and retired law enforcement officers. He's previously worked for the West Virginia Intelligence Fusion Center, the Regional Jail Authority, the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department and the Dunbar Police Department.

"I've been into antiques since I was a youngster," he said.

Rogers started subscribing to "The Antique Motorcycle," the AMCA's quarterly magazine, and from that, he realized there was not AMCA chapter in his home state.

"I thought it was odd there was never an organized club," he said.

From there, Rogers and a handful of others in the Kanawha Valley got together and started planning the chapter. The group learned that there were 86 people in West Virginia who subscribed to "The Antique Motorcycle," and that number was a start for recruitment for the chapter.

The chapter obtained a business license in May and a 501(c )(3) designation.

"There's a lot to it," Rogers said. "We had to come up with $1,000 cash just to get started."

While part of the chapter's goal is to provide an outlet for vintage motorcycle fans, it also aims to raise money for charitable organizations, like the March of Dimes. Though the chapter is young, it's already participated in the "Bikers for Babies" event in Flatwoods in August. Rogers said the group is looking for other fundraising opportunities as well.

"We didn't raise a lot of money, but it's a start," Harlow said of the event.

Historically, Rogers and Harlow said West Virginia doesn't have as much of a vintage motorcycle presence as other states.

"You don't find that many bikes that often in West Virginia," Harlow said. "They're few and far between here."

Rogers said part of that has to do with history.

"You got to keep in mind that West Virginia was one of the last states to get modern roads," he said. "(Motorcycles) were here, but not in great numbers."

"But what you find out by having a club like ours is that...they're out there," he said. "There's definitely a big interest."

"That's the part I like about it," he said. "You meet new friends, new people."

Though Rogers's 1947 Indian is his current project -- he's just finishing a five-year restoration -- he owns several bikes, both antique and modern. His wife, Cathy, also owns a few bikes herself.

Harlow is in the same situation, also having several older bikes.

"If you get bit by that bug, you're going to have the virus for the rest of your life," Rogers joked. "We're fortunate to have spouses that put up with it, that's for sure."

To learn more about membership in the club, contact Ed Given at 304-765-5193.

Contact writer Matt Murphy at Matt.Murphy@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817.


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