From the December 2009 BMW Owners News
By Joe Majsak #143915 and Dietrich Schmidt #144077
"Meet in an informal setting, promote and protect the interests of motorcyclists, share common interests and above all, enjoy riding on the best motorcycles on earth-heavy emphasis on riding!"
Those words greet visitors to the Westchester Beemers Web site. Created in 2003, the club has evolved but never lost sight of its most important value-the commitment to riding! Founded in September 2003 by Kurt Abisch, the Westchester Beemers draws 85% of its members from Westchester County, New York, north of New York City. The role of Westchester BMW Motorcycles in White Plains, New York was a critical part of the Club's formation and early success. They helped sponsor many of the club activities and events and provided promotional apparel, meeting space and mailings and serving as a practical meet-up point for club rides.
Forty individuals attended the first meeting at Westchester BMW. Membership climbed to 56 by the end of 2003. On an overnight trip in 2005, six riders motored to Woods Hole, Massachusetts and took the ferry to Nantucket for a weekend of Riding, barbeques and storytelling. One evening, an adventurous pack headed out for an evening ride, and got hopelessly lost in fog that caught them by surprise. That trip also occurred during the World Series. It was a little tricky rooting for the Yankees in a pub smack dab in the middle of the Red Sox Nation. We thought motorcycle riding in the fog was dangerous!
Sadly, 2005 marked the closing of the Westchester BMW Motorcycles dealership which had an unfavorable impact on the club. Most significant was the loss of a central location to have a cup of coffee and share experiences. Club membership dwindled for a few years, but has risen back up to 55 members. Kurt and the "committed core" kept right on Riding and rebuilding through this temporary setback.
Formation of the club's Web site, led by Webmaster Gilbert Goon, helped get our messages out and attract new members. One of the most successful strategies Kurt adopted was formation of an Executive Committee as our membership growth spurt was gaining momentum. The club has been served well by the delegation of responsibilities and activities, with Kurt guiding the output. We have four coordinator roles: Web site, Events, Yahoo Group Administrator and Marketing.
We maintain both a public Web site and a private community site for members only which provides an easy way for members to communicate with each other and maintain a calendar of events. A key aspect to our success was the decision to invest in planning during the winter and spring months only. No one cares to be planted in a diner, planning club activities, when they could be riding! Not that the Westchester Beemers go into hibernation; a crew of "polar bear" riders continue to ride through the winter months. In mid-February 2009, seven members rode along the west bank of the Hudson River to Beacon, New York, watching huge ice floes glide down the river.
Another strategy of the Executive Committee was to amplify what we do best! We committed to club rides every other week from March through November riding to a lunch or entertainment location, and returning home by late afternoon. Groups range from six to more than 30 riders.
We decided to sponsor a charity rally in 2009 and selected the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as benefactor, attracting nearly 50 motorcyclists to the "MS Walk" event. Raising a total of $13,161, we came in fifth out of more than 130 teams!
Late May found club members on a day trip to Bethel Woods Museum, site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival. Winding along the Delaware River through the famous "Hawk's Nest" on PA 97 was a thrill. The variety and quality of exhibits puts the museum on the "must see" list for adults and children alike.
We targeted Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, for an early June excursion, designed to accommodate spouses. A cozy restaurant turned out just perfect for our mixed group, and after an excellent dinner, we strolled across the famous "Bridge of Flowers" and through town. Riding the Mohawk Trail, was an awesome experience, capped by the famous Switchback just west of the summit.
The Fourth of July was celebrated with a day trip to New Hope, Pennsylvania, including a mother/daughter "first time duo." Eleven riders made their way to Dilly's on Route 32, north of New Hope. The winding back roads through New York and Pennsylvania were a relaxing way to spend a weekend sojourn with Club riders and family members.
In July, 17 club members participated in the 2009 BMW MOA International Rally. This was a first for our club, and an enormous success. It was a good test of group riding skills over a long distance, and we also took advantage of famous routes, from the Snake to the Tail of the Dragon. Despite the variety of riding styles and personal preferences, we managed to enjoy a range of riding and entertainment activities together and formed even stronger bonds.
Another club first was the August "Summer Club BBQ." A club member generously hosted the event, complete with swimming pool and plenty of space to spread out and have fun, attracting over forty participants. One of the highlights was special guest Piet Boonsta, author of Motorcycling Stories - Adventure Touring, who regaled us with his adventures to Alaska and other exotic destinations on two wheels.
In early August, two Club members rode up to the Yankee Beemers Motorcycle Club Damn Yankees Rally in rustic Western Massachusetts. This was the first camping rally experience for them, with the motorcycling events being particularly entertaining: slow races, water balloon catch, and an off-road obstacle course which tested the skills of a variety of machines and their operators. Watching a K1200GT try to tame the grass-covered course was just amazing. It was great making connections with the Yankee Beemers, too.
Even with the explosion of these Club activities, our basic theme remains a simple one: build our activities around Riding, and everything else falls into place. Attract new members who love to ride. Make our club a welcoming place for "born again" motorcyclists, and welcome all brands.
It's been an interesting, challenging and rewarding adventure for the Westchester Beemers. We have all the right ingredients in place for lots of fun in the future and are proud of what we've accomplished in the recent past. With a blend of patience and creativity, plenty lies ahead.
As one wise man once put it, "People ask us why we ride a motorcycle. For those who have experienced the joy, no explanation is necessary; for those who have not, no explanation is possible." Westchester Beemer version: "Only a motorcyclist can understand why a dog rides with its head outside the window."