In Cincinnati Ohio we love many things such as our sports teams, greek style chili, history, the arts and people. When I say people I mean relationships. Relationships are perhaps the thing this family friendly city value most. We are a city of block parties, soccer mom taxis that meet for wine thirty, Churches with coffee shops built into them, Mid Point Music festival, Bockfest and lots of traditions based on our history. Relationships are why I formed the Cincinnati Cafe Racer club back in 2010.
Motorcyclists are notorious as being the lone wolf type, solo riders waving to each other as they pass. I had a few friends that rode but they didn’t ride enough. I needed to find more people to ride with. I wanted to build community around motorcycles. At the time, cafe racers were all the rage with Cafe Racer TV hitting the airwaves along with a magazine. The styling and custom aspect was and remains very appealing. Being the owner of a local interactive agency, social media was part of my daily life. So I searched Facebook & Twitter for local cafe racer clubs and found none. The motorcycle clubs I did find were the traditional Harley biker bad boy leather clad rough necks that I wouldn’t associate with outside of motorcycling, so I had no interest in joining their clubs just because they rode on two wheels. I started a Cafe Racer page on Facebook and started posting cafe racer inspired content. At the end of the first day we had 12 people LIKE us. By the end of the first week we were at 30 and today we are over 1000 likes. I had found my fellow riders and lovers of cafe style, vintage bikes and a modern retro sensibility.
About the same time I also started a Facebook Group just to weed out the people from far flung places and create a more intimate two way discussion for locals to ask advice or to announce a ride that weekend. That group page is our most active on a daily basis with over 400 mostly local people. The generosity and kindness of our local community amazes me on a regular basis. We have a diversity of riders and styles who are willing to help a rider in need.
We also have the public web page for those who are not Facebook people. Our web traffic is significant and we’ve tried to implement a forum on the site for those people to be able to discuss and share. After trying web site forums with limited success of adoption, we eventually decided to stick with Facebook Groups as our forum of choice for local discussion. Our Twitter account has 348 followers and our following are mostly technology savvy social motorcyclists. With a few analog types in the mix as well. We are a social club, not a dues paying biker club. And keeping it light and social seems to be key to our success.
We’ve had happy hours, bike nights, garage nights, monthly meetups in the cold winter days. The Comet Bike Night has been in existence longer than our club and is the original local motorcycle watering hole. Our most visible event of the year which is the Queen City Mods & Rockers rally each June. As we look forward to the third annual we’ve been amazed by the number of people who raise their hand to participate, volunteer and help make it a grand success. Each year people make new friends. The Mighty Ohio Scooter club has been a great partner as their mission of building community is similarly aligned with ours. It’s fun to see scooterists making new friends with vintage motorcycle enthusiasts and growing our two wheel community. The event has increased Cincinnati’s visibility on the national scene as a two wheel enthusiasts hot spot.
The name of Cincinnati Cafe Racer served us well to start and build community even though only a small percentage of our group actually have a cafe racer style bike. And most of us now look at Cafe Racer TV and Mag as a cheap rag full of ads and little substance. The trend has turned downward in exchange for a more open view of what is cool. Most of our members own several types of bikes, antique, classic, modern touring bikes, dual sports, cruisers… and daily are discussing topics that have nothing to do with cafe racer styling. It has become apparent that our name no longer reflect who we are or where we are going. So we contemplate a change. To be more encompassing while retaining our love for vintage motorcycles. A social club that is kind, helpful, fun loving that wants to throw a leg over and go for a ride with old friends and new acquaintances. Building community.
So who is the club? We are all the club. YOU are the club. But to continue to grow and bring value to your fellow local riders YOU must participate. The word Community implies a diverse and willing group of individuals who come together for the greater good. While I do what I can to organize and herd cats for events, rides and gatherings, this is limited by my personal life. If I get busy with work, family or travel these efforts can suffer. My personal schedule this past season has kept me from getting out on the bike or attending bike nights in a way that makes my soul hurt. But this club is not about me, never has been. It is what YOU make it.
In 2014 I need help. There, I said it. I need some of the committed individuals who feel the same about our community to volunteer to be part of a ride committee. 3-4 people who will regularly work together to assemble rides, outings, camp outs. Greg B. has offered to help spearhead this committee. I need people to volunteer to host the community at their home or garage for a cook out, wrench session or just to socialize. I need 3-4 people who are willing to organize regular “wrench and learn” sessions where we come together to help fix nagging mechanical problems on each others bikes. Spread the knowledge and help educate tomorrow’s owners of vintage motorcycles. Help preserve these great old bikes for another hundred years. I need you. We need you. How will you participate this year? How will you make the club even better than before? I hope you will raise your hand and bring your ideas to the table.
In the upcoming weeks we will gather for a discussion of name changes that have been offered up. If you have some ideas of your own, please submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org and join us when we meet for this pivotal time in the club. I hope that we all make 2014 a spectacular year for Cincinnati. And I hope you create some new relationships that last a lifetime.