The summer 1969 was a defining year for all true motorcycle enthusiasts, the images of Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson riding in search of America in the now cult classic film Easy Rider introduced us to a whole new culture of men & machines.
1969 was also the year of the Stonewall Riots in New York City – which were to redefine what it is to be gay in America.
That same summer a small group of men from Seattle and Vancouver B.C. decided to form the Border Riders Motorcycle Club.
In itself that seems like a rather insignificant event in the history of motorcycling but the Border Riders have grown into the largest and oldest international motorcycle club for gay men – no small feat when you consider the obstacles they’ve overcome in those 30+ years. Being gay has meant dealing with homophobia and being a “biker” and in the 70s and 80s it was an uphill ride.
The Club’s activities during this period were mostly low key and centered around day trips and camping runs. The Wenatchee National Forest and the Leavenworth area soon became favorite summer destinations and the site of what would become an annual event that has lasted 31 years – The Victoria Day Run.
The mid 80s brought new challenges in the form of an emerging pandemic which was to become known as AIDS. Many riders and friends were lost at a time when the club was just beginning to “come out”.
With the more accepting attitudes prevailing in the 90s the club gradually began to and interest grew steadily throughout the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. An expanding membership brought with it the need to address issues of group riding safety while at the same time welcoming the novice as well as the seasoned rider and all makes and sizes of machines. Few clubs could do more to make group motorcycling so appealing.
The Border Riders Motorcycle Club promotes motorcycle safety and education, on safe and legal machinery, following all applicable laws and regulations. Most rides and events are open to all legally licensed and insured motorcyclists who wish to participate. All motorcycles must be capable of freeway speeds and in good running condition. The commonality that binds us is the love of motorcycling and the enjoyment that comes from touring some of the best roads for motorcycling in Canada and the USA—all in a spirit of friendship and safety. Our members ride a variety of makes and models of motorcycles
Now with popular monthly day trips in Seattle and Vancouver B.C. as well as 2 day camping trips throughout Washington, Oregon and British Columbia the Border Riders have earned their place in motorcycling and gay history.
The Victoria Day Run held each May now brings together more than 75 gay bikers & friends from across the Western States and Provinces. First time attendees are always amazed to find a fully stocked camp kitchen in the middle of the wilderness serving up eggs benedict and 3 course BBQ’d steak dinners. A day trip through the North Cascades, trying one’s luck at the Biker Rodeo or simply enjoying a chat around the campfire at night adds to the fun of this unique outdoor camping experience.
While the Club remains true to it’s original vision of providing a social fraternity for gay men interested in motorcycle touring it is also working hard to keep pace with the changing social and political climate. A first rate monthly club newsletter and web page keep the members and friends as well as other gay motorcycle enthusiasts all over the World informed on the activities of the club.
Randy Harris 1998-2000 President, BRMC