What do we think of when we hear the words “Celebrity Biker”? We often wonder if that person is riding for publicity or if they are really into the sport. The answer is both, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some of you may disagree but let’s look at both sides of the argument. Part-timers is what we’ll call the publicity seekers and Full-timers is what we’ll call the others. Realistically we should embrace both groups for shining the spotlight on the sport which we hold so near and dear. All of us at K and G Cycles (www.kandgcycles,com) want to applaud them for bringing more attention to our way of life.
Part-timers tend to be the individuals that want that career bolstering photo op, or want to be seen as a wild, free-spirited person. Some choose it as a mid-life crisis type event. Yet others use their fortune to collect and preserve a part of history, most notably Jay Leno, Billy Joel, Malcolm Forbes, and Mike Wolfe just to name a few. One of the most popular Part-timers is none other than our beloved Arthur Fonzarelli(from the 1970’s sitcom “Happy Days”) – Fonzie, played by Henry Winkler, admitted the only actual riding he has ever done was a “Ride up The Cunningham’s driveway during the credits” the rest of the time whenever you saw him “riding” the bikes were mounted on a piece of wood with wheels to make it look like he was riding . (Ah good ole’ Cinematic Magic. I’m going to have to go and watch some old episodes and see if I can spot the trickery) There are numerous other TV based cyclists that never rode unless it was mounted on the camera trailer. Other Part-timers may be looking to endorse a product, make a special appearance, or simply want to be seen in the right spot with the right crowd. Overall, whatever their motive, their mug brings motorcycling to a whole new group.
Full-timers is a bigger category ranging from those that choose it as a form of therapy, ones that simply enjoy its basic form, and still more that tie themselves with a charity to be an attraction for fundraising and attention for the cause. By merely slipping on a full face helmet, celebrities are just another motorcycle rider going down the road. Instant anonymity, at least for a little while. There is a story coming out of Spain about a fellow who ran out of gas and a motorcyclist stopped to give him a hand. The rider looked familiar to the stranded fellow who finally inquired about his identity after accepting a lift into town. The rider under the helmet? None other than King Juan Carlos of Spain out for a ride alone on his motorcycle. Just like you and I, many regardless of their status, live for the two-wheeled experience. Sure so the big brands can say “Joe Actor, or Molly Musician rides our brand”, they often will gift a motorcycle to celebrities, but there are some that prefer classics no longer available from many different manufacturers.
Just like you and I enjoy our anonymity, so do the celebrities when it befalls them, but when they want to use their powers for good, they go BIG! Listed below are some celebrities and how they spend time on a motorcycle.
Neil Peart – Drummer for the Canadian Rock Trio RUSH, used motorcycling as a tool to mourn and reflect his recent family tragedies. With in a 10 month time frame, Peart had lost his daughter in an automobile accident and shortly after lost his wife to cancer. Telling his band mates to consider him retired, Peart set off on a 4 leg, 55,000 mile journey inside his soul while traveling extensively through North and South America, resulting in the critically acclaimed book – Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road, the book was a chronicle of his geographical and emotional journey. Followed by a book detailing a concert tour from behind his drums and from the seat of his BMW motorcycle he rode from show to show: Roadshow: Landscape With Drums, A Concert Tour By Motorcycle
Kyle Petty – Former NASCAR driver hosts The Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America to benefit children’s causes, which since its founding in 2000 has raised over $14 Million, created 2 Victory Junction Gang Camps, where nearly 5,000 children with life threatening or chronic illnesses find hope, laughter, friendship and adventure every year.
Dierks Bentley – Hosts The Miles & Music For Kids Celebrity Motorcycle Ride and Concert, raises money for The Children’s Miracle Networks Hospitals across the U.S. This event has raised more than $1.6 Million in the past 6 years.
This is a mere sample of the contributions motorcycling celebrities make today, there are far to many for me to begin to list . As you see, when it comes right down to it, celebrities still face the challenges we do, and can be as giving and devoted to charity too. I think the common thread is the love of 2 wheels and what it does for each and every one of us. Whether its the excitement of carving up the turns, twisting the throttle a little more, the camaraderie found amongst the friends in your riding group, the mental release from taking the long way home, or the smile on the face of the child waving to you as you ride by. Motorcycling takes us all to another place, allowing us to realize our own little slice of Nirvana, so it is really no big surprise to find as a whole, The Motorcycling Community (celebrity or not) is very generous, especially when it comes to kids.