Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the Kenai Peninsula raised $1,000 for Southern Peninsula Alaska Bikers Advocating Training and Education during the group’s first rally since changing directions last year.
Previously known as Kenai Peninsula ABATE, the group lost its nonprofit status and reapplied for it in 2014, and decided to change the name as well, said Treasurer Sara Sproul.
On Saturday morning, about 17 members of the group gathered at the King Salmon Restaurant in Soldotna for a bike rally that made five stops around the Peninsula and ended in a raffle drawing. Each participant contributed $100 to enter, and were given the opportunity to buy additional tickets at each stop.
The rally concluded at Renegades Custom Cycle in Soldotna, which is owned and operated by ABATE members Steve and Judy Phipps.
Member and past chapter president Gary “Tinker” Anderson said that considering the rally was new and took place during the busy dipnet season, the ride went well for all the bikers.
“We could have picked a better time,” he said. “(But) it went great.
Anderson has been involved with ABATE since the 1980s. He said the group also puts on an annual memorial ride for all the chapter members who are no longer living.
“We don’t really care what you ride, (but) if you ride with us, ride safe,” Anderson said. “We don’t want to read about our friends in the papers.”
Run Coordinator Chad Sproul, of Soldotna, said the rally took about a month to plan. He said better timing could have enticed more members to participate, but that it was a success nonetheless.
“For a first go-around, it went excellent. Couldn’t ask for anything better,” Sproul said. “It is strictly to raise money for ABATE to be able to do more activities as a group. This will help fund more runs.”
In addition to a successful fundraiser for the group, the bikers had a more personal celebration to attend to at Renegades. Two members, Darren Sanger and Brittney Sparhawk, of Kenai, were married in the Renegades shop that afternoon after the rally. Owner Judy Phipps said the rally and wedding were not originally planned together, but fell into place.
“The rally was first,” Judy Phipps said. “Britt and Darren were going to get married on the 10th, and then I said, ‘You know what, why don’t you guys just get married here?’”
The Renegades shop was already set up for the barbecue, and a podium was erected and decorated for the couple. Sproul, who performed the ceremony, positioned his bike next to the podium for good measure.
“We came together as a family,” Sproul said. “At first, they wanted to get married in the courthouse, and we said, ‘No, you guys are too special to us to not have a ceremony and have it (be) a family matter.’”
Without the help of his fellow ABATE members, Sanger said the wedding would not have come together the way it did.
In the future, ABATE members hope to continue spreading awareness about the culture surrounding motorcycles, as well as safety when it comes to sharing the road with them. Member Antonio Sandoval, of Kasilof, writes articles for the group’s newsletter, and said educating the public about the nonprofit’s mission for safety is increasingly important as more people take to bikes.
“We need to get more people out there who enjoy riding, to see what it’s really like,” Sandoval said.
A biker for almost 60 years, Sandoval plans to continue pressing forward with education, including posters, periodicals and “show and shine” events, where community members can view the group’s bikes while learning more about the bikers themselves.