Mohawk Ramblers ride to survive
Close to a hundred motorcycles turned out for the Mohawk Ramblers' "Save the Ranblers" in July of 2014.
Recorder file photo/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »
A rider exits the Mohawk Ramblers Montague Plains clubhouse area for the "Save the Ramblers" ride in July.
(Recorder/Micky Bedell) Purchase photo reprints »
Close to 100 motorcycles participated in the "Save the Ramblers" ride organized by the Mohawk Ramblers in Montague on Saturday.
Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »
MONTAGUE — With the possibility of eviction from their Montague club house looming at year’s end, the Mohawk Ramblers motorcycle club spent Saturday afternoon trying to raise awareness of their struggle through the method they know best: taking to the streets on their hogs and making some noise.
Close to 100 club members and supporters gathered at the clubhouse in the Montague Plains wildlife management area to participate in the “Save the Ramblers” ride.
Club President Paul Grimand said he hopes the ride would help raise support in the local area to help the club retain its meeting place. The club has held similar events in years past to raise money to help local charities to fund a scholarship that it sponsors for students of Franklin County Technical School.
The club, which was founded in 1958, has made its home in the building on Bartlett Road since the mid-1960s, according Grimand. Shelburne Falls resident John Burek, the club’s treasurer, said the group was originally formed to try to give motorcyclists a better name.
“We wanted to show people that bikers aren’t all the Hollywood bad boys portrayed in the movies,” Burek said.
Over the half century since it was founded, the club’s members have worked to keep their part of the Plains clean and helped out with a variety of projects in local communities, including moving a skatepark in Turners Falls.
Last November, the state’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife sent the club a letter stating that they would need to vacate the building by June 14. The Ramblers’ lease expired several years ago, but they had continued with an informal arrangement.
With the help of Rep. Stephen Kulik, the club was able to work out an agreement with the DFW in April that would allow them to remain in the building until Dec. 31.
According to the DFW, the agency plans to raze the building and restore the Montague Plains Wildlife Management Area, an ecologically significant expanse of scrub pine.
Grimand said Kulik has arranged for a series of meetings to be held between the club and the DFW to resolve the issue, the first of which is expected to be held on July 24.
“We’re hoping we can stay. We don’t see the need to knock down this building and plant more pine trees,” said Grimand, of the struggle. “We’ve seen every critter in the area here at the club house, and we’ve had no impact on anything they’re trying to do.”
Burek said the club would hold a series of raffles and motorcycle-themed “bike games” after the ride, including “slow races” in which contestants line up and ride their motorcycles as slowly as possible without losing their balance and touching the ground with their feet. Contrary to conventional races, the winner is the last person to cross the finish line, he said.
Rodney Miller of Erving, a 22-year veteran of the club, said he hopes the ride will garner additional support from the community.
“I hope it gets the word out and gets people to help us out,” said Miller. “It’s ridiculous, we’ve been here so long. I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid with my dad, and it’s the same with me and my son,” he said.
According to Burek, the club has had opportunities to purchase the building in the past, but could not afford to do so.
“We raise some money, but then we give it all away to help others,” he said.