Gay cycle clubs enjoy the freedom on the road for 2-wheeler junkies
Kelly Murphy really loves his bike. Really.
"When it’s had to be in the shop overnight, I have this separation anxiety. I don’t relax until it’s back home," Murphy says sincerely.
Small wonder: Murphy put 42,000 miles on his Honda CVR 1000 in about two years. "This is the bike that pumps my adrenaline," he says.
Murphy and his frequent riding partner Marty Huey have a love of the road, but don’t want doors on their rides. Huey, who rides a BMW K1200R, begins his description of riding with a list of sensations.
"Freedom. Daring as well. Open to the elements and other drivers. Exhilaration, like mountain climbing, but you have lots of control in your own hands," he says.
"All of your senses are heightened," adds Murphy, noting that the excitement astounds anyone who tries it.
It’s no surprise, then, that Murphy and Huey belong to not one, but two local gay biker groups: Spectrum Motorcycle Club (for which Murphy once served as president) and Battalion Motorcycle Club (Huey’s organization). These groups give gay gearheads a chance to run wild.
Battalion, the "old guard" club (it’s been around since 1974), is for gay male bike owners; Spectrum is a newer breed, mostly with gay men but open to lesbians and straight members, both of which it has (and you don’t need a bike to belong).
Mike Devore, the president of Spectrum, says the group has just signed up its 128th member. Four years ago, he notes, there were just 31 riders with the club.
The group sponsors monthly rides, which are shorter than his usual excursions, Murphy says.
Each year, the group rides to the National Motorcycle Show, which took place earlier this month in Dallas. Devore jokes that the group had to ride around the neighborhood repeatedly to make up for the lack of distance getting to the event.
Spectrum stages day rides. Devore says a popular ride is to Stephenville, about 125 miles away, stop for a barbeque and ride back. Tyler State Park, Turner Falls in Oklahoma and the Guadalupe River are other popular destinations. Spectrum plans a Murder Mystery Ride to Cleburne, including staying over at a bed and breakfast adjacent to a cemetery, Devore says.
Battalion stages five major rides a year. They ride in formation and break into groups of 8 to 10 for safety and to accommodate riding ability. But where you go isn’t the point, Huey says — riding a motorcycle is about the journey.
"If it were about the destination, I’d fly," Huey smirks. On a 13-day trip to Key West, they spent just a day and a half on the island. While others go for the gay nightlife, Huey describes the road — a 100-mile-long chain of bridges that connects the Keys — as the main appeal.
Only from the vantage of a motorcycle can you fully experience the water, he says. From a car, the water is out there, but riding over the old metal grate drawbridges that link the islands, the emerald water is just below his feet.
The highlight of a trip to Washington, D.C. was the "Tail of the Dragon," aka U.S. Highway 129. This hilly 11-mile stretch through North Carolina and Tennessee has 318 curves and is known as the best motorcycle roadway in America.
Murphy recounts a cross-country trip west that he says was longer than usually recommended for his sport bike: From Dallas, he rode to the Grand Canyon, up to Las Vegas and across to Los Angeles, then headed up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco and Lake Tahoe.
"The extreme heat and the threat of running out of fuel on long stretches in the desert" were among the perils faced. "Then there were the mountains of Lake Tahoe and freezing your ass off."
His bike holds only four gallons of gas, which added to the adventure as he crossed Nevada’s Highway 50, also known as "the loneliest highway in America" with 120 miles between gas stations.
Despite its seeming solitariness, for Murphy riding is about the "awesome camaraderie" that develops with a buddy. Stops for gas or food or photos are impromptu; Bluetooth technology facilitates communication between riders.
Huey and a group from Battalion took what he describes as a casual ride to Jasper, Ark.: They rafted down the Buffalo River for six hours before being transported back to Jasper and their bikes. Murphy says they schedule for the slowest rider, various types of bikes and a range of experience.
Murphy says he’s never gone as far as bringing his bike to bed with him, but on one trip he didn’t feel safe leaving it in the motel parking lot, so he hauled it into the room with him.
That’s truly love of the road.
Spectrum Motorcycle Club meets at The Mining Company on the first Wednesday of the month and at Sue Ellen’s the third Wednesday of the month, 7â€“9 p.m. Spectrum-mrc.com. Battalion Motorcycle Club sponsors five rides a year. Battalionmc.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 28, 2008.