October 6, 2011 by Steven Worden
By Steven Worden
It’s that time of year again: crisp, bright mornings, leaves turning crimson and gold, and once again, the full-throttled rumbling of hundreds of motorcycles can be heard across our land. The Greater Noctule bat flies great distances in search of its prey; the pink-footed goose annually glides across the sea from Iceland to Britain. The Sockeye Salmon struggles up fish ladders to find its way back to the same stream where it was hatched, and the hard-skulled, black-jacketed biker makes his annual fall migration back to Northwest Arkansas.
To the inexperienced observer, all bikers appear the same, unaware of the quite subtle differences within the genus. For example, according to Mr. Michael “Mickey” Huber, a Greenland police officer, bikers may be members of radically different species such as the “Club,” the “Group,” and remarkably, the “Ministry.”
According to Huber, himself, a formidable-looking Marine veteran with a Fu Manchu mustache, members of a Club can identified by their “outlaw” markings in the form of patches: Hell’s Angels, Bandidos, Mongols, etc. “One percenters” they have been called. On the other hand, Huber noted that members of a group can be spotted by their characteristic markings indicating that they are “sober” riders or that they identify with a cause such as “B.A.C.A” as in Bikers Against Child Abuse. The third and last species in the biker taxonomy is that of the Ministry.
Typical Ministries include those such as the CMA or Christian Motorcycle Association, the Cross Bearers, and the Knights on Bikes. Ministries can be identified with patches symbolizing crosses, or in the case of Knights on Bikes, every member wears a black leather vest emblazoned on the back with the insignia of the Knights of Columbus and a golden cross. As President and co-founder of the Arkansas Chapter of Knights on Bikes, Michael Huber knows a lot about biker ministries.
According to Huber, the mission of Knights on Bikes is to “spread the Word, do charitable work, support the Knights of Columbus, the Diocese, the Bishop, and our local priests.” Yes, members of Knights on Bikes are also members of the Catholic men’s service organization, the Knights of Columbus, who just happen to enjoy the camaraderie of together riding their motorcycles out on the scenic byways of Arkansas. As “Mickey” expressed it: “We enjoy just hanging out with friends who share our core beliefs and values. We don’t have to worry about being around a lot of people who perhaps do not share our values.”
But, the Knights on Bikes do a lot more than simply roar around out on bike rallies. This past week, the Knights on Bikes worked from early morning until late into the night cramming bikes tightly together in parking lots for Bikes, Blues, and Barbeque. As bikers and locals threaded their up and down sidewalks crowded with hawkers of memorabilia, souvenirs, and leather goods, Huber and his crew of Knights skillfully lined up large motorcycles in neat rows by the glare of flashlights and a floodlight, all the while keeping a watchful eye on riders’ cycles and gear. Huber and his group somehow kept the chaos under control with Huber stalking around the lots, waving his arms, signaling here and there, a vacant slot for a bike.
The money that the Knights generate at these and other events all goes to charities such as Autism Speaks, the Wheelchair Fund, as well as to help support seminarians, and other Knights of Columbus projects that benefit the Parish, the school, and the local community.
In short, although the annual invasion of our community by bikers might, by some, be as welcome as the reappearance of the Rocky Mountain Locust, the Army Cutworm, or spawning eels, for the Knights on Bikes, such an event signals a welcome opportunity to witness to other bikers, be a visual witness on behalf of their faith, and raise money for charity. The Arkansas Chapter of Knights on Bikes can be contacted at their website, www.knightsonbikesarkansas.com (And no, a new member does not have to spend a year as a “Prospect,” cleaning bathrooms, shining members’ boots, etc.).