|Prior to joining a Motorcycle club like the USMVMC, it is imperative that one understands the philosophy of the traditional motorcycle club (MC), how it is organized, and what to expect from membership in one. Each MC has many things in common with others, but each is still distinct in its overall philosophy. Even chapters within the same national organization, while subject to the bylaws of that particular club, adopt their own policies and procedures and develop their own collective personalities. This is not surprising, given the fiercely independent nature of most motorcycle riders.
If Motorcycle riding is a significant part of your lifestyle, it is natural that you would look at organizations that center their existence around motorcycles, riding, and associated activities. There are however, many types of motorcycle organizations. Being correctly informed can lead you to the correct type and specific group that is right for you. Within the motorcycling community are subcultures that if entered into recklessly or with the wrong intention, can prove to be detrimental to both the group and the individual.
Regardless of what type of club a rider is affiliated with, we are all part of the motorcycle community. Members of the general public do not understand the distinction between MCs, MAs, and RCs. In view of this, most organizations tend to expect that their members act so as to bring favorable credit upon the motorcycling community in general. Further, almost all organizations expect of their members a certain level of respect towards all other organizations and their members. The USMVMC is no different.
Riding clubs (RC) are one type of group that appeals to those that want to go on rides occasionally with a group, but do not want a deep personal commitment to the other members or to the interests or goals of the collective. Pay your dues (or buy the right brand of bike), sign up online, and you’re in. Decide that you don’t want to be in anymore, or sell that bike, and you go on with your life, and few will miss you. Make a few friends, have a good time, learn a little about riding and your machine, go on some group runs, maybe even have a fundraiser or two. Ride with the group, have a good time. Examples of these are the Goldwing Road Rider’s Association, Shadow Riders, or HOG. All good, respectable groups, all can be a lot of fun, all part of the motorcycling community, but they different from the true MC in many ways. These can be a good place for those “weekend warriors” that don’t want to adopt motorcycling or others who ride them as a pervasive part of their lifestyle.
Motorcycle associations (MA) are groups that center on motorcycles as well, but have a specific purpose behind that affiliation. Members do not necessarily have to be riders. Most, if not all are very beneficial to the motorcycling community, and have a considerable history. Many have accomplished a great deal to further the interests of the motorcycling community. The American Motorcycle Association, the Christian Motorcycle association, and Motorcycle Associations with geographic, ethnic or specific motorcycle interests such as the Southern California Motorcycle Association, the Latin American Motorcycle Association (LAMA) or the Modified Motorcycle Association are but a few examples of these. Membership is dependent on different criteria within each association, but they are generally not very exclusive. Their members are drawn together by a common interest within the motorcycle world.
Motorcycle Clubs are the pinnacle of the motorcycle community. They command respect for a number of reasons. While anyone can thuggishly demand respect, only a true MC can command it through the consistently mature and professional conduct of each of its members. Members are chosen by the organization, and while many may be invited to take a look, only a few will be asked to join. Members of traditional MCs must demonstrate a level of personal commitment and self-discipline uncommon in today’s society. Motorcycle Clubs relate to other clubs through mutual respect and protocols. They are proud of their brotherhood, their colors and their club. Recognizing that an entire club can be stigmatized by the inappropriate acts of a single individual flying their colors, new members generally go through a probationary period where they learn the protocols and expectations of the Motorcycle Club community before they are awarded the full colors of that Club. Individuals who lack respect for themselves, their brothers in the club, and other members of the MC subculture will not find a place in any true MC. A true MC demands that it’s members portray to the general public a positive image of their club and motorcyclists. To this end, full colors are earned only when a probationary member demonstrates a firm grasp of the behaviors expected of him. A true MC strives to be respected and admired by the community rather than feared. The “golden rule” applies; you have to give respect to get respect.
Within the confines of a given MC, a common thread is Loyalty. Before a probationary member (probate) is awarded his colors, he must demonstrate his loyalty to his brothers. The strength of the MC is the bond between men who are all looking to help his brothers. Before a patch member can in all good conscience raise a hand in favor of awarding a full patch to a probate he has to ask himself whether he believes that that probate is truly living up to the standards expected. Will he constantly look for ways to help his brothers and his club, or is he in it for himself? It can be difficult to do, but each patchholder must be able to say, “Nope, he hasn’t got it just yet”, and withhold his vote. Probation is just that. It is not initiation, it is not a rite conferred by some dark, secret ceremony. It’s not beer bongs and toga parties and silly, demeaning stunts like a college fraternity. It is a period of time, however long, that gives the probate time to learn ‘what it takes’. It is a period of learning, paying attention, of education. It is time where the habit of participating, trusting your brothers, (often blindly) maintaining a good attitude, and getting acquainted with the men with which he will one day become brothers. The list goes on. Motorcyclists, by nature, are individualistic and hardheaded. Much like learning to be a soldier in the Army, the individual must learn why he should strive to be part of the institution and what forms that effort should take.
Once the Patch is awarded, life does not get easier. There is no coasting. Each member is expected to pull more than his weight. As a member reaches higher levels of experience, his brothers look to him to provide leadership. There are decisions to be made, other clubs to relate to, causes to be fought and won. There are brothers to be taken care of, charities to be funded, and a family to be kept safe. There is always commitment to the club. There is always the expectation that the individual will conduct himself in a manner that projects a positive image to the Motorcycle Club community and the general public.
The USMVMC is a true three-piece patch Motorcycle Club. We are an association of veterans, a Club of bikers, a band of brothers. We are recognized and respected by other MCs both locally and nationally. We support each other, and recognize that each member has family and professional obligations, and expect that our members meet those priorities in a mature and responsible manner. We have two common bonds; first, we are Motorcyclists. Second, we have honorably served this nation and stood in harm’s way to defend her. We are not solely a veteran’s organization, such as the VFW (though many of us are life members). We come to the plate knowing about such things as loyalty, duty, and sacrifice. We learned these things in uniform. Here we find a place to consistently encounter those things we value most when on Active Duty- respect, camaraderie, unity, and brotherhood.