'I ride because I can': Bikers ride to Roundhouse to advocate for their community
January 27, 2018 09:17 PM
SANTA FE, N.M. – Proudly sporting leather jackets and an ironclad mindset, members of the New Mexico Motorcyclists Rights Organization continued a 15-year tradition of descending upon the Roundhouse in Santa Fe to make sure lawmakers hear their voices loud and clear.
They sounded off on motorcyclist rights, while also working to dispel the sometimes negative stigma associated with bikers.
"More gas-and-boots than grassroots, but that's really what it is," said Raymond Gallegos of the NMMRO. "It's the community coming together and expressing our voices to lawmakers to let them know that we're here."
Annette Torrez said the lack of anti-biker legislation shows that their annual meetings with state lawmakers work.
"We're lucky that this year there wasn't any, and I think a big part of that is they know how strong we are as a community," she said. "When they bring legislation against us, we actually come out in numbers."
But along with the growth in New Mexico's biker community has also come a lot of pain. Torrez said there were 309 motorcycle crashes in the state in 2017; 59 of them were fatal.
"I feel like every time a biker goes down, a piece of my heart goes with them. Many times it's people that I know, and that is so difficult," she said. "But to hear a mother say, 'I'm never going to see my son again,' or to hear a father say, 'I don't know where my son's body is,' you can't help but feel that pain that they're feeling. So even though I don't know these people, they're still family."
It's something the NMMRO makes sure victims and survivors know – that they are being remembered and fought for. The organization's Biker Down program has helped provide hundreds with physical and emotional support.
"We recognize those people – the families that sought out support and we were able to help," Gallegos said. "We call out their names and we have what we call a survivor patch. If they have a family member or they survived, we give them a patch."
It's an entire community united in their love for the ride and the freedom it brings.
"A bird flies because it can," Gallegos said, "and I ride because I can. It’s where I do some of my best thinking."
Updated: January 27, 2018 09:17 PM
Created: January 27, 2018 07:24 PM
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