Weekly Feature



2014-09-10 / Lifestyles

The road of Red Knights: Motorcycle club wears two helmets

by ANNA WALTERS
Reporter


Scott Preston, on his bike, and Blake Strom are charter members of the Red Knights NY Chapter 21 Motorcycle Club. Strom says its motto is “a safe, fun ride.” 
Photos by Jim Smerecak. Purchase color photos atwww.BeeNews.com Scott Preston, on his bike, and Blake Strom are charter members of the Red Knights NY Chapter 21 Motorcycle Club. Strom says its motto is “a safe, fun ride.” Photos by Jim Smerecak. Purchase color photos atwww.BeeNews.com A Red Knight’s leather vest displays his club’s colors as he clutches the handlebars of his motorcycle.

“When I ride, it’s freedom for me,” said Blake Strom, a charter member of the Red Knights NY Chapter 21. “It’s the freedom of the open road and the smells when you ride.”

But Strom’s interest is not just in the riding itself, or even the camaraderie with other motorcyclists. The Red

Knights are current or past firefighters who also participate in charitable events.

Founded in 1983, the Red Knights

International Firefighters Motorcycle Club comprises both men and women of the fire service.

According to Scott Preston, another Chapter 21 charter member, any firefighter — including military, professional, volunteer or industrial fire brigade — can join as long as the person has a motorcycle license. The club is also open to all makes and models of motorcycles.


Blake Strom and Scott Preston are firefighters of the Getzville Fire Company, located at 630 Dodge Road. According to Strom and Preston, the club also helps firefighters when they are in need. Blake Strom and Scott Preston are firefighters of the Getzville Fire Company, located at 630 Dodge Road. According to Strom and Preston, the club also helps firefighters when they are in need. This is the 11th year for the chapter, which recently participated in the inaugural SSG William R. “Billy” Wilson III Memorial Motorcycle Ride, held in honor of the fallen soldier, Strom said.

Along with riding together, the club works with charities, provides donations, holds a rose sale and has facilitated security jobs at various venues, such as the Jamboree In The Hills concert.

Strom, who has been a firefighter for 27 years with the Getzville Fire Company, says the club represents Mercy Flight, a not-for-profit provider of emergency air-medical transport and services.


The Red Knights NY Chapter 21 leather vest displays the club’s colors. Strom says he tries to wear his vest whenever he goes out for a ride with the Red Knights. The Red Knights NY Chapter 21 leather vest displays the club’s colors. Strom says he tries to wear his vest whenever he goes out for a ride with the Red Knights. “Our purpose is to assist the community with our fundraising and help out the different charities,” Strom said.

The club’s mission is also to promote motorcycle safety, so its members spread awareness and attend programs if they are available.

“You’re always learning; you’re never too old to learn,” Strom said. “If you feel like you’ve learned enough, that’s when something happens.”

According to Preston, who is the chief of the Getzville Fire Company, the club holds two rides.

He said one ride is called the Red Knight, and the other is the Grand Tour. For the Red Knight, club members have to ride around to area fire halls whose names start with the letters in “Red Knight.”

“You have to take a picture in front of the fire hall sign as a group. You send it in to international, and when you’re completed, you get the [Red Knight] pin.”

Strom says he joined the club to meet firefighters from other departments and for the enjoyment of riding. He said so much time is spent volunteering at the firehouse that it’s nice to enjoy the social aspect of club get-togethers, such as going out for ice cream and taking a ride up to Wilson.

“It makes for great friends; it brings the firefighters closer together,” he said.

The club meets the second Tuesday of every month at the Erie County Firemen’s Museum, and annual dues are $15. Strom says the museum serves as its clubhouse.

According to Preston, the club is family-oriented and promotes safe riding. Strom’s daughter, Jessica, who is assistant chief, rides as a passenger, and Preston’s whole family is involved, including his two daughters, Jenessa and Jordan.

“It’s a group where the family is also involved … so we do a ride that the wives can join it as associate members,” he said. “You can join as a family member and pay a fee for the whole family to be involved.

“We will meet on the bikes, and then our group will go out and meet at a restaurant for breakfast, and our families will join us, and we’ll have a gigantic breakfast with the club.”

When operating their motorcycles on the road, the club members ride staggered.

“When you ride, people stop cutting the grass; they’ll wave,” Strom said. “They recognize you out there.”

Preston says the club has road captains — one who leads and one who follows, who communicate through a two-way radio. They provide signals to one another to warn about a pothole or debris in the road, or to stop.

Strom described the experience of riding that people don’t get in a car. He cited the scent of fresh-cut grass, as well as that of grapes in the fall when passing through wine country. There are also the changes in air temperature.

“It may be a nice hot, humid night. … You go by a creek or you go by open grass where it might be foggy, and you feel that cold,” he said. “They say it’s like going through a refrigerated alley because you feel the coldness.”

According to Strom, the Red Knights want people to know that “it’s a different world out there.”

“When somebody sees someone on a motorcycle, it can be a middle-aged guy or a guy who has four kids; it’s not that old-style tough motorcycle guy.”

For more information, visit www.redknightsmc.com or rkny21.org.

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