by Cliff Yankovich
photography by the author, Mark Haldane, Gail Hatch and Steve Williams
Are you the kind of rider who wants to get a little more time in the saddle? Does the thought of a “motorcycle season” stick in your craw and maybe even honk you off a little? Do you want to leave your bike near the door of the garage when the rest of your riding buddies are administering their annual doses of Sta-Bil and looking in the closet for their Battery Tenders? Does the thought of riding when the temperatures in your neck of the woods are either too hot or too cold for most “normal” people appeal to you in any way? If you answered “yes” to any or all of the preceding questions, then take heart brothers and sisters, because you are not weird and, more importantly, you are not alone.
Let me introduce you to a group of like-minded riders who are trying their best to add a new word to the lexicon of motorcycle riding. The word is “Rounder,” and the group goes by the same name. Rounders are folks who make it a goal to ride all year-round. These men and women are very diverse in many ways, yet they have the love of riding in common. Their diversity is reflected geographically—members of the group hail from Alaska to Australia; California to Korea; Massachusetts to Slovenia; and a whole lot of other places scattered all across the fruited plain—with heavy representation from the East Coast, the Great Lakes region and Canada. Although there has been a heavy influx of Suzuki V-Strom riders of late, Rounders ride everything from a scooter to a Harley Road King and they pride themselves on their Bike Ecumenism, i.e. a tolerance of all brands of two-wheeled transport (Oops, make that up to three wheels, because we can’t leave out the Urals, other sidecars and trikes).
Not only do the Rounder bikes differ, but so do their riding styles. Rounders include Iron Butt-certified hard-core distance junkies, but you will also find a lot of daily commuters in the club. Rounders offer an alternative to the Iron Butt rally, a one-day ride of no more than 300 miles they proudly call the Marshmallow Butt 235 in which bonus points are awarded for getting lost, getting lost on purpose and for counting dead insects on “your motorcycle, helmet, jacket or person.” There are go-fast Rounders, slow Rounders, dual-sport Rounders, and some who like to embrace several types of bikes and riding styles.
As you can probably discern, Rounders do not take themselves or their club very seriously. At the same time, they are serious about some things such as motorcycle safety, zero tolerance for brand bashing and maintaining a web forum that is PG rated and welcoming to any rider interested in pushing his or her personal riding envelope. You won’t find any contests on the Rounders website as they tend to only compete with themselves.
Let me tell you a little bit about the origins of Rounderdom. A few of us in the Great Lakes area were active on the BMWMOA forum and we took inspiration from a guy on the East Coast who would post pictures of his bike underneath bank signs displaying temps in the low teens. Frankly, I always hated putting my bike away because I felt cheated since insurance and loan payments went on 12 months of the year. Shoot, if the Old Kar Kook could ride in the teens, we could sure try, couldn’t we? We devised a tongue-in-cheek temperature scale and Brad Benn, our techno wizard, put up a little website for us to tell each other about our rides and the temperature extremes we rode in. The only rule is that you have to ride at least 10 miles. (NOTE: Rule Number 9 makes it clear that there is NO rule Number 9.)
A couple of years ago we all pitched in and got ourselves a dee-luxe website, www.yearroundriders.com, that allows postings of multiple pictures in Ride Reports and all kinds of Interweb fun. Even though the original four Rounders all rode Beemers, we had all owned other brands and wanted to make sure the spirit of “it ain’t what you ride that matters, it is that you ride that matters” came across loud and clear. Now we have almost 600 registered members who are responsible for well over 57,000 posts.
What kind of people will you meet on the Rounders forum? There are some regular folks and some characters. There is nothing wrong with regular people, but let me tell you about some of the characters. There is a guy from Canada who goes by the name of Nose. Nose never let the fact that he lives in a very cold part of the world diminish his time in the saddle. He first caught my attention when he posted a ride report in which he rode from his home in Northwest Ontario down to Bike Week in Florida, pulling a small trailer behind his GS. Not only did he start and finish his ride in snow and cold temps, he got pinned down in a hotel somewhere on the way home by a snowstorm. No truck and trailer for this guy—and he has been doing this for a long time. Nose recently posted a 20-some-year-old picture of himself on a Harley in the snow.
We have an American who lives and works in Korea. Kimchirider has brought some great perspective to us with photo-packed ride reports of a land most of us will never visit, much less ride a bike in. You won’t find too many places in the United States where your progress down a road is impeded by thousands of peppers being dried in the sun. Mark in Alaska rides a Ducati when the roads are clear, and a Kawasaki KLR650 with studded tires over the snow and ice. Oh yeah, he likes to wear his skeleton leathers, too. We have a Nova Scotian who calls himself Tud who provides great photos and videos of his Ural sidecar cutting through the snow.
The Rounders forum is not dominated by testosterone, either. Some of our most active members are women riders. Gail has ridden in the Alps, and she and her daughter just crossed the country from New Hampshire to visit the Pacific Ocean two-up on a K75. Sachi is a lawyer from San Diego who is one hard-riding woman. She zooms all over the Western United States on her Honda 599, and the heat of the desert doesn’t slow her down one bit. Tammy rides a V-Strom, laughs at the cold and snow in New Jersey and is very generous in sharing her wrenching tips on the forum.
Obviously my intention in writing this is to get you to stop by and visit the Rounders. You are welcome to jump in the forum even if you just want to ride all year. Shoot, we are all just riders after all—Rounders just try to be year-round riders…no matter what nature throws at us. Consider yourself invited.
www.yearroundriders.com[From the June 2008 issue of Rider]