Bikers share memories and make new ones on ride to Meota

By Colleen A.J. Smith
July 10, 2016 - 9:26am Updated: July 10, 2016 - 10:33am

The hum of big bikes sounded through the streets as motorcyclists from across the western provinces cruised in to the Canadian Legion on Saturday, July 9.

The bikers were coming together to support the Canadian Legion of Rider’s 14th Annual Charity poker run. The poker run helps to raise money for veterans in Saskatchewan and across the nation.

Bikers young as young as 12 and as old as 91 were strapping on their helmets, mounting their bikes and getting ready for their ride to Meota. Before they departed for their destination, they stopped at the Legion to register their ride, eat a pancake breakfast and have a quick visit with members of their biker brotherhood.

Patti Milnthorp, a biker from Lloydminster came up to participate in the ride because she said she firmly believed in the legion and the cause they stand for.

“As far as the riding, I think those men and women fight to keep our country safe so we can ride. It doesn’t matter the weather, I’m riding, because they sat in the trenches for us,” Milnthorp said.

Milnthorp said she has been riding her own bike for years and has been participating in this particular legion rally since 2011.

When asked why she chose to ride her own bike, she said, “Because I was tired of sitting behind him,” Milnthorp laughed, pointing to her husband, Ray Milnthorp. “It’s much nicer, and very empowering to have your own ride.”

Milnthorp said when it came to camaraderie, the family feeling of the biking brotherhood could not be beat.

“The friendship and brotherhood is very strong in the biker community,” Milnthorp said. “It’s amazing…the wind in your face, the bugs in your teeth, the sights and the smells, there’s nothing like that.”

George Cote, past president of the Canadian Legion of Riders said he also appreciated all of the elements of Mother Nature while riding his Harley.

“Riding down the country road and smelling the beauty of Mother Nature. And you’ll be cruising along and all of a sudden you’ll get a Saskatoon bush in bloom, and that scent hits you. Or a cherry bush in bloom,” Cote said, adding, “Just all the different blooms that you ride by –roses- all these beautiful things you miss when you’re in the car.”

Cote is a lifetime rider who has been on the back of a bike since he was six-years-old, when his father fashioned him a bike from pieces of wood and an old rototiller motor.

“That was my first lesson, always wear gloves when you ride. I took a header and got gravel all in my hands,” he said.

Cote has biked in routes all over the world, including the Australian outback, where he has seen his fair share of interesting wildlife.

“I’ve been close to a grizzly bear; I’ve had a deer jump out and over me. I’ve even had a kangaroo jump over me one evening when I was riding in Australia. He was watching us come and he had jumped right out and overtop of us. He was a great jumper,” he said.

Cote said he was more of a lone rider, but in the case of the annual poker run, he enjoys visiting with all of the bikers and sharing memories on the road.

“I love the camaraderie of biking, getting together with the members and having breakfast. There are a lot of people on the road, you have to be careful but as long as you keep your mind on the road, you’re okay,” he said.

Colleen A.J. Smith is battlefordsNOW's education, First Nations and arts and culture reporter. She can be reached at colleen.smith@jpbg.ca or tweet her @ColleenAJSmith. Concerns regarding this story can be addressed to News Director Geoff Smith at 306-446-6397.

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