By Chloe Edwards
Biker Photos by Mark Cubbedge | Business Photos by Renee Unsworth
So, why do YOU do it? Ask any St. Augustine professional who loves to straddle a motorcycle, and you’re probably unlikely to guess the answer.
There are a lot of people around to ask, too — The American Motorcycle Association reports that the average household income for its more than 200,000 members nationwide is $85,300 and the majority have a bachelor’s degree or higher. That sounds an awful lot like Census statistics for St. Johns County.
Either way, everyone we asked said they ditch the business suit for a riding jacket because they love the freedom and the scenery…and some pointed to the promise of a nice long ride along State Road A1A.
However, those relaxing views are only a backdrop for more compelling reasons to ditch four wheels for two. Old City Life interviewed doctors, politicians, accountants and others, and found some surprising reasons for riding that may not be obvious to the uninitiated.
Among them? The ability to physically re-program the brain; the excuse to grow a five o’clock shadow; permission to wear pigtails and scour thrift shops; and an OK to push oneself to the point of death and overcome it.
How these folks ride differs, too. Some love the solidarity and shared experience of riding in a pack or hosting lots of dirt bike racers at a private track. Others love spying other white-collar folks wearing leather fringe and a wallet on a chain. And, for at least one person we talked to, the lure of a road trip in solitude was paramount.
Read on to peer inside the helmets — and deeper into the gray matter — of some motorcycle professionals who let Old City Life in on their reasons for answering the call of the road.
Fast Healing | Dudley Baringer
Dr. Dudley Baringer is well known in St. Augustine proper. He opened the successful walk-in clinic, Healing Arts, in 1992 on U.S. 1 near the new Flagler Hospital so patients would have access to quality health care without an appointment. His career here dates back to the early 1970s: he worked as an orderly at Flagler Hospital when it was still located on Marine Street.
Q: When did you start riding?
A: I started riding motorcycles my freshman year in college. My first motorcycle was a Yamah. I sold a bike I had after that to pay for medical school and I didn’t ride for many years. In 2002, I was trying to figure out what I needed to do to have a little physical challenge and fun. I bought a Honda Valkyrie, but my son turned 18 and got a sports bike and he was faster than me and I couldn’t put up with that. In 2005 for my 50th birthday, I got a Honda CBR1000. It was the fastest motorcycle Honda made.
Q: What do you ride now?
A: I have a Suzuki SV1000 that I ride to work most days. My Valkyrie, I’ve ridden from here to Lander, Wyoming and back, a two-lane backroad tour of the country. We go to the North Carolina mountains for two weeks every August and I ride in the mountains for the curves.
Q: Who do you ride with?
A: I ride by myself. I don’t like riding in groups because it’s always too slow and I never know if the other riders are paying attention. I am a big proponent of wearing all the gear all the time — padded riding jacket, full coverage helmet and gloves every time I get on a motorcycle.
Q: What benefits do you get from riding?
A: It’s a rush. What I found was, riding a race bike on the track sped up the visual processor in my brain permanently. Everything works better after you do that. If you’re going 120 miles per hour, going around the corner, you have to pay attention to so many things.
Vintage Inspiration | Richard Goldman
1976 R90/6 BMW | 1976 Triumph Tiger
Richard Goldman has been the CEO of The St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau since 2009. Before that, he was the senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Amelia Island Plantation where he was responsible for directing all of the marketing efforts for the 1350-acre resort. He’s been riding motorcycles since he first hopped astride a 75cc Enduro as a teenager in 1969.
Q: What type of motorcycles do you like to ride now?
A: I’ve had vintage bikes – that is my preference – except for transportation in college. I have a 1976 R90/6 BMW and 1967 Triumph Tiger.
Q: What made you take up riding motorcycles as a teen?
A: I can probably tie it back to a (1971) movie called “On Any Sunday” with Steve McQueen.
Q: Not (1969’s) “Easy Rider?”
A: I definitely painted my helmet with stars and stripes because of that. But it was “On Any Sunday,” a documentary about people who rode dirt bikes, which was my passion as a youngster. I got the speed bug from that…and “Le Mans.” That got me interested in motorsports.
Q: Why do you continue to ride?
A: For one thing, I think it’s true of a lot of us, in our jobs, we have a great many things we have to think about between professional work and our family. I have three daughters, a wife and a couple of mortgages. All the things we have to think about, when you are on a motorcycle, you can’t. For me, it’s an escape.
Q: Do you have a favorite ride?
A: My favorite ride is the annual Key West Poker Run. It’s the only place on the planet you can ride a motorcycle over the ocean and you can ride with 10,000 of your compadres. It’s a good time for me. It’s both social and that chance to do something and see sights, especially related to Florida’s beautiful rides.
Ledgers and Leathers | Linda Keener
Linda Keener is the staff Certified Public Accountant for Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor. After spending years in St. Louis, Missouri, Linda loves living in St. Augustine and taking in the gorgeous scenery on the back of her ‘93 1200cc Harley Sportster. She also loves being one of the one-in-thirty biker chicks she sees on the road and in biker hangouts.
Q: When did you start riding?
A: In my early 20s, I had my first motorcycle and I loved it, the freedom of it. If you’ve never ridden one, you can’t understand. It was a 1974 Harley Sportster. It was cold and I was in Missouri, which is a whole different atmosphere from Florida. I grew up on two-wheelers, three-wheelers and four-wheelers, back when people would put their kids on a three-wheeler and tell them to come home when it’s dark. Now you would get arrested for doing that.
Q: It doesn’t seem like there are as many women as men who bike here. Do you think that people who know you in your professional life would guess that this is a hobby of yours?
A: I think it definitely surprises people. When you meet me in normal life, or in work, it probably would be the last thing that you would think. There’s such a stereotype of what you would call a “biker” versus what they actually a lot of times are.
Q: Are there any perks to being a woman who rides?
A: I’m a girl on a Harley and I can have any kind of key chain I want. I think there’s something about a girl who rides motorcycles. She wears pigtails and knee boots. And, my friends will still ride with me. Because I’m a girl and I can get away with it.
Q: It’s an expensive hobby, right?
A: I definitely think there’s a persona to it. Even just for bike week, (bikers) wear these helmets with horns on them. I’ve really wanted to buy one, but the cheapest one is $300. My husband and I love crafting and we are thrift store people. I found a piece of (thrift store) black bear fur and some deer horns. And, I’m going to make one. Normal people don’t do that — make a Viking helmet out of bear fur and deer horns. But it cost me $20.
Bikerpreneur | Bill McClure
Bill McClure is a former St. Johns County commissioner who grew up in Gainesville and has lived in St. Johns County since 2000. He said that after the sale of his successful tech company, he and his family could have lived anywhere they wanted, but chose to live here because of the number one rated school system. Bill’s two teen-aged sons, Bryce and Blake, both ride dirt bikes, so it looks like the love of riding the road runs in the family.
Q: When you go riding, is there a persona that you adopt?
A: Two thirds of the people I see when I ride are professionals. You ever notice how (riders) won’t shave if they know they’re going for a ride? We all do it. It’s so funny. We are all looking scruffy and wearing our leathers and our wallet with the chain. And, I’m (looking around) like, “That’s my lawyer over there; there’s my CPA.”
Q: When did you start riding?
A: I used to race Motocross dirt bikes… fly 40 feet in the air. I’ve been riding a motorcycle since I was about five years old. I’m 49 now. I raced Yamahas and Hondas and now I am a cruiser on a Harley. I primarily ride a Harley Road King but I still enjoy Motorcross. In fact, I have a private track out on my farm in Hastings.
Q: How do you like to ride?
A: I love to ride with anybody. As far as the Harley (in St. Augustine), cruising up A1A is the best ride. You can go north all the way to Amelia Island or you could go south all the way through Daytona Beach, to the pier.
It’s all a great time. When you are on your motorcycle, there is no pressure from work, no pressure from day-to-day life, no pressure from teenagers.
You’re in your own little bubble.
Making a (Fast) Motion
Jonathan J. Luca of the Luca Law Firm became an attorney in 2003 after a couple of years as a paralegal. His is a high-stress job in the areas of family, criminal and personal injury law. He describes himself as “not a normal attorney,” eschewing business suits for T-shirts, jeans and, sometimes, dinosaur socks. He also likes hanging out with people some might call outlaws.
Q: Who do you like to ride with?
A: I have friends who are Outlaws, that are Black Pistons. (Note: The Pistons are a group established in Germany about the same time he became an attorney. It supports the Outlaws, whose website states: “Do NOT write us asking how to join! Find a member and ask him!”) People are always hammering on those guys. I’m not a judge, thankfully, and I don’t judge those guys for what they do. The old school ‘50s-’60s-70s clubs don’t really exist much. Riding with them is camaraderie.
Q: How does riding a motorcycle square with your professional side?
A: It’s more of an alter ego. I don’t wear a suit every day unless I’m in the court room. I just got finished with a mediation and I’m in jeans and a T-shirt. When I’m on my bike, they really don’t recognize me and I don’t have to be something I’m not.
Q: What do you ride?
A: A ‘96 Heritage Softail Classic Harley. I had dirt bikes growing up and I had a little rice burner when I first came to Florida but someone stole it. They found it but it was pretty torn up. I never got my money out of it.
Q: How did you start riding?
A: I was the youngest of six kids and my father got his bachelor’s the year after I was born. When I was 12, my brother gave me a dirt bike for my birthday, November of 1982, and it wasn’t running. So for Christmas my father told me he would buy me the parts, and gave me the manual. I’ve been riding ever since.