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Red Knights answer call of the road

June 21, 2000|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Reds ride for the blues and blues ride for the reds.

That's how things go in most motorcycle clubs, said Henry Biesecker, 58, president of Red Knights International PA 4, the Waynesboro chapter of a motorcycle club for firefighters.

Red Knights rules require that members be active firefighters or spouses or significant others of firefighters. Each of the 27 members of the Waynesboro chapter have a connection to the Waynesboro Fire Department, either directly as a member or through a spouse.

Blue Knights are affiliated with police departments. There is a chapter in Hagerstown, Biesecker said. "We ride for their benefits and they ride for ours," he said.

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The local Red Knights chapter was chartered in 1993 when William Hedrick, a Waynesboro firefighter who also rode motorcycles, saw an article in Fire House Magazine about the organization. Some members of the department were riders and he suggested they start their own chapter.

Today members come from Franklin County and as far away as Baltimore, Biesecker said.

Four Red Knights members, Robert and Joyce Rowe and Biesecker and his wife, Peggy, have daughters who are firefighters, but not Red Knights. All four Biesecker children -- three boys and a girl, are active firefighters.

Biesecker said he rode motorcycles as a young man and stopped when he got married in 1964. He and his wife picked up the hobby in 1983 when their children were getting older.

Peggy Biesecker said she enjoys traveling with the club, but always as a rear-seat passenger. "I never thought I'd like to go on motorcycle trips, but the people in the club make them enjoyable," she said.

Most of the Red Knights ride big, soft Honda motorcycles although there are a handful of other Japanese models and Don Freeman's Harley Davidson.

"I used to ride my own motorcycle but I had to sell it when my first baby was born," said Joyce Rowe. "That was 33 years ago." While she rides behind her husband now she has kept her motorcycle license current. "If one of the members gets sick on a ride I can drive their motorcycle home," she said.

The club runs an annual benefit ride that raises about $1,000 for the Hospice of the Good Shepherd of Franklin County. Red Knights wear Hospice pins on their blue club vests that stand out near the dozens of other pins that commemorate benefit rides they joined sponsored by other clubs.

"We all support each other's benefit rides," Biesecker said. "If you got a cause we'll go."

"We'll go if you don't have a cause," Freeman said, espousing the club's true philosophy of just having fun.

"We've been on rides every Sunday in May and so far every Sunday in June plus we try to go out once a week in the evening

The club uses any excuse to ride, Robert Rowe said. "We'll ride 200 miles just to get ice cream."

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