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Motorcyclists ride into Martinsburg for Bike Night

August 18, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - It might have looked like trouble was coming to town, but the dozens of motorcyclists riding into downtown Martinsburg Saturday night had noble intentions.

"Don't worry, we're doing this for a good cause," said Rod Gardner, president of West Virginia Chapter V of the Blue-Knights, a local motorcycle group.

Gardner said Bike Night, which has been held since 2004, has raised more than $10,000 for Hospice of the Panhandle through individual donations.

The ride began Saturday night in Winchester, Va., and ended at the intersection of King and Queen streets in Martinsburg, where the sidewalks were lined with onlookers eager to get a glimpse of the riders as they passed by.

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"I think it's a great event," said Rick Finch, 63, of Hagerstown. "I have come out to watch every year. They're raising money and it's pretty neat to look at the bikes."

Motorcycles of every variety rode through Martinsburg. From light-as-a-feather sport bikes to touring bikes so big they needed three wheels, there was something for everyone.

Jamie Kline, 44, of Charles Town, W.Va., brought his Harley, but said the specialty bikes were his favorite to watch.

"I've had this bike forever, and I'd never buy one of those custom jobs, but I have to admit they're pretty cool-looking," Kline said, referring to the handful of long-bodied custom motorcycles that rode by.

Maria Brobel, 29, of Hagerstown, rode in on her Suzuki 750 sport bike, and said she did not feel out of place in a crowd that was filled with cruisers.

"Sometimes if you bring a sport bike to an event that's mostly Harleys and stuff, they look at you funny," Brobel said. "It's not like that here. Everyone is really friendly."

The event closed off a section of Queen Street, which was lined with vendors selling food and motorcycle accessories. Many local residents said they were happy to suffer the short-term traffic congestion for the event.

"I live right down there," said Jack Abramson, 35, of Martinsburg as he pointed down Queen Street. "It doesn't bother me at all. It's awesome to watch all these bikes come through in line like that. I'm willing to put up with a little traffic for it, you bet."

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