Riders team up to hit the open road
By Kerigan Butt
By John Chambless
Motorcyclists looking for new ways to share the open road have a resource right here in Landenberg. Avon Grove Motorcycle Riders is a group founded by Landenberg resident Ron DiStefano that brings together cyclists about twice a month for group trips on some of the region's most scenic roads.
DeStefano, who founded the group in early 2011, rode motorcycles as a young man, but marriage and raising kids resulted in a 30-year break. Now 60, he said, "I never gave up my license, but I stopped riding. I never gave it up totally, but now that the kids are grown and they're finished college, those responsibilities are out of the way."
While his wife doesn't ride, DiStefano has made friends with the 98 members of the Avon Grove Motorcycle Riders. "It's actually a small group," he said. "The Chester County Motorcycle Riders group has 500 people, Brandywine's got 200. Delaware County has a couple hundred. There are four groups in the local area.
"What happened with me is when I started riding again, I joined The Chester County Motorcycle Riders," he said. "But the guy who ran the group moved. He lived in Honey Brook, but he moved about 45 minutes away, so I was riding that far just to start the ride. I thought maybe it was time to form my own group. I started with just two people, and it's grown from there."
There are plenty of options for sharing the road with fellow riders. Some groups are specialized by type of motorcycle, or where the group begins their rides. "There's a group for guys who ride what I call crotch rockets," DiStefano said. "We just do casual riding. We don't do any crazy stuff."
The Avon Grove group starts all of their rides in Avondale, "and we don't care what type of motorcycle you ride," said DiStefano, who has a 2005 Kawasaki Vulcan.
He and co-organizer Ed Jenks, of New London, come up with ideas for where to ride, "and we also monitor where the other groups go, and we steal their ideas," DiStefano said with a chuckle. Other leaders in the group are event organizers Toni Spille of Wilmington, and Dave Appleby of Landenberg.
One of his favorite trips is called the Pennsylvania Tail of the Dragon. "It goes down Route 125 from Shamokin to Pine Grove," DiStefano said. "There's lot of turns and changes in elevation. It's a fun ride. It's not about the destination, it's the ride. Covered bridges are always popular with motorcycle riders, too -- I don't know why. We did a covered bridge ride last year, and we'll have another one this fall.
"There's a rally the first Sunday of every month at the Ephrata American Legion. It's an open ride. We don't always go. But on our website, we post a lot of rides that we don't necessarily take."
Recently, the group took a trip on the historic Millersburg Ferry. "How many ferries are there anymore?" DeStefano said. "This one goes across the Susquehanna River. We filled it up with motorcycles."
While groups of motorcycists traditionally spell trouble to outsiders, DiStefano said the Avon Grove group is nobody's idea of a biker gang. "Once we get off the motorcycles, you wouldn't know we owned them," he said. "We're not into heavy chains and leather and bad stuff. We're just regular people."
The ages of the members range from almost 70 to about 30, DiStefano said. While some groups of riders get together socially when they're not on the road, the Avon Grove group is all about the ride.
"We're all got other stuff going on in our lives," DiStefano said. "If we can break free for a ride together for a little while, that's a great thing."
For information about the Avon Grove Motorcycle Riders, visit www.meetup.com/AGMotorcycle. New members are welcome.
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, e-mail email@example.com.