As the weather brightens, the motorcycles come out in full force. And on Long Island, there's no excuse for being a lonely biker.
"It's far more fun to ride as a group," says John Plotke Jr., 28, of Huntington, who organizes the Long Island Riders, one of an array of local motorcycle clubs. "Motorcycling is a passionate sport for people all over, but for many riders, it's difficult to find others to ride with. And they need a way to organize events."
Some local groups cater to specific types of motorcycles; others are geared toward women. Here's a look at the most active clubs - and where they're riding soon.
Annual dues: None
Since August, this group has grown to 44 who plan Sunday rides. Perhaps the favorite: "Circle Long Island Drive," looping from the North Shore to Montauk Point, back along the South Shore and heading to Queens - 8 hours, including coffee breaks and pit stops. "We've got young kids on sport bikes, and we've got 60-year-old gray hairs on Harleys," says Plotke, a project manager for a roofing company. "We go wherever the wind will take us. We're just enthusiastic people who love to ride."
Annual dues: $25-$35
This 65-member group, which is also open to non-BMW riders, meets Sunday mornings to discuss cycle issues and hosts tech workshops. Members organize rides with posts on their website. Usually, several rides happen a week. The group plans camping trips - last year, it rode to the Catskills - and this summer, 10 members are riding to Las Vegas.
NYC SCOOTER CHICKS
Annual dues: None
Though geared toward women, this group is open to men: "They just need to know we're not out there for speed races," says founder Kim Stead, 43, of Manhattan. "We're out for camaraderie and great rides." The 30-member group plans at least one event a month.
Upcoming: May 15-16, the group is participating in the New York Scooter Club Block Party, which include rides.
Annual dues: $25-$50
For 24 years, this 20-member group has planned Sunday rides - from 60 to 250 miles round trip - and at least one overnight trip each summer. "We're actually an eating club with a motorcycle problem," says president Jaime Cruz Jr., 52, of Old Bethpage. "Most of our destinations seem to involve some great new place we found to eat." Members participate in charity rides in the tri-state area, and they've hosted their own, Pop's Run, since 2001. The Aug. 22 event benefits the Amyloid Research Fund.
Upcoming: On April 28, attend a meeting at 8 p.m. at Irish Cottage, 1010 Park Blvd. in Massapequa Park.
WHERE BIKERS GO TO CHOW DOWN
Where do bikers head when they're hungry? Here are three popular warm-weather haunts.
The website says it all: "Gas tanks, tires, skulls, brassieres. Where ever you look there's cool stuff all over the place." An ongoing schedule of live music, too.
Biker time: Friday nights and Sunday afternoons, when there's sometimes a free barbecue (hot dogs and burgers)
Biker fuel: Chicken wings, chicken fingers, burgers
A waterside sports bar and fine dining restaurant serving New American cuisine. Bikers prefer the bar.
Biker time: Whenever the weather calls
Biker fuel: Anything from wings and burgers to sea bass and paella
Just opened for the season, this canopied clam bar runs the full length of a pier.
Biker time: Sunday
Biker fuel: Burgers, seafood, raw bar items