What is a "Dry Run" Motorcycle Ride?
DryRuns and DryRuns.org is not a part of the American Legion Riders. DryRuns.org is a separate initiative built to help all motorcycle organizations, promote responsible riding to save lives worldwide.
My name is Chris Chase, I am the Assistant Director of the American Legion Riders Post 259 in Oneonta, NY as well as the Assistant Director for New York State, District 5 & 6. I'm here to talk about "Dry Runs"!! Whew, what a controversy lately. I'm using this blog post to get my full thoughts down on this topic and to explain exactly what a "Dry Run" is at the time of this post. The reason I say "at the time of this post" is to note that this is something that will change and evolve. I am hoping to promote "Dry Runs" throughout the American Legion Rider Community Nationwide. We will be working with New York State Director Bob Wallace for the American Legion Riders and Julie Dostal who is a leading alcoholism and addictions expert in our area from LEAF (Leaf Council On Alcoholism | www.leaf.org) on developing the educational campaign and content for the public and Rider Chapters to use as they see fit. We've also developed an easy to recognize logo for the program.
Here's an example of how we use the logo:
What's scary is that there are pros and cons to adopting this Dry Run Policy, in my opinion, after doing 4 runs with it, here are my observations.
- People getting offended they can't drink and drive. (Just go ahead and read that again)
- Less participation from individuals and groups/clubs that don't appreciate the policy.
- It's a culture shock for your ALR Chapter.
- Possibly fewer stops at other Legions? This is sad. More on this later below.
- Safer Runs
- More participation from individuals and groups/clubs that appreciate the policy. We are experiencing new participation from individuals who were nervous before and added local Fire, Police and EMT Motorcycle Clubs.
- You're upholding the Values and Bylaws of the American Legion Riders and promoting safety and following the laws of the road, which is one of the pillars of the Riders.
- You can create more legitimacy when working with local police and fire depts to get escorts for run support. Which adds safety to your runs.
- Your sponsorship program can attract more fundraising dollars and larger sponsors who will feel better/safer promoting a Dry Run. You'd be surprised the deeper conversations this sparks up with sponsors. (check with me about my webinar "Creating a Benefit Ride Sponsorship Program" for ALR Chapters).
- It makes your Chapter stand out. Good or bad, it's gotten noticed.
- The feedback and comments have been amazing and very positive. Mostly.
I didn't put this on the CONS list but, it's really sad to offend and or lose the people you really enjoyed the company of that may not want to go on a "Dry Run". Truly it breaks my heart. Even worse if they take it personally. I'm hoping this blog post can be a bit of a conduit to understanding what a Dry Run is and the policy is all about and our position to relieve that tension. There is no sugar coating it. We have lost a couple of ALR members over it and lost a little support of some groups and some individuals. But gained many new ones. It will feel emotional and sting a bit, be prepared for that if you follow our lead.
This decision didn't come lightly at all, when I first brought this to Rob Martinez (our Director) the idea was scary. Rob and I spent many nights discussing this and then we brought it to the Post 259 membership and spent many Rider meetings over the winter months discussing it and the possible ramifications and benefits. Including, possibly losing support from some of our favorite local clubs, individuals and ALR members. We pushed forward with a unanimous vote anyway. The vote wasn't about whether it should be this way or not because according to the New York State bylaws of the American Legion Riders you should not be drinking and driving. The vote was about adopting the policy, pushing it publically and doing our best to promote and educate about it to our members and the local motorcycle community.
We want to give a special shout out to Ken Gracey at the Red Knights 44 Motorcycle Club (a Fire and EMS Motorcycle Club) for applying some healthy pressure to keep on this path. As well as Vic Bronner (ALR Member and Advisor) and Terry Harkenreader (Post 259 Post Commander) for your feedback and support.
What does this mean to us at this time? When it's an American Legion Riders Post 259 Benefit Ride, we feel it's our responsibility as American Legion Riders to give our best effort to provide a safe ride for the public. Our Officers, Road Captain & Road Guards are always striving to provide a safe professional run that goes as smoothly as possible. Experience is everything to keep the public coming back.
Does this mean that Riders are safety freaks who would never go on other non-ALR runs that might have people having a beer on a run at a stop? Maybe, that's a personal decision for each rider, we aren't trying to dictate anyone's personal life. As for myself, I will and still do go on as many local runs as I can, I love riding as a group and supporting local clubs with their Charity efforts! I've met some of the best people I know on these runs! But when an American Legion Rider is putting on a run with their Chapter, that's when we're "working", for our vets, our charity, our sponsors, and for our community as well upholding and projecting the values and bylaws of the American Legion Riders. So we don't drink, we do our best to design routes that don't stop where there is alcohol served but still might sometimes for various reasons. Beyond that, at this time, if someone has a beer it's not like we are running up and immediately rejecting them from the run. Now, there is some controversy about this too. But this is why what we're doing is evolving. For now, we have taken these two initial baby steps to see how it goes partially based on the advice of the state directors (Joe Sullivan and Bob Wallace) that I've had the pleasure of working within my role as Assist Director for New York State District 5 & 6.
Designing a route is a tough job. Tougher when you really want to stop at and involve other legions along the way like on our Legacy run. We had a couple of ideas for this, but it's problematic. Our first idea was any Legion we visit wouldn't serve alcohol for the 30 mins we are stopped there and that we pay them a stipend to cover what they would have made by selling alcohol, a donation of sorts for them hosting us with refreshments and snacks etc. However, we've been told it's kind of unfair to the people not at the run that are at the bar. I can see the problem with this. Then we thought well maybe they just don't serve people with a wristband from the run. Oh man, that's not going to work either because it creates some kind of policing environment that needs to be enforced by their bartenders etc. So.. if anyone has suggestions for this we'd love to hear about it.