OCEANSIDE — More than 300 bikers rallied at Oceanside Harbor on Nov. 21 to support the Toys for Tots run. San Diego motorcycle chapters team up with the United States Marine Corps to host the annual toy run that holds a special place in the hearts of many bikers who come back every year to share a good ride with friends, for a good cause.
“Every chapter has rides once a month,” Bob Harmon of Rosamond said. “But it’s not Toys for Tots.”
The Toys for Tots run draws motorcycle chapters and riders from all over California. Some riders put in more than 150 miles just to get to the start of the event. Each rider brings a toy to donate. Some have a dozen toys strapped to their bikes to drop off at the end of the ride at Casino Pauma.
“We’re Gold Wing Road Rider Association, we try to attend all these functions for Toys For Tots,” Rudy Bayardo of Riverside said. “Today it will only be about a 30-mile trip, it’s not very long. We’re accustomed to doing 200, 300 mile rides a day.”
For the motorcycle enthusiast the Toys for Tots run is a showcase of every type of bike. There are Honda Gold Wing touring bikes that sport plush bucket seats, MP3 players, surround sound speakers, built in helmet headsets, seat heaters, and hand warmers in the handlebars. Gold Wing bikes are so comfortable riders boast you can fall asleep on them — but only if you are the passenger. There are also limited edition Harley Davidson motorcycles, custom choppers, sports bikes and cruisers.
Many of the bikes are decorated as reindeer or Santa’s sleigh for the event. Bikes and riders also don chapter symbols. The Gold Wing Road Riders Chapter CA1N of Riverside takes on the cow theme for runs with cow spotted hats and windshield covers, and horns that play the sound of a cattle drive. There is also plenty of “cow” humor on runs, like the chapter’s “utterly ridiculous” award. As the name implies, there are no specific qualifications to earn the award.
After a look at the bikes, morning coffee and donuts, a brief meet up, pledge and prayer, riders rolled out from Oceanside Harbor at 11 a.m. escorted by the National Public Safety team. The escort team of six vehicles and five motorcycles leads the run and blocks traffic at intersections so all 300 bikers can have an uninterrupted ride through North County to Casino Pauma and get the toys to kids in plenty of time for Christmas, said Morris Hahn, administrative lieutenant of National Public Safety of El Cajon.