5,000 bikers ride Beltway to raise funds for Red Cross

September 24, 2001|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

To the cheers of onlookers - including groups on highway overpasses - more than 5,000 motorcyclists circled the Baltimore Beltway yesterday, raising $51,000 for the American Red Cross relief fund for victims of the terrorist attacks Sept. 11.

Escorted by police, the riders formed a line extending nearly 10 miles in one lane of the Beltway's outer loop. Traffic slowed to a crawl in some sections as motorists gaped at the chrome-bedecked procession.

Cpl. Greg Prioleau, spokesman for the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, said motorists cheered and displayed flags as the motorcycles passed over the Key Bridge. Traffic on the bridge was slightly delayed, but the other drivers didn't mind because of the reason for the procession, he said.

"The motorcycle community really rallied and came out," said Jim Foster, owner of a Harley-Davidson and Buell motorcycle dealership and store on Pulaski Highway in Baltimore County, who came up with the idea of a fund-raising ride a week earlier and was stunned at the turnout and sum raised.

"It's a lot of money for six days' worth of effort," he said.

"My wife and I wanted to do something to help the victims of the terrible tragedy," said Charles F. "Chic" Reid III, a Timonium mortgage banker and motorcyclist who told friends about the occasion and brought in donations totaling $1,200.

Foster said that in the aftermath of the attacks, many of his customers and friends expressed a desire to pull together in some kind of show of support - which became the jumping-off point for the ride. On Tuesday, he was sending out faxes to motorcycle groups and outlets.

Rider Shawn Sebo, chief of the Middle River Volunteer Ambulance Rescue Co., said he was delighted to see overpasses packed with smiling adults and children waving flags, and stunned by motorists who nearly stopped on the highway to watch.

"The general public doesn't sort of stop on the Beltway. It was kind of eerie," he said.

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