INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Many times they are heard before they are seen. The impact of motorcycle clubs is like a quilt of culture. Each motorcycle club, or MC, for short, has a persona of its own with a structure, a voting body and a purpose.
Jimmie “Tac” McMillian is the president of the 317 Ryders MC.
“317 Ryders MC is a motorcycle club founded in Indianapolis, Indiana, in November of 2002, focused on allowing people to come together and enjoy the sport of motorcycling through traveling throughout the country, and also through serving our community through a variety of community service projects that we have done,” McMillian said.
MCs have officers, hold meetings, pay dues and some even have nonprofits, as the 317 Ryders do.
“We are pretty deep. We’re around 60 members, which is pretty large for a motorcycle club. We are so proud of the fact that we are co-ed motorcycle club in which our women ride their motorcycles just as much if not more than some of the men. They hold leadership positions and they are extremely respected not only within our club, but throughout the motorcycle community,” McMillian said.
The 317 Ryders and other local MCs view the world as their road map.
“Every member of our club has a motorcycle, and we have literally traveled all over the world to as far as Africa and Rome, and Greece, in England, all the way to Canada to Puerta Vallarta, Cozumel, and now our members have row I personally have rode from here to California for the United Way., and so we literally have rode our bikes all over the world,” McMillian said.
The origin of motorcycle clubs is tied to the military, starting with the vests you see many MC members wear.
“Most motorcycle clubs when they first started from people that came from the military, he had learned how to ride overseas, and then came back and they still love motorcycles,” McMillian said. “They came back and one of the things that they wore was their army vest, so over time that’s been adopted as kind of our armor and our shield as we were our vests.”
The vests members wear are usually called leathers. Every MC has a different patch. Many times the vest will have the city on the bottom sometimes the entire state.
“Typically, it’s the name of your club; we call them color. The colors are basically the colors that represent our club. So when one big thing that they’re about is if somebody sees you can you have an accident? It’s the police say we’re gonna ask do you have colors? What colors were they 317 riders then they know to call me they know to call our people and they know that we are all here to we’re going to get there as quickly as we can to help that fallen rider,” McMillian said.
Many MCs have bike nights and spend their time doing charity work, which is what 317 Ryder member Lisa “Mocha” McMillian takes extreme pride in.
“So, it’s been a big, big thing, the community, the MC community has really stepped up these last few years, especially pandemic was really big for us because like I said, we helped a lot of families that came together to be together,” Mocha said. “We fed people, we sat and talked with people through windows at nursing homes. It is a beautiful thing.”
The 317 Ryders Motorcycle Club members are considered 99 percenters. Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs are considered 1 percenters.
“The AMA said, hey, there’s 99% of the bikers out there out there having a good time. And then there’s the 1%. There’s a group of folks who are referred to as that and they live a different lifestyle, but we respect them, because many of them form the foundation of what we have today,” McMillian said. “I think you have to recognize that the term outlaw motorcycle club is a is a designation that was really started by the AMA the American motorcycle Association when a group of bikers went to an AMA convention in Hollister, California. Typically the way they organize their club, you know, different outlaws have different cultures and scale. Sometimes you have doctors who are OMCs. Lawyers, police officers who are outlaw motorcycle clubs, you find all types in all of the motorcycle sets.”
MC culture can be a tricky thing. Everyone has a reason why they join the group they join. It is all rooted from history.
“But we all ride together and I have people friends who are an outlaw motorcycle clubs and off road across the country. Some of them have become some of my best and closest friends,” McMillian said. “I’ll be candid with you, there is a certain amount of segregation. People do refer to sometimes white clubs and Black clubs, and the white side and the Black side. Our club is not segregated. We have white members, we have Black members, we have Latino members.
The effort to merge and celebrate each clubs’ differences is a focus of the 317 Ryders. It’s a shift in the culture that many MCs say will roll the culture forward.
“Our members just went up to Gary to celebrate a weekend with the Latin American Motorcycle Association,” McMillian said.
Each MC is a chosen family and the epitome of the culture on wheels.