Bikes, beer and brotherhood: the motorcycle club with a heart

The Old Dudes Motorcycle Club rides to fight breast cancer and for the freedom of the open road

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The Old Dudes Motorcycle Club has been riding Peninsula roads for almost 20 years, raising money for local charities and changing the motorcycle image. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Ed Bravo)
The Old Dudes Motorcycle Club has been riding Peninsula roads for almost 20 years, raising money for local charities and changing the motorcycle image. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Ed Bravo)

Turn around to the sound of revving engines on the Peninsula and a group of men with beards, beers and bikes will be there.

But they aren’t the typical motorcycle gang — The Old Dudes is a motorcycle club that puts a new face to the motorcycle image through charity and brotherhood.

“We’re not popping wheelies and cutting through traffic,” said Matthew Mcquade, vice president of The Old Dudes. “We’re old dudes, and we just like to ride.”  

The Old Dudes has been bringing together motorcyclists over age 30 from Williamsburg, Virginia Beach and Newport News since 1999, when the founder established a chapter in the region. While there are members of the organization across the world, including the countries of Dubai and Bahrain, Virginia maintains the only active chapter, Mcquade said.

From tadpoles to bikers

Bikers in The Old Dudes start as probates before they become full-patch members. On the back of each vest there is the Old Dudes emblem, an M.C. patch and their decade of age. The front has their road name and the American flag, and any other relevant pins or patches. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Ed Bravo)
Bikers in The Old Dudes start as probates before they become full-patch members. On the back of each vest there is the Old Dudes emblem, an M.C. patch and their decade of age. The front has their road name and the American flag, and any other relevant pins or patches. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Ed Bravo)

Becoming a member takes more than just putting on a motorcycle vest, though.

Bikers interested in joining The Old Dudes first start as what the club members refer to as “hang-arounds” or “tadpoles.” These bikers are invited to ride with the group and hang around during events. Then, after a member of the club decides to nominate the biker for membership, after which they become a probate member.

As a probate member, a current “full-patch” member is assigned to guide each new biker through the culture of the club. The Old Dudes have a democratic hierarchy that comes with unspoken, but generally understood, rules.

“If you’re a probate, less you say the better,” Mcquade said. “It’s respect. When you’re told to ride, you either follow or you get out of the way.”

Earning a new name

Once a member has been a probate for anywhere from six months to a year — and they have fulfilled all their requirements, such as participating in certain events — they become a full-patch member and earn a road name.

The road name is stitched into the side of the member’s motorcycle vest, and each name has a specific story behind it.

“You either come up with a good name, or we give you one,” said club treasurer Ed Bravo, who earned his road name “Coleman” after diving into a Coleman cooler for beer one evening.

Mcquade goes by “DaddyMac,” and his wife is referred to as “Momma.” Old Dudes president Paul Grimes earned his road name of “Hollywood” after appearing in a TV commercial with his motorcycle.

Tots and tires

The Old Dudes often take road trips together, going as far as the Outer Banks. For president Paul Grimes, these road trips drew him to the group because they often find what he described as beautiful hole-in-the-wall locations. "You could spend hours on Trip Advisor and never find these places," Grimes said. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Ed Bravo)
The Old Dudes often take road trips together, going as far as the Outer Banks. For president Paul Grimes, these road trips drew him to the group because they often find what he described as beautiful hole-in-the-wall locations. “You could spend hours on Trip Advisor and never find these places,” Grimes said. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Ed Bravo)

Many of the men can trace their love of motorcycles to their childhoods.

Grimes fell in love with motorcycles at 8 years old, after his father wouldn’t buy him a minibike.

“I just wanted to ride so badly, and the kid next door had a minibike,” Grimes said. “So I would trade all my toys just to ride it.”

He became the only member of his family who rides, and he bought himself a bike when he joined the military. After wrecking that bike, though, Grimes knew he needed another one and picked up a second job to afford it. He stopped riding when he started a family but bought another motorcycle once his children left the home.

For Mcquade, he fell in love with motorcycles right before his family was stationed in Okinawa. After eating at a diner with his family, Mcquade walked outside to find a group of men with long hair and motorcycles.

“It was the ‘60s and I had a military dad, so men with long hair — well that was different to me,” Mcquade said. “And I just took a liking to their shiny bikes.”

One of the bikers asked if Mcquade wanted to sit on the motorcycle, and since then he always had an attraction to the two-wheeled beasts. Mcquade went on to ride in the Peninsula area throughout the 70’s and 80’s, eventually becoming vice president of the Biker Rights Organization in Virginia.

“It’s about more than just the motorcycle for me,” he said.

Riding for the girls

Each year, The Old Dudes host a poker run comprising five stops to raise money for their partner charity, Here for the Girls, which provides services for younger women with breast cancer. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Ed Bravo)
Each year, The Old Dudes host a poker run comprising five stops to raise money for their partner charity, Here for the Girls, which provides services for younger women with breast cancer. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Ed Bravo)

The Old Dudes works in conjunction with Here for the Girls Inc., a local nonprofit that offers services for younger women with breast cancer, according to the website.

One of their main events is their poker run in October. The run spans 98 miles across the

The Old Dudes hosts an annual poker ride with five stops over almost 100 miles. All of the money raised from the ride goes to support Here for the Girls, a local nonprofit that supports younger women with breast cancer. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Paul Grimes)
The Old Dudes hosts an annual poker ride with five stops over almost 100 miles. All of the money raised from the ride goes to support Here for the Girls, a local nonprofit that supports younger women with breast cancer. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Paul Grimes)

area, with five stops: Quaker Steak and Lube, Jose Tequilas, Lovells Place, the Wild Horse Cafe and Malt Shoppe and Hampton Roads Harley Davidson. Usually a few hundred people show up for the ride, with each paying $10 for a single rider or $15 for two. All of the proceeds from the ride goes to Here for the Girls, Grimes said.

“You look behind you and see bikes a mile back,” said Ed Bravo, club treasurer.

The motorcycle club began raising money for Here for the Girls in 2004, and since then has dedicated a number of rides and events to the cause.

“These women, they show us how to have the most out of every day,” Mcquade said. “They show us what freedom is, and no one loves freedom more than bikers.”

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