For the past 23 years Thunderstruck Custom Bikes has been bringing the Southern Oregon motorcycling community together while raising money for local Boys & Girls clubs at its Xtreme Bike Show & Street Party. To date, they've raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through their efforts. Thunderstruck’s Mark Daley and Travis Linebaugh always go above and beyond to champion various causes, be it building bikes for wounded warriors to creating custom guitars to raise money for St. Jude Children's Hospital. Case in point, this year’s gathering included a poker run for their next Combat Hero Bike Build.  Putting together an event like this is no easy task. It takes a lot of time and dedication, but year-in and year-out they rally troops of friends and volunteers and pull it off, doing so graciously because they're big-hearted guys who make it a priority to give back.

Thunderstruck's Travis Linebaugh (left) and Mark Daley (right) have been giving back to the Southern Oregon community for 23 years strong. 

While Sturgis, Daytona Beach, and Laconia grab the motorcycle rally headlines, small local shows like Thunderstruck’s Xtreme Bike Show are vital to the motorcycle industry. Not everybody can afford to ride to Sturgis, but most likely they can afford to ride to the next town over for a local one-day show. This particular show is free, and who doesn’t like free entertainment? Walking around checking out bikes, chatting with friends, and engaging in one of my favorite past-times, people watching, the importance of small gatherings like this dawned on me. Here’s five reasons why local bike shows matter.

1.       It brings local riding communities together. There were Old Guard Riders next to members of the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association, Litas mingling with Motor Maids. I ran into a friend who had just gotten back from a 10-day trip through Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, and shared in his excitement when he told me the story about his first ride over Beartooth Highway. Events like this give you an opportunity to see old friends and maybe make new ones. While you see other riders on the road when you’re bopping around town, you can never really gauge the full breadth and vibrancy of the local riding community until they show up en masse at an event like this.

2.       It gives small, independent shops a chance to showcase their work, network and meet potential customers. Bike shops, painters, powdercoaters, fabricators, all set up at the Xtreme Bike Show. All of them had samples of their work on-hand. It’s important to support the little guys, and sometimes you’d be surprised at the talent that’s virtually right in your own back yard.

3.       Raises money for local causes. While bikers often get a bad rap, they’re also some of the most philanthropic people you’ll ever meet. The local Boys & Girls rep said summer months are some of the toughest for fundraising, so the big check Thunderstruck hands over every year is a God-send. As previously mentioned, they also raised money for the Combat Hero Bike Build program where they outfit a custom motorcycle for a wounded vet, often an amputee, giving them back the sense of freedom that riding a motorcycle provides. They also helped promote the Brittney Ride, another charitable motorcycle gathering that raises money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. For the past several years, Thunderstruck has built custom guitars for the Brittney Ride which are auctioned off with all proceeds going to St. Jude.

4.       Local bike shows give average Joes a chance to show off their rides. Not everybody’s a world class custom builder, but just about everybody who’s done a little work to customize their bike is just as proud. Thunderstruck’s Xtreme Bike Show had awards in over 20 categories, so plenty of people got to ride away with a new plaque or trophy for their garage or office and experience the sense of satisfaction that goes along with it.

5.       They’re fun. A live band played classic rock tunes, people were grabbing an arm’s length worth of tickets for the big 50/50 drawing, raffle prizes were being given away hourly, and they had plenty of cool items up for bid in the silent auction, too. In one area there was a Captain America replica from the cult classic Easy Rider. Not far away was another iconic replica, the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard. The smell of kettle corn popping filled the air, people chowed on hot dogs as they milled between bikes and cars, and it was Americana at it’s finest.