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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Nicole Brett and others taking part in the ninth annual Freedom Ride, hosted by Ehlerding Harley-Davidson dealerships, pass in front of the 122nd Fighter Wing on Thursday.

  • Jim and Connie Gumble, center, line up in parade formation with other motorcyclists for the ninth annual Freedom Ride on Thursday. The ride raised money for Rescue Mission.

Thursday, June 30, 2016 10:03 pm

Freedom Riders ride again

Frank Gray | The Journal Gazette

Motorcycle riders by the hundreds converged on Ehlerding’s River City Harley-Davidson on Thursday for the motorcycle dealership’s ninth annual Freedom Ride in honor of present and past members of the military.

The motorcyclists, escorted by sheriff’s department reserve officers, planned a 30-mile ride through New Haven and into the country, followed by a barbecue pork dinner.

The ride was free, but participants could make donations. The proceeds this year were designated for the Rescue Mission.

Don Ehlerding, president of the business, said the annual ride usually gives money raised on the ride to veteran-related charities. The Fort Wayne Rescue Mission was chosen because it helps a lot of veterans.

The ride was also a social event for motorcycle owners, who regularly take part in group rides. Ehler­ding calls his business "the dealership that rides."

Mike Long was there with his Harley. Long said he participates in organized rides in different places "every chance I get." There will be two more rides in July and one in August he’ll try to take part in, he said.

Jim Gumbel, a member of the Harley Owners Group, said it’s normal to put out donation jars on rides. It raises money for lots of charities.

Most of the riders appeared older, though some were young.

"Everybody brings something to the group," Gumbel said. There are farmers, factory workers, a DeKalb County sheriff, retirees, he said. Most are 50 and older.

Gumbel says he likes the noise.

It’s common for HOG members to plan rides and invite guests and take off through the countryside and go to dinner, Gumbel said. 

Later this season, Gumbel and several others plan to ride 260 miles to Moonshine, Illinois, "to get a hamburger."

fgray@jg.net