Bikers revved up for Swamp Rumble

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 9, 2002

Walter Eason is used to riding through the Dismal Swamp.

&uot;I was raised in that area,&uot; says the Sunbury, N.C. native, polishing up his Honda 750 Supersport motorcycle. &uot;I’ve ridden past parts of it, but never all the way around it.&uot;

At 10 a.m. today, he’ll get his chance; Eason will be part of the Great Dismal Swamp Rumble motorcycle rally. Participants will kick their two-wheelers into gear at the Suffolk Visitor Center on Main Street, then burn rubber around the Swamp’s 70-mile perimeter. From Suffolk, they’ll make a quick stop in Portsmouth, take Chesapeake down into North Carolina, re-enter Virginia (after coming within a few miles of Eason’s hometown), charge back up White Marsh Road, and end up at their original starting point. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Great Dismal Swamp Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the Swamp’s environment.


Email newsletter signup

Eason can’t wait. &uot;When a friend of mine told me about the Rumble, I decided to pull on my black leather suit and boots and join them!&uot; he laughs.

For a change of pace, he’ll be riding alone. &uot;Ever since 1991, I’ve been taking the neighborhood kids out on my bikes,&uot; explains Eason, who rode his bike to represent the Hall Place Community Association (of which he is the treasurer) in the 1999 Suffolk Christmas Parade, a feat he intends to repeat next month.

&uot;I’ll be in my back yard cleaning up my bike, and the kids always come up to me and say, ‘Mr. Walter, can I ride your bike today?’ A lot of them have never ridden on a bike before. But they have to get permission from their parents before I can take them out on a ride!&uot;

For James Mizzell, the Rumble will be a step down from his normal biking routine. On Sept. 27, he took part in the Five Dealer/Five County Puzzle Pin Race in Pennsylvania.

&uot;We started in York, and drove through Lancaster, Lebanon, Harrisburg, and New Kingstown,&uot; Mizzell says. &uot;At the beginning of the run, they gave us a big pin with five spots on it. In each place we stopped, we got a small pin to fill in each spot.&uot; He holds up a black leather jacket, decorated with pins and ribbons from his biking past.

&uot;I try to get in as many races as I can,&uot; continues Mizzell, who has raced in North Carolina, West Virginia, and Florida. &uot;Racing is something that I can’t get out of my blood!&uot; This morning, he’ll be cruising along on his 2001 Night Train bike.

But he won’t be alone. Several members of the American Cruisers, a non-profit motorcycle enthusiast group, will be doing their thing at the Rumble. The organization has over 50 chapters around the globe. Bill Brewer and his wife Pat will be helping to represent the Chesapeake group.

&uot;We always try to support the local parks and recreation community,&uot; says Bill. &uot;We don’t want to see people trash the environment, especially not one like the Dismal Swamp. This is one way of making sure that that doesn’t happen.&uot;

The Rumble will be the next in a long string of appearances for the Chesapeake Cruisers, a group that has grown to over 50 members in its’ two-year existence (they own a two-mile stretch of South Military Highway). Earlier this month, they participated in the Driver Days festival. In mid-November, they’ll be making their annual appearance at the Toy Run for the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, in which bikers will bring toys to patients, and let them sit on their bikes.

&uot;It used to be that bikers were known as rough people who liked to fight and cuss,&uot; laughs Bill. &uot;But the Cruisers are all about going out and having fun. Several of our members own their own business – very respectable people. Some of their bikes cost more that $20,000.&uot;

Pat, one of the chapter’s less than 10 female members, will be traveling on a 2001 fully dressed, chromed-out Honda Shadow. &uot;I like feeling the wind in my hair, and the control that I have over the bike,&uot; she says. &uot;It’s neat when kids see me pull up to a stop sign on my bike and say, ‘Hey, there’s a lady!’&uot;