ISLAMORADA - Sunday, May 20, was a perfect day for an open-air
ride along the Florida Keys' scenic Overseas Highway, and hundreds
of motorcyclists took advantage of the great weather to enjoy
the view, pick up playing cards and raise money to help "Catch
the Cure" for cystic fibrosis.
The bikers were taking part in the first ever Great Ride/Redbone
Poker Run hosted by the Mercury Redbone Tournament Series and
Caloosa Cove Resort in Islamorada.
The event stemmed from the recent series of Great Strides Walks
sponsored nationally by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. During
the local event, hosted by the Mercury Redbone Tournament Series
on the Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon, participant Richard
Savolidis, an avid biker, suggested "a great ride."
Director Gary Ellis liked the idea, and the Great Ride/Redbone
Poker Run was set for May 20.
Bikers taking part in the run had the option of arriving from
the north or south. The northern route began at the Last Chance
Saloon in Florida City, with stops at Alabama Jack's on Card Sound
Road, the Caribbean Club in Key Largo and the Ocean View Lounge
in Islamorada before ending up at Caloosa Cove.
Bikers beginning their journey from Key West or the Lower Keys
picked up their cards during stops at Coconuts on Big Pine Key
and Gary's Bar in Marathon and the Wreck Bar on Grassy Key before
also arriving at Caloosa Cove.
Once at Caloosa Cove, poker run participants and visitors to
the event enjoyed a cookout by Pig Out Barbecue which included
hamburgers, hot dogs and barbecued chicken breast sandwiches.
In addition, the bikers could enter their rides in the event's
motorcycle show, or take part in the "Harley Olympics,"
a series of games designed to test motorcycle driving and riding
skills. Continuous entertainment was provided by the Bilge Brothers.
Savolidis said he was happy with the turnout for the first-ever
Great Ride, which drew more than
200 bikers and raised more than $1,000. "It turned out, all
in all, being a real good event," Savolidis said. "We
were very pleased with the turnout. For that many people to show
up on the first poker run was incredible."
Savolidis said he plans to make
the Great Ride an annual event, and promises it will improve with
each year. "This was our first time out, and it was a learning
experience," he said. "Next year will be even better."