Police riders from across the nation gathered at Ford Park Pavilion for some friendly competition for a good cause Saturday, Nov 17, in the Southeast Texas “Heroes for Hospice” Motorcop Rodeo.
Benefiting the Professional Health Care Foundation (PHC) providing hospice care for terminally ill patients, motorcycle units of police departments from Arizona, Louisiana, Texas, Kansas and even Canada came to compete in a challenging course, said executive director Staci Ishee of PHC.
“They will be competing on a timed course and different skill activities, like slow ride, challenge ride and team ride competing to win (use of) a Harley Davidson Road King motorcycle free for one full year at their department,” she said.
Riders could be seen weaving their 1,000-pound bikes in and out of tight spaces, rounding corners and racing down long straightaways in a course marked by more than 2,000 cones. At least one rider, Ray Ruggles of Vidor, took a tumble during the competition, but no one was hurt during this weekend’s competition at Ford Park in Beaumont.
Pointing to a rider from Corpus Christi, Sgt. Howard Trahan of the Beaumont Police Department said the dangerous maneuvers are only for the most experienced of riders.
“A lot of that requires clutch, braking and gas,” he said. “See, he’s trying to maneuver tight and you get penalties for rubbing a cone, hitting a cone or putting your foot down.”
At the end of the day, Donnie Williams of the McKinney Police Department won, taking home the 2013 Harley Davidson Road King for one free year.
Senior Officer Kolin Burmaster, a 29-year veteran of BPD, has spent at least 14 of those years on BPD’s motorcycle unit. He said he’s proud to have helped build the course and host the event, adding that BPD’s bike fleet has grown and its riders have become experts.
“When I started at the department, there were only two motorcycles, and now we’re up to five,” he said.
Having traded his police cruiser for a bike years ago, Burmaster said he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“The worst day on a motorcycle beats any day in a car,” he said. “That’s just my philosophy.”