Riders for Health

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Riders for Health


Special to Sound RIDER! by Bruce Scholten

What's the motorcycling equivalent of Princess Di's tiara? It's Kenny Roberts, Junior's helmet - and it's coming to Puget Sound. One like it was auctioned at Riders for Health's 1999 Day of Champions in Britain for nearly $12,000.

Unlike the ill-fated Diana, KRjr could win the world 500cc Grand Prix roadracing crown. Like his father Kenny Roberts, Sr. - "King Kenny" - did 3 times in the 1980s. (In the 1970s Washingtonians - Jim Pomeroy in motocross and Stevie Baker in 750cc roadracing - blazed a trail for Californian KRsr's domination of world roadracing.)

Last year Little Kenny (Suzuki RGV-500) came a few tire shreds of beating Spaniard Alex Criville (Honda NSR-500). This year's season opened wildly, March 19, as ex-ho-hoper Aussie Garry McCoy (Red Bull Yamaha 500) slid his way to top the South African GP podium. But Kenny Roberts (skip the Junior, he's The Man) is America's best bet to beat Max Biaggi (Yamaha YZR-500) and topple reigning champ Criville to the crown.


Why's Little Kenny sending a rare signed helmet to Puget Sound? To support Riders for Health, the charity that has done more than any other to improve conditions in Africa via training programs directly related to bikes.

Motorcyclists Under InstructionFor decades, the World Bank knew 2-wheels could work cheaper & better than 4-wheelers in Africa. But they wound up as junk outside government ministries. It took the nuts& bolts sense of Yank bike champs like Randy Mamola and Kenny Roberts, Sr. to make them work. Now African managers Mohale Moshoeshoe and Mike Gatton direct training in maintenance and safe riding from RfH headquarters in Harare, Zimbabwe. That means "zero breakdowns" for nurses (75% women) riding safely from clinics to treat families and children in remote villages in Ghana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Nigeria and other countries. Motorcycles actually save lives in Africa.

Britain's Princess Royal, Anne, is patron of RfH. GP promoters Dorna and the FIM have joined Panasonic, Ideal Hardware, Honda, Triumph, Castrol and other firms backing RfH. Stars Mick Doohan, Carl Fogarty and others support this charity because it reflects brilliantly on racing. But fans are the backbone of RfH funding.

Around Puget Sound, dealer Jim Boltz rallied RfH support in an interview in the March SoundRider.

Northwest clubs have welcomed RfH video presentations at recent meets. Dwayne Ellison and Steve Baker (Email: parts@cyclebarn.com ) are point men at Cycle Barn Sport Riders Club (CBSRC).

At the Washington Motorcycle Roadracing Association (WMRRA) charity liaison Michael Marionos (Email: mmarinos@netscape.net ) says, "Proceeds from the Oct. 2 race will go to RfH."

Meanwhile, WMRRA and CBSRC plan to sell RfH/World SuperBike calendars and other goodies from RfH organizers in Britain.

Famed GP trainer Dean Miller got Kenny Roberts - the next likely American GP champ - to autograph his precious lid. Direct from Kenny's cupboard, it'll soon be on display at Cycle Barn and other Puget Sound venues. Jim Boltz says, "Besides KRjr's helmet we could raffle a trip to Day of Champions at the British GP. Companies in the US and UK can compete. That's how we rate success in America - going faster or raising more money than the other guy!"

That's the spirit to do well for the sport while doing good in Africa. Do your part by supporting local efforts for Riders for Health and learning about it on the website: www.riders.org

Bruce Scholten is a member of WMRRA and has been scratching & scribbling for Cycle News and Roadracing World since 1978.

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