You might have heard the distinctive sound of the revving of loud engines around the busy streets of Belize City today. It is quite an uncommon sound for most of us locals, but if you are a motorcycle enthusiasts you'd know that it is that time of the year again when the streets of Belize are overtaken with motorcyclists from all across the Americas. They come here for the annual "Meet in the Middle" Bike Rally. Emanuel Pech stopped in at the bikers' center on cemetery road today to check out what all the buzz was about.
The Revving of motors, the thick leather jackets and the free spirited nature of people, all say that the annual Harley Davidson convention is back in Belize. For the past three years members of the Black Pearl Motorcycle Club, the first motorcycle clubs ever established in Belize, has been hosting this event in an effort to put Belize on the biking map.
Nigel Espat- Member of Black Pearl Motorcycle Club "We are taking over the city once again. It's our 3rd running of Belize Bike Rally and we are happy that it's growing. We are seeing our number improving every year. Yesterday we registered 225 bikes. That's a 4-time improvement over prior years. Usually on Thursday we might see 50-60 bikes. Yesterday we had 225. So we are expecting maybe something around 300-400 more coming in today. It is growing and we are glad for that."
Several riders from Central America came for the event.
Renee Wittick - Biker "We are coming from Cancun, Mexico and we are really happy. This is the 3rd time we come to these events - really enjoyed it, because we get to see a lot of friends that come from Honduras, Nicaragua and so it's really made in the middle like the logo in the event says 'made in the middle.' It's a good opportunity for us to see a lot of people."
But apart from bringing entertainment to Belize, the event also generates a lot of tourism.
Emanuel Pech "Whats your favourite part about Belize?"
Renee Wittick - Biker "The event itself. These guys are made up of pretty good event. If it wasn't for them, I don't know if I would have really been called out for Belize. We only use to come like to the border to do a little bit of shopping. But it was pretty much because of them that we got interested and came over."
Emanuel Pech "So it was worth the trip?"
Renee Wittick - Biker "Definitely."
Mario German- Biker "I love the distance. Its 3 days driving each day for 9 hours from my town to here. It's a long way man."
Emanuel Pech "But you like the journey?"
Mario German - Biker "I like the journey, because I like Belize. I like the people from here - everything I like about Belize."
Emanuel Pech "What is the response you are getting on the streets? I mean, it's not every day you see these bikes circling around the city?"
Nigel Espat- Member of Black Pearl Motorcycle Club "It's been great. For as long as we've been doing it, the response has been terrific. People have open up themselves to these people are coming in. North to south, east to west, there are only good compliment from these guys about how warm and hospitable the Belizean people are and it's something that makes me very proud."
Still, it is quite unusual to see this many bikers in the City; revving their monster engines that to some might seem a bit intimidating. And if you're thinking of motorcycle gangs or the Hell's Angels, according to veteran rider Brude Gunderson, in all his 50 years of riding he has scarcely encountered violent bikers.
Bruce Gunderson- Black Pearl Motorcycle Club "Well, I've never really been involved or closely associated with anyone in the gangs, especially the ones that are violent. But there is a lot of gangs that I've been involved with or motorcycle clubs that I've been involved with and all of them always have something that they want to do for the community. So I don't called any of them motorcycle gangs, unless they are a gang. We are clubs. Clubs are clubs. There is a big difference. Down here everyone just likes everybody."
So there is nothing menacing about these motor heads, just a bunch of guys- and ladies- bound by the joy of life on the open road.
Emanuel Pech "What makes the idea of riding on a motorcycle so addicting?"
Nigel Espat- Member of Black Pearl Motorcycle Club "The freedom. It's the best stress relief. We call it "throttle therapy." If the weight on your shoulders get so much, you jump on that bike and just yourself on the highway. That's it. There is no greater sense than being on a motorcycle."
Bruce Gunderson- Black Pearl Motorcycle Club "You can always get in a car and go zooming down the road about 70 miles an hour. But when you get on a bike, you don't really think about your destination - you just think about your trip."
Looks like everyone is having a super time in Belize. Today is the last day of our Belize Bike Rally. Fido's Courtyard in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye will be the host of today's event headed to the island. This was the day most of the bikers came in to Belize and the day you got to hear the rumbling of the pipes and the heat of the burn at the Belize Bike Rally.
Click photos for more pictures!