Colonial Pipeline hack be damned, the Red Knights—nearly 300 of them—are coming to Culpeper this weekend.
The international group of firefighters who ride motorcycles was invited to town by its local chapter, organized five years ago by Bob Beebe of Culpeper County’s Salem Volunteer Fire Department.
“Some of them have already been arriving; you should be seeing them around town by now,” Beebe said Wednesday.
Riders registered for the club’s Dixie Rally from as far away as Boston, Mass., New Orleans “and everywhere in between,” he said in a phone interview.
This will be the club’s first visit to Culpeper, Beebe said.
The recent run on gas doesn’t worry the Culpeper leader in the least, despite signs on gas pumps across town that say no fuel may be found there.
“What’s messing things up is people panicking,” Beebe said. “What they don’t understand is there are two pipelines running side by side and the gas is still flowing, just not as fast. We’ve been trying to get that information out. All stations except Walmart have some type of gas, at least one level; they’re getting deliveries.”
Culpeper police will give the group an escort through town Friday as the 275 riders travel to the Salem fire house, where a giant photo shoot will capture all the bikes and riders together.
Then it’s on to Virginia’s winding country roads, Beebe said, with a stop at the Harley dealership in the town of Orange and lunch at Culpeper’s Belmont Distillery. A formal auction will be held in the evening.
On Saturday, the bikers will ride out to Front Royal and Cooter’s Garage in Luray, before heading back for an evening meal at Pepper’s Grill in Culpeper.
At 9 a.m. Sunday, there will be a blessing of the bikes in the Culpeper Best Western parking lot, after which the riders will leave town.
The Red Knights International Firefighters Motorcycle Club was born in Boylston, Mass., in 1982 with 11 bikers. Several founding members will be in attendance at this weekend’s rally. In addition to chapters in all 50 American states, chapters may be found the world over, including Australia, New Zealand, Norway and Ireland.
Every spring, members gather in a different state, with chapters nominating themselves to be the rally’s host. The Culpeper group volunteered for 2021 two years ago while attending the rally in Gulfport, Miss., Beebe said.
According to Beebe, the rallies’ primary mission is to raise money to help the communities that members visit.
For this ride, the two charities that will benefit are the Central Virginia Burn Kids Camp—a summer camp in the Charlottesville area for children who have suffered burns—and the Carney Strong Initiative, which builds a supply for area firefighters of decontamination wipes, cleaners and soaps to remove carcinogens and other chemicals after people fight a fire. That helps firefighters prevent skin cancer.
“We love contributing to the community in any way we can,” Beebe said. “We’re service-minded, and this is one way we can enjoy a great day with friends and raise money at the same time.”