Story and photos by Randy Twells With additional photos courtesy of STAR Members
The 25th Anniversary Laughlin River Run was also an 11-year milestone for Star Touring & Riding. Manufacturer-sponsored riding organizations are nothing new, and de riguer these days to keep redirecting new life into the bottom line of the motorcycle industry. An All In The Family approach that works.
But this group I found to be unique in that it was founded, not by a Yamaha/Star Motorcycles company employee or principal, or someone with business interests behind the idea. It was founded by an individual, the epitome of “good people”, who is a real motorcycle enthusiast, and who appreciated what Yamaha was doing with Star V-Twin bikes, bringing Metric technology to the American V-Twin style.
For a bike to inspire such enthusiasm is something remarkable, as has been the case with certain brands through the years. For a bike to bring people together who love riding it, and who enjoy getting together because of it is also notable.
In 1995 Alan Cease purchased his first Royal Star bike, from a dealer in Enumclaw, Washington. About the same time he met the Star District Sales Manager for that area, Warren Fossum. Alan started talking about his idea of forming a group for Star owners and enthusiasts. This began a succession of further introductions within Yamaha management that resulted in the forming of Star Touring & Riding, in 1996, with 356 National Charter members. Says Fossum regarding his role, “You are correct. I was there from the beginning, very proudly, I might add. They (STAR) awarded me their highest honor, “Order of the Star” at STARdays in Ogden, Utah in 2004.”
1997 saw the formation of Ladies of Star (LOS) to promote women’s participation in motorcycling. 1997 Laughlin River Run is listed in organization archive as the first major official Star T&R event, along with the first Star gathering- a BBQ event.
In year 2000, Yamaha announced Star Touring & Riding as its “Official Riding Organization” for Star enthusiasts. In the years since, Star Touring & Riding has formed various sub-organizations such as STAR Kids, STAR Vets, STAR Teens, Tin Star (an emergency volunteer group) and in 2006, the STAR Family Foundation was formed, with Ginger Cease (Mrs. Alan Cease) as Founder. And members have access to many benefits including group rates on insurance, and other member services.
I had the privilege of attending the Star Breakfast at Laughlin River Run this year, at the Aquarius Hotel & Casino. CA and Southwest area Star District Sales Managers John Hesson and Luke Dawson and various other managers and personnel were on hand, including Bob Starr from Yamaha Corporate, and Daniel Ruesch, Senior Technical Coordinator, who presented a Powerpoint technical seminar on the big screen, to the more than 300 attendees.
Later the same day a group ride was planned to Desert Recreation, the Star dealer across the river in Bullhead City, for a barbecue and an afternoon of socializing and riding.
Star riders are very enthusiastic about their rides. It’s very much a family-oriented organization, as seen above in the various sub-category groups formed to address the needs of Kids, Vets, Teens etc. Going beyond the scope of just motorcycling, encompassing the whole family picture, beyond the horizons that other motorcycling organizations have even envisioned. Because really, it’s all part of the picture. Motorcycles are ridden by people, and people have a lot going on.
Star Touring & Riding has also reached out to International proportions with 12 Chapters in Canada and Europe. I had the privilege of meeting Vince Greva, International Public Relations Officer, who, like Alan, reflects the ‘good people’ tone of Star members. All these great folks love getting together at various sanctioned events throughout the year, in their own regional areas, culminating in the annual international event, STAR Days, held in a different city each year, making it possible to meet other Star Touring & Riding members from all over the world.
The thousands of Star Touring & Riding members worldwide love, yes their bikes, and yet, not so much their bikes—- but what their bikes allow them to do—enjoy the wonderful romance of motorcycling as a group, and yes, as a family.
If you are interested in finding out more about Star bikes or Star Touring & Riding, you can visit www.startouring.org.