Peterbuilt, Treasurer of the Kelseyville chapter of The Good Ol’ Boys Motorcycle Club leans over Trudy and me, his massive form towering above us.
“Welcome to Camp KomRatto,” he smiles and gently puts his hand on Trudy’s shoulder. “You’re perfectly safe here.”
Bikers from several clubs mill around us. Loud music pounds from the stage. It’s a Friday in mid-July at what used to be known as Big Pine Campground, located in Loch Lomond. My wife and I are at Camp KomRatto, a memorial run for bikers Dave Komro and Larry Ratto. The heat of the day has broken, but it’s warm, and the tops of the massive pine trees still glow the final tints of sunset.
Trudy looks up at him. “Thank you,” she says. “We’re looking forward to it.” We wander off towards the stage.
Earlier in the afternoon, I met for a drink across the highway at The Roadhouse with Ron “O. G” Ogden of the Sonoma Chapter of The Good Ol’ Boys. He sits across the table from me, his long, red goatee nearly hiding the camp KomRatto badge dangling around his neck.
“People are scared of bikers,” he tells me, “And we don’t want them to be.” He takes a sip of his rum and coke. “We want to change the face of how people see bikers.”
Then he set his drink down and began to tell me a story. “After the Rocky Fire, we were down at Lower Lake High School, making food for all the people who had to evacuate. And the Red Cross came in and told us all to get out, they were taking over.”
He pauses, then takes another sip. “They said they’d call the cops on us. ‘Are you bigger than us?’ I told them. ‘Then you can kiss my ass.’
“‘Well, you’ve got to be out by five,’ they said and left. So we went through the kitchen and took everything—all the food. We cleaned off the shelves and emptied the refrigerators. And we went down to the ball field and gave it all away to the people evacuated there.”
“Damn,” I say.
“Then, after the Valley Fire, we were in Middletown,” Ron continues. “We found out there was a kid who loved monster trucks, so I found a guy who has a mini monster truck, and we brought it up. We were cooking for them, and when the truck came out, the kid’s face lite up, and other people started smiling. It was probably the first time they had anything to smile about in a week.”
Ron’s a talker, and he’s on a roll now. “And last year during the Mendocino Fires, we got a call from the camp here in Loch Lomond. All the kids had to evacuate, so we got the club together, rode up, and got them all out.” He smiles. “They still had their swimsuits and towels from the pool.” He pauses. “Why don’t you come tonight and see what we do? It’s the safest place you could be. Just tell them at the gate who you are.”
The Good Ol’ Boys are a motorcycle club like no other. As Trudy and I continue to walk around and talk with people, we find out more. Everyone has a new story to tell about The Good Ol’ Boys:
“They gave bikes away to all the kids on Cobb after the Valley Fire.”
“They saved the VA hospital in Santa Rosa.”
“They rebuilt all the instruments at Lower Lake High School.”
The list kept going, but the music had gotten louder, and Trudy and I had to yell to talk. So we stepped closer to the stage and let the music envelop us.
“Do you know what we’re about KomRatto?” the singer hollers from the stage. The crowd cheers. “Do you know what we’re about?”
“Friendship!” He yells. “Family! And being a real mother f—ker!”
To learn more about the Good ol’ Boys, visit their website at https://goodolboysmc.com/