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A winning hand

The first card I pulled on the Charlie Burke Memorial Poker run was a jack of spades, the one-eyed jack. The second card I pulled was the jack of hearts. I was off to a great start on a really wild ride this past Sunday. The ride was the sixth annual poker run in honor of one of the founding fathers of the Wyoming Valley Motorcycle Club.

Charlie Burke “was an adventurous guy, he loved to ride motorcycles, snowmobiles and ski, he did everything,” says Bob Lonsdale, president of the WVMC. The club sponsors do this ride each year to honor a friend. Bob explains the reason for this was that “It [Charlie] was our first member to pass away, so we decided to do a memorial run every year. He passed away in 2003 in a snowmobile accident.”

“Each year is different,” Lonsdale says. “Different route. Different stops. It’s always a poker run. This year saw approximately 150 registrants.”

If you aren’t familiar with this type of bike run it is really exciting. You start at the registration point and follow directions on a map to four other places selecting a card from each place that is marked on your sheet. Similar to the game of five-card draw, because at the end of the run you get to buy two cards, discarding two already on your sheet.

Instead of a large group running together, you break off in groups or singles to complete the course. Everyone completes at their own pace, stopping as long as they want at each stop.

The starting point for this ride was at 2 G’s on Route 115 in Bear Creek where you pay the donation and receive a sheet of paper with the cards on it. This was where I pulled the Jack of Spades.

“The reason for this starting place was because this was one of Charlie’s hangouts,” Lonsdale says. For Charlie’s poker run we left 2 G’s and proceeded to the Lilly Lake Inn; we found it thanks to the leader of our group, Peanut, who really knows his way around this area since he didn’t get us lost or lose any of the group. Here I pulled a jack of hearts. I was on a roll. At that point I seemed to be doing very well.

Our next stop was Bandit’s Roadhouse in Berwick. The best part about this stop had to be the air conditioning. After an hour or so in the 92-degree heat the AC felt wonderful. Some people got some food, many got drinks and everyone pulled a card. I drew a four of hearts which was of no help to my hand.

Next there was the discussion of the best route to get to the next stop, the Central Hotel. Each of the group seemed to know a different way to get there than the directions showed us. We chose the very scenic route over Jonestown Mountain. Led once again by Peanut, it was a good choice. The roads had been recently repaved — unique, I know, for Pennsylvania.

At the Central Hotel I pulled a King of Spades. Well, it was a face card, but again, no help. Then we were off to our last stop, T.C. Riley’s on Carverton Road back in Shavertown. It was a fairly long ride; we only got a little wet during a quick downpour right outside of Central. For one of our group, Jim, this was the first time he’d ever been caught in the rain on his bike.

At Riley’s I had a chance to talk with who I’m pretty sure was the youngest rider of this run, Jodi Hilstolsky. She was riding on the back of her mother Cheryl’s Harley Davidson for the whole run. Even though Jodi didn’t know Charlie, she did want to come out for a ride with her mom who is a member of the WVMC along with her husband Don. “It was a last-minute thing.”

When asked what she liked most about the ride Jodi says that she “really enjoyed the scenery, but it was a little too long.” She says about riding with her mother, “Kinda scary because she swerves.” But not to worry: Cheryl learned all about swerving at the experienced-riders’ safety course. And even after such a long ride Jodi says that she would definitely to it again. When she is old enough to get her own bike she tells me that it will be “a Harley Davidson.” Duh!

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