Bikers ride for M-Bar-C Ranch

More than 100 riders participated in the poker ride, Sunday, raising about $1,500 for programs at the M-Bar-C Ranch.  - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
More than 100 riders participated in the poker ride, Sunday, raising about $1,500 for programs at the M-Bar-C Ranch.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

Motorcycle riders from across Puget Sound descended on Whidbey Island for good riding, good eats and a good time Sunday.

The 100-mile “poker ride,” organized by M-Bar-C Ranch and the Gold Wing Touring Association, Island Chapter, raised about $1,500 for the M-Bar-C, which provides a ranch experience to disadvantaged and disabled kids.

The day’s events began on the ranch near Freeland for a cowboy-inspired pancake, eggs and bacon breakfast. Riders drew their fist poker hand, hopped on their bikes and headed to the Clinton Dairy Queen for a second hand.

Riders enjoyed sunny skies and a temperature of 70 degrees as they rolled through Coupeville for a third hand before weaving through the island’s back roads to Ault Field Road on North Whidbey for the fourth poker play.

“I saw a lot of beautiful areas,” said Jean Floyd of Oak Harbor, who rode with her husband.

While the first groups rolled in about noon, a posse of Federal Way riders enjoyed the sights so much they took an impromptu detour to extend the ride, and arrived about an hour later.

Lisa Alberts of the Auburn Valley Wings said she rode 800 miles last weekend and would rather take the long way any day.

Vonda Brest, also of the Auburn Valley Wings, couldn’t agree more.

“That was a excellent ride,” she said after removing her helmet.

The ride and poker game culminated in Oak Harbor at the BBQ Joint parking lot under several large, white tents.

The aroma of barbecue permeated the air outside the eatery where the riders ate together in the shade.

Deb O’Brien of the the M-Bar-C could not have hoped for a better day.

“Any biker in his right mind is going to hop on their bike today,” she said of the bright sky and warm temperature.

O’Brien expected about 75 motorcyclists to sign up for the day-long event. Instead, 111 riders registered, most affiliated with the Golden Wings Touring Association, a nationwide group of motorcyclists. Members from the Island, Everett, Skagit Valley, Auburn Valley and Sequim chapters rode in Sunday’s ride.

Members of “BRO,” which stands for Bikers Reaching Out, a group focused on helping those in need and riders from Bikers Against Child Abuse also participated in the fundraising ride.

When asked what he likes best, BRO member Rusty Waters of Oak Harbor couldn’t pin down a favorite.

“I enjoy the sound, the camaraderie and helping others,” he said.

The idea occurred to ranch manager Bill O’Brien during the Whidbey Gold Wings’ monthly breakfast meeting at the ranch. The inaugural ride proved to be a success, he said, and the ranch hopes to hold a similar event in the future.

The BBQ Joint, Banner Bank and All State Insurance played a supporting roll in the event, O’Brien said.

Mike Laska, co-owner of the BBQ Joint, stole a few minutes away from the kitchen to join in the laughter and good humor playing out in front of the restaurant, which is rated by Google as Washington’s best barbecue.

“It’s amazing what can happen when people pitch in,” he said.

M-Bar-C fundraising fun

Sunday, May 24, 4 to 7 p.m. Zydeco Dance-a-Thon and Bayou BBQ: Slip on your dancing shoes and come out to see Whidbey’s own Ken Pickard and the renowned band Zydeco Explosion. Experience the sounds and tastes of Louisiana at the M-Bar-C Ranch where the riding arena will transform into Whidbey’s largest dance hall. Bring the entire family.

Saturday, May 30, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Whidbey Island Ride for Kids poker ride. Cost is $10 a hand. First Rider out 10 a.m. Last rider out at noon. Awards at 2 p.m.

Saturday July 18, M-Bar-C gala: Donate an auction item, volunteer and/or attend the M-Bar-C annual gala on Saturday, July 18.

The M-Bar-C Ranch is located at 5264 Shore Meadow Rd., Freeland, and is owned and operated by The Forgotten Children’s Fund. For more information, call the M-Bar-C Ranch at 360-331-6019, or visit

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