The president of the Vicious Cycle Motorcycle Club in Charlottetown says many people he encounters have pre-conceived notions about bikers.
Mark Gauthier says a lot of the “old school guys” used to have a different way of looking at the world and might be called “rebellious” — an image the regional coalition of motorcyclists is trying to change.
“Traditionally, it has been kind of on the fringes of society,” Gauthier said during an interview at the annual motorcycle buy, sell and swap meet at the Eastlink Centre over the long weekend. “One of the things that we try to do with the Atlantic Confederation of Clubs is to actually bridge that gap, to let more people know what the motorcycle community is all about and to kind of invite people in to see and not be the standoffish, old-school rebels.”
He noted opinions are often formed based on a person’s looks, and Gauthier is no exception.
“I go to work in a motorcycle club T-shirt, I’m covered in tattoos,” he said.
But Gauthier also says he does social work with troubled youth, where his appearance is an asset. “They don’t care because I’m relatable, and the kids are going to build that therapeutic relationship a lot sooner. They’re going to let their walls down a lot sooner.”
Gauthier draws from experience to help guide troubled youth down a healthier, more productive path.
“If I’m saying, ‘Listen, here’s now I changed my life, and look at me know,’ I don’t think I’m uncool. I’m not some square out there who’s just doing nothing. I’m living my life way better than I did back in the day when I was in (their) shoes.”
As the swap meet was underway, four members of the RCMP sat in a booth above the rink area, observing everyone who came and went.
Cpl. Andy Cook said the RCMP attends such events for public safety and to monitor membership in different clubs. He acknowledged that just belonging to a motorcycle club doesn’t make someone a criminal, noting Gauthier’s Vicious Cycle does do legitimate work.
“His club is supposed to be about addictions recovery, and I’m not going to say they don’t do some good work,” he said. “Groups like that one there, we’re not focused on them. We’re focused on criminal groups, and even within groups like the Hells Angels, we’re focused on the criminality there.”
Cook said two members of Hell’s Angels were observed at Saturday’s swap meet.
While members of the ACC say they aren’t part of the Hells Angels, Cook said by selling merchandise for the gang — which was happening at Saturday’s event — they become affiliated.
“They’re free to associate, we’re not there for that. If they want to associate, that’s up to them, but our job is public safety and it’s to monitor groups like the Hells Angels. So, I’m not going to not do my job because they don’t like it.”