The Blue Ridge Beemers (aka BRB)

Even though I live on the western fringes of what is considered "Northern Virginia" - and hence am fortunate to both live outside the urban crush that comprises most of that district and at the same time have terrific motorcycle roads literally at my front door - I have nevertheless long been drawn to the more distant, rural areas of the state. That includes the mountainous area in the central part of the state where my parents grew up - my father on a farm with mountains rising around it - where I have countless fond childhood memories.

So it's no surprise that in the months after buying my first BMW motorcycle back in 1993 I joined not only the local DC-area BMWBMW club, but also the somewhat more distant Blue Ridge Beemers, based out of Charlottesville and drawing much of its membership from that very same part of the state I hope to move to someday.

I don't recall where or when I first met Steve Coburn, but one can't talk about the Blue Ridge Beemers without talking about him. He was an avid BMW motorcyclist for many years, originally hailing, I believe, from California. When he moved to Virginia he reconstituted the original but long-dormant BRB club. He became its catalyst, its president, its primary promoter and spokesman, and the editor of its monthly newsletter. In its latter day incarnation, Steve was the BRB.

In August of 1994 I attended my first BRB club ride. They typically held these rides on the first Sunday of every month. When we parted ways at the end of that ride, Steve asked if I would write a ride report for the next newsletter. I said sure, and a week or so later I mailed him a diskette with the story I had written. When I saw him a few weeks later he remarked "I had a feeling about you". He was very pleased with the article and immediately began asking me to write more stuff for the newsletter. I was glad to do that, but quietly abjured when he asked me to take over as editor. I always felt bad because such an inordinate amount of club work fell upon Steve personally, but I knew there was no way I could find the time to take that on.

I was a member of, and rode with, the Blue Ridge Beemers for a couple of years. They were good times, and I remember them with fondness. But as the club had before his arrival, it again began to lose its way as Steve focused on other activities - in addition to running the BRB, he was a spokesman for the BMW RA and was the founder of The Oilheads, an organization he started shortly after BMW released its new motor. All that required a lot of time. And I was becoming more and more focused on track days and aggressive sport riding.

I saw Steve one last time in 1996 or 1997, a happenstance meeting at a gas station in Maryland. I was on a ride with MAD, the local Ducati club, and Steve happened to stop by there while we were gassing up. We talked for a couple of minutes, but didn't have long. I rode away thinking he didn't look well.

Steve died in the spring of 2006, of a brain aneurism. His ashes were scattered along the Blue Ridge Parkway, that special roadway that he and I both so loved.


Here is that first ride review that Steve asked me to pen (the ride on the 7th of August, 1994): August First Sunday Ride

Here is the first ride that Steve asked me to put together and lead (the 6th of November, 1994): November First Sunday Ride

Here is a Boxer Day ride review from late 1994 (the 26th of December, 1994): Boxer Day Ride


And finally, here is a link to the Blue Ridge Beemers. They're still around, though the club is not terribly active from what I can tell: Blue Ridge Beemers