The April Fuels Run began to bring a fun level of excitement to riders throughout the midwest and something to look forward to kicking off the riding season. While the weather in the region can be very unpredictable it has thrown some interesting challenges at the run over the past several years and this year was thankfully an exception with a great ride and great turnout. The run includes a free raffle and free meal to everyone attending and does so with the help of many great sponsors and tshirt sales. We spoke with the runs organizer Anthony "Cooker" Robertson to get some insight on how it came to be and what the goal of the run going forward.
Let's start by giving everyone a little background on you and the reason why you began organizing this bike run?
Hell, I'm not that interesting but I'll give it a shot. I was never into bikes untill my first sportster in 2010. With the help of some people local I was able to chop that Ironhead and hardtail it. Mike Reed, of Chop n Weld, was a huge part of that. Also there was a ton of help from the Quad Cam Bastards who specialize in sportster choppers. I likely would not have successfully finished without thier help and friendship.
As I was chopping and riding I realized there were not many runs or rides around Indiana and very little that were solely for the rider. There were a lot of charity rides and bar hops but nothing significant geared just for ridings sake. Thus in 6 weeks time we organized the first April Fuels ride.
What would you say is your goal with the run?
The goal was to make it about the riders and riding. We wanted a fun time that wasn't about getting hammered, playing games, or any other activity really outside of riding. A lot of events center on that and that is just fine. There is a place for that and it works for those who attend and the organizers. We also wanted to showcase the good parts of Indiana roads. Those roads that people just don't know about that are hidden jewels in our state.
The run being held in April in the midwest has seen its fair share of wild weather from below freezing temps to hours of extreme downpour rain. We even ran into extreme flooding one year that altered the route entirely due to the main road being literally underwater. The run has always been rain ot shine and kickstand up ready to roll no matter what the situation. Do you feel that this makes it sort of a right of passage for some folks and why have you always chose to approach the run this way?
I'm just dumb. When we thought of the first run, we didn't think of the weather. I always road in April because it was warm enough for me. When we picked the name however, it just stuck. I've been asked multiple times to change it but I'm also hard headed so here we are. It is also nice to be the first run or event of the season as everyone is excited to get out, even in the cold.
As far as it being a right of passage, nah. I think folks are just ready to get out. A few of them may have underestimated the difficulty of the route and definitely felt good about it later however. It's not easy riding and that challenge makes the whole thing somewhat gratifying.
You primarily ride and build sportster choppers and to what I can recall have always done the run on one. You were also a member of the "quad cam bastards" group for some time that specializes in that. What makes a sportster such a great bike for to run to you and would you ever do it on another bike?
I'd say I ride much more than build. I'm like a lot of guys, just changing out parts and playing dress up with a bike haha. As far as a sportster, I don't think there is much that it offers other than it is easier to build and work on for me. The real enjoyment about riding one is that mine are always hardtail choppers. When you ride a hardtail in the curves it just digs in. That has always made it feel more aggressive and that is how I like to ride. It's all preference and I've always just preferred hardtail choppers.
I have bikes with suspension and two brakes and all that, and have planned on riding other bikes for the run. Every year, however, I go to the garage and pick the chopper. Like I said, I'm dumb.
The run has had a great mix of a lot of different bikes including choppers, trackers, vintage stock bikes and in recent years a lot of big twin baggers and performance dynas. Would you say you encourage people to ride more custom bikes on the run and just run whatever you brung?
We are all about riding. We don't care what you ride but we do care that you know how to ride. Riding 40+ deep in a group is hard enough, then you add curves. It can become a dangerous situation when you add some new or inexperienced rider in there. We are always excited to see all the different bikes that attend.
The run includes a free meal and great raffle every year with prizes from some really great sponsors. Tell us a bit more about why you.chose to add that element to the run and list some of the great sponsors you've had this year and ones who've supported year after year that really made a mark on you.
We chose to include the free meal and free raffle because everyone else who had an event was asking for money from attendees. We know this shit isn't cheap and those events are big and have a desire to grow.
Our goal was always to give the rider the best day we could and just break even. We make no money on this event. We try to get a cool shirt design that people want and the proceeds from those sales fund everything we do.
Over the years we have had the fortune to be supported by some of the best people and companies around. Those who stand out as either multiple years or who went above and beyond are folks like Heckman Customs, Bare Knuckle Performance, Chop Cult, Kickstart Cycle, and Hugh's HandBuilt. These folks have been fantastic supporters who have given a lot of their companies goods and services. I'm happy to call them friends and some brothers today.
The run follows a similar but often slightly altered path every year covering many beautiful roads in southern Indiana that stretches across lakes and many hilly incredible winding roads. If a person was coming from out of state to participate how would you best describe the riding and the skill level needed?
The biggest thing IS to know your skill level. Know if your comfortable riding in a pack or if you'd rather hang in the back. The roads are difficult but more than that, the ride is long. We usually set the run at 200 or more miles and riding all day in a straight line is a lot easier that riding all day through the curves. We have had some wrecks and mishaps so it's not something to take lightly.
What would you like to see happen with the run going forward?
Hell we don't know! Seems like every year we say it's the end and in 2020 we called it quits. That break made us miss the whole thing more so it's seems we may be here to stay. Sometimes we discuss a planned growth, but it always leads to taking more away from the riders and the event than it would add and that ends the conversation.
We are just happy doing are thing and watching it grow organically for now. The easiest way to find out what's happening year after year is to check out our IG @aprilfuels. We hope to see some new faces this year and thanks for the opportunity to talk about something we put our hearts into.
Photos and words by Mike Vandegriff