Gunpowder Valley Motorcycle Club (GVMC) was co-founded by Andy Hanson and George Karson on the last Friday in November of 1979; there were about 10 other charter members. This is Andy’s account of the beginning years:
GVMC was started as an off-shoot of an informal group of dirt bike riders known only to themselves as the “White Marsh Raiders”. The WMRs was a quasi-outlaw group of grizzled veterans who started back in the day when the "BSA 441 Victor" was the state of the art off road machine, and lived through the transition years beginning with these lead sleds up through the development of “real” dirt bikes; the air cooled two strokes that took over in the late 60’s and 70’s.
I call them quasi-outlaw, as every ride involved some kind of violation of law governing motor vehicles and/or use of state park property. Every Saturday morning between the end of deer season and the middle of March, we would ride out of Porky’s house in White Marsh, MD, using a variety of trails (usually trespassing) to get to the Big Gunpowder Falls. We rode up the river at a competitive pace, stopping at every tavern where there was a road crossing (and there were quite a few.) MD 7 was the Big Falls Inn. MD-1 had Logan’s. Harford Road (MD-147) had the Cub Hill Inn. Last guy there bought the first pitcher. From Cub Hill we rode back down the power lines to the now-White March Mall area, which used to be a gravel pit. We stopped at the Rustic Inn on MD 7 for our last infusion of the grog before wobbling back to Porky’s house at the bottom of the hill. So yes, it was competitive. If you didn't learn how to ride with a pretty good buzz on, or your wallet was drained pretty quickly. Every New Year’s Day, GVMC held an open ride which other local clubs (Baltimore County Trail Riders, Maryland Competition Riders, etc) were invited to ride the Gunpowder with us. One year I remember there being 33 riders who started the day. If you didn’t hang, you were left behind. We finished back at Porky’s house with 8 riders that day as I recall. That was how you earned your membership into the White Marsh Raiders; riding hard, drinking a lot, and riding some more. It was lots of fun and excitement each Saturday, racing woods trails and running from the Park Rangers who had little else to do that time of year.
Since the WMRs was a fairly exclusive and rag tag organization, George and I (no doubt over a beer or three) decided it would be good to form a “real” club. Basically we had a lot of enthusiastic guys in the area that were pretty good riders who went to the local races back then. We figured it was a good way for us to form a brotherhood for riding and racing. No one was really interested in joining one of the established clubs at the time, too much baggage, so we formed GVMC. GVMC has its roots in pretty much the same mentality that persists to this day, minimal rules, maximum fun. We held the meetings in George’s motorcycle shop for a few years, then moved it to the chicken house on my Dad’s farm for a few years and had been gypsies ever since. Santo's barn is the closest thing we've had to a real clubhouse in all the time we have been together.
We went legit later in the 1980’s and became an AMA sanctioned club. We put on a few events, not too many as that seemed to be what clubs did if you were a bona-fide club. We hosted a couple of trials events up in the Whiteford/Delta quarries in the late 80’s that went over really well and some Hare Scramble events. Whiskey Ridge, over near Sharpsburg, was our high water mark. Probably 200 riders in that one on a 7 mile course, which is when the " Whiskey Trophies" got started. We did that until we heard that minors were drinking their trophies on the way home. GVMC ran a couple more similar events up at the Cecil County Drag Way property until they jacked up the price too high to make it worth our while.
All this time the club membership was growing, and growing older too. By the early 90’s we decided to abandon the District 7 scene and start putting on our own events for our own enjoyment. This was selfish, we knew, but we had to observe fewer rules and regulations! By about the mid-90’s we were running 6 to 8 club hare scrambles a year, each promoter doing his damnest to outdo the others. It was great! Some outlaw events (absentee landowners) and some on land owned by club members. We had everybody sign a waiver written in plain English, which probably would have worked if anybody (or their heirs) ever challenged it. Luckily we did not have to find out. Most of that happened under the reign of King John Koluch.
After that, it seemed the club became less active in promoting events, which is why I drifted off a bit - only dropping in for the social aspect and to ride an occasional fall classic Yeoho event (about once every 5 years!) It’s been great fun. A lot of laughs and a lot of fun loving people to laugh and ride with!