Nick Zarras | Managing Editor
This column is to honor the State Directors whose drive and personality improves the quality of life of their state MSTA members.
This month STAReview magazine features Rhode Island State Director Jonathan “Earthdude” Hirons.
Nicky: What prompted you to join the MSTA and how long have you been in a member?
Jonathan: I joined the MSTA (the HSTA back then) after seeing an advertisement for it in the back of one of the many motorcycle magazines I have subscriptions to, in June of 2005. I have been a member for almost 9 years at this point.
Nicky: Tell me about your first bike? What motorcycle do you ride to events now?
Jonathan: My first bike was a 1982 Honda Nighthawk CB450. I was fortunate enough to buy it back from the person I sold it to years ago. It is currently in the back corner of my garage awaiting a restoration. My current ride is my stone cold reliable 2001 Honda VFR800FI Interceptor, which has now been ridden in 26 of the 50 states.
Nicky: How long were you a member before you became a State Director and what prompted you to volunteer for the position?
Jonathan: I was a member for two years before I became the state director, and at STAR 2007, in Asheville, NC, former President Dave “Brick” Brickner was what prompted me to volunteer for the position. There were no state directors or chapters anywhere up here in New England, and he convinced me to do it.
Nicky: What were your goals for your state once you became a State Director?
Jonathan: My goals were to try to create a chapter of MSTA members here in Rhode Island, and try to get them to attend STAR with me, and attempt to get a regional event or perhaps a STAR up here in New England in the future. I succeeded in doubling the membership from 2 members to 4 members in Rhode Island by 2009, but fell back to the original 2 members by last year, and my good riding buddy sold his bike and did not renew his membership this year. Unfortunately, a career change and some other issues have kept me from focusing on my duties as State Director for the past few years, but I am planning on rounding up some new members this year now that we are finally thawing out up here in New England.
Nicky: What does it take to be a State Director in respect to time and effort?
Jonathan: The phrase “you get out of it what you put into it” has been used before describe this job, and I couldn’t agree more. I enjoyed trying to get new members to join by arranging small group rides and leaving the ITR’s (Invite To Ride brochure) at the local hangouts for like minded riders like the rest of our membership. Unfortunately I did not receive many responses. It is difficult to put a finite number of hours on the time it takes to be a state director. At my most active I was putting in a couple of hours a week on organizational duties and 1 or 2 days a month on an “organized” ride from April until October.
Nicky: What do you find to be the best way the members can help the State Director?
Jonathan: The best way a member can help the State Director is to show up regularly for scheduled events and volunteer to help out with the setup, organization, or cleanup after said events.
Nicky: What is one of your best memories as a State Director?
Jonathan: One of my best memories as state director was being able to brag that the Rhode Island chapter had 100% attendance of its membership at STAR 2009 in Staunton, VA. All two of us! But seriously, it was leading a ride for all four of our members in the fall of 2009 through the foothills of Eastern Connecticut. We started with a 40 mile jaunt for breakfast, which was the beginning of what turned into a 384 mile day that basically did a huge loop from the Providence Metro Area in a counterclockwise circle around Hartford, CT. We started shortly after sunrise, and I rolled into my driveway as the sun set on what had been a quintessential southern New England autumn day.
Nicky: What one recommendation can you make to MSTA members who are thinking of becoming a State Director, Assistant Director or Co-Director?
Jonathan: The one recommendation I would make to anybody who is thinking of becoming a State Director, Assistant Director or Co-Director would be to seek qualified psychiatric help! But seriously, if you have experience in organizing events, or wish to get involved, volunteer to help out at a local event or a national event to see what is involved. The job of State Director can be both amazingly rewarding and painfully frustrating, often within hours of each other. But sitting at the established “hangout” after the bikes are parked and having an adult beverage with fellow motorcyclists and recounting the day’s riding makes it all worth it!
From all of us at STAReview and MSTA we thank Jonathan “Earthdude” Hirons and his fellow Rhode Island MSTA member staff for all their efforts at making Rhode Island a great place to ride.