Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

June 16, 2014

Memorial ride concludes Back of the Dragon festival

TAZEWELL, Va. — A long line of rumbling motorcycles left Tazewell High School on Sunday afternoon to promote motorcycle safety and honor an area business person.

The Jimmy Ramey Jr. Memorial Ride concluded the fourth Back of the Dragon festival in Tazewell County. Approximately 78 riders met at Tazewell High School to travel the designated route across the county.

“We’re really happy,” Larry Davidson, one of the vice presidents for Drag-A-Knee Inc. said of this year’s Back of the Dragon. Wet weather dampened the festival’s first day, but it improved Saturday and Sunday.

“And the Lord’s going to bless us with some nice weather today,” he said.

Corbin Ramey, son of the late Jimmy Ramey Jr., thanked the riders on behalf of his family for their participation. It was the first memorial ride in honor of his father.

“It’s really nice to know the community could get together for motorcycle safety and the memory of Jimmy Ramey,” he said, adding his father would have liked the gesture. “We really appreciate you all being here. It means a lot.”

The memorial ride was organized by A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments (ABATE) of Virginia, Inc., which lobbies for laws that do not restrict motorcycle riders’ freedom to ride and works to promote a better image for motorcyclists.

Safety was emphasized as the procession prepared to leave the football stadium’s parking lot. Riders were urged to keep their eyes on the road despite the beautiful scenery and to maintain a safe distance between motorcycles.

Jimmy Ramey Jr. supported the Back of the Dragon project and motorcycle safety, said Nelson Blankenship, 54, of Tazewell, Va.

The ABATE organization has combated unfair laws directed at motorcycle riders, Blankenship said. In the past, riders were being ticketed in some parts of Virginia for wearing full-head motorcycle helmets that hid their faces. In another instance, three-wheel cycles were once classified along with motorcycles even though the vehicles have different characteristics; the three-wheelers now have their own classification, he said.

Bland County resident Jim Ball, 66, said he came to the event “just to ride. That’s what it’s for.”

When asked how traveling on a motorcycle compared to riding in a car, Ball replied, “No comparison. It’s just freedom. I guess I’ve had a motorcycle since I was 16 years old.”

Marie Rasnake of Breaks, Va., said she had loved the Back of the Dragon and the region’s scenery.

“Good people, clean air, a good ride,” added her fiancé, John Boyd of Breaks, Va. Boyd said he always wears a helmet when riding his motorcycle, but felt that whether to wear one should be up to each motorcyclist.

“It’s a freedom. You should be able to make your own choice. It’s America, you know,” he stated.

— Contact Greg Jordan at

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