Although most of my communication nowadays is done on Facebook or one of the other social media sites, occasionally I get a regular e-mail that sparks my attention or provides some news that’s worthy of sharing. Late last month, I received such an email from a young man named Jason Tassinari (J.T.) inviting me to visit his new motorcycle repair shop in Sanford. Now, in Jason’s words, “It’s a Mom and Pop shop,” but it’s really much more than that. In this day of big-box stores and drive-through everything, it’s a shop that reminds us of days gone by; a business where each customer counts and is made to feel that way from the first hello to the last goodbye as you ride away. It is a small establishment, and because of that, they can take the time to listen to each person’s concerns about their two-wheeled baby and make sure they are happy with the work after it’s been done. Something else I like about J.T.’s shop is that they specialize in Harleys and other cruisers, but not sportbikes. Yes, I know everyone has the right to ride what they want, but that’s just my preference. So all that being said, next time you’re in the Sanford area, stop in and say hello at JT’s Motorcycle Shop, 1180 Central Park Drive or give them a call at 407.732.6677… This month started off with one of the most popular annual rides taking place on March 22. This was the date Reverend Al Paquette hosted his benefit for the Coalition for the Homeless. Usually this ride takes place the second week of January, but due to some extenuating circumstances, Al moved it to March right after Bike Week. The gathering place was the same (Porkies BBQ in Apopka) and the support was the same, too—just great! Everyone brings donations of supplies for the folks living at the shelter and, by the end of the day, there are truckloads of everyday items being donated. As the riders roll in to the shelter, the residents are outside waving and showing their gratitude by holding up signs and cheering at the top of their lungs. With the bikes parked, hugs are exchanged and the little kids tie bandanas on their heads in an effort to be bikers. It’s a very heartwarming sight and it makes you realize how blessed you really are just to have a roof over your head… On March 30, John Malik Sr., patriarch of the Malik family, passed away after falling out of his wheelchair on the 18th and sustaining a head injury. Mr. Malik was well loved by many in the area since buying his first dealership in 1993 in Leesburg. It later became Gator Harley-Davidson, and in 2002 he opened Stormy Hill (Clermont) Harley. Most recently, the newest dealership just north of Leesburg opened in The Villages. Sixteen years ago, he suffered a stroke that left him in a wheelchair, but he continued to visit the dealership every day, even after his retirement. Services were held on April 9 in Mt. Dora and riders and non-riders alike showed up to pay their respects—Mr. Malik will be sorely missed by many… On April 5, Rudy’s Crossroads in DeLand was the site for riders to join in a poker run called Wheels Supporting Wheels, a local 501(c)(3) organization supporting spinal cord injuries. Registration for the ride was just $20 and included a meal ticket for dinner. After rolling out of Crossroads, it was off for a nice ride on some back roads through Paisley stopping at Pirate’s Pub and then to the Oasis in Sorrento, the Foxhead in Osteen and ending back at the Crossroads. A band named Gin Mill Romeo took the stage at 2:00 p.m. to provide the afternoon’s entertainment… That same day over at Gator Harley in Leesburg, ladies were treated to a day of fun and information. This was the 9th annual Women’s Day Conference and, this year, the theme was a luau. I’m not sure if the gals who rode in were in grass skirts, but for just $35 everyone enjoyed a day of activities, prizes, food and useful information centering around riding and owning a motorcycle… A little further south in Lake County that afternoon, the new Green Swamp Chapter of the Nam Knights (a.k.a. “The Swamp Rats”) opened the doors of their new clubhouse in Groveland. Free food, ice-cold beverages and an afternoon of fun and frivolity (I’ve seen pictures!) were offered up to all takers. I have good friends that started this chapter and I wish them the best of luck on the newest effort… That weekend was a big one for the folks at Harley-Davidson of Crystal River as well. They were busy hosting the 13th annual Citrus County Bike Bash. Special sale promotions inside the store, vendors in the parking lot, a bikini bike wash and a kids’ play zone were just a few of the offerings. But probably the best was the live music scheduled for the event—a great band called One Flite Up early on Saturday and the legendary Bobby Friss that afternoon. That’s about it for this month from the Sunshine State. The days are getting longer and hotter here and that means more of us are on the road. So till next time, be safe out there and take care of each other.