By Shane Anthony stltoday.com
Police discuss 'Ride of the Century' Joel Currier Police from several St. Louis-area departments gather to discuss plans to boost safety surrounding a large motorcycle riding event planned in the region this weekend.
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St. Louis authorities preparing for swarms of motorcyclists this weekend
Packs of stunt riders caused problems last year. Related Links Motorcyle rally draws thousands ST. LOUIS • A huge group of motorcyclists rode through the St. Louis area on their annual controversial ride Saturday, as police kept a close eye.
Police presence was visible but not heavy as the bikers gathered at midafternoon near the flood wall along the Mississippi River just south of the Gateway Arch for the 10th Streetfighterz Ride of the Century.
A helicopter hovered overhead; some of the bikers waved at it.
Elsewhere, scanners were busy with reports of groups of motorcycles on area roads and drivers complaining about bikers doing stunts and running red lights.
Police were patrolling highways to prevent a repeat of last year's ride weekend, when an estimated 2,500 bikers buzzed area highways, performing stunts, startling drivers and weaving through traffic.
There were a few incidents and arrests, but Missouri Highway Patrol spokesman Trooper Juston Wheetley said no serious injuries had been reported as of late Saturday afternoon. There was no tally of arrests available Saturday night.
A crash on eastbound Interstate 70 at Fairgrounds Road in St. Charles about 2:30 p.m. Saturday involved a motorcyclist who was taken to a hospital, but details weren't immediately clear. Police believe he may have hit another motorcyclist — but that motorcyclist left the scene, so officers aren't sure.
Another motorcyclist was injured earlier on Muegge Road near Hackmann Road in St. Charles. Police say the biker was riding with about 10 others about 12:30 p.m. when he somehow crashed. Witnesses weren't cooperating.
Capt. Ronald S. Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol said two motorcyclists — a man and a woman — were arrested about 2:30 p.m. at Highway 370 and the Earth City Expressway for trying to evade police after they were spotted going the wrong way on the highway, on an overpass and crossing the median.
He said the woman struck a patrol car stopped on a ramp from Earth City to 370. She had a wrist injury, Johnson said, and the cycle and the car had minor damage.
In another incident on 370, he said, a man who was stopped in the road filming motorcyclists was charged with obstructing traffic.
As the ride along area highways ended later in the afternoon, the patrol set up a checkpoint near Big St. Charles Motorsports at West Clay Street and the Cave Springs overpass. Wheetley said officers were checking licenses and insurance.
Johnson said the checkpoint, staffed by more than 40 officers, started up about 3:45 p.m.
"A lot of these bikes aren't insured, a lot don't have plates on them," he said. He added that "a lot of these riders" don't have special motorcycle drivers licenses. He also pointed to a cycle parked nearby with no headlight.
He said "numerous tickets" were issued and two people were arrested on outstanding warrants. He didn't have details. He also said a bystander (not a motorcyclist) was arrested for interfering with the checkpoint.
St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch said the department was prepared to send letters to insurance carriers describing the reasons motorcyclists were ticketed by county officers.
Many of the riders ended their day at Big St. Charles Motorsports to sample food from tents and watch bikers do stunts in a cordoned-off parking lot.
Johnson, the patrol captain, estimated that close to 1,000 people were at the location by early evening.
Earlier in the day, a half-dozen riders from Tennessee had gathered near Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard and Chouteau Avenue in preparation for the ride. Mike Winfree, 20, of Clarksville, Tenn., said he had no intention of performing stunts.
Winfree said most of the bikes in the ride weren't set up to be stunt bikes, and he looked forward to riding with others who love motorcycles.
"Not everybody's here to cause a problem," Winfree said.
Motorcycle Hall Of Fame Member 2005