Club stays strong and grows through changing landscape
October 17, 2023 (Story from October edition of American Motorcyclist)
By Joe Perfecto
In the heart of downtown Sacramento, Calif., there stands an unassuming, little WWII-era bungalow, with the entryway overhang bearing the words CAPITAL CITY MOTORCYCLE CLUB, hand-painted in orange. On a given Friday evening, passersby will likely see the little hut surrounded by motorcycles, and perhaps some of the leather-adorned owners milling about. The uninitiated might take this to be the hangout of Sacramento’s version of the Sons of Anarchy, but nothing could be further from the truth, for the Capital City Motorcycle Club (CCMC) is anything but menacing.
Since its inception, the club has advocated for better traffic conditions and safe riding, while engaging in numerous community projects. Anyone wanting to remain a member in good standing must adhere to a long list of rules regarding rider comportment, and CCMC does not associate with non-members who engage in dangerous behavior.
“We are aware of such things and we do not condone it at all,” club president Richard “Toad” Sherman said. “We are opposed to stunts on motorcycles in public areas, and we would not ride with a group that engages in that.”
Now in its 110th year of operation, CCMC is the fourth-oldest club in California and fifth-oldest in the nation. The group was initially founded as the Sacramento Motorcycle Club (SMC) in 1911, at which point both recreational and competitive motorcycling enjoyed popularity in the city, with well-attended races held regularly.
Yet, popular though it was, motorcycling was a relative newcomer to Sacramento, which had long been dominated by bicycle racing. At the heart of the local cycling scene was the Capital City Wheelmen organization.
To keep up with the times and ensure their races maintained relevance, the Wheelmen expanded their events to include those “fire-belching beasts.” Deciding to explore opening their charter to motorcyclists, the SMC and CMCC agreed to work as one entity on a trial basis. The experiment proved successful, and in June of 1913 the now-merged groups began operation under the present name.
CCMC meetings were conducted at the former Wheelmen clubhouse until construction of a bespoke clubhouse was completed in May 1940. Despite 80 years of urban growth, the clubhouse remains in continuous use, and not only still serves its purpose today but represents a portal to the past, with its walls lined with trophies and other memorabilia.
During that same period, change was sparked within the club. In its early days, the club limited its membership to 60; today membership stands at just over 100. The club was initially exclusive to Harley riders; now, the club is brand-agnostic. There was also the matter of exclusion of women, who are now well-represented among the club’s ranks. Over time, the cycling element was also phased out.
The establishment of CCMC played a central role in transforming Sacramento into one of California’s largest motorcycling hubs. Today, CCMC is strictly focused on recreational riding, with a portion of proceeds from events going to various local charities, after decades of hosting races.
“We sponsor several rides throughout the year, including random rides throughout Northern California whenever the weather allows,” club spokesperson Corbett “Captain Smarta” Waddingham said. “We use both MeetUp and Facebook to announce these rides, and they are open to any motorcyclist who wants to ride with us. This year we are also sponsoring the annual Gypsy Tour and will be riding to Fort Bragg with members of other motorcycle clubs from everywhere from San Jose to Yuba City.”
In addition to offering sponsored events, the club does many rides to a variety of destinations in the greater Sacramento region and beyond. Information about the club can be found at http://www.capitalcitymc.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/CapitalCityMC/.