Meriden MC Hits Century Mark

The Connecticut club traces back to 1923

Dec. 5, 2023 (Story from November edition of American Motorcyclist)

By Keaton Maisano

Six months prior to the inception of the American Motorcyclist Association in the spring of 1924, a motorcycle club in the city of Meriden, Conn., was taking its first steps on a century-long journey.

The Meriden Motorcycle Club — AMA charter No. 73 — held its first meeting Thursday, Nov. 15, 1923, and outside of WWII, pandemics and the occasional holiday, the group has been meeting every Thursday since.

Steve Nichols, the club’s unofficial historian and a member for around a quarter-century, said it is the consistency and diversity of the club that makes it special.

“We don’t do one specific thing in motorcycles,” Nichols said. “We have street riders, trials riders, enduro riders, scrambles, road racers, sidecar enthusiasts, flat trackers, speedway racers, you name it. It’s very diverse. It’s not one brand, one type of motorcycling, just the love of motorcycling.”

With ties to many disciplines of racing throughout its history, Meriden MC wasted no time getting involved in the racing landscape. Just three days after its first meeting, the club held its first hill climb at Red Bridge in Meriden. Hillclimb dominated the early part of the club’s racing history, but it has since shifted to enduros and trials.

Today, the club does two observed trials each year, a Thanksgiving poker run and a fundraiser for the John J. Nerden Regional Training Center — a local special-needs camp. The fundraiser — which finds roots in the ‘60s — takes place at Meriden MC’s clubhouse in July.

Appropriately named the Nerden 24, as it involves the running of a vintage motorcycle for 24 hours, the charity event is an annual tradition that points toward the club’s positive impact in the community.

“The club has been building things at the camp, repairing things and raising money for the camp since about 1965,” Nichols said. “It started with a community, wanting to be part of the community, and striving to change the stereotype that motorcyclists aren’t good for society.”

To celebrate its 100th anniversary, Meriden MC held a big banquet in September.

As for the future? Nichols said the club hopes to navigate any challenges to make it another 100 years.

“We’ve seen a lot of clubs come and go,” Nichols said. “We started before a lot of people and are still actively involved. We’ve had to change a little bit over the years, but not very much. The club is very close to what it was 100 years ago.”