Gold from a Dragon Rider
They’re a deceitful bunch of earthlings; tatted, tough and seemingly indifferent to others when poised at an intersection. Riders mounted on loud, gear driven, fire-spitting dragons. Often times roving in packs; tearing down main streets—leaving dusty clouds fraught with attitude in their wake. They wear nefarious colors and love to load up on scenes while nestled on their sophisticated mechanical serpents; shiny dragons that raucously blast through the air. The same air I longed for when charging through flimsy, poorly engineered ramps on my bike as a child.
After I learned to balance on a bicycle, the roads became my playground. I’d skip out of Sunday school-if I could, to load up on adrenaline—a tempting fruit from a tree that clings to the razored edge of existence. In my dreams I was the next Evel Knievel, flying through the air, soaring on gleeful cheers. Having to pick asphalt out of my road rash made me reconsider that particular plan—it wasn’t meant for me. Still, there were other roads, with interesting people to meet.
Bikes and roads were my first connection to the world. They were clearings connecting me to my neighbors; pathways to my friends. We have several motorcycle clubs here in our community. Like any large group, motorcycle clubs are tainted with stereotypes. I recently had the opportunity to meet with Jesse Frausto, also known as Preacher, a member of a motorcycle club called Centauros. They’re an organization whose roads sprout from Ciudad Juarez, in Mexico. There’s more to the dragon riders than meets the eye, I called them deceitful because there’s another side to these rolling riders, rumbling in processions of denim, leather and tatted skin. The Centauros organization is governed with by-laws like any corporations. When Preacher told me that members of the Centauros are subject to random drug tests, with zero tolerance for infractions, I thought I heard him wrong. It turns out the founding fathers of Centauros doubled as lawyers, police officers and even judges.
Jesse and his wife Darlene place a high value on Centauros commitment to families and community. The Las Cruces chapter of Centauros has been around for 17 years. Its members love to tackle philanthropies while rolling alongside of their brothers and sisters. There’s at least eight other organized motorcycle clubs in this area that form a consortium of sorts, bound by their love for our city and riding for a cause.
Many local bikers participate in well-known events like Coats for Kids and Toys for Tots among others. The Centauros raise money by organizing events called Runs. The Runs are like a quest which solicits riders to participate and pay a registration fee. They’ll parade in a stream of thunder that leaves behind a hefty sack of coins for programs like Hearts of Autism, Aprendamos and Us Too, an organization for men with prostate cancer.
The gold that’s delivered is never enough. Jesse knows there will always be someone in need waiting down the road. He praised his wife’s hard work in helping him organize events and mentioned they’re planning a Run for Freddie on July 30th, an event that’ll help a local biker cope with the ruins of a burned home.
Underneath Jesse’s Centauros vest is the heart of an Army Veteran and a husband dedicated to his family. He’s a Christian pastor in a small church that speaks about building, forgiving and trying. That’s why they nick-named him Preacher. And like me, he’s come a long way from those first tentative rides on the road.