Year End Review and Look Ahead – Jim Kopchok, Chap. Director

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed already since Barb & I assumed our new roles with Chapter Z2. We’ve seen some changes, had great rides and, as always, had great fellowship among our chapter members.

First, almost an entirely new team of chapter members volunteered their time and leadership. Thanks to all of our Chapter Z2 staff for your hard work this year: Doug Koglin, Asst. Chapter Director (or as I like to call him, “CD in waiting”, Don Shore – Ride Coordinator, Chris Shore – Treasurer, Danni Schwieger – Secretary,  Butch & Mary Thielenhouse – Historians, John McHugh & Joan Nurczyk – Newsletter Editors, Dennis Murphy – Chapter Educator, Tony Sundt – Membership Enhancement Coordinator, Bill Bijou – Special Events Coordinator, Don Schwieger – Asst. Ride Coordinator. Of course, we remember our lost Chapter Educator, Ron Walldren, who honored the chapter with his hard work for many years. Ken Stoffregen, another of our members, designed a special patch to commemorate Ron. And where would we be without Earl Hobbs as our local emissary to the head honchos at the Illinois District and our (almost) personal trainer?

This group demonstrates how everyone pulling together in the same direction can make the job seem simple, not to mention fun!

In addition to our new and returning staff, we started the year by changing the design and look of our website, including making it more “mobile” friendly. Monthly articles are posted and the calendar has been upgraded to include event details to keep everyone up to date. If you subscribe to the site, new information will be automatically sent to your email address. Newsletters are posted for reference and access through other devices such as phones and tablets. The calendar can even be imported into your Google or Hotmail accounts.

Speaking of the newsletter, John and now Joan, have done an outstanding job of making our newsletter look professional, interesting and informative.

To help market our Chapter, we printed business cards that were shared with all members, half sheet flyers for distribution at local retail establishments and promoted our Chapter to other organizations. We even had new Chapter apparel and logo created so that we could all look uniform as a group. Shirts and hats are available for your order and the form is contained in this newsletter or on our web site.  A new Facebook Page was created (www.facebook.com/ilz2wings) to complement our Facebook group (GWRRA-IL-Z2). The Facebook page is used for more external marketing and information, while the group is used for current members and internal communications. For those using Facebook, we use this to instantly share important events and even set up impromptu rides, when other methods don’t work as well.

We arranged for multiple training sessions. We missed our Ride Captain training due to weather, but rest assured, we have it on the calendar for next spring! We will continue to emphasize rider training and education since it is such an important part of our heritage as an organization, and because we all want to stay safe while we enjoy our favorite hobby. Call it training or call it social, Billy Naughton offered up his garage and expertise to assist members in maintenance tasks. Poor weather kept attendance down but we appreciate how our Chapter comes together to assist all our riders.

Social events didn’t take a back seat as we came together for several chapter dinners and our post-holiday party. Doug Koglin, made sure reservations and accommodations were up to snuff. Remember, Chuck’s Southern Barbecue, Al’s Steak House, Mandiles Italian Restaurant and more? This summer, John & Katie McHugh hosted our Chapter picnic at their home. The Chapter paid for the food so that we could all have a well-deserved treat and get ready for the heart of the riding season. And let’s not forget our steady group of Wednesday Morning Breakfast attendees who meet each week to share breakfast and a ride!

And what a great riding season it was! Don Shore led us on After Meeting Rides, Day rides, and our three adventure rides: Indiana Covered Bridges, Hillsboro, WI, and the Galena Fall color ride. It’s all about the ride and several new members expressed compliments about our riding style, locations and overall group friendliness. I think our riding sets us apart from some of the other groups. Thanks again Don for such an enjoyable time on the bike.  (Not to mention you all pushed me into a trike! J)

So what’s up for this year? We have tried to coordinate our calendar to incorporate other non-chapter rides that are popular: Ride for Kids, Freedom Ride and other charity rides. We will try to include other GWRRA area Chapter rides on our calendar so that you can pick a place to ride with friends when you have a spare moment. We will have a Ride Idea sheet in our monthly meeting sign up book so that suggestions can be recorded. And we will try to get more members to help lead rides to their favorite destinations. One more step in showing how everyone contributing makes the load much lighter!

This year I hope to work with Dennis Murphy to promote the GWRRA Levels Program, a core part of GWRRA’s efforts to keep us educated and safe.

More rides are on the docket. Thank you to all who attended last month’s Planning Meeting. With over 15 people in attendance we got a lot of good ideas. By the time you read this I hope to have most of the rides and dates posted to our website calendar. We have rides going north to Wisconsin’s Door County, south to Kentucky and many points in between. Please take a look at our Rides & Events page on the web site for updated details. This is your chapter, so the better the input, the better the riding!

Next up is our monthly meeting on January 10th. The Illinois District Winter Warmup is Jan. 22-23 and our post-holiday party is Jan. 30th.  Also in January is the Pheasant Run Bike Show in St. Charles (Jan 8-10). And don’t forget the weekly breakfast meetings at the Sunmist Restaurant each Wednesday at 9am.

Have a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and a warm holiday season filled with family, friends and special memories. You are all special to us, so stay healthy and safe!

To a great and prosperous New Year in 2017!

Jim & Barb Kopchok Chapter Director –  Illinois Chapter Z2

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