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Writer takes off the gloves

Lisa Petrocelli recently published "The Gloves Come Off," which takes a look at the biker culture and community.

Lisa Petrocelli recently published "The Gloves Come Off," which takes a look at the biker culture and community. Submitted Photo

— The habit of bikers to welcome newcomers with open arms is one of her favorite parts of being a biker, she said.

“The motorcycle community is less judgmental than other people, in my experience,” said Petrocelli. “Everybody is a brand new book and not judged on how they look but judged on how honorable they are, how respectful they are. Respect means a lot in the biker community.”

Speaking of new books, Petrocelli’s is 15 chapters, with each telling the story of a different rider, some local and some not. Scattered in between the stories are Petrocelli’s own tales, many of which appeared in “New York Rider Magazine,” which she’s the editor of.

“I’ve met and interviewed hundreds of people and the same thing happens over and over again. I’ll still be amazed at what I find out about these people, how compassionate they are,” said Petrocelli.

So what exactly do people think about bikers before getting to know them? Petrocelli said personally, her biggest assumption was that they were all “big, tough, mean, uncaring people” who worked in gas stations and were criminals.

“It’s totally not the truth,” said Petrocelli, who said many people also don’t know that a huge part of biker culture is supporting charities with fundraising rides and events.

She was afraid to approach one of the men portrayed in the book. But once she did, she discovered he was close to his family, an engineer, went to three colleges and grew up in her neighborhood.

“Everything I thought about him was shattered right as I was interviewing him,” said Petrocelli.

Another of her subjects turned her off initially, playing the part of a “show-off” at biker events and demanding attention by blowing flames out of the back of his bike.

“I thought he was really conceited … but I found out he was very, very sensitive and compassionate,” said Petrocelli.

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