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Bikers rally to support injured comrade

Nine-year-old Caden Novak Prospect Heights gets little help from his dad KevNovak during Highwood Bike Rally Sunday. | Dan Moran~Sun-Times

Nine-year-old Caden Novak of Prospect Heights gets a little help from his dad, Kevin Novak, during the Highwood Bike Rally on Sunday. | Dan Moran~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: August 30, 2013 6:55AM

Signs marked “Biker Parking” dotted Sheridan Road throughout the Highwood business district on Sunday as the monthly Highwood Bike Rally looked to raise funds for a Chicago-area motorcyclist injured earlier this month during a cross-country ride.

Ursula Wachowiak was injured on July 17 in Minnesota during a planned ride to Sturgis, S.D., the Mecca of the motorcycle community. According to a site established to defray her medical expenses at, Wachowiak, who is without health insurance, remains hospitalized with injuries that include fractures to her left leg.

The Highwood Bike Rally was established in June as a recurring event that will welcome biker enthusiasts downtown on the fourth Sunday of each month. Tom Garrity of the Toadstool Pub, one of the participating businesses, said donations for Wachowiak were being accepted by all comers on Sunday.

“Most of the local businesses are doing something — Chief’s Pub, Buffo’s, Teddy O’Brien’s,” Garrity said. “We’re going to put out a donation jar and see what we can do.”

Garrity added that the overall bike rally concept is a bid to “do something different and try to promote the town” in an area that hasn’t been known as a motorcycle haven since the Highland House in Highland Park closed 10 years ago this month.

“There used to be a bike rally at the Highland House on (Route 41), but there aren’t too many places in Lake County doing things for motorcycles,” Garrity said. “So Chuck Knesley, who owns Chief’s Pub (and) is a members of the Highwood Chamber of Commerce, said, ‘Hey, why don’t we get something together in Highwood?’”

Sunday’s event brought out a trio of riders from Prospect Heights who represented three generations of one family — Jerry, Kevin and Caden Novak.

“We ride together every chance we get,” said patriarch Jerry Novak, sitting on his Honda 1300. “Last week, we were up in Detroit.”

Kevin Novak adjusted a helmet on his 9-year-old son and said Jerry “taught me to ride when I was right around the same age.” Kevin and Caden were riding a Suzuki Boulevard, and were planning to do a lakefront loop to Chicago’s North Avenue Beach and back.

Sunday’s cloudy, cool and windy conditions held down participation early in the day, but Garrity said plans were already in place for an Aug. 25 edition that would feature a five-card poker run.

“Last month, it was too hot, this month, it’s too cold,” Garrity said. “So hopefully next month, we’ll have it just right.”

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