Remember the days of the Big Hairy Badass Biker with the “Live to Ride Forever” attitude with the long beard and the long hair to match and a body full of tattoos? Those bikers who rode from sunup to sundown, from town to town looking for, well, nothing, just riding with no particular destination in mind. They were society’s outcast; the ones your parents said, “Don’t look at them,” when you were in the family sedan or station wagon, on a Sunday drive while you were stopped at a red light. They were mesmerizing and there was no way you could take your eyes off of them. The rumble and the roar of their motorcycles would make your guts shake, your eyes bug out, and your hair stand on end. They were societies rejects… the loners.
Those hardcore badasses, for the most part, have been replaced. Today, when someone admits to being “a biker” all too often they are white-collar middle-class urban clone conformists who are under the impression that simply owning a motorcycle qualifies one as a biker. I ask, does it? Does the fact that a dentist who graduated at the top of his class, married his high-school sweetheart, drives a Lexus or a Saab during the week, owns a four bedroom, ten room house, located on two acres of property, where his three healthy teenage children who have been on the honor roll since they were in pre-school have plenty of room for weekend pool parties, does he have the right to call himself “a biker”?
I suppose that all depends on what constitutes a biker! I grew up believing that if you were a biker, it was a lifestyle, not a weekend choice. At a very young age, I embraced the biker lifestyle. Sure, I had my moments of identity confusion, as everyone does. When I needed to “find myself” I jumped on my motorcycle and hit the road. I’ve been riding since I was nine-years-old. At the age of thirteen, I hoped on my dad’s motorcycle and, without his knowledge, and I took it for a spin. Yeah so it was a Honda, but a 750 for a thirteen-year-old kid was pretty damn huge.
I have owned motorcycles all my life, all kind of motorcycles, from dirt bikes, to crotch-rockets, to choppers and cruisers. For the past ten years, I have been riding an overpriced Harley, and I love it! Does owning a Harley make me a biker? No! I would like to dispel a couple other myths about bikers. Alcoholism and drug addiction are not a prerequisites to being a biker. I will not lie, I enjoy a good brew, and there was a time in my life I would “party like it’s 1999”, but hey, that happens. Alcoholism and drug addiction happens with a lot of people who have never ridden a motorcycle in their lives and have no desire to ride.
All old-school badass bikers are in biker gangs! I don’t know how many times I have been asked by non bikers, “So, what gang do you ride with?” Again, you’ll get the truth with me. Not everyone on a bike with long hair and tattoos rides in a “gang”, as a matter of fact, most do not. I normally respond to this query by saying, “I’m with GOA.” To which the reaction is, “Wow! That’s so freekin’ cool… what’s GOA?” I retort, “Gang of One!”
To embrace the biker lifestyle is to embrace the biker code established by motorcycle “clubs” not gangs, which was defined and popularized back when I was born in the 1950’s (the first club was actually the Triumph Owner’s Motorcycle Club in 1949, which spawned the rise of motorcycle clubs). The creed was a simple one; loyalty to the club, loyalty to the brotherhood, and above all else – honor before dishonor. Much the same as the creeds shared by servicemen; after all, the idea for biker clubs, and old-school bikers, are derived from the Armed Forces.
The real question one has to ask if he or she wishes to consider himself or herself a biker is; are they willing to accept and live by the biker creed – loyalty to ALL bikers, loyalty to their biker brothers and sisters everywhere – and are they/you willing to bring honor to the lifestyle of bikerhood?
Acting foolish and weaving in and out of traffic, speeding ferociously down the highway in the middle of rush hour traffic, and popping wheelies on a residential street where children play and pulling stunts, those acts when done void of consideration and respect, dishonor motorcycling and bikers. I have done each one of those things, but I now realize there is a time and a place for such cutting loose. If you wish to place yourself in harm’s way, so be it, but the deaf kid playing down the block who cannot hear you speeding down his happy little street, nor can he see you riding your wheelie because his head is looking at the ants on the curb where every little boys head should be, doesn’t deserve to die for your idiocracy.
To be a biker is to be “cool”, and cool is not being an asshole! That’s not to say you should take shit from anyone, I’m merely suggesting you don’t give someone shit undeservingly; that’s uncool! The coolest thing I had ever witnessed; there was elderly women with one of those pull carts full of groceries and she couldn’t make it across the street. Each time she took a step off the sidewalk to attempt a breakaway across the street another car would come by, scarring her back to the street. This went on for several minutes. Embarrassing to say, I did not pay much attention until a big burly beer-guzzling old-school biker tramp hopped off his ride, walked up to the frightened old woman, stopped traffic, and assisted her across the street. She smiled as he pulled away. Now that my friends… is the epitome of a cool biker. Perhaps you don’t have it in you to be cool, why didn’t I jump of my scooter and help the old woman? I can’t say. But my point, just don’t be an asshole!
And for all the non bikers out there… once you get past the stereotype; the leathers and long hair in contrast to the cardigan and manicured nails, the loud pipes on our two wheels compared to blending into a sea of four wheel gas-guzzling bumper-to-bumper traffic, we bikers really are regular folks experiencing the same issues as everyone else, we just have a better way, a different way, of dealing with it – we have our community, our hairy badass biker brothers and scooter tramp sisters, who are loyal to our cause!
This has been a… View From My Loft