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GOING THE DISTANCE
"FREEDOM'S JUST ANOTHER WORD
FOR NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE"
Photo by Genghis
TOTAL FREEDOM OF THOUGHT IN WRITING: Like riding a Harley 74.
There is a danger in having one's own website, such as "Going The Distance," ("GTD") which you are reading now, and my other website, which is called "Biker Subculture." The danger in having autonomy over the content of these websites is, that it is easy and tempting for the author of websites like these, to veer off the main highway of the stated missions of these websites. After all, with no chief editor of a magazine dedicated to specific topic who can say "No" to unacceptable submissions---such as David Snow when he was my editor in Iron Horse magazine---there exists no overruling entity to veto any particular article submitted by the writer, if the article doesn't fall into the narrow parameters of the special interests of the publication. In other words, a situation where authors run their own websites---is not unlike the insane running the asylum---or the most notorious prisoner being elected the warden of the prison. There are no checks and balances in such a system.
The stated mission of "Going The Distance," was to provide a de facto extension of Snow's Iron Horse Magazine, and the website has been successful in accomplishing this mission. There are articles by David Snow, Flynch, guest biker writers and yours truly at "GTD." As an extension of Iron Horse, "GTD's" focus has been narrowly on the biker subculture. "Biker Subculture," should be considered a twin to "GTD," a doppelganger website I frankly created, just to have another type of internet look other than "GTD's." The stated missions of both websites, are the same, and their content is interchangeable.
Recently, I wrote "Memoir," which was meant to be an extensive look back at my life as a biker, which has spanned the last 45 years. I was actually inspired to write this, after reading Sonny Barger's autobiography. A funny thing happened, though. I found that I had so much fun in mining my memories, that I eventually wrote "Memoir Part 2." This forced me to go back and retitle "Memoir" as "Memoir Part 1." An even funnier thing happened after that: I enjoyed writing about my memories so much, that I ended up writing "Memoir" installments numbers 3 through 9. No doubt, "Memoir Part 10" will see the sparkling light of the internet soon.
In writing the "Memoir" series, my Harley Memoir Cycle began taking some side roads. The drag bars of the Memoir Cycle got quite a workout. Many of these side trips off of the main highway of the stated missions of "GTD" and "Biker Subculture," led to reminiscences of my martial arts experiences, and other personal tributaries other than the main highway of "H-D 101." It has been fun and gratifying to take these side trips. I will continue to make sudden and unexpected turns on different exit ramps, off of H-D 101, and I promise you one thing: I will make these side trips as interesting as possible for the core audience of "GTD" and "Biker Subculture," which consists of hardcore bikers like you---who were true fans of David Snow's Iron Horse.
I've gotta tell you, being able to write about anything and everything that pleases me at the time, has been exhilarating. It's like being on your Harley with no particular place to go, just goin' wherever your head tells you to turn at the spur of the moment. True bikers who ride to enjoy THE RIDE, and not to profile so they can be seen for ego enhancement, know what I'm rappin' about. Freedom for a biker, means freedom in all areas of his or her life. Nothing else will do. Every hardcore biker wants to be able to feel that he has his destiny, totally in his hands---not someone else's---and the freedom that having control enables, is what we all seek. This all-encompassing freedom to me, means the freedom from others imposing meaningless definitions on us, as bikers. Here's an example of what I mean: The editor of a recent chopper magazine, was discussing his definition of "chopper." He said, ".....a true chopper has to be raked and rigid..." The editor attempted to qualify the comment, but it seemed like a transparent case of, "Having said that, ....," followed by his absolutist commentary. This unbending, absolutist remark suggests two things to me:
(1) This editor's time machine has left him stranded in the psychedelic '60s, in a time when "groupthink" dictated only one type of Harley to ride. One would hope that strong, true bikers, have enough of a brain to think for 'emselves---not to need someone to tell 'em what to ride.
(2) The term "chopper" is finally obsolete. It is so over, man. Trendy terms such as "chopper" and "bobber" are now reserved for the lame followers of motorcycle fashion, who are just another stripe of Biker Lite, as far as I'm concerned. The term "stripped-down Harley" is so much more honest and righteous than trendy terms like "chopper" and "bobber." "Stripped-down Harley " describes a righteous Harley, period. It is what it is, without any peer-pressure driven connotations.
While I'm on the subject, the term "bobber" as a trendy word, bothers me from an historical point of view. "Bobber" is nothing but a trendy derivative of the term "bobjob," which described a motorcycle of the 1930s that was stripped-down to enhance performance on a racetracks and streets. You took your Knuckle or Flathead, removed the extraneous crap from it to lighten it as much as possible, and this served a pragmatic function: It made your Harley faster, handle better and brake better.
I find it historically unimportant, that after bikers stripped-down their bikes, that some raked frames, added hardtails, extended forks and promoted custom-made, one-off parts. The Baseline of the outlaw cycle was already established prior to the chopper era of the late '60s and early '70s. That "baseline" was an stripped-down OEM framed Harley. "Bobjob" is an historically important term in the biker subculture, instead of the insipid and superficial, "bobber" that's become popular in chopper rags in the last few years. And what was a bobjob, but a stripped-down Harley. See how honest this last term is? There's no pretension to the term, "stripped-down Harley." It is what it is: A lightweight Harley. No more, no less. Not a "glitz queen," but a tough-looking motorcycle.
If there is a type of bike that should be canonized as the classic outlaw motorcycle, it would be a stripped-down Harley big twin. The platforms for this classic outlaw conformation are many, ranging from the Harley rigids of the '30s through the '50s, to the swingarm FLs starting in 1958. From an historical point of view, beyond that---whether front ends were extended, the frames raked, or any other modifications done---is immaterial. The baseline outlaw bike---the stripped-down big twin---is the stand-alone standard, in the biker subculture. However, "stripped-down big twin" isn't glitzy enough, lacking the glamour and trendiness that lame followers of motorcycle fashion demand. Superficial people need code words to get 'em worked up. It's hard to get excited about a straightforward and honest term like "stripped-down big twin." Ya gotta make things obvious for some folks. Later.