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GOING THE DISTANCE
"NEED TO MOTOR"
PHOTO BY GENGHIS
I'm the type of guy that ruminates about why I do things. Why do I ruminate? Because life's there, and I want to understand it. This has helped me to understand not only myself better, but those around me---as well as those who do things differently than me. I've been a biker for a long time, and a car nut for even longer. It's been 43 years since I got my first car, a '64 Vette, and 41 years since I got my first Harley, a 1968 XLCH. Man, that's a lot of rumination over the years about why I exactly need to motor. Long-time readers of my work know one thing about me: I'm an inveterate loner, who'd rather be riding my Harley 74 or piloting my '72 Vette---than hobnob with the chattering classes of bikers whose main mission in life seems to be to appeal for a Genuine Seal of Approval from each other---to validate 'emselves as "bikers." Screw that noise. I know I'm a biker. Have been for a very long time.
My very dedication to my machines, as opposed to a slavish conforming to biker stereotypes as set forth by the Biker Collective, marks me as a biker who can think for myself and whose primary goal in life is to be one with my Harley. Hey man, I'll leave the worry about following rules for the Biker Lites and their doo-rags. Did you know that historically, doo-rags were originally used by African-Americans in the 1930s to hold their chemically processed hair-dos in place while they slept? Isn't it patently and ironically ridiculous to see white Biker Lites wearin' 'em, in light of the doo-rags' history? Fickin' riduckulous, man. No, I'll leave the lemming-like rush to mindless trends to the Lites. For me, the important thing is one's relationship with one's bike, as it ever was so in the biker subculture for the past 80 years. I've only had two bikes in my life. My '68 Sportster, followed by Mabel, my ever-lovin' Harley 74. Similarly, I've only had two cars in my life. My '64 Vette, followed by my loyal '72 Vette, Mary. Can ya sense a trend here folks? I love my machines like they're living entitites (which they are), and I need to motor in 'em. Clearly, I've settled on these two as my Ultimate Machines who I'm going the distance with. Mabel and Mary escort me into the future, enhance my present and validate my past as a motorvatin' freak.
I've evolved into the Ultimate Biker, a biker whose main concern in life is his bike. All else in the biker culture is extraneous and superfluous. When I was young my parents preached to me, "You can't rely on your friends, you can only really depend on your family in life...." I see the wisdom in their words now. Perhaps that should be amended to say that one can only rely on one's family and motorcycle. Except for one thing: even family can betray you, as I learned from my first marriage. That's why it was a "first" marriage. In the end, all one may have if one isn't lucky enough to find a wife like my Patty, is one's Harley-Davidson as a loyal partner. For some of us, all we have are our Harley-Davidsons. Our bikes are our Iron Partners forever.
For those of you who feel that your lives as bikers have become too complicated and cumbersome, think about how great it would be to pare your life down to the bare essentials. A simple life as a biker, would consist of you, and your bike. Outsiders need not apply. Why dilute your enjoyment? It's the bike, stupid.
Other facets of one's life as a biker are unimportant---the Bike Rules. That's not to say that I don't respect and cherish traditions in the biker subculture, but one has to separate in one's mind, the traditions that enhance a life as a biker, from those fringe trends that are simply meaningless nonsense such as doo-rags, or using the bike as a socializing device (after all, a set of golf clubs will serve the same purpose). One's bike should be the end, not the means to the end.
The tradition that has been the most prevalent in the subculture since the 1930s that I follow, is the biker's absolute devotion to one's motorcycle. I treat my Harley as the centerpiece of my biker's existence, as should any self-respecting biker. The self-respecting biker should care less what others may think of him or his ride. In other words, peer pressure or peer approval should not have any substantial part in that life. A biker who's inordinately concerned about others opinion regarding his Harley, gets the Obama Lame Award For Dithering.
Getting back to ruminating why I need to motor. This need to motor is due in part to my love of the activity. Riding my bike is possibly the most liberating thing I have ever done in my life---and this liberating event is replicable every time I climb into the saddle of my Harley 74. Man, that's whole lotta liberation within a 41 year period.
There is the feel and mystique of a Harley-Davidson every time I'm on board, that can't be experienced on any other brand of bike---I don't care what others say. Riding a righteous Harley is the ultimate riding experience. The other part of why I need to motor, is the sheer love and devotion I feel to my bike.
Maybe these two components that are responsible for my need to motor--the love of riding her, and loving her period--are inseparable. My Harley 74 gives me meaning in my life---moreso than a straight (or even a Biker Lite) can realize or understand. I suspect that you feel the same way.
That's what keeps me keepin' on, man. That's what keeps me going the distance. Later.