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GOING THE DISTANCE
"THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKIN' ABOUT"
PHOTO BY GENGHIS
#333 AT THE SEEDY X-BAR & GRILL:
"I was looking through the January American Iron mag that someone had lying around, and came across an article about 50 builders chosen to build bikes in homage (although I'm sure they pronounced it o-MAJ) to the 50th anniversary to S&S. The featured bike was this abortion by Arlen Ness. Holy crap! Does he lay awake nights thinking of ways to make H-D based bikes as ugly and impractical and unride-able as possible? And American Iron, in their revisionist wisdom, kept referring to the piece of crap as "old School" (another over used term that no longer means anything)?
I've hated his bikes since the 70s. Anyone remember those Sportsters he used to build with the V-shaped tanks, short, kicked out springers and tiller-style handlebars that were lower than your knees.
And why is it that people who never understood the Harley world are now the experts and keeper of the flame? The aforementioned American Iron Mag is a good example. Squeaky clean, with riders as members of "the Harley family". Gag.
Books at Barnes and Noble about choppers and custom bikes written by the likes of Howard Kelly (who hates choppers) with a foreward by Jay Leno.
Mike Seate, who famously sold his Rosa-Bilt SuperGlide, which he couldn't get running beforehand, so he could buy a Yamaha. He's written several "chopper" coffee table books on H-Ds full of misinformation.
Ever notice that many of these books in the bargain bins at bookstores are written by the same small group of English authors. No big deal on the surface, until you page through them and the same bikes are pictured in all of them. SuperGlides identified as Sportsters, ironhead engines are called shovelheads, etc.
Dave Nichols, the editor of EasyRiders, came out of nowhere and has also written books on the culture that are full of rehashed crap. His book on Indian Larry was written as "Larry the Hero"...in flowery "Illiad" prose. No background stuff, no research, just a bunch of worthless words with photos to cash in in a timely manner.
I can go on and on, but you get the idea. I'm no historian, but I've been around Harleys and their riders since the early 70s, which is long enough to know that the current spoon-feeding of the culture, history and people has been whitewashed with the same shit written over and over and repeated as gospel.
One last thing...it used to be that the bikes were the stars, not the people who built them. One of my all-time favorite magazine bikes was Lewie's Knuckle, in Easyriders.
In fact, it was my two favorite bikes..once in yellow with a 'glide front end, another time it was black with a springer. There were a lot more differances between the two versions as well. The point is, Lewie built (at least) 2 cool bikes, but the bikes were the focus, the end result of the effort...not the builder or his tee shirt sales."
I brought Mabel in front of my apartment house today. I changed the oil, checked brake fluid levels, tightened this and that and washed and waxed her. It gave me a chance to ponder #333's words. His words were true and straight, like an arrow sent forthwith to the target. There's so much bullcrap these days surrounding the popular culture element of bikerism these days, that it's hard for all but us True Believers, to separate the wheat from the chaff. #333's words were pure wheat. Bikers that've been around for awhile can relate, man. True bikers share the common experience of being one with The Bike. This of course, has to do with what we feel during The Ride. It is this emotional experience that bonds all true bikers together---even when we ride alone---that pushes out all of the extraneous crap such as celeb master builders. All of that goes by the wayside when we engage in The Ride.
The most profound thing that #333 said was that it is The Bike that matters. All else is chaff to the wheat of The Bike. I instinctively felt this as I was performing the little pleasures that give so much big meaning to our lives as bikers, such as changing my shovel's oil and filter, checking the brake fluids, turning a wrench here and there for inconsequential problems on The Bike, and giving her a Dawn bath and a few shots of spray Turtle wax.
I could feel the flow of love toward Mabel during these time-honored rituals, and feel that love reciprocated from The Bike to The Biker as Mabel and I blasted down the highway after our little maintenance chores. I could almost hear Mabel's silky voice saying....
"You take care of me, and I'll take care of you."
It's a fifty-fifty proposition, baby---between The Biker and The Bike. It's an extremely emotional relationship. How do I know this? Lemme answer that with a question. Do any of you become so elated while on The Ride, that ya shout out loud ("sol")? I "sol" all the time, and did this morning. Mabel and I were cruising on the highway at the speed that the cars surrounding us were going, when I ripped 'er open and blasted by traffic like they were standing still. The sound of Mabel's mechanicals and exhaust with her throttle stuck on wide-open, made the hairs on my neck stand straight up. I got goose bumps. I felt high, like a flashback to an acid trip and I yelled to the wind rushing by my ecstatic face...."Yeah! Thats' what I'm talkin' about!" Need I say more? I don't think so. I believe that every one of you knows what I'm talkin' about here. I must admit that I was surprised to hear my voice spontaneously erupt, as if a stranger had yelled out loud next to me.
I actually had a funny thought in my reverie. I thought that the most significant movie one could ever make, would come from a videocamera attached to my shovel. This would capture the sights and sounds of a Harley Gone Wild under the whim and control of her Master. The Bike leans, the movie picture leans with it, showing the audience what The Biker sees.
Can you imagine the soundtrack of that flick? Of course you can, because you see the same movie every time you ride. It's the most exhilirating and emotional experience you could ever witness of the Big Screen of Life. Let me hear you shout out loud. Later.