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by Genghis

BACK TO THE BEGINNING: Genghis' Motorcycle, 1968

Every Christmas, I try to impart a message of significance to you as bikers, a fleshed-out sentiment that at times hinged on the historical tradition of the biker subculture. This subculture is deep and wide, reaching back into the depths of the bobjob days as early as the 1930s, and with a breadth that stretches diagonally to the birth of the outlaw ethic that began touching us all in the late 1940s when outlaw clubs made their break with establishment motorcycling. Our subculture is as wide from side to shining side as a moon hitting your eye like a big pizza pie, because that's amore'. That's true love, baby! True love with your motorcycle, that is. It is a love for many of us, that has outlasted and transcended loves for ex-spouses, far more enduring and meaningful than many a flamed-out marriage. That's what the biker subculture can be condensed to. For all of the multitude of bikers who for the last 80 years who've participated in this thing of ours, since the First Ones straddled their Harley Flatheads and Knuckleheads in the '30s to the present day young buck on his bike in 2010, that's all there is: The Motorcycle.

Yet, The Motorcycle has spawned an identity for each of us so unique, that no matter how we each evolve as a whole person as as our personal time goes on, one thing does not change. What doesn't change is that kernal within us that started it all, that branded each of us as "bikers" forevermore. If you're a postal worker, it is this that separates you from Joe working next to you at the Post Office, who is not a biker. We are indeed a different breed than Citizens. There is always that rebellious single cell at our very centers, that influences the way we think, act and live. Those rebellious cells that took root in our souls when we were young, are our motorcycles and the lifelong commitment we made to them. The moment you first slung your leg over a motorcycle, that made you different. The moment that you made a holy oath to yourself that you would always have a bike, that cemented the deal for the rest of your days, and set your course in life always with a motorcycle under your butt, and a Biker Heart beating in your breast. No matter what you ended up doing for a living, lo these many years after The Event, you remain a biker. My message this Christmas doesn't draw on the depth and breadth of the biker subculture for inspiration. This year, my message is more personal:

Remember who you are.

Fully committed by 1972

I remember who I am. I've remembered this from the time that The Event took place for me. The Event is the moment when a biker decides to devote himself to The Motorcycle and The Life. The Event happened for me in early 1968, when I was sitting in my 1964 Corvette Sting Ray at a notorious street drag racing locale called Connecting Highway in Queens, New York. Suddenly, a loud and obnoxious whirlwind in the form of a Harley Panhead with straight pipes blasted by me while I ws sitting in my Vette, screaming down the street like a maddened wraith, searing the sound of its mighty thunder into my mind like an unforgettable lesson, a lesson that teaches to this day. Is there a sweeter sound than a Harley at full song? It is a sound as profound as the day you were born, the day you were reborn as a biker.

That very day I became a Born Again Biker. I vowed to get myself a Harley-Davidson. The decision was instantaneous and final. You long time Iron Horse readers know the story of how I had to sell my cherished '64 Vette to afford that Harley. I was a broke college student at the time. That Harley turned out to be the 1968 Harley Sportster that I bought new from Harley-Davidson of Manhattan. The transition from non-biker to biker propelled me into a vortex of a driven life that persists to this day. The Motorcycle is the most important driver of the hard drive of my existence.

NEVER WITHOUT A HARLEY: Genghis' '71 Harley, 2010

Ever since that time, I have not been without a Harley. I had that '68 harley, "Sally The Bitch" until I bought my current and forever ride, "Mabel," my 1971 Harley Super Glide in 1985. Through the years I've undergone many chamges. When I bought Sally The Bitch, I was a young guy in college, who quickly morphed after school ended into a messenger with a wife and a son making ninety bucks a week, trying to scrape by and support my family. I worked for the Quick Trip Messenger Service in Manhattan. I finally found a career in ophthalmology, but through it all, through the lean times when rent and food money were scarce, I always had The Bike. The two bikes I've owned, the '68 and the the '71, were a constant thread in my life to the present---and this golden thread will stretch into the future. I will always have a Harley. I will always have a Harley, because I remember who I am. Bikers who remember who they truly are, wouldn't abandon their motorcycles any more than they would abandon food and drink.

Biker to the core

I was a tender 21 years old when I began this remarkable journey on two wheels. I'm now 63 on two wheels, and I remember who I am. I remember who I am because in that respect, I've never changed. Once a member of the biker subculture, always a member---unless you drop out, of course. There's always that possibility. The excuses, masquerading as reasons, are endless. Many times in my monetarily lean years, I was tempted to leave this thing of ours---to sell the bike for ready cash, but all those times I rediscovered a basic truth: I am biker and will never change, and that sets me apart from the mainstream, and a biker without a bike---ain't a biker---and that hurts. One must uphold one's deeper identity.

That sets you apart from the mainstream too, no matter how much you participate in mainstream society. There will always be that segment of yourself that sets you apart, that makes you different. The few thousand bucks you might get by selling your motorcycle for living expenses can be a mighty exhorbitant price to pay down the line. Once the deed is done, the excuses for not reentering The Life, multiply like rabbits on viagra. There are always alternative ways to generate the cash ya need. If you let that inner kernal from your heart to speak to you, you will know that you are a biker who cannot let your bike go, end of story. It's almost as if we as bikers are a separate breed of human, even though we may look, talk and walk like others. If that commitment is there to always have a motorcycle, then you are different from people in mainstream society. There will always be that outlaw ethic beating in you, and that folks---is my Christmas message for this year:


You are a biker, and you will go the distance with your motorcycle. Forever. Have a MERRY CHRISTMAS! May your Chtistmas stocking overflow like an oil tank overfilled with Harley 60 weight. Later.