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by Genghis


I can't see Mabel's motor!

I just made my way to Mabel's (my 1971 Harley "74") parking lot through 50 mile per hour winds, and swirling snow hittin' my face like BB pellets spit out from a Gatling gun with the trigger stuck on shoot. I trudged through sidewalks with a layer of snow piled up to my patellae---without the benefit of snowshoes. Where's Yukon King to lead me though this morass when I need 'im? This storm is so bad that I closed our office and told our secretary Doris to stay home, as I'm doing. I had to resort to walking in the streets, which are better because they've been constantly plowed. Getting to Mabel's parking spot rewarded me with this sight: A snow drift so high that it completely covered Mabel's motor. This reminds me of a time when the kindly doctor I worked for in 1994 visited me when I was in a hospital bed after breaking my leg in an accident on the motorcycle. He said.....

"Scott, now is the time to be philosophical."

Wise words from a good man, who I miss very much (he's now deceased). Like that painful time when I was laid up for a couple of months, this is a time to be philosophical. If you're a biker then you have to hate this type of weather. From a practical point of view if you're like me, you haven't ridden for the past month anyway, because of frigid temperatures, so hey, what's the difference? My cutoff point for riding is 30 degrees. I can't remember ever enjoying riding a motorcycle in temperatures below 30. Yeah, I can hear the derisive remarks from those who treat their motorcycles as litmus tests for their collective manhood:

"Man, you don't ride because it's only 19 degrees? What kinda biker are ya? I'm ridin! What's up with you?"

I'll tell ya what, sonny. I've been riding all my life and have nothing to prove to anybody. If you feel that you have to keep reminding us of your hardcore bona fides, then by all means keep on doing it---until you feel that you don't need to anymore. It will be at that point, when we'll know that you've become a True Biker. Call us back in about forty years---if yer even still on a bike by then. eBay is littered with bikes sold by "hardcores" when they couldn't commit to going the distance on their motorcycles. There will always be those who are insecure in their masculinity, who by rote will publicly and loudly trumpet to their peers, "Hey man---I rode today and it was ten degrees. Not only that, I rode six hunnert miles today, too!"

Let me ask you this: If riding 600 miles or riding in ten degree weather is what we as bikers are supposed to do, why are ya tellin' others about it? True Bikers commit themselves to their motorcycles and The Life, and could care less about who knows about it, or who doesn't know about it. In the biker subculture, there is no "supposed to." True Bikers aren't weak to the point where they succumb to peer pressure from Me-Tooists. There's only one reason for such conspicuous bragging, and that is so others may hear about it. It's Pysch 101, man. Grow up, sonny. It's time to wear Big Boy Biker Pants.

So ya can't ride because your bike is encased in a block of ice worthy of The Thing when he was dug up from the frozen tundra of Antartica, so what? You ain't riding right now anyway, right? But that's not even the point. The fact is, that even though the temps were hovering in the high teens for the past few weeks, I could have ridden Mabel if so motivated. My not riding for the past month, was entirely voluntary. The opportunities and conditions, were there if I so chosen to ride. But this? These severe present conditions have taken the choice away from me.

I must be a motorcyling libber, because in this respect, I'm "pro-choice." When that choice is ripped away from me by Mother Nature, man am I pissed off. Like that hospital bed 16 years ago, the snow has immoblized me and the Mabes. Not me by myself, for I can still get around by walking, but not Mabel and me as a team. For a biker, this is a depressive psychological blow, such as you might suffer if you're involuntarily separated from your old lady. If you and your old lady were separated by a normal reason, such as if your old lady had to visit a sick aunt out of town, okay---that's acceptable. But if you and your old lady were separated because your old lady got thrown in jail, hey man---that's traumatic. Think about it. Is it so different a scenario if your motorcycle is incarcerated in three foot drifts of snow, and the roads are impassable for said motorcycle? Yup, there's no doubt. My bike Mabel, is for the forseeable future, incarcerated in her parking lot. Sure, conjugal visits are allowed, but not even a file hidden in a cake can free her. I should have t-shirts made up....


Citizens will never understand the deep psychological pain we bikers feel when our rides are incapacitated as they are by severe inclement weather. That's because the straights don't realize, that our bikes are alive and have souls. Our motorcycles too, suffer psychologically. Have you as a biker ever wondered why you feel so bad for your bike, if she's stuck in snow, and may be silently shivering, the iron and steel of her Shovelhead Heart morosely beating with longing for warmer weather and your gentle touch on her throttle? When her legs encased in Avon rubber, yearn for the freedom to touch and caress the blacktop? When her four-speed tranny pines to be shifted by your firm but compassionate foot? The reason that you're uneasy, is because you subconsciously realize that your Harley is alive, and suffering.

Other non-bikers from other facets of my life (photographers, co-workers, boss, relatives, Facebook acquaintances. etc.) coming across my mental meanderings regarding this may consider me crazy. So what? After all, straights consider bikers crazy anyway. They may scoff at the feelings we have for our motorcycles. Time and again, I return to a quasi-famous quote from a California Hell's Angel from the 1960s. When asked to define the meaning of "love," he said completely without guile and in total frankness, "Love is the feeling you get when you think of your motorcycle..." It can't be stated any more succinctly than that. Later.