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by Genghis

There's another Shovelhead fanatic in the family.


"It's kinda strange after all these years, trying to figure our family connections.....Great pics on your webpage!.....I actually remember you through Iron Horse in later years, as my husband read your column!....We once saw you at a bike show, and my husband Jim said.....'That's Genghis, he writes for Iron Horse.'.....I said, 'He looks like my cousin.'...."


It's a small world, man. It was great to reconnect with Denise. That's the beauty of a social networking site like Facebook: It allows you to connect with long-lost relatives and friends through an ever-expanding web of social connections that knows no geographic bounds. These multidirectional tentacles disperse themselves into the electronosphere, defying gravity, distance and physical constraints. Let me explain.

This saga began when I discovered my Aunt Dottie on Facebook. My Aunt Dottie is a wonderful and warm woman who I used to visit in Levittown on Long Island with great regularity when I was a kid. She relocated to Austin, Texas a few years ago. I haven't laid eyes on Aunt Dottie in more than forty years. Shown on Dottie's Facebook page are all of her Facebook connections, which included her daughters Lyra and Stephanie, and other cousins descended from other aunts and uncles. One of these long-lost cousins turned out to be Denise, whose parents are my Aunt Mary and Uncle Joe.

That's how I found Denise. Like an exponentially regenerating spider web, the family members stemming from Aunt Dottie's Facebook page branched off to a dozen-plus long-lost relatives I thought I'd never have contact with again. Such is the connective power of a social network like Facebook. For every lost relative that one finds on Facebook, another ten to twenty are revealed. So, I said to Denise, "Does Jim have a motorcycle?" Denise replied.....

"Jim has a '69 FLH."

Hallelujah! Hey man, I've been feelin' kinda lonely, what with me being the only biker in my widespread family. Now that I know that I'm not alone in my pursuit of The Harley Way, I feel better! Some families are blessed by whole generations of bikers, replete with stories of traditions being passed on from grandfather to father, father to son, and son to grandson. Frankly, I was feeling deprived in this area. A significant traditional thread was missing in my lineage. I was the first, and the last. Instead of having a biker subcultural thread in my lineage reaching all the way back to the culture's roots in the 1920s like some bikers have, my measly little thread only receded to my 20s, when I got my first motorcycle. I was stranded on Harley Island all by my lonesome. There was nobody else to look back on the biker subculture with, to share a common pride with---no others of my own kind in my vast family spread all through the four corners of the USA. Or so I thought.

There were no others in my family who would feel the tremendous rush I do when I fly inches above the blacktop at eighty miles an hour, with my stroker motor's exhaust at full bellow, the edge of the cacophany taken off by the porous baffles in the straight pipes...."BRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaccckaaaaa...." I back off the throttle for a turn. The flat "blaaaatt" is muted into a rich and rounded baritone bark, pleasing to the ears and nourishing for the soul. The sound is authoritative, rude in an outlaw manner and self-satisfying. The sound of a Harley is charisma incarnate, evil and heavenly at the same time. And the wind! Nobody else related to my gene pool would ever feel the gentle but firm caress of the wind pushing against his grinning face in the nurturing summer heat.

No one else to experience the psychological thrill of moving at speed with only two small patches of rubber connecting me with terra firma. What are we talking about here, five square inches worth of contact with Planet Earth, more or less? Nobody else but me would feel the insistent thrumming of the vibrations from that great, big V-Twin pistoning her heart away beneath me with such loyalty, and passionate mating of metal surfaces, enjoying the friction lubricated by Harley oil. No one else in my family would ever know this sheer joy.....until now. And another Shovelnatic, at that. Unfrickinbelievable, man.

Too bad it ain't a Cone Shovel.

Oh well, ya can't have everything, right? I also learned that Jim and I have something else in common: A love for old cars. Jim has a cherry '67 GTO. Righteous, man. Mebbe I'll race him with my '72 Vette fer pink slips at Connecting Highway. There is one flaw in my new cousin-by-marriage, though. I asked Denise if he's on Facebook. Denise said....

"Jim's not into computers. He says that real scooter trash do not use computers."

Hey man, ya can't win 'em all. At least there's another biker in the family besides yers truly, even if Jim can't read about himself in this column. Maybe I'll twist Denise's arm to bring up this page for my technophobic new cousin. At least the man is smart enough to be riding a righteous 4-speed, even if the motor is a slabside. Hey Jim---welcome to the family! Later.