Rides and Tales

Observations From Behind Bars


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When I was a lad, motorcycling in my town was pretty much confined to cops on their Duo Glides, paperboys on their Cushman Eagles, and our eccentric neighbor whose fringed jacket matched the fringed saddlebags on his Indian Chief.


Honda put the world on wheels, then longhairs put ape hangers on Hondas that were to be replace by loud, fast Harley-Davidsons stripped of every ounce of fat.

In the 60s, things were happening in the town where I lived and I was close enough to them to get a look. Bikers lived in my neighborhood.

What a great mixed bag of characters those bikers were, too, each as individual as the bike he rode. When the old Harley dealer folded his tent and the new guy offered ready-made do-daddery, lots of the chopper jockeys turned their noses up figuring that, if it wasn’t hand-made, it wasn’t worth having. Perhaps that was because of their independent natures.
Forty years later one of those men remembered the princely sum paid for a quart of pearl paint laid on his beloved Sportster. Still, cool paint was less important than a hot engine, an engine kept in fine trim by talented wrenches more reliable than any tiny bell.

While they pretty much live and breathed motorcycles, they also had other pursuits, such as moving sporting goods into Mexico or going knuckle and skull with the shit kickers down at the barbecue and beer joint on a Saturday night. I don’t recall any women participating in that; most had used the men’s business connections to land cushy weekend jobs in the recently legalized topless bars.

Some of the women were locally famous for their beauty and style, too. It’s too bad they didn’t make Harleys to fit them in those days; I only saw them riding the snatch pads.

At some point a very small percentage of those bikers became affiliated with a motorcycle aficionados group and time and circumstances made them remote. That’s too bad, too; there were things I could have learned from them. For instance, while they told me that they were the people my parents warned me  about, they neglected to tell me about the Bikers Code. People didn’t write just anything down at that place and time so it wasn’t till I got on-line, all these years and miles later, that I heard about it.

That’s why I’m a little behind the learning curve, I guess. There are people I’ll eat with but won’t ride with, for example, and I don’t’ consider every swinging dick on two wheels to be a brother.

At any rate, the motorcycling scene in my town was changed forever in the seventies when the oil barons decided to extort America and every pimply youth and blue haired granny became a biker.
At least we have the legacy left us by our forerunners.


Written by fiddle mike

February 4, 2008 at 11:30 pm

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