Sitting around the café, drinking early morning coffee, waiting for someone to suggest a good motorcycle ride, we tell stories, embellish the truth, exaggerate urban legends and overstate our racing prowess. In addition to riding, all of us being great philosophers, big mouths and know-it-alls, we amplify our intellectual expertise and eventually every feature of the human existence is turned into outright lies.
“So, where are we going to ride today?” It is a simple inquiry. However, at every meeting we have to endure inflated verbal machinations before we can get the answer. Rumors, gossip, hearsay, jokes all take precedence over the ride destination. It’s the same every time we get together. We like it that way.
This group of motorcyclists will fluctuate from four bikes when the weather is bad, to a dozen or more when the sun promises to shine. Our riding experience varies from five years to 50. We are Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, conservatives, liberals, preachers, atheists, on either side of the gun control and abortion issues, survivalists, hunters, vegans and we have two brothers who don’t give a damn about anything. The motorcycles we ride are American, Japanese, German, English, Italian, several odd-looking dual-purpose bikes, a 60-year-old antique, a Russian Ural and one bike that is a bastard, built out of so many different parts that it is unclassifiable.
When a conversation gets too dogmatic it is not unusual for several of us to change our side of the debate just to throw the rhetoric a curve. Conversation is good for the soul. When it turns into yelling and screaming that is good, as well. We have only been thrown out of the café twice and only once was there a parking lot fistfight. Watching two 50-year-old, overweight, out-of-shape belligerents try and punch each other was one of the highlights of all of our meetings and certainly the most comical. It is the opinion of the group that this is a therapeutic way to release adrenaline and control blood pressure.
Over several years we have thrashed out the merits of crude, big, brutish, American V-twins and how they compare with the complexities of six cylinders with dual overhead cams. Carburetors vs. fuel injection used to be a hot topic until nearly every new motorcycle went to injection. The maintenance schedule for the replacement of spark plugs used to be a good argument until ignitions went electronic and plugs now spark forever. There are only a few subjects that still bring the pot to full boil; two are brand loyalties to a particular kind of oil or tires.
Yes, sports and racing are discussed at some length. But passion for these subjects is tainted when the end of any season provides a Super Bowl winner, a World Series winner or a Moto GP Champion. Money changes hands when one person is proved definitively right and one person is completely wrong. Our group prefers to invest its time on more esoteric subjective areas of discussion. “Pound for pound, who is the best boxer of all time?” “On equal equipment, who was the greatest motorcycle racer of all time?” “Where can a traveler get the best boysenberry pie?” “Which university has the sexiest cheerleaders?”
This last question got some interesting comments and, from one of our members, rather revealing sexual proclivities. While several of us were arguing about the pretty little girls at the top of the cheerleading pyramid he was rating the beefcake holding up the bottom of the pyramid. With this revelation the subject ran afoul of traditional expectations and the topic was never resolved.
In recent times the overall subject of sex and women was unofficially abandoned when it was revealed that, unbeknownst to either of them, two of our men had been dating the same woman.
“What was your first motorcycle?” is a query that has garnered both predictable and unpredictable answers. Of course there were Cushman scooters mentioned, Harley Hummers, Triumph Cubs, Yamahas and “you meet the nicest people on a Honda.” The most unique award went to our member who has expressed an interest in the masculine bottom line of the cheerleading pyramid. His first motorcycle was a late 1950s Japanese Lilac. More than one observation has been made concerning our gay member choosing a lilac motorcycle for his first ride.
A few months ago I decided to start a new subject for debate. “Who would you be if you were exactly the person your mother wanted you to be?”
“I repeat. Who would you be if you had done exactly what your mother asked and chosen exactly what she would have approved?” The first time I posed it, the group becoming quite animated; we never did go on a ride.
“I am who my mother wanted me to be,” was the first response.
“Really; she approves of motorcycles? No mother approves of motorcycles. They tell you they are dangerous and they will kill you. I’ll bet you had to sneak out just to sit on one.”
“My mother approved of bikes. I am who she wanted me to be,” was a second response.
“Nonsense; you told me she hated tattoos and when she saw yours she tried to remove it with a potato peeler.”
“Stereotypically, bikers are thought to be rebels and rogues. Mothers don’t approve of such nonconformists. So the question remains, who would you be if you were the person your mother wanted you to be?” The subject has been mulled over at several meetings and there has been much individual disquieting Freudian consternation in the answers.
As a group we have ridden in 50 states, 17 foreign countries, and several of us have ridden in 48 states. We have participated in the Iron Butt 1,000 miles in 24 hours, done The 3 Flags Run, been to every big rally—Daytona, Sturgis, Laconia—and we meet for coffee, motorcycle rides and storytelling two or three times a month. We have no rules, no one has to agree or convince anyone of anything, there is no public opinion poll and no exit poll. We are strangers/friends who like to ride motorcycles and cure the world’s problems by shooting off our mouths.
We are perfect examples of all motorcyclists. We are an eclectic, unique and a remarkable cross-section of today’s society.