May is finally here!! Happy happy happy!! (That was my Snoopy the dog dance.)
Pardon me if this month I seem a little crazier than usual, or if I mention a few things that I’ve said in past columns, but in my own defense May is, and always HAS been, my favorite month of the whole year. Ya might say that each year May just sorta overwhelms me. And like I’ve written before, in May all five of our senses come alive again. Namely; we begin to smell everything waking up and growing, we hear more birds, we see more and more green things sprouting, we feel repeated warmth that is almost guaranteed, and we can often actually taste the very air we breathe.
When you’re tooling down the road on a beautiful day in May, everything that is best about riding is also emphasized. You almost freak-out (in a good way) from all the intense sensory data your body accumulates as you speed along, since spring blossoms to its fullest in May as it gets ready to ripen into summer.
I can connect so many great memories directly to the month of May. For instance: I recall a sunny May afternoon back in the mid-70’s when I rolled out, for the first time, my 1972 XLCH Sportster (after rebuilding the top-end). She was my first Harley.
When I had purchased her a few months earlier, she wore an insane paint job and didn’t even run. She had a blown head-gasket, the rockers were way out of adjustment, and two of her push-rods were bent. She also had a few broken cylinder fins, a shot base gasket on the front jug, AND the timing was way off as a result of somebody attempting to ride her home from the accident that broke the fins and had also caused the oil to dump out onto the road from a busted oil-line, which in turn caused everything else I mentioned to get really messed up. Now, months later, patched up and freshly repainted, she was ready to make me some memories. She became my “Hot Rod”.
When I rolled her up and out of the cellar of the old farm-house I lived in at the time, she literally sparkled in the sunlight. I bet the only thing that the previous owner knew to do properly, was how to pay someone else to take off and send out most of the iron to be chromed. I don’t think the guy even owned any wrenches. And you should have seen that horribly beautiful and expensive “custom” paint job the jerk had someone air-brush on her. It was so x-rated (and not even in a sexual way) that I couldn’t even describe it in this magazine (if ya ever see me in person, ask me about it).
But man she sure was pretty that day, with all that chrome and the deep ox-blood paint I gave her for her re-birthday! She fired up on the second kick after a little shot of ether (something ya shouldn’t do too often) and just leaned there on her kick-stand chugging away like a freight-train waiting to break out of the station.
I was smiling like a proud new daddy as my wife ran to get a camera, and as soon as we got a few pics of our new baby girl we mounted up and went on that very first ride. I can still remember the firm, hearty “feeling” of the bike; the solid “ker-chunk” of the shifter compared to what I had been riding (they just sorta “clicked” into gear); and that steadfast, throaty, rumble beneath us.
For the next few years I rode that Sporty everywhere I went, especially to work each day (when it wasn’t snowing), a 75 mile round trip, mostly because I couldn’t afford to have a bike as a “toy” back then.....but also because the bike got way better mileage than that big old gas-guzzling LTD Brougham I was driving. In contrast to what they build now, a ’73 Ford LTD was HUGE! And since we only had the one car, my wife could putt around our little town in it for groceries and such, but me driving the Ford all the way to work and back twelve months out of the year would have been way too expensive. We were really “nickel and diming it” as we fixed up that old house.
The old adage that, “Chrome don’t get ya home” wasn’t true with that bike. I can honestly say that she was the most dependable, and my favorite, scoot so far. The only times that she ever rode in a truck was when I bought her, and when a front tire literally exploded on an interstate.
I’ve only had two bikes since then....the “Shovel” and the “King”. And they were (and are) both fine machines. One is with my son in Louisiana, and the other is in my garage. But that purty lil’ Sporty was (just like that old girlfriend that ya don’t ever talk about) “The One” I had to let go. I often wonder who’s doing her now LOL.
I won’t mention, and I try not to even think about, the British pieces of shit bikes I had before her (of course, my not ever understanding their Limey electrical systems is the reason for that). But every time I think about that Sportster, I remember that bee-u-ti-ful day in May almost thirty-five years ago when I first rolled her out and fired her up like it was yesterday. Okay, moving on....
Is it just me, or does it seem to y’all that these days EVERYBODY either rides, has ridden, or at least closely knows someone who rides motorcycles, and rides them often? I mean, bikes are everywhere!
On television there might as well be a motorcycle network with all the outlaw-club documentaries, biker-bar reality shows, tattoo/body-art series, and chopper-building competition programs. You frequently see piles of ‘em parked at most bars, whereas in the old days if ya saw just a few scoots parked in front of a tavern very often, ya thought it must be a “biker” hang-out. The phrase “biker-bar” that was first coined in the 1960’s and 70’s, now applies to ALL of ‘em. Even high-class yuppie establishments often have scoots hanging from the damned ceilings!
Many workplaces have separate “bike-parking only” areas now. There are even clothing stores that specialize in just “Motorcycle Apparel”. Plenty of taverns regularly have “Bike Nites” each week. There are biker DJ’s. Just about every hard-rock band has at least one member who is a “Biker”. And there have been so many bike-oriented songs written, that those bands could play ‘em all night long.
Scores of books have been written about motorcycling and the people who are in this lifestyle (ahem). But back when I was younger, there were only a few. In fact, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M. Pirsig, and “Hell’s Angels” by Hunter S. Thompson are the only ones that I can even recall from back then.
As I’ve also pointed out before, there was a time when if I’d hear a bike coming down my road, I’d actually expect it to be somebody I knew coming to see me! And I could usually recognize that person from the way the bike sounded from a distance. Now, just about every bike has a similarly loud and throaty rumble.
But am I complaining about any of this? Hell no! It’s just sorta weird to be so damned “normal”! To be completely honest, I kinda miss people looking at me funny when I walk into a room.
I guess my point is: What with all these fellow bikers on the road these days, we should have many, MANY more members in ABATE, our organization...THE organization, for all bikers (a statement that has been made over and over again). So help yourselves (and them) out here a little people and sign some of ‘em up.
Don’t forget that May is also Motorcycle Awareness Month here in Ohio. Y’all can use that fact as a reason to help promote our “cause” to politicians, news-people and to the public in general. The very best public relations we can possibly have are that which you, the individual members, initiate. It’s the enthusiasm YOU generate that would make others want to join and support our organization, which in turn promotes and defends all motorcycling in general. And in case you’ve been wondering as you’ve read this: Don’t worry, I won’t blab on about “Public Relations” any more than I always have in this column now that I’m one of the state public relations officers LOL. I always have been, and we should ALL constantly be, promoting public relations for ABATE.
And speaking of May, this month is when most of us finish deciding which major runs and events we plan on attending during the riding season. This is especially true for vendors of any kind (parts, food, tats, a band, etc.) Remember this fact if your county or region is planning to put something on. The earlier you lock these people in for your events, the better. In fact, vendors should have been at least contacted already. Also, promoting any event is best if it’s begun ASAP. Generally speaking, flyers should be out about two months in advance of the date, any earlier and people will forget about it when the time comes because if they see a flyer hanging on their refrigerator (or on the wall of their favorite bar) repeatedly, it becomes invisible. And make sure you print up and distribute as many of those flyers as ya can.
By the way and speaking of flyers (of course this isn’t one, but...) if you’ll remember, last year I had a free (but BYOB) ABATE appreciation blow-out here at my home on July 28th and invited y’all. About fifty GOOD people showed up throughout the day and night from across the state and locally, to swim, hot-tub, sit around a fire, dance on the brass pole and party in my bar, which was a good number for this facility. Some pitched tents, and a few others just crashed on the floor or went home. The choice was up to them (of course), but I always urge my guests to spend the night if partying much (we can throw together one helluva breakfast!) Anyway, I’ll be doing that this year again. And when I lock down the date in the next month or so...I’ll let ya know the particulars. My place is VERY easy to find.
Keep the shiny side up folks. I’ll be yappin’ at ya next month,