Well, another riding season has come and gone. Of course many of us will be out on the roads for limited, short putts whenever we get the opportunity. Some of us might use a six months on, six months off, insurance plan and so for some, winter is definitely “down time”. There are many variations of this now: Three on, nine off, nine on, three off....whatever. In the old, old days many of us old-timers didn’t even carry bike insurance due to the expensive and complicated way the insurance industry rated motorcycles and those who rode. Many companies chose to not cover either the bike OR the rider! Hell, when I started riding street bikes there wasn’t even an endorsement required. The separate bike license thing didn’t come along until Jan. 1st 1969. Until then, all ya needed was simply a car driver’s license. But I digress and in any event the days of consistently good riding weather is over for this year.
Those who live in California, Florida, and other states with year-round sunshine can ride all year long. I don’t think I’d like that so much because riding a bike in, say, January would eventually be taken for granted and then where would be the thrill of it? I mean, sure I could get used to it....probably real fast! But ya see...that’s the bad part of it.....being used to it and taking it for granted. It’s the occasional lack of something that lets you appreciate it that much more when you DO get it. Since this is (for the most part) a G-rated publication I’m not going to expand on this, but let’s just say that my personal lack of some things on these cold and lonely winter nights isn’t just “occasional” these days. Anyway, pushing on....
As this is the month of Thanksgiving and we’re celebrating the Pilgrim’s thankfulness for their survival in the “New World” (and I bet the native people who helped them out are probably celebrating that too!) let’s give thanks for other stuff as well. In fact, let’s talk a little about appreciation.
Anyone who has ever been in any kind of rehab, group therapy, or even motivational counseling can tell you that one of the things often focused upon is gratitude: Gratitude for who you are, where you are in life, what you have, and what you can do to expand the list of things you might be grateful for. To illustrate this point, here is a list of ten examples of my appreciation for some things relating to this lifestyle.
- Here in Ohio we DO have a limited “comfortable” riding season....but not as limited as say, Alaska. Sure, I bet Alaska is beautiful, and I hear most of the folks there are sorta, well, like bikers regarding personal “oddness” which might be cool. But regarding riding, I’m very grateful I don’t live there! Can you imagine living there and riding home late from work or partying in early spring or late autumn? Cold is cold, but freezing is freezing! And when it DOES get warm, I hear the bugs there are so big and vicious they can knock ya off the scoot!!
- I remember a time (which wasn’t that long ago) when bikers were considered to be second class citizens. More than a few times I’ve been asked to leave restaurants and even bars just because I was wearing “biker” clothes and the establishment didn’t want to attract the “wrong” crowd. Yet times certainly have changed. Now, bike enthusiast Scott Walker who is Governor of Wisconsin and a Presidential candidate (at the time I’m writing this anyway), says that if he’s elected President he’d use the code name “Harley” for himself regarding his Secret Service people. Yes, times sure have changed and that’s something to be grateful for I guess. It’s a good thing he doesn’t ride an “Indian” or the natives might be pissed about that too, unless the company was re-named “Native American” Motorcycles. (Political correctness can be such a pain in the ass.)
- OK, here’s one: I’m grateful that I finally own a bike that has an electric starter. I think my right leg is STILL a bit larger than my left because of the English iron I rode, the Pan I rode after those, the Sportster, and finally even my last bike, the Shovelhead. All of ‘em were kickers. In fact, I’m grateful for many, many, other engineering improvements regarding scoots like fuel injection, disc brakes, twelve volt batteries, and of course the list can go on and on....but I think the electric starter button is the biggest thing. A kicker was great for impressing people sometimes, but that could certainly suck when the bike wasn’t cooperating (especially with a Linkert carburetor and a six volt battery).
- I’m grateful to workplaces and establishments who provide “Bikes only” parking. Not being able to even see your bike because it’s hidden between vehicles far off in a parking lot is always disturbing and makes you feel insecure about tampering, theft, and idiots who can’t even park without running into something.
- I’m grateful that most cops finally started to ease off on believing that all bikers are either running drugs, are drunk, have warrants, are unlicensed, or are escaped baby killers and rapists.
- I’m thankful for the attention that is finally being paid by state administrations and bureaus to motorcycle awareness and safety. In the old days it was barely recognized or acknowledged that we shared the roads with cars and trucks. Motorcycles were always considered to be the red-headed step children of the vehicular world (my apologies to all you red-headed step children out there).
- Although I love my Harleys, I’m glad that other manufacturers have finally begun to construct bikes worth buying and riding. Regarding engineering: BMW has ALWAYS been a benchmark of what a motorcycle should be in many ways. And what used to be derided as “rice” has come such a long way. In other words; I’m grateful for the fact that “The Motor Company” finally has competitors that are NOT lame and pathetic knock-offs, and that people can finally have some freedom of choice without much biased derision from others for that choice. In the old days, tickets were actually sold at some swaps and other events for the chance to beat on anything from Japan with a sledgehammer for fun. I used to cringe when I saw that. Just like I used to cringe when “The Who” would trash musical equipment onstage that I would’ve given my own body parts for.
- I’m grateful for the fact that there ARE younger people in the world who carry on many (if not all) of the old traditions central to this lifestyle. Sure, many younguns might not have a clue and do it a bit differently. But many more really do understand what things like “righteousness”, the “biker’s code”, and “genuine” mean.
- I’m grateful to ABATE of Ohio, Inc. for many things concerning our rights, but particularly for the fact that we do not HAVE to wear a bucket on our heads in this state if we don’t wanna, and that they try to make sure they got our backs to insure that in the future. Even I often take this for granted.....until I see a recent movie set in California and the bikers are all wearing helmets. Then I think, “There but for the grace of ABATE of Ohio go I.” (to paraphrase a guy from the 1800’s named John Bradford). Regarding helmets and speaking of quotes, our own Ken Howell once said, “If they made a law that we COULDN’T wear helmets, we’d fight that too!!!” and I think that is so cool.
- But the thing that I’m probably the MOST grateful for is that invention where heavy-duty laser guns pop up out of our front and back fenders to zap any cars, trucks, and four legged critters (as in deer) into oblivion in the event that they even begin to get too close to our front OR rear.
No....wait a minute! That hasn’t been invented yet. Hmmm.......let me think about this one for a while.)
Catch ya next month,