Monday, August 30, 2010

Forgotten Places, and Ghost Towns

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I want to thank some of the Boozefighters for inviting me along on their trip to Ohio. I had said a few times that I was looking for some riders that wanted to get out of town, so Speed from Chapter 23 in Canada (he lives here part time) dropped me a note and asked if I would like to tag along with a few of them. It turned out that 4 of us rode up, with our families coming up in the truck the following morning. It felt good to get away for a few days, to enjoy some “wind” and some good fellowship. Bianca, Emily and myself had a great time. We also had the privilege of meeting some “real deal” people up that way, one who’s name was M-Pact. Man, what a character!!! He lived in what is referred to as Appalachia, and no matter what you asked him, whether it was where the bathroom is to where can I dump my oil for an oil change, his answer was always the same, “You’re in Appalachia, you can do anything you want here”. And I would venture to say that M-Pact did just that, whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. He was old enough and had been “around” long enough (a 20 plus year Boozefighter member) to have garnered that respect and right.

He told of the story about the night he got 2 DUI’s in one evening, and when he went to court he rode a girl in front of him so as to appear she was riding the bike, because his license had been taken away, the presiding judge just happened to see him and asked why was he toting that girl on the front of his bike, M-Pact said she was carrying him, then the judge asked why he was there and as he told the judge, the official said, “Man you’re going to need a lawyer”. But my new found friend told the man in the black robe, “I figure you and me could just work this out on our own”, and they did. I won’t indulge in exactly what all went done, but old M-Pact did alright. It was good to hang with him and others that weekend.

The trip up was very hot, but dry. I can’t say that about our return trip, but over all it was some good riding (even though because of time restraints we rode interstate). Bianca got to ride up with me, as we trailed behind Speed, Red Dawg and Charmin. On the way back my wife rode in the truck as she had to be back for work earlier than I could get her there, so Lori (Charmin’s Squeeze) rode back with us. All I can say about the interstate trip we took, is that “no grass grew under our tires”, we rocked and rolled.

It was also a first for me as my ‘89 Evo was the “ancient” bike on the trip. I must say that the “Twin Cams” perform as well as the Evo’s, especially with that extra gear. Hard to believe that an Evo is considered old today, but they haven’t been made since ‘99, so I guess we will have to start referring to them as “Old Aluminum”, instead of Old Iron.

I’ve known the Boozefighters here in this area for a few years, some of them before they were in the club, and though I wasn’t for sure about what their purpose was or what they were all about, this venture helped me to understand more about what the club represents. I realized quickly that they are not territorial, nor boisterous about numbers, power or position. They spoke of quality over quantity, and the one thing I really liked was when I over heard a member say that in order for a man to receive a patch in their group, he had to become a friend before he was to become a brother. When they vote on a person to wear their patch, they first ask the members, “Would you hang around with this man and ride & eat with him if he wasn’t a member”. Because if you like him and call him a brother ONLY because you share a patch, then it won’t last. That’s some good shit right there. I met men who had hung around and prospected for years. Deve-loping friendships takes time. These guys didn’t give away patches.

As their National Web Site says, “We Are A Drinking Club, With A Motorcycle Problem”, and after that weekend I have to agree that the people I met up in the Great Lakes Region were some heavy duty beer drinkers and they “rode” their bikes. Many of the people I met have a mandatory yearly mileage that they have to ride, ranging from 5 to 10,000 miles per year. Now I know that may not sound like much, but several live in Canada, Michigan and other cold states where it “snows everyday’ (HaHaHa Curtis (the coolest dude there) & Ms. Janet). I’m not for sure what kind of mandatory miles are required in the Southern State Charters, but if a cat from Toronto can ride 10,000 miles, surely the southern riders can match that. The mandatory miles impressed me with this club. Hey, if you don’t ride your motorcycle, you shouldn’t be wearing an M/C on your back, right? I still think that the Boozefighters need to draft a “Mission Statement” for the “purpose” of sharing with everyone what their “purpose” is. Another thing I noticed immediately was I wasn’t paranoid when I was around large groups of them. I saw no attitudes. For example, when we stopped at some member’s house on the way up, we went to eat dinner at a large Biker Bar, and it was crowded. I noticed that the members didn’t come across with any attitudes towards the patrons nor did the other customers have a “chapped ass” towards these patcholders (so many times I’ve seen Billy Badasses get a few beers in them and then start some shit with clubbers, this never happened......respect was shown all around).

While we were on the trip I was asked by Speed what I thought a biker was. Of course I have my own perception, but thought I’d let him share with me what he felt was a true biker. Much to my surprise he mentioned a cat named Efing Earl that got drunk one night with some friends and decided at 4:30 AM he would be joining these buddies on a cross country trip. So he called his boss at 4:35 and said he needed two weeks off, went home packed his gear and left. They rode clear to the West Coast from upper Ohio and did so on a thin dime and tire, but Earl made it. He even had his job when he returned. Now that was the short version of Earl’s escapades, but it really got me to thinking, what is a biker? Here are a few examples of people I know or did know for you to choose from. So readers, which of these people do you feel are “real bikers”...............

A young man in High School is saving for a motorcycle. He goes to class everyday, dressed in his boots, jeans and T-shirt. Other kids laugh at him, but this is who he is. He wants to be a biker and live the “tramp” lifestyle. Riding all over America, seeing the sites, sleeping under the stars, working for his weekly room and board. He doesn’t have that bike yet, but it's in his heart and he lives it 24/7. This young man is righteous in the eyes of the older men who own and ride Harleys. He is being mentored by the elders of bikerdom. So I ask you, is this person, who doesn’t own a motorcycle, a biker?

Then we have the man who possesses a beautiful bike, one that others envy. He wears the clothing of a biker everyday. He never leaves his house without first putting on his black jeans, his black T-shirt, his black long sleeve shirt, his black boots, his black belt with his name imprinted on it, his black gauntlets or his black fingerless gloves, his Buck knife, his silver rings and gold necklaces with a cigarette hanging from his lips as he pulls away from the house, whether on his bike or in a car, just to go to the corner store for a beer or Pepsi. This “biker” only rides a couple of times a month, even though he has it all. He spends all his time “working” on his chopper, but never rides it. When you see this person out, he looks like the real deal, but is he?

Then you have the Stogie! A young man, who rides in cargo shorts and Hawian shirts, as he travels 50,000 miles a year, touching 49 states and many provinces of Canada. His bike isn’t clean, but well maintained. He has everything but the kitchen sink strapped to that old Superglide, to the point of it taking him a half an hour just to unpack for the night and longer to repack the next morning. Stogie rides alone 90% of the time. Sleeps behind 24 hour gas stations. Visits people that he said he was going to visit, even if it takes him hundreds of miles out of the way, because he has no way, no agenda, just ride his motorcycle till he runs out of money (and he did many times and had to wash some dishes to get fuel money). He doesn’t own one hundred black T-shirts, he rides in sneakers, he is considered a Nomad by his peers and those who count, but is he a biker?

I won’t mention the Weekend Warriors or the OCC fanatics, because we already know what they aren’t. I won’t touch on the many who never leave their town on their scoots. I’ll skip those who sit in biker bars everyday telling of the day they are going to ride their bike across America, knowing the only people they are fooling are themselves. However I will say, that if you own a motorcycle, you may not have to look a certain way, act a certain way or talk a certain way to be a biker, but you do have to ride that piece of steel to become one.

Some of you do not want to be known as a biker, that’s cool. Some even wish they could get rid of their Harley because they don’t even want to be mentioned in the same breath as real bikers, that’s cool too. So how about this? Don’t play the game if your not, and let those who want it enjoy it even more by you staying home. So folks, which of the above are fakes, and which are bikers? FTW, Cochise