Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ride The Wind, One Per Center

Front fork extended and raked beyond the standard, the chopper cruises loudly past as all heads turn to marvel at the audacity of America's modern day cowboy. Old ladies frown, mothers gather their children, and fathers nervously keep watch out of the corners of their eyes.

Gliding towards the corner store, wind whipped hair backwards flowing, the machine comes to a full throated stop. The put-putting of the idle lets you know from afar that you're not dealing with any ordinary weekend warrior. This is the real deal. One who has chosen 'the life', the road his only home, and late, lonely nights sleeping under the only true friends he'll ever know.

Stepping into the store, all the air seems to get sucked out of the room, and worried shoppers try not to look at the leather clad form shaking the dust off of his colors. Gathering their purchases, they scurry quickly outside, the only ones left in the establishment are the owner, the biker, and a young mother and her child. Shades seemingly glued to his eyes, he saunters over to the beer cooler and after reaching in, pops the top and drinks deep, long draughts. The owner glances disapprovingly, but says nothing as the man finishes his beer, and gathers up the rest of the six pack, heading back towards the counter.

The young mother is clearly distraught at the price of her meager purchases, counting out coins on the counter as the owner sighs and tells her she does not have enough, she can count it all day, damn it all! Chaps squeak that leathery sound and boots clop loudly on the sawdust strewn wooden floor as the man reaches the counter.

The owner tells the woman to put some things back, she can't afford the food and the candy, why don't you get your sorry ass down to the welfare office or give that kid to a good Christian family somewhere? Beer cans hit the counter with a silencing thud, and three faces turn to look into the weathered eyes and full bearded features of a man with no patience for the antics of fools.

He slaps down a hundred dollar bill, picking up his beer and grabbing some jerky, give the woman whatever she needs, and then give her the change. Mother's mouth drops open as the kid asks can I have some M&M's Mom, and the rider disappears out the door before a thank you can be issued. He doesn't want any thanks, he just wants to see that child smile.

Sitting astride his shiny chrome horse, the beer goes into the saddle bag along with the meat. Throttle releases as thunder roars from the tranny, Harley and rider melding into one entity. Advanced suspension and high rubber mounts smooth out the road as the motorcycle takes the rider away, mother and child waving thankfully in the rear view mirror. The edge of the town comes up swiftly, the open road ahead a relief for one who shuns what straight society offers.

Holding the handlebars with a light loving touch, he ponders on the meaning of why that store owner could be so cruel, and yet the 'straights' fear those like himself. He considers his brothers, the owners of panheads, shovelheads, sportsters, wide glides, soft tails, and knuckleheads. Those he's racing now to meet up with, those to whom he swears loyalty, those who watch his back in his chosen life's endeavors. Not unlike a corporation, his club has it's hierarchy, it's treasurer and it's businesses. Dancing girls for the lonely and the married, watering holes for the thrill seekers who like to pretend they're a part of the scene.

Such is the way of the true biker, the ones whose disdain for society and it's rules force them to live on the edges of town, the outsiders, the riders, and the true one per centers. They ride the wind at the drop of a hat, unsung heroes of the modern age. A biker will be first in line to help those in need and the rap they get from the few bad apples is just that. A bum rap. Any catastrophe will find them there, organizing runs to raise funds, toys for tots, or hammering a nail to hold a tornado victim's walls in place.

We don't hear about these deeds, it's so impolite you see, to talk about the ragged looking and what is considered uncouth by the straight society elites. But that's just fine with the warriors of the highways, they not looking for publicity anyway. Rest assured though, that many of their ranks consist of veterans of our wars, and though you may turn your nose up at them as they pass you on the road, these will be first to defend you should they cross paths with an enemy to our nation. As we prattle on about freedom and liberty, we spy the pack cruising by, and we realize that we are the slaves, and the truly free have metal monsters vibrating between their legs. No cares, no worries, only the next town, the next rally, the next meaningless dance with a vixen of like mind.

Ride the wind one per center. Let the wind sweep away the worries of the world and let the beer flow like rivers in your never ending quest for that perfect stretch of highway where you can let loose and fly, really fly. Some of us understand, some of us wish we were with you, some of us are bikers at heart and always will be. FTW, throw caution to the wind, and we'll meet yet in Valhalla one and all.

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