Things we think of while riding down the road

What is a Biker?

What is a ‘Biker’? A good and sometimes confusing question. Is a ‘biker’ a Harley rider with a leather vest and a pudding pot helmet, or is it someone who simply rides a motorcycle?

The other evening, over green chile crab enchiladas and cold beers my friend Rob Dale from Canada and I pondered the question. Rob is spending a month riding around the US visiting friends and taking in the sights. Rob is Senior Pastor at the Bikers Church in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and by his own description, a ‘biker’.CIMG7747 Rob does ride a Harley, and yeah he wears a leather vest and a pudding pot helmet, but his description of a biker is quite different than what most people would think.

When I told someone once that I rode motorcycles, the first comment was “So, you’re a biker,” followed by the question, “Do you have a Harley?” My response to both was “No, I do ride motorcycles but I’m not a ‘biker’ and no, I don’t own a Harley, I ride a Honda.” I remember the look on the person’s face as almost disappointment.

Back to the question of what is a biker? Most of us equate ‘biker’ with the Marlon Brando character in the ‘Wild One’, or Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in ‘Easy Rider’, the guy…or gal, that rides past you on a very loud Harley Davidson scaring the bejeebers out of you. Big boots, lots of leather, tattoos and attitude…that’s a biker. Well, maybe not.CIMG7744

Years back, I was riding a little Triumph Daytona 500 up in the Los Padres National Forrest and wouldn’t you know it, just as I was about ready to turn around and head home..it quit. English hunk o’ junk. There I was on the side of the road with a dead bike, wonderful, just freakin’ wonderful. Now this was in the days before cell phones; hell…this was still in the days of rotary dial phones..so I am stranded. Then the road started to rumble.

Earthquake? Well, sort of… a group of riders heading up the road on big bikes and wearing jackets that I recognized from a rather well known and not necessarily well liked motorcycle club. A few went by then a couple stopped a ways ahead of me and then a few more and I was surrounded. As you can imagine, I was a little more than nervous. One rather large guy came up and asked if I was Ok and what was the problem? I wasn’t sure of the problem. Another equally large guy came up and said he worked on Triumph. To make a long story short, within about twenty minutes my little Triumph was running great, I mean better than it had for a long time. After thank you’s were said and well wishes for a good ride the ‘bikers’ headed on and I headed home.

Rob and I talked about ‘bikers’ for quite a while. He called me a ‘biker.’ Me? I ride an old BMW, a kind of old Triumph and a little old Honda 350. Marlon Brando or Peter Fonda I’m not. I’m not even Rob..but in his eyes, I’m a biker. But why? Well, we came to the conclusion that the motorcycling community is a big family if you want it to be. I was helped on the side of the road by motorcyclists I didn’t know. I invited a fellow rider I didn’t really know into my home for the night. Riders often wave at each other on the road and non riders ask why? My answer is, well, we’re a small part of society and we have a unique bond.CIMG7749

So, if waving at each other on the road, helping some poor guy stuck on the side of the road or inviting a fellow rider over for supper makes me or you a ‘biker’..I’m proud to be a ‘biker’.

Thanks Rob

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8 responses

  1. 1queenofrock

    A “Biker” is such a sorry label for what we love to do!
    A “Biker” is as gentle as a dove, yet strong as a lion. We crave freedom, to live and die our way!
    We are one with Spirit when we ride and have no distractions for the beauty of the land that we pass. We are Doctors, Lawyers, Judges,ect,,- We are everyone. We ride for charities, we ride for a passing brother, but most of all we ride because we CAN!!

    September 30, 2009 at 8:43 am

    • I love your thoughts, thank you. ‘Biker’ is an interesting title to hand out to someone..we as the motorcycling community need to do what we can to portray the ‘Biker’ image in the best light we can. We as riders really do spend a lot of time and money helping others. Society needs to see us in that light. Thank you agin for your thoughts. Paul

      September 30, 2009 at 10:10 am

  2. Pingback: What is a Biker? « The MotoWorld Blog

  3. Great post Paul! I enjoyed reading it and hearing of Rob’s journeys across the US in his blog too. 🙂
    You mention the wave, or otherwise known (I’ve heard) as the “biker’s wave” and it made me remember a post that I did a while back (http://partygurle.blogspot.com/2009/05/driving-leisurely-on-sunday-afternoon.html).
    I love being a part of this type of family…most of us have a level of respect for each other regardless of what type or model bike we ride. I wish I knew more types of people like you and Rob here where I live…

    September 30, 2009 at 9:51 pm

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  5. Good question and one that led me to develop my website. I wanted a site for “people” who ride and not just the motorcycles.
    I wouldnt fit any “biker” ideal. Im the “grammy” that brings cookies and cupcakes to the bike rallies!!
    I will ride anything that goes “vroom” and think nothing of the make and model but how it looks and feels. I love loud bikes such as my HD Road King and the ones that dont make even one sound like the Blue Shift electric bike (http://www.blueshiftmotorcycles.com/)which is the next bike I hope to own.
    I dont know what being a “biker” means but I can only do it the way I know how. I am a happy biker!! I guess thats what counts.
    With that said…I am so jealous that you had a chance to meet Pastor Rob. I was off to the Las Vegas bikefest when my pops in Cali got sick and I was forced to give up my trip where I was going to meet several of my twitter friends, one of which was Rob! I guess I’ll have to ride to Canada in the summer!! Im jelous that he had an opportunity to meet you, as well!!
    If you want to feel sorry for me, you can send me some of those green chile crab enchiladas!! YUM!! Thanx, Judy

    October 3, 2009 at 12:06 pm

  6. Great post Paul! I have been riding for 30+ years and am always amazed at the comrade that occurs among fellow motorcyclists! Also, I have enjoyed following Rob’s journey through Twitter and his blog…he seems like quite a guy!

    October 5, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    • Thanks Bryan, I have always believed in comradrie amongst motorcyclists and have been the beneficiary of it and believe in passing it along whenever you can. So when you coming to the left coast?

      October 5, 2009 at 3:51 pm

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