Tag Archives: triumph

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

A small story

Ed's BonnevilleAs Ed traveled along through the Arizona desert he started to think about why he took this trip in the first place. The vastness of the desert, the heat that rose up from the road and the sound of the motor lulled him away, back into his own memories. Ellen had left him and he simply wanted to escape.

Taking time off work was easy, getting his mom to watch the kids was even easier. Since Ellen left Ed wasn’t much fun to be around so the kid’s enjoyed being at Grandma’s a lot.

Car, train, plane, boat or motorcycle? Motorcycle. Out of the back corner of the garage came the ’69 Bonneville. Ed and the Bonnie had been together since she rolled out of the Triumph dealer brand new.

Whenever life seemed to get tough, time on the Bonnie cured everything. Ed had solved the world’s problems from the seat of that motorcycle. The Vietnam War? Ended somewhere between Lake Tahoe and L.A.. Over population in India? Easily fixed outside Steamboat Springs. Starving kids in Africa? Cured in Montana. Ginger or MaryAnne? That’s easy, MaryAnne. Now, deep in the Arizona desert, Ed had a new problem to solve.

The ride had been pretty uneventful so far. In the time between Reseda and Palm Springs, Ed had figured out that either his trusty old leather jacket had shrunk or married life had put a few pounds on him. He opted for the jacket shrinking. A short but expensive stop at Madman’s Motorcycle Mall and Ed was much more comfortable.

Tucson seemed to be a good goal for the first day, but a dinner stop would come sooner. Nyland, California. This is where you set your watch back, About twenty years. “Home Cookin’ and Cold Beer” said the sign outside Tiny’s Diner. Ed trusted the large number of eighteen wheelers and pickup trucks outside more than Tiny’s sign. Inside Tiny’s, the noise level was at last five times louder than Ed’s Bonneville. Truckers talking with each other as if they were on their CB radios, farmers talking loud enough to be heard over their tractors, cooks and waitresses yelling orders at each other and over all this was Johnny Paycheck sing “Take this job and shove it” on the jukebox. The smell inside Tiny’s Diner ranged from dirt to diesel to fried onions, except for Polly the waitress, she wore perfume that smelled like Gardenias.

The sun had already set when Ed left Tiny’s. Fill up the tank, put on the new jacket and head for Tucson. In the dark, the desert is even more vast and desolate. Distances between towns seem to grow and the number of cars and trucks gets smaller. At one point Ed just pulled over and stopped. He shut off the Bonneville’s motor. The dark and stillness of the desert night covered ed completely. No matter how many stars there were in the sky his world was totally dark. Why did she leave?