Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Finding a balance on two wheels
I'm definitely an armchair motorcyclist. I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance with great passion. I empathize deeply with Easy Rider. I marveled at Hunter Thompson's Hell's Angels expose. And if I'm not exactly a Born to Be Wild screamer. I'm an Arlo Motorcycle Song sing-alonger. But you'll never see me on a Harley. A friend of mine once called these donor-cycles, in his recitation of motorcycle fatality rates.
And living in downtown Middletown, having to endure the constant weekend roar of these chrome hornets buzzing up Route 66 toward the Red Door, I fully expected to hate every minute of the Motorcycle Mania rally on Main Street tonight. I did not. I was completely entertained.
When laid end-to-end the demographics of the throbbing Harley riders is amazingly homogeneous. There were a lot of grey ponytails, middle-aged spread, and sagging bosoms. I bumped into Mark Masselli, and he challenged me to find a rider without a tattoo. I challenged him to find one without an AARP card. I suspect that the wild parties are no longer fueled by beer and acid, but beer and Viagra. It was a bit like a Marlon Brando meets Rip van Winkle acid flashforward.
There was a Hell's Angels' merchandise booth, a Riders for Jesus booth, a booth for a local liabilty lawyer who had miniskirted blonds passing out informational subpoenas. There was a Riders for the Cure booth, and a Riders for the Troops Booth, there was a National Guard recruitment booth but there was no Medicare booth, and there probably should have been.
I met grandparents who had taken up riding again after they had gotten their families safely raised. I met proselytizing bikers for Christ who spread the word of the New Testament at Christian rallies. I met firefighters who bike despite the fact that they see what can happen to an errant rider ("We get the shovel out, scoop 'em up and throw them in the back of the ambulance.") I heard Shovelhead playing, not Steppenwolf, but Lenny Kravitz.
These are my fellow boomers, and while I would never risk life and limb balancing on a thousand pounds of chrome and hot pistons, but I would love to sit down and have a beer with any of them, then walk safely home.