The Motorcycling Community Is A Special Breed
Late last fall I was riding back through middle Georgia cattle and farm country following a couple of days spent with my parents. After a fuel stop in Bostwick, an old cotton mill town, I suited and saddled back up to continue my journey home. A lady rider about my age had pulled in not long after me, and now was having difficulty firing back up her old Harley Sportster. Our eyes met, and I could see the look of “can you help me?” in her eyes. Without hesitation, I removed my gear, retrieved my tool kit, and went to her aid. The problem fortunately was minor, a battery post that needed to be scrubbed of corrosion and tightened down. A warm thank you, a grateful handshake, and she was on her way, as was I.
Motorcyclists have some unwritten codes, which we all (mostly) abide by, such as “the wave”, riding staggered with each other, among others. Notably, most motorcyclists also follow the rule, “never leave a fellow rider stranded.” This is regardless of brand or type of bike. I’ve been on the giving and receiving end of this “biker good will”, and it’s one of the many reasons I love the motorcycling community.
*photo courtesy of Polaris Industries
Last year, I was driving my pickup home from working up town, when I witnessed a young sport bike rider on the opposite shoulder, struggling with something at his rear wheel. I whipped around as quickly as I safely could, and came to his aid. Turned out, his chain master link had broken by his rear sprocket, and for nearly 40 minutes he had been trying to fashion a snap of some kind to get him home. “No one has stopped or even slowed down to offer any help, not even to make a call for me,” he lamented. I lived about 4 miles away and had a motorcycle trailer, I told him, and offered to transport him and his bike to his house, which turned out to be only a few miles away as well. I sped home, hooked up the trailer, grabbed a box of straps, and returned to load man and machine. Upon off-loading the bike at his place, he offered to pay me for my “troubles”, which I respectfully declined. “It’s what we do”, I told him.
*photo courtesy of Yamaha Motorcycles
To be sure, there are some elements within motorcycling that refuse to acknowledge or come to the aid of fellow riders. Adherents of certain brands, certain types of bikes, and certain club riders look down upon any not like them, and refuse to assist those not of their ilk. And yet, they are a minuscule percentage of the motorcycling world, a fringe not representative of the vast majority of us. Overall, across the years and miles, I have found members of the motorcycling community to be among the most caring, helpful, and selfless people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. And I’m proud to be counted among them.
*photo courtesy of Suzuki Motorcycles
A couple of years ago, while on a long, multi-day road trip, a friend of mine found himself on a highway shoulder, sidelined by a large screw in his rear tire. While trying to remove the invader so he could insert a plug from a tire repair kit he (wisely) carried, he suddenly found himself surrounded by three patched club bikers, who had pulled over and parked in front, behind, and even street side around him. “Oh crap,” he thought to himself, being on a metric cruiser, and traveling alone. His concerns were quickly dispelled however, when the leader asked, “Any way we can give you a hand?” These rugged riders assisted my friend in getting plugged and reinflated, then accompanied him into a nearby town to a local bike shop, for a better examination of the tire. When my friend offered to buy them all dinner for their troubles, they graciously declined, but each shook his hand, wished him luck, and were on their way. “Just glad we could help” was their response.
*author riding the “Tail of the Dragon”
Motorcyclists tend to get painted with only a few brush strokes, by the media and the general public. We are often portrayed as scary, hard-core biker gang members, “Sons of Anarchy” types, or as reckless, inconsiderate “stunters” and “squids”, endangering ourselves and others around us. Granted, there are some of those among us. But again, these do not represent the vast majority of riders, anymore than a few “quacks” in the medical field represent the vast majority of knowledgeable, conscientious, hard-working physicians.
The late singer-songwriter Rich Mullins once penned a song that, though not specifically about the motorcycling community, most certainly applies to how many of us view each other-
I will be my brother’s keeper, not the one who judges him.
I won’t despise him for his weakness; I won’t regard him for his strength.
I won’t take away his freedom; I will help him learn to stand.
And I will, I will be my brother’s keeper.
-Rich Mullins, “Brother’s Keeper”
*photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles
I ride occasionally with a widely diverse chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, called the Kneebenders, made up of all kinds of bikes, all kinds of riders. We include sport bike riders, cruisers, tourers, a couple of ADV riders, and several Harley riders. We are “red and yellow, black and white” like the old children’s Bible song. We have men and women riders, and we run the gamut of socio-economic status. We even come from the four corners of these United States. Despite all this, we share two commonalities- we are all Christian, and we are all riders. We are devoted to honoring “the code” among any and all we might encounter.
With all the divisiveness in the world today, even in our own culture, as riders we have the opportunity to make a positive impact by how we treat each other, and how we extend a helping hand to those around us. Let’s endeavor to be “our brother’s & sister’s keeper”, and model togetherness and generosity to a divided world.
*photo courtesy of The American Motorcyclist Association