(Originally appeared in Mutant Renegade Zine #9, Fall 1998)
I recently unearthed a photo of myself. I was two and straddling the gas tank of my fathers supped up chopper. I guess that way my first experience with motorcycles. I first became aware of my fondness of motorcycles when I was eight and my brother got a dirt bike for his birthday. I suggested to my parents that I get one as well. They did away with my longing as only stern parents could do, they ignored me. After much persistence on my part they told me that I had to wait until I got older to get one.
A few years later I reminded my parents of their promise of getting me a dirt bike. (By that time my brother had sold the one they got him.) The promise somehow slipped my parents memory and they once again slew my want of a motorcycle, this time with a verbal spoonful of castor oil. Still the affliction kept resurfacing again and again, a small amber burning inside me.
Being a determined little so-and-so, I brought up the subject to my parents a few years later. My parents tried to silence my tenaciousness with a gift that pretty much assured me that they would never get me a motorcycle. They bought me a fucking moped.
I did have friends and relatives that had motorcycles. Most of my friends grew weary of their good fortune, while most of my relatives ended up in the hospital due to their haphazard riding abilities. Their was one time when I got to ride on one of my cousins dirt bikes. It had been in the garage a few years, but with some work it started up and I was on my way. I quickly learned the reason why it was in storage for so long. While approaching a busy crossroad while coming down a hill, I found the brakes didn’t work. I ended up having to lay the bike down and end my motorcycle riding for some time.
A little over a year ago, the motorcycle bug returned. It was put there by my wife, who had her own dirt bike when she was younger. Our desire fed off each other. I started burning inside, had chills, hot flashes. I was tired of fighting what I had longed for all my life. I no longer just had “the bug,” I had a full-blown fever, the need to own and ride a MOTORCYCLE. My wife also had it just as bad.
The need was insatiable. We grabbed anything and everything that we could dealing with motorcycles. We made daily stops to motorcycle dealerships around town just to look and ask the salesman every annoying question we could think of. When we exhausted all the local dealers, we headed to other cities.
On weekends I would go to various video stores around town and rent any movie that remotely had motorcycles in them. The Wild One, Easy Rider, On Any Sunday and more were watched more than a few times. I learned my lesson of keeping videos well past their due date one afternoon. While checking out yet another biker flick, the video clerk informed me in front of a dozen other customers that I had a $10 fine for turning in Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town three days late.
Being too embarrassed to go to the video store for awhile, I started getting motorcycle books at the library. It was while reading these books that I became aware that I wasn’t the only one with a disturbing fascination with motorcycles. In his book “Hog Fever” Richard La Plante talks about his polishing obsession and need to look cool on his HOG. He also entertains with stories of freezing his ass off in the name of motorcycle coolness, the humiliating position of having to ride “bitch”, and laying it down.
I found out that my longing for the freedom of the open road was shared by many. The dream of a cross-country road trip via motorcycle is wonderfully conveyed in the book Flaming Iguanas by Erika Lopez. With her motorcycle gang of one, the heroine makes a trek from the East Coast to California and manages to survive despite the fact that she has never really ridden a motorcycle before.
In Ann Ferrar’s book Hear Me Roar, I saw a quote that conveyed how I most deeply felt about motorcycles.
“It’s the blump-blump-blump of the engine. It goes with your heartbeat. Then there’s the sound of the pipes. On one level, it gets down to real primitive stuff. ON a conscious level, I have freedom waiting in my garage.” – Sandy Couture
After reading so much about motorcycles, a breakthrough finally came when my wife called and informed me of a motorcycle riding safety course that was being offered. What was even more thrilling was that they let you use their bikes to take the class and to take the test for your motorcycle license. The fact that I didn’t own a bike didn’t slow me down. I figured that I would get my license first and I would save up and get a bike in a year or so.
About a week after completing the course and getting my license, I got a call from my brother telling me that his neighbor had a motorcycle for sale. Okay, maybe the house needed a new roof, but what else could I do. Besides, fresh rainwater is good for houseplants. So I got the bike, my wife got a bike and the original fire that had burned within me all my life was finally quenched.