Nov 21
Hell’s Angel
icon1 Guy | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 11 21st, 2011| icon33 Comments »
Bikes in the carport.” width=

I recently finished the book, “Hell’s Angel” by and about Sonny Barger. I have little doubt that the general time line of events was pretty accurate. The part of the book I found less convincing and most terrifying was Mr. Barger’s attempt to downplay the dangerous and violent side of the events. Some gruff-looking guy acting tough and telling everybody how “bad” he is can be disconcerting. Mr. Barger’s attempt to distance himself from that image is far scarier. Though he frequently describes himself and the club as “Just a bunch of guys who like to ride their bikes and have fun,” the extremely casual attitude toward human life and an utter disdain for civility paint a different picture.
The book wasn’t so much an eye-opener as a point around which a growing conviction could congeal. When I first bought my motorcycle, I ran out and bought black leather riding gear. Looking back, it was a lot like selecting a Halloween costume. Ray Liotta’s character in the movie Wild Hogs referred to riders dressed in black leather, who weren’t part of the outlaw culture, as posers. The ghosts or mummies I may have imitated on Halloween don’t really roam the streets. The 1-percenters, on whom the black leather riding costumes are based, do. So do I want to dress like them? Is that truly the image of myself I’d like to convey?
In my case the answer is no. I like being a law-abiding citizen. I like being a good neighbor. I like people to feel safe and relaxed around me. I actually want to be an average American who rides a motorcycle for fun and relaxation. So if I don’t want to be some bad and dangerous biker when on the motorcycle, who do I want to be? Turns out that answer is easy. Me. The same guy sitting here at work writing this blog. The same guy who will sit with his wife, kids and grandkids on Thanksgiving. That guy enjoys riding motorcycles for the sake of the bikes and the ride. A guy who doesn’t need to feel he’s intimidating somebody to enjoy riding.
I’ll continue to wear protective riding gear. A lot of it will be black because that is the most popular color and the most easily available. But I won’t be dressing for effect. I’ll be dressing for safety and comfort. And if I don’t look like a biker? Good!

- Guy Wheatley

Nov 17
Bikes in the carport.” width=

Bikes in the carport waiting for me to get better.

The surgery was seven weeks ago. Physically, I’m recovering faster than my doctor expected. It’s always good to hear how far ahead of the curve I am on each visit. That being said, I guess I was expecting more energy, stamina and desire to do stuff. I really thought I’d have been back to blogging several weeks by now. It’s just hard to write about the motorcycles when I haven’t been on them in such a long time. It will be a least a couple of weeks before I get on them again. And then it will only be for short rides of a few blocks. As a result, I just don’t have much to talk about.
One bike-related event did happen recently while I was waiting a drug delivery. Actually, I was standing in line at the pharmacy. There was a pretty long line so I knew I’d be there for a while. They guy standing in front of me looked to be in his mid-30s. He was wearing soiled jeans, a tattered sleeveless t-shirt, and sported a goatee. He had tattoos, but so do I, so no judgment here on that score. He just seemed like a typical, working-class stiff who’d stopped by the pharmacy on his way home from work. What caught my attention wasn’t the way he looked. It was what he was saying. He was taking to the lady ahead of him about a mutual friend who’d been hurt on a motorcycle.
I listened for a second to see if I might know the person they were talking about. I didn’t know the subject of their conversation, but was just about to join in offering sympathy when the guy said something that stopped me.
“Yep,” he said loudly, “that’s why I’ve got loud pipes on my bike. Loud pipes save lives.” He then went on with an impossible tale of a lady on the interstate doing 80 in an SUV full of kids almost changing lanes in front of him until he hit the throttle and his pipes warned her off.
I’m not saying it didn’t happen. It just would have to have happened in a universe with different laws of physics than those that operate here in this one. If he had no pipes at all simply blasting hot exhaust gases directly from his heads, the lady doing 80 in an SUV would not have heard him until his was even with her. By the time she heard his pipes he would have to be almost to the front of her vehicle and past the most dangerous point. It’s far more likely she caught movement in her peripheral visual field. There has been a lot of research on this subject, and nobody has found a single piece of objective data that loud pipes are beneficial. In fact, there is a considerable body of evidence that they are detrimental. But nonetheless, some people who like loud pipes continue to insist they are a safety feature.
The fellow in line ahead of me was obviously one of them. He then continued with several other colloquialisms that were equally ridiculous, including the following two
He didn’t wear a helmet because it restricts vision. And there are two kinds of bikers: those who have had an accident and those who are going to.
As I listened to him loudly blather away, it occurred to me that with his philosophies on safety, it was no wonder he assumed that accidents were inevitable.

- Guy Wheatley