Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Enigma/Conundrum of the Hard Core Biker

Someone told me, the other day, that, maybe, I didn’t understand hard core bikers. This seem to be an odd statement. I pondered it for a few days and have come to a few conclusions regarding the hard core bikers. My opinions are not directed to anyone in particular, but if you fit the profile, then I guess I’m talking about you.

First thing on the agenda is to define the hard core biker, who we will call, for the sake of brevity, the HCB.There are a number of criteria that must be met in order to be included in this fraternity. The first is obvious. You must own a motorcycle. Ahhh, but not just any motorcycle will do. No siree, Bob. It must be a Harley Davidson, or one of the many clones that are on the market. Just a minute, though. Not any HD will do. It’s not gonna be that easy. It must be a Big Twin, the evolutionary progeny of the fabled 1936 EL Knucklehead. But, how about the Sportster, you may ask? Sorry Charlie, but in nearly every case, ownership of HD’s “Little Twin” is to be avoided. These are girls bikes. If you choose to ride one anyway, you will be suspect and some may even think that you prefer the company and comfort of large, hairy men. Step away from the Sportster.

Next is appearance. You cannot show up at the bike night in tennies, slacks and a cardigan. Might as well ride a pink Sportster. Think denim and dead animals. These are the most practical clothes for any biker, not just the HCB, so I won’t dwell too much here. It’s the accessories or “flair” that makes you a HCB. You must have a black HD tee shirt from a dealer that you wish you had been to. You can’t miss with Sturgis HD. Always a winner. A big ol’ honkin’ wallet with a chain clipped to your belt. I used to have one of these and at no time did I ever find the wallet dangling from the chain and thought, “Thank God for that chain.” A leather vest. Though it serves absolutely no purpose other than to make you look like Ed Norton, people see them and think, “What a macho looking man. I’ll bet he can impregnate a woman with the power of his mind.“ A belt buckle with a skull or an HD bar and shield. Gotta keep buying that licensed merchandise. Wrap around shades, as dark as possible. Never, unless it becomes absolutely necessary, should they be removed. Keep in mind that all of this is a total package and the removal or alteration of one or more of the “flair” items can diminish the “look”. Purchase, unless you are super HCB, then steal, the smallest, non DOT compliant, beanie helmet available. If it resembles a fiberglass yarmulke, you’ve made a good choice. This is important, DO NOT WEAR IT YET. Under the glass case at the cycle boutique you will find stickers with hilarious sayings, that other people thought of, on them . Buy, or again steal, a good selection of them Do not be too concerned about what they say as none are, particularly, original. Two, however, are mandatory. I cannot stress how important this is. One must say, “HELMET LAWS SUCK”, and the other must state, “IF YOU DON’T RIDE A HARLEY, YOU AIN’T S**T.” The logical conclusion to this has to be, that if you do, indeed, ride an HD, then you ARE S**T. Congratulations.

Proper hair care is paramount. Though the cue ball look has gained significant inroads in the past 15 or 20 years and is a perfectly acceptable look, unless your head is shaped like a light bulb or has noticeable divots or other cranial abnormalities. The long hair, somewhat unkempt look is classic HCB and should be considered as your first choice unless nature or age has robbed you of the ability. Facial hair is mandatory as well, though it is optional with the Yul Brynner look. Mutton chop sideburns are the kiss of death unless you are from the deep, deep south. Grow them at your own risk. For the profoundly hirsute, it is recommended that the shoulder hair be grown and braided.

Piercings are part of the visage of the HCB. Earlobes, left or both but never just the right side. That can land you on the pink Sporty in a heartbeat. For the exceptionally HCB, it is recommended that the ear be pierced with a paper punch and a number 630 masterlink be worn. As to noses, septums only.

Tattoos. No question about it, ink is an absolute must. There are two different schools of thought here. One subscribes to the neo modern, highly colorful and intricately detailed full sleeves. The biggest problem with this concept is, yes, you see them at the HCB gatherings all the time. You can also see the same thing at a West Hollywood gay bar…….or so I’ve been told. Parenthetically, let me state that at no time have I ever been inside of or within 50 yards of the "Ramrod" or the "Driveshaft". The preferred style, for the true HCB, is the random tats that were applied while the HCB was in a drunken and/or chemically induced stupor or incarcerated. We’ve all seen them, “Death Before Dishonor”, “Born to Lose” a little green worm with a top hat, a dagger going through the skin with blood dripping off of the point. This tells the world that you don’t subscribe to anyone's rules and you’re gonna get the tat based on how much you've got left in your pocket.

Now onto demeanor. You can have the look nailed, but if you don’t have your swagger on straight, you’re a poser. The basic rule here is to treat everyone, outside of your carefully chosen circle, like crap. Here is an example.
Parker and his wife, Muffy, along with the kids, Logan and Carter, happen to walk by, on their way home from the oxygen bar, and are taken aback by the comprehensive awesomeness that is your machine. “Nice 'sickel”, says Parker, “is it a Honda ?” The following MUST take place within a 10 or 15 second window of opportunity or you will loose the respect of your peers. Knock all of his teeth out, rape Muffy, devour the children and, if you have time, dig up his mother and violate her corpse. Honda, indeed!

Seemingly innocuous questions must also be given flippant answers. “Nice paint, who did it?” “Von None of Yer Bizness, Douchebag", is appropriate. Feel free to think of similar comments and practice them in front of the mirror.

Always remember that your bike is the culmination of the two wheeled experience. Never miss an opportunity to make that clear to anyone within earshot. As far as the bikes of others, they can be anything from a POS to a nice bike, but if it were mine I woulda done it better.

One accessory that I have to mention is, of course, the fair sex. Now if you have just fallen off of the turnip truck, here’s a heads up. All biker chicks do not look like the women in the old Dave Mann centerfolds in "Easyrider". No, in fact if you thumb a few more pages you will come across a more accurate representation of the typical “Ol’ Lady”. Good old Miraculous Mutha. Regardless of where your lady falls in the appearance department, she must display as much skin as possible. Don’t worry about the excess flab, zits, navel hair or stretch marks. She is a goddess that all men desire and wars have been fought over.

There are only three acceptable jobs for a HCB. Bike shop owner, auto body repair or bouncer in a nudie bar. The only exception to this rule is if the HCB decides to forgo the drudgery of regular employment, he is permitted to cook and/or sell Meth, but only to other HCBs and regular tweakers.

If you, my loyal reader, have made it this far in this, semi-coherent, rant you will agree that at a certain level I do understand the HCB. I don’t get it, but I understand. It is much the same for a lot of people that have attached a term or lifestyle to themselves. Traditional hot rodders, Goths, punks, skateboarders and on and on. They all have their rules, written and tacit. Now, I’m sure you’re all asking yourselves, “What about you Carl? Are you a HCB or just another pussy?” I don’t know, for sure. I try not to fall into any of the behaviors that I have listed. I do not own an HD, but my bike, in many ways, tops and trumps the Harley elite. I love HDs and may someday own another one. I have seldom gone more than a year without a two wheeler since I was 15 ½. I don’t ride as much as I used to, but I ride when I want to. I can’t toss down a handful of reds and a bottle of cheap wine and ride to San Francisco. I still think and dream about bikes as much as I did when I got that first Cushman in 62. I don’t think I can kick too much ass anymore. Actually, I never claimed to have a lot of ass kicking prowess. I’m too old now to engage anyone with any stamina. I did have an encounter with some clown a while back. I told him one of two things could happen. A 60 year old man would kick his ass or he would kick a 60 year old’s ass. It was a lose/lose situation for him. He gave me the standard, “You ain’t worth it, Dude.” reply and left. I think I could have taken him, though. I am whatever you want to call me, a biker, a motorcycle aficionado, a buff, an enthusiast or whatever. It doesn’t matter to me. I am comfortable in my skin. If I don’t fit into anyone’s preconceived notion, that’s OK. I like motorcycles. Period


Elvis said...

That was a pretty good read. :)

Ric said...

I can imagine quite a few individuals with the HBC profile in mind. As to where I fit into such a mould leaves me in ponderance to that possibility. During my younger years, I did in fact purchase that Harley Davidson, sported a few non-descript tattoos, and donned a new black leather jacket. I wouldn't be caught dead wearing anything but a black Harley T-shirt... that is, unless I was in my Military Uniform at the time. There inlies a couple of problems; I had to sport that short (if you threw a styrofoam ball at my head it would stick) haircut, so beards and such were out as well.

My girlfriend, all though not a Playboy Bunny Super Model, she was indeed a cutie-patootie and looked smokin' hot in those powder blue skin-tight leathers she wore while riding her Sporty! Although, she DID agree that her bike was best painted black, than the desired Pink that all women want.

Over time, I grew up a little. With motorcycle riding being still my life's highest priority once my kids grew up and flew the coup. I'm on one of those Chevy brand bikes now, and the Harley-Davidson to me is now a "cute 'lil underpowered bike" that makes me wonder how it got it's tough image, since riding a far larger machine. I hardly fit any HBC profile after a 'step back look' at myself. Don't wear a leather jacket anymore, just a leather shirt. (yes, I do wear pants as well) T-shirts often show off the brand of beer I drink, and I still wear the odd HD t-shirt because the 'good ones' are in the laundry.

I'm about as tough as a fat drunk man with a blindfold on while hopping on a pogo stick on a skating rink... so I guess fighting is out. I'm nice to everyone, including animals. So I guess I don't really quilify as a biker of much merit.


Keep the Magic Alive!