I have a secret motorcycle group and it was born of my sorrow that you guys turned into camaraderie.
2009 … and I had an idea… to get Cmack and Greg to be best friends. And Cmack had an idea to get us to Sturgis.
Greg had never ridden across the country and was itching to bring his buddy to meet us, some shrink named Dr. Shapiro. Mike rode a Bandit, and Greg rode a bike that at the time might as well have been invisible to me; that Ducati st3s. I would learn to love that motorcycle, but in those days I was still traveling on the Thruxton and, as for all the other motorcycles in the world, to me, they all looked alike. Unless it was a 95 Harley Nostalgia. That one still occupied a holy space in my heart and sometimes made me think my own ticker thumped like the potato potato sound unique, and patented, to ‘the company’.
Cmack rode from New York and met me first, on the same day but long before Greg and Mike would arrive. He still owned his Road King back then and I’d told him that I had no desire to be in Sturgis or Daytona or anywhere like those places during a ‘bike week’. He said he agreed but that he just wanted to see Mt. Rushmore, like he’d wanted to see Old Faithful; his bucket list was driving the show; but he was pulling a sneaky one over on me. We met in Sturgis and I didn’t have a clue but it was the week before ‘bike week’ officially started. No matter, already thousands of bikers were setting up for one to the most famous gatherings of two wheeled shenanigans there’s ever been. All the vendors were set up, just the exact same way it’d be the next week; and every where you looked it was a black harley, with a bearded dude in a black vest and black chaps and… I’d go up to a stranger and ask, “Say, have you seen my buddy? He’s riding a black harley and has a beard and a black vest and …” At first I thought it was just a funny, friendly way to meet people, but soon the Jesus part of me must have left to go to the bathroom, cause that other part took over. I realized that this question, sarcastic and ironic and as obvious as it seemed, was actually an IQ test. The folks who’d scratch their chin and look around to try and help me find my bearded, Harley riding friend in a sea of bearded Harley riding hombres; well they were surely proof that an egg gets blindsided by a stupid, rednecky sperm with dumb luck more often than not.
Cmack and I spent a day waiting on our two pals to show up by visiting Rushmore, and Crazy Horse and then riding out a couple hundred miles to the Badlands and finding Wounded Knee. If this were to be a book I would spend a chapter on that afternoon and especially do into great detail about our conversation with two young Oglala men and their insight into how most white people are both asinine and Cherokee; and also how a name that means “Brave who kills Crow people” can ruin a romance with a young Crow woman, and how we met a true descendant of Tatanka Yotanka, Sitting Bull himself; but the super short story is that we rode back to town about the same time Greg and Mike pulled in, just before dark, and then we rode out to a highway called the Needles. After what must have been a painful ordeal for Greg and Mike… riding behind Cmack and me on twisty pavement… the two of them politely asked if they could ride ahead. I’m not being a wise guy, they were really, really super polite about it, as if they knew what they were about to do was going to upset the very fabric of a universe where C and I were always the wild and fast hellions up front that everyone else frantically tried to follow. Cmack and I looked at each other with the same blindsided surprise I imagine we’d have if God had just rode up on a Vespa and said masturbation was ok, but we merely nodded to them a parental ‘of course’ and they rode out, and at that time, it’s still like a dream to me… it seemed as if they were leaning their bikes to the ground on the curves and dragging their knees like Rossi. Later we would interrogate them on how they’d learned fancy trick riding like that and they would shrug it off as taking ‘some lessons’ one weekend. That would spark a fire in me that has not yet quite turned to cinder. When we parted ways and I rode the nearly 1200 miles home alone my mind was set on little else than the fact that I was going to be taking ‘some lessons’…many weekends if need be… I was gonna find a school, a Yoda, a track… I too was going to learn how to ride as well as the godlike man who would become the Goyo and our new pal, too; the infamous Dr. Gonzo. If I ever wrote that book I was talking about then that has to be two chapters. At least.
But after the Needles ride, and once Cmack and I FINALLY caught up with Lightening and Quicksilver, we found a place to sleep (there’s a whole story about how we gave up our reservation for a family in need, but we don’t need to belabor the point that we’re all really good guys), we ate, and then spent most of the time laughing at Mike describing in detail their adventures from Georgia to the Blackhills of Dakota. My favorite story out of all the hilarious stories he told involved Hell’s Angels at a gas station and Mike almost becoming the kidnapped bride of a gnarly angel… on a black harley, with beard and a black vest, and …
The next day Cmack and I went back to Rushmore and Crazy Horse with Mike and Greg, who would have just sped by all the pretty sites if us two snails didn’t slow them down and cool them off and get em to stop and take some pictures …
…and then we rode out to Devil’s Tower, Wyoming… where after we met everyone in Aladdin, population 12… and took some pictures and hugged some hugs we abruptly parted ways; Cmack slowly back east to New York, the two amigos “like their hair was on fire and their bikes stolen from those horny Hell’s Angels” speeding down to Georgia, and I home to Oregon. With every mile I became more determined to find that school that could teach middle aged men who had no business on motorcycles how to become great at riding motorcycles. If not great, at least proficient. If not proficient at least FASTER THAN THOSE TWO GEORGIA GOOFBALLS! Yellow lines blurring under my feet, I became even more certain that one of the best things guys can do is ride a couple thousand miles just to have one dinner together, laugh a lot together, see new things together. And of course, to have the prayers and the hugs, too. Certainly the prayers and the hugs. Something was about to happen that would make that part more important to me than everything else.
These are great brother. You going to do the grass clumps on the Dragon’s tale?! Windmills on the Appalachian trails? Can’t wait for the chapter on Keith Code! Captain Obvious
Well……………actually, it was late in the tax season, when I’m most vulnerable to buying a motorcycle, when Steve calls me to tell me about a Jackal being advertised by a guy in Atlanta who said it had belonged to Billy Joel and was signed by him. So, of course, I had to call the guy to see what the story was. I knew nothing about MG California’s but I was intrigued and ended up having about an hour long phone conversation with the guy. Kay and I were headed to the beach right after the 15th so we agreed I’d come see it when I got back the following week.
When I went to see the bike it was pretty pristine with about 10,000 miles on it and lots of cool extras. I took it for a ride and thought I was riding a tractor. But there was something about it that attracted me. The guy was asking $6,000 and dropped it right away to $5,500. It wasn’t worth that to me so I told him I didn’t want to pay more than I could get for it and offered him $4500 which he took right away. I ended up putting about 8,000 miles on that bike before the end of the year. I had a low-side on it that December and got all my money I had spent on it back between the insurance company and the sale of the bike. I gave a brother in our church a smoking good deal on it. He has it to this day. It’s now got about 33,000 miles on it. Goyo.
To clarify, the “kidnapping” story is actually a murder story:
Just as Greg and I were nearing our destination…and, by the way, as you cross from the eastern border of South Dakota and travel southwest towards Sodom and Gomorrah (I mean, Sturgis), the population of cars dwindles steadily to nothing, while bikes proliferate and eventually become the sole presence on the road…we stopped at an authentic biker bar on the outskirts of that fabled city. As Greg and I sat on the porch sipping our caramel-macchiatos (double shot, of course, because we’re really tough bikers), up pulls a…how did Mango put it? Oh, yes. A… black harley, with a bearded dude in a black vest and black chaps. Strapped tenuously to his sissy bar is a package wrapped in what appears to be fragments of trash can liners, bound together with duct tape and baling wire. The package is roughly the shape of a human body, perched on the bike in much the same position as a passenger would be. Never one to miss an opportunity to shoot my mouth off and make an inappropriate joke that might offend someone and get me killed, I called out, “Hey, is that your mother-in-law?” Without hesitating or batting an eye, with a completely expressionless face (as if casually speaking about the weather or the price of tomatoes at the Piggly Wiggly), the dude coldly replies, “Yeah. I killed the b*itch” (by the way, in case you didn’t know, the “*” is meant to mitigate the force of the swearword. I don’t make spelling errors). At that point, my testicles receded into my pelvis in fear. Greg, on the other hand, offered to exchange cell phone numbers so that we could get together with him once we got to Sturgis. I think Greg was impressed with the guy’s taste in clothes, and his obvious artistic sensibilities.
Now, get to the part where there were “no rooms in the Inn,” so to speak, and C, Mango, Goyo and I seized the opportunity to move into that Honeymoon Suite!! Gonzo.