My friends back in Michigan may not believe it, but springtime isn’t far away. Here in Colorado we’ve already flirted with 70 degrees a few times, which means I may have to pull the cover off the motorcycle before too long.
Wow, there’s a shock…an old guy with a motorcycle. Don’t look now, but it appears the Hell’s Angels have been muscled out by the AARP. These days Bike Week in Sturgis more closely resembles an episode of the Golden Girls than it does Sons of Anarchy. You know it’s bad when the biggest drug problem at the event is trafficking in unprescribed Flomax.
Chalk it up to brilliant marketing. They tell us the cure for a spreading paunch and receding hairline is sixteen-hundred cubic centimeters of thundering metal between our legs. And judging by the number of sixty-somethings walking around in ass-less chaps and American flag dew-rags, we believe them. Once stricken by Peter Fonda syndrome, former bankers and insurance salesmen are transformed into geriatric rebels without a cause, straddling twenty-thousand dollar cruisers, their silver locks fluttering in the wind. If you buy into the Harley-Davidson mystique, a motorcycle (along with thousands of dollars worth of logo-splashed accessories) is nothing short of the fountain of youth, making it so that even old fat guys with moobs and hairy backs can get laid. A couple of knife tattoos, a leather vest, and you’re ready to roll. Don’t get too excited, though – it turns out having your taint in such close proximity to all that pulsating horsepower still isn’t enough to raise the dead, so don’t forget to pack the Viagra.
Now, I’m not simply jumping on the bandwagon here…I’ve actually done this before. I owned a Honda 350 back in an age before designer saddle-bags and fairings with 6-speaker sound systems, but it may as well have been a Big Wheel compared to these modern-day behemoths. Bikers used to travel in packs for the protection that came with having a few buddies around who knew how to swing a crow bar, but now it’s more for road service…if one of them drops their bike, it will take 5 grown men and a gorilla to get it upright again.
And, no, I don’t own a Harley…I figure the extra money I’m saving will come in handy when my next of kin are picking out a casket for me, after I lose control of my “steed” on a mountain road because of my reduced hand-to-eye coordination and go flying off a switchback into oblivion.
At the moment I’m driving an old-school Suzuki…very old school. But if I’m ever in the market for a new bike, I plan to avoid anything that looks like the space shuttle or, say, a praying mantis. I’m just having a mid-life crisis, okay, not auditioning for a role in the next Batman movie. No, it should be tastefully low-key…just a few flames painted on the gas tank. Or maybe a pair of women – draped only in bandoleers and chains – throwing lightning bolts from their breasts as they stand on either side of a giant human skull that has bloody snakes emerging from the eye sockets, but that’s it.
The thing is, it’s really not about the bike. Hell, Marlon Brando could have been riding a tricycle in The Wild One – it didn’t matter. He was a bad-ass, even wearing that “Captain and Tennille” sailor hat. Your grandpa riding his chrome-laden hog with luggage racks and pavement lights, not so much.
Thankfully, there’s an easy way to fix the problem – stop making electric starters standard equipment. There’s no way grandpa will be able to kick-start that crotch-rocket after his hip-replacement surgery.