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  1. #1
    Senior Member  The First 100 S.E.R.E.'s Avatar
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    Stories and Laughs in the saddle



    Highway Handshake

    Painting by Dawn Holmes

    The Wave


    By Tom Ruttan


    CYCLE CANADA - APRIL 2002

    The bike's passenger seat swept up just enough that I could see over my father's shoulders. That seat was my throne. My dad and I traveled many back roads, searching for the ones we had never found before. Traveling these roads just to see where they went. Never in a rush. Just be home for supper.

    I remember wandering down a back road with my father, sitting on my throne watching the trees whiz by, feeling the rumble of our bike beneath us like a contented giant cat. A motorcycle came over a hill toward us and as it went by, my father threw up his gloved clutch hand and gave a little wave. The other biker waved back with the same friendly swing of his left wrist.

    I tapped my father on his shoulder, which was our signal that I wanted to say something. He cocked his helmeted ear back slightly while keeping his eyes ahead.

    I yelled, "Do we know him?" "What?" he shouted.

    "You waved to him. Who was it?" "I don't know. Just another guy on a bike. So I waved."

    "How come?" "You just do. It's important."

    Later, when we had stopped for chocolate ice cream, I asked why it was important to wave to other bikers. My father tried to explain how the wave demonstrated comradeship and a mutual understanding of what it was to enjoy riding a motorcycle. He looked for the words to describe how almost all bikers struggled with the same things like cold, rain, heat, car drivers who did not see them, but how riding remained an almost pure pleasure.

    I was young then and I am not sure that I really understood what he was trying to get across, but .
    It was a beginning. Afterward, I always waved along with my father when we passed other bikers.

    I remember one cold October morning when the clouds were heavy and dark, giving us another clue that winter was rolling in from just over the horizon. My father and I were warm inside our car as we headed to a friend's home. Rounding a comer, we saw a motorcycle parked on the shoulder of the road. Past the bike, we saw the rider walking through the ditch, scouring the long grasses crowned with a touch of frost. We pulled over and backed up to where the bike stood.

    I asked Dad, "Who's that?" "Don't know," he replied. "But he seems to have lost something. Maybe we can give him a hand."

    We left the car and wandered through the tall grass of the ditch to the biker. He said that he had been pulling on his gloves as he rode and he had lost one. The three of us spent some time combing the ditch, but all we found were two empty cans and a plastic water bottle.

    My father turned and headed back to our car and I followed him. He opened the trunk and threw the cans and the water bottle into a small cardboard box that we kept for garbage. He rummaged through various tools, oil containers and windshield washer fluid until he found an old crumpled pair of brown leather gloves. Dad straightened them out and handed them to me to hold. He continued looking until he located an old catalog. I understood why my dad had grabbed the gloves. I had no idea what he was going to do with the catalog. We headed back to the biker who was still walking the ditch.

    My dad said, "Here's some gloves for you. And I brought you a catalog as well." "Thanks," he replied. I really appreciate it." He reached into his hip pocket and withdrew a worn black wallet. "Let me give you some money for the gloves," he said as he slid some bills out.

    "No thanks," my dad replied as I handed the rider the gloves. "They're old and not worth anything anyway." The biker smiled. "Thanks a lot." He pulled on the old gloves and then he unzipped his jacket. I watched as my father handed him the catalog and the biker slipped it inside his coat. He jostled his jacket around to get the catalog sitting high and centered under his coat and zipped it up. I remember nodding my head at the time, finally making sense of why my dad had given him the catalog. It would keep him bit warmer. After wishing the biker well, my father and I left him warming up his bike.

    Two weeks later, the biker came to our home and returned my father's gloves. He had found our address on the catalog. Neither my father nor the biker seemed to think that my father stopping at the side of the road for a stranger and giving him a pair of gloves, and that stranger making sure that the gloves were returned, were events at all out of the ordinary for people who rode motorcycles. For me, it was another subtle lesson.

    It was spring the next year when I was sitting high on my throne, watching the farm fields slip by when I saw two bikes coming towards us. As they rumbled past, both my father and I waved, but the other bikers kept their sunglasses locked straight ahead and did not acknowledge us. I remember thinking that they must have seen us because our waves were too obvious to miss. Why hadn't they waved back? I thought all bikers waved to one another.

    I patted my father on his shoulder and yelled, "How come they didn't wave to us?" "Don't know. Sometimes they don't."

    I remember feeling very puzzled. Why wouldn't someone wave back? Later that summer, I turned 12 and learned how to ride a bike with a clutch. I spent many afternoons on a country laneway beside our home, kicking and kicking to start my father's '55 BSA. When it would finally sputter to a start, my concentration would grow to a sharp focus as I tried to let out the clutch slowly while marrying it with just enough throttle to bring me to a smooth takeoff. More often, I lurched and stumbled forward while trying to keep the front wheel straight and remember to pick my feet up. A few feet farther down the lane, I would sigh and begin kicking again.

    A couple of years later, my older brother began road racing, and I became a racetrack rat. We spent many weekends wandering to several tracks in Ontario-Harewood, Mosport and eventually Shannonville. These were the early years of two-stroke domination, of Kawasaki green and 750 two-stroke triples, of Yvon Duhamel's cat-and-mouse games and the artistry of Steve Baker.

    Eventually, I started to pursue interests other than the race track. I got my motorcycle license and began wandering the back roads on my own. I found myself stopping along side roads if I saw a rider sitting alone, just checking to see if I could be of help. And I continued to wave to each biker I saw.

    But I remained confused as to why some riders never waved back. It left me with almost a feeling of rejection, as if I were reaching to shake someone's hand but they kept their arm hanging by their side.

    I began to canvass my friends about waving. I talked with people I met at bike events, asking what they thought. Most of the riders told me they waved to other motorcyclists and often initiated the friendly air handshake as they passed one another.

    I did meet some riders, though, who told me that they did not wave to other riders because they felt that they were different from other bikers. They felt that they were "a breed apart." One guy told me in colorful language that he did not "wave to no wusses.'' He went on to say that his kind of bikers were tough, independent, and they did not require or want the help of anyone, whether they rode a bike or not.

  2. #2
    Senior Member  The First 100 S.E.R.E.'s Avatar
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    I suspected that there were some people who bought a bike because they wanted to purchase an image of being tougher, more independent, a not-putting-up-with-anyone's-crap kind of person, but I did not think that this was typical of most riders.

    People buy bikes for different reasons. Some will be quick to tell you what make it is, how much they paid for it, or how fast it will go. Brand loyalty is going to be strong for some people whether they have a Harley, Ford, Sony, Nike or whatever. Some people want to buy an image and try to purchase another person's perception of them. But it can't be done. They hope that it can, but it can't.

    Still, there is a group of people who ride bikes who truly are a "breed apart." They appreciate both the engineering and the artistry in the machines they ride. Their bikes become part of who they are and how they define themselves to themselves alone.

    They don't care what other people think. They don't care if anyone knows how much they paid for their bike or how fast it will go. The bike means something to them that nothing else does. They ride for themselves and not for anyone else. They don't care whether anyone knows they have a bike. They may not be able to find words to describe what it means to ride, but they still know.
    They might not be able to explain what it means to feel the smooth acceleration and the strength beneath them. But they understand.

    These are the riders who park their bikes, begin to walk away and then stop. They turn and took back. They see something when they look at their bikes that you might not. Something more complex, something that is almost secret, sensed rather than known. They see their passion. They see a part of themselves.

    These are the riders who understand why they wave to other motorcyclists. They savor the wave.
    It symbolizes the connection between riders, and if they saw you and your bike on the side of the road, they would stop to help and might not ask your name. They understand what you are up against every time you take your bike on the road-the drivers that do not see you, the ones that cut you off or tailgate you, the potholes that hide in wait. The rain. The cold.

    I have been shivering and sweating on a bike for more than 40 years. Most of the riders that pass give me a supportive wave. I love it when I see a younger rider on a "crotch rocket" scream past me and wave. New riders carrying on traditions.

    And I will continue in my attempts to get every biker just a little closer to one another with a simple wave of my gloved clutch hand. And if they do not wave back when I extend my hand into the breeze as I pass them, I will smile a little more. They may be a little mistaken about just who is a "breed apart."

  3. #3
    Senior Member  The First 100 S.E.R.E.'s Avatar
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    The Legend of The Bell

    By Gadget Man Manson
    (Note: Enhanced From The Thunder Press Editorial)

    Have you noticed that small bell on some people’s motorcycle and wondered why it was there? You can find them in America on most of the Harley Davidson’s ridden by seasoned riders. It can be found low on the bike close to the road, which has some importance in itself. It’s more than just decoration-it has a specific function.

    As we all know, life has many mysteries that have no apparent solutions. One of these is Evil Road Spirits. The legend is said to come from the orient where Evil Road Spirits plagued travelers with their mischief. Today, these little gremlins can attach themselves to your bike. They love to ride. They’re also responsible for most of your bike’s problems. Sometimes your turn signals refuse to work, or the battery goes dead, the clutch needs adjustment, or any of several hundred other things go wrong. Lose bolts and parts falling off the bike while on the road are just a few of the signs that you have an Evil Road Spirit.

    It is said that Road Spirits can’t live in the presence of a bell. The legend has it that they get trapped in the hollow of the bell. Or that their hearing is supersensitive and the constant ringing of the bell and/or the confined space drives them insane. They lose their grip and eventually fall to the roadway. The legend has it that they have so much evil energy that when they fall to the roadway they cause potholes when they hit. This is evidence that the bell has served its purpose. In the orient these bells were placed on the lowest part of the cart so that when the Evil Spirit falls from the vehicle, it falls directly on the roadway, and cannot bounce and reattach itself to another part of the vehicle or someone else’s vehicle.

    If you have picked up a bell of your own, the magic will work but only to a fraction of its ability. It is then essential that a friend or acquaintance give you a bell. The power of the bell is even more enhanced if a well-seasoned traveler gives it to you. In this way the power of the bell is doubled. Part of the power enhancement comes from the experience of the traveler that gives it to you. Some of the givers travel experience is transferred with the bell and provides additional security to your travels. It is said to have the effect of preventing rain or providing excellent road conditions. That is why a more experienced traveler giving you a bell, has more power than a less experience friend or traveling companion. But whether from an experienced traveler, or just a buddy, friend, or acquaintance, it is agreed, that having a bell is a must for any traveler.

    So, if you have a friend that doesn’t have a bell, why not be the person to give them one? It’s a nice feeling for the recipient to know you personally cared. And when you do, pass along the Legend Of The Bell. In this way they will understand it’s importance, and will pass the good fortune and safe travels to others.

  4. #4
    Senior Member  The First 100 S.E.R.E.'s Avatar
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    The Legend of the Guardian® Bell

    Many years ago, on a cold December night, a crusty old biker was returning from a trip to Mexico with his saddlebags filled with toys and other assorted trinkets for the kids at a group home near where he worked.

    As he rode along that night thinking how lucky he had been in life, having a loving riding partner that understood his need to roam the highways and to his trusty old pan that hadn’t let him down once in the many years they had shared the road together.

    Well about 40 miles north of the border, in the high desert, lurked a small group of notorious little critters known as road gremlins. You know, the ones who always leave little obstacles like, one shoe, boards, and pieces of old tires on the road, and also dig those dreaded potholes for bikers to run over and crash, thus giving the road gremlins a chance to rejoice over their acts of evil.

    Well, as the lone wolf of a biker rounded a curve that moonlit night, the gremlins ambushed him, causing him to crash to the asphalt and skid before coming to a stop next to one of his saddlebags that had broken free. As he lay there, unable to move, the road gremlins made their way towards him. Well, this biker, not being one to give up, started throwing things at the gremlins as they approached him. Finally, with nothing else to throw but a bell, he started ringing it in hopes to scare off the dirty little gremlins.

    About a half a mile away, camped in the desert, were two bikers sitting around the campfire talking about their day’s ride, and the freedom of the wind blowing in their faces as they rode across this vast country. In the stillness of the night air they heard what sounded to them like church bells ringing, and upon investigating, found the old biker lying along the roadside with the gremlins about to get him. Needless to say, being part of the biker brotherhood, they preceded to ward off the gremlins until the last ran off into the night.

    Being grateful to the two bikers, the old road dog offered to pay them for their help, but as all true bikers do, they refused to accept any type of payment from him. Not being one to let a good deed go unnoticed, the old biker cut two pieces of leather from his saddlebags tassels and tied a bell to each one. He then placed them on each of the biker’s motorcycles, as near to the ground as possible. The tired, old road warrior then told the two travelers that with those bells placed on their bikes, they would be protected from the road gremlins and that if ever in trouble, just ring the bell and a fellow biker will come to their aid.

    So, whenever you see a biker with a bell, you know that he has been blessed with the most important thing in life—friendship from a fellow biker.
    The Purpose of the Guardian® Bell

    Many of us have heard the story about Evil Road Spirits. They are little gremlins that live on your bike. They love to ride, and they’re also responsible for most of your bike’s problems. Sometimes your turn signals refuse to work; your battery goes dead, the clutch needs adjustment, or any of several hundred things that can go wrong. These problems are caused by Evil Road Spirits.

    Evil Road Spirits can’t live in the presence of the bell, because they get trapped in the hollow of the bell. Among other things, their hearing is supersensitive, so the constant ringing of the bell and the confined space drives them insane. They lose their grip and eventually fall to the roadway. Have you ever wondered how potholes are formed? The bell has served its purpose.

    If you pick up a Guardian® Bell of your own, the magic will work, but if your bell is given to you, the power is doubled, and you know that somewhere you have a special friend helping to look after you.

    So, if you have a friend who doesn’t have a bell, why not give them one? It’s a nice feeling for the recipient to know you care. The bell, plus a good preventive maintenance program by the bikes owner, will help eliminate Evil Road Spirits.
    Polishing the Guardian® Bell

    It has been a tradition among some of us for a long time to attach a brass bell to our left swing arm, to remember our brothers and sisters who have gone down riding.

    It’s a small thing, but the reason a brass bell is chosen is that, as we ride, it gets dirty and tarnished. Every time we get down to wash and polish it, we are reminded of friends lost, and our thoughts turn to the meaning of being in the wind.

    As we ride and hear the bell ring, we know that our brothers and sisters are riding with us, and how easy it would be to join them with a single mistake.

    And maybe, just maybe, the next time a situation comes up; they will be there to help us...as long as we remember them by polishing the bell.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    great postings and articles, i too always wave even if the other guy does not. it is about being on two wheels and enjoying one of the freedoms we fought for.
    " There is no excuse to go about your business in a half-hearted way. We are only alive for a finite number of days, and we're poorer for every hour that we spend in soft-hearted pursuits."

    Dino

  6. #6
    Senior Member  The First 100 S.E.R.E.'s Avatar
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    Ever get mad at those who cut you off? You know, those who refuse to pull over, flip you the bird, or otherwise just piss you off? Well, here is the ultimate complete totally contained system for revenge!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YM7Vi2ZqUWo

  7. #7
    Senior Member  The First 100 S.E.R.E.'s Avatar
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    USAF

    A Poem Worth Reading



    He was getting old and paunchy
    and his hair was falling fast,
    and he sat around the Legion,
    telling stories of the past.

    Of a war that he once fought in
    and the deeds that he had done,
    In his exploits with his buddies;
    they were heroes, every one.

    And 'tho sometimes to his neighbors
    his tales became a joke,
    all his buddies listened quietly
    for they knew where of he spoke.

    But we'll hear his tales no longer,
    for ol' Bob has passed away,
    and the world's a little poorer
    for a Soldier died today.

    He won't be mourned by many,
    just his children and his wife.
    for he lived an ordinary,
    very quiet sort of life.


    He held a job and raised a family,
    going quietly on his way;
    and the world won't note his passing,
    'tho a Soldier died today.


    When politicians leave this earth,
    their bodies lie in state,
    while thousands note their passing,
    and proclaim that they were great.



    Papers tell of their life stories
    from the time that they were young,
    but the passing of a Soldier
    goes unnoticed, and unsung.


    Is the greatest contribution
    to the welfare of our land,
    some jerk who breaks his promise
    and cons his fellow man?


    Or the ordinary fellow
    who in times of war and strife,
    goes off to serve his country
    and offers up his life?


    The politician's stipend
    and the style in which he lives,
    are often disproportionate,
    to the service that he gives.


    While the ordinary Soldier,
    who offered up his all,
    is paid off with a medal
    and perhaps a pension, small.



    It is not the politicians
    with their compromise and ploys,
    who won for us the freedom
    that our country now enjoys.


    Should you find yourself in danger,
    with your enemies at hand,
    would you really want some cop-out,
    with his ever waffling stand?

    Or would you want a Soldier--
    his home, his country, his kin,
    just a common Soldier,
    who would fight until the end.

    He was just a common Soldier,
    and his ranks are growing thin,
    but his presence should remind us
    we may need his like again.


    For when countries are in conflict,
    we find the Soldier's part,
    is to clean up all the troubles
    that the politicians start.


    If we cannot do him honour
    while he's here to hear the praise,
    then at least let's give him homage
    at the ending of his days.

    Perhaps just a simple headline
    in the paper that might say:


    "OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING,
    A SOLDIER DIED TODAY."

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