Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Religious Right of Motorcycling

One can even argue that Harley-Davidson is a religion unto itself.

If you compare Catholicism to The Motor Company, it's just as fanatical and pagan...

  • The Vatican vs Milwaukee, WI
  • Catholic Diocese and Cathedral.  HOG Chapter and Harley Dealer.
  • Catholics wear crucifixes.  Harley riders wear H-D symbols.
  • Catholics pay penance.  Harley riders pay Gap Insurance.
  • Catholics collect rosaries.  Harley riders collect dealer t-shirts.
  • The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Uncle Sam, Willie G. Davidson, and Jax Teller.
But the truth is that anything can be a religion.  You just have to have a book, a leader to rally around, some elders to preach the masses, and some fanatical followers.

I look across the world of motorcycling and wonder how much am I into a religion.  Albeit not Harley-Davidson, at least not anymore.  But a two-wheeled religion in general, kinda like how Catholicism is part of a larger umbrella of Christianity.

Countless riders across countless motorcycle forums refer to car drivers as "cagers" or "idiots" as if somehow they're less skilled and less observant on the road.  Riders often speak of the "brotherhood" as if we're all closer together just because we all ride motorcycles.  I mean, you never see a biker waving his hand at a cager.

But because we all ride motorcycles, somehow that makes us all "in it together", like some kind of war we're battling against the four-wheeled forces of evil.

Yet when we're all getting our fill at the local biker hangout, riders don't seem to want to wave their hand at each other anymore.  It's only when we spot each other on the road that we take the time to acknowledge one another.

And then we knock each other for riding Metric versus American, cruiser versus sport bike, motorcycle versus scooter.

I've never said anything against riders who go ATGATT, so why do they label me "squid" just because I ride without a jacket?

I guess it's like how Baptists knock Mormons, or how born-again Christians knock Catholics.  All of Jesus' followers can't seem to see the forest for the trees, being more concerned with how much more "holy" they are than others.

Harley riders often chide me because I don't ride a "real motorcycle".  Well, I used to ride a "real motorcycle" for many years, until I got so tired and poor from having to repair the damn thing.  Going on nearly three years, my Honda has been reliable, and that speaks volumes for me.

wynola road motorcycle
Wynola Rd, Wynola, CA
I wouldn't so much mind thinking of other motorcycle riders and even motorcycle bloggers as my "brothers", except I just never grew up with the feeling of being part of a family.  Even in the company of friends, and in various riding clubs, I've felt alone.  I like to think of motorcycle riders as people who don't otherwise conform to society or "play well with others", and just haunt the highways like ghosts who watch the world at 70mph, and never put down roots anywhere.

The fact is that if I met another rider at a coffee shop, I sit down with him or her and have a good time trading war stories from the road.  I'd actually like to assemble for a meeting of the minds and a few good pints with local riders.

But being an active part of some group always seems to evade me.  Sure, I've put down good faith efforts into the riding clubs I was in, as well as the motorcycle meetup group I ran, but that never got me any feeling of family, just a lot of headaches and schoolyard squabbling.

As soon as it starts to taste like Kool-Aid, I just want to spit it out.

So to all my motorcycle riding brothers and sisters out there, forgive me when I don't eschew the notion that cagers are idiots, or if I don't feel like waving back.  I don't want to argue over American versus Metric and I don't want to hear that I'm going to die if I don't wear ATGATT.

I just want to be free to do what I want.

6 comments:

  1. You echo in my head! Joining a "group" pretty much means you gotta "conform" to their values and rules. Where is the individual freedom in that?

    I'm on the same road about most of that as well... the argufyin' about which is the best Mc... which is the best "way", the "Best" anything, blah blah blah. it's wearisome nonsense. It's only "Best" for the person talking. size 9 boots don't fit everyone!

    I much prefer to get someone else's slant on something I thought I knew. Point me in a direction I hadn't happened to see on my own... Point out a sweet road I didn't find on a map...

    Don't tell me WHAT to think... just point out some options and let Me decide what fits.

    It's a much better road if your eyes, your ears and your MIND is open to see and to learn

    which from my point of view, is pretty much what you're sayin' huh? ;)

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  2. Well put. I've often said to my wife when she was on her way to church and I was going out for a ride, "You worship your way and I'll worship mine." Although I am not religious I've often felt that being religious offers just another way to come to terms with oneself and one's place on this earth. Well I often find the same thing in a long solitary ride (it doesn't even have to be Sunday), so the parallels are not that far fetched. And all the petty bickering just seems to reinforce it.
    By the way, you'll never hear me dis another person's ride - 2 wheels is 2 wheels. Period.

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  3. I'm with you on this, I ran to my own beat too. I don't fall into any stereotype out there either. I actually like solitary rides, lets me think, kind of a special mental state. I don't listen to music either when I'm riding, just the drone of the engine and the wind, prefer to enjoy that.

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  4. The only true brotherhood in the motorcycle world is the brotherhood between you and you're bike. The rest of it is bullshit.

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  5. I couldn't agree more. I grew up on the back of my Dad's Harley and he was M.C., hardcore, the kind that make grown men piss their pants with fear when they engulf a room. I know these "real bikers" having had them in my home from birth. My Dad's best friend O.D.'d on his way back from Mexico smuggling balloons for the M.C. So don't talk shit to me about what a "real biker" is.

    The biggest lesson I learned from these men that I worshiped as a child was to not judge others. This was the only true crime to them; they hated judgmental bastards.

    "Never judge anyone Baby Girl," my father would say. "Don't look at the outside of any human being and think you have the insight to know that person on the inside. You don't know shit. You don't even know yourself."

    I'm riding a Kawasaki and I know my Dad's in heaven proud as hell of me. He only want's me to be myself.

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  6. @Tina Walker

    You think those guys are "real bikers"? Seriously? Most of them don't even know some of the most basic concepts of biking.

    I find it funny how a lot of "bikers" think that spending most of their lives in prison for a club of degenerates who will eventually piss on their grave is worth it. Yeh, that's brotherhood alright...real solid brotherhood.

    Colors, patches and names are a sign of insecurity. When I'm riding along and I see a group of guys with their chests stuck out, chip on their shoulders and sporting the three piece, I hang my head and pray that they wake up. Problem is, those guys need these things in order to feel like someone wants them and to set fear in the people they fear the most, that is, the rest of society.

    The "bond" that is "brotherhood" is bullshit. There's brotherhood alright...it's called "brainwash". Just like religious groups and terrorist organizations, brainwash is the key to their cult like discipline. Think about it...most MC's are forced to ride a particular brand and size of bike...where's the freedom in that? If you're such an "outlaw" (AKA "real biker"), why let people tell you what kind of bike you can ride? I don't even think hypocritical is a good enough word to describe this submissive behavior.

    I know, you will probably shit on me for saying this stuff, and tell me that I should go say this to a 1%ers face. Fact is, I would gladly do so, as long as his buddies aren't there, and he drops his weapons at the door. One on one...no weapons or backup and most of those 1%ers would shit their f**king pants. It's f**king hilarious.

    Remember what Eddie Zero said in Hell Ride? The three B's:

    1. Bikers
    2. Brotherhood
    3. Bullshit


    ...and that's not too far off.

    And, I always find it funny how those big, bad, tough MC guys always want respect from others, but feel they don't have to return it to others. Again, just another hypocritical flaw in their so called flawless MC world. It's all bullshit. Those guys aren't real bikers.

    Get on your bike, ride it, have fun and be safe. That's a real biker.

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About Steve

San Diego, CA-based motorcycle rider who likes long road trips, old rustic bars, craft beer, and tough women. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, writing about the mysteries of life. (Read more...)