Feed the Hobby, not the Obsession

By the time you read this, Sturgis will be either roaring through the last weekend or the cleanup crews will be working overtime. Even though, for most of us as bikers, Sturgis represents the chance (albeit one we don’t often take) to go and hang out with half a million kindred spirits, the truth of the matter is, most of us like motorcycles, we aren’t obsessed with them.

Somewhere along the road of life, we got an idea in our heads of what fun looked like and a part of us believed it was on the back of 900 pounds of Milwaukee’s best.

What’s funny to me is this – in our collective community, we all get so ruffled about what a biker should and shouldn’t be.

Think of “the” rider in your head and you’ll get images like:

  • Black leather
  • Tattoos
  • Wraparound glasses
  • Engineer boots
  • Facial hair
  • A haircut that is either “too short” or “too long”

Change just one or two of those and suddenly you end up with a “weekend warrior” or a poser and Heaven forbid if that rider is on a metric bike or one that doesn’t look like a V-Twin. What about the guy that has all of that but is only learning to ride and has a smaller motor on an older bike?

Give me a break – if you ride, you’re my friend.

What really pisses me off is the almost sophomoric ease at which bikers with far less experience seem to judge anyone that doesn’t “check out” based on the above-referenced list.

My Old Lady doesn’t like facial hair, so my beard is long gone.

It’s over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in South Georgia in the summer, so there are plenty of times that I’ve ridden without my six pound coat.

I’ve worn the same haircut since I graduated the Academy in 1990.

And if I hop on the scoot to run to the store and I’m not in full regalia, some schmuck on a brand-new Indian looks at me like I’m an idiot – and then shows his own ignorance by struggling with the clutch at the light.

I guess what I’m getting at is that we are all brothers on the road – united by our own independence. Why get your ass on your shoulders because my idea of riding is different from yours? I’m willing to bet that we’ve all got our own stories of meeting riders who were everything from neurosurgeons to ne’er-do-wells and in that, it didn’t matter. The millionaire rode with the minimum wage earner and nobody cared who had what in their bank account.

For all of you who didn’t go to Sturgis – I’m with you. It’s a spectacle and one that you probably should see at least once as a rider. But in that, I think, after all these years on the road, it’s also wise to remember that we all chose to ride and, like a kid in a swimming pool, each of us has to figure out how deep to go.

None of us has to worry about how deep anyone else is. Feed the hobby, not the obsession.

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