Cameraderie, Group, Club, Gang, MC,
From time to time we toss those phrases around to describe some of the reasons we ride.
We join up to be with others who are supposed to be like us.
We ride because we think differently than the rest of society.
At least that is what we tell ourselves.
I’m beginning to think not.
I just came back from a week on the road to Canada and Northern Vermont.
Along the way there were tons of riders.
I don’t want to call them Bikers because I don’t know them and I don’t want to reward them with that mantle.
Granted during this trip, I was in a cage.
Granted during this trip, I didn’t look like I do when I ride.
Sneakers and shorts, not boots and jeans were the uniform of the day.
And when I approached riders as I normally would, with the question: “So, how are the roads?”, my question was met with either silence (take that as being ignored) or just a single word of “fine”.
At some point, I figured that if I was wearing the whole boots, jeans and leather thing, I would have gotten a whole different reply.
Then I tried it the other way.
And you know what?
I still got the silent treatment or a one word answer.
That’s when I started to really consider this concept of Biker community, and thought more about if it’s real or not.
I know a dozen or so people who live on bikes 95% of the time.
And that seems to have been good for two decades or so now. But as I reach out more and more to other Bikers to introduce them to my work, it is meant with a stone wall.
I wonder if they are just shy and don’t want to be bothered.
But then when talking to them at a bar or event or party, there is also this whole issue about what type of bike someone rides. It used to be Harley or nothing. If you rode a import crusier, or even a Victory, you were looked down on.
Now, it’s come down to what kind of Harley you ride.
What the fuck do you mean what kind?
Oh, now to be anointed as acceptable, someone has to ride a certain kind of Harley or they are not part of the brotherhood.
This does come from the years and years of posers buying the bikes that Milwaukee presents to them, dressing like us, going to corporate sponsored and vendored “rallys” around the country, created solely for the purpose of selling them more shit that makes them look like us.
They are not us.
But now, I’m finding we’re not us either.
And that’s distressing.
I’m getting disenchanted with this notion of Brotherhood.
I fear it’s doesn’t exist anymore.
It did once, but I don’t feel it out on the road anymore.
Riding a Harley once meant that you were part of a sub-section of society.
Now, there are sub-sections within the sub-section and it’s getting tougher and tougher to experience that feeling of belonging.
In Canada, there is high reverence paid to the HD brand. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more people wearing the words Harley Davisdson emblazoned on nearly every and any article of clothing.
Their bikes were bigger and shinier than any I’ve ever seen in the lower 48. Big Baggers, these were.
Definitely posers. Probably got off their jobs as Nurses, Dentists, Lawyers, Accountants, Media Salespeople and ran home to pull on their HD branded underwear and pull the cover off their 2011 Heritage Softail and head down to the local four star restaurant for dinner.
They are not Bikers.
They are consumers.
They do not get the concept of brotherhood; that is, unless Milwaukee can brand it HD.
Of course, which they do with dealer centered HOGs.
I don’t belong to a HOG.
I never will.
That’s not brotherhood; that’s manufacturer manipulated behavior under the guise of brotherhood.
That’s a corporation working to insure future growth selling the concept of being different.
But not too different, otherwise you won’t buy HD brand embossed toilet paper.
And if you do buy it, well that’s great, because then you belong.
It’s time to focus on being real again.
It’s time to be the identity that you want to be again.
Is it part of the brotherhood?
I’m not so sure.