Sunday, June 21, 2009

Motorcycle Week

This past week was motorcycle week over to Weir's Beach in Laconia, New Hampshire. Umpteen thousands of crazed bikers gather on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee to drink beer, show off their tits and fondle chromed encrusted machinery that has no other purpose but to look good and feel good at 2500 rpms through those favorite jeans only pulled out for special occasions like this.

I live just 35 miles or so as the crow flies from the normally staid and conservative Weir's Beach. Living on the major conduit there from southern Maine, I have had the pleasure, no - strike that - I have had to endure thousands of Bikers cruising through my small town either going to get drunk for a week or coming home after being drunk for a week. Convoys of Harley's, Choppers, rice rockets, and even mopeds numbering in the hundreds have passed by my bike shop. Exhausts so loud, conversations indoors became shouting matches until the numerous processions had passed by.

Don't get me wrong. I understand the draw. I can relate to the need to let it all hang out. I can, or could party as hard as the next guy. And all that stuff is fine. What I don't get is, why are straight pipes with not one iota of muffling considered cool? About the dumbest upgrade I can think of would be to turn an already noisy machine into an ear splitting, brain numbing stupidly louder machine. And then to ride with 50 other stupidly loud machines hundreds of miles in a group. I just do not get it. Didn't get it even back in the day when I owned motorcycles and enjoyed the taste of an occasional fat June bug between my teeth. No more blatant and obnoxious example of in your face pollution than a Harley running a too lean fuel mixture through straight pipes at 50 mph. It's just painful to experience. Physically painful.

The motorcycle rally at Laconia (Weir's Beach) is the oldest continuous event of it's kind in the nation. The first rally was held in 1917. Back then the cool biker dudes and dudettes called themselves "The Gypsies". I wonder if that first crowd had mullets also? Seems they are required doo's now if you are going to play with the big dogs. Also required is that every biker chick must wear a bikini top for those "show us your tits" moments that crowd seems to get off on. You know they are feeling no pain when they cruise around town by foot or on their bikes with a 16 ounce Bud Long Neck stuffed deep in their cleavage while sporting Bud bottle cap pasties. Ouch.

So let's flip this around some. I have imparted my low opinion of loud motorcycles and how I just don't understand the attraction. I have shown extreme condescension for the hairstyles of choice and the over the top need to expose body parts to anyone whether they are interested or not. I have lifted my nose and sniffed as only one trying to be snobbish can sniff.

And then I looked at myself in the mirror. Let's see. I still have mud all over my legs from riding my mountain bike in the woods 10 hours ago in the rain with 7 other crazed riders. I consider the leg burning pain of a steep hill climb as almost a sensual experience. I like nothing better than cresting a hill out of breath with eyes bulging wondering if I will puke this time or not. I often go into stores wearing skin tight lycra and spandex outerwear stretched to it's limit around a body no would care to look at. Instead of picking bugs out of my teeth, I often pick leaves and other forest flotsam out of my mouth. And my sport of choice is populated primarily by males. No biker chicks hanging off my rig wearing Bud caps as pasties. So who is cool and who is not? Hmm. At least I am quiet. Nothing but the sound of bike parts rattling over the roots and rocks and the raspy sound of an aging set of lungs forcing themselves to limits past what many would consider sane. That alone makes it worth it.

I am sure the bikers have similar feelings. Their chosen recreational release may seem foreign and make no sense to me, but I would guess that when they see me pop out of the woods onto the shoulder of Rte 109, they think, "Dumbass - get a motor for that thing! And while you are at it, make it a loud motor."

Keep it 'tween the Ditches...................

(777 / 1191)


Middle Ditch said...

Mmmm, bikers eh? I do like the sound of the old BMW. Reminds me of childhood as my dad used to ride one and I would sit in between my mum and dad whenever we would go for a ride.

Otherwise no passion here. Give me a push bike any day now. As you said, nice and quiet.

PipeTobacco said...

Mr. MaCrum:

I do admire the look of the bikes, and have a grudging respect for the "out-there" mentality of the partying of the bikers themselves. But, like you, the noise is beyond my understanding. In the few feeble moments I have contemplated getting a bike (very few), I always envisioned getting one with the quietest muffler system possible... to be akin to the "anti-biker" in that regard... although the other avenues I would be ok with adopting on occasion.


Demeur said...

I have to say I'm quite neutral on the subject. Having not ridden a pedal bike since 14 for fear of instant coronary and the complexity of the 38 speed high tech graphite framed monsters.. well you get the picture. Motorcycles don't do much for me either having witnessed one rider T bone a car at high speed, flying over the handle bars and the snapping sound of his femur in multiple places when he landed.

El Cerdo Ignatius said...

A guy I know in Florida has a couple of motorcycles, and rides them without wearing a helmet. A helmet, he says, interferes with his ability to hear the traffic around him. I'd agree with his reasoning if his Harley wasn't so ear-splittingly loud.

Bill said...

So when you hear the sound of fireworks this weekend, ask yourself this. Should fireworks have mufflers? Point being that every time a straight-pipe Harley is fired up, homage is being paid to all those Americans who have made the greatest sacrifice, dying for America's oil lust. Where's thye patriotism?

goplacia said...

Not a fan of bike week. It's not because of the motorcyles, its the yahoos on them. I remember when I lived in Wolfeboro, bike week meant a week of terror on the roads for everyone not on a motor bike.

While riding my bicycle down hill just north of Wolfeboro I found myself surrounded by a group of motor bikes at 45. One motor cyclist in a move that probably was influenced by alcohol tried to kick me from the seat of his bike at 45mph. After the motorcyclist missed knocking me down, I threw my water bottle at him catching him in the back with it. I thought the group of bikers would have left me alone but they didn't. They raced ahead and then towards me at what felt like 70mph, throwing rocks at me. I had to hide out in a convenience store and get a police escort 20 miles home. Bike week is a bummer in my honest opinion.