Snubbed and fired up.
I still have Steve's ST1300. My plan was to return it on Monday. The spare key that was supposed to let me into the garage wasn't there. Instead, a large orange cat greeted me with a series of long, irritated meows. I couldn't blame him. A food dish sat empty and echoing on the patio. There's a girl who's supposed to be feeding the cat. I think she's carrying the key with her instead of leaving it. Oh well, I'll just have to play with the bike for the rest of the week.
"Please don't throw me in that briar patch, Bre'r Bear!"
For once I'm looking forward to the rain. I want to see how the 1300's weather protection differs from the 1100. Since the hard core commuters out here deal with a lot of rain, it would be useful information.
This post was originally planned to be a ride report from the weekend trip. It's been postponed until the next time. Something happened to me on the ride home that set me off. It's not the first time it's happened. It won't be the last. This time it flat hit me wrong. We've finally reached that camel that broke my straw back. Wait. Strike that. Reverse that. The point's the same either way.
We woke up Sunday morning and looked out the window. Motorcyclists are much more tuned into the weather than a lot of folks, you know. First thing I usually do is go for the coffee pot. Right after I look out the window, of course. A light rain had fallen overnight. The good news was that the skies looked to be clearing. This post isn't about our ride home. It's about a particular incident during the trip. I'm usually pretty even tempered. Right now, though, I've got to let off some steam here. I have had enough!
I always wave at fellow riders. A lot of them wave back. I enjoy the brief moments of connection. There's no personalities to deal with. No individual quirks to like or not. It's just a couple of riders out enjoying what we do. Personally, I make no distinctions. There's other forums for that. Squids with minimal gear or fully outfitted touring riders get the same enthusiastic wave. The more I ride a variety of bikes the more I'm reminded that we're all enjoying the same things. The different bikes change our perspective just slightly but the big picture's the same for all of us. I make no judgements in these short encounters. The same can't be said of all riders it would seem.
Not all wave back. Most of those are riding a certain American brand of cruiser. OK, I'll just come out and say it. The vast majority of those who won't wave back are Harley riders. That was also the case with this particular encounter. My comments here are not a blanket stereotype. I don't believe in those. People should be sized up by their individual actions. Unfortunately, instead of deciding to be their own individuals, many people choose to join a group. Because of things lacking in themselves, they're willing to let the "Group" dictate to them what they do. What really gets me is that this "Group" is made up of individuals just as lacking as they are. It's one thing to follow a worthy role model. It's quite another to be led by those who have the exact same deficiencies as you. No good can come out of it.
This will offend some people. If it does, it does. I know a lot of riders choose to ride a Harley because they appreciate the bike, the fact that it's American made, and so on. I totally respect that. In fact, it's the way it should be. On the other hand, the Harley brand attracts the people I described in the paragraph above. Harley knows it. Their marketing shamelessly uses it. One ad in particular makes me fall on the floor laughing. It shows a big group of bikes on the road. Then the ad touts the fact that if one were to ride a Harley they could be a "rugged individual". There's a lot of insecure people out there that are easily swayed. Thus is born the stereotype. It's not really a stereotype, then, is it? Not if sheer numbers bear it out.
So what set me off, already?
Katie and I were winging along on a beautiful road in the Southern Oregon hills. It's early afternoon and the world's a wonderful place. Awesome scenery with a little sunshine thrown in to sweeten the recipe. We've passed and exhanged greetings with a number of riders. Except for those of us who are hardcore commuters, riders are like bugs. Sunshine brings out more of them! Not a biggie. If someone rides for enjoyment and decides that riding in the rain isn't so enjoyable, what's wrong with that?
At some point we encounter nine Harleys coming the other way. Four bikes are two-up, while five are being ridden solo. Both Katie and I show the raised palms. Katie really likes waving at other riders. Thirteen riders twelve feet or less away from us. To a person the only reaction was a stare in our direction. With their "beanie" helmets there's no mistaking the fact that we were seen. There's no doubt, either, that we were deliberately being snubbed.
I've tried to hold to the High Road in the past. "They don't want to wave?" Whatever. I'm above it and I certainly don't need their approval or recognition. This time I found myself seriously offended. This was meant as an insult to us. It was clear that the Harley riders considered themselves better than us. Katie added a couple of other possibilities. She thought maybe their skills sucked so badly that they were afraid to take their hands off the bars. When I asked her to account for the passengers Katie offered that perhaps their last "watering hole" stop was also a factor. From the horrible skills I've seen exhibited by riders who come to our classes trying to get legal, I can believe part of it. Still, though, I firmly believe it comes down to attitude.
I totally resent being looked down upon by someone who has absolutely no basis for any sort of feelings of superiority. Let me see. You're somehow better than me because you overpaid for a bike that grants you entry into some sort of conformist club? Being desperately needy drives you to do things that aren't good for you. You're a victim of your own insecurity and that makes you better than me? All that somehow makes you some sort of "Elite" rider? Pardon me, I just peed down my leg because I'm so impressed with your greatness!
Let me tell you about "Elite". Most folks will agree that motor cops are among the most skilled riders around. I've been there, done that. What about the people who train them? I'm there, too. Motor cops don't go to training just because it would be nice to have a little better skills. No, these men and women need to have their skills so finely honed that they're second nature. It's one thing to ride a bike well. Imagine doing it while involved in all the other dangerous things involved in law enforcement. When a cop comes to training they expect solid instruction. Skills gained are literally the difference between coming home at night or not.
Which means they need instructors they can believe in. You know how cynical cops are. They make an instructor prove to them that they're worthy of trust. That means "Show me". If an instructor "ain't got it" they won't last long. They usually don't get picked in the first place.
All I'm saying here is that my peers and I are truly part of an "elite" group of riders. Yet you won't see us with these big neon signs on our bikes calling attention to the fact. When I'm out riding I'm just some guy with a goofy grin on his face. These riders have no idea who's on the bike going the other way. They think they're better than anyone else who's not on a Harley? '
Ok. I'm getting a long ways out on this rant. I'm just so sick of it. There's too much division among riders as it is. We're much better off working together than working against each other. Why can't folks see this? I know, I sound like Mary Poppins or something.
On the way to Medford we rode through Eugene. Not far away was a bakery. It's a big facility where Franz or Williams bread is produced. I can't remember which. The smell of the fresh baked bread grabs you by the nose. Your brain is filled with wonderful thoughts. I defy you to tell me that experience is any better based on which bike you're on. It just doesn't matter what you ride. It's the fact that you're riding. Period.
I feel better now. Nothing's magically changed by posting this. I just needed to release a little steam. Please feel free to offer your comments. I'm sure I'm not the only one with deep feelings on the matter.
Miles and smiles