Bohemian Biker Blog

Biker Friends & Acquaintances

by on Sep.23, 2009, under Thoughts

Of the many really cool aspects of the “fraternity” of Bikers…in the most global sense…is the diversity…and the instant “relatedness” that is present between us…upon sight…and meeting.  

I hesitate to use that word “fraternity” because it has “male” connotations…  According to www.dictionary.com one of the definitions of “fraternity” is: the quality of being brotherly; brotherhood: liberty, equality, and fraternity.

These days…in accordance with the very welcome increased participation of women…on their own…a less “male” oriented term would be welcome…

A similar example that comes to mind would be the Fraternal Order of Police…  Obviously there are now a significant number of women in these ranks…

I know I have a lot of company…as a male…welcoming women to what was…at least in the past…a pretty male dominated activity… 

I’ve got to say…I have a special appreciation for my lady riding “two-up” with me  (Jann riding with me below…note the smile on my face…seen in the mirror)…I figure I have a lot of company here…

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 *Credit to our friend Nancy Tilley for this great shot!

Never-the-less…I am intrigued by…and have a strong appreciation for…women riding their own bike…which Jann does at times, as well…

Beyond her exercising a level of skill and independence in this way…and enjoying the fulfillment related to that…it also provides the increased cargo carrying capacity of two bikes vs. one…when traveling… 

The increasing presence of women in the Biker ranks is certainly an additional factor contributing to the widening diversity of Bikers…

It just so happens that I have played an active role in the introduction of many women to another once male dominated activity…shooting sports.   As a state-employed full-time shooting instructor, I was fortunate enough to be  the initial instructor for the shooting instruction segment of my state’s Becoming An Outdoors Woman (BOW) Program.  I still participate in a lesser capacity, but have turned this position over to an even more qualified female  instructor/friend, who assisted in the early years.  

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So…I am well acquainted with some of the topics that rise out of this sort of process…  For example, the availability of equipment and clothing to support women’s participation… 

It’s pretty obvious that not only motorcycle clothing manufacturers have recognized the growing “female” Biker market segment…

In addition, we see the initiation and development of motorcycle clubs and internet forums specifically for women… 

Certainly there are growing pains, and points of contention…but all-in-all…I think most would agree…these are very necessary, welcome and positive developments… 

As in my experience in the realm of shooting sports…I am often impressed at the level of knowledge and skill, as well as the attitude toward participation…of some of the female Bikers I know and meet…  

I consider myself fortunate to know and ride with several women that have taken on being a Biker…”jumping in feet first”…developing their riding skills…finding the model that suits them best…learning all they can (including how to perform maintenance tasks)…and putting on the miles.

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Recently, I accompanied Dana, a dear friend to both Jann  and I,  on a 250+ mile run…as part of a 600 mile (one way) run of my own…followed a few days later by the return trip…re-united near her destination. 

We started out in pouring rain and wind at “O-dark thirty”…and after a couple hours crossed a bay bridge in high winds.  

Although the experience was a bit “hair-raising” for both of us…over a couple cups of coffee to calm our nerves…we laughed and let those back home know we had “weathered the storm”.

I’d put Dana’s skill and determination up against that of many Bikers I know…(especially considering the number of Bikers that are mainly “Bar Hoppers”…weekend Bikers at best…not being of the mind to travel or tour on their bike).  

She rides like the woman she is…cool, calm, and collected.  Many of the other women in our riding group (including Jann) call her their hero. 

Dana has earned my respect as a Biker…with her cool headedness, positive attitude, skill, and determination.

Rain, nor wind, nor darkness…would stop Dana from heading out on a scheduled trip…and knockin’ down a full day’s ride…

 

Another lady…I have been fortunate enough to be-friend…has not only been a lifelong Biker…but has worked in H-D dealerships and served in many capacities within several Biker organizations.deb-devine-evo-woman

Deb, aka…Evo Woman, is a walking encyclopedia of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, riding, and Biker organization knowledge…serving in officer positions within several HOG and Rolling Thunder chapters.

I count myself fortunate to have gained her friendship, and bank on her knowledge-base on a continuing basis…not only along the lines of motorcycle related topics, but business savvy, as well.  

This lady has so much to bring to the table…well beyond just motorcycling related.  She is now dabbling in the area of mentoring “at risk” youths…and it seems she may have found her niche!

So…again…I count myself very fortunate to be surrounded by…and in touch with…a significant network of amazing Biker friends…both male and female.

Each and every time I make a new acquaintance among Bikers, I view it as opportunity of one nature or other…whether it be a future close friend and/or riding companion, a networking contact, or simply enjoyable interaction. 

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The key is being open to the opportunity when it presents itself…

One of the things I am known for by my friends and family is striking up conversations with total strangers anywhere…and what I often find is that there is some connection.  I don’t think I’m in any way alone in my proximity to connections…I’m just especially open to the possibilities and opportunities as well as making the kind of conversation that leads to uncovering them…

 

 

 Here’s a perfect example that occurred just this past weekend at DelMarva Bike Week weekend…  Jann and I are back at the bike in the gravel parking lot of one of the venues… It’s late Sunday afternoon…and things are pretty much over for the day…so the parking lot is relatively empty…  A few feet away another couple is puttering around preparing to leave, as well.  So…into action I go…  He’s a clean cut looking man…obviously retired military…Marine stickers on his windshield confirm that.  She’s obviously younger…seemingly adept at riding 2 up with him…   Conversation comes easy between the four of us…once I initiate it…  No sooner does it start…and we find out…despite them living relatively closeby…she’s from the same town in northern DE as Jann…he’s from a town near my daughters’ home town in South Carolina…  I mention the Squat-n-Gobble…my favorite coffee and breakfast spot down there…and they both burst into laughter…it’s their’s too…600 miles away, mind you…  Next thing you know…the ladies are off into their own conversation…he and I are in our own…  Then I hear…”Ray…you’ve got to hear this…” from Jann…  Turns out the lady is a shooter…and sure enough we have shooting friends in common.  Eventually, we exchange business cards…wish each other safe riding…and say our goodbyes.  

This kind of scenario happens for me over, and over, and over…as I’m sure it does for others, as well.  To me…being a Biker immerses us in opportunities such as this.  Consider how many of us Baby Boomers are out there riding and attending Bike Events…  Seems to me…part of the reason we’re doing this is…we not only love motorcycles and riding…but we love hangin’ out with like-minded people…  There’s a bit of an…”I already know this about you”  goin’ on…  It’s a point of instant “relatedness”…  A starting point for easy enjoyable conversation…  And…you just never know what will follow…  I have story after story of people I’ve met…no matter how far from home…with whom I’ve discovered a connection…  I call them my “Six Degrees of Separation” occurrences…   

On top of this “connection” discovery aspect is…I find it amazing what people you meet are into…be it their career or hobby.  Ranging from an extraordinary second career in a unique field…to a never heard of  hobby.   

My good friend and most experienced riding buddy, Brad, came to me a few years back…via this same sort of chance meeting.  I had stopped at our local Starbucks for a caffeine fix…seeing a Harley parked out front…I looked for the owner once inside.  There he was…black leather vest and all.  Next thing you know…I’m accompanying him back to his hometown of Columbia, Missouri…putting in 700+ miles in 15-1/2 hours our first day out.  Although we had done a bit of riding together before we left on this trip…(and having made solo 600 mile day runs back and forth to SC)…it was my first crosscountry trip with a more experienced and seasoned Biker (Brad has more than 150K bike miles under his belt…having biked all over the western states…including a trip to Sturgis).  I earned my stripes with Brad on that trip…staying right with him…blastin’ down the interstate at 80 mph…never being the reason for stopping.

BTW – My Buddy, Brad…is quite an interesting character…coming from a very colorful past.  Way more spiritual than most men I know…especially with respect to riding (and music…”the blues”…as in “get the Led out”)…one of the things I especially appreciate about him.  An intellectual and philosophical man, Brad could easily be a college professor.   In addition to a previous college degree, at 54 (same age as me)…he just completed a 2 year program in nuclear medicine.  Another prime example of the diversity that exists among Bikers.

My Buddy Brad, and Laurie...our host's girlfriend.

My Buddy Brad, and Laurie of Columbia, MO.

I’ve even developed lasting friendships out of acquaintances made at our weekly Hooter’s Bike Nites…  Guys and Gals I have exchanged cell phone numbers with…rattle the cage of from time to time…and see wherever the action is.  Facebook has emerged as the most recent means of relatively constant contact.  The venue of the weekend is normally run up the flagpole for all to see…and potentially rally to.

One of our favorite Biker gathering places…here near the DE-PA-MD Junction…is the Union Hotel Restaurant & Tavern – Port Deposit, MD.   I love this weekly gathering of Bikers…complete with live music, great food, and drink – all outdoors!   We sit at the shaded picnic tables…enjoy pitbeef sandwiches…listen to the band…and hang out with the crowd.  Always a non-stop flow of bikes in and out of this popular meeting place on a Sunday afternoon.

A monthly event we enjoy is the Ephrata 1st Sunday Rally  at the American Legion Post / Legion Park – Ephrata, PA.   Starting early in the day (8 AM)…this is kind of a unique venue with the added enjoyment of riding through Amish Country…  Oh yea…watch out for the buggies…and what the horses leave behind…LOL 

Out of all this…I am in the constant process of maintaining a network of individual circles of Biker friends…not just here in my hometown and state…but across the country…actually…all over the world.

As an example of one of these “circles of Biker Friends”…here is another scenario that has occurred for me…  A year ago, I had left my home in northern Delaware before daybreak on my bike…and made my way 80+ miles south to assist with one of the BOW shooting programs I mentioned previously.  Having arrived early…I was poking around looking for a place to grab some breakfast…low and behold…a fleet of bikes at the breakfast cafe of a campground…perfect!  Holly Lake Camp Sites  No sooner do I park my bike…here they come out the door.  The first fella I talk to turned out to be the leader of a County Police Explorer Post I was in when I was 18.  Since that day…I have been receiving the “Breakfast Club” emails from him…rode with his group…joining them for breakfast at times…and staying in contact with him throughout the year via email.  In fact, Jann and I just saw him during DelMarVa Bike Week…and yes…as it turns out…Jann too has known this fella for years!  This type of occurrence is one of the reasons we call Delaware…”A Small Wonder”… 

Through people with whom business has put me in contact, and Facebook…I have developed an enormous number of friends and acquaintances…online.  Biker friends from here in Delaware…to the state of Washington and Alaska…to countries such as the Netherlands, Norway, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Croatia, Macedonia, Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, the United Kindom, and on and on. 

All of us with the love of motorcycles and riding in common.  The conversations and friendships just grow from there…  How cool is that…???

For many of us, Facebook has created a welcome groundswell of connectedness.   The ability to communicate with an enormous number of contacts has been made as easy as making a post…thereby providing the opportunity to receive comment.   At the same time, we are able to monitor the posts and comments of our FB Friends.  I actually maintain two Facebook accounts…one under the name Raymond Bowers, for my personal use…and another under the name Ray Bowers, intended for business use (has photos of products vs. people).  I stay logged onto Facebook virtually all day long, and spend a great deal of time interacting there.  Similarly, I spend a great deal of time on email interaction…mostly via bohemianbiker@bohemianbiker.com  

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