This article was originally printed in the Moto Guzzi National Owners Club monthly newsletter.

Oklahoma Ramblings - The Event Bike(rs), by Larry Short

I have a couple of motorcycling friends who are probably more what you would call collectors than riders. These guys have several pristine bikes, and usually a nice place to display, or hoard them. They typically turn down offers to ride more than a few miles. Even if their bikes were BUILT for the long haul, they seldom go too far past the city limits. They go to "Events" - toy runs, bike shows, Saturday morning shine and ride sessions at the local dealership to get free doughnuts. You know the things I speak of.

In my foolish youth, I laughed these guys to derision, called them wannabe yuppie riders, and made other dumb comments. Because I always had greasy fingers, battery-acid-burned pants, and enough scars and skin grafts to make Rambo jealous, I figured I was a REAL biker. I thought everyone who rode a bike was supposed to smell like 90-weight gear oil and high-test petrol. And Lord help anyone sissy enough to have a windshield or saddlebags on his bike.

I suppose reading those silly "Easyrider" magazines, and my choice of companions contributed largely to these prejudices that I had. A couple of things happened that caused a change of heart on my part. One was buying a brand new Harley Davidson. Now bear with me here as I drift a little: In one early Star Trek adventure, Spock was supposed to get the equivalent of a Vulcan wedding. Spock's girl turned out to be a real wildcat, and she picked another guy. Bummer! Spock was very calm about it all, and Captain Kirk asked what he was thinking. Spock answered, "Sometimes WANTING something is much sweeter than actually POSSESSING it." Now THAT is what it felt like for me to finally get my new Harley.

I started paying attention to my running mates. It was like they all had to swagger and act tough, and fit some image they (we) had seen in the movies and magazines. Dress alike, talk alike, ride the same run of the mill bikes with the same '38s in our back pockets, and call ourselves rugged individuals. There is a Greek word for that: Hogwash!

After one of my mild mannered friends at work bought himself a Hog, I watched him undergo this bizarre transformation. He tried to effect a James Dean gate in his walk, and tried lowering his voice an octave or so, complete with the tattoos and guttural belly laughs. He changed his entire wardrobe to black. He looked ridiculous, and I suppose that after seeing his act, I never wanted to be called a "biker" again.

About that time I discovered European bikes. Ever since then, it has been Guzzi or BMW as my primary bike, with several Japanese units thrown in for fun. I notice less of the "badboy" mentality within our ranks, but there is still a little snobbery going on, especially in the high mileage arena. Yes if you don't ride a certain number of miles a year, you might just as well get a Hog, because you are an "Event biker", or "bar to bar" biker. And yes, you guessed it; I got suckered into this form of foolishness, as well.

They say wisdom comes with age, I certainly hope so, but I believe that it is life's experiences that cause us to be more understanding of our fellows. Several things contributed to my gaining a better understanding of "event bikers". One was buying that Sportster. I couldn't ride that thing 100 miles to save my, er, bacon. If I owned one of those vibrators again, I would only ride it to the bar to get some mmmedication for my bbbehind... So the equipment may not be up to the task, especially collectable bikes.

Another cause of event bikers is physical ailments. Having fought diabetes, glaucoma, heart and bone problems, pneumonia, and other "old guy" stuff for the last 10 years, I realize that 100 miles is a darned good day sometimes. Some folks just cannot fight the heat, rain, cold and dust of the road anymore. Some cannot trust their eyes or their physical strength like they once could.

Oh yes, there is one more thing that causes many to ride less and less. Seeing one's friends killed, or severely injured on a motorcycle is no fun. Ride long enough, you will have this happen more and more in your circle of friends. As young people, we think it will not happen to us. Then we get thrown. It matters not whose fault it is, it HURTS.

Only a fool does not think about this now and again. Each person must decide how much risk he can assume, and how long to remain in the game, so to speak.

If you are a parent, or have old folks dependant on you, you know what I mean. My wife refused to ride with me while our daughter was young, except for special EVENTS.

Now that the kid is grown, she has a shiny new helmet and leathers. We still do not go like Ken Hand, Ken Bunch, Earl and Dorothy Larkin, JN Smyth, or Frank Wedge, but we still GO, for short little rides out in the sticks, away from traffic. Or we go to toy runs, or on a Saturday afternoon ride and shine events to get free doughnuts. Hmmm.

One time years ago I went to a meeting of the Retreads MC, a bike club for folks 40 years or older. It was about 17 degrees outside. Only myself and one more guy on a Harley bothered to ride bikes to the breakfast. We sat there shivering, trying to warm up with coffee, quietly grateful that there was no planned ride that day. I asked one of the oldsters, "Hey man, where are your scooters?" His answer was, "Son when you hit 50 years old, you are supposed to have some sense. We drove the Suburban, dummy." Ouch.

Next time you go to a rally or event, have a little mercy on the people who came in cars, or who do not go on the extra rides if they brought their bikes. It may be all they can do to show up. They still are interested in you, the club, and your bike!

I am grateful to be able to pull my 850-T out and admire the lovely thing. I like riding it to work. It is a mini vacation every time I hear it run, feel the engine pull. It gives me as much joy as ever. I may even ride it 100 miles someday. Yes, I have slipped into "event bikerhood", but I ain't dead yet. Somebody show me to the doughnuts.

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