Archive for the Life of Don Category
In the early nineteen-fifties, Hollywood actors could only ride the Sportster predecessor, 750cc Harley K-models and still maintain insurance. The reason is that the 1952 to 1956 K-Flathead models were so slow!
In another brilliant marketing move, the Motor Company publishes a picture of Elvis Presley sitting astride a 1956 KH Harley-Davidson on the cover of the May 1956 Enthusiast. Elvis, an avid devotee owned and rode many Harley-Davidson’s over his career.
Lord, Protect us from the Wrath of the Norsemen
The Lord’s Prayer has been shortened from times past. The prayer once included “Lord, protect us from the wrath of the Norsemen” (Vikings from Scandinavia). The King of England paid the “Dane geld”, which was yearly protection money to get the Vikings to bypass his kingdom on their yearly raids. The Vikings were a tough people whose motto was “one village at a time.” Who else would dare cross the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean in a sailboat with no cover in freezing rain looking for new land that they didn’t know existed? Yes, they discovered North America and settled Newfoundland, a province that looks like Norway and has much the same weather. If you ever ride Newfoundland, the odds are you will be cold and wet, perhaps encountering snow on your summer ride. Nothing much has changed. I travelled to Bergen, Norway to ride with the boys the length of Denmark, across Germany, down to Prague (Czech), through Brati slava (Slovakia), to Budapest (Hungary), then to Belgrade (Serbia), through Macedonia, and 400 kilometers across the beautiful Greek mountains to the Big Party on the exquisite island dotted, Aegean Sea. We returned through Venice, Italy, the Italian and Austrian Alps to Vienna, across a different Germany route, up Denmark and across to Norway for an 8000 kilometer ride. I think it was more like 5500 km but who knows as one day of riding merged with the next. We started out wearing every piece of clothing available, topped with rain gear, and full face helmets. Do this trip with a half helmet at your peril. As we progressed east and south, layers of clothing came off until wearing shorts. The return trip involved progressively replacing all our clothing as we returned to the formidable lands of the Vikings.
Life Magazine Creates the Mythology
Life magazine sensationalized the event by splaying a picture of a drunken sot laying across a motorcycle surrounded by beer bottles. Problem was the drunk wasn’t a biker and that the picture was staged. I guess the real story wasn’t all that exciting.
The One Percent is Born
The American Motorcycle Association (AMA) rides to the rescue with its own media take. Ninety-nine percent of motorcyclists are decent people. The One Percent causes the trouble. Never has a deflecting “it’s not me, its them” speech created such a powerful symbol for the bike clubs who wear the The One Percenter flashes with pride.
The Real Story
Sooner or later, outside forces will knock a motorcycle club down to the mat. How a club deals with adversity determines the quality of that club. A strong, well organized one will rise from the mat. Many times, the club will become more powerful than before. Why? Their internal structure with membership values of brotherhood placing the club’s interests above their own will bring the spirit to lift themselves up to rebuild. Internal value systems determine the strength or weakness of a club much the same as with the individual.