If any of you remember the last motorcycling entry I wrote, you'll recall that I was musing about the biker community coming of age nowadays. Getting older, otherwords, as in "middle-aged." With my own gray beard, potbelly, creaky joints, bad shoulder, and even creakier back, I am one of this group, definitely -- battered about by life and living, but not quite ready to hang up the handlebars yet, either. I like to refer to myself as a C.O.B.B., in fact; an abbreviation for Cantankerous Old Biker Bastard. I heard that it actually stood for "Crippled Old Biker Bastard," but since I'm not crippled (at least so far), with only the typical middle-aged aches and pains, I modified it a bit, to make it more suitable.
I am a biker retread; a condition some like to refer to as "having a mid-life crisis." Uh, not quite. Nice try, but no cigar. What crisis??!! There's no crisis here! I've always been what I am, since my teens. I just took a long vacation away from my favorite hobby, sport, or whatever you call it, for several years there. I was busy with other things for those years. Now, approaching retirement age and my well-earned "me" time, I want to have one last go-round with what I have always loved before I cash in my chips and leave the table for good.
The young whippersnappers who giggle at the "old man on the Harley" on the road will have reason to rethink that when they reach my age eventually, I know. I'll have the last laugh on them all. It's subtle, aging. It creeps up on you stealthily, then all the sudden -- BAM -- you're there! You can squander your time, scratching your head, wondering where it all went, or -- if you're anything like me -- you grab hold of what life is left and put a stranglehold on it. Shit, I know where it went!! I was never one to fool myself. I wasted a lot of my time on the largely pointless pursuits of youth, and invested more of that precious commodity in pursuing the almighty dollar, trying on this and that, to see how well it fit. Experimenting and exploring. Looking for the pot of gold that never came my way. I think we all do that, at some level or other. I remember an old Harry Chapin song about life being a big circle and I agree completely with that. You go round and round and round for years, then somehow end up right back where you started out. Older and battered, but not beaten by this thing we call life.
I'm definitely old-school, when it comes to motorcycling. I can remember things that this younger generation has hardly heard of. And that's how you tell the difference between old-school and new-school. I've made up a little list of things that will categorize you as one or the other. There are always exceptions, of course; some younger bikers may be familiar with some of these things, but I'll wager they won't be with all of them!!
HOW TO TELL YOU'RE AN OLD-SCHOOL BIKER
1. You remember when the forerunners of today's sportbikes were known as "cafe racers."
2. You know how to kickstart a motorcycle.
3. You know how to kickstart a Harley, or a cranky 250cc two-stroker, with no compression release.
4. You know how to pop a dislocated knee back into place, after you kickstarted the Harley or two-stroker the wrong way.
5. You know what "points" are.
6. You know how to fiddle around with the points and *maybe* get yourself back home again.
7. You fell in love with that Honda CB750 back in 1973, but couldn't afford one, so you ended up with a CL 450 -- the "scrambler" model.
8. You know what a "scrambler" is.
9. You've attended scramble races.
10. You ignored the fact that a scrambler was basically a street bike and rode it off-road anyway. As a result, you ended up riding the ground more than you did the bike.
11. You thought the new Triumph Trident and Kawasaki three-cylinder superbikes were the coolest things on wheels, until Honda's four-cylinder 750 came out.
12. You can remember bike makes like Hodaka, Bultaco, and BSA, all of which are no longer manufactured.
13. You thought Evel Kneivel was the coolest dude on earth.
14. You remember when every Honda 90 had scratches on the gas tank, made by the belt buckles of riders leaning forward on it, trying to get the thing up to 70 mph.
15. You can remember when the Honda 160 and 305 were the hottest models around. Everyone had one and everyone wanted one. Arguments about the merits of each model resulted in more than one fist-fight.
16. You met the "nicest people on a Honda," but the badass Hells Angels on their Harley choppers were WAY cool!!!
17. Your cousin gave you your first ride on a Harley and it was instant love. Thirty years later, you bought one.