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Guest Editorial: Dr. Kevin Moore

 

While strolling along Main Street in Sturgis last year, it hit me: there is no difference between the nearly quarter-million riders at the granddaddy of bike rallies and the few hundred who congregate at events like Slab City. They are the same folks, merely in different plumage. The Sturgis biker crowd prefers shiny baggers, ‘do rags and an almost complete lack of personal fitness. On the other hand, bikeriders at Slab City choose oily old bikes that periodically break down, retro metal flake helmets and fit bodies hidden by copious layers of dirty flannel. Folks in each group happy assimilate to those around them. They are clones. One look at either side’s events proves this by countless people donning near identical clothing, tattoos and bikes. Any standouts are seen as outsiders and usually treated as such.

But hey, exclusion of those who are different is human nature. Monkeys do it too. In all this rigmarole a simple truth has been lost: any event is what you make out of it. Crappy folks need to be waded through to find the good ones. It is up to us to find them. And once discovered, there is fun to be had that bridges taste and viewpoint. I witnessed this years back at the Broken Spoke Saloon in Sturgis. Outside the bar was one of those old-time contraptions where a large hammer is used to drive a metal puck up a tower in hopes of hitting a bell. It is a device rubes use to validate themselves by proving to others just how strong they are. As we sat at a picnic table drinking beer, two guys in leathers and rainbow lens wraparound sunglasses appeared. Ready and willing to exhibit their brawn, they talked a bunch then each tried smashing the striker with all their muscle. Both failed.

 

Striker.jpg

 

They began blaming the machine and everything else their inebriated minds could conjure as a possible scapegoat. JD King—a lanky fellow who soaking wet and tethered to a sack of depleted uranium might weight 130 pounds—quietly watched the event unfold. After the drunken bikers ran out of energy and excuses, JD stepped into the sea of onlookers. Among the Sturgis crowd JD appeared like a man suddenly transported through a wormhole from 1974. Through the hecklers could be heard, “No way that skinny bastard’ll do it!”

Paying no attention to their scoffing, JD lofted the hammer and let it fly. It was immediately clear that he knew what the other men did not: Strength did not ring the striker, but speed of the hammer. It was about momentum. The hammer streaked through the air as it moved towards the impact pad. A thunderous clang! erupted as it made contact with the lever, catapulting the puck skyward. It was a sight to behold. The lanky and quiet man in bell-bottom pants garnered the attention of the entire bar. While the bell did not technically ring, it did not matter. The blow was strong enough and the puck close enough that folks cheered, patted him on the back and offered to buy him a beer. Everyone from our table jumped up to join the celebration. Gilby Clarke happily shuffled around on a gimp leg near a chubby biker in a denim Sturgis shirt. Our friend Grant smiled above the navy blue handkerchief tied neatly about his neck as a toothless old biker spilled his beer in all the excitement.

And there it was. The Jets and the Sharks united. Boundaries evaporated, and for a brief moment we all stood together celebrating a scrawny guy’s victory over a carnival contraption. On our ride home we stopped at a convenience store in Wyoming that likely saw few folks beyond locals. It was overrun with bikers returning home from a week of burnouts and tired rock n’ roll shows. While waiting to fill up my bike, a dude on a Harley slid in front of me and took the pump as the last guy finished. He was a beast of a man with a tough guy appearance obviously honed over years of riding. His jacket proudly exhibited a patch, something about Satan, or Killer or Bandit. Countless others wearing the patch spread around the lot and piled into the store. To myself I thought, “what a douche bag,” then quietly pushed my bike to another pump.


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Commented on 1-25-2012 At 01:44 pm
 

Great story! I love how you mention you gotta wade through some idiots but most people are cool. and then drove the point home with everyone rallying around a scrawny guy and then a burly jackass cuts in line at a fucking gas pump.

P.S. Good for you for not being a billy badass and going after him. In my younger days, that was exactly the kind of crap that would have ended with the cops showing up. It's nice being able to let go of that shit and just enjoy the ride.

Commented on 1-25-2012 At 02:31 pm
 

The biggest difference between Sturgis and the Slab is: Sturgis happened last year.

Commented on 1-25-2012 At 03:31 pm
 

I try hard to never defend my own writing on CC, but since this is a guest editorial, I will throw my hat in the ring. Hollingdrake, Slab City didn't happen last year because LEA threatened to arrest attendees and confiscate non-compliant motorcycles if large numbers of people showed up. Not wanting to put ourselves or anyone else at risk, we elected to go underground the same weekend at a different location. I gather fom your cynical comment that you didn't attend the backup plan, which begs the question: what underground events DID you attend last year? Better yet, how many philanthropic chopper events have you personally organized or volunteered at in the last year? I promised to wage war on negativity on the Internet in 2012, and you sir have drawn first fire. If I misread your seemingly flippant tone, I apologize. Thanks for injecting braininess and positivity in your online dialogue.

Commented on 1-25-2012 At 03:50 pm
 

bravo. good read.

Commented on 1-25-2012 At 03:59 pm
 

i've never understood the need to put another "biker" down unless a personal instance has occurred. I always feel out of place at almost any rally or event - for more than a bunch of reasons i'm sure. But im not a "hipster", not a "m/c member", i am not a doctor or a lawyer or a HOG member, not an amazing builder either. im not 25 nor 45 - somewhere in the middle. i ride a road king and a mildy easily bobbed shovel. but i hear the young guys crapping on the bagger and the old guys crapping on the young ones. i feel like as someone who simply appreciates all bikes -all makes, all states of condition, and wrenching and riding - i am in the vast minority. if i wanted a social scene id let tmz tell me what is the latest trend so i might have a clue. i simply enjoy motorcycles. great article!

Commented on 1-25-2012 At 04:07 pm
 

Jason Renda, now THAT's a positive attitude. Thanks for weighing in. You're not in the minority around here, my friend.

Commented on 1-25-2012 At 04:11 pm
 

Good article and thumbs up to Halwade.

Commented on 1-25-2012 At 04:19 pm
 

Maybe I will go to Sturgis someday. But for the same time and money involved last year I was able to go to both Born Free and The Brooklyn Invitational. I also went to some local events like Motorcycles On Meridian for the Moto GP in Indy, Hotrods & Hillbillies, The Rockers Reunion and The Devil's Staircase Hillclimbs. If things had turned out better I would have loved to have gone to Slab City and Love Thy Chopper. I am not knocking anyone who goes to Sturgis, Daytona or Laconia. But if I am going to go to an event I'd rather support my friends and have a chance to make new ones. Sorry, but I just don't see that as much with the big events like Sturgis.

Commented on 1-25-2012 At 04:33 pm
 

The SCR/Elusive Unicorn was one of the most fun weekends I've had in a long time. Bullshitting the rangers where some dudes told them we were all from Yuma AZ coming back from a bike show.

Chops, long bikes, whatevs... All around a place I have been riding dirt bikes in for years. We were so awesomely out of place there and it didn't matter.

It's what we were doing. The movie night, abbreviated band sets, a bar, dragging a dude through camp on a motorcycle tow rope setup... The small group that rode around the sea.

I think it's a cut above Sturgis because it was so impromptu. And I WISH we had an olde tyme hammer thing! That would be the drunkest, funnest thing ever! Although, someone would have climbed it, while on fire and tried to see how long he could chill there.

Good times...

Commented on 1-25-2012 At 04:58 pm
 

Nicely written. Sturgis, the Slab, el Diablo... it's always a blast riding with you.

Commented on 1-25-2012 At 06:04 pm
 

Great article. And it points out how easy it is for in-groups to demonize or belittle the "others" (which certainly includes the rampant anti-bagger or anti-fat tire attitude all over CC). But, you know, although I had a great time at the Greasebag last year (probably the best event I have ever attended), I also had a great time at Sturgis a couple of years ago. I mean, I got a kick out of the fact that as I was riding my hand-built rigid from the West Coast I was continually being passed by baggers on trailers, but the fact of the matter was that I met lots of cool folks out there (many of whom were probably weekend-riding yuppy bagger owners). I even got to meet Jeff Decker and chat with him, which was a fantastic experience. If you go looking for assholes, you will be sure to find them everywhere you look, but if you go looking to have a good time, there are interesting people all over the place. If all you focus on at Daytona or Sturgis is the chrome doo-dads and hoo-hahs for sale, and the bikers who aren't sufficiently "authentic" to you, then you are probably missing out on the chance to enjoy yourself.

Commented on 1-25-2012 At 06:43 pm
 

GREAT article! I don't get why guys always have to have a group they dislike for seemingly no fuckin reason.

That being said, I can't stand the bikers who don't like other bikers! :P I'm no badass, I'm a punk-ass kid who rides a bike and drinks and has fun, I've ridden with crotch-rocketeers and old guys on 250 Rebels (ahem, Dad). Fuck it, it's riding all the same and it's fun as hell!!!

Commented on 1-25-2012 At 06:48 pm
 

There is always this ebb and flow of the tides of trend humpers and haters. People who love ALL motorcycles and what that brings are the bulk head at the shore. Posers and haters come in all shapes and sizes, HoG members with dorags, and 1969 HA re-enactors. The same could be said for the authentic ones as well. Each seem to attract each other, find one poser, you'll find many more, find one real cat, you'll find many more.

I feel blessed to be surrounded by good solid people who have a real love of the road and bikes and even more thankful that they aren't clones of each other. Fuck, that would be boring as hell.

Sorry for the ocean analogies. Fantastic write up!

c

Commented on 1-25-2012 At 07:27 pm
 

NIce Editorial! I never owned American because they're too expensive for me, I gave up my Brit because it was unreliable, and after 14 years of Jap bikes "cool" people have driven up the cost to ridiculous amounts. Nevertheless, I still push what I can build, I always stop to help someone on the side of the road (regardless of what style their scoot is), and every time I see an ambulance and remnants of a bike, I always say a prayer... because regardless of what your straddlin' we walk a fine line when on two wheels. Now go wipe yer tears and go build something!

Commented on 1-25-2012 At 08:10 pm
 

Kev, There's a big difference between 250,000 identical individualists getting together in one place and 250. The 250 probably don't know a whole lotta people like themselves when they're not at the gathering.

Commented on 1-25-2012 At 08:38 pm
 

I wonder how many people will get "The Jets and the Sharks united". This was a refreshing truthful read. Thanks Kevin.

Commented on 1-25-2012 At 08:40 pm
 

If you had fun, it was a good party. Who's in charge of whether you have fun? You are. Bring some friends, have fun, and whatever rally or show or secret handshake special invite only party you are at...you determine whether you have a good time or not. Anything else is an excuse of some form for you not enjoying yourself.

Moral of the story:
Have a blast wherever you are and make the fun you want to have yourself!

Commented on 1-25-2012 At 09:51 pm
 

more tech please. I try not to be a hater, but damn, do people really care that much about this shit?

Commented on 1-25-2012 At 09:54 pm
 

Halwade I was really just making the cheapest, easiest joke I could. I'm sorry if you, or anyone, interpreted that as a slam against the efforts it takes to make these events happen, not my intent. Just a shitty joke.

Commented on 1-25-2012 At 10:26 pm
 

I cant agree more with the "look for douchebags and you will find them" saying. Whether its what kind of bike you ride, or whether you wear Vans and flannels, as long as you are a cool guy who likes to put miles down you are a god in my books. Everyone should care less about other people and just enjoy life. Its a lot easier to be positive.

Commented on 1-25-2012 At 10:44 pm
 

Have ridden with both stereotypes and a bunch of guys in between the extremes of trailer pulling Ultras and plaid encased kids. Love them both, not because of their uniform or bike choice, but because of their passion for all things two wheeled. Are there plenty of DB’s in both camps? Oh yeh. Sturgis and Daytona can be a Mecca for the angry drunkin’ wolf shirt wearing types and their 30 years of bad marriage and poor career choices are suddenly your problem. It happens. I’ve also been rescued from the side of a lonely road by guys that looked just like them and saved my day without asking for so much as a beer in return.

If you have not been, there’s something downright otherworldly about Sturgis. In it’s peak, easily a half million quasi like minded folks looking to make as much noise and drink as much beer as physically possible before going back to their non-biker lives (different than Slab City?, well fewer people and about the same number of boats on fire). It’s also a damn beautiful place to ride in and to. No matter the plaid content of your closet, I’d recommend it at least once.

My favorite event over the course of the last few years? Hell on Wheels by a long shot. Crazy mix of all things motorcycle. Also highly recommended.

My point?

I consider myself pretty lucky to have participated in a variety of events across the US (Black Bike Week is awesome, Americade in Upstate NY is frickin’ beautiful and this past Born Free was epic). Each was a hell of an experience that I would suggest to anyone who rides.

Motorcycle market can be a “clicky” space to be in, but at the end of the day we all share a crapload of common ground.

Ride, wrench and ignore the dickheads.

Burly

Commented on 1-25-2012 At 11:01 pm
 

Great read! I haven't been to Sturgis in a few years now, but always enjoyed it in the past.

I still have the Ford F-150 air gauge I got for ringing that bell.

Commented on 1-26-2012 At 12:24 am
 

Fun article to read and makes a valid point that harkens back to 2 things we learned when we were all little. #1 Treat others as you would like to be treated, and #2 Don't judge a book by it's cover. I haven't been to Sturgis and am not too interested in the rally itself, but dream about how great a ride it is to get there. Maybe one of these years. And for Slab City, never been there either but looks like it was a real fun time, hopefully it can come back or just morph into something similar. Come on McGoo you can do it!

Commented on 1-26-2012 At 01:20 am
 

I'll have to disagree. The conclusions are based on opinions. The ultimate theme of the article does is not supported by the introduction. One could argue that is validates the introduction. I've alredy gotten a headace when I take the same theory ten fold forward and consider "cagers" to be the same as "bikers" (forgive me for using "biker" terminology to push forward the conversation, that too is a difference note worthy) in the same line of logic.

The difference is not in the mass(es) it is in the individual. Sturgis is a far different "beast" (or Satan) than a Slab City Riot (*) for that reason. (* replace with any event you prefer).

One could then argue, "They're all of the Devil."

So, pick your friends wisely; The Satan-Killer-Bandit of Whyo'why'oming, or (the real) "Luficer" (who actually has attended all three Slab City RIots~)

Commented on 1-26-2012 At 01:22 am
 

For the most part, I do judge a book by it's cover. That's why book have titles on the cover.

Commented on 1-26-2012 At 02:02 am
 

wow kevin, you really are just a taller hunter s hiding behind that diploma... as you pointed out, sturgis is what you make of it & there's plenty to do for all walks of biker regime. i personally love it for the riding, history & cheap chaps. i think it would be great if the younger crowd could inherit sturgis. that older bagger do rag crowd is gonna die soon anyway. slab rules & that's way we should leave it.

Commented on 1-26-2012 At 02:02 am
 

Great article and great comments, proud to be a part of Chop Cult because of stuff like this

Commented on 1-26-2012 At 02:05 am
 

And yes, the Jets and Sharks joke was solid gold

Commented on 1-26-2012 At 03:10 am
 

I'm pretty cool, for being such an idiot...

Commented on 1-26-2012 At 05:59 am
 

Don't forget, the guy that wrote this is the guy that rides the chocolate turd. He also enjoys saying plum smuggler. Furthermore, he enjoys putting his balls on friends gas tanks. My guess is that this plum smuggling author is going to Sturgis again this year, for the 3rd year in a row, and this article is what will justify that trip to his wife and work cronies. You see Dr. Moore- you don't have to have a PhD. to figure that out. Watch out bagger lovers and do-raggers...this guy likes to give big gay bear hugs. Viva Mexico.

Commented on 1-26-2012 At 12:06 pm
 

Trucker hats and denim vests all snapping and singing at our events.

Commented on 1-26-2012 At 07:06 pm
 

Nice read -

I dont really fit in anywhere, I truly never have and never will so I ove read like this. I dont believe in kissing ass and to those that need to fit in then thats how you choose your life and the vigors that follow such a life. Some need this and others dont. I believe all should do what they want when they want and how they want so the outcome is strictly theirs and theirs alone... That being said, I will still make fun of you for my own entertainment...

I dont think you needed to defend anything McGoo, you guys are top notch in my book and your known well enough that silence sometimes is the best way to say STFU...

Commented on 1-26-2012 At 07:26 pm
 

Seems odd to find such a positive message on a motorcycle enthusiast site, but I seem to find more inspiring words of wisdom, and stories told that make me take (and very often) a step back and view things from a different perspective. I'll be the first to admit that I am a snob when it comes to bikes, I found a niche in the sickle scene soon after getting my first bike and have been riding that wagon ever since. Funny thing is, that first bike (an 05' Honda rebel) was the sort of bike I find myself chuckling over when I see others riding. But it's what started my love of all things Moto. It had 2 wheels, an engine, and a rider who loved it. Regardless of the make, the model, the style or the gear you're wearing on it, the foundation is the same and we all have the passion for them (motorcycles). I'm not saying I'm going to compliment PJD's next atrocity of a bike, but respect for someone elses love of the machine will always be easy to show. Bottom line, if you're on two wheels, you're okay with me, but an asshole is an asshole, regardless of his transportation.

Commented on 1-26-2012 At 08:19 pm
 

just ride...

Commented on 1-26-2012 At 11:00 pm
 

I'm sorry, I pretty much hate everyone. I try to be positive, but it doesn't usually work out.

Commented on 1-26-2012 At 11:22 pm
 

Okay, not trying to be a smart ass or anything. But I'm never in the cool zone.

Who is Doctor Kevin Moore? Where do I see his bikes? Is his doctorate legit, like Stephen Hawking, or bunk like the fake doctor from the movie 'Kids'? I believe he called himself the Virgin Surgeon.

Commented on 1-27-2012 At 02:12 am
 

Great article. And it points out how easy it is for in-groups to demonize or belittle the "others" (which certainly includes the rampant anti-bagger or anti-fat tire attitude all over CC). But, you know, although I had a great time at the Greasebag last year (probably the best event I have ever attended), I also had a great time at Sturgis a couple of years ago. I mean, I got a kick out of the fact that as I was riding my hand-built rigid from the West Coast I was continually being passed by baggers on trailers, but the fact of the matter was that I met lots of cool folks out there (many of whom were probably weekend-riding yuppy bagger owners). I even got to meet Jeff Decker and chat with him, which was a fantastic experience. If you go looking for assholes, you will be sure to find them everywhere you look, but if you go looking to have a good time, there are interesting people all over the place. If all you focus on at Daytona or Sturgis is the chrome doo-dads and hoo-hahs for sale, and the bikers who aren't sufficiently "authentic" to you, then you are probably missing out on the chance to enjoy yourself.

Buster- Well said, that's how i weed out the fake, the real ones are the ones that are riding because they love riding, the fakes are in it for the fashion show. The skinhead scene is the same, most are fashion skins.

Commented on 1-27-2012 At 02:21 am
 

astroxzombie9 & WingNut get it. You guys are alright.

Commented on 1-27-2012 At 03:19 am
 

I like motorcycles. If you like them, I'll probably be nice to you. I've been looking for ways to conform for years but I'm really bad at it. I think somebody might think I know what the scene is or who the storyboarder is behind it.

Commented on 1-27-2012 At 04:56 am
 

in AA we have a saying, "If you run into 2 assholes in the same day, look in the mirror and you'll see the 3rd one!".........FTW

Commented on 1-27-2012 At 05:52 am
 

This rally attracts those people that rally attracts the others... whatever... Everyone is an outsider someplace... For me the rallies are just a destination, and excuse to ride my bike someplace far from home for a few days, where I'll see some cool bikes, some shitty bikes, an area of this beautiful country I've never sen before and forget about all the everyday clutter of life clouding my gray matter.

All the rallies have cool people and assholes... in the end it's just a destination.. What makes Sturgis cool for me is all the sweet roads and beautiful country in the black hills.. Same reason I totally dug Mountainfest in WV this year. Good riding to get there, good riding when I'm there and cold beer and music at night and other people who like bikes regardless of what kind and why. Hang with the cool people, avoid the dicks and have fun..

fuck it lets ride...

Commented on 1-27-2012 At 07:03 am
 

When you're a Jet you're a Jet all the way, from your first cigarette to your last dieing day.........

Commented on 1-27-2012 At 02:08 pm
 

Awesome article. If you ride we all have something in common and common ground is the last place you stand before ignorance takes over.

Commented on 1-28-2012 At 02:53 am
 

halwade, my man,
i could see myself in every situation described in your article. Judging by the response the article generated it's apparent a good number of people seem to have found a chapel with like minded parishners through your words. I'm currently new to the chop scence(but not to riding), but find myself with a preference to the long and groovy sleds, but can see the cool in all things two wheeled. i thank you for one hell of a good read, as short as it was, and look forward to scrolling through your wisdom in the years to come.

To my fellow Deuchebags: keep on riding, and the rest will sort itself out. including the ass holes.

Commented on 2-1-2012 At 04:47 pm
 

Wow, Kevin great read
Thanks for sharing the story about JD.

Commented on 2-1-2012 At 04:49 pm
 

Wow, Kevin great read
Thanks for sharing the story about JD.

Commented on 2-1-2012 At 07:17 pm
 

Thank you all for the very positive comments.

Commented on 2-6-2012 At 04:21 am
 

Chop Cult -

I started a website about motorcycles, friends and the open road. If you enjoy for stories about people and bikes then please check out:

http://www.bikesandbuddies.com

You can sign up for email notices when new stories are posted, which will be one every three weeks or so.

Kev

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