My theories are varied as to why there has been another sudden increase in the broader population’s interest in motorcycles and riding. I tend not to chalk it up to “cool factor”. There has always been that element of unfortunates trying to look cool on two wheels and will continue to be into the visible future, but to say that is the sole reason for the sharp increase in motorcycling interest is naïve and ridiculous. Besides, those weekend warriors tend to ride once, maybe twice, snap a few photos next to their bike, and leave it to rot slowly in their garage, only to see the light of day when they need that little ego pick me up. That hardly accounts for the highways full of riders.
Today there is a quickly growing contingency of folks genuinely interested in riding itself, not just owning a shiny symbol of midlife crisis. Even more interestingly, my friends and I are no longer the odd folks out with a large movement sweeping in of younger people wanting to shed the garbage most motorcycle companies sell and get back to basics. For a long time, it was hard to go out to biker events and find anyone outside of our core group with oil in their blood, but these days more and more that latent gene, that spark inside of people like us is firing up all over the world and it is beautiful.
However, like with all things which develop suddenly, the growing pains are sharper and the learning curve ill defined. That in mind, a blog post to address a certain piece of biker decency seemed necessary. Well, that, and like with all our adventures, whatever loose course and smattering of destinations we throw darts at on the map, aka “plan”, inevitably the great cycle of fate throws extra goodies at us, a hidden locale, a whole new road getting lost finds, or, as in this case, a scenario which lends itself well to discourse.
Yesterday, as we made our way out of town, on the highway shoulder was a sharp looking young man next to his remarkably slick home built homage to the late sixties, broken down. Of course, we immediately we stopped to assist. And while we sat talking, waiting for another biker to return who lived conveniently right up the road and had a spare fuel filter and bit of hose available, notes were compared on the longshot that is having another biker stop to help in spite of the massive rider population these days and out came my camera as this entry was born.
If you’re new to the riding world, or maybe you’ve been riding for a year or two and weren’t aware of this incredibly important piece of biker etiquette, this may be the numero uno on the short list of motorcycle protocol:
If another biker is stranded on the roadside YOU STOP TO HELP.
There are no excuses, there are no good reasons not to. It doesn’t matter if they are the biggest scariest one percenter you’ve ever seen, the nerdy kind of guy on a foreign bike with the spaceman get up they always seem to wear, a cussing crotchety grey beard who probably has more repair knowledge in his pinky than you will ever be blessed to learn, or just a nice retired couple who thought a bike would be a fun way to see the country, you always stop to help. There are few things more irritating than being stranded, but on a bike it is particularly difficult because leaving a bike by the roadside while you go for help or parts is a foolhardy endeavor; no matter how short a distance you must go, your bike won’t likely still be there when you return. However, the slightest help, someone to run and get a part for you while you stay with your bike, just a bottle of water in the heat or cellphone that actually gets reception can make all the difference, so that even those bikers with no mechanical skill can help in some way. And all that aside, it may not say it on the paperwork you got when you bought your bike, but we are a community. An often dysfunctional community, but a community nonetheless. Even the most solitary natured among bikers know the comradery and will help a stranger when they need it. So the next time you see a rider stranded, stop and offer any help you can. It’s part of what you agreed to when you chose to join this community, and besides, someday you will be that rider stranded on the roadside.