Saturday, June 21, 2008

Old School, New School, or In-Between School

When it comes to being a Biker, I've never thought of myself as "Old School". Most tell me I can't possibly be Old School because I'm of the female persuasion. In that case, I'm not. And though I've ridden one bike or another since my teens, which seems to be a prerequisite, I still don't see myself belonging to that cliche with any real conviction. Then again, what is Old School? A mentality? A way of life? What you ride? How you ride?

I think my good buddy, RC of Big Bend Bikers For Freedom could answer that question better than me. You see, he epitomizes Old School to me. I've heard some stories from him that would raise the hair on your arms, and some that made me cry with laughter. At the time, I thought, good Lord man, how have you lived this long? Then I'd think, well, my own family and friends have wondered the same thing about me. Yet my stories are vastly different than his.

RC is not a 1%'er, but I know he knows a few. There is no better friend than RC. I know RC always has my back, and I know he reciprocates the respect I hold for him without question. I remember bikers from my youth who could be RC this many years after. So, ya, he's "Old School" to me. And he's my brother.

Life for a woman is vastly different than for a man. Being a wife and mother trumps how often you get to ride, or even if you get to own your own ride. While men seem to have the option to make riding a priority, regardless of family. Funny how that is. Like most wives and mothers, my options were interrupted many times throughout my life. But the love for riding was always there, and I rode when I could, and owned when I could.

My experiences and memories are probably much like RC's, just on a different plane. I managed to skirt the law on many occasions, while still doing anything I damn well pleased, and though I didn't have a label for it at the time, unconventional was always the mode of operation. My life has always been "never a dull moment". I like it that way and you can't have that without risk or mistakes. Even with all the bumps in the road, I wouldn't do anything differently. Except perhaps to take even more risks than I did. Life is too short not to, but you don't learn that until you've lived more than a few decades.

Does "Old School" mean you have a long pony-tail (I have one of those), or a long beard? (Alas, I can't grow a beard.) But most of those I see as Old School have both. I still long for the days of motoring down the highway, going wherever for the day, in jeans, tank, boots, and bandana (they didn't have "do-rags" back then). Cars moved out of the way for you, mothers hid their children. It was a culture and a lifestyle that "good and simple" folk labeled outlaw. They didn't understand (and still don't) that it's all about nonconformity and being free to be who you want to be and who you really are. It makes me smile to myself, because most of those "Old School" Bikers have professional jobs like anyone else, and are contributing citizens of this country. The Biker lifestyle is simply that; no different than any other mode of dress or activity that individuals choose to love and own, and not let anyone gainsay them.

If anything, I think I'm really both - Old School and New School. I love that my bike fires up without stressing my ankle with a kick-starter. Both my ankles are old and tired some days now. And I especially love that I can ride for hours and not feel the engine vibration for the next three days after.

So sue me. Civilization advances, and so does technology. Back in the day, a custom or home built chopper was the only way to have one. Now you can buy one that is already "driveway trained". (For all you newbies, that means it doesn't drip oil all over the driveway or garage.) It wasn't even all that long ago before Harley redesigned their engine mounts to alleviate the engine vibration for the rider. My Dyna vibrates all over the place when I'm at a stoplight, but my body doesn't. How cool is that?

After-Market companies make seats that allows your derriere to continue normal circulation after 30 minutes of riding. That one thing alone would have been novel back in the the early days of riding on a seat that looked (and felt) like an inverted sauce pan.

I think Old School Bikers are the ones who were around to remember all those things; like when people had a healthy respect for them as Bikers, and cops didn't hassle you in every town, and politicians weren't so intent on removing the right to ride as you wish. My dad used to say, "when I was your age, I walked to school in the snow, uphill both ways". An Old School Biker says to his kid, "when I was your age, I had to kick start my bike, and Iron Butt rides really did give you an iron butt".

And perhaps that's why many of them are staunch Freedom Fighters. They remember the days of Easy Rider and life was good. Like RC does. And in that respect, maybe like me too. Though I doubt I'll be growing a beard anytime soon.

So I found this web page that has a quiz, to see if you're "Old School" or "New School", and I thought, OK, I'll bite. Could be a good laugh. And it was. Even funnier to me was the result, which I've posted below. Check it out and have a good laugh yourself. Take the Quiz. Be honest too, because regardless of the outcome, or how you see yourself, the love for riding and the lifestyle it represents is all that matters.

Are you an Old School Biker
Your Result: You are old school

You are a part of the true biker community. You probably understand the meaning of brotherhood and look after those you ride with as family. Ride Hard - Die Free is not just a fancy patch you bought at a bike rally. You probably ride your bike to Bike Week no matter how far it is. Bikers like you are hard to come by. Keep the shiny side up.

You are new school
Are you an Old School Biker
Take More Quizzes

Old School, or New School, ride hard, ride long, ride free. In the end, it's the freedom to be who you are that counts.

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