Friday, June 27, 2014

Mile 2,251: Good Memories, Good Brothers

I hit Big Jew in the chest with a half-eaten corn cob. We were on the back porch at Eyeball's cabin on the lake. The sun was going down a couple of hours after we had finished an easy ride up from Houston in anticipation of waking up the next day to ride up to the Nac clubhouse. Eyeball had the grill going at full tilt, cooking all kinds of meats and vegetables including corn on the cob. Every few minutes he handed us roasted treats that we devoured without effort.

As I finished one particular treat, I decided (for some odd reason) to underhand the spent cob out into the woods. But in a moment of failed dexterity the cob instead flew up out of my hand, hit the patio ceiling, and bounced right onto Big Jew's chest with crucial force. And since I was a lowly Prospect at the time, I held my breath not knowing what the following moment would include. Laughter? Facepunching? Thankfully, it was laughter.

Looking back, it is hard to believe that was almost three years ago. To say that "a lot has happened" in that three years would be less than an understatement. Thousands of miles, some good, some bad. Sunshine and rain. Times to celebrate, times to mourn, and some in between.

But one thing life in an MC has taught me is how easy it is to get distracted. Like any organization, it is tempting to focus on things that really serve to... well... distract us. But as I said to Mouthpiece at breakfast recently at a Mexican dive on a Saturday morning in Seguin, Texas, I have committed personally to life in the Gypsy Motorcycle Club that ideally includes two things, and two things only: Riding motorcycles and having fun.

Motorcycles and fun.

For me, that combination is the benchmark. If any single thing or activity does not fall under one of those two categories, then we have to ask, "What for?"

Moreover, if you are a member of my Gypsy MC family, then riding motorcycles and having fun needs to be our standard. Period.

These were only some of the things I thought about last Saturday as Mouthpiece and I rolled back to Houston. I thought about these things again over this past week, especially in my conversations with people about motorcycling and everything the lifestyle entails. It was refreshing to listen to those who restore old bikes, as well as those who buy brand new ones, talk about how much they cannot wait for the next long ride. As I look back on my week, even the frustration of having to plug a new tire carried with it a certain amount of joy as I worked on my own bike by myself. Just me and Rocinante in my garage. The door was open, the rain fell gently outside on the driveway, the fan was on, and the concrete floor served as my seat where I was anything but a spectator.

The same is true for the ride. When you are on a motorcycle, you are anything but a spectator. Even if you are riding on the back, you are actively engaged in the ride, the scenery, the smells, and the occasional Junebug that hits you right in the shin and makes you flinch.

What makes the memories of barbecues on the back patio so special is the conversations that go with the meat and onions and corn. Stories after the ride. Remember that idiot that pulled out in front of us as we rounded 59 by Minute Maid Park? Did you get sandblasted too as we approached that 18-wheeler? That little bit of rain actually felt good as it cooled us off from the baking heat.

Why would anyone want to pass that up?

Today, I took the bike out for a little spin just to make sure the plug took hold. It was a ride devoted strictly to function. Not a joy ride at all. But even at that, it was a ride filled with joy. Only one thing would have made it better:

Big Jew on my left. Wango right behind me. Bill the Cat right beside Wango. Mouthpiece. J2 on his new trike (soon?). Bobby monitoring the pack at the back.

The Houston chapter rolling somewhere, anywhere. GMCH on the highway. We stop for the night. Cookout wherever we wind up. But next time, I promise to throw my plate away gently in the trash so as not to hit anyone in the chest.

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