BIKER SUBCULTURE: “THE LOOKING GLASS”

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Photo by Genghis

SEEING OUR OWN REFLECTION: Scopin’ out a video of a biker riding his Harley.

THE FOLLOWING FACEBOOK POSTS ARE ABOUT A VIDEO FEATURING A JAPANESE BIKER RIDING HIS HARLEY UP A STEEP GRASSY HILL, SURFING ON HIS MOTORCYCLE, AND RIDING ON HIGHWAYS

GREGG SCOTT:

“There’s something in this vid that really strikes a nerve with me. This guy is hardcore and havin’ fun without posin’ and posturin’. I’m talking about the overall feeling I get when watching this clip. I could give a….about the surfin’, but the attitude!”

DAVID SNOW:

“I agree. Just all out fun and not trying to be badass, which, of course, makes him totally badass. Anyway, I dig the hill climb, ’cause I’ve done it several times.”

GENGHIS:

“I don’t know. Looks like what I do every time I ride. Except for the hill climb and bike surfing. When’s the last time in the real world, did average street bikers ride up grassy knolls and bike surf on freeways? Watching any biker riding his shovel is righteous. No doubt about it.”

************************************************

Gotta admit, I never hill climbed like Snow, and never surfed on my motorcycle either. Unless I’m mistaken, Snow wouldn’t attempt to bike surf either. Neither would I. I put motorcycle surfing into the top five category of things I wouldn’t do, a list that includes subway surfing, being shot out of a cannon, and trying to escape handcuffs and chains underwater, ‘a la Harry Houdini. Oh yeah, I forgot about holding an apple in my mouth while some sharpshooter tries to shoot the apple with a .45. This will tell ya what I think of motorcycle surfing. When I heard that Indian Larry fell and died while performing this motorcycle surfing stunt at a bike show, I had a single thought:

Stupid.

I have a theory about why true bikers react to the alluded-to video, like we do: It’s all about us. It is a reaffirmation of who we are, and a recreation on film—something we rarely see documented videographically—of what we experience when we ride our Harleys. How often do you see a film clip of a biker riding a shovelhead, replete with the familiar sounds of the motor, the tranny clunking into gear, the exhaust brapping wildly as the rider backs off the throttle in fourth gear, seeing the bike leap forward like a cheetah when we twist to throttle back to its stop.? All that’s missing is the smell of 60 weight. Man, seeing and hearing a biker going through the joy of riding, is like looking into a mirror. That’s why we relate so much with such videos. Such films act as Rorschach tests, and what most of us see is ourselves.

It is authentic.

A short video clip like that is worth more in reality points than all the biker related movies like “Harley-Davidson and the Marlboro Man.” While Hollywood flicks feature pure simulation and acting, clips of real bikers doing what we do every time we ride, is a heavy dose of reality in a cinematic world where accurate representaion of what it’s like to ride a righteous shovelhead, is all but unknown. It’s refreshing to not have to depend on an actor to have this vicarious experience.

Even a movie like “Roadside Prophets” which more accurately depicts what’s it’s like to ride a Harley 74, is more like looking at a static photo on the wall, compared to an authentic video of a real world biker on his shovel. The real world clip of the Japanese shovel rider, shows him being followed by the camera as he blasts down streets and highways, passing cars, switching lanes, just having fun doing what bikers do: In short, what we do. Riding our Harleys, no more, no less.

Seeing a video of the Japanese biker on his shovel having fun, is like seeing a video of ourselves on our bikes, if we had a chase truck following us with a videographer documenting one of our rides. That’s the way I felt when watching the video. Except for the hill climb (this was no median crossed to change direction on a highway by the way, the hill the Japanese biker climbed looked like a 45 degree ascent) and playing surfer boy on the bike. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall. Later.

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