August 04, 2008

Bikers, bikers everywhere

A few first impressions from an evening roaming through Sturgis.

  • Constant deep-throated rumbling of bikes. I mean nonstop. These are bikes designed to make noise, and be heard. There was not one bike that made a less-than loud sound. Which made me think, why has India's own Royal Enfield Bullet not made an appearance here?

  • There are other name brands, other than Harley Davidson, that is. Honda and Yamaha, but also Indian and Victory ("The New American Bike", a ten year old label).

  • Constant aroma of gas fumes. I wonder if there's a greater than usual incidence of respiratory problems during this bike week.

  • Those present are predominantly white: in three or four hours, I counted two black people, a small gaggle of Japanese or Filipino tourists, and a Mexican-American couple from San Antonio that got talking to me. Everybody else, white.

  • Bikers present are predominantly middle-aged or older.

  • Bikers present are by and large overweight, some alarmingly so. One, for some reason I couldn't fathom, attracted waves from several comely ladies.

  • Bikers present are predominantly in some combination of: blue jeans, black shirts, bandanas, black boots, black jackets, tattoos, beards.

  • Sturgis has a Main Street. Both sides are lined with parked bikes (without exception, facing into the street), and two rows go down the middle of the street too. This leaves one narrow lane in each direction for traffic. I stopped outside a tattoo shop to watch the bikes rumbling past for a half hour or so, and confirmed a suspicion: several of the bikers simply drive up and down, round and round. That is, they are indulging in that age-old ritual of the teenager/twenty-something: cruising the main drag in town, on bike or in car. Can be seen happening most nights on Carter Road in Bandra.

    Why middle-aged men and women would travel across the country to relive their teen rites is an interesting question. Any thoughts welcome.

  • Dined with five fellow-campers -- two couples and a single friend -- before I drove to Sturgis. They introduced themselves, and then the woman beside me asked: "Your first time here? You have some idea what it's going to be like, what you're going to see?"

    So I said, No, so tell me what I'm going to see.

    She had a one-word reply. "Boobs."

  • The five fellow-campers went on to tell me that they are here with something called Bikers for Christ, to spread the message of Jesus Christ among the bikers. I wondered out loud if this would be a somewhat difficult task. But they said no, they just talked to whoever was interested, and besides they are not the only ones doing this.

    Sure enough, in Sturgis I found a biker sitting on his bike with a whole pannier full of Jesus material, a mother and several young kids walking around handing out leaflets and a booklet titled "Can You Prove There Is No Hell?", which I could not resist. There was also a poster for Christian Motorcyclists for America, positioned somewhat unfortunately next to another poster that said "Dirty Girls: For the girl who doesn't mind being dirty."

    Unknown said...

    Yuppies have ruined all the major runs, you should have counted all the trailers they hauled the bikes up on.

    Sidhusaaheb said...

    The 'noise' made by any of the bikes is also known as its 'exhaust note'. Sounds more musical too, methinks!


    India's Royal Enfield Bullet would be seriously under-powered as compared to the bikes you saw there, I believe.


    Dilip D'Souza said...

    Sidhu, being underpowered would not be a deterrent. After all, the Bullet makes a decent noise, and that seems to be the vital criterion.