Sunday, April 19, 2009

I Met the Me of 30 Years Ago

30 years ago, when I was 21 years old, I idolized the biker image: The boots, leather, and the Harley. I worked over time to acquire the resources to assume that image, from buying various pieces of biker leather gear and boots, to even getting a Harley eventually.

Yesterday was a stunningly beautiful sunny day. It reached 78°F (25.5°C) with a low dew point. My partner and I awoke before dawn, snuggled for a little bit, then set about accomplishing a lot of tasks.

By 11am we were done, and I prepared an early lunch. Then my partner said, "we're done--I know you're itching to go ride your Harley, so go!" I flashed him a huge smile, gave him a hug, donned my unlined Wesco Boss Engineer boots, jeans, and my vest, and off I went. There was an open-house at a Harley dealership, which was my destination. My dress was "traditional biker" as it was too warm for leather breeches. I just felt like wearing my old comfortable Wranglers over my Wesco Boss boots. (I don't wear jeans inside my boots every time I ride my Harley, though from this blog, it may appear that I do.)

When I got to my destination, I carefully backed up into a space on the street among the Harleys owned by fellow club members. Then this guy who was probably about 21 came up to me and said, "Cool! You're the biker I want to be." I gave him an incredulous look at first, but then realized he was dead serious. In many ways, he even looked like I did 30 years ago, including having long blond hair.

We talked for quite a while. He had just bought his first bike -- a small Suzuki. Turns out that yesterday was his first solo ride, since he just got his motorcycle endorsement on his driver's license on Friday.

He had tons of questions, and I was happy to try to answer. He told me that he wanted to take a motorcycle training course, but expressed disappointment that the courses he tried to sign up for were all full.
I explained the "secret" -- that the courses fill fast in April and May, but by June, spaces in the courses begin to open up, and the courses go on all summer. "Oh! Great! Do you teach them?" (Not nowadays, but years ago I did.)

He continued with more question, such as what boots and leathers to get first. He was proud of his first leather item -- a traditional biker jacket -- but didn't have anything else. He glanced disapprovingly at his sneakers.

"What boots are you wearing? Where did you get them? Who made your vest? Wow -- those patches are cool!" He babbled away, in wonder and awe. I patiently answered his questions, one by one.

I explained why not to buy leather gear from a Harley Dealer (due to the incredible mark-up), but why chaps are probably the first leather item to get after a jacket and boots. I suggested some decent on-line sources for leather gear. I talked boots with him, too, and laughed when he said, "man, you know a lot about boots." (When a fellow club member heard him say that, he laughed and said, "you don't know the half of it.")

My young enthusiast said that he preferred engineer style boots, and said that his budget was about $200. That ruled out a new pair of Wescos. I explained the qualities of Chippewa engineer boots, and he seemed very appreciative of the boot recommendation, as well as the source (Stompers, where else?).

I remember the day when I bought my first pair of biker boots to go with my biker jacket. Then I got my chaps... and after that, more leather gear and boots followed over the years. I wished this guy a great day, and he smiled, shook my hand, and said "thanks, man!" most enthusiastically. I'm glad I made his day. His reaction, questions, and bright, inquisitive demeanor sure made mine! He made me smile, because in him I saw the "me" of years ago.

Life is short: wear your boots! Be a mentor when you can.

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