Earlier this year I drove a motorcycle for the first time in my life. Much to the chagrin of my family, I am hooked.
It is only a Honda 100 dirt bike, and my excursions so far have been limited to the back roads around my hometown, but the experience has been exhilarating. There aren’t too many things I’ve experienced in my life that proved so addictive so quickly.
Granted, I’m still a danger to everyone on the road and I missed out on my first motorcycle “wave” because I was too nervous to take my left hand off the handle bar. But I love to ride and will gladly stick to the back roads for the foreseeable future.
It’s quite easy to understand how an entire subculture can be built around the simple act of riding a motorcycle. It’s an incredible high with an unmatched sense of freedom.
Biker subculture has been in the news a lot lately. After the events of May 17 at Twin Peaks, that same community is being examined more closely, by more people, than ever before. Yet the biker world is but one of many subsets of mainstream American culture. And most of us move in at least one of them, united by a shared interest in a unique activity.
While I have a lot of different interests, that’s not the same as moving in the worlds that surround them. I love to shoot, but I’m not a gun fanatic. I’m a chronic reader but belong to no book clubs.
My immersion into subculture is limited to golf and college football. These are my circles, and I tend to “ride” with like-minded people who move within them.
I can confidently say I’m immersed in the subculture of golf. My clubs are my most prized (non-living) possession, and I spend a lot of time (and money) with people who enjoy the game as much as I do.
A few weeks back my friend and I were playing 18 holes at a course in Burleson. We got behind a foursome of disrespectful hackers who were better suited for a putt-putt course outside Dave and Buster’s. They sprayed golf balls everywhere. They failed to fix a single divot on the fairway or green. And worst of all, they committed the cardinal sin of slow play. But they had well-worn expensive clubs, proper golfing attire and were sweating their tails off on a Sunday afternoon with the rest of us.
While I would never be inclined to hang out with anyone who didn’t fix a divot on the green, we belong to the same subculture. Regardless of our approach, we’re bound by the pursuit of the well-struck golf shot.
I can’t imagine it being any different in the biker community. If my experience so far is any barometer, the joy of riding is the tie that binds this community together. Right?
Some who came to Twin Peaks that day were obviously not there for the barbecue, to paraphrase Waco Police Sgt. Patrick Swanton. Others probably were, enjoying a ride on what started out as a beautiful Sunday.
You’ll likely never see me at a rally or on a poker run, but I do plan to continue my newfound hobby of riding. With the exception of a 300-yard drive or an OU win over Texas, I can’t imagine a better adrenaline rush than cruising highways on a motorcycle.
I hope the thrill I’m getting from the back of this small dirt bike stays as pure as it is right now, even as I explore other bikes and more challenging surroundings.
We all accept that there are fringe members of our chosen subcultures, whether they be hackers or biker gangs. How we choose to interact with them — if at all — says a lot about our motivation for joining any particular clique in the first place.
I steer clear of hackers because they rob me of the joy that golf brings to my life. I hope I’m lucky enough to always remember the joy that Honda 100 has brought me and not lose sight of why I started down this road in the first place.
Who you ride with matters, sure. Why you ride is everything.
Steve Boggs is editor of the Waco Tribune-Herald. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.