Primitive Times and Primitive Rides

Primitive Times and Primitive Rides

Posted by Team Motorcycle on Aug 6th 2016

Remember when motorcycles required a serious workout to ride?

They had to be kick-started, man-handled, respected and they left you smelling like a hearty mixture of gasoline, sweat and exhaust. Not just anyone could handle the iron horses of yester-year; that actuality is largely responsible for the outlaw image associated with bikers of the better part of the 20th century.

While I’m certainly no law breaker and I do enjoy the finer things in life, I am an old soul to the bone. I’ll gladly take the beating delivered by a 50-something year old bike, followed by the shower and load of laundry required after said ride; every time. I’ve been called crazy, stupid and cool all in the same breath but you know what? Without fail, heads turn, thumbs rise high and smiles are cracked anywhere and everywhere I go on my trusty 1964 Harley Panhead.

There’s something inherently cool about saddling up and taking to the highway on a bike that ruled the roads decades earlier. I feel the same about their four-wheeled counterparts. How about when cars had loads of character and were made of steel? I was driving with my nephew the other day and as we passed a beautiful classic car, I called out, ‘Check out that ’56 Buick!’ He innocently replied, ‘How can you tell what year it’s from?’ Exactly. Do you ever hear anyone say ‘Check out that ’06 Accord!’? I didn’t think so. Cars used to have serious charisma and personality that made them identifiable by year. Unfortunately, the younger generation will never understand the romanticism of something as simple as a bench seat. Ladies, how many of you remember (and miss) sitting right next to your man, your left leg against his right, while he navigated the car for an evening on the town?

Hell, now that I think about it, I’m like that with most things: bikes; cars, guitars, cameras, rock-and-roll, and chivalry and etiquette for example. It’s as if America has lost touch with its roots. Everyone is tied to their cell phones, social media and the app of the week. Where is the soul? I won’t lie; like many of us, there are definitely a few necessary evils that I’m forced to succumb to in an effort to survive and thrive.

A few years back, I found the perfect answer; a way to blend my responsibilities as an adult with my passion for classic scooters, vintage Americana and black & white film photography. I started writing traveling pieces consisting of me riding my ’64 chopper hundreds of miles across the U.S., with little more that a bedroll, a 1960-something Pentax camera, and pockets full of film. Pretty sweet, huh? My wife’s business trips usually involve a first class plane ticket and a room at the Hyatt, while mine have me sleeping in the dirt next to my bike and a campfire; sans cell phone and Wi-Fi. Needless to say, she is not jealous.

I have always wanted to follow the tire tracks of Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in the 1969 cult-classic, Easy Rider; LA to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Interacting with people from all walks of life along the way in desolate towns, searching for answers. A lot of fans have paid homage to the movie by doing the ride themselves. I did it on a period-correct chopper like the ones used in the film, and let me tell ya, it was grand.

It didn’t take long to lose count of all the naysayers that told me I had lost my mind for even considering riding my ’64 that far. “Oh the ride will beat you to death; that thing will never make it, blah, blah, blah.” What those people don’t realize is that althoughEasy Rider is a Hollywood movie, that’s all the motorcycle riding community had back then, and they loved it. Rigid frames, kick starters and drum brakes. Guys customized and worked on their rides themselves, perpetual grease under their fingernails and all. Those rides were their means of transportation, their pride and their personality.

Whether you have an old bike, an Import bike, a new American bike or a moped, it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, that’s not what it’s about in the least. I sincerely recommend breaking away from the bump and grind of life and hitting the reset button every now and again. Shut down the laptop, strap a tent to your bike, leave the cell phone behind and just go. Remember, the world existed before cell phones and Wi-Fi. There is nothing more refreshing that going primitive for a weekend. Freeing yourself of that nagging feeling of watching for that important email from your boss; scrolling Facebook and seeing what your BFF is eating for dinner, or whichever of life’s trappings sit heavily on your shoulders the majority of the time. Most importantly, remember that it’s not about the destination; it’s about the road traveled.

I’d love to hear your feedback, comments and thoughts, my fellow riders!