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This copied fro another website.

© Copyright 2005 Arthur Jacobson.




RIDING WITH THE FAT OLD MEN

I have been riding with the fat old men. Their bellies lunge aggressively over their belt bands like boulders hanging balanced over a cliff's edge. They wear blue jeans suspended from bright red galluses as broad as four fingers of a thin man's hands. For real comfort 'overhauls' are the informal uniform of the day.

The fat old men are sixty-something to seventy-something. They have knuckles scarred by slipping wrenches, and small patches of white skin where burns have healed from rubbing against red hot exhaust headers. They were too anxious to get the work done to let their motorcycles cool; too eager to get back on the road.

The fat old men do not walk to breakfast with their riding companions unless the cafe is across the street. The fat old men are genial companions around a campfire, or at a breakfast table, but they leave the congeniality of group walks to their younger, merely plump, riding buddies and their buddies' comfortable wives.

The fat old men will ride the hundred yards to breakfast and load up for the day with buttered pancakes, fried eggs, rashers of bacon, home-fried potatoes and biscuits. If there is a slice of orange garnishing the plate they will ignore it and wash breakfast down with coffee laced with cream. I have known them, on occasion, to drink a red beer or two...beer and tomato juice...as a corrective to the previous evening's tire kicking session.

These are not soft men. Their bellies are as hard as a table top; the kind of belly you see on construction workers who have spent their lives leaning on jack hammers. This is not the middle-aged guy's gut and flabby love handles. My fat old men do not have love handles, they are as free of such overhangs as a cement sewer pipe.

These men require motorcycles as substantial as their breakfasts, huge touring machines that the trade knows as "luxo-tourers." The fat old men have serious riding business to undertake and they need proper tools for the work.

Not for the fat old men some younger guy's "crotch rocket," which is nothing but a citified version of an honest racing motorcycle. They don't want to go a hundred miles an hour crouched over their gas tanks like a monkey making love to a watermelon, although they admire these motorcycles and will talk flatteringly about them with their owners.

What my guys want is to go hundreds of miles hour after hour after hou rand for that these substantial men want substantial comfort. Huge engines, special seats, windshields and fairings, power adjustable gas shock absorbers, radios and tape players, and of course radar detectors.

The fat old men have served their country, been blown out of their tanks, jumped out of their bombers, held dying friends in their arms. They understand shell shock, battle fatigue, and post traumatic stress syndrome and have gone on charity rides to help comrades who suffered from those ailments. They are not scornful of modern psychology.

But they have, themselves, simply sucked up their problems and got on with their lives. Some few of them are old enough to have had to "deal with depression," but that depression was the sort where pop was out of work and their mamas made sister's blouses out of gaily printed flour sacks.

So here we are ready to ride for a weekend on winding mountain roads. Big men on huge motorcycles. These motorcycles may weigh close to half a ton "wet." That is, with full gas tanks and topped-up radiators. Yet they ride out of the parking lot, pull a graceful U-turn on a narrow two lane country road, and purr off for a day of canyon carving with a lightness and grace that shames the rest of us who have to paddle our lighter bikes around the parking lot and off onto the road.

Understand what's going on here. The fat old men have ridden 600 miles on a Friday to spend Saturday with friends riding 300 hundred miles on hairpin curves and badly banked blacktop roads. On Sunday they will ride six hundred miles home. This is not "long distance riding." This is a pleasant weekend jaunt.

Take a look at their triple-extra-large T-shirts, the souvenirs and records of the riding by which they define themselves. "The Iron Butt"...a thousand miles in a day; "Fifty CC" which means they have ridden coast to coast in fifty hours; "The Four Corners" a ride around the four corners of the United States; and the relatively mild "Three Flags" run- from Mexico to Canada over a weekend.

That's riding. A sixty mile ride with your buds to a tavern just ain't in it.

Not that the fat old men are judgmental, they think all motorcyclists should do their thing, they just want to do more of it than some other folks. And for the most of it the fat old men can ride rings around the rest of us.

My wife, Katherine, and I are puttering up the New Mexican curves bound for the town Reserve, New Mexico, and a sentimental return to Uncle Bill's Bar, when we are passed by the fat old men, who whisper by us, dip into the curve ahead just letting their foot pegs touch the road, and are gone.

There is not the briefest flicker of their brake lights to betray a second thought about what they were doing or the speed at which they were doing it.

The town of Reserve is the center of ranching activity for the area and the bar is the social hub of the town. On a non-weekend day you can hear an exhaustive analysis of what is wrong with the BLM, sandal-wearing environmentalists, and the idiots who want to re-introduce wolves where sensible men are trying to make a living raising cattle.

The bar's souvenir T-shirt shows a cowboy and his horse taking a companionable piss together. It is not clear what they are companionably pissing on.

On the weekends the bar is a destination of choice for clubs of Harley-Davidson riders and a scattering of Japanese motorcycles worked to look like Harleys. These are not biker gang people, just young guys and their wives or girlfriends. They are not as dangerous as they look, despite the leather and tattoos, but they would be disappointed if they thought you weren't just a bit apprehensive.

You know, they're going to have a goat roast and you're the goat. That sort of thing.

When Katherine and I hit town the fat old men were well ahead of us, strolling up and down a line of some twenty or more bikes parked in front of Uncle Bill's. It would be wrong to suggest that there was anything ponderous about their progress; their stomachs did not precede them in any way that suggested the swaying trunks of elephants.

Rather, there was something stately and grand about the way they walked along the line of motorcycles a convocation of bishops discussing difficult issues of theology on a stroll through the cloisters.

Some riders come out of the bar for a smoke and walk over to where the fat old men were examining their motorcycles. Nice day for a ride where y'all from those your Goldwings? how do you like the Harley belt drive the random stock phrases one scooter person asks another to get a conversation going, set a tone.

It's pretty clear from a kind of swaggering body language that the young guys, the ones with the thin-lipped Appalachian girlfriends, are sort of sorry for the fat old men. The fat old men have to wear protective riding suits, big heavy helmets, ride huge "safe" motorcycles. The fat old men are not riding free in the wind, bare chested, with their halter topped girlfriends pressing their breasts against them.

The fat old men, who have been blown out of their tanks, jumped out of their bombers, and ridden their motorcycles into (and out of) ditches avoiding idiots passing in the wrong lane; these fat old men don't much give a rat's *** what anyone thinks.

And it's right here that the conflict between the old bulls and the young bulls arises. It's head butting, antler locking time, and one of the fat old men says something like,

"That's a good looking scoot. Chrome's nice. Must have cost you a fortune."

The young bull paws the ground with pride. "Yeah, thanks. I ride a lot. Like the scoot to stand out."

"That's a 1999, isn't it. Interesting engine mods made that year to fix the generator problems," says the fat old man, leaning over to check the odometer.

Whoa, what is this? The old fat guy knows something about scoots. Is this a put-down? Is he knocking my ride?

"Goldwing's the same year. Didn't do much to the bike that year, but I've tinkered a few changes just for comfort. Getting old is ****." And then comes the killer head butt, the sand in the sandbag:

"How many miles ya got?"

"**** near 16 thousand live to ride, ride to live, bro. How about you?"

"Well, coming up the hill here I just turned 140 thousand. Good to talk. Keep the rubber side down but guess I' better get going, I'm supposed to be in Denver tonight."

The fat old man waved and turned to walk back to his Wing. Just before he shrugged into the top half of his riding suit you could read the back of his T-shirt:

YOU DON'T STOP RIDING BECAUSE YOU GET OLD, YOU GET OLD BECAUSE YOU STOP RIDING.

The fat old men are not saints. Inside the fat old men are the brash young guys with the go to **** attitudes who were blown out of their tanks or who jumped out of their bombers.

The fat old man wrenched the Wing upright and hip-swung the big tourer into the intersection, where he pulled a near lock-to-lock figure eight, waved goodbye and went on his way.
 

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Very nice read, thanks for sharing.

I ain't fat and fortunately never been shot at. But I'm sure I've been mistaken for a fat old man.....
 

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Very nice read, thanks for sharing.

I ain't fat and fortunately never been shot at. But I'm sure I've been mistaken for a fat old man.....
I know that I am the fat old man. :wink2:
 

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Discussion Starter #10

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Bumping back to the top, because it's a good read.
 

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I am a fat old man. Jumped out of planes and helicopters, never been blown out of a tank, but have been shot at and shot back. Loved this read. Very well written, more sir, more!
 

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I used to be REAL fat, so I can very much relate to the story. I have since had to go to a trike, but I still put a sh.t load of miles on it per year. Done many 1000 mile a day rides on 2 and 3 wheels although I have slowed down and more enjoy 3 to 400 mile days a lot more now.
 
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