Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It's Your Favorite Foreign Movie

Listen to them talk. For some these bikes represent the cool old bikes of the past. For many, these bikes are THEIR past. When I stroll around vintage motorcycle shows with my camera, I listen as well as look. The bench racing alone is worth the price of admission. This is time travel - holding tight to parts of the past, returning to visit them on occasion.
Look in the eyes of the old guy leaning on the cane as he gazes at the knucklehead Harley, remembering how he first learned to ride one just like it. Walk past the gray-bears standing in front of the Triumph and listen to the laughter as one recalls how he had one "just like that .... I chopped it". Or the guy tell the owner of the BSA that he learned to ride in the dirt on one just like it. "Man I wish I still had that bike..." These guys are not bikers but motorcyclists - they've ridden for the better part of their lives and still do. Motocross. Trials. Flattrack. They talk forks and ignitions and frames. They hunt through the swap booths and recognize pieces in a pile of seemingly worthless metal. They can spot a needed linkage for a Matchless at fifty paces. They walk straight across the grass to a booth because they recognize the rusty tank as the perfect replacement for the BSA they are restoring - the tank dented in a race long ago. You wouldn't recognize them by their attire because there is no uniform. No costume. But, as you weave through the bikes, you'll hear the words: "Oh my God, I had one of those"...over and over.
When the show was over on Saturday, some were in no hurry to leave but leaned on their pickups, listening to the Blues filtering across the bay. Their conversations started and stopped as the memories were compared. These are men for whom motorcycles represent as much of their history as the girls they loved. I suspect many were more nostalgic about the bikes.