When one thinks of biker rallies/gatherings, it is easy to conjure up images of a large mass of humanity gathered in heavy leather or denim. The parts of skin that are exposed to the daylight being covered in tattoos and long hair, either facial or otherwise, have often scared people about these "bikers types".
This past weekend was the annual gathering in South Padre Island. The Roar by the Shore as it is duly named, was a gathering place for one of the final hurrahs before winter sets in. It was an opportunity for folks from across the country to gather and enjoy one of the last warm days of sun left in the year. Friends old and new alike gathered to look at the latest in items, purchase last minute gear and consume beverages, good food and good music.
If you have never been to a motorcycle rally, you have nothing to fear. This was our first gathering at the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. We made new friends and thoroughly enjoyed getting sunburnt. There is no need to fear the biker. We will not eat your first-born, though the second-born boy could prove to be an appetizer for a large portion of those in attendance. Bikers are, for the most part, some of the most accepting folks in these fine United States. Respect is freely given to those who are willing to repay likewise. Whether they are in a "Bike Club", "Motorcycle Club", or "Independent Riders" all can coexist at a gathering.
For those who may not know the difference, a Bike Club is more for the weekend rider on their Yamaha Goldwings, or the "New-Age" Harley's. A Motorcycle Club rider is one who normally has patches on their vest or jacket denoting the fact that they ride with the Banditos or Hell's Angels. They will have a patch with the name at the top and bottom of their apparel also called 'Rockers'. The center will have their group's logo or image, with a patch off to one side that reads M/C. It is a tell-tale sign that they are in a club. An independent rider is one that does not wear a rocker assigning affiliation to any one. This is a large majority of riders out there. They like the freedom of the road, to be able to go and do what they wish when they wish to do.
There are games to prove one's ability on the motorcycle. There is the "Ball Run," where a bike consisting of a driver and a passenger must ride up to a piece of pipe suspended in the air at an angle to the ground. The driver's job is to keep the bike under control while their passenger places the ball in the end of the pipe. Then they must travel to the end of the pipe where the passenger must then catch the ball before it hits the ground. Add to this that neither rider may place their feet upon the ground and the fact that most bikes weigh at least 300 pounds empty, and you will quickly understand what a feat this is. With each progressing round the angle of the pipe increases.
There is the "Wienie Bite," contest. Once again, a bike containing a driver and a passenger must travel a length of space, maintaining balance; the passenger must bite off a portion of the hot dog that has been suspended off of the ground and not touch anything to the ground. The bike is not allowed to stop for more than 3 seconds. (For those non-believers out there, I saw a rider that could have balanced at a stand still all day if he wanted to.) The winner is the team that has the smallest portion of hot dog left on the suspended string.
There is also the tire toss. Where a team must throw as many tires over seven different cones. This time they must stay in one lane and again cannot allow any part of their body to come in contact with the pavement.
There is also the slow race. This breaks down into three categories: Men, Women, and Children. Before the mothers begin to hyperventilate, the children's event is run on regular bicycles. Never being one to shy away from anything competitive and seeing as my normal passenger was worn out from the ride and parade around Matamoras Mexico the day before, yours truly was the first in line to try his hand at the slow race. The rules for this event are VERY simple and VERY clear.
- Stay in your lane. The tires cross the line and you are out.
- Stay on your bike. Your foot hits the ground you are done.
- Finish the run.
- Do not stop forward progress for more than 3 seconds. You must travel the whole 50 feet in this manner.
- The last one to cross the line is the winner!
One can see where I would think that I would have an advantage on this event. I ride everyday in rush hour traffic. I basically have to travel miles in a slow manner everyday. I will spare everyone the details and suspense. I was the second one to be told to stop in my heat.
During our stay in South Padre we had a great time. But, as with any event, rarely is it that a thing like this is not pulled off with out extremely hard work by people behind the scenes. As with any event involving high-powered vehicles, someone is bound to be hurt in some way. Cyy is now sporting another mark from yet another motorcycle on her right ankle. On a more serious note, there are two fewer bikers this week as well.
It would appear that a biker and his passenger went to pass a mini van via the center turn lane. The mini-van decided to hang a U-turn the fast lane, cutting across the center turn lane. Unfortunately the mini-van did not see the motorcycle until it was too late, costing both riders their life. Yet another lesson to be learned that caution should be used at all times when operating any kind of motor vehicle.
There will be the 100th anniversary for Harley Davidson Party on the 26th of October here in the Dallas / Fort Worth area. We look forward to seeing some of our new friends and making even more.