Writer's Ramblings

VALUES

Written by  April 30, 2006

Thinking about motorcycles and their riders automatically brings to mind the values and standards that most riders hold near and dear. It is as much as aiding a stranded or injured cyclist or as little as the “low wave” we share when we meet.

Recently I have had the opportunity to experience true “biker values” up close and personal. It is not a fancy story, or particularly a flattering one (from my view), but it happened, and I am glad it did.

I have ridden for well over 25 years, several of them in Europe, so I am not exactly a novice to the sport. But, I had a problem. I let my M/C endorsement slide off my license a bunch of years back. Well, after 10 years off the road, I decided to buy a bike partially because of the cost of gas, partially because I missed riding. I have always wanted a Harley (more on this in last month’s issue), so my wife Jennifer and I went out and bought a 2005 Road King Custom.

Being at least marginally intelligent, I did have a permit to ride. (Texas permit says you can ride if you have a licensed motorcyclist in view.) And, it came to my attention that the permit expired when the license did…..hmmmm. I may never need to get a license. WRONG. I ride alone back and forth to work and illegal is illegal, so after a couple of minutes of soul searching, I decided I needed to get fully endorsed.

Okay, no problem right? Wrong again. I have an extended family, and quite a few of them ride. Much to my amazement (and disbelief) none of them actually had a license. So it was looking like obtaining my own license would be more difficult than anticipated. Remember, I need a licensed rider with me when I test….oh, yeah, and a car to tote the testing official around in (both need to be fully insured and inspected).

Enter George. I met him casually at a cycle shop when I was first looking to buy and never dreamed I would need him later. George worked at the shop and was very helpful and easy to talk with. One day after visiting the shop, my wife asked why I didn’t just ask one of the guys there to go with me to test for my license. I almost rejected this out-of-pocket because I hate to inconvenience folks, and I wasn’t exactly “friends” with these folks… or so I thought. Jennifer convinced me to at least ask, so I called the shop the following day. The answer was noncommittal but encouraging, “Yeah, we could probably do that, come see us.” I went in and spoke with George and Steve and it was decided that it could be done. Now all that was left were the logistics.

DOT in this particular town requires an appointment to test. So, in order to test, I had to get a vehicle (that would pass inspection), my bike, myself, and George together with the tester. Easier said than done. My wife is a trucker so unavailable through the week. George works the shop and is a trucker and has weird hours, and I was working a job where the hours were spastic, to put it mildly.

We finally hooked up the other day. It was an amazing feat of coincidental acts that enabled us to meet at the same time. I had called the day before and made an appointment for 0900, then called George to see if he was available. Spur of the moment, but it clicked, he was able to meet me at 0800 the following day at a local restaurant for coffee.

Easy discussion about family and friends helped to calm my nerves prior to the test. George and I cussed and discussed several subjects pertaining to nothing specific and everything in general, leaving me with a sense of calm and a better understanding of my new friend. The 9 a.m. hour was approaching, so I mounted my bike and headed out of the parking lot with George in his pickup not far behind. The preliminaries at the license bureau went smoothly, and the tester grabbed her coat and headed outside.

An inspection was made of the bike and the truck, testing lights and horns. Afterwards, she gave detailed instructions to both of us how testing was to proceed. One honk of the truck horn meant I was to turn right, two honks, left. Easy enough. I was also instructed in procedures in case we were separated.

The road test itself was at terribly slow speeds and encompassed a half dozen left and right turns through a residential area. There were numerous stop or yield situations and a fluctuating speed limit. It also surprised me that it seemed to be designed so that at least half of the intersections were littered with gravel, pot holes, or both.

George drove the tester behind me, dutifully honking the horn at the appropriate times. I am sure he was frustrated after the 20th time he had to honk the horn. I had no idea what this test would involve. But, with all said and done, I passed.

I could not have done it without the help of a fellow biker. George gave up time from his family to help someone he barely knew and then refused payment. I will never forget. George, Thank You!

(Details, details: This foray into testing took from the 7th of September to the 18th of January to complete. It was freezing in the morning warming to the 70s in the afternoon with wind gusts to 30 mph when I tested.…gotta love Texas.)

Walk Tall, Ride Safe!

By Mike Lousha