Bikers on dope – or is it the other way around?


Stop light to stoplight; it’s the same thing over and over.

First, he repeatedly gooses the throttle while waiting for the light to change. Then, the instant the light turns to green, the alpha cruiser guns it toward the next light, “Bro-o-o-o-oahrrrr!” wide-open, and then slams on his brakes to wait for the next light to turn from red to green so the whole process can be repeated.


The remaining beta cruisers in the pack mimic this idiocy, each hoping to out-do the others on the decibel scale. That half the neighboring cars’ occupants hold AARP cards, and are annoyed or frightened by this anti-social demonstration, seems totally to escape the riders. Their focus seems to be strictly on getting their one-trick-ponies to, um, repeat their trick.

How is it possible to be so easily amused?

Have they all been hibernating in New Hampshire and Wisconsin these past five months, storing up such a surplus of enthusiasm for the First Ride of Spring they’ve totally forgotten their manners? Does the pack mentality overshadow any reasonable consideration for anyone else within earshot?

The pack mentality is obviously functioning.

You wouldn’t be caught dead out of uniform (doo-rag, sunglasses, leather vest, sleeveless T-shirt, billfold on a chain stuffed into jeans worn over engineer boots,). Tattoos are essential; a shaved bald head is a plus. Since Florida is a no-helmet-law state, flaunting your right to ride bare-headed (regardless of your riding experience) takes precedent over common sense. Geeks wearing helmets riding motorcycles from the Wrong Country of Origin get the invisible (sometimes) finger.

It’s not necessary to be going anywhere; just ride around, see and be seen, maybe stop for a brew or three and take in some cole-slaw wrestling. And laugh hilariously every time you pass the guys who’ve parked long enough to unfurl a “Show your tits” sign.

Is it just that I’m getting old, or is this indeed boorish behavior?

My co-worker Jack from oh-so-unsophisticated Rising Star, Texas (pop. 138), would have summed it up with a derisive, “Strictly high school!” but it wouldn’t have bothered Jack as it does me. Jack had nothing personal involved. He wore his unpretentious (and highly comfortable) Hush-Puppies to work every day as a biostatistician at the Centers for Disease Control, and lived in a micro-world devoted to measuring incidence and prevalence of disease. He dismissed my weekend passion for enduro riding with the same “high school” disregard.

And that’s what bothers me. I don’t like being lumped in with a bunch of doofuses for whom I have such contempt and have so little in common.

“Hey man, we’re all in the wind together!”

“Hey man; no we ain’t.”

Pete Tamblyn © 2007