A Christmas Carol
Most people don’t know this, but Ebenezer Scrooge was a biker. As a matter of fact, all the characters in a Christmas Carol had a role in the development of the motorcycle culture. Bob Cratchit was a primo mechanic that kept Scrooge’s ride running strong. It was actually Cratchit that invented a wrench that could continue to be used without removing it from the nut. That’s right, he invented the Cratchit. Unfortunately, Scrooge stole it from him, sold the patent and got rich off the “ratchet”. Tiny Tim was the beneficiary of the very first charity ride and Marley had a reggae band that played at the local biker bar... that part may be wrong.
Anyway, Scrooge got to the point where he took his ride for granted. He figured that other people would take care of things and he would often say “I just wanna ride”.
The motorcycle powers that be (no, that’s not the big 4 and HD) noticed that Scrooge was not doing anything to promote motorcycling or help protect our freedoms. We are all aware that Scrooge was cheap (I know, like I’m one to talk). Happy Herb had once told him “you’re ridin’ on my dime”. Scrooge didn’t care and repeated “I just wanna ride”.
One night, just before the Boogie... wait a minute, this is a holiday story. OK, OK... one night just before Christmas, Scrooge had fallen asleep and was visited by Marley. The fact that he was asleep and seeing a friend that had been dead for years, were probably both related to the substantial number of Jagerbombs and fine micro brews he had drank earlier that night.
Marley went on to tell him that he was nothing more than a fair-weather riding poser, and didn’t deserve the fine custom that Cratchit built for him. He went on to tell Scrooge that he would have three visitors. Before Scrooge could even ask him about the 20 bucks he owed him when he died, Marley was gone.
Not long after that, Scrooge was visited by the Ghost of Bikers Past. He brought a whole bunch of his buddies along because that’s what we did in the old days. These were mostly vintage scoots and these guys were serious about their rides. All were dressed in old leathers with aviator style goggles and a lot of tattoos. These are the guys that wave at every two-wheeler on the road. They let Scrooge have it pretty good telling him that he needed to help out and make motorcycling better. When Scrooge said “I just wanna ride” one of the meanest and ugliest dudes there, reached over and smacked him right in the mouth, because that’s what we did in the old days (I gotta admit, I kinda miss the old days sometimes). They made sure that he understood what he needed to do. Deep inside, he already knew. After his buddies emptied his refrigerator, broke his couch and plugged up his toilet, they all hugged him and said “we love ya Brother” as they roared out of sight.
Next came the Ghost of Bikers Present (I always thought this sounded like they should be bringing gifts). There were only two of them and these guys were wearing state of the art, synthetic riding suits and rode brand new motorcycles each equipped with GPS. Sure, they are serious about “their” ride, but not anyone else’s. They are skilled riders, but they are not bikers. They don’t acknowledge other motorcyclists on the road with a wave or a nod, they just go from place to place as fast as they can. They didn’t really talk to Scrooge too much, but when one of them looked his way Scrooge said “I just wanna ride”. They both responded with a quick “yeah, whatever” and tore off on two of the loudest bikes you’ve ever heard, setting off car alarms and neighbors’ tempers as they blasted through the streets on one wheel.
When it came time for a visit from the Ghost of Bikers Future, Scrooge found himself in a vacant motorcycle shop. There were a few scattered parts, but no complete motorcycles. He was surrounded by dust and empty space. As he walked through what used to be a sales floor, parts department and service area, he noticed a door out the back. He opened the door and there behind that old shop was a tombstone that read “MOTORCYCLING 1885-2012”. As a tear rolled down his cheek Scrooge’s voice cracked as he softly choked out “I just wanna ride”.
Scrooge woke from the nightmare drenched in sweat. He ran to the garage and breathed a sigh of relief to find Cratchit diligently wrenching on his bike. He immediately rode to the bike shop and asked what he could do to support them. He attended his local ABATE meeting and got involved and later became the county rep. He got well acquainted with his elected representatives and regularly shared his opinion with them, specifically regarding motorcycle legislation. He also encouraged everyone he knew to share his newfound passion about the “freedom” of motorcycling and the fight to keep it. He was then heard to say “I just wanna ride, but I wanna make sure my grandkids can ride too”.
Alright, sure this is a bit of a stretch. But not as much as you think. We must remain vigilant. We must also be responsible. If we don’t resolve the issues that are negatively impacting motorcycling (or perceived to negatively impact - remember perception is reality), we aren’t gonna like the way the story ends. Get involved. Protect your rights. Contact your legislators. Support your local motorcycle shop.
Have a wonderful holiday and let’s all work together to have a great 2010.
P.S. Before someone writes in, I know that some think the first motorcycle was actually constructed in 1867, but Daimler’s internal combustion motorcycle was built in 1885.