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Old 09-30-2012, 10:45 AM   #1
Mr_Gone OP
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50,000 Harleys and 1 FJR (me)

I don’t pay much attention to biker rallies because they’re just not for me. So when I decided on a day trip over to Fayetteville, Arkansas, I had no idea that Bikers Blues & BBQ was going on this weekend. I just wanted to look at a new jacket, so any excuse to ride is a good excuse.

I left around 8 a.m. and, if you haven’t been to northern Arkansas, the roads are pretty good. Lots of big sweepers and enough tight twisties to keep a smile on your face. And early on Saturday morning, not much traffic.

I began to get suspicious on the trip over when I started passing large groups of bikers on Harleys. Halfway through my two-hour trip to Fayetteville, I had already passed 1,000 bikes. In the next hour, I probably passed another 2,000 bikers.

Something was going on. (Yeah, I’m slow to catch on.) I knew that Fayetteville had a big biker rally each year, but I never paid any attention to when it occurred. Because I’m sometimes dense, it *finally* occurred to me that I was riding into the heart of 50,000 bikers gathered in northwest Arkansas.

During my whole trip of 285 miles (home to Fayetteville and back home), I only saw two cops. One cop was directing traffic in front of the Harley-Davidson dealership in the Fayetteville area. The other cop was a small-town Sheriff somewhere in northern Arkansas who decided to follow a small group of Harley riders for several riders before giving up because the guys were riding pretty responsibly, and the whole time I followed them they rode the speed limit. My only gripe was that they rode three across the road when it became two lanes, preventing people from passing. That seemed like an asshole move.

Here’s a few thoughts that struck me on my trip. First, there are very few “individuals” in the Harley crowd. I know, I know, this subject has been beaten to death an infinite number of times, but I always resisted going with the consensus opinion on this because, hey, to each their own. But when you see 50,000 Harley riders together, it’s just so obvious and completely ridiculous. They sort of have a uniform, don’t they? They nearly all wore leather chaps and leather vests, all branded “Harley-Davidson.” A huge majority wore bandanas, also HD branded. A few wore helmets, but almost always those little pots. All t-shirts worn said “Harley-Davidson.” All jackets said “Harley-Davidson.”

After a while, it just seemed ludicrous. These “bikers” aren’t individuals. I don’t know the proper term — throng, horde, pack, gaggle. Whatever. They’re like ants in a super-colony, all working toward some unknown objective.

I’d say 99% of the bikes I saw were Harleys. There were a few Victory bikes and a few Gold Wings. At the BMW dealership, I stopped and saw quite a few BMWs (duh!) and even two beautiful red Ducatis, a 749 and a 1098. Everyone else was on a Harley.

Now look, I’m all for individual freedom. But these people are followers. I can’t think of a more accurate term. The peer pressure must be worse than in junior high among teenage girls. “Dude, you’re wearing a waterproof textile jacket with armor? What’s wrong with you? Girlfriend, you are so out of fashion! Go buy yourself a branded leather vest right now! And a bandana, bitch!”

But to each their own. I tried to avoid being judgmental, but it’s just comical to me now how these bikers dress. I kid you not, I’d say 75% of riders were wearing bandanas. That’s just freaking ridiculous. How much peer pressure has to be exerted for a grown man to wear a bandana?

Now, before everyone accuses me of ruthless Harley bashing, let me say that I met dozens of bikers; at motorcycle dealerships, at a restaurant, at a gas station. Every single one of them was nice. Let me repeat that: every single of them was nice. They were friendly. They asked me questions about my bike and not a single guy asked when I was going to buy a “real” bike. None of them seemed antagonistic. I could tell a few bikers just didn’t want to talk to me because I wasn’t in the HD-approved uniform and riding a hog, but they weren’t hostile. Most of the guys I talked to wanted to know where to find good riding roads, after finding out that I was a local. A couple guys were even riding all the way over to my home town, Mountain Home, and I gave them a couple restaurant recommendations, and they invited me to join them for a beer. Meeting some riders while riding, I had a few “diss” me by putting their left hand in their lap, but for the most part the HD riders waved, except in town, but then who the heck has time to ride at 50,000 other riders. No one waved in town.

Also, I passed numerous groups of riders, and not once did a rider roar past me as if I’d disrespected them. Most riders gave me a small wave when I passed them.

I rode home from Fayetteville through Eureka Springs, which I suppose was one of the main destinations for the bikers. Eureka Springs is a very biker-friendly town, and it showed. Traffic moved steadily. Parking lots had people directing traffic. Restaurants had biker-only parking. There are even a couple hotels that are “Biker Only.” Hotel parking lots were filled with trailers — there were thousands of trailers in nearly every parking lot. I did not see any law enforcement, leading to my belief that there was no one starting trouble. Of course, I was riding through in the early afternoon, so maybe the law enforcement appears later in the day, when, presumably, more beer has been consumed.

I did have one cool moment riding through Eureka Springs. Traffic was stopped waiting for a couple bikes to make a left turn into a parking lot already jammed with bikers and bikes. A very old-school biker (you could just tell this guy wasn’t a weekend wannabe dentist/accountant poseur rider) had taken it upon himself to direct traffic. I say “old-school” because he was wearing some sort of motorcycle club vest that looked 40 years old, unlike all the brand-news vests worn by the poseurs and weekend/rally guys. So I was sitting at a dead-stop behind the two bikers waiting to turn left, and the old-school biker looked at me from about 15 feet away and motioned me into the parking lot, and said, “Come on, you going to join us?” I shook my head and indicated that I was riding on. He just smiled and nodded, and said, “Ride safe, brother.” That guy gives bikers a good name. He didn’t care what I was riding (Yamaha FJR). He just cared that I was riding.

All in all, I had a great trip. I met a few really nice riders. Next year, though, I think I’ll avoid the area during the Bikers Blues & BBQ rally… simply to avoid the slow traffic.
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Old 09-30-2012, 10:46 AM   #2
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If you're interested....

Here’s a link to a newspaper article on the Bikers Blues & BBQ rally. Click on the link if you’re interested. (I am in no way affiliated with the rally… just offering some random thoughts.)

http://www.fayettevilleflyer.com/201...-fayetteville/
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Old 09-30-2012, 12:06 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Mr_Gone View Post


Now look, I’m all for individual freedom. But these people are followers. I can’t think of a more accurate term. The peer pressure must be worse than in junior high among teenage girls. “Dude, you’re wearing a waterproof textile jacket with armor? What’s wrong with you? Girlfriend, you are so out of fashion! Go buy yourself a branded leather vest right now! And a bandana, bitch!”

But to each their own. I tried to avoid being judgmental, but it’s just comical to me now how these bikers dress. I kid you not, I’d say 75% of riders were wearing bandanas. That’s just freaking ridiculous. How much peer pressure has to be exerted for a grown man to wear a bandana?
So, you say you "tried to avoid being judgmental" but you failed and and immediately became judgmental. Pity, you took a potentially interesting ride experience and turned it into another silly commentary about Harley riders. You think the way they dress is any more silly than BMW riders wearing $1000 jackets and $800 pants? Or sport bike riders wearing $2500 humpback, knee-puck-equipped full leathers on the street? Or, for that matter, bicyclists wearing eyeball-searing spandex? Your apparent surprise at how "nice" most people were to you merely underscores the extent to which you're driven by preconceived notions. Personally, I find these sorts of comments uninteresting and, worse, rather boring. Time to get over yourself and learn to accept people as they are, without adding colorful preconceptions. And hope that people give you the same benefit of the doubt (which the Harley riders apparently did).

OldBoldPilot screwed with this post 09-30-2012 at 12:14 PM
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Old 09-30-2012, 12:31 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by OldBoldPilot View Post
So, you say you "tried to avoid being judgmental" but you failed and and immediately became judgmental. Pity, you took a potentially interesting ride experience and turned it into another silly commentary about Harley riders. You think the way they dress is any more silly than BMW riders wearing $1000 jackets and $800 pants? Or sport bike riders wearing $2500 humpback, knee-puck-equipped full leathers on the street? Or, for that matter, bicyclists wearing eyeball-searing spandex? Your apparent surprise at how "nice" most people were to you merely underscores the extent to which you're driven by preconceived notions. Personally, I find these sorts of comments uninteresting and, worse, rather boring. Time to get over yourself and learn to accept people as they are, without adding colorful preconceptions. And hope that people give you the same benefit of the doubt (which the Harley riders apparently did).
I tried to avoid being judgmental. I failed. That's the nature of being human, though: failure. And I fought those preconceived notions for years and years... just finally gave up because the absurdity of their "uniform."

And overall I had a great experience, both riding and meeting people. I regret that my write-up gave that opposite impression and that it came across as strictly Harley bashing. I don't care that they ride Harleys. They seem to care quite a lot. Anyway, I would have stopped and participated in the reindeer games if I'd had more time before I had to be back home.

But you don't see 50,000 BMW riders all wearing the exact same thing. You'll see BMW riders wearing Olympia, and BMW branded stuff, and Aerostich. I don't begrudge them that fact that they buy expensive gear. Those $1,000 jackets serve a purpose beyond "pack identification" — protection.

And those humpbacks and full leathers serve a purpose beyond looking cool — protection. (Yeah, okay, I re-read your comment re: "on the street." I agree, they don't need all that stuff on the street, but I still fail to see how protective equipment is NOT a good idea.)

And the bicyclists wearing eyeball-searing spandex (that's a great, funny comment, by the way) serves a purpose beyond inducing us to stab out eyeballs out — comfort, and perhaps visibility.

Uninteresting? Boring? Not the first time I've been called those things. I'm sure it won't be the last.

Just offering up an opinion. Feel free to ignore it.
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Old 09-30-2012, 12:41 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Mr_Gone View Post
I tried to avoid being judgmental. I failed. That's the nature of being human, though: failure. And I fought those preconceived notions for years and years... just finally gave up because the absurdity of their "uniform."

And overall I had a great experience, both riding and meeting people. I regret that my write-up gave that opposite impression and that it came across as strictly Harley bashing. I don't care that they ride Harleys. They seem to care quite a lot. Anyway, I would have stopped and participated in the reindeer games if I'd had more time before I had to be back home.

But you don't see 50,000 BMW riders all wearing the exact same thing. You'll see BMW riders wearing Olympia, and BMW branded stuff, and Aerostich. I don't begrudge them that fact that they buy expensive gear. Those $1,000 jackets serve a purpose beyond "pack identification" — protection.

And those humpbacks and full leathers serve a purpose beyond looking cool — protection. (Yeah, okay, I re-read your comment re: "on the street." I agree, they don't need all that stuff on the street, but I still fail to see how protective equipment is NOT a good idea.)

And the bicyclists wearing eyeball-searing spandex (that's a great, funny comment, by the way) serves a purpose beyond inducing us to stab out eyeballs out — comfort, and perhaps visibility.

Uninteresting? Boring? Not the first time I've been called those things. I'm sure it won't be the last.

Just offering up an opinion. Feel free to ignore it.
Nice return, thanks. You're a good writer, and I wouldn't dream of ignoring anything you write. I think it would be really interesting if someone were to write a study of the various sociological strata of motorcycling. There clearly are very distinguishable "families" in the sport in which the members wear similar "uniforms" and observe similar customs. It might be fun!
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Old 09-30-2012, 12:48 PM   #6
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thanks OBP!!

well said.
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Old 09-30-2012, 12:50 PM   #7
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Well, i for one thought it was a good write up
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Old 09-30-2012, 12:53 PM   #8
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Wife

You married? That sounds like a story I'd tell my wife, "I swear I didn't have a clue it was BBBQ weekend" Why is my bike so clean? Well no, I didn't stop at the bike wash. I can't believe I stumbled on to such a mess of bikes this weekend.
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Old 09-30-2012, 01:03 PM   #9
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You married? That sounds like a story I'd tell my wife, "I swear I didn't have a clue it was BBBQ weekend" Why is my bike so clean? Well no, I didn't stop at the bike wash. I can't believe I stumbled on to such a mess of bikes this weekend.
Alas, not married. There was at least one bike wash set up in Fayetteville, and I thought about stopping in to have my bike cleaned, and the young ladies were all pretty cute. But I was sort of on a timetable. I didn't really have as much time as I wanted.
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Old 09-30-2012, 01:14 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by OldBoldPilot View Post
Nice return, thanks. You're a good writer, and I wouldn't dream of ignoring anything you write. I think it would be really interesting if someone were to write a study of the various sociological strata of motorcycling. There clearly are very distinguishable "families" in the sport in which the members wear similar "uniforms" and observe similar customs. It might be fun!
I agree, some sort of sociological motorcycling study would be very interesting. I, for one, would very much like to see that study. Maybe one of the inmates here in the asylum could come up with some sort of questionnaire. Unfortunately I don't have the sociological skills to do that sort of thing. I do have some statistical skills for parsing the data.

Anyway, we all have some preconceived notions — i.e. BMW riders wear expensive tribal gear, for example, and spend too much time at Starbucks. You can't really ignore your preconceptions except to acknowledge that they might or might not be true.

I realize that I validated one preconceived stereotype — Harley attire — and yet denied another stereotype — Harley riders are asshats to non-HD riders — even while acknowledging that, yes, I was aware of the second stereotype. You can't really escape your preconceptions. You can only be willing to change them.

OBP... I believe that next year I might just ride over to Fayetteville, stay with friends for the weekend, and maybe partake in the rally. You never know, I might just learn something.

Now, if I can just get Gold Wing riders to wave....
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Old 09-30-2012, 01:56 PM   #11
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Now, if I can just get Gold Wing riders to wave....
LOL It isn't that they're unfriendly, Mr. G, it's just that they don't see you because they're too busy trying to figure out how to adjust those pesky air conditioning settings.....
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Old 09-30-2012, 02:22 PM   #12
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I wave....and I ride a Goldwing..........

.......nope no a/c just flow through ventilation. You cant change people. if they dont want to wave..they wont. some people will stop and see if you're all right on the side of the road...some wont. i can say that in all my 35 yrs of riding,at least i've never been flipped off by anybody.
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Old 09-30-2012, 02:30 PM   #13
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LOL It isn't that they're unfriendly, Mr. G, it's just that they don't see you because they're too busy trying to figure out how to adjust those pesky air conditioning settings.....
I was thinking the exact same thing. Or they're playing with the Sirius satellite radio. Or checking their email. Receiving a fax. Watching a DVD. Playing video games. Oh, that's silly. They're too old for video games.

Damn. Now I'm envious. I want a Gold Wing. Ah... someday.

Anyway, all the Gold Wing riders I know and meet are genuinely nice people. I don't think they're unfriendly. I've just noticed they don't wave as often as other riders.

As an interesting (to me) aside, I just got back from Yellowstone and Grand Tetons and Badlands — 3,700 miles over 10 days — and the riders who waved the most were the guys and/or gals on Harleys. Until I got close to Sturgis, then they all seemed to cop an attitude. But other than that, I've personally found that Harley riders wave more often than just about any other rider type. YMMV.
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Old 09-30-2012, 02:35 PM   #14
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.......nope no a/c just flow through ventilation. You cant change people. if they dont want to wave..they wont. some people will stop and see if you're all right on the side of the road...some wont. i can say that in all my 35 yrs of riding,at least i've never been flipped off by anybody.


I'm just kidding about that middle finger. (You had to know that was coming, right?)

Like I said, I don't think Gold Wing riders are unfriendly. Maybe just busy. I don't hold it against 'em. Ride on.

On a serious note, I'm just envious.
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Old 09-30-2012, 05:41 PM   #15
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I am a 35 year plus BMW RIde/Enthusiast. And I have NEVER stopped at a Starbucks. Ever. So much for perceptions. I do wear Hi-Viz Gear though. Personal choice. Just like the Harley Riders wear their uniforms, I wear mine. Each to his own.
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