I went through many phases growing up. As far as my dress code went, my tom-boy adolescence transitioned rather rapidly to gothic once I hit middle school, then skater/punk (in large part due to this boy), then mellowed out quite dramatically into a wild hair, no makeup, tie dye wearing hippy once I was an established high schooler. I was a band geek, an athlete, a skater girl, and often times mistaken for a burnout. But one identity that remained throughout all of my metamorphoses was that I was a motorcycle chick.
My dad grew up riding motorcycles practically his whole life; he learned how to drive on 2 wheels before driving on 4. Riding has always been such a part of his life that when he found out there was a motorcycle club chapter in our town, he joined immediately. The club would hold monthly meetings usually at a restaurant somewhere in town and organized group rides sporadically. It became a family affair once mom and I started tagging along and befriended many of the club members.
I didn’t have many friends, so only a handful of people at school knew that I rode a motorcycle with my dad and that I was in a motorcycle club until 2 key events unfolded.
In middle school I had after school band rehearsals once a week. Band practice would let out at 5pm and parents would be in the roundabout outside waiting to pick their kids up. Most of the time my mom would pick me up, but one day dad came and got me riding his Gold Wing. He put my flute case in one of the saddle bags, stuffed my backpack in the luggage hull and away we went. I didn’t think much of it when it was happening, but the next day at school it became the topic of conversation. Random kids whom I’d never talked to approached me and ask if the rumors were true: that I rode motorcycles. After affirming their inquisitions they would usually reply with an unpretentious: “That’s cool.”
My sudden stardom was short-lived and school life went back to normal until a September 11th memorial ceremony our schoolboard held one year. I don’t recall the details of the gathering, but because my middle school and the super intendants’ office shared the same building, students, teachers and staff we invited out to the front lawn to attend a ceremony to recognize the events of 9/11. What I, nor anyone else was expecting was for over 100 motorcyclists to arrive on their bikes to attend the gathering. Once parked across the street they all came walking over and took their spots standing around the perimeter. I spotted a handful of my club members and waved discretely at them. One of the members found a random teacher and asked for permission for me to come say hi. I didn’t know the teacher, but she beckoned me over and I got to say hello to my fellow club friends. Little to my knowledge the entirety of my school had their eyes on me as I was hugging and cutting up with my older friends.
I was bullied a lot in my younger years for being a band geek, wearing subjectively ‘weird’ clothes, for being a redhead, for having gapped front teeth–for essentially being an easy target, but from that day on I was known as the girl in the ‘motorcycle gang‘ and what little beef I had with some of my classmates dissipated altogether.
Along with our monthly meetings, poker runs, ice cream runs, and visiting other chapter events there were a handful of annual gatherings which consisted of chapters from across the state convening in a single location where members would stay for a weekend and participate in different functions and activities. Think of it like summer camp, but for adults who think they’re bad asses because they ride motorcycles. There were hotel door decorating contests, scavenger hunts, relay races, talent shows, and banquets with awards ceremonies.
Some of the highlights from my experience and events that have truly shaped me into the wildly weird person I am today include:
- participated in a skit where the theme of the competition was Rat Pack and my father transformed into ‘Madam Deveraux’ and strutted his stuff down a catwalk while I acted like paparazzi. I feel as though I belong to some <1% group of people that have seen their father in drag. It’s just me and Chandler Bing as far as I know…
- witnessed another skit where the theme was Beach Boys and the main attraction was a 400lb man dancing around on stage in an itsy bitsy tiny winy yellow polkadot bikini to the song with the same title. That amount of visible belly should be outlawed in all 50 states and 4 US territories.
- performed in a talent show that was Disney themed where I was part of a Snow White and the Seven Dwarves spinoff; my dad was Gassy and I was Belchy; two of the grossest dwarves there ever was. The grand finally was me burping into a microphone in front of 600+ people. It wasn’t my finest moment in life nor was it my best belch, but we won 1st place so I guess I did my club members proud with my Belch Heard ‘Round the Holiday Inn.
We also had elections for titles such as chapter President, Vice President, Treasurer, etc.–typical to most clubs, but for reasons unbeknownst to me we also had a Chapter Couple. I’m not sure if it was some sort of popularity contest or luck of the draw, but my parents were named Chapter Couple and by association I became the first ever Chapter Princess. Club members thought it was just a hoot when it came time to announce my new royalty status because I was in the thick of my gothic/skater transition, so anything princess-like was highly undesirable. I was beckoned to the front of the meeting room and presented with a Princess sash and plastic tiara. Talk about being mortified as a teenager, am I right!?
Some may read through my experiences and think that I was in some sort of child endangerment, others would think my parents just didn’t care. Honestly it was probably a little of A and a little of B, but I think I turned out alright. I’m not a club member anymore, but I have graduated to riding my own 2 wheels. I’ve even pressured my husband into learning to ride and getting a bike, which now begs the question: Is two people enough to call it a biker gang? Let me know in the comments!