Photo Essay

Biker without a Bike

Old School Charm

I was first hired to work for my boss as a photographer for his newspaper. After I had cut my teeth with a couple big stories, he sat me down in his office to talk. He asked me if I knew anything about bikers. I remember trying desperately to NOT say something sarcastic. Something witty like "Duh". Where-ever he was going this, I wanted to be a part of it.

I had been a biker for about 3 and half years from 1999 to 2003, finally having to turn in my '99 Night Train with about 27,000 miles on her when I lost my job. My students had named my bike "Fluffy" after the giant dog in the first Harry Potter movie. When I had "Fluffy", there were entire summer months when I didn't see the inside of a "cage". I believed myself to be a real biker because I would rather ride than anything else. I rode in the heat of summer, even to Phoenix in late summer. I rode in the cold of winter, coming home at 3 in the morning in 20 degree cold. I rode in rain, almost stalling the bike in a flooded intersection. I rode in wind. I got proficient in riding forward, but at a steep angle into the wind. I had even got into arguments with my bosses for riding to work in my biker t-shirts and leather. One principal even told me that I gave "the wrong impression" to my students. I answered by calling up some of my student's fathers to come to the next school function on their bikes.

I've been a "biker without a bike" for 7 years. I miss many things about having my bike. I miss the urge to get on and get lost for no good reason. I miss getting on a back road just to see where it leads. I miss the sense of awareness that one needs to ride, the sense of being awake. I miss the way my bike looked bad-ass just sitting there and how it felt so powerful with its throaty rumble.

I miss long rides. A friend once offered his home in San Antonio for me to go vacation. No radio, no cup holder, no reclining seats, no AC. Just the rush of the wind for 600 miles. I even tried to outrun a thunderhead that was headed toward the interstate. It was a "Forrest Gump" moment, when he is running for the sake of running, trying to outrun the noise in his head. Further down, a CBR750 passed me doing an easy 100 mph. I saw the rider down the road when we stopped for gas. I asked him where he was headed. "I'm trying to get to Phoenix from Houston." Wow, that takes a special type of rider!

And that gets me to the point, that what I really miss is the camaraderie in riding on two wheels. There are bikers out there who still don't know my real name, only my biker name: "Powder," or for the Z-Bros "El Teecher". The bikers never judged me, for going faster or slower, for what I did for a living, for when I chose not to drink. They were, and are, a very open, very "salt of the earth" group.

When I was asked for input for the format of the magazine, I said we could do a biker centered mag, one that is based on the bikers and their bikes and what they do in El Paso for the greater good.

When I returned into the EP biker scene, I was not disappointed. I've met many great people who ride, unsung heroes who strive to be part of the community, despite the prejudice that bikers are "outlaw" types. You have never heard of a biker in El Paso starting a fight in a bar, or making the news for gang fights, or making the news for being pulled over for crimes. You HAVE heard of EP politicians being arrested for being drunk and possessing drugs.

I've had the incredible honor of meeting guys like VoVo, president of German MC, Sergio and Rogelio from Centauros MC, Frank Bremmerman from Kings and Priests, Slick from Mad Hatters, Mark Barnett from Barnett HD, Dimple from Survivors MC, Cuervo from Chamucos and too many more to mention here. These big, rough and tough guys, and the men and women in their clubs, you would love to have as neighbors because when someone needs help, people like this come running to help.

Almost 2 years later, I'm still running with my biker brothers, although now I get there in my beat up Chevy sedan. One day, when I'm no longer doing this, I know what I'll miss about this. I will miss how big, burly, tattooed guys who give "the wrong impression" just come up to me and tell me "Hey, Rick, you gotta come next week, we're going to help....or raise money for somebody in need SOMEWHERE! It'll be great!" I will miss how the bikers found new and creative ways to help in the community, from their own wallet, their own time, even their own sweat and blood. I will miss the look of the public when the bikers roll up loudly in their chrome. I'll miss the look on people's faces when I explain how bikers are in so many charity events.

I know that even if this magazine doesn't change people's perceptions, my biker brothers and sisters don't mind. They're too busy riding and the wind is too loud in their ears for them to hear any negativity.

Keep the rubber down and the chrome up.

VOTE: Do you like this story?

Tell a friend about this story!

Tell a friend about this story!

  1. or

Hi there!

thought you might like this story!

—The JPG team

10 responses

  • Michele Wambaugh

    Michele Wambaugh (Deleted) said (11 Mar 2012):

    Cool story & photos. rad!

  • Claire Crocker

    Claire Crocker gave props (18 Mar 2012):

    Enjoyed both your story and your photos!

  • JPG

    JPG gave props (19 Mar 2012):

    Story of the Week!

  • Carol Arntsen Masiak

    Carol Arntsen Masiak said (19 Mar 2012):

    congrats on story of the week - voted!

  • Sonia Adam Murray

    Sonia Adam Murray gave props (20 Mar 2012):

    A great story and once again congratulations on making Story of the Week!

  • R.J. C.

    R.J. C. said (20 Mar 2012):

    Thank you JPG community. I didn't mean for this story to be personally gratifying, though it was. I really wanted to showcase the awesome people in my community, the, and I'm quoting a biker club president "big ugly bikers" who are so involved and so unsung.

  • Claire Crocker

    Claire Crocker gave props (21 Mar 2012):

    Woo hoo! Story of the week! Congrats!

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (22 Mar 2012):

    Hell YEAH! Rad!

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (22 Mar 2012):

    Congrats on making Story of the Week!

  • John Tanner

    John Tanner said (20 Nov 2013):

    Ricky I'm only sorry I didn't discover this fine story and your pictures much sooner.
    This work most certainly deserves to be the story of the week !!

    Something to always keep in mind my friend.
    You can always buy another bike .
    And while I can't imagine life without my scooter it's not the machine that makes one a true biker.

    A mind free of guilt,hate and corruption,full of free will and spirit
    A freely given helping hand to those in true need with the only expectation in return being that warm human feeling deep in the soul.
    Always let your free mind provide the spirit and a kind,generous giving heart the horse power.

    That's a true custom build you can't buy anywhere.
    All the best.

Want to leave a comment? Log in or sign up!