Leatherballs II: Requiem

She was beautiful, brilliant, funny, and well-read. She had been married a scant two years, and had been riding Harleys only just over one. She was daring, fierce, and independent; a thoroughbred, with much in common with the spirited hunter/jumper horses she rode professionally for most of her life. She had just moved South after a life spent in New York City; her career was beginning to move forward again in leaps and bounds after a brief stall due to a serious injury and a couple of other, more minor setbacks. She rode her pearl-white Sportster carefully and sensibly, eschewing undue risk and recklessness in favor of enjoying nice, leisurely rides on back roads and scenic country lanes. The horses were a somewhat different story; she’d known them longer.

She was 33, which is too young to die. But despite all she was, all she was becoming, all her potential, and all she meant to all the people whose lives she touched — and they were many — she did die. And I saw it. And can’t stop seeing it.

We all, all of us who live this lifestyle, are as familiar with the risks as with the rewards. The feral joy of flying down some old two-lane blacktop with the sun on your face and the wind at your back is ruthlessly counterbalanced by the ever-present possibility of a fistful of loose gravel in the wrong place at the wrong time leading to being torn literally to pieces in another senseless tragedy. Every time we saddle up is another roll of the dice; we know it, and yet we go out and do it anyway.

An old greybeard Harley guy told me years ago that the first time you swing a leg over one of these things without being a little afraid, that’s the time you need to start thinking about selling it and walking away for good. He was right, like the older ones usually are. After all, so many of us are denied the opportunity to get where the old road dogs are, to learn the lessons that only survival can teach. Their knowledge — and the price they’ve paid for it – demands that we pay careful attention. 

Indian Larry died a couple of years ago, only a few miles from where I sit typing this. Think he woke up that morning knowing that he was going to end up a pile of parts lying broken on the asphalt before sundown? Hell no. Think he woke up that morning knowing he might? But of course. And yet he went out and did it anyway.

What makes us do it? What makes us all so willing — so downright eager, some of us — to spit in the devil’s eye; to take those unnecessary chances; to gamble with our very lives, for the sake of a thrill the average squarejohn citizen can’t even get his mind around, much less appreciate?

I don’t have the answers. I’m sure you’ve guessed   that the lovely and audacious woman I spoke of above was my beloved wife, who I had the honor and good fortune to ride beside for far too short a time. After the accident that claimed her life, I considered giving up riding for good, as has many a better man than I after such an ordeal. I’ve been riding my entire life; riding has been a comfort to me when nothing else worked, a source of exhilaration and bliss when all seemed dark and joyless, a place to hide when I needed to escape. But the day Christiana died was also the day I nearly walked away from all that, in sorrow, anger, and bitterness.

A few weeks later a close friend talked me into going for a short ride with him, and I’ve been back on my own Sportster pretty much constantly ever since. I don’t so much as leave the driveway without remembering the awful sights and sounds of that accursed afternoon in late July — and yet I go out and do it anyway. Because somehow, for some reason, that’s what we do.

There’s no explaining her death, and there’s no explaining this life. I can’t really explain why I’m saying all this to you now. But I do know a couple of things. One is that way too many of you reading this know exactly what I’m talking about, from your own painful experiences. The other is that the riding…well, it really does seem to help somehow.

Maybe that’s why we keep on: because we’re all looking for something that we’ll never find in this world, but that the wind in our faces gets us just a little bit closer to. The snarling roar of those finely-tuned Harley engines, to some of us, is like a Mozart piano concerto, or a Rembrandt portrait, or a high-strung, purebred jumper neatly clearing a five-foot fence is to others: something that hoists us right up against the stifling boundaries of this world, and lets us peer over the edge for a brief and electrifying glimpse of a beauty beyond.

It’s been said that one can’t jump into the arms of  God; one has to fall. Perhaps that’s the answer: the letting go, the surrender to outrageous fortune, the risk we accept in exchange for whatever earthly payoff we can manage to harvest from it. I won’t say it’s worth it; nothing whatever can compensate for the permanent loss of a precious loved one, nor fill the void created in the hearts of those left behind. But I won’t demean that loss by saying it isn’t, either. I’ll just say that I’ll keep riding, and I’ll keep smiling into the sun when I am, and I’ll know that when I feel its warmth on my face and in my spirit, she’s smiling right back at me. Because, if only for a little while, she felt it herself.

I don’t ride particularly cautiously or safely myself, so I won’t insult or patronize anyone by insisting that they do. As I’ve been saying for years, I ain’t anybody’s mother. But however you do it, keep on riding, people; know the risk, respect it, but go out and do it anyway. Because that’s what we do. I’m beginning to believe that for some of us, it just might be the only help, and the only hope.

CF Archives


Comments policy

NOTE: In order to comment, you must be registered and approved as a CF user. Since so many user-registrations are attempted by spam-bots for their own nefarious purposes, YOUR REGISTRATION MAY BE ERRONEOUSLY DENIED.

If you are in fact a legit hooman bean desirous of registering yourself a CF user name so as to be able to comment only to find yourself caught up as collateral damage in one of my irregularly (un)scheduled sweeps for hinky registration attempts, please shoot me a kite at the email addy over in the right sidebar and let me know so’s I can get ya fixed up manually.

ALSO NOTE: You MUST use a valid, legit email address in order to successfully register, the new anti-spam software I installed last night requires it. My thanks to Barry for all his help sorting this mess out last night.

Comments appear entirely at the whim of the guy who pays the bills for this site and may be deleted, ridiculed, maliciously edited for purposes of mockery, or otherwise pissed over as he in his capricious fancy sees fit. The CF comments section is pretty free-form and rough and tumble; tolerance level for rowdiness and misbehavior is fairly high here, but is NOT without limit.

Management is under no obligation whatever to allow the comments section to be taken over and ruined by trolls, Leftists, and/or other oxygen thieves, and will take any measures deemed necessary to prevent such. Conduct yourself with the merest modicum of decorum, courtesy, and respect and you'll be fine. Pick pointless squabbles with other commenters, fling provocative personal insults, issue threats, or annoy the host (me) won't.

Should you find yourself sanctioned after running afoul of the CF comments policy as stated and feel you have been wronged, please download and complete the Butthurt Report form below in quadruplicate; retain one copy for your personal records and send the others to the email address posted in the right sidebar.

Please refrain from whining, sniveling, and/or bursting into tears and waving your chubby fists around in frustrated rage, lest you suffer an aneurysm or stroke unnecessarily. Your completed form will be reviewed and your complaint addressed whenever management feels like getting around to it. Thank you.

"Mike Hendrix is, without a doubt, the greatest one-legged blogger in the world." ‐Henry Chinaski

Subscribe to CF!

Support options

Shameless begging

If you enjoy the site, please consider donating:

Become a CF member!


Email addy: mike-at-this-url dot etc
All e-mails assumed to be legitimate fodder for publication, scorn, ridicule, or other public mockery unless specified as private by the sender

Allied territory

Alternatives to shitlib social media: A few people worth following on Gab:

Fuck you

Kill one for mommy today! Click to embiggen

Notable Quotes

"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards."
Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution

Claire's Cabal—The Freedom Forums


"There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters."
Daniel Webster

“When I was young I was depressed all the time. But suicide no longer seemed a possibility in my life. At my age there was very little left to kill.”
Charles Bukowski

“A slave is one who waits for someone to come and free him.”
Ezra Pound

“The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.”
Frank Zappa

“The right of a nation to kill a tyrant in case of necessity can no more be doubted than to hang a robber, or kill a flea.”
John Adams

"A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves."
Bertrand de Jouvenel

"It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged."
GK Chesterton

"I predict that the Bush administration will be seen by freedom-wishing Americans a generation or two hence as the hinge on the cell door locking up our freedom. When my children are my age, they will not be free in any recognizably traditional American meaning of the word. I’d tell them to emigrate, but there’s nowhere left to go. I am left with nauseating near-conviction that I am a member of the last generation in the history of the world that is minimally truly free."
Donald Surber

"The only way to live free is to live unobserved."
Etienne de la Boiete

"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid."
Dwight D. Eisenhower

"To put it simply, the Left is the stupid and the insane, led by the evil. You can’t persuade the stupid or the insane and you had damn well better fight the evil."

"There is no better way to stamp your power on people than through the dead hand of bureaucracy. You cannot reason with paperwork."
David Black, from Turn Left For Gibraltar

"If the laws of God and men, are therefore of no effect, when the magistracy is left at liberty to break them; and if the lusts of those who are too strong for the tribunals of justice, cannot be otherwise restrained than by sedition, tumults and war, those seditions, tumults and wars, are justified by the laws of God and man."
John Adams

"The limits of tyranny are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."
Frederick Douglass

"Give me the media and I will make of any nation a herd of swine."
Joseph Goebbels

“I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.”
Ronald Reagan

"Ain't no misunderstanding this war. They want to rule us and aim to do it. We aim not to allow it. All there is to it."
NC Reed, from Parno's Peril

"I just want a government that fits in the box it originally came in."
Bill Whittle

Best of the best

Finest hosting service

Image swiped from The Last Refuge

2016 Fabulous 50 Blog Awards

RSS feed

RSS - entries - Entries
RSS - entries - Comments

Boycott the New York Times -- Read the Real News at Larwyn's Linx

Copyright © 2024