Aug 7, 2013

The Vandals Took the Handlebars

[This was an article I wrote for MMM that didn't make the cut, due to a lack of available space. It also appeared as part of the narration for the first Motorcycling Minnesota television program. Roy's Repair Motorcycle Service does an annual bash that is a Minnesota institution. motorcycling institution.  Here's the story for the year 2000 biker bash.]hardleydangerous

The tenth annual Roy's Repair Motorcycle Service Open House/Crash Fest/Motorcycle Hooligan Party survived yet another year without a single ecological protest. Exxon and Kerr McGee ought to check these folks out and see if Roy's publicist is available for off-season work. During this annual event, every aspect of public safety, clean air management, and noise abatement gets the single digit salute the first Sunday of every October, right here in Minneapolis City. Trombones need not apply, we already have megaphones.

00-10-3017.JPG (122146 bytes)If you ever wanted to get a feel for who and what real bikers are, this is the place to visit. Parents, here's your opportunity to scope out all the guys you don't want your daughters getting near. Mothers, quit worrying about cowboys and catch up to the Twenty First Century. Fathers, if your heart pressure, bad cholesterol numbers, or stress level isn't completely under control, stay home and watch football. Kids, if you want to see examples of all the stunts that will get you sent to the military school of your choice, here's your chance. Bikers, if you aren't hanging out on south Snelling on the first October Sunday afternoon, you'd better be racing or riding somewhere or hang up your heated grips 'cause you're a poorly informed poser.

Roy's is located in what has to be the most tolerant neighborhood on the planet. Imagine, if you weren't there, the noise these folks are ignoring when a V-8 powered, straight pipe exhausted BossHoss burns a 1/12th mile strip with it's fat (and flat) 230/160x15" rear tire. Or the smoke and noise generated by a collection of unmuffled Harleys, Harley-wanna-bes, and sport bikes doing burnouts and wheelies. Add to all this racket, the kind of crowd that cheers more enthusiastically for a paint grinding crash than a stand-on-the-seat wheelie and you're starting to grasp that Sunday's general atmosphere.

Add to all the mechanical racket the fact that this has gotta be one of the largest gatherings of general purpose bikers in the Cities. The party started at noon. At 1:00PM, I made a lap around the territory and counted 783 bikes. People were still arriving and my rural-founded, cow-counting habit died a peaceful death. By 2:30PM, there appeared to be twice as many bikes packed in along Snelling and across 32nd.

Unlike a lot of "major biking events" (the most famous of which will go unnamed), you don't find a lot of fifteen year old bikes with 5,000 miles on their odometers at the Roy's bash. Instead, you'll see some of the coolest, most collectible, beat-to-snot and still-being-ridden-to-work-everyday bikes on earth. It's a mobile motorcycling museum of folks whose "other car" is an oil burning, rusted hulk that gets fresh oil only when the OEM stuff is gone.

Side Note: How do you tell when you're looking at a true squid's bike? First, every light on the bike has been modified to be smaller and less useful. Second, the rear tire is only worn in the center, where it's practically showing threads. And, finally, the bike is sporting frame sliders and number plates and it looks like the sliders have seen use.

Fortunately, even squids brought cool bikes to Roy's party. I gaped at custom painted Harleys00-10-3022.JPG (76335 bytes) (ever notice the substitution that Microsoft Word offers for "Harleys"?) and many of the recent batch of American-made Harley clones, all the European brands, all the Pacific Rim brands, and enough ancient stuff to keep a fanatic collector entertained. I'm not a collector, but I was incredibly entertained. I was able to drool with lust, and for as long as I wanted, at several bikes that I've wanted to own, ride, or borrow.

After inhaling all the burnt tire smoke and unburned motor oil that my dying lungs could process, I went for a ride in the country. I even tried out some of the hooligan tricks I saw at Roy's. The bandages come off in three weeks and I should be back on two feet and a cane by December.

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