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Harley's Angels Chapter 10

10

Once evening hit, the rest of the Harley-Davidson Museum Independence Day party went much as expected- more drinking, more spending, more noise...the women wore less as the men tipped more...the music got louder as the Angels got sloppier... it became an inebriation festival of brotherly love. There's not much anger or hate when the Middle-Aged meet and get drunk so there's not much fighting ... not that there was ever much fighting even when they were younger...these were respectable folk, pillars of the community, they saved their fists for behind the closed doors of their suburban homes...nope...tonight the Angels just have a kind of glassy-eyed zen that all is right with the world. They have good jobs and good families and get to cut loose in leather and chrome once or twice a year.

Can the Middle-Aged ask for anything more?

As they head home it's hard to tell if the wobble in their bike is from lack of skill or surplus of drink. They don't worry about crashing- even without a helmet- for this is Wisconsin, and in Wisconsin drunk driving is something that happens to other people. The Angels leave HD HQ feeling kingly...designers of their own destiny...makers of the fortunes of folk everywhere. Come morning, the hangovers and disapproving looks from their wives will prove otherwise, but for tonight it is true enough. They return home, strip the HD merch from their sweaty, shaky bodies and head straight to the guest bedroom to pass out.

I'm one of the last to leave, waiting for anything of interest to happen to make up for the infinite parade of blissfully blotto'd middle-aged bikers exiting the festivities. As I hop on my Victory Boardwalk- no Harley for me, no middle-manager salary have I- I think on my years of squid motorcycle conditioning...how nurture kicks the crap out of nature in that particular debate when it comes to two wheels -living near Milwaukee means riding cruisers and riding cruisers means jeans and a t-shirt and whatever footwear is closest at hand and, if I'm feeling particularly safety conscious, some kind of eye wear...and there's no need to take 10 minutes to grab your gear and throw it on and make sure it's all tucked and zipped and fitted and situated properly...all ya gotta do is grab the keys, kiss the wife, and ride.

Then riding down the highway at 75mph with no windshield and no gear while fighting all the forces against you - the wind and the noise and the speed - that are trying their damnedest to yank you from the bike and each moment is a struggle that makes the inner you grin and roar against those forces until you roar louder and live better than at almost any other time in your life.

And flying past all the people in their safe, comfortable, climate controlled cages and it does feel exactly like you're flying and you don't need a plane to do it...in fact a plane would be worse because then you'd be in a cockpit or an airline seat with tons of metal and safety glass between you and this utter and complete feeling of raw exhilaration.

You ride into the rain going 60mph on a back country road and each drop hits you so you feel each individual raindrop like the biggest needle you've ever seen puncturing your skin over and over and again and again and you realize that it's the most pain you felt in years and that pain means you're alive and life isn't all about trying to find the most comfortable path but rather the most interesting and exciting one and that sometimes this means pain and discomfort and challenge.

Through it all, if you're lucky, you'll begin to realize that life is absurd and riding motorcycles is absurd and riding without gear is absurd and what other people consider safe is absurd and that other people are absurd and you damned well for sure are absurd and all this absurdity just means that you better get to living the kind of life you want to live because this absurd life is over absurdly quickly and the ultimate absurdity in life would be to try and play it safe.

And then you crash your motorcycle and the broken wrists and hands and fingers and ankle and that oh so intimate feeling of asphalt tearing flesh from your skin at highway speeds leads to that oh so intimate feeling of your wife having to wipe your ass for weeks on end leads to a reassessment of the beliefs of your upbringing and what motorcycling has meant to you for decades.

But you hop back on the bike eventually- still without gear...cuz you're looking for that same rush you always get. There it is, just ahead, and you pour on more speed to catch it. And if the next crash is to be your last, you know you'll end up in Moto Valhalla, a majestic, enormous hall located in Asgard, ruled over by the gods of motorcycles...chosen by the motorcycle god with one eye. Half of the dead travel to Moto Valhalla, led by Honda Valkyries, while the other half go to the god and goddess’ field, Fólkvangr. In Moto Valhalla, the motorcyclists join the masses of those who have died while riding – those who are now kings, queens, and minor deities themselves – and prepare to aid the motorcycle gods during the events of Ragnarök, which will be a stupendous group ride and poker run causing the world to be born anew, the roads to be resurfaced, and the world to be repopulated by motorcycle lovers.