“Good afternoon gentlemen” was my opening line, as three bikers walked through the front door of Lees Ferry Lodge. As they approached the bar, “DICE” enquired as to where his boys should sit for lunch.
You can sit anywhere you want my friend, wherever you feel comfortable was my response from the other side of the counter. Without hesitation Coach, Dice and Bullet sat down at the bar.
After taking their lunch orders and engaging in some small talk, Coach mentioned that sitting at the bar was something of a luxury and privilege. I guess the surprised look on my face prompted a warranted explanation from Bullet.
Bullet explained how their biker image often caused them to be seated in the far corner of eating establishments. Coach asked if I was afraid of bikers. My reply was rather instant, not in the slightest!
Contrary to the biker images of outlaw gangs, tattoos, and hard face stares; I felt my experience with bikers had been one of regular men and women who simply enjoy riding and belonging to a club.
Over lunch, we talked about their road trip, politics and social issues. It seemed the one social issue they wore on their heart, sleeve, and vest, was their support of child abuse survivors. Bikers Against Child Abuse is an international non-profit organization of motorcycle riders that works to create a safer environment for abused kids.
Dice was quick to point out that BACA members are not vigilantes. BACA works in conjunction with police and social workers. Local authorities will refer a child to a BACA chapter. Upon referral, the chapter “adopts” the identified child. The child instantly gains an extended family of brothers and sisters they can call anytime.
I can only imagine how empowered and protected a child would feel from an entire chapter visit, not to mention being assigned a road name with a biker’s vest.
For a moment consider a child’s reality of testifying in court? Would you feel safe having your abuser present in the courtroom? Would it help if your extended family of bikers escorted you into the courtroom?
As Dice told me, “The kids feel less alone and protected by their presence.” Coach said, “The chapter is available to the child 24/7 regardless of the reason.” I wondered why I had never heard of BACA prior to meeting these guys. I found it somewhat ironic that these protectors were seen as problematic and considered a social eyesore in some restaurants.
Bullet asked me if I had ever spent time with bikers or been on a bike before. The answer was no on both accounts; however, I did tell them bikers and hikers have a few things in common. Hikers have trail names, bikers have road names. Perhaps hikers have better memories though as we do not patch our name on our clothing.
Hikers and bikers offer a community of connection and common interest. We are not defined or separated in status by our profession or income; it’s the love of the road or being on trail.
Hikers and bikers love to meet strangers; we really are very social loving creatures. At times society considers bikers to be loud troublemakers while hikers are perceived as dirt friendly granola eating earthlings.
Hikers and Bikers both appreciate simplicity. We travel light, pack small, and LIVE big. The road binds a biker’s brother and sisterhood, yet they still maintain their individuality by riding their own ride. Hikers share the same trail, we break bread with strangers, yet we still hike our own hike. I feel this is where we share the same defining factor, our sense of FREEDOM. For it seems we seek, find and experience FREEDOM on the road and trail.
As the gentlemen paid their tab, Bullet succumbed to some peer pressure and belted out some Bob Seger tunes. Earlier at lunch, Dice had mentioned how amazing Bullet’s voice was. I asked Bullet who his favorite artist was. Without hesitation, he said Bob Seger. Bullet admitted he loves to cover Bob Seger, yet but we both agreed no one should ever try to replicate “Turn the Page”.
As the Bikers Against Child Abuse headed out onto the 89A; all I could think of was Bob Seger’s lyric line. “Here I am, on the road again.”
I felt honored to have served these gentlemen and blessed that they were willing to share part of their lives with me. And YES, it’s ok if you sit here!