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October 06, 2020

From the Vault: We're All Pink on the Inside

Growing up is weird. Before starting kindergarten, the focus is on learning how to walk, talk, and not poop in your pants. There’s no rules, your mommy feeds you and naps are encouraged. Skin color and socioeconomic background mean nothing. Then grade school begins and so does the process of conforming with the system. You must stand in line, wait your turn, and speak only when
spoken to.

In high school the rules change because the sexual awakening begins as we all heed the call of our ancestors to propagate the species, which adds an interesting dimension to the military internment camp protocol of our regimented school system. Physical attributes, intelligence, ethnic background, socioeconomic status, and popularity are used (whether we like it or not) to define who we are. As a result, many groups and cliques form as young adults mark off their territory. There’s the freaks, jocks, geeks, popular kids, and outcasts. I was the fullback on the football team so I drifted in and out of the “jock” world but I was an outcast and proud of it. People who played with cars, rode motorcycles, and partied like Jim Morrison were much more interesting to me.

Then you get out in the real world and nobody really gives a rat’s ass if you were a card carrying “popular kid” Some people try to hang on to their former identity but economic survival is number one; it does not care about former affiliations because the world will chew you up and spit you out regardless of who you are, what you are, or how many times you tagged Back-Seat- Becky in your mom’s minivan. I got my first bike when I was 12 in 1974, a Honda SL70. It was my ticket to freedom. Dirt bikes were everything to me. Jeff Ward, Marty Smith, Bob Hannah, and Jody Weisel were my heroes. In the ‘70s I had a Husqvarna WR125, Honda TL125, and a Suzuki RM100. Old fat guys who rode Harley-Davidsons were dumb and motocross was cool. In 1980 I left motorcycles to go to engineering school much to the relief of my mother who viewed my obsession
with them as a “phase I was going through.” After getting out of school I got
right back in the game and raced 250cc motocross on 1984 and 1986 Kawasakis only to find out that at 23 years of age I was old and tired relative to the 16-year olds who beat me every weekend.

So I hung up my leathers in 1988 and conceded that maybe my mom was right. Motorcycles are for little kids. I went without a bike until I couldn’t stand it anymore. So in 1993 I got my first Harley-Davidson, a 1994 FLSTN, picture shown above. It was then I realized that dirt bikes are for kids and Harley-Davidsons are for adults. In 1994 I spent a lot of time customizing my bike to make it special. I hung some obnoxious fishtail drags on it, chromed this and chromed that and I was too cool. One day me and my friend were walking out of a beer store and an old coot with a greasy Panhead shouted at us and said “sissy bikers!” Apparently he did not get the memo that I was the toughest and coolest rider in the Midwest. Besides, his old crusty butt looked like he didn’t have a pot to piss in and hadn’t been laid in years so what he said was irrelevant.

Seven years later I was knee-deep in the
wide tire custom bike scene. Wide tires and big motors were the hot ticket. Anyone who rode anything that was stock or near stock procreated in the missionary position only and didn’t understand what life was about. Riding anything from Milwaukee was like going to Cold Stone Creamery and ordering
vanilla ice cream. Why bother? Radical ground-up customs were the only way
to be out on the street.

Six years later I was all about the jockey shift foot clutch scene. Without a doubt, this was the closest you could get to motorcycling roots of yesteryear. Getting back to the roots of motorcycling was real. Ground-up radical customs were overpriced garbage wagons and stock bikes were lame. In recent years I’ve looked back on how much energy I’ve wasted on different bikes and bike scenes. My thoughts and opinions were much like the high schooler trying to
be part of a group and shunning the others. I’ve concluded that none of it matters. If you’re on two wheels you’re alright with me. If you ride down Main Street in Sturgis wearing a pink tutu, that’ll work. Ride a dirt bike or a moped? That’s cool with me, too. Even if you don’t ride but have a remote interest in bikes we can have something to talk about on some level. So what do I ride
today? I don’t really care but my personal choice is to ride anything with a 45-degree V-Twin. Stock bike with stock mufflers or ground-up custom with nary a Milwaukee part on it; it doesn’t matter to me anymore.

Baker Drivetrain Team Illustration