Cowhide & Harley Pride

June 13, 2010

The Rockies loom, periwinkle and mist-riddled, along a horizon that becomes, every day, more tangible to us.  The hills of Montana ripple gently in delicate folds over the earth, far and away in every direction – smooth, gentle, softly green.  A gray-black stretch of pavement flows severely through the green, severing the unending expanse of growth into misshapen squares.  Long, yellow, broken lines cut the road, and the lines are fierce, bold, daunting… but chipping, old. Two streams of gleaming, metallic boxes on wheels churn along, pistons pumping, gears clicking,  engines straining.  One stream heads North, one stream heads South.  The streams rarely converge but for the tragic moments that result in little white crosses springing resolutely up from the Montana soil.  But this inconstant stream of metallic boxes, at times, is interrupted by the rumbling, sputtering, surging roar of two-wheelers, ranging free in packs across the unending path through the windy green.

It’s hard to describe the way it feels to sit on a Harley, laden in someone else’s old leather jacket and biker gloves, sitting behind a friend you’ve barely gotten to know (and whom you’ll have to leave the next day), and feeling the wind whip your face, the seat rumble your behind, and the splendor-rich landscapes of field and dale unfold before your eyes. Words and photos don’t do it justice – they never do. Because there’s nothing like being in these hills, on these roads, breathing this air, having these simple conversations with strangers.  There’s nothing like sitting bitch-seat on a fat Hog, coming over the summit of a hill, and gazing out into a sunbrown and dawngold vista of fresh spring fields and, through the fields, a twisting expanse of road that ends somewhere beyond your line of vision.   Spotted along the road are your fellow riders.  Perhaps these guys are badass bosom buddies, and perhaps they’re new acquaintances.  It doesn’t matter, because they are tied (and us along with them) to that paved way ahead of us.  Somehow, we all got into this together.  And it doesn’t end until you hit that last bar at the end of Montana. 

It might not be magic, but it sure as hell feels like it.

OK, OK, OK. Pause. Step back.  WTF was all that nonsense idiotblather?  Answer: Colleen getting off on author-practice.

What actually happened the last couple days?  Answer: Liz and Colleen continued their Not-Dying process by having one helluva time in Shelby, MT.  And everywhere else along a 250-mile loop through the small towns in the vicinity of Shelby, MT.

We got coozies! And photo-bombed! Thanks, Gary - owner of the Tap Room. 🙂

After our last blog post, we headed down to the Tap Room.  And ate disturbing quantities of nuts. (PEANUTS, people. PEANUTS.  JEEZ.)  And learned that a “Caesar” isn’t merely a 3,000 year-old Italian Republican, but a delicious beverage involving clamato juice, horseradish, salt ‘n peppa, olives and pickled asparagus, and (of course) vodka.  And drank a few cold ones.  And met some quality folks. And acquired more COOZIES! from Gary, the bearer of the Coozie and our (first) bartender/owner friend of the night.  We heart coozies.  Our beers shall never go warm when we are back in Minneapolis – all of Montana is making sure of that. 

Fred invited us to stay at his home that night.  So we did, because it was still freezing cold at night.  And we heart beds. Beds are like reverse-coozies; they keep the heat IN.  And nothing is better, after a couple cold ‘n coozied beers, than a warm ‘n reverse-coozied body.  Oh wondrous coozies – why does Minnesota not know of your glory?  Why have you, oh foamy colorful ones, forsaken the heart of the Midwest?   We shall come back, coozies in hand, and keep the beers of the world cold and delicious.

We got to Fred’s and were about to pass out, when Fred discovered a beach-themed going away party across the street at the Oasis bar with free food and fun.  How could we say no?  We got properly discombobulated at the party, and had a riotous good time. Someone in NoDak once told us that “Montana people are strange.”  Here’s proof that at least some of them are:

? Thanks for showing us that, Tom. Pretty sure it lifted my mood.

An explanation would be impossible.

And the cherry topper:  Fred invited us to go on a motorcycle poker run the next day.  We heartily agreed, and in doing so, shunned our own bicycles for a day in favor of the gas-powered hogs that pass us on the highway so often it almost hurts.  A “poker run” (for the uninitiated) is a type of Harley orgy where Harley riders gather and make sweet love to beer and gambling for an entire day, while motoring their way along a prescribed route from small-town bar to small-town bar.  In most of the bars, one draws a card and hopes like hell that after 7 cards have been drawn, at least 5 of them will make a good hand.  Ie, it’s a single round of poker that takes from 10am until whenever at night to complete. 

Colleen, Billy Boy, & Liz!

Winner takes the pot – And everyone else (the losers, like us, that is) could win consolation prizes like coozies.  We got a crummy bottle opener.  But we don’t care. It’s not like we were in it for the money or anything.  Right?!

Here’s a bit of contrast to tickle your fancy, wherever your fancy happens to be located.

Safe! Yeah! Wearing Helmet and travelling at 75 MPH!

NOT Safe. No Helmets, moving at 110 MPH. Good work.

These Harley riders were awesome.  We rode with Fred, John, and Billy Boy, but met a whole bunch more.  There were, after all, 81 registered participants.  We’ve never seen such assless chaps and leather flaps! They kept on telling us we were going to throw away our bicycles and rev the rest of the way across the country on Harley’s. 

Fred & Liz!

Guess we’ll have to throw this whole Harley gang into the category of Non-Believers. WE SHALL SUCCEED, AND VALIANTLY AT THAT!  Eternal Glory shall be ours when we complete the superhuman task of pedaling West against the Westerlies!  But seriously, thanks to all the rad-ass bikers who hauled our steely buns 250 miles all over Montana.  It’s going be difficult to top our Harley poker run.  And thanks to Fred for kicking his own children out of their bunk beds so that we could have a comfy place to sleep.  We’ll miss you guys. *tear*

Bellingham is coming up on us quick…  Today is the 13th.  We have 17 days to make it there if we’re to arrive on schedule and stick around for the fireworks.

Hell yeah. So bring it, Mother Earth, with your “wind” and your “rain” and your “mountains” and your “grizzlies”. We are SO taking you down.

This button says "La-ti-fucking-da." And on that note, we leave you until next time.

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3 Responses to “Cowhide & Harley Pride”

  1. Matthew Smith said

    Those are some sweet “fat hogs” Bikers rock, ‘Nuff said. BTW the guy flipping the bird in pic #1 is hilarious.

  2. D Baggins said

    You need to submit that photobomb to http://thisisphotobomb.com/

    Do it or be lame.

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