An ode to bikers and biking

Leslie Silverman

I finally rode my hog over Beartooth Pass. I was told it’s one of the most beautiful roads in the country. I’m not sure I agree, but it sure was pretty. I had what could only be called a “biker’s” dream — perfect weather. I didn’t need to take off or put on any layers during my three-day, 996-mile ride.

I find it odd each time a person comes up to me and says, “wow you rode that a long way; nice job.” It happened in Cody. Not once has anyone ever come up to my car and said that. I, somehow, don’t see the difference. It’s just driving after all! And it’s usually from a fellow rider. Would you even once see a truck from Wyoming and go up to its driver and say, “Wow that’s some long drive all by yourself.” No, you wouldn’t. It’s a motorcycling mystery why this happens.

I consider myself a biker. I’m not what people might consider a typical biker, though. I don’t drink or do drugs, I’m not in a gang. And you won’t catch me ever wearing a leather jacket. I do, however, ride through any weather and obey traffic rules that apply to all vehicles. I disdain riders that don’t. I snubbed a Montana rider who pulled his bike up to the left of mine as we were waiting in a construction line. Um, that would be impossible to do if he was in a car, so why he thinks it’s ok to do while on a bike is beyond me. I did not acknowledge his hello. I didn’t want to hear his and his girlfriend’s conversation. And I certainly wouldn’t have appreciated his deafening pipes being forced upon me when he started his bike up (pipes are always on the right and since he pulled up on my left side I would have been at his mercy). Thus why I started my bike up before traffic was going to flow and made sure he could not share my lane without being in the way of oncoming traffic.

Yes, I am not your sister...unless you actually ride. Not from bar to bar. Not for 100 miles before you decide you’re done. Not in just sunny warm weather. I mean, ride. I took my motorcycle license in a storm. The instructor said they weren’t doing testing that day. I told him I had an appointment and my ride had just left so he had to test me. His supervisor agreed. I know he wanted to fail me but he couldn’t find one thing to even reproach me on.

I’m by no means an expert rider. My bike is six times my weight and, although my driveway is gravel, I still struggle with getting my bike in and out of my own house.

I have put on 210,000 miles on two wheels, 99.9 percent of the time riding by myself. I have friends who ride, but they usually want to stop. I don’t.

When I take my bike out I want to ride. I used to live on my bike in the summer. I ride much less than I used to, but when I do get out it’s a long day. Hence my 396-mile ride to Billings (after an eight hour work shift).

I trailered my bike two  times in my life. Once out of necessity when I moved here. The other was with my friends who trailered bikes from Minnesota to Sturgis every year. Until I convinced them how wimpy that was. Now they actually ride here!

Some days I pinch myself that I live near’s like living near Disney if you were a Mickey Mouse fan.

My first long trip on a motorcycle was right after I graduated high school. My boyfriend and I left in the middle of the night, bound for an easy rider rodeo in Chillicothe, Ohio. We hit a wall of rain soon after we left. We stopped for food at daybreak and when we walked into the restaurant people looked at us and marveled — likely because we were dripping wet. That memory will never leave me. I thought we were cool as could be.

I’ve ridden in five countries and across two. I would venture to say the best road I have ever motorcycled was the great ocean road in Oz. My hardest riding put me within feet of the Myanmar (Burma) border. The scariest road I’ve ever cycled was also in Thailand, traveling from a palace called Pai. I have a certificate of completion for the joke!

If I had to choose my favorite road in the states it would be the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Two dreams I still have are to motorcycle from Prudhoe Bay to Patagonia as well as across Mongolia.

I find the idea of the motorcycle “wave” to be rad. It’s a total comradery no matter what type of bike you have. I don’t wave to trikes...I think they are like bicycles with training wheels. I am on my second low rider. My first bike was an 883 sportster. I bought it not knowing how to ride a bike at all. I took a safety class and fell in love with riding.

This year the Sturgis rally is the largest gathering anywhere in the world since March. I think that’s rad. Considering the average age of attendees and that the zombie apocalypse typically affects older people more  than younger, the riders attending are showing the true nature of what it means to be a biker: freedom coupled with rebelliousness and determination.

User login