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Unread November 6th, 2005, 12:31 PM
James Brody James Brody is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Philadelphia area
Posts: 1,143
Default Biker Images: Sexual Selection on Rt. 22*


The mission: test my stamina for reaching my grandson's second birthday party by means of motorcycle instead of automobile. And determine my recovery time after the trip: could I function the next day? I, thus, traveled 330 miles in 10 hours on back roads aside from a dozen miles on Rt 22 past Allentown and Bethlehem. Routes 663, 29, 191, and 209 gave me a northeast diagonal of curves, hills and vacant asphalt and reminders of how America can still smell and look, the visions that most of us once found in our history books and still should.

My brief travel on Rt 22 gave two powerful images. First, a chain of 18 Harleys passed me. Arranged in nine rows of two, they went into the morning sun but 3-5 MPH faster than I did. Brilliant reflections danced from their vibrating chrome and several riders made peace signs at me over their shoulders! A woman in an orange T-shirt leaned back in her seat behind an equally relaxed guy. She was lanky, about 35 years old, tanned, her blond hair trimmed to 8 inch locks but whipped by 65 MPH winds and framed by her black tin pot helmet and accented by black sunglasses...she was probably a psychopath but also a poster when viewed from five feet away, slightly above and to her right...impossible to photograph, never again to be seen, never to be forgotten...

The second memory occurred late in the afternoon on my return trip. I rolled the Intruder to a brave (for me!) 60 MPH, once more into the sun but a redder one. I still passed no one. A sixteen-year-old male on a sportbike passed on my left but immediately veered right into my lane and then pulled up even with a faded yellow Wagoneer in the left lane. He reared his bike up to a 45 degree angle onto its rear wheel and waved his left hand to the children in the back of the Wagoneer! His front tire and left hand were in the breeze for probably 15 seconds. His front wheel moved right, 45 degrees to his line of travel and he didn't bother bringing it back to the left until he started to lower it back to the cement. Helmet? Yes, but face shield up. Leather and armor? Only a T-shirt and cut-off jeans. And sneakers rather than boots.

I was frightened for him, annoyed that he put me at some risk, annoyed that he made my own feat one that could be achieved by anybody with a numb ass, and forever saddened that I will never do what he did so easily for 15 glorious seconds.

* There are two other "bike" images that might have been posters.

A biker on Route 84 stood up on his pegs, wore not a helmet but a pair of dark sunglasses, and stuck out his tongue as he rolled his head side-to-side. He flew into the sunset at 75 mph.

On another trip that took me to central Massachusetts, I drank a Coke at Friendlys in Westfield while I stared at the quitting-time traffic that came over the bridge at the Connecticut River. A short, thick, tanned girl piloted a very large Harley while she stared straight ahead into the setting sun. Her jaw and lower lip almost reached past her hooked nose and she wore black sunglasses that matched the bike's paint and that on her tin pot helmet. Her passenger? A 350 pound guy in gray T-shirt and jeans that were a sausage casing for his belly and immense thighs. He, of course, copied her and wore black shades and a black tin pot helmet.

I eventually covered 360 miles that day in order to surprise my son and grandson on his second birthday. Of course, I was late for dinner because I did the guy thing and balked at using the cell to call my son for directions when I got lost at sunset.

Two days later, I had rolled up twenty miles on the Mass Pike, collecting distance before I met the front edge of an incoming front of rain and falling temperatures. I was still new to the ritual of removing gloves, unzipping jacket pocket, pulling out money, retrieving ticket, and putting everything away, and putting gloves back on before the driver next in line kills me. I, however, planned a gambit earlier and stuffed a five in a convenient spot so that I could hand it to the toll collector. She read my mind, rolled up my change with the coins tucked inside the bills and I stuffed the bundle back into my front pocket. I would have loved her thoughtfulness even if she didn't act and look like my ideal of an older Doris Day.


Strogatz, S. (2003) Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order. NY: Hyperion.
Zahavi, A. & Zahavi, A. (1997) The Handicap Principle: A Missing Piece of Darwin's Puzzle NY: Oxford.

Copyright, all rights reserved, 2005, James Brody
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