3.07.2009

On Men and Machines


The motorcycle-riding realm—my favorite slice of of it, anyway—attracts what conservative folks politely deem the fringe of society. There's a niche in the sub- of motorcycling's counter-culture where an even stranger band of outcasts dwell, and it goes by the initials B-M-W. Fans of the Teutonic
motorfahrrad are easy to spot among their two-wheeled peers: mock turtleneck, tech beard, salt-and-pepper ponytail, ballistic-nylon jacket, European sportbike boots, cellphone holster and a tall Americano—schwartz, please—steaming beneath the flip-up chin guard of their full-face helmet. I own a BMW motorcycle, but I can't say I ride one—certainly not in a manner the hardiest fans of the German marque are famous for. Say what you may about BMW riders—these guys truly ride. Hundreds of thousands of miles in fact, if the routes on their GPS systems can be believed.


Last night our friend Temecula Terry invited Bill and me to Caffe La Calibria in the Hillcrest district of San Diego for the debut of a microbrew called Victory at Sea. VOS is the latest handcrafted barley pop from The Ballast Point Brewery. This dark, dense, slightly sweet and chocolaty brew is infused with a special bean from La Calabria's roasting house, hence the incongruous venue for its world premiere. Coffee and beer are vital staples of every motorcycle riders' diet. Put nine-dollar variants of both beverages in one glass and you've got prime chum for Beemer fishing on a warm Friday night.


I was the designated driver at last night's soiree, so I entertained myself by noshing tapas, swilling java and shooting photos. If you've never made small talk over ceviche and lamb kabobs with the juiced-up patrons of a high-dollar coffee house in a major metropolitan gay and lesbian enclave, the narrative threads go something like this:

"Try the vegan spring rolls—they're awesome…"

"I love those strappy mules you're wearing—are they Jimmy Choos?"

Ghengis Khan's army used horse-killing swords to ward off the cavalry of their enemies…"

"We were so overwhelmed by all the cheap drugs in Amsterdam, we ended up drinking Amstel Light in the hotel…"

"Who painted this thing like a fucking tractor?"

"I considered rolling my 401(k) into a SEP/IRA, but when the S&P tanked I cashed out quick. The beach house might be next…"

"On last year's adventure ride in Sri Lanka we drank some weird shit with a scorpion in the bottle. I got so wasted it took me 30 minutes to retract my bike's automatic kickstand…"



According to its mission statement, the Airheads Beemer Club is "an international organization of unpretentious air-cooled BMW motorcycle owners." Several members of the San Diego chapter converged at La Calabria to sup complimentary food and grog, and the single Airhead I spoke to certainly lived up to his club's standard. Cool, down to earth and refreshingly average in every way. Granted, after he took off his flip-face he doffed a tweed cap, but even I can't hold an affectation like that against a bald man. Had he ridden a Harley, his helmet would have been of the Nazi variety and his hat would have had horns. Given those choices, I'll take "Scottish golfer" over "fuckstick" any day.



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1 comment:

Tman said...

Those comments are golden! But alas, for some reason I do not mind living on the Plains where that drivel can't be heard!