Sound and fury

What is it about birthdays that affect us so greatly? It’s just another day. We grow one day older, one hour older, one second older… every moment. A birthday is just another moment. And yet, it is significant because it is a moment – the same day of the year from our date of breathing our first breath of air on this planet.

Each year some of us celebrate this day. We invite friends over, drink some drinks, eat some eats, listen to music, jabber at each other. It’s a party.

And we celebrate what? That we unexpectedly made it this far? That our life to this point is satisfactory? Are these festivities a vain attempt to deny the march of time into the vale of years? Do we create distractions in order to postpone the wearying self-reflection that these time-markers all too often conjure?

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow….

cafe bikes in the southwest

I moved out here from the Midwest to this city on a desert almost three years ago. In Chicago there is a hopping vintage and café motorcycle scene. In Milwaukee the café bike culture is solid and eventful. One thing I noticed when I started investing myself in the bike world here in Phoenix-land was that the aesthetic leans to the cruiser and the chopper.

Why is the vintage and café scene so thin here? There are a lot of vintage bike aficionados here in the Valley, but they seem to keep to themselves. There are also a lot of people caught in-between: they have some kind of custom or bobber or rare bike, but it isn’t exactly a café and it isn’t exactly a chopper, so where do they belong?

Cultures vary from locale to locale. For some reason, café culture cemented itself in the Midwest and places in northern California, but a more chopper “kulture” tied itself to so.Cal and the Southwest.

I am one of the people caught in-between. I have a somewhat rare bike that is not a sport-bike, not quite vintage, not exactly a café bike and not a chopper. I have had café bikes in the past and built some fun rides, but I don’t have one presently. So, where do I fit? I gravitate to the vintage bike crowd because we share a philosophy and relationship to motorcycles. People who get their hands dirty and understand what it’s like to have to figure out a way to bend metal to make a part fit from a wholly different bike. The motorcycles themselves are often somewhat laborious to ride. There is no traction control or modern suspension. Riding a vintage bike is a physical, visceral event.

Café bikes have a unique aesthetic. Hard, uncompromising, fast. There is a toughness to their straight line build: head bracing into the wind, legs back on rear-sets, arms reaching for the clip-ons. I like tough.

But the Southwest’s idea of tough is housed in a lanky, leaned back, arms reaching upwards to hold the bars of the raked out front end. I appreciate the style, but it’s not my taste. The choppers don’t handle well, you can’t run twisty roads with that awkward frame. I like my form with  function and café bikes are created to handle well and race around twisty roads.

So, why is there not more of a café and vintage scene here? It is not for lack of love of the style. This question has perplexed me since I arrived and I still have no answer.