So I’m driving home from a South Fork roofing job – coincidentally the first I’ve actually worked in six months – when I glance over to see a guy exiting Cody Custom Cycle atop what’s called a “chopper.” In this reporter’s opinion, a more menacing, yet beautiful machine has yet to be conceived.
I took note of how intriguingly dangerous this large, bearded stud looked, all sprawled out on this elongated, custom-made masterpiece. It occurred to me I’ve yet to see a small, bespectacled, engineer-type riding a chopper. I don’t think it’s illegal, but it’s a glaring reality. I mean, Don Knotts on that red-white-and-blue chopper Peter Fonda rode in “Easy Rider?” Can’t see it.
It might surprise you to learn I’m no stranger to the macho chopper. At around 20, after reading Hunter Thompson’s book about his year riding with the Hell’s Angels, culminating with a gang-beating so severe they say his kids were born dizzy, I became obsessed with the biker mystique.
I fantasized about riding with an outlaw gang, but thought it unlikely since these desperados wouldn’t understand me needing to go home to brush my teeth during a weekend gang run.
Living at home, working at an assembly plant called Coleman’s Mfg, I craved a chopper to highlight my long hair, beard and rugged good looks. Best friend Sam Rullo had just bought a new, bicentennial Harley, so when I saw an ad in the paper for a ’69 Sportster custom chopper, I simply had to have it.
More conventional riders warned me these radical choppers require a football field to turn around, and long-distance rides are excruciatingly uncomfortable. I didn’t care; I only wanted a cool reflection in local store windows while giving nearby gals a Fonzie thumbs-up.
I desperately needed Dad to co-sign a loan, but for reasons I won’t get into, he had very little confidence in my irresponsible ability to hold a job even long enough for benefits. Thusly, I waited till we had company for dinner to continue my groveling plea.
Probably not wanting to look bad, he says, “Okay, if you promise to start helping me in the garden picking peas and corn.” My exact words were, “Hey, I’ll pick your nose if you’ll let me get this motorcycle.” The company laughed; Pop caved.
Well, my orange, custom-paint cycle and I were inseparable for nearly a year before fate cruelly intervened. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and the winding road to my country home one night after last call was paved with vital parts of my chopper.
It’s worth mentioning I was fired from my job soon afterwards, and thankfully my sister and husband took over payments to get my unreasonable dad off my back while I transitioned.
I still dream I’m riding that dazzling Harley, but it usually ends with both wheels suddenly falling off while my dad shoots at me with a high-powered rifle from inside a store window. I guess my ship has sailed for ever riding with a biker gang. I should probably make peace with being an aging roofer who ironically doesn’t brush his teeth all that often.