Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Portrait #9: Bikers

Today was Memorial Day in the U.S., and since I've been hanging out in the nation's capital, I found myself right in the centre of Memorial Day festivities. I passed a group of people standing around a flag comemorating something military, I think a veteran in their midst. I was told by my radio not to venture into downtown because of the parade. And I got caught up in a swarm of bikers as I drove on the highway yesterday.

I didn't know that bikers - you know, the guys (and gals) who drive around in packs on their big motorcycles wearing lots of leather and often other flair such as long hair, bandanas and fancy detailing on their bikes - are a big part of Washington's Memorial Day festivities. But after passing one pack of bikers and almost being overtaken by another, when I saw the Pentagon's parking lot full of bikers I began to suspect this was a special biker event. Now I've been told that they go to the cemetery where many veterans are buried, and that they participate in the parade through downtown D.C.

As I passed the first pack of bikers I kept glancing over at the sight. There were about twenty of them, riding in a staggered pattern such that they were all close together but no two bikes right next to each other. Altogether the pack took up the space of a very big truck. Most of them rode alone, but a couple of the bikers had girls hugging along. Several of them were riding with their feet straight out in front of them. At first, I thought they were just leaning back and enjoying the wind on a beautiful spring day, but then I saw that their feet were actually propped against very high footrests. But they still looked quite relax. There was a leader to the pack, and this bike and rider were accessorized all in pink - hot pink.

This particular group didn't drive above the speed limit, though the pack I encountered later was well above the limit. I know because I was determined to stay ahead of them, and that meant I was going much faster than I'd intended! I began to wonder what would happen if a cop were to pull one of them over for any reason. Would he? Or would he be scared of this gang? Because the way they stuck together convinced me that if one of them had to stop, they would ALL stop with him. All twenty bikers in leather would pull over to the shoulder. They wouldn't abandon one of their own.

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