Episode 9:  Positive Images:  Why it matters to be a nice motorcycle rider

Glenn Cambell sang: 

You've got to try a little kindness

Just shine your light for everyone to see

And if you try a little kindness

Then you'll overlook the blindness

Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets

What do people think about us when we’re out on our bikes, or if we are recognized as riders when we’re off the bike?  That impression hasn't always been good in the eyes of the General Public, but I firmly believe that there are people changing that image. Maybe that's you.  

Maybe its just going the extra step with a smile and a hello, or participating in a fund-raiser or perhaps even giving an over the top tip to a server who notices your motorcycle jacket.  

Are such little things going to make a difference in the way the public views motorcycle riders? I'm absolutely convinced that it will. Thanks for joining me today!

I mentioned in an earlier episode that it was the movie “On Any Sunday " that I saw as an 11 year old that shaped my destiny to become a motorcycle rider. The people that I saw in that movie were just having way too much fun, and shortly thereafter when I did get my first mini bike well, life has never been the same.

I certainly also remember, as a kid, riding in the car with my parents and seeing someone on a motorcycle.  That grabbed my attention.  If you’re like me, we still watch motorcycles go by when we’re driving our car.  I’m sure it drives my wife crazy when I say “That’s a Triumph Scrambler, or that’s a BMW GS, or Harley Sportster…”

I grew up in McKinney Texas, which used to be a small town, and for many years the McKinney Police Department had a three-wheeled motorcycle, that they used for, well I'm honestly not sure what they used it for but it was cool!. I'm certain it was a harley-davidson. I remember seeing that police officer riding that three-wheel motorcycle through the town square of Mckinney. 

He had on a special police helmet and of course a spotless uniform with shiny high boots. Not only did I admire the motorcycle but I admired the police officer riding it. I don't honestly remember if I ever spoke to that officer, but it could have been a kind word from him that was the initial spark that motorcycles and good people go together. Could it be that people who ride motorcycles are really nice and considerate people too? Well, unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

"The Wild One" (1953) - This film starring Marlon Brando portrays a motorcycle gang that causes chaos in a small town.  That put a negative image in a lot of people's minds that’s reflected even to this day by some riders.  I’ll be bold here and say that it’s those riders today that follow too close or are just too loud and disrespectful of others, they contribute to a negative image that I think puts all of us at risk.  As I mentioned, in the summers, I work part-time as a tour guide in Rocky Mountain National Park.  A place of beauty with the sounds of mother nature all around.  Tourists carefully plan their vacations with their families and come from all over the country to experience Mother Nature.  When I lead a tour and the sound of loud bikes, miles away, echo through the canyons, sometimes scaring away animals that my guests are hoping to get a first time picture of, well, during those moments, I’m not a fan of motorcycles.  I know that’s the exception. In life, we all know that there will be those folks who either don’t have self awareness, or are just morons.  I just make mention of this, so that if you do have a loud bike, maybe take the shuttle bus through the National Park, or better yet, take a tour with me!

When I came up with the idea for creating this podcast a number of months ago, I recorded my first two episodes then immediately ordered some cards to pass out. My wife and I were volunteering at an event here in our hometown Colorado where we were serving coffee at a fun run event. As people came by our booth for a free cup of coffee I would ask "what do you do for fun”?  Now if you’ve already listened to previous podcasts, you know I do that all the time and you know why I do it.  

So many friendly people would mention various things that they do for fun and every once in a while someone would say I like to ride my motorcycle. then of course the conversation would grow from there at which time my wife would remind me to come back to work passing out the coffee. 

I met a young lady who, with a great deal of pride said “I ride more than 30,000 miles per year”.  Here in Colorado, not everyday is a motorcycle riding day.  We get snow and ice and frigid temperatures in the winter, so 30,000 is completely amazing, and I told her so.  She was such a kind and gentle soul.  My favorite kind of person.

Well when it came time for me to take a break from serving coffee, I took a walk down through the middle of town where other vendors were there and lots of other people were walking about. I had my pocket full of Peace Love Motor cards. It's easy to spot it a motorcycle rider when they're wearing some kind of shirt that indicates that they ride. It could be a company brand logo that I recognize as associated with motorcycling. It could even be a motorcycle jacket. I noticed a follow walking ahead of me clearly wearing a motorcycle jacket. I had my peace love Moto card in my hand ready to say hello and ask him to have a listen. But I immediately stopped in my tracks. I couldn't say a word to him.  On one of the patches on his jacket were terrible curse words.  Words you most certainly would not want your child or your mother to read.  Why?  Why such anger?  And why display that to everyone who looks at you?

I certainly don't have any answers to that. If I've learned anything as I've gotten older it's that I shouldn't be quick to judge anyone.  I was really lucky to grow up in a family who really loved each other. I had all that I need and most importantly a great deal of love by my parents, my sister and a host of friends.  I guess my hope for that guy then is that whatever drives him to be so angry will be driven out by the good. Maybe he just needs someone to show him that they care.  Maybe he just needs a huge!! Ha ha, I will leave that to someone else.

Speaking of hugging and world-wide demonstrations of “Peace and Love”, have you heard of “The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride”.  If not, you need to know about this.  It’s fantastic!  My wife and I discovered it only last year and we participated in the ride together.  It's a global display of love and kindness by motorcycle riders. Also known as the DGR, it is an annual charity event that takes place in cities around the world. 

The event is a one day motorcycle ride where participants dress in dapper, vintage-inspired clothing and ride classic or vintage motorcycles. The style was inspired by the image of Don Draper from the show Mad Men.  The aim is to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer research and men's mental health.  

If you listen to my podcast long enough, you’ll discover that I try to follow these same themes.  Hope, Peace of Mind, mental and physical health.  In many ways, the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride was the inspiration for Peace Love Moto.  

Participants in the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride collect donations from friends, family, and supporters, and the funds raised are donated directly to the Movember Foundation, which supports men's health initiatives.

The event has grown in popularity over the years, with thousands of riders participating in cities around the world. It's a great way for motorcycle enthusiasts to come together, have fun, and support a good cause.  Go to gentlemansride.com for more information.

A quick story.  This past summer, I rode my motorcycle up to Nederland, Colorado, just west of Boulder, to visit The Train Cars coffeehouse.  It was a warm summer afternoon, but the air was cool, as usual.  Snow Capped peaks all around.  Ah, nice... A s I walked up the steps into the train car to order my usual vanilla latte and powdered mini-donuts, I noticed a 20-something young lady setting up her guitar in the small gazebo on the patio area.  A small tip jar at the side of her stage.  Four or 5 people were sitting together at a table nearby.  One appeared to be her mother.

A struggling artist?  No doubt.  Struggles with chords and vocals that were not yet ready for a public performance, but what kept my attention was her determination to face the public and do her best.  My guess is that she had told her mom NOT to draw attention to herself by applauding. 

I wanted to hang around long enough for others to join and build her audience.  Some came and went without really acknowledging her.  No tips yet.  I couldn't allow for that trend to continue. 

I needed to give her a larger tip than I had in cash, so after another song ended, I told her how much I enjoyed her music and I asked for her Venmo ID.  She thanked me in advance and I did the transaction through my iPhone before I gathered up my helmet and jacket to go to my bike.  As I started to walk away, she, kinda yelled, "Wow, thank you"!   

You know who really felt good about that tip?  Me.  Her smile made my day and maybe, just maybe, she thinks motorcycle riders are nice people.

Kindness matters.  Gratitude matters.  For many entertainers and service workers, TIPS matter a great deal.  Always tip well.  Always!

I want to wrap up today's message with this. We live in a world where there are some wonderful people. Let me rephrase that.  We live in a world of millions of wonderful people.  People who genuinely care for others and many of which have the courage to express it. Next time you’re at a restaurant, skip dessert, and let your children see you leave a huge tip for a server who may OR may not seem to deserve it.  

Here’s one more thing.  Next time you're out on your motorcycle not only wave to other Riders, just for fun, wave to the driver of a car too. See if they wave back.  It may be that that driver will be a little bit more careful looking out for motorcycles. You may just make someone's day.

Thank you for listening.  I wish you peace, I wish you love.