I’ll never forget the first time I met John’s wife. She had said, “I heard they hired a long-haired dude who rides a ‘girls’ bike.”
I loved my ‘naught-one’ Sporty. It was the first Harley I had ever owned and it was the only bike I had ridden in almost twenty years…plus, it was all I could afford at the time. It was late November and I had just been hired at a local Aerospace company, which was close to my house and had no problem with ‘long-haired’ dudes. Hell, John had long hair, although he kept it well hidden under his dirty baseball cap. She and John are experienced students of the old-school genre. He rides a vintage 1950 Panhead and she has a classic 1978 Shovelhead. Neither one of them knew what a ‘starter button’ was.
“What a bitch!” I thought. Hell, she knew nothing about me and had no right to publicly bruise my ego with such outrageous comments. I liked her immediately. She stood a few inches taller than I and sported some well-worn leathers that could only be described as ‘hot’.
The next few months were spent learning all about the Harley Davidson experience. Both John and Shirley became fast friends and taught me all I ever needed to know about riding in the great Pacific Northwest. They also helped me decide what bike would be the best ‘next-step’ in my riding career.
I had only been on one run up to that point. A solo trip to Anacortes on the famous Oyster Run of 2006. The Sporty preformed flawlessly. I had never felt so amazed as when I first hooked up with a group of two hundred fellow bikers, yet, something was missing.
It took a few months and a nice tax return before I got “The Deuce.” A case of beer was all it took for John and Shirley to help me install the Vance and Hines ‘Big Radius’ pipes on her. Re-jetting the carb and putting in the torque cones were a little above my comfort level, but when the bike was once again ‘whole’ and I hit the starter button, feeling rumble of the engine, my left testicle finally descended. I let Shirley know in no uncertain terms…”I’m a man now, huh!”
It had been a hot and fun summer of riding and I had put on a few thousand solo miles on the Deuce when I met a little hottie named Linda during an open house at the Harley dealership where I bought both the bikes. She took a ride with me and has been smiling from my back seat ever since.
Linda had never been on the Oyster Run and I had primed her for all the glory it enthralled. While I had only been on one run myself, I talked it up like an old pro.
We had both been watching the weather reports with painful anticipation; it looked as though we might get a little rain, something she had not wanted to experience. Two days before the weekend, the weather people came through with a decent chance of sun. We rode up to the Harley dealership where we first met, for their annual “Day before the Oyster Run, fun party.” We had a great time with music, food and biker fellowship that could not be paralleled.With only a day to go before the run, we went back to my place to watch the movie, “Wild Hogs.” It felt appropriate.
The six o’clock morning hour was very foggy and we both felt a slight twinge of grief, but that feeling soon evaporated as a dozen or so rumbling hogs sped by the house. The fecal-eaten grin we both wore, set the tone for the rest of the day. Fog be damned… we dressed in appropriate layers and packed the modest saddlebags for our adventure. Unfortunately, due to some mechanical problems, John and Shirley couldn’t make the run with us.
“Damn, I really wanted to ride up with some other bikers.” Linda sadly murmured. “Trust me ,Hun…by the time we get ten miles from here, we will be hooked up with a plethora of proud putterers.”
By the time we got to Silvana, we were in the lead of about a dozen bikes. Ten miles further north along the Old Pioneer Highway, the sun broke out and we were now leading over twenty. All shapes, sizes and models were behind us with the same goal…OYSTER RUN!
We stopped off to fuel up, grab a smoke, and take a tactical potty break. Linda came out of the restroom with a smile and a couple new friends, apparently, the ‘girls’ would help each other tuck in their clothing and zip up each other’s chaps… a common female bonding experience. “Do guys do that too?” She asked with a smile. “Uh…no, we don’t.” I replied firmly. Three guys, who overheard her comment, started to crack up while I just shook my head and laughed.
We mounted the Deuce and started out once more. Within minutes we caught up to fifty other riders on the back road through La Conner. When we hit Highway 20…we were now a group of hundreds. I could almost make out Linda’s scream of delight at the sight. (Yeah, I took the baffles out of the pipes…it sounds awesome.)
The slow ride down Commercial Street was to say…Impressive. Thousands of bikes; people cheering and waving…mothers pulling small children off the road…I knew Linda felt right at home with the experience as she waved to all the people who watched and listened in envy of the magnificent thunder. We spent the day visiting all the vendor booths and experiencing the commerodery that bikers share. The street band was playing classic rock to dance to, while the rich aroma of fragrant bratwurst smoking on the grill, combined with tri-tip sandwiches smothered with onions and peppers filled the air. Linda was delighted when we found a booth that had the blue cotton candy she craved, and of course we ate our fill of fresh oysters in true tribute to Limp Lee.
The taste of Oyster Run administered to us will forever be an experience imbedded deep within our souls. Seeing it for the second time myself was incredible, however, seeing it through Linda’s eyes, made this the best run I have ever been on. I now know what was missing from last year.
Next year…Sturgis. However, I will again be zipping up my own chaps… thank you, Linda.