I can’t declare it winter yet, but I can say that summer appears to be over here in Ely. I took a freezing cold ride to Eureka with a buddy of mine last Sunday, trying to support the Owl Club Bar in Eureka, which was trying to support the first ever “Cool Mountain Thunder Bike Week,” which showed some promise, especially among local bikers.
I wore a hoodie, my Detroit Lions knit cap and my leather vest, but as we were pulling out of Ely on Highway 50, I had the feeling it wasn’t going to be warm enough. I should have stuck with my gut instinct and stopped by the office to pick up my leather jacket and gloves, but for some reason I figured the weather would warm as we made our way down the highway, but it didn’t. In fact, as we climbed the four summits that make this stretch of desert highway so mystifying, it just got colder.
But I was on my bike, riding free and needing some wind to forget all of the drama that’s been my life these last couple of weeks. While Friday and Saturday nights at the Rio Club bar were probably two of the more fun nights I’ve had since I moved to Ely at the end of May, by Sunday morning I just had to get on my bike and travel. In a world full of know-it-alls, my motorcycle is my salvation and my sanctuary — and my fellow bikers are the only ones that can really understand and relate to this.
The Rio Club bar was packed with bikers this weekend, and it was just a blast hanging out with these guys and the women that follow and support them. I’m a single guy who would rather hang out with my dog than most people. To have a weekend where I mostly partied with guys who treat each other with respect and courtesy, who grasp the challenges and rewards of riding, and who live in a space where being on a motorcycle is what they work hard for, that provided me some much needed therapy in itself.
There are so many disrespectful people populating this planet; people who believe the world circles around them and have no respect for the culture of others — particularly the biker culture. People who look down their noses at bikers, oftentimes because of the way they dress and the fun they have.
I have a “friend” I’ve known for more than 20 years who owns a chain of newspapers in Southern California. Knowing my experience and competence in running small town newsrooms, she was going to hire me to be editor of her papers on the condition that I not dress like a biker and that I put on a polo shirt everyday. It was so insulting, I turned down the position.
What was even more disturbing was the fact that the editor she currently employs, had had her infant child taken away by the state. That slight personality flaw was overlooked though and acceptable because she dressed businesslike everyday in the office, which was more important to my “friend” than my character and competence.
I’m not saying it’s OK to go to work dressed like a caveman, but riding a bike and wearing leather doesn’t mean you lack substance enough to do a job you’ve spent 25 years of your life engaging and succeeding in.
But when you hit the highway, the multitudes all disappear, especially around Ely and the surrounding communities where there are no humans and cars and nothing but nature and the sound of your Harley engine, which mimics the rhythm of the universe, bouncing off the mountains and hillsides and rolling across the valleys, calling out to the deer, the elk and the antelope that the Road King is passing through, and that the Road King is the king of all beasts.
Still, I didn’t feel like a king at all as we glided through the glacial hills to Eureka. My body was aching from tensing up as it hit that wintry wind head on, pounding me full on, harder and harder the more I opened up the throttle. I looked forward to the switchbacks as I could slow some, but that usually meant I was climbing or descending a mountain where the air was even more frigid.
When we finally arrived at the Owl Club bar, it was a welcome relief to sit in the warm indoors, even though it took awhile for my fingers to thaw. They have a large glass container that they fill with all kinds of spices and vegetables and vodka to make Bloody Mary’s with, and seeing as this was a Sunday Bloody Mary run, that’s what I ordered while Scott downed a Bud Light. My drink was incredible and I nursed it for a good long time, letting my body absorb the warm surroundings and defrost from the ride.
After we finished our drinks, we stood outside in the sunshine for awhile, soaking in the heat. It was in the 70s, which isn’t that bad for most people, but I’ve spent most of my life in the desert and it was in the 100s that day in my old neighborhood.
We got on our bikes for the ride back, and set out over Pinto Pass, a magnificent mountain that greets you on your way into Eureka and wishes you well on your way out. I was exhausted from a long week of work, work and more work, so we picked up the pace some on the way back, making good time and arriving back in town where the speed limit is 25, lowering the wind chill factor to an acceptable level.
My fridge was empty and I was extremely worn out, so I said “adios” to Scott, went to the store for some food, then spent the better part of the rest of the day in bed, writing and designing promotions for the next week’s events until I fell into a deep, restful sleep, the first in weeks, knowing I had accomplished what I had been asked to accomplish, and that despite all the negative offensives initiated by my haters, it had been a safe and successful week and weekend for all the bikers that passed through Ely.
Marty Bachman is editor of the Ely Times and an avid biker. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-550-3943.