When I was in the fourth grade, my old man came into some money. Then all of a sudden, strangers calling themselves family started appearing at our home. My father tried explaining it to me, but being so young, I just didn’t get it, but it did cause me to be cautious for the rest of my life when it came to people and their motives.
Lately, it seems there is a gold rush occurring in Nashville, and once again, it reminds me of these strangers appearing at my home, disguised as family. Who are these people? I don’t know, but apparently there are many of them and where they had been hiding since last November when I first wrote about Nashville Bike Week, I could only guess. Maybe they were out riding.
Some are taking credit for something they never did or were a part of. They all stood quiet for months, afraid to challenge the bully that is Mike Leffingwell, but now with him gone, it’s time to make some money. Which leads me to question, who is worse at this point? In dealing with Mike Axle, I, and untold others, knew what we were dealing with. But when that white knight comes galloping onto your computer screen, here to save the day, I have to ask where were you all this time? Hiding behind a veil of naivety, pretending you didn’t know what was going on? But now all of a sudden you “came across” the Unofficial: Nashville Bike Week Scam Page. It seems you never posted before, now you are posting more than Mike Leffingwell was deleting. At least with a con man I know what I got.
At the age of 33, I bought a Honda Goldwing; a dream of mine since I was a child. It was odd to go out riding and people on motorcycles are waving at me. It was odd to stop at a bar and other bikers start talking to me. What about that aura I’ve had surrounding me my entire life that yells “I’m anti-social! I’m unapproachable! Don’t talk to me!” Maybe the bikers were blinded by the chrome shining off my bike and didn’t see my aura or frankly, maybe they just didn’t care. And you know what, I’m glad they didn’t.
Now comes 2012 and I head out to Sturgis on my Honda VTX 1800. At the mecca of motorcycle riding, you learn in a hurry what the motorcycle sub-culture is all about. I couldn’t stop anywhere without having to answer twenty questions once they saw the Florida tag on my bike. What do you ride? You came all the way from Miami? How many miles is that? What routes did you take? How long did it take to get here? Hey, we are going to so and so, join us. We learned quickly that when leaving the hotel, we had to prepare at least a half hour earlier because we were going to be delayed in the parking lot! No one asked me what I did for a living. They didn’t care! All they knew was I like to ride and therein is the hidden beauty of the motorcycle riding culture.
Because of those experiences, I have learned bikers are a peculiar bunch. Peculiar in the sense that in a world of complexity, passing judgment and superficiality, bikers only care that you ride, that you are a decent person and by that I mean you could be an ex felon, no one cares as long as you don’t act like an axhole (pun intended), and that you are respectful. You know what- the world needs more of that.
As a result of this, strangers are not strangers when they sit on a motorcycle. We are a tight bunch. How tight? A couple of years ago someone I never met before, sent me an inbox through Facebook saying he came across a photo me riding the Tail of the Dragon. He contacted me in case I liked and wanted the photo. How about when I was leaving the Harley Davidson dealer in Sturgis and some guy that was about 6 feet tall, muscular, all tatted up, bald, goatee, basically one bad ass looking dude, as I am riding through the rows of motorcycles and he is walking towards me, slaps me on the shoulder and says “ride safe brother.” How about the countless offers of “if you are ever in town, look me up, let’s go for a ride.” Yeah, that is the biker community I know. And if you are riding that wave that is Nashville Bike Week, you better understand that this sub-culture of hundreds of thousands is as small as it gets.
Mike Leffingwell cried over and over again that the biker community is about brotherhood and that we stick together. Yes it is and we do, that is why the community banded together to bring him down. Mike Leffingwell’s downfall was underestimating the motorcycle riding community. So, if you are one of the many “Johnny Come Lately” that I am seeing, promoting new events, old events, come to our bar, taking credit for this or that, promising to take over Nashville Bike Week, whatever, I’ll tell you right now I do not object to you making a buck, but what is important is how you make that buck. What I object to is you taking advantage of a cancer that spread like wildfire throughout the biker community which its effects will be felt for a long time. Established events will feel the pinch and new and up and coming events, good luck. People will still have that bad taste in their mouth from the greatest scam ever pulled off on the motorcycle riding community and will be weary of tossing their hard earned money into an event that reads “first annual.”
While you hid in the shadows and the dirty work was done for all of you, leaving us to fend for ourselves, never providing support, getting insulted, threats of loss of income and lawsuits, calls at our place of employment, now all of a sudden you are more visible than ever? “Hey, come to our event. We’ve been around for “x” amount of time.” That’s wonderful. So what are those that got ripped getting in return from you other than having to dig into their wallets one more time? Why go to your event? Because you are riding the momentum of the Nashville Bike Week wave? This country has a lot of great riding roads and a lot to offer as well. You want to ride the wave? Give back, if not don’t cry or criticize the biker community when that pipeline starts to collapse and comes barreling down on you and you wipe-out.
Think politics. Politicians know who their base is. Know your base, because when you don’t, things won’t always go as planned, and if you don’t believe me, just ask Mike Axhole if things went as he had planned.
Maybe it is just my two cents worth, but take it from someone that knows and enjoys the biker community- they hate posers just as much as being taken advantaged of!
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