“I’m going to die! ” and “I fucking love this!” are just two of the thoughts that went through my head that day.
Before I started hanging round with my MC I was one lazy ass biker when it came to riding with my buddies. In those old days when my biker “brothers” and I would head out somewhere we were a disorganized loose-knit group of riders headed down the road. We road like a disorganized, undisciplined mob going down the highway. It was nothing like when I ride with my MC now. Now we ride tight and fast, and we definitely know what we are doing, riding two by two row after row, moving like a rumbling and roaring train going down a track. That is how it is now, but that is not how it started out for me the first time I rode with the pack, hard, tight and fast. I thought I would die, but I was instantly addicted to it! I wanted more. No, I needed more. I don’t remember if I was officially a hang around yet. But back then, like now, I didn’t want to miss anything. I wanted to go everywhere with the Brothers, especially if it meant riding. In those early days I’d ridden with one of the Brothers a couple of times but never in the pack, never in a large pack headed down a freeway or turnpike.
The day came when I heard that the Patch Holders from the chapter I was hanging around with were headed out to a COC (Coalition of Clubs) meeting in another city. I was all in! I thought that this would be my chance to ride with a few of the Brothers and get to know everyone better.
When you are a hang around or even a prospect you are not let in on “club business” and sometimes other things aren’t passed down to you either.
I met up at one of the Patch Holder’s homes, there were a couple of bikes parked outside. I showed up and reported in to the Brothers. I knew both of them. I found out that after a couple more brothers showed up we would be headed out.
The unmistakable rumble of two Harleys pulling up outside meant that I needed to get out there, like right now. I quick-stepped out the door and on to the street. I did not know these Patch Holders so I introduced myself. One of the Brothers ignored me. I did not take it personally, he had seen many others come and go and not amount to anything. It can be a long road just getting from being in a casual hanging around state to hangaround status and much longer to become a prospect for the club. The other Brother shook my hand and asked me where I was from. I figured he was checking so he could tell what chapter I would likely be associated with.
Before we went into the house the other two Patch Holders came out of the house and the chapter President (P)said, let’s head out. The bikes fired up and I was told where to ride in the middle of the pack. I jumped at the chance. I was in the middle as we started to roll out when another Brother came racing down the road to us. We pulled out and he pulled right into the pack next to me. The pack formed up like fighter jets flying into formation. There were six if us, two up front, two in the middle and two in the back. We were in perfect formation like soldiers marching two by two and accelerating quickly, loudly and as a unit.
I was not used to riding so close, my heart beat rapidly in my chest and I white knuckled it. I started to drift back a bit and I heard the Brother next to me rev his motor to get my attention and then he signaled me to get back into place next to him in a tight position a few feet behind the bike in front of me.
We rolled onto a freeway going slightly faster than the flow of traffic. Then we picked up speed a bit more because another pack was up ahead. The P recognized them immediately and we caught up to them and the two packs joined into one. At that time, we were about 20. We were of course in the fast lane.
Then we kept going as the pack expertly “snaked” through the traffic. We were a “rolling thunder spectacle” of speed, power and imposing precision. I was pushed farther that day on the highway than I have ever been pushed before. I quickly learned that you have to be part of the pack, not an individual rider just watching the bike in front of you. I had to quickly develop a “pack awareness”. I had to see beyond the pack as well as what was going on in the pack. I had to become part of the movement anticipating how the pack might move, but not over anticipate it.
Riding with that pack that first time was a peak experience. I was riding on the edge, not only responsible for my life but for the lives of everyone in the pack. No time for selecting songs and listening to a tune. I had to be 100% present. I thought I might die that day, but instead I became addicted.
Now riding with the pack is like therapy. It is an opportunity to ride with my Brothers. Create new adventures, see new places, build the Brotherhood and make memories that will last a life time.
As I write this it brings back so many memories, especially of my Brothers who have passed on. This article is dedicated to them, especially those who raised me in the club as well as those who have ridden with me since and are no longer riding by my side. I will see you Brothers again someday and then again, on the other side and we shall ride.