Friday, December 5, 2014

A Twelve Bar Story.

A Twelve Bar Story.

 December, 2011:

"Hensley's is that way."
T-Flo is pointing me straight ahead, but it's late, I'm all twisted around, and I can't tell north from south. Part of the gang is heading up to Pee Wee's to party at The Dome, others are heading down to Cardiff to hear Fonda's band. I really want to going to go, or something... But I just hit something invisible. This must the wall I keep hearing about. My inner needle just hit "EMPTY". The red light is on. This E-ticket ride is rolling to a stop.
 The only muscles that still work are the ones that keep me grinning, and the only part of me that isn't exhausted and buzzing is my bike. Oh wait. Even the bike. The Spoiler is somehow slower and heavier than it was at bar number one. How can a bike gain weight? All these levers and pedals and shit are confusing. I'm pointing south?

A fog of disinfectants and deodorizer floats like a pool over the scarier smells at the Care Center.
 It spills out to meet you when you shove your way in through the double doors. Odd, but by the time you get to the end of the hall you don't seem to notice the smell- at least not as much. Mom's in 21A, and she lights up when I walk in.
"Are you going to your bike thing?"

Funny what she remembers.
"Probably not. I don't really feel much like partying."
"I think you should go. When am I coming home?"

" I'm not sure. We'll see."

"Is my Binky OK? Will you bring her?"

"The dog's fine, Mom."

"Are you going to your bike thing?"

"I'm not sure. Maybe."

" When can I come home? I want to get home to my doggie."

"We'll see.  I gotta' go. Gimme a hug."

And I'm heading down the hall, past the folks in the chairs in the doorways. I smile, and some smile back. Others just stare. And the scary goddamn thing is- some of these guys are my age. Younger. Nobody chooses to come here, and only a few can choose to leave. Most are past any choosing at all. I'm past the nurse's station, through the double doors, and it's dark out. It takes a few  minutes for the cold rainy wind to blast the smell away.  But the gutsick lingers.
This is a U.T.O.L.- a Universal Task Of Life. The UTOL's are the common lot of all people, in all ages and times. They are our legacy- the forge that shapes our souls,  the price we pay for being human.  This one is new to me. This task- dealing with an ill and aging parent is now mine, as it was once my mother's task, and my father's. That these tasks are universal makes them in no way easier.
When can I come home?I want to get home to my doggie.
We'll see.

But she's not coming home. Sometimes she knows it. And the dog has been gone for a long time. I never tell her.
And so. I head out into the wet creeping traffic. Home, and dinner with Mary. And the gutsick lingers. Go party tomorrow? No.

 So I get home, and shoot off an e-mail.. "Not in the mood. Too much crap goin' on. Probably won't go." 
And then...
The Voice does not come to me often, and often when it does I recognize it only in hindsight. But sometimes it speaks quite clearly in its own soundless way.  I have learned to never refuse it. I clicked off the e-mail, but The Voice  simply said, "Go." So I turned in early Friday night. Saturday morning I strapped the chopper in the back of the pickup, dressed for the cold, and headed out. I still didn't really feel like going. The Care Center is just a couple blocks off the freeway. Stop, and give Mom a hug before hitting the road. And  it rained on and off almost all the way down through Orange County. Rain would give me a perfect excuse to bail. If this rain doesn't let up by the next off ramp- And then it lets up, and I'm pulled like gravity toward Carlsbad.

The long bikes are gathered at Henseley's. I recognize a few. Go inside- Some familiar faces. Soon we're back out in the lot, and it's on! Twelve bars. Seven hours.  Riding, smokin', drinkin', jokin', talkin' story, laughing like hell, T-Flo's singin', and Funky Monkey Dave is dancin' on his broken leg. That whistle like a spoke shot through the eardrum, and the shout, "SADDLE UP, WE'RE ROLLIN"...
Right- or was it left- through the parking lot across the street, down the alley... SAFETY MEETING! in the alley, behind the park, under the on-ramp. Sitting on that secret little terrace watching the rain catch fire in the sunset over Escondido. The beer flows; the bowl goes round and round. The afternoon is gettin' all kinds of dreamy, and it's rollin' downhill fast. The thin warmth of a mid winter's sun has run ahead and left us. We're at five, or seven, or something, but there's food at bar number nine. Food. I was so hungry I'd have eaten road kill. That carne asada burrito deserved a medal of honor for munchworthiness. Bar ten. Should we lock up? Like who's gonna' mess with this crowd? Yeah, but safety first-  We gather around the fire pits at the bars. And then one last time we're rolling again, weaving and shouting and laughing, careening into the lot- HOLY COW- this is bar number twelve, and we're all in the victory circle of this marathon  boozin' shmoozin' smokin' jokin' laughin' rolling riot of a rumble.
Who's gonna' mess with this crowd?

And some poor slob wants to fight the whole Chopaderos Outlaw Bicycle Club.
No- not kidding. He's gonna call the Hell's Angels and everything.
So Pee Wee tries to reason with the guy. Keep in mind, Pee Wee could pick this guy up with one hand, and stuff him into an inner tube. Doesn't matter. He won't see reason. Wants to kick everyone's butt.  Resident counselor T-Flo consults with Jack Daniels, and proceeds to talk the misguided soul off the ledge of inappropriate behavior.
 Meanwhile we're gathered in the back room at the G-Spot. T-Flo finally gets back there, and Reverend Kickstand addresses the crowd. The Reverend hands out the XII Bar patches-first  to the members, then to the prospects, Then to the hangers on and the wannabe's, and the next thing I know I'm standing up there, and Holy Cow I'm gettin' a patch!

... And then it's over. Wait. This thing ends? Everyone's going their separate ways- some home- others to The Dome, or down to Cardiff- I'm going to head out with- wait. No way. Where exactly are we? I've been following the bike ahead all day, and now I'm not sure where the hell I am. I'm pointing south?

 "Hensley's is that way."
T-Flo is pointing me straight ahead, but it's late, I'm all twisted around, and I can't tell north from south. OK- Straight ahead, maybe a mile. OK.
And I'm rolling on the Spoiler heading south. Now  I know where I'm going. I'm sure of it now. Suddenly the whole night is quiet except for whoosh and clink from the chopper bike on the pavement. The cold has teeth, and it's biting my skinny ass big time. But that's OK, 'cause it's blowing some of the cloud out of my brains- waking me up for the long drive home.

The truck's up ahead, and the truck has a heater. Got a patch in my pocket, and I've heard The Voice. I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life...So I heard, and so I chose, and so received.  Here is the Blessing of this one Christmas Season: Life. Life as it is doled out to us- one day's worth at a time. Sometimes it's a pillar to post slam between the grief that breaks your heart, and the joy that lights your soul. Life in the fullest, richest, and most abundant sense. For what greater pleasures have we in this life than eating, drinking, talking and laughing- singin' and dancin', and ridin' with family and friends? These are also UTOL's: the Universal Treasures Of Life, and in these things is wealth beyond what money can buy. The UTOL's- tasks, and treasures are two sides of this one same coin. My purse is full. My cup runs over. Screw the cold. I haven't felt this good since I can remember.

And Merry Christmas.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Club Charter

updated and revised September 2015

Club Charter
RatRod Riders Bicycle Club of Southern California
Vision Statement

Why form a club?
Simple pleasures bring the greatest joy into our lives. When all is said and done, the best times that we have in life entail a few basic activities:  gathering with friends and family for eating, drinking, trading stories, singing, dancing, laughing, meeting new friends, and of course, riding. When we do these things we celebrate life; we turn simple slack time into memories that we carry for the rest of our lives. We increase the amount of fun in our lives, and that translates into our greater individual happiness.  And that is why we are forming this group.  We agree to make a commitment of time and an investment of effort in creating this small institution. It is to be hoped that our work will pay off in fun, good times, and new friends for ourselves and others. We are engaged in the business of creating happiness, and that is no small thing. Essentially, we are going to plan and host rides and parties, and give a lot of people a chance to come out and enjoy themselves. We’re doing this for the sheer fun of it.

Mission Statement
Who are The RatRod Riders? What is it that we do?
The Rat Rod Riders is a group of custom, cruiser, and classic bicycle enthusiasts who meet on a regular basis for the purpose of riding bikes, and planning rides, events, and outings. We host and promote the So Cal Rat Rod Ride, currently held every second Saturday of the month in Huntington Beach. Our purpose is to see the So Cal Rat Rod Ride grow, to see it become a regular event on the Newport/Huntington bike path. In addition to the So Cal RatRod Ride our club hosts other events, and regularly participates in events hosted by other clubs.
  A prospective member will follow a relatively brief, two stage path to membership.  The process will always be clear and unambiguous. Membership is open to anyone over 21 years of age.

RatRod Riders Bicycle Club of Southern California
Official Charter.

1)      The name of this club will be The RatRod Riders Bicycle Club of Southern California .

2)      The logo for the club will read:
 RatRod Riders
So Cal*
RatRod Riders
Bicycle Club

Rocker beneath logo reading:
Rollin' on Easy
3)      The official club patch design: (see attachment)
4)      Official club colors: Olive red white


Offices and Responsibilities

Organizes the Patch Holding Council for the purpose of planning rides and events.
Has tie breaking vote on decisions regarding club business.
In charge of reservations, production of club regalia, front man for event planning, etc.

Secretary/ Media:
       Handles Facebook page, web site.
Keeps attendance log for new members, sign up lists for party duties, etc.

The Patch Holders Council:
 The job of the council is to plan and publish a ride calendar, and to arrange for the production of club shirts, patches and other regalia. The council also works together to plan the  other club events.

Road Captains:
Decide the route
Scouts route for turning points, rest stops, crossings, choke points, hazards etc.
Officially calls the roll out.
Leads, and paces the pack, points out road hazards, etc.

Tail gunners:
Follows the pack to watch for breakdowns, stalls, accidents.
Communicates with road captain as needed.


By Laws/ Responsibilities of Membership


While all bikes are welcome at the So Cal RatRod Ride, prospective members must have a custom, cruiser, rat rod, or classic bicycle.  Roadies, fixies, mountain, or BMX bikes are all great fun, but not well suited for our type of riding. They are just not our style. "Theme" bikes (super heroes, sports teams, politics, fire department, save the whales, etc.) are likewise better suited for other groups.



A) Club members are expected to  ride in a safe and courteous manner. Our riders should always obey basic rules of the road and be polite, and respectful of pedestrians, and other cyclists. Stay to the right. Don't hog both lanes of a bike path. Please, no cat-calling.

B) Always make visiting riders welcome.  People often drive great distances to participate in our events. Let them know we appreciate their effort.

C) Gossip. We are all human, and subject to all the faults and foibles of being human. Interpersonal relations are always a part of our everyday conversations. We must, however, draw a line between exchanging the news of the day, and getting involved in interpersonal disputes. No one is expected to like everybody. Nonetheless, never, under any circumstances, should a member of RatRod Riders B/C publicly voice a disparaging comment about another club, or another club's, members. Keep it to yourself.

D) Conflicts. We understand that conflicts may occur regardless of our efforts to avoid them. In all cases, Members are expected to exercise restraint, and behave in a civil manner. Failure to do so may result in a loss of membership.

E) Maintenance. Members are expected to keep their machines in good working order. Breakdowns, and flats can happen to anyone, but they happen less often to people who take care of their bikes.


We stress the importance of attendance in the path to membership. It is more important for patch holding members. Membership may be suspended, or cancelled for lack of participation. However, it sometimes happens that a member's work schedule changes and hampers regular participation in our rides and events.  Illness, family trouble, and other unavoidable stuff may also interfere. In any such case, simply let the club know.


How to become a member

 Ratrod Riders Bicycle Club has two phases of membership: Friend of the Club, and Full Patch Member.

 Friend of the Club

  First phase membership, or Friend of the Club is for those who regularly attend and support the So Cal RatRod ride, held every second Saturday of the month.  Prospective riders may be eligible for first phase membership after completing a minimum of three consecutive So Cal RatRod rides.  Friend of the Club status may also be extended on an honorary basis to members of other clubs as a gesture of friendship and solidarity. First phase members may wear our members' T-shirt bearing the single rat logo. Riders may apply for Friend of the Club status by making a request to any member of the patch holding council.

  Full Patch Membership

 Our first order of business is the So Cal RatRod Ride, but as a club we are involved in much more than the second Saturday ride. We frequently hold a "Roadshow" ride, usually on the fourth Saturday. We are also part of the greater O.B.C. family. We have close ties to many other clubs and riding groups. Just as riders from other clubs come out to participate in our events, our patch holding members are out almost every weekend supporting our friends, and representing RatRod Riders B/C in other venues. This means a lot of time on the road.
 The second  phase (Full Patch Member) requires regular participation in both our home-based, and traveling rides. The most important qualification for riders seeking Full Patch Membership is attendance.   Full Patch Membership is granted by approval of the patch holding council. 

First phase (Friend of the Club) members may be eligible for  patch membership after a minimum of six months of regular participation. These members may wear the official club T shirt, and the "Rollin' on Easy" rocker on a blue denim vest.

  Full patch membership may be awarded by the patch holding council at any time following the interim (rocker) phase. Full patch members wear our embroidered patch set on a  blue denim vest, and the full circle logo and rocker on a silk screened T shirt.

It may happen that we get a request for member from someone who wishes to leave a currently established club and come on board with RatRod Riders B/C. This should be handled on a case by case basis.We may, with approval of the patch holding council, fast-track someone whom we all know well. On the other hand, if a rider is involved in personality disputes, or other squabbles in one club, it is likely that he'll bring them along to ours. Again, this will be handled on a case by case basis.

 There should be no dues for club membership. We are not a business. There is no treasury. However, some provision must be made to cover our basic expenses, such as printing T’s, having patches embroidered, paying for picnic grounds, food, etc. Individual members should pool funds for items such as club shirts, patches, vests, and are entitled to reimbursement for their expenditures.  

Our yearly activities calendar includes, (but is not limited to)
A)     The monthly So Cal Rat Rode Ride, Huntington Beach, 11:00 am, on the second Saturday of each month

B)      One or more scheduled night rides
C)      One or more Roadshow Rides rides, wherein we gather for a cruise somewhere we haven’t been before. Destination by suggestion from club members.

Non-Club events:
We  also  attend many non-club events during the year. Examples include, but are not limited to:
A) Ciclavia (2 events)
B) Tour de Fat.
C) the OBC convention
D) Various events  and rides hosted by other clubs.

 Members should take advantage of any and all available outlets for communication and promotion: web page, blog/ message board, Facebook, etc.

Amendments, Approval, Additions

Any additions, corrections, or amendments  require approval by vote from the patch holding council.