What a marvelous day I had riding my Harley Davidson Ultra Classic from Petaluma, CA, down to Santa Cruz. Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on a motorcycle is always a treat no matter how many times I’ve done it. The cool morning fog streamed into the San Francisco Bay welcoming me back to familiar territory.
Leaving Highway 101 in San Francisco, I transitioned to the coast route, the famous Highway One, aka Pacific Coast Highway. It is nothing less than gorgeous, and it did not disappoint.
In no hurry, I took the opportunity to spend a little time at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse and lunched at Davenport amongst a gaggle of motorcyclists, mostly sport bike riders.
Back on the road, the speed limit is 55 miles per hour, and I re-set my cruise control and basked in the beauty of the day. Several automobiles and I were smoothly motoring down the highway when a yellow Harley blew past us on the left challenging the oncoming northbound traffic; Another rude motorcyclist. His black motorcycle helmet looked odd with a red stripe painted from front to back and bracketed by a pair of white stripes. I’ve never seen a motorcycle helmet painted in that scheme, and it reminded me of a football helmet. Actually, if it were not for the red stripe, it could have passed for the road-kill skunk I’d seen earlier in the day.
Upon entering the outskirts of Santa Cruz, the traffic soon loaded-up. The rude motorcyclist bullied his way forward by changing lanes, cutting off cars in the process. Nevertheless, I came upon him stopped at a red light, the first motorist in line. He sat in the left portion of the lane affording plenty of room for me to stop beside him. I noticed that he was wearing a black leather vest with no distinguishing marks and red laced tennis shoes. He looked in my direction, and I nodded a greeting, as we motorcyclists are wont to do in such situations.
My friendliness was returned with a surly, hard stare. The tension was palpable. Now I noticed the sheath knife hanging at his waist and the Hells Angels stickers on the motorcycle’s right front fork. Great, I’m stopped, most likely, next to a Hells Angels outlaw motorcycle gang (OMG) hangaround, the lowest tier of Hells Angels membership. And, he’s not in the least bit friendly. That explains all the red and white colors.
Clearly, I’ve hurled an insult by having the audacity to pull-up next to him. I suppose that I was expected to maintain a deferential distance to his rear and by not doing so I lacked the prerequisite “respect.” People have been beat-down for equal or less. When the traffic light turned green, he shot forward with all the noise his bike’s exhaust system could muster like someone shoved a hot poker up his butt. That put me in my place, don’t you think?
For all the good the bluster did him, he was soon again stuck in traffic. I changed lanes and passed him with just a little more Harley throttle than necessary, as if to say, “Suck on my tailpipe, Jackass.” He followed me briefly and then faded out of view. What could he have done anyway? Brought his knife to a gun fight?
These OMG types are accustomed to intimidating people. I don’t get intimidated well. But hey, I’d be nuts to expect any more from someone who is trying to make his bones, to show what a badass he is, and become a full-patched member of a pack of hyenas. He’ll do better when he is backed-up by his buddies and can rat-pack some hapless person.