I still remember the first time I hit the scene. Being from a small town in the northeast, it was hardly the grand illusions I had of what might be happening in LA or New York but it was a scene, man. The cats there were like a perfect mixture of Zane Grey characters and cartoons. I can also remember the uneasy feeling of not knowing the right things to say or do in those unfamiliar surroundings. Many times I sat in the corner and kept my mouth shut, but that first time was something special in itself. The bikes were incredible, almost like a rolling show and the rough edged men with their sultry companions, complete with eighties-styled hair and clothing, in tow. It was like my mind was reading a story about all of it as it was happening. My nerves twitched with sensory overload in what I thought could break out in a violent clash or a hellatious party at any moment. It was unreal and just a few feet away from the door where on the other side the straights lived. They knew nothing about this world, as much as I had before that first time I made the scene.
I was in my early twenties back then and had just scored my first Shovel. I had a couple of bikes before it but this was my ticket in, or so I thought. Sure enough there were miles to be ridden and dues to be paid before I could really be part of it all, but the old Shovel did get me in the door. I met some far-out personalities. There were guys like Tank, who was turning his Superglide around by lifting the front wheel by the handlebars the first time I saw him, Ratso, who I helped to get his car keys off the roof after the first night I was at one of his parties, and Panhead Carl who taught me about the colors of dawn and sunset and how they would tell me what color to paint my bike. Each person I met through those first formidable years of motorcycling was like a whole separate chapter for me and part of a fantastic scene that surrounded the Pittsburgh area where I came up.
There were poker runs and hog roasts, day trips and out of state getaways, everything from times I thought I’d have to fight my way out of a far away bar to break downs that left me stuck in another town. Nothing was as good as those moments in time and for years I would just revel in the place where I was in it. It was the scene, and after years of reading about it, I had made it, and brother it was good.
Of course, as the years went on, I would learn the names of the players and even take my own place in their company, but the luster would begin to slightly wear off. They all became somewhat more human to me and the true stories of life around a depressed, once thriving steel town, took the place of superhero type depictions of deeds by infamous bikers. This was when I realized that the scene isn’t a story book place with legendary characters, not that it didn’t have its fill of those, but the real scene is made up of real people and its stories are often of long hours and sacrifice. Sure this is less romantic, but in the end, this is the stuff real legends and heroes are made of anyway.
It’s in the spirit of this that we are pleased to bring you the first of what we hope to be an annual offering from the Cycle Source Magazine titled “The Scene.” In it, we are taking a look at several parts of the United States that have been designated as places of note for the evolution of our culture. What makes them tick, what are their differences, similarities and who are the people behind the scene. In this issue we hope to show the nuts and bolts of what holds us together and makes this whole damn thing run. Good reading!