The Biker Code: Sewing Circles and Secret Handshakes

Mar 21, 2013 View Comments by

The Biker Code

Have you ever been out for a ride when suddenly another motorcyclist passes you? Then another. Then another. Before you know it, you are hugging the right side of the road as a very large group of riders begins to roll by.

When I see these groups I often wonder what it is that has brought them together.

How long have they all been riding together?

Is this a one-time thing? Will they ride together again?

Do they have a secret handshake?

Is it complicated? If I were to join their group could I learn it quickly or would I have to practice? How could I practice a handshake alone? What if they saw me practicing? Would they ask me to leave the group? How could they? I just got in!

And so it goes in my helmeted head . . .

When the group contains leather wearing, tatted-up, patch emblazoned, “loud pipes save lives” riders, my mind wanders even more. Are they weekend warriors who have snuck out of their quarterly HOA meeting, or a full-fledged biker gang? I have found that if the tattoos come off with soap and water they are usually the former.
If they are a biker gang what will happen if I catch up with them?

They will know when they go to shake my hand that I am not one of them, as I am clearly unfamiliar with their secret handshake. If I strike up a conversation with them, do I become a member of their gang by association? Are my tattoos cool enough? If I learn the handshake will I have to learn how to sew? Can all bikers sew?

They never show that on “Sons of Anarchy.” But how else would they get all those cool patches on their jackets?

When I was about eight years old, my mom sewed several patches onto a denim vest for me. An old army patch of my grandfather’s was sewn close to another that read, “Free Spirit.” I did not see the contradiction of these two symbols. But the sixth graders who ruled my school felt this was a nosebleed-worthy, playground-settling offense. From that point forward, I became very aware of the value of words, images, symbols, and their meanings. I began to obsess over imagery and the subtleties of language. Could I really support the military and be a free spirit? Should I even try to defend myself on the position? At that age, I am sure I was just focused on how cool the patches looked on my A-Team inspired Mr. T vest. For anyone else who didn’t understand . . .  “I pitied the fool.” I do think this experience has been what has kept my collection of various motorcycle brands, rallies, and miscellaneous slogans from making their way onto my jackets as I have gotten older.

This is a lot to think about in the few seconds it takes for a group to pass. Perhaps my wife is right. Maybe I do spend too much time in a helmet. (Fun fact: scientists have shown this is not possible. Whew!) Secret handshakes and sewing circles aside, I always enjoy seeing a big group out for a weekend ride, regardless of what brought them together. There is something special about seeing a group of like-minded folks sharing the enjoyment of a ride.

If you are someone who would like to have such an experience; check out this year’s RoadRUNNER Touring Weekend in July. I am really looking forward to attending and riding with everyone. It is a great place to meet with a diverse group of riders. Rumor has it some may even know how to sew! Bring along that drawer of patches you keep neglecting to sew onto your jacket, perhaps you can work out a trade. I have been told there are no secret handshakes, so you can leave that anxiety behind as well. Until next time . . . I have to go figure out how to sew a bunch of my old patches onto a Kevlar jacket! I think I’m going to need a bigger needle!

Tags: , , , Categories: Adventure Hermit

About the author

I am an introvert posing as an extrovert. I love travel in all forms, but prefer 2-wheels. I created AdventureHermit as a way to share my adventures and inspire others to find joy through discovery; writing for RoadRUNNER is a dream come true!