Motoring Monday – Biker lore

Ever notice a small bell on a big, bad, bikers motorcycle and wonder why the seemingly out-of-place, dainty little object was there in the first place?  Well, it serves as more than decoration…there is a very specific purpose for the little noisemaker.  Here are a couple popular explanations that will give you a little more insight into the biker culture…

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As you are probably well aware, there are many unexplainable mysteries in life, such as mechanical problems once you get too far from home, but not close enough to your destination.  In the biker world, those instances are blamed on evil road spirits, or “gremlins.”  They are responsible for a vast array of problems – like when your turn signals fail to work, the battery dies, or you have problems shifting. 

These evil spirits cannot live in the presence of a bell.  They get trapped in the hollow part, and the constant ringing drives them crazy until they are eventually driven insane and have to relinquish their grip on your bike, falling to the roadway.  (Ever wonder where potholes come from?)

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The story of the gremlin bell

Legend has it, or so the story goes, that a long time ago, on a cold December night, a grizzled old biker was riding back from a trip to Mexico.  He had made a special trip and loaded his saddlebags full of toys and trinkets for small children in his neighborhood. 

As he traveled alone, the cool desert air wind whipping around him, he couldn’t help but ponder how blessed his life was.  He was enjoying his ride and noting that his trusty bike had never failed him in all the years he’d been riding it. 

Just a little north of the border, a group of evil road spirits, known as gremlins, plotted a scheme against the biker.  You rarely see them in the flesh, but you can’t miss the disarray they leave in their wake; obstacles like shoes, boards, old pieces of tires, any form of debris really, those dreaded potholes – all courtesy of these dreaded little critters. 

As the veteran biker rounded a curve, his eyes grew wide with horror as the moonlight revealed the group of creatures directly in his path.  Taking the only evasive maneuver he could, he laid the bike down into as controlled of a skid as he possibly could.  As he laid on the road, unable to move, the gremlins started to surround him.  He noticed that one of his saddlebags had broken free and scattered his bounty all over the highway, so he gathered the items within his reach and started to throw things at the gremlins to keep them at bay.  Eventually, he ran out of ammunition and was left only with a small bell.  He began ringing it furiously in hopes of scaring the group away.

In the distance, a pair of bikers that were camping out following a full day of riding the desert landscape noticed what sounded like church bells.  Curious about the sound, they loaded up and started investigating the origin of the noise when they witnessed the old biker lying prone on the highway trying to fend off a group of gremlins.  The pair of bikers immediately ran in and scared the critters away.

Being grateful for the assistance from the biker brethren, the grizzled old graybeard offered to compensate the pair for their help.  In typical biker fashion, the two bikers declined anything the old man offered.  Eventually, running out of ideas, he cut two leather straps from the fringe on his saddlebags, and used them to tie a small bell to each of the other motorcycles.  Tying them to the frame, as close to the ground as possible, the old biker told his two protectors that the bells would keep them protected from the evil road gremlins, and if they ever found themselves in trouble to just ring the bells and a fellow biker would come to their assistance.

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Furthermore, it is claimed that purchasing your own bell is effective, but it’s said that a bell given from a loved one is twice as powerful.

And now you know the rest of the story…

Thank you, that is all.

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