Big, fat, black, noisy and obnoxious
When the weather gets cold and the snow starts to fly, blowflies like to crawl up in a tight, enclosed space, preferably someplace warm. In the spring, when the weather starts getting balmy, they crawl out and look for carrion and rotting matter where they can lay their eggs. If they get in your house, they bumble around – big, fat, black, noisy and obnoxious, rather like the Harley riders that come out of their hidey-holes every summer.Last summer I was wrapping up the day’s horseback rides in Marble when a familiar rumble came roaring up the valley. Somehow a pack of Harley riders had gotten off the beaten path. Sure enough, they were lost and seeing me, they all pulled up in front of my stables, revving their engines every few seconds. They were in all their glory, with expensive black leather jackets, black leather chaps, do-rags, and cool James Dean-style sunglasses, all past middle age, all sunburned and tattooed. And all giving me a splitting headache with their goddamn noisy bikes.I watched with annoyance as they parked all five of their bikes on the left side of the white line on the paved road, impeding traffic, though there was a perfectly good gravel parking lot right there. Their leader crooked his finger at me and summoned me to come over. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t come when I’m called like a servant. I made a slashing motion across my throat, as in “Cut your engines,” and crooked my finger back at him.He reluctantly summoned his running buddies to cut their engines, and painfully crawled off his bike and sauntered over to me. There was blessed silence until he shouted at me, “HOW DO WE GET BACK TO ASPEN FROM HERE?” I said, “Let me ask you a question first.” “WHAT?” he replied, and removed an expensive custom-made hearing protection device from his ear. “Why do you park your bikes in the middle of a major road?” I asked him. He looked at me curiously, as if I were a strange species of insect. “Because of the ROCKS,” he snarled, stunned at my ignorance. I gave him directions, he crawled back on his bike, there was an earsplitting pandemonium as they all started and revved their engines a half-dozen times, and I held my hands over my ears until they were well down the road.How tedious.How is it that people can be so obnoxious and act like all the rest of us are not only supposed to tolerate their arrogance and noise, we’re also supposed to like it? The Harley fans counter that loud pipes are safer because motorists can hear them coming, so they install incredibly loud after-market pipes and straddle the center line of the road and ride with their brights on, intentionally blinding oncoming motorists. Really. As if a motorist should fail to see a 600-pound bike with two fat, tattooed, sunburned 300-pounders on it. The spectacle itself demands that you gawk.Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-motorcycle. I’ve had a motorcycle license since I was 16. My first vehicle was a motorcycle. I rode a Suzuki GT750 back from California by myself when I was 17. It was my school and work transportation until I was 20, when I got my first car. I like motorcycles, and I like riding them.I just don’t like earsplitting noise and the arrogant jerks who perpetrate that noise on the rest of the world. It’s just plain rude. If you want to leave your insurance office and play badass for the weekend, and support the American economy by buying an inferior product, that’s all good with me. But keep the noise down!How is a rider on a noisy motorcycle any different than these gangbanger wannabes whose vehicles shake with car stereo noise? Sure, Harleys have a cool sound, but gee whiz, can we tone it down a little? How come the cyclists riding the BMWs, Moto Guzzis, Goldwings and Suzukis don’t seem to need earsplitting noise?Aspen, of course, as the paragon of cool, is known for its “Rolex riders.” Frankly, it’s frightening to see them try to keep their machines upright. A friend of mine almost caused a motorcycle crash in Aspen when several of them rode by in all their splendor on Hunter Street, and he shouted, “Hey! You dropped your Rolex!” Four riders immediately jerked their heads around to see if their watch was lying in the street, and almost crashed.The Denver City Council just passed an ordinance that would require motorcycles to be equipped with an EPA-certified exhaust. The bikers came out in force, protesting the noise limitation on the basis of safety. Now that’s a hoot. If safety were the issue, they’d all be wearing helmets and you’d never see a cluster of Harleys parked outside the bar, would you? But these are the same people who were howling at the state Legislature until they got the helmet law repealed.No, they’re simply inconsiderate, rude, obnoxious people who want to preserve their perception of being “cool,” no matter how many people they annoy, irritate, offend, bother or harass with their tedious noise. Not unlike a big, fat blowfly that somehow gets in the house.Gary Hubbell is a freelance writer and photographer, and the co-owner of OutWest Guides in Marble, Colo. (www.outwestguides.com), an outfitting service providing overnight pack trips, guided fly-fishing trips, and elk and deer hunts. He lives in Crawford.
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