A few weeks back, I wrote a lengthy piece about David Mann, the artist and illustrator who spent four decades chronicling the biker life for Choppers publisher Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth and, later, for Easyriders, the most enduring rag ever published by and for bikers, until new owners ran it into the weeds…. 🤬

….but Rest in Peace, Dave Mann, and R.I.P. the original Easyriders and its late editor Lou Kimzey, who is the closest thing my writing career ever got to a mentor. What commercial success I’ve had (and granted, I never tried to make writing my primary occupation) is due to Lou Kimzey’s kind words.

Anyhoo, at Dave Mann’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/davidmannstore) a post recently appeared featuring a particularly dark and gritty image, even for Dave Mann, who did dark and gritty better than anyone. It was used as an illustration for an essay about violence between motorcycle clubs. Half the essay’s text appeared on the page over Dave’s artwork…. but the other half? 🤷‍♀️ Even though it says ‘Continued from page 41,’ the jump was actually to page 41. Mr. Kimzey and the boys ran a loose ship back in the day, and errors were to be expected.  😏

But me and my fellow Mann fans didn’t care about to or from; we just wanted to see the rest of the damned article!

I hate being left hanging like that, so I went and found a copy of that issue (April 1977) and got what radio personality Paul Harvey used to call ‘….the rest of the story.’ It was just another half-page, but it was the conclusion of a powerful essay, especially in those grim days when ‘gang warfare’ was decimating motorcycle club rosters and drawing heat on everyone who rode, patched or not, Me, I spent more than one afternoon looking down the barrel of a lawman’s gun because our home team was going tit-for-tat with other clubs over Goddess knows what. 🙄


The man who died apparently crawled into a van parked near our campsite and bled out as LEOs searched for perpetrators and victims.  Of course, those guys all had the good sense to split, if they were physically able, long before the po-po made their appearance.
We, on the other hand, were not so smart.  We were held at the racetrack for hours under the blazing sun until the cops were satisfied they’d found everything they were going to find. Then they began pointing rifles and shotguns at us, screaming at us to get our bikes moving and get out the gates NOW! or have them impounded and spend the night in jail.
The scramble to get several hundred pissed-off bikers out the narrow gates of that racetrack – many of them stoned and/or drunk as Cooter Brown after hours of waiting – might have been farcical if not for the dead body, the wounded, and the ranks of angry LEOs, many on horseback and all a-bristle with long guns.
As if that weren’t enough, when my crew reached the gates, most announced they were going to ride into Houston and continue partying!  😳  
I’d had enough of East Texas, so me and another fellow – a stranger – partnered up for the long ride back to Austin.  Good thing for him, too, since his headlight went out before we reached the Montgomery County line.  I rode beside him the rest of the way back to Austin, the little seven-inch sealed beam on my shovelhead the only light to advise oncoming motorists of our presence!
And of course, there was retaliation, as seen in this undated clipping circa 1989, following several bombings of rival club members’ homes. and vehicles.

Sadly, although the Nordic and Canadian Wars have died down, and wholesale slaughter a la Laughlin and Twin Peaks is no longer the rule of the day, there are still too many dust-ups like Porter, too many barroom brawls and killings, and retaliatory strikes, and revenge for those retaliatory strikes, and paybacks and drive-bys and so on and so on…. ad nauseam.

Maybe someday this bullshit really will be past.

Finally, here is the artwork as it first appeared on Dave Mann’s easel. George Christie, former President of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club’s Ventura, California, charter, and now an accomplished author and podcaster, owns the original painting, and offers prints for sale through his website at http://www.georgechristie.com/. I wouldn’t mind owning one, just for its value as documentation of our history as bikers, but I wouldn’t want it hanging on my wall with my numerous prints of more serene works by David Uhl, James Guçwa, Norman Bean, Amanda Zito, et alia…. and that’s assuming Jackie didn’t brain me for even thinking about displaying that violent imagery in our home! 😁

Since I’ve written about my collection, and art in general, I think my next entry might be a tour of MMMoMMA, also known as ‘My Miniature Museum of Modern Motorcycle Art.’ Maybe I’ll start with my visit to the actual MOMA in New York, and its exhibit of automotive and motorcycle art, and follow the trail through motorcycle museums at Anamosa, Iowa, and Maggie Valley, North Carolina, all the way back to Austin, home of the aforementioned and as-yet-not-world-renowned MMMoMMA. Watch this space! 😎

A sneak peek at part of My Miniature Museum of Modern Motorcycle Art, located on the banks of scenic Little Walnut Creek in beautiful downtown Northeast Austin…. Texas, that is. 🤠


P.S.: I thought y’all might be interested in two other facts about the incident at Porter, cited above.

First, while violence did erupt between two rival motorcycle clubs, it had been a gentlemanly fistfight – a good old-fashioned punch-up, as the Brits call it – until the security guard hired by the event promoter allegedly waded into the crowd of brawling bikers, pulled his sidearm and fired a couple of rounds in the air. It always worked in the movies, right? However, in Porter, on hearing gunfire, the brawlers simply assumed the fight had escalated. Weapons were produced, shots fired, and, well…. you know the rest.

Second, about those 1988 arrests referenced in the sentencing article: Those arrests took place on April 30, 1988; five years to the day from the incident at Porter, but also the very day the Motorcyclists’ Rights Organization I was a state officer with had scheduled a statewide Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Rally. We had ambitiously slated massive gatherings in Amarillo and Galveston, and at the State Capital in Austin, to press for better awareness of motorcyclists in traffic and improved rider education. We hoped, of course, to make a good impression on the press – rarely kind to us during our legislative efforts – and perhaps convince the motoring public at large that we were just fun-loving motorcyclists, and not an existential threat to their safety.

How far do you suppose that pipedream got when we had to share our coverage on the evening news with reports of mass arrests, bombings, shootouts and the like? To this day, I wonder if the cops didn’t time those arrests for that day, just so they could upstage our event! 😒


As some of you know, I have long been a proponent of women riding their own bikes, so I pay attention to articles like the one posted below. Karan Andrea would have been an interesting person in her own right, for her determination and accomplishments, but she also had the good sense to fall in love with another 1974 Shovelhead, which makes her my sister…. or sister-in-law, at least. 😏

Karan wrote:

Riding, Wrenching, & Empowerment

Antique Motorcycle Club of America Riveters Chapter founder Karan Andrea brought a vintage Harley back to life, despite all odds

by Karan Andrea, Buffalo, New York, February 27, 2022 at  https://womenridersnow.com/riding-wrenching-empowerment/

AMCA Riveter Ride—Chix on 66

Note: per the Riveter Chapter’s website, they will host a run to Berea, Kentucky May 30 – June 2, 2023. Visit them at https://www.riveterchapter.com/ for more info.

Despite three years of struggling to learn to ride well, I never gave up.  Today, I am the master of my 1974 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead, which I can not only ride, but wrench on.  This photo was taken at the Shovelhead Reunion in Milwaukee last June by Mark Garcia, Big Machine Photography.

AMCA Riveter Founder’s Herstory

I started riding motorcycles in 2011 when I was 45 years old.  Prior to that, I hadn’t been around bikes all that much. I never rode dirt bikes and didn’t have a parent or relative who rode.  When I was 19 years old, I dated a guy for a minute who had a Yamaha Virago.  I rode with him a few times and loved it!  But after we broke up, I didn’t have the opportunity to ride a motorcycle again for 25 years.

At that point, I had a friend who had a motorcycle who was going through a rough patch in life.  The only solace he had was riding, but he had a hard time getting himself to leave the house to go for a ride.  I started asking him to take me for rides.  I’d cover the gas, and we’d ride for hours.

After a while, he said, ‘You know, if you like riding that much, why don’t you get your license and get your own bike.  That way, you don’t have to date some asshole in order to ride.’  My answer was, ‘I can do that?’  It never occurred to me that I could learn to ride a motorcycle.  I had no idea how one learned to ride, but in some part of my mind I think I assumed that if you were a dude, you just automatically knew how, so of course I did not know how.  I didn’t know any women who rode, although that wasn’t a huge factor because I’ve always done things that were non-traditional for a woman.

Learning to Ride a Motorcycle

My friend told me about a motorcycle class for beginners, and I went for it.  I was a nervous wreck.  I have no idea how I passed the riding evaluation, but I did it.  There I was, an endorsed rider with no friggin’ clue how to ride a motorcycle.  This is not a shortcoming of the class at all.  The beginner’s class teaches you how to operate a motorcycle and teaches you the basics of safety, but we never went beyond the parking lot.

The only way to learn to ride a motorcycle, is to ride a motorcycle.  Karan, meet anxiety, anxiety, Karan.  The next three years were a struggle.  I bought the wrong bike, was getting (no) help from the wrong person, and I just never felt comfortable riding.  But I wanted to ride so badly, that I refused to give up.

My stubborn streak served me well.  Just five years after I got rid of the wrong bike, I became a certified Motorcycle Safety Instructor.  I’ve also fallen in love with vintage bikes and long-distance riding.

My First Vintage Motorcycle

When I left a damaging relationship in 2018, I was left with a 1974 Harley-Davidson FLH Shovelhead in my garage that was the most terrifying beast I had ever faced.  That motorcycle needed a lot of work.  It was barely ridable as it sat, and even after I conquered my fear and rode it, it was a physically exhausting—but strangely exhilarating—adventure.  Along with needing major motor, clutch, transmission, and fork work, the bike needed to be completely rewired.  Wrenching still intimidates me even though I will do it, but wiring… I was pretty sure I could do that.

Quite a few people told me I was crazy and that I would get frustrated and end up hauling it to a shop for them to finish.  They said I didn’t know what I was doing, and I would screw it up and would never finish the job.  My answer was, “So what?  I’m gonna try.”

In winter of 2018, I screwed up the nerve to rewire this beast

Overcoming Obstacles

I did get some help (although it was the wrong help) and I built up some confidence.  I taught myself how to read an electrical diagram and learned to trust my instincts with the bike, people, and myself.  I finally finished the rewire job and took the Shovel on its first journey.  I did a 1,000-mile trip, fixed a few things along the way, and never felt more in control of myself and my bike.

Again, people told me I was crazy to travel on this old motorcycle.  What was I going to do if it broke down?  My answer was always the same, “I will figure it out.”  My second trip on the Shovelhead was 2,000 miles.  During both trips the bike had minor problems, but I got some fabulous stories out of it, and I was forming a bond with that old Harley that I had never had with any other vehicle I have ever owned.

Nothing about riding or wrenching has come easily.  I am grateful to the short list of people who have been so generous with information, advice, parts, and encouragement.  I am also grateful to the longer list of people who tried to derail me, who said I’d never succeed, who tried to sabotage my efforts.  Because in the end, I have shown myself who I am.

The first word I ever read as a child was SHELL. When I saw this aging service station during a motorcycle trip in 2019, I whipped around and went back for a photo. This is either in northern Kentucky or southern Ohio
In 2021 Ernie Barkman crafted this seat rail for me and the Shovelhead’s official name became Atomic Shovel.
I have graduated to hacking up other people’s motorcycles.  This was another parking lot repair in 2021 on fellow vintage motorcycle rider Marjorie Kleiman’s Harley-Davidson FXR.  Photo by Marjorie Kleiman.

As I read Karan’s article, I found two lines that really spoke to me, because they so perfectly mirror my own feelings. First, Karan wrote that, after teaching herself to rebuild and rewire the bike, she:

‘…took the Shovel on its first journey. I did a 1,000-mile trip, fixed a few things along the way, and never felt more in control of myself and my bike.’

That sense of competence and control Karan cites – the sensation I get from knowing my Shovelhead inside and out – is so precious to me. I’m pleased to know it is to her, as well.

She follows that by saying:

‘Again, people told me I was crazy to travel on this old motorcycle. What was I going to do if it broke down? My answer was always the same, “I will figure it out.” My second trip on the Shovelhead was 2,000 miles. During both trips the bike had minor problems, but I got some fabulous stories out of it, and I was forming a bond with that old Harley that I had never had with any other vehicle I have ever owned.’

The bond Karan mentions is why I still get loquacious AF about my Shovelhead after all these years. See previous post, f’rinstance. What can I say? 🤷‍♀️ The Bitch is in my blood, and my blood, sweat and tears are in hers. 😁

Thank you, Karan Andrea and Women Riders Now for sharing that essay with us. Sláinte!


When I was maybe seven or eight the boy next door came home from college on a toaster-tank BMW, and was giving the neighbor kids rides around the block. I begged and pleaded with my Mom – ‘PleaseI’llbecarefulI’llhangontightPleasecanIgoCanIgoPleaseI’llbecarefulPlease….’ – until she finally gave in. Yay! 😁👍

Gene and I were halfway around the block when I got this thought, like a crystal-clear voice in my head, that said ‘I’m going to HAVE one of these someday!’ The moment was so profound that, forty years later, I was able to take my wife to that exact spot and say ‘There! That’s where it all began!’ 🤷‍♀️

Right about there is where that lightning bolt inspiration struck me!

We were not allowed to have motorcycles when we were kids; not even minibikes, which were all the rage at the time. The closest I got to the chopper of my dreams was some plastic modelling kits and a Sting-Ray bicycle.

Not my Sting-Ray – this one is listed on eBay for $1200 😳 – but this is the color and year I had.

Of course, on the sly I rode anything with a motor – minibike, moped, dirtbike, whatever – whenever anyone was dumb enough to let me, but that wasn’t often. We lived in a ‘nice’ suburban town, and actual bikers were hard to find. The boy next door and Steve down the street, who had a BSA, were the only people I knew with real motorcycles, and they were **never** dumb enough to let me near the controls! 😆

As noted in previous posts, I spent my teen years drinking and drugging – a lot and very badly – and it wasn’t until I put all that aside, at the age of 21, that I could get serious about putting together the money for my first motorcycle. It took a year of sobriety to clean up my rather messy financial history, and working two jobs while going to school full-time on the GI Bill, but I finally got together the down-payment. With that in hand I got the nod from the credit union to begin shopping. Yay again! 😁👍

I toddled off to the Harley-Davidson dealership – I already knew I wanted a Harley – but the guy there was such a jackass that I turned around and walked out. Smart move, because half a block up the street I saw a Harley for sale in a used car lot. It was black, low, lean and mean, one of the prettiest things I’d ever seen, and looked like it might be everything I ever wanted.

I could not have been more right.

I called this biker I’d met in sobriety – a lawyer, of all things, who built choppers! – and asked him to come look at the bike with me. He came down and we went over the bike together. It was a 1974 Harley-Davidson Superglide FX with a 74 cubic inch shovelhead motor, a kickstarter (no electric start then or now) and disc brakes fore and aft. After he took it for a test ride (I did not yet have my motorcycle license) Wayne gave it the thumbs-up, and the deal was done. I completed the paperwork at the credit union, conveniently located just around the corner from the used-car lot, and spent a near-sleepless night as keyed up as a kid at Christmas.

The next day – April 11th, 1979 – I threw my leg over my very first Harley for the very first time. That’s right: Forty-four years ago today I answered the call I heard that long-ago afternoon, on the back of Gene Graf’s BMW. After years of wishing and wanting and dreaming about it, I finally HAD me one of those things! 😎

And forty-four years later, I still have that same motorcycle. I’ve had a few others along the way, but that one is my ride-or-die keeper. She (for she is a girl, make no mistake) is no longer black, and not as low or quite as lean as she was (neither am I, for that matter 😏 ) but she is still the prettiest thing I have ever seen. She’s still gorgeous, and righteous, and I still love her dearly.

Sad to say, a series of unfortunate events (primarily a disabling OTJ accident) have kept me off my one true love (machine division) for several years, but I still harbor a hope that we may still find a way to be together again.

However, in the meanwhile, and with the support of my one true love (human division) I have secured a different bike, better suited to my disabilities. She’s big and fat and shiny and loud, and so new-fangled and complicated I dare not touch most of her more intimate components, but I’ve already had my hands on her, a little bit, doing little fix-its and adjustments, and once that happens love is sure to follow. She’ll never displace my shovelhead – seriously, what could? – but I have a good feeling about her. 🥰

My new-to-me 2016 Harley-Davidson Freewheeler. Now all I have to do is unlearn forty-four years of training, practice and instinct I’ve accumulated riding a two-wheeler, and learn the proper handling of a three-wheeler. For those who don’t know: it’s a very different style of riding!

So, Happy Anniversary to my 1974 Harley-Davidson FX 1200 Superglide – my beloved shovelhead – and thank you, thank you, thank you for all the years of joy and adventure you brought me. Let’s go for forty-four more, eh? 😁

Yes, sir, that’s my baby. No, sir, I don’t mean ‘maybe.’ Yes, sir, that’s my baby now!

And don’t you go getting jealous of the new kid. She’s just here to help. 🤣