Just sitting around yesterday after the Burn Ride, and I got to thinking. Yep, I had some of those "deep thoughts" that sneak in during quiet moments. See, a bunch of were sitting around a table at Cancun Cantina, and later a slightly different crew I know were together at Daniel's Restaurant, and I had the unmistakable feeling at both times that I was with my family.
In one very special case, there's my Bro, John. John and I have been together since very early childhood, growing up next door to each other, and we've been riding together since either of us got our first bike. He's like a brother to me. And John's wife, Bev, is as much a sister to me as she could possibly be. And though we've known each other fewer years, Charlie and Linda fall into the same category of "family" for me.
And there's a few other people who have, over time, moved into my inner circle of very, very close friends. I won't even try to name anyone else for fear I'll forget someone, but I think they know who they are. Some of these people seemed to get in on Day One, and others gradually, but one day I stopped looking at them as friends and began looking at them as my family.
I don't think I'm unique in this viewpoint. It's been my experience that motorcycle people, and more specifically the Harley Davidson community, develop personal relationships far stronger than simple friendships. I also think these bonds are on an entirely different level than with friends made in other "special interest" groups. We may occasionally battle it out among ourselves, but we're fiercely protective of each other, and don't take kindly when others take shots at one of us. I know, without a doubt, that one or two phone calls will connect me with people who will take care of me when I need it. I hope I never do need to make the call, but I do know the people will be there. I also know that complete strangers will help out a fellow biker who needs it, and no strings attached.
On a broader scale, I've seen the biker community rally together as a group when a biker family is in need of financial assistance. Or bikers who organize to help out a good cause. (Yes, you read that right! Sometimes bikers can actually plan stuff!) Maybe it happens elsewhere, but damn if I see it, at least not on a large scale. Birdwatchers for Burned Kids? Nope, I ain't seen that one. Bowlers for Tots? Nope, not that one either.
I'll also say that the true bikers I know....not those who fall into the "motorcycle owner" group....are those most likely to form these kinds of bonds. Seems there's a huge difference in how we view each other, and even our motorcycles! Having trouble seeing the difference in the two groups? Just stick around.
Now, don't misunderstand me. I have other very close friends, but I'll probably never run into them at a biker event. Chris T comes to mind (Grrroowwwwlllll!), along with a few others. But generally speaking, those I feel closest to are most often found on a bike.
So it's a family thing for me. Many of the folks I ride with are just like my brothers, sisters, or even my kids. When I was kicked back, relaxing at Daniels yesterday with John and Bev, It was just like being home. Nice.