Of Bikes and Bikers.

Nothing much happened the next couple of days except watching the death toll from the earthquake sadly rising hour by hour.  It was some light relief then when I heard a strange engine note coming into the car park behind me in the place I stay.  I looked round to see the magnificent machine you see pictured here being ridden by my Canadian mate Gerry. 

Gerry's hotrod.

Gerry is a larger than life character with a million stories to tell, most of which are not for public consumption but he is one of the good guys.  He is also a complete bike nut.  In the few weeks I have been here he has bought five bikes and sold two to my knowledge, but with Gerry you never know.  He thinks he has 13 in his garage now but he is never sure and that figure will probably change by tomorrow.  Whilst the Ninja 1000 is nice, this is my favourite.

Gerry's hotrod.

Gerry's hotrod.
I won't use copyrighted images on my blog but you may want to look up Yamaha Chapy on the internet.  It is basically the smallest 49cc lightweight ridiculous looking scooter you have ever seen.  Gerry ripped it to pieces and chopped it as you see.  The front forks have a 43 degree rake which actually gives it a longer wheelbase than the Ninja.  The engine noise is a thing of beauty and he regularly pulls wheelies in the carpark here.  I know he has already turned down a serious amount of money for it and I am not surprised.

This was to be the start of a day of bikes and bikers as the title suggests and the beginning of a "beautiful friendship" with some really nice guys.

Mac had been invited to a biker party in the Road Hose bar in Dumaguete.  He knows a lot of bikers as many of them use his bar to socialise.  He asked me if I wanted to come with him.  I initially declined thinking along UK, European and US lines that it would be a lot of pretty bhard men getting drunk and maiming each other especially in a country where ilegal weapons are so freely available but he assured me that the bikers here were all nice guys, generally middle aged Westerners  who just liked to ride big bikes so I agreed.  Knowing there might be a beer or two involved we left the bikes and jumped on a jeepney into town, Mac, Hazel and I.

I was initially a bit hesitant, not knowing the score, but I needn't have worried.  Mac was talking to Chuck the owner and Hazel was with the ladies so I was sort of left alone.  I adopted a low profile (well, as low as I can at 6'5" and looking like Gandalf) and checked the place out.  there were probably about 40n or 50 patched bikers there and plenty more people wearing support T-shirts,, hang around shirts and so on.  For those of you not aware of the etiquette, I'll try and fill you in a little.  You don't ask to join a bike club of this type, you have to be invited.  You go to where they congregate and hang around with them, hence the term.  After a period of time you may be invited as a prospect or a nominee (the nomenclature varies in different countries) and you get your first rocker.  The rockers are the two curved patches above and below the central one on the rear of a bikers colours.  If you are further accepted, you get your second rocker and eventually the central patch of your club which makes you a fully-fledged member.  I won't bore you with what all the other patches mean and I don't even know them all myself.  OK, Bike Club introductory lesson over and back to the party.

The thing that amazed me was that there were bikers from all different clubs drinking and chatting quite amicably.  I know that in Europe, for example, the Hell's Angels and Outlaws have been klling each other for a number of years now but it does not seem to be the case here.  I later found out that the venue was the HQ of the Roadrunners M.C. but there were riders from many different clubs there and evidently welcome.  I met a cuple of UK guys including one from about three miles down the road from where I live and was starting to feel a little more comfortable.  Everyone I spoke to was friendly and I was not allowed to put my hand in my pocket to buy a beer.

I should explain here that there is only one photo which you will see later.  I still didn't want to be waving a camera about as an unkown quantity in this company much less use flash and draw attention to myself.  At one point a rather large man with a shaven head came up to me and introduced himself to me as Kojak (for obvious reasons), telling me that this was his patching ceremony.  Again, I was amazed.  In UK, civilians like me would never be invited to that, nor indeed other club members but it just seems to work differently here.  I congratulated him and we spoke nof this and that.  He told me to eat and drink my fill, and it was all at his expense as is apparently the custom here, so I thanked him and set about the bar.  I subsequently found out that Kojak is a retired full Colonel in the US Special Forces and a Vietnam veteran.  He is a hugely impressive man in every sense.  I am not breaching any confidentiality here, he is quite open about it.

A word about the food would be in order here.  A friend, who hangs around with the Outsiders M.C., of whom more later, runs a farm ehre and had produced two whole roast suckling pigs, one sweet and one spicy and there was also a large selection of other food, all delicious.  No-one was going to go hungry for sure.

Later I was introduced to a guy called Joey and we found out we had a lot in common including, smewhat bizarrely, a deep love of the music of Jethro Tull.  More of this later, it gets a little crazy.  Joey was going to patch Kojak and I found out that he too was an officer in the Rangers recon, another elite US unit.  You would hardly think it to look at him in his bike colours, earrings, assorted finger rings etc. and again he is quite open about it or I would not be posting this, I am not that stupid.  I shall jump ahead here to post a picture of Joey, his delightful wife Michelle and I on another social occasion when I knew him well enough to get the camera out.

Joey, Michelle and myself.

Eventually, it came time for the ceremony and I stayed to the rear obviously.  I only took a couple of photos without flash but you can possibly see the sight that greeted us.  Joey got rid of the bike colours and donned his full Army dress uniform.  It was pretty mpressive I can tell you, he had a large array of medals and patches for just about everything.  I shall post it in large format so hopefully you can see it better.

Kojak's patching, Dumaguete City.

The evening wore on, the drink flowed and I did not hear so much as a harsh wrd between bikers of rival clubs.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable night and I made a few acquaintances who will figure later on in the story.

For now I've to to go off rapido, I have a party to go to.  It's a hard life here.

Stay tuned.

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