The Poker Run

Where you are going is always where you are. The destination is always the getting there.

So at the end of all my journeys it is 45 degrees and gray. I am sitting all alone at a red light on an empty stretch of Pacific Coast Highway. There is not a cop in sight so I could go anytime but I would rather watch gulls dance like mean drunks – just down there over the imaginary line between land and sea, between wet and dry, between the crashing and the still.

Then the end is Aviation Boulevard where the United States once had an aviation industry. Then the line where Aviation crosses Rosecrans.

Rosecrans is named for a Civil War hero who died along here someplace. The spot is unmarked. Rosecrans replaced a less heroic general named Buell. He was almost Lincoln’s Vice-President in 1864 so he almost was President. But instead Rosecrans became the street that connects high crime Compton with recession proof Manhattan Beach.

Then the end is the 180 degree onramp to the 405, to the 105, past the Watts Towers to the roller coaster turn that becomes the 605 to the 10 which connects Santa Monica and the 5 with Jacksonville and the I-95.

The Biker Motherland

I once rode a highly modified Sportster with a peanut tank so I know it is just over sixty miles from the Pacific to the TA Truck Stop in Ontario. Just as soon as the National Academy of Scooter Trash accepts my application I intend to nominate the TA Truck Stop in Ontario for the Biker Hall of Fame. This is the California biker motherland. The Run to the Wall used to start at that truck stop. For all I know it still does.

A couple of miles down the road is Fontana where the Hells Angels decided to call themselves that. And right next to Fontana is Bloomington which long ago, after the last good war, was full of Pissed Off Bastards – before all the Pissed Off Bastards moved to Berdoo. About 75 miles inland, just off a stretch of paint shaker road that nobody will ever smooth, is a roadhouse named Angels. It used to be called the Crossroads. And, just as soon as I get accepted, I am going to nominate Angels for the Hall of Fame, too.

Not everybody with twenty grand to spend on a motorcycle is willing to ride here. There is always too much traffic which always behaves as too much traffic always does. A maniac in a hybrid changes lanes frantically. He seems certain that he can find the opening everyone else has missed because he is smarter, better and, from the vantage of his climate controlled, soundproofed box, more environmentally aware than me. He cuts me off and stands on his brakes. I have seen him coming for miles. There is an accident a half mile ahead so he does not stay in front of me for long because I can split lanes. He cannot. And, I know he hates me for that. I know he would like to kill me over that. But, he does not kill me because I do not let him. By the time he imagines the lesson he should have taught that loud, obnoxious, aggressive biker I am already gone.

Or The End Might Be

An ambulance pushes past me on the shoulder. It was a two car fight. One car lost a front wheel like a knocked-out tooth. I shudder and the bike shudders in my hands. Some day I will be on a stretch of road I know so well that I will be completely disarmed of fear. I will see the accident coming and I will accelerate hard to my left or my right to get as far away from the collision as I can. Then just out of the corner of my eye I will see something hurtling toward me. Maybe I will have time to understand I have been knocked over by a careening wheel. Maybe not. Then the cars behind me will run me over and that will be that.

So there goes the last of my happy mood. Now I am grumpy because sometimes I like to imagine I will live forever. For the next thirty or forty miles I am spooked by every little thing. A boxy, seventies pickup sheds trash like dandruff. A plastic water bottle escapes in slow motion. A sandwich bag floats like a feather. I always hate the trash that floats on the wind. I fly around him after a can pops out.

A half mile ahead of him a car drifts left then lurches right. I edge up next to the driver. Sometimes that is enough. They don’t have to hear what I am screaming. They just have to know that I am crazy enough to do that. Just seeing me right there with my face contorted in senseless rage usually encourages them to put both hands on the wheel and look straight ahead. But this guy is so engrossed in rolling a joint on his lap that he never even notices that I am there. That is the third or fourth time I have seen that in the last couple of years. I used to think texters were bad.

As I speed away a little tumbler in my head goes click. Now I get it.

What Would You Say If I Sang

There is a music festival in Coachella, east of Palm Springs, all weekend so the worst of this traffic is music lovers. Many of them will be spending the night on site. So when traffic suddenly slows again and parts into lines I am not surprised to see a fallen sleeping bag. I actually ride as close to the bag as I can, just to show my contempt, about which nobody cares but me. Then by either pure, naked luck or the complexity of the Lord’s plan I am maneuvering far over on the right when the sleeping bag’s companion, a feather pillow, explodes into an instant blizzard and even I have to admit that all those feathers are pretty.

Another few minutes and I am past the first Indian casino and the born again dinosaurs of Cabazon and into the windmill forest when all four lanes are covered with what must have been two gross of dancing pastel thongs: Yellow, pink, teal, baby blue and fuchsia. I think the carton from which they escaped is over in lane one. I can tell these must be high quality thongs. They appear to be made of the finest, lightest, synthetic cloth. They tumble down the freeway in rolling waves. And that is the exact moment when I realize again, for the thousandth time, that it never matters where I am going. The thongs make me smile all the way to Indio and out into the emptiness beyond.

I like to ride the western deserts: The Mojave, the Great Basin and the Colorado. Whatever I am chasing I almost catch out there. Although this is not my favorite desert season. It has been a wet, el nino winter so the desert is green and full of tiny bugs. Sometimes they explode on my face and hands like sprinkles of rain and sometimes I feel like I am suffocating in clouds of them.

Around the fallen dream called Desert Center I overtake a truck trailing a long, burlap or muslin shroud. Some lumper has left this curtain outside the locked trailer doors and now most of the top has torn away and the bottom has twisted into a slowly breaking whip. Two or three times I swear the cloth has broken loose before I finally twist my right hand and fly around him and again I am practically alone. Just me and the desert and blue heaven and the bugs. This desert seems timeless – as free of history as people – but that is only an illusion like painter’s perspective.

The Myth Of History

Chevron and a couple other corporations plan to build three solar generating plants out here in all this nothing. Reportedly, the twelve thousand mirrors will not cover the “Blythe intaglios,” a collection of giant drawings scraped into the desert 4,000 years ago like the more famous Nazca lines in Peru.

The proper name for this kind of art is “geoglyph” and the really interesting ones out here are drawings of Kokopelli and Cicimitl. Kokopelli is the hump-backed flautist whose image is carved into rocks all over the Four Corners. All the really cool archaeologists think Kokopelli it is a representation of a new religion, called the kachina cult, that popped up about the time the builders of Chaco and Mesa Verde abandoned those cities and started moving south. Kokopelli might have been an historic person, or he might be representative of the merchants who moved parrots north from Mexico and jade and turquoise south. Or he might just have been the twelfth century equivalent of Bart Simpson. Nobody really knows. And, now people mostly worship Kokopelli in souvenir shops and tourist traps all over the west.

Cicimitl was sort of the Aztec Charon, who led lost souls to the underworld. And, neo-Aztecs drive out here from the cities to dance around Kokopelli and Cicimitl. And they worry that the new solar plants might cover them over. And this weird and zany convergence of the ancient and the future, of secret native sorcery and soulless corporate technology fascinates me.

Although it would fascinate me more if the Kokopelli and Cicimitl were truly ancient. The disillusioning truth is that they were not carved into the mother earth until around 1994. I mention them only because I like to think when I ride the less crowded roads. Out here I think about the geoglyphs. Even though I know that daydreaming represents exactly the kind of apathy that will kill you on a motorcycle. I dream anyway because I learned a long time ago that nobody lives forever.


I cross what is left of the Colorado at Blythe. This far down the river seven states have already drunk most of it. The thirstiest of them are California, Arizona and Nevada so here the river is, at most, a third as wide as it is at Laughlin 115 miles to the north. A mile past the river I spot the first groves of saguaro, the big cacti that look like a man waving hello. And about a mile past the first saguaro the traffic bunches and slows because a couple of Arizona Highway patrolmen are glaring at each passing vehicle and waving a gesture that simultaneously means slow down and giddy-up.

Arizona has always been a scatter of straws. It looks just like whatever you want. To me it looks like an hysterical, all-American, Mexican, wild west, futuristic police state.

The contradictions here are too numerous to list. Arizona was the last of the contiguous states to enter the Union in 1912 and before then there was some debate about whether the Arizona Territory was Democrat or Republican. It was the Republicans’ idea to turn it into a state. All the small ranchers, and outlaws and cowboys and rustlers and dreamers in this desert were natural Democrats. All the big mine owners and land speculators and mercantilists were Republicans. The history of Arizona is the history of big time Republicans like the Goldwaters hiring small time Democrats like the Earps to shoot some sense into other small time Democrats like the Clantons.

Arizona was practically founded on rustling cattle down in old Mexico and selling them north of la linea. Now the same place is an uproar over all the entrepreneurs who are smuggling in drugs over those same, old desert trails. Of course, there is a war going on just down there. And, the great terror in Arizona is that the war will invade the north, again, just like Pancho Villa did during the last Mexican war. On television, they call it the “Battle for the Border” and it is a recurring segment on the evening news.

Arizona is getting ready. In Arizona, any felony free, citizen can carry a loaded pistol in his boot or in his pocket or tucked inside his jeans under his shirt. In another couple of months federal firearms laws will no longer apply to guns made and kept in Arizona. Hell, I have already given some thought to moving over here and opening up a little machine gun shop.

At the same time this is a state where you can get arrested just because a cop thinks you look Mexican. Not even Mexican. You can get arrested here on the suspicion that you look illegal. And the consequences of being arrested can be nasty.

The Maricopa County Sheriff is a mean, fat, loud man named Joe Arpaio. Arpaio plays “America’s Toughest Sheriff” on reality TV. He abuses, humiliates and malnourishes any prisoner he can get his hands on. He houses them in tents in the desert summer, limits how much they can drink and if you talk back he will put you on a chain gang. And, most of working class, desperately broke Arizona adores and identifies with Sheriff Joe as it indentifies with angry FOX News and working class George W. Bush.

Photo Enforcement Zones

My favorite thing about Arizona is that I can ride helmet free. Arizona and I both agree that it is my head and I can adorn or unadorn it as I wish.

A few miles past the scowling cops simultaneously telling me to slow down and get along I run through my least favorite thing – a “photo enforcement zone.” That’s what they call them here. They are robot, fine collecting machines and they are part of Arizona’s master plan to survive. Turning Arizona into the neo-Alamo is going to cost a lot of money. And, now that this territory has run out of most of its silver, copper and gold; now that most of those free cattle down in Mexico are gone; now that the water is running low the Arizona economy is more dependent than ever on the traffic ticket industry.

What kind of puzzles me is why more people don’t just pull their pistols out of their boots and shoot these pernicious machines. I might have done that myself except I was going about ninety at the time, passing a truck, and I didn’t see the thing until it was already too late.

Poker Runs

I stop for gas in Quartzite and then again in Tonopah. I drive around Phoenix on the 101 Beltway and eventually, 405 miles from the coast, I pull into a gas station on Bell Road. I can barely hear the guy who asks me, “Is there some kind of a run today?”

Mostly I hear my motorcycle, even with the engine turned off. I think I say, “Yep.” That’s what I intend to say. I don’t actually know if any sound came out of my mouth or not.

I pull out of the station and find my way into the shopping center across the street. Near the northeast corner is a lot full of motorcycles and a crowded bar called the Steel Horse Saloon. I park and go pay my money for the poker run.

Poker runs are sort of the American biker equivalent of a scavenger hunt. You find your way from place to place, get your ticket punched and in the end the resulting pattern of holes on a piece of cardboard gets translated into a five card poker hand.

The poker run was invented by a hot rod club called the Mid-Cal Stockers in Lodi, California in March 1950. For a few years after the Second World War the club ran “rallies” every Spring. The idea of the rally was to run a race without actually breaking the speed limit so the courses were controlled and difficult to navigate. In 1950 the Stockers decided to spice things up. Drivers had to decide at each of five control points whether to turn left or right. If they guessed correctly they got a card. That gave everybody two chances to win. Even if you did not win the rally you could still win the “poker run.” The Stockers handed out the prizes that night at a “bean feed” at the clubhouse of the Lodi Women’s Motorcycle Club. That was how these things got started. As soon as organizers decided to pass out the cards in bars the idea was perfected.

Sonny Barger

This poker run is sponsored by the Cave Creek Charter of the Hells Angels and it is intended to celebrate the beginning of Sonny Barger’s 54th year in the club.

I will never live long enough to know for sure, but I think Barger is one of those American frontier figures that pop up every hundred years. They are characters that America invents over and over because without them and the masculine ideals they represent there can no longer be an America. And America has chosen these particular men because in a certain light, remembered in a certain way, at certain times they have actually managed to be exactly who we all need them to be. Lives fly past but myths persist.

The first of these great frontier heroes was a man named Daniel Boone. He was born about 200 years before Barger. He lived to be 85. And six years after he died the American novelist James Fennimore Cooper wrote a book about him called The Last of the Mohicans. Until it was banished by the counter-culture the novel was part of the American canon. It is the tale of a self sufficient, resourceful, brave man overcoming red demons and the wilderness to rescue his kidnapped daughter. Every educated young American man was supposed to know it – as much as anything for its portrait of what an American man should be. Even now, the story retains the power to excite the American soul. Michael Mann directed the last movie version of it in 1992.

The last real, geographic frontier, the Old West, disappeared in and into serial episodes. The Silver Rush started in Tombstone in 1879. Doc Holliday died in 1887. John Wesley Harding was killed in 1895. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid moved to New York in 1902. A year later, a former Edison cameraman named Edwin S. Porter made the first movie Western – in New York City. The Yukon Gold Rush came and went in 1897. The last frontier hero, Wyatt Earp, went north that year to run a card game in Alaska. Earp died in the first fortnight of 1929 in Los Angeles. His pall bearers included the Western movie stars Tom Mix and William S. Hart. According to a mourner named Adella Rogers St. John, Tom Mix broke down and wept.

Barger became a public figure about thirty-five years after that. His first biographer, Hunter Thompson wrote in 1965: “In any gathering of Hells Angels, from five to a possible hundred and fifty, there is no doubt who is running the show: Ralph ‘Sonny’ Barger, the Maximum Leader, a six-foot, 170-pound warehouseman from East Oakland, the coolest head in the lot, and a tough, quick-thinking dealer when any action starts. By turns he is a fanatic, a philosopher, a brawler, a shrewd compromiser and a final arbitrator. To the Oakland Angels he is Ralph. Everybody else calls him Sonny….”

For all these years, Barger has had to live with that. He has already had almost as long a run as Earp. In a book published last year, ATF Agent Jay Dobyns gushed about meeting Barger:

“This was the first time I’d laid eyes on the man. He was around sixty-five, but looked to have the health of a vibrant man in his mid-fifties, a remarkable achievement considering the paces he’s put his body through over the decades…. For those who don’t know, this was the man – the legend, really – who molded the Hells Angels into what they are. It’s not a stretch to say that Sonny Barger is a visionary who essentially created the image of the outlaw biker as we know it.”

Now, on top of everything else, Barger has to live with that.

He cannot just be one of us. He has to carry the burden of epitomizing all of us. I have heard him praised by people who hate his club. The very best thing about Sonny Barger may be that he carries the burden cheerfully.

Probably a third of all American men can describe him. In person he looks younger than he photographs. He looks to me the same way he has always looked. He looks like Dennis the Menace grown old. I am certain that he must have a walk-in closet full of sleeveless tee shirts and blue jeans that are neither too new nor too shabby.

He has to know he is the biggest star in America. I don’t know how he lives with it. He is everything that a once in each century American hero should be. He is himself. And whoever that is, is close enough to the myth most of America still wants to believe. He is gracious, confidant and surrounded by men who would die for him. And, most astounding of all, there is not a paparazzo in sight. I think I spot two under cover cops. I think they are cops because they are the only people I see who look nervous.

The End

So that moment leaning on my bike fifteen feet away from him, wondering if he might actually outlive me, knowing that I can only write about him, that he will never write about me is the end. And watching the lot slowly fill is another end.

I push into the bar, buy a bottle of water and come back to the bike to drink. A skinny brunette asks to take my picture and I tell her sure. I give her a slightly hard time and then I tell her sure. She has already clicked the shudder before I tell her she can. So somewhere out there is a picture of a guy with a mustache, in a flannel shirt, aviator sunglasses and a black beanie leaning a dusty Dyna and that is one of the scattered, little pieces that might survive me.

Eventually the bikes begin to growl. The way the Cave Creek Angels run a poker run is everybody travels from bar to bar in a pack.

The pack lines up, jostles and begins to spill out onto Bell. The front of the pack has probably reached Interstate 17 when I turn onto the street. At least half the pack is still behind me. Once the first bikes hit the freeway everyone behind must speed up. Nobody cares about red lights. Nobody gives a damn about photo enforcement zones. Laws and controls are irrelevant because we are all Americans. We are natural and free and in a saddle which is just where we were born to be.

We force ourselves onto the freeway the way bold men force coy women. Some cars are smart enough to let us have our way and some are not. I twist open the throttle and try to catch the front of the pack. Everybody is trying to do the same thing.

I glance down at my speedometer just long enough to see I am somewhere north of 90. And I laugh. Because, I don’t give a damn who remembers me. And because, if I am ever made to choose, this is just how I would choose to die.

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42 Responses to “The Poker Run”

  1. Ride Says:

    Great read…thanks and Welcome Back; you were missed.

    Much Respect.

  2. ShootFirst Says:

    Ditto. Welcome back.

  3. bob Says:

    and was your SOA buddy present?

  4. troyez Says:

    Nice piece. I wondered where you had been for the last handful of days. I, too, like that stretch of Route 10, from the windmills to the Phoenix outskirts, although it’s been at least ten years since I’ve been out that way. Last time I took Hwy 1 from Monterey, down to El Lay, where I picked up Rt. 10, and took it all the way to west Texas. I need to get back that way soon; it’d be a cathartic ride, especially the long desert stretches… You’ve got a gift, friend, thanks for describing your trip for us!

  5. Rebel Says:

    Dear Troyez,

    You read fast.

    your pal,

  6. Rebel Says:

    Dear Bob,

    I did not see him. I looked. He may have been in the VIP room.


  7. TigGirl Says:

    Your words paint such vibrant, living pictures! Thank You, again.
    I hope you don’t mind that I have printed a few copies to send to my guys. I think they will enjoy the ride.

    Troyez, I agree – I 10 from the coast to West Texas is good for boiling long thoughts and convoluted ideas down to simple, clean plans or sometimes realizations of what was there, but hidden. It works in reverse too.


  8. troyez Says:

    I read fast when the subject is interesting/engaging. Trust me, if this was an article on municipal bonds, or city planning, I’d read much slower (or not at all).
    I like the long, desolate stretches best, big cities muddy the waters of my brain. There’s a stretch of 2-lane highway from Grand Island, Nebraska (Route 2) to Thedford, and then north (Rt. 83) to Valentine, NE (about 200 miles overall) that clears my head every time. And like Jim Morrison said, “the West is the best,” at least in my opinion (concerning highways).

  9. docb Says:


    Welcome back. We were getting ready to send money, guns, and lawyers.
    Nice piece. It’s nice to hear someone describe a route you took, years ago and forgot about.
    I’ve heard some other guys describe the TA at I-10 and I-15 as a jumping off place. I never have figured out why they picked the TA and not one of the other truck stops out there. There are quite a few as I remember.


  10. Grumbler Says:

    Rebel – looking forward to more road trip stories as they rock! Have you ever ridden in Idaho?

    Speaking of reading fast, JFK could read about 2500 wpm (10 times the average reading speed) which influenced me as a lad. At age 17, the summer before entering college, I read 237 paperbacks as there wasn’t much else to do in Carmel Valley that year.

  11. Oilslick Says:

    Welcome back, you were missed. Had I known you were in the “Valley of the Sun” I would’ve bought you a beer. I may have heard your pipes as you made your way to Bell Rd on the Loop 101 as you passed by the University of Phoenix Stadium(Cardinals Stadium).

    I too was at the Steel Horse. Although I did not ride out with the pack.
    We stayed behind to finish our beverages then went straight to The Roadrunner, foregoing the second stop.

    I did see Mr. SOA at the last stop. The wife Kate wouldn’t let him outta her site. She was looking quite good as usual. I encountered them inside when I went to relieve myself of those said beverages. A few other of his acting contituents were on hand as well. The son, the sheriff and the cat with the mohawk were there. I think I pissed on mohawks leg in the bathroom. I didn’t know who he was till I exited the bathroom and saw some lovelies lookin at me like they wanted to do me right there. My fantasy was short lived though as he made his way around me and they jumped from their seats to snap his picture.

    You could tell where the entourage was by the way the woman were acting. You’d of thought the Beatles were present or something. Lotsa flashes going off in there. I suppose they were inside to escape the Arizona sun as it was a chilly 85 degrees outside.

    Next time you decide to ride over here…..let me know and I’ll buy you that beer. Actually I was thinkin you were there……but I didn’t wanna walk around lookin down at peoples footwear lookin for those boots of yours.

    You may have seen me….I was the person of mexican descent(3rd generation American) that DIDN’T have a short brimmed, rolled up the side white straw cowboy hat, pointy boots and a belt buckle that said “Sinaloa” on it.

    I did have my piece hid though.


  12. Simon Says:

    Rebel – looking forward to more road trip stories as they rock! Have you ever ridden in Idaho?

    Speaking of reading fast, JFK could read about 2500 wpm (10 times the average reading speed) which influenced me as a lad. At age 17, the summer before entering college, I read 237 paperbacks as there wasn’t much else to do in Carmel Valley that year.

  13. puterindabasketchief Says:


    Allow me an economical review of the above, one offered to me by a writing professor many moons ago–still a highlight in an otherwise undistinguished pursuit of massaging language: “High praise.”

    Reading such a well-crafted piece, I feel like Clapton the first time he heard Hendrix: I want to lay down my guitar [pen].

  14. Rebel Says:

    Dear puterindabasketchief,

    Thanks for your kind words. Don’t get to carried away.

    your pal,

  15. Rebel Says:

    Dear Simon,

    I have been to Pocatello because I like the name.

    your pal,

  16. Rebel Says:

    Dear Oilslick,

    Oh man. You missed the best part. The big, loose, sloppy pack was the best.

    I guess I just missed Sutter. I hit the Wild Horse and the Road Runner before I rode on over to the Buffalo Chip more or less alone. I just stopped at the Road Runner long enough to get my ticket punched. I figured the important people would be in Cave Creek. After the barbeque there I even went inside, got a big burger and more beer. Listened to the country band. Watched the women dance. But I never saw the celebrities. I saw Sober Riders but never any SOA.

    Do you ride with ALMA? I forget. I saw about a dozen ALMA roll into the Steel Horse.

    Best part for me was the beginning of the ride in that pack. I think some percentage of the riders had never been in a pack before. I loved the anarchy of it.

    Maybe I should watch that show more. Get a better idea of what people look like. There was one young, sort of Emo kid in a motorcycle jacket. You know it was like 95. And he was riding in one of those Darth Vader helmets. He was obviously a nice kid. I don’t mean to say he was not. But I was sitting outside at the Wild Horse at an empty table, and he asked my permission to sit down, so I thought he might be kind of new. Maybe he is in the show.

    I guess I’ll have to catch Sutter and his merry band another time. It’s a small world.

    Remember, rubber side down.


  17. Rebel Says:

    Dear docb,

    Don’t know why but everybody always meets at the TA in Ontario. Maybe because it is right at the 10 and the 15 and it has a big parking lot.


  18. Rebel Says:

    Dear TigGirl,

    Print away. Thank you.


  19. Bud Says:


    Weelcome back to the fold brother,
    As always, I enjoy reading your stories and get a kick out of the color you put into them. Reminds me of the 70’s when easyrider used to have some far out fiction to read, always entertaining and still cause a pause for reflection. Allow me to be among the first to place an order for your book when it comes out.


  20. SKREEECH Says:


    Great story. I can fell it all as I read it having just moved out here from La La Land. The freeway cameras I’m sure are going to catch up to me for much the same way. I fear a stack of tickets in my post office box by next month. And here I thought that highway robbery was illegal.
    I’m gonna make a run to the harbor this weekend and play in the traffic. See you in the wind.


  21. Goldsboro Williams Says:

    Good read, and I’m glad to see that you are back.

    I feel your pain re: the mechanized law enforcement. Although we lack the weather, atmosphere, riding conditions and women of the west coast, we do have the cameras. We got cameras here about two years ago. In the space of the first month they got myself, my brother, and my son. Now that I have all the locations memorized, they went out and bought mobile set ups.

    I’m doomed.


  22. Oilslick Says:


    My mistake it was a chilly 95 degrees as opposed to the 85 degrees I previously mentioned. That for sure made the celebrities take refuge in the dark, cool corners of the inner confines of the Buffalo Chip. Yes…I do ride with A.L.M.A. You wrote some befitting obituaries for my brothers earlier this year. Thank you again for that.

    I’ve ridden through the Mohave Desert in October 2008, headin to the American Heat Run in Palm Springs. So I am well aware of the stretch of road you mention in your story, great read by the way. You have a knack for puttin me right there along side you.

    In your story you mentioned some of the news worthy highlights going on here in Arizona. We are a dichotomy defined. Between Stan C. proclaiming we are being terrorized by bikers here in Phoenix in another thread. And our uneducated Governor saying we are being terrorized by the illegal immigrants, I’d a thought I was living in West Beirut or East Hemet. You’re lucky you made it back to Cali with your head on. Check your helmet to make sure.

    I just figure I’m double fucked now……a patch wearing, mexican descendant(3rd generation).

    “I think I’ll just sit here and drink”.


  23. Damon Says:


    Glad to hear you finally got out of town. For all the other good stuff, I love reading your road trip stories best of all. This is what we do. I sold the Sporty and got me a BT on the weekend, so I won’t be commenting here much for a while. As always, thanks for the page, and please – keep it up, no-one does this shit like you do.

    See y’all out there, somewhere.


  24. Dante Says:

    The Minnesota state appeals court ruled Minneapolis’ use of traffic cameras to ticket people for running red lights is unconstitutional.

  25. ironrider Says:

    Another great, modern “On The Road” post. With Sonny as Neal Cassady. An American icon. Takes me back…

    I’ve been to several of the Sonny Barger rides: the club anniversaries, birthday runs and the prison run. One of the fun issues in the former runs is the pecking order of the pack. Where do the clubs ride? As a former patch, it was an item of paramount importance, involving rumor, bribery, jostling for positions, and lots of undercurrent tension. I wonder where Sober Riders rides, now a year behind the events with ARM?

    Too bad the Hollywood SOA posers have decided it’s a hip photo op. That somehow cheapens the whole thing. Makes it a little more Disneyland. Wonder what part of the pack they ride in? Or do they cage it to the Buffalo Chip?

  26. SKREEECH Says:

    I don’t think they cage it to the Chip… I’m pretty sure they stop just outside town, unload, dawn the leathers, and “live to ride” the rest of the way to the Chip, then to the Spoke too. After they checked into the hotel or hooked up the RV of course.


  27. YYZ Skinhead Says:

    Ah, the Angels Roadhouse! I went to the Berdoo 60th anniversary bash there and it was at least 15 minutes before I looked up and realized there wasn’t a roof over my head. Another chick and I were manwatching, checking out lots of handsome Canadian 81.

    The best thing about the desert (to a citydweller) is the gazillions of stars that are visible because of the lack of light pollution. Even with the lights from the enclosed part of Angels Roadhouse you can see the stars.

    YYZ Skinhead

  28. 10guage Says:

    “I can split lanes. He cannot. And, I know he hates me for that. I know he would like to kill me over that. But, he does not kill me because I do not let him. By the time he imagines the lesson he should have taught that loud, obnoxious, aggressive biker I am already gone.”

    The imagery you create with your your words proves you are more than just a good writer. You capture the essance of this life we love. Down to every bug, laugh, sunburn and beer. With us being the rugged individualistic scooter people we are the fact we can wholey identify with your words and appreciate them as much for the sarcasm and wit as their truth and sincerity, shows the true depth of your skill. If good writers make you identify with their characters and great writers make you believe in them. I don’t know what the fuck you call a cat who has the ability to perfectly describe multiple situations and feelings so that when I read them I feel as if I am thinking back to a fond memory of my own. As if it was the ride I had myself that day. I mean this seriously and sincerely…I do not blow smoke. I debated weather to write it at all. But life is short, you do good work here that deserves to be acknowledged as such, and its the fuckin least I can do.

  29. YYZ Skinhead Says:


    What 10guage said. Have you ever thought of compiling your road stories into a book? At least three-fourths of the people who post here would probably buy a copy, starting with me.

    YYZ Skinhead

  30. Rebel Says:

    Dear XYZ Skinhead,

    Oh, maybe. I would give it away. No publisher would print it. I am giving it away anyway already so I am not in a hurry to do that but maybe.

    Thank you for reading and enjoying what I write.

    your pal,

  31. willienelso3 Says:

    Dear Rebel,

    I finally took time to read this entire story w/o hurrying and skimming over parts. It was like a fine meal. thank-you.

    the reporting you do is important, but so is this kind of writing.
    both are much appreciated.

    w/ respect,

  32. Miss Krista Says:

    and by the way Rebel, this one time I don’t agree with you – I think a publisher would print it. I’m a voracious reader and your stuff is REALLY GOOD unlike some published junk. I will try and send along the names of some publishers soon life has me pretty down right now trying to do good for the children but JEEZ. anyway…will do my best to get the names to you not sure when will have to dig out the books

  33. Austin Says:

    Rebel – urgent!! Have you really been so wrapped up in all this legal crap that you haven’t been able to write about a ride in most of 2010 and all of 2011?

    You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do – The discourse and education are great – but please – head out on a highway! ….then give us the details ;)

    LMFAO – So true~ @Oilslick re:”I’d a thought I was living in West Beirut or East Hemet. You’re lucky you made it back to Cali with your head on.”

  34. Rebel Says:

    Dear Austin,

    Right no0w I am working on three features and at least one how-to for next week. One of the features will be about a motorcycle ride. Another will be about cops manipulating evidence. The third one will be the major story. The how-to will be relevant to the major story.

    Stay tuned dude. I am about to get good.

    Fight the power. Click the ads.


  35. Square Verbose Doc Says:

    “The how-to will be relevant to the major story”

    Cheese Whiz with a purpose!

  36. Rebel Says:

    Dear Square Verbose Doc,

    Oh yeah. Synergy. Emerging gestalt. All that. Been working on the major story for months. Run it next Friday. I think I’ll run the cheese whiz next Thursday.

    Nice to hear from you, by the way.


  37. C8652 Says:



    To the rest of the world, we are having a dry/ warm socal winter. The riding is superb.

    Support your local blogger, click the ads!


  38. Drifter Says:

    Just read this scoot journey for the third or fourth time. It gives me incentive to keep my own writing gig in gear and clicking the send to annoying editors, but at the same time wanting to ditch the “formula”. A few hundred published pieces desiring to quit but thinking I shouldn’t. Reading your articles Reb, makes me realize that if a word weaver can educate, stimulate, or displace one person’s troubles for even a short time through their stories, then the writer’s purpose is complete. I feel you accomplish this quite well. Guess I’ll make the next deadline…

    Rock on Reb…

    Remembering Lynyrd Skynyrd, 35th Anniversary of the crash, 10-20-1977…

    Forget your lust, for the rich man’s gold
    All that you need, is in your soul…


  39. House Says:

    Just reread this again. (The Biker Motherland) makes me smile and think of my previous home. I used to ride those same roads in SoCal often and it’s all so true. And the searing heat of the desert sun along the 10 fwy along those Palm named towns, for me is not missed. And if The National Academy of Scooter Trash ever does accept your application you may want to nominate the Screaming Chicken in Devore and Chad’s Place in Big Bear as worthy watering holes. I traded the congested freeways of the Inland Empire for the twisting two lanes, rivers and trees of the Idaho panhandle. Thanks Rebel for keeping us all informed and entertained.

    Much Respect,

  40. Road Whore Says:


    One of the worst things I’ve seen cagers doing was, while going down I-95 at a good clip a woman passed me in her car (so she was really flying) and she had both hands involved in knitting something that was trailing down over her steering wheel and into her lap. She rested both hands on the front of the steering wheel as she vigorously knitted, occasionally even bothering to look up at the road.

    I hit the binders a tad to let her get far, far in front of me.

    Ride Free!


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