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9 Family Portraits in Duplicate “There’s nothing like a Harley to bring a family together.” There are no typical riding families. There is nothing routine or ordinary about bikers. Each person, each bike, each family has its own style and story. Recognizing the arbitrariness of the label, let’s look at the following families who ride. Robin is ten years old. She started riding at four and a half and will proudly tell you that she rode with her dad all the way to Bridgeport. She did this when she was six. This difficult, ten-hour trip has left many a passengering ole lady exhausted. Not Robin. She is experienced and casual about her abilities. She passengers on motorcycles. She rides horses. She gets in the wind, any way she can. “I first tried it out when I was four. My dad rode me around the street. He taught me to hold on to his back and balance myself. He also gave me a strap to hold on to. I always held on. I never let go.” “Were you scared?” I asked, remembering all of my early experiences. “No. My dad let me start riding when I was real little but we didn’t go on the highway until I was at least six. I was never scared, but I remember once, I was singing to music and wiggling all around on the bike, and my dad told me to stop because I was making the bike move all over the road.” This last remark was accompanied by a giggle and a swift look toward her mother. Robin lives with her father and his girlfriend in San Francisco. She also lives with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend in Oregon. They share her. I have known Robin for almost five years, gone on many a run with her, and was delighted when she consented to talk to me about her life. At ten she is into her long-legged “coltish” stage, staggeringly beautiful and totally poised. We both recalled the time I had sent a picture of her and me on a Trike to the magazine 167 Cultural Analysis Harley Women and had seen it published in the Kids’ Korner section. We also remembered the time she posed with KrisAnn Whiteley, a former Ms. Harley-Davidson, and the two were featured in the 1993 FogHog calendar. Robin has grown up in the Harley world. We had expected that Robin would run for the title of Ms. Harley-Davidson when she was old enough. We all thought she would be a natural. When the contest was disbanded, she was disappointed. So were we all. The Harley-Davidson Motor Company had been getting flak about the contest. Some men and women were complaining that it was a sexist holdover and should be terminated. There were mixed opinions. The contest was eventually dropped, to the great regret of many Harley riders. A number of women have voiced their complaints over the abandonment of the contest. Comments ranged from “It’s a fun thing to do” to “Why doesn’t Milwaukee have a Mr. Harley-Davidson to reign alongside Ms. Harley-Davidson? Then we women would have someone to vote for too.” None of us doubted that if Robin ran, she would win. Her Harley experiences alone put her right up there. At Bridgeport she had successfully climbed a slippery greased pole and won the contest, out-maneuvering a whole group of older kids. She kept most of the prize money too. Her leather vest proudly sports HOG colors and she passengers with complete confidence. “I ride horses now,” she confides, “’cause my dad was in a motorcycle accident and isn’t ready to ride yet. I still ride with Mike when I stay with my mom in Oregon, but I don’t get a chance to ride on the bike as much as I used to. I love riding horses. I am more in control when I ride a horse. It’s different than a bike ’cause you don’t have to bounce around if you don’t want to. With a horse, I do the riding and no one is there to tell me what to do. I did get scared on a horse once. My old, old horse, she went over a jump and then she stopped and she threw me off. She only bucked one time but she stopped short and I went over her head and over...


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