By Ron Lawson
Dirt Bike rider
>It’s a form of radar. If I walk into a big public place like an airport, a big-box retailer or a casino,
there might be 200 or so people within
my scope of view. Within the first three
minutes I will identify at least 10 dirt
bike riders. In another five minutes I’ll
spot 10 more. I’ll also be spotted, as
signified by brief eye contact. We won’t
speak to each other, but it is somewhat
comforting to know that if aliens attacked
at that moment and we were thrown into
some sort of Lord-of-the-Flies survival
situation, I would start off with two dozen
people in my tribe.
The unspoken connection is real, but
don’t think it’s telepathy. If it is, then
my wife must have a Magneto helmet,
because I never know what she’s
thinking. No, it’s probably subtle clues
picked up by my subconscious through
other senses. Here are some giveaways:
Dirt bike riders are not pretty. There’s
very little attempt at hair care, particularly if a rider has
ridden or will ride that same day. If he’s on his way back
from the track, spotting a rider is almost too easy. I
can even identify the brand of helmet he wears by the
impressions left on his hair, head and face. A Shoei will
leave your ears looking like they were tattooed to the
sides of your skull. A Bell will make your hair look like a
kippah right after temple, and a new Leatt will iron out all
the creases in your forehead.
If there’s any skin showing, there will be lots of clues.
There will be scars; more from surgeries than from
injuries. The knees are always a good place to start.
Arthroscopic procedures leave little dimples around the
kneecap. ACL replacement, depending on how long ago
it was performed, will leave a long, jagged mark or little
semicircles. Fasciotomy makes your forearms look like
they were attacked by drunken ninjas with dull blades. If
you’re at the beach, you’ll spot identifying marks around
the collar bone and perhaps even a puncture or two on
the sides of the ribcage. These, as many of you know,
“The world would be a better place if Wall Street
were shut down every
Monday for an executive
Dirt bike riders are not stylish. At least, we aren’t stylish
in the traditional sense. There are very few button-up shirts
in the dirt-bike world. Instead, our most prized shirts have
brand names that mean nothing to those outside our tribe.
Typically, there’s a logo with two or three random letters
followed by “racing.” If you do the math, there are 17,576
three-letter combinations, and only two-thirds of those
have been used by motorcycle companies so far. You can
also have “team” preceding the letters, with or without the
“racing.” The other possibility for upper-body attire is a shirt
with some slogan that was once clever, such as, “The older I
get, the faster I was.” That never stops being a knee slapper.
Dirt bike riders are cheap. Actually, that’s not true; they
usually make good money and are quite willing to spend it.
All of it. A new KTM with boots and helmet costs more than
some trucks, and a rider still needs a truck to haul it around.
That leaves very little for luxury items like food. The guy
standing in front of the vending machine at lunch time with a
handful of change—that’s your dirt bike rider.
Dirt bike riders are patient and polite. This goes contrary
to popular conceptions. You would think that racers would
always be trying to cut in front of the line and elbow people
out of the way. Not so. They get that out of their systems at
the track. It’s the account manager who’s been cooped up in
his cubicle all day that you have to worry about. The world
would be a better place if Wall Street were shut down every
Monday for an executive motocross race.
As I said, all of these clues are picked up automatically.
We’re not a secret society with a special code of
identification. We don’t need that. But all the same, it doesn’t
hurt to be sure. If the zombie apocalypse happens tomorrow,
I’ll be easy to spot. I’ll be in the Dirt Bike magazine T-shirt. ;