For Steve O’Brien of Sparks, who purchased his first “big bike,” a Victory cycle by Polaris, earlier this year, it was peer pressure.
“A buddy of mine, a radio guy named Trey Valentine, said, ‘You can ride, so let’s ride,’ ” O’Brien said Friday morning at the Street Vibrations Fall Rally, going on in Reno and Sparks until Sunday.
O’Brien said he attended the Street Vibes event last year and was riding a smaller bike that he’d had for quite some time when Valentine encouraged him to buy a bigger bike. Though he was apprehensive, O’Brien took the plunge and bought his Victory about three months ago.
“I went from a smaller bike to this and wish I would have done it sooner,” O’Brien said, because he and his wife have really enjoyed riding around the Reno-Tahoe area and even Hawaii. “I have a ’65 convertible GTO and I don’t even wanna ride in it anymore … this is a lot more fun.”
But O’Brien will be the first to tell you he does not see himself as a true biker.
“I’m not a biker – I’m just someone who likes to ride,” he said, adding that he has a high level of respect for bikers. “… It’s all about respect.”
Learning all the unwritten biker rules has been interesting and fun for O’Brien.
“There are so many different codes that are unwritten around bikers,” he said. “For instance, you can wear a Hawaiian shirt. The rule is, you can look like a clown but don’t act like a clown.”
O’Brien said there are rules about the direction a bike should be parked and certain acceptable ways to acknowledge another biker as you pass them on the road.
A lot of motorcyclists have bells hanging from their bikes that are given to them by another biker.
“The bell is supposed to rattle and scare away the gremlins on the road that would cause you to wreck,” O’Brien said, pointing to several bikes parked along C Street in Sparks that had bells on them.
Other rules O’Brien has learned have to do with attire and etiquette.
“You always show up to a ride with a tank full of gas,” he said, “and you can’t wear a back panel patch (on your vest).”
The back patches are reserved for the Hells Angels, he said.
If a man has a seat on the back of his bike reserved for his special lady, the bike will have a “bitch bar” or a “bitch stick,” O’Brien said. It is unacceptable for any other woman to ride on the back of that bike.
“I’m just learning and trying not to offend anyone,” O’Brien said as he surveyed the scene at Street Vibes Friday. “I’ve learned the basics so far and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot more tomorrow as I enjoy the Cathouse Run and the Virginia City Hooterfest, which is as close as Virginia City gets to Mardi Gras.”
O’Brien said his wife of more than 20 years, Julia, will be joining him at Street Vibes today.
When asked what he likes best about Street Vibrations, O’Brien said, “It’s rides, it’s rock ‘n’ roll, it’s fireworks, checkin’ out other bikes and the poker runs.”