by Kristin Leary
A few weekends ago, I pulled my bike out of storage and performed the yearly ritual of washing, waxing, and polishing its chrome. This event symbolizes that the motorcycling season is upon us. Each spray of the hose and rub of the wax built my excitement, passion and expectations for another fabulous season of riding. I was ready to take on the open road.
So I did. I headed out Highway 36 for a quick trip to Taylor’s Falls. Little did I know that this would be the same route the “Teddy Bear Gang” would be on as well. You know them. The members of this gang strap stuffed animals to the back of their motorcycles. Why? I don’t know. If you know, please help me understand why anyone would want to do this. It doesn’t make any sense to me.
On this short, one-hour trip to Taylor’s Falls I saw it all&emdash;monkeys, puppies, pigs, lions, turtles, giraffes, and cows. They were big; they were small; they were brand new; they were twenty years old and faded with their stuffing falling out. Now that’s attractive.
As I took a break from the traveling zoo at the scenic overlook of Taylor’s Falls, I couldn’t help but notice the Harleys parked nearby, on which were four of the largest men I’d ever seen. They were real tough guys, feeling even tougher as people admired their bikes. I must admit it. I too was impressed with their fine choice in motorcycles; they were beautiful. As I walked past, I couldn’t believe my eyes. These tough guys weren’t really tough guys after all. They were members of the Teddy Bear Gang.
It was difficult for me not to go up to them and ask them a series of questions. I knew well no matter how politely I may ask the questions, I’d still insult them. Part of me was willing to do this for the sake of broadening my knowledge of this type of bike accessory. I wanted to know what possessed them to purchase a stuffed animal, bungee it to the back of their motorcycles and have it flop around back there. I wanted to know why they selected the animal that they did. Does it symbolize something to them? If so, is this the only way they could express it? The questions would be endless.
I opted against confronting this group of bikers for a few reasons: the doubt of receiving a logical answer I could respect, the unwillingness to listen to them objectively and the fear of being out-numbered. (Four big bikers on Harleys to one small female on a Yamaha 400. You do the math.)
I will never know the rationale behind the Teddy Bear Gang. Nor will I ever be able to take people seriously who have stuffed animals on the back of their bikes. I know that life is about appreciating others’ differences and choices, but this one is very peculiar to me!