Had a great time at the Great River Road Rally last weekend- slept great thanks to the musical accompaniment of the melodic creatures in the parkside pond, great saturday supper, rockin’ blues band friday night, and breakfast sendoff on sunday… All for $33, and woulda been five bucks less if I’d bothered to preregister.

But some of the other economic exchanges of the weekend weren’t so pleasant. Friday night one of the local charities offered dinner as a fundraiser, and didn’t sound like much of a meal for $8. Headed to uptown Soldier’s Grove for the friday fish fry so I’d at least get filled up, first tavern had no fish fry and second had already run out of fish by… 7 pm! Tried their soup and salad, but the salad bar was half empty while a staff of two tried to keep up with about 20 times as many frustrated customers. Saturday breakfast wasn’t much better, with the local Lutheran church offering scrambled eggs, cakes, sausage, but no taters for $9… After a plateful I wasn’t full, but ’twas so tasteless I didn’t take them up on the all you can eat offer.

Now I hear tell that the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America (BMWMOA) gets in the neighborhood of an offer a day from chambers of commerce and such wanting to host BMW rallies with the expected intended fleecing of the visiting BMW riders. Look at BMWMOA’s glossy monthly magazine and you’ll see that even BMWMOA is believing their own fantasy- It looks like a cross between a brochure for luxury all-inclusive tours and a high dollar accessory catalog. Now the going rate for charity fundraisers targeted at the general populace around here is five bucks; maybe six or seven if it’s a really outstanding spread. And I expect that now that the BMW riders have left Soldier’s Grove, charity dinners will return to that price range and the local taverns will keep adequate supplies of fish for the friday fry in stock.

So it’s not rocket science that having spent the last few decades trying to prove to the world that we motorcyclists aren’t a bunch of modern day pillagers, we may have overdone it a bit. Heck, with new BMWs and Harley’s often selling for as much or more than cars, depressed local economies are out and out targeting us. Heck, they even think we have the standard 2.2 kids and are normal upstanding citizens ‘cept for us ridin’ them motorcycles!

Clearly, we need to change our image. As a model, might I suggest the TDIers, those cheapskates who horde VW dieselcars that beat 40 MPG even on a bad day. TDIers are infamous for sleeping in their little cars unless they can get a room for less than $30, Carry a couple of them NASA tech food coolers/warmers so they can load up on Arby’s 5/$5 and Subway’s $5 footlong deals, and buy diesel truck oil in gallon and more quantities to get the price break. They pride themselves on DIY repairs and wash their TDIs only when threatened with divorce or matrimony… Months old collections of dead bugs and mud build character! Or maybe the Airheads, who have turned thumbing their collective noses at BMW marketing into an art form and science.

ImageOK, this example of what your bike should look like may be a bit extreme- several vital clutch parts are missing so it’s unridable, and the manure’s been washed off. But you want a bike that will cause bystanders to offer you jumper cables and use of their tools and garages. You want guys with pickup trucks to stop and make sure your bike hasn’t suffered some fatal malady when you stop to check your map. Yes, a map- that pricey GPS is a dead giveaway, leave it at home or at least put it in your pocket.

Your gear should similarly suggest impoverishment… No more color coordinated leathers and $500 boots and helmets. ‘Stiches are acceptable, provided they’re a color that causes bystanders to ask if there’ve been any fires lately or inquire as to what movie you’re in. You want those same Lutheran church ladies to invite you in for a meal, and when their husbands offer to power wash the grime off your bike, tactfully refuse, reminding them that the grime is keeping the oil leaks at bay…

When you roll into the Britt Hobo Convention and the old ‘bos ask what roads you ride and your handle, you’ve succeeded…