A Benevolent Biker

by Peg Shambo
Iowa, USA

Benevolent Biker

In 1979, I had an R75/5 BMW motorcycle. One lovely summer Sunday afternoon, my 10-year-old daughter, Shelley, and I went for a ride in the countryside. We took the back roads to John Boyd Thacher State Park in the Helderberg Mountains, overlooking Albany Count, New York. The view is fantastic from up there! Plus, the roads are windy enough to give extra pleasure to riding the motorcycle.

Halfway through the park, the engine just quit. I switched the petcocks on the gas tank to use the reserve level. Still didn’t work! Here we were, a woman and her 10-year-old daughter, 20 miles from home, stranded.

Along came a motorcyclist on a Harley Davidson. He slowed, got off his bike, removed his helmet, and asked what the problem was. He had long hair, a beard, lots of tattoos, and a leather vest — the stereotypical biker look. Some people would have looked at him and said, “Uh oh, one of those nasty biker types.” But I’ve known many bikers, both good and bad, so I took the chance that he was among the majority — the good ones.

When I explained that I was out of gas and my reserve petcock was malfunctioning, he offered to help. He put my daughter on the back of his bike, road ahead with her to the top of the next hill, and parked his bike. He ran back and pushed my bike up to the top of the hill.

I then got on the bike, and was able to coast in neutral down the hill and as far up the next hill as momentum would take me. We repeated this maneuver several times until we got to the end of the park, and it was all downhill to reach the next little town.

We had gas rationing in those days, and most gas stations were closed on Sunday. That included the station in the small town at the bottom of the hill. I was starting to despair.

Then a fellow came out of his house to see what our problem was. When we explained, that gentleman produced a one-gallon plastic milk jug. My new biker friend took the jug, hopped on his bike, and with directions from the local gent, took off in search of an open gas station.

Before long, the biker was back with a gallon of gas for my bike, and we were running again! After taking the time to help out a stranded woman and child, he refused to be reimbursed for his own gas or the cost of the gas he’d bought for us. He just hopped on his bike and was on his way… and so were we.

Originally published as HeroicStories #376 on Jan 20, 2003

6 thoughts on “A Benevolent Biker”

  1. People always look at bikers as the image they are given in movies and television, but most bikers are truly a brotherhood. A brotherhood of the bike and help out civilians, as well as other bikers in need.

    Some motorcycle clubs participate in the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots programme. There are other military veteran motorcycle clubs. Here in IL, there’s a Masonic Lodge, Men In Brotherhood that’s jokingly referred to by other Masons as the Biker Club Lodge, because most of its members are motorcycle enthusiasts, and sport the typical “biker gang” look.

    TV and movies have done so much to really give a p!55 poor image to motorcycle enthusiasts. We can’t have “Asian” enemies or “Russian” enemies or “Middle Eastern” enemies anymore in film or television, because we don’t want to “offend” someone who could buy a ticket overseas. So, we’ll just say all bikers are evil lawbreakers, usually covered in tattoos and smuggling illegal firearms because, hey, who cares if some greasy biker is offended? I mean, these guys are all trailer park trash anyway and probably can’t afford to see a movie, much less understand the plot of one, because we all know they can’t read, right? Ha, ha, right?

    That’s why people have this awful image of motorcycle enthusiasts, and it’s pretty flamin’ sad and pathetic.

  2. Just this past weekend on the highway, we were passed by two groups of motorcyclists: 1. all dressed in the latest gear looking sharp and expensive and color coordinated. 2. the typical leather and denim MC gang look. The ones in denim and leather were better drivers, using their turn signals and passing safely. The upscale ones nearly caused more than one accident when they decided to squeeze between vehicles to pass. Good thing those vehicles used their brakes!

  3. In my yout (intentional, ref Vinnie ‘da lawyer, a very funny exchange in “My Cousin Vinnie”) I’ve known a few bikers. That old adage comes to mind. Most bikers and commercial truckers are angels of the road. They show a kinship that can be surprising. I probably would have been a little apprehensive too.

  4. That was a great tribute to bikers everywhere. Thank you for writing that. My husband looks just like the guy you wrote about in your story and he would stop and help anyone in need. Just because they dress and look a certain way does not make them a “bad” guy. He is really a gentle guy all the way around. Hopefully your story will give bikers a better name. Thanks again for the share. 🙂

  5. Truly a memorable experience and individual. You are blessed to have met him – and we are blessed to live in a world with people like him.


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