From there we went to the Republic, a.k.a. Golden Lady statue on 63rd street. (The statue is a replica of the 65-foot-high gold leaf on plaster statue, which stood in the central focus Grand Basin gateway Court of Honor at the Worlds’ Columbian Exposition of 1893.) From there we rode south on Stoney Island to the Bishop Ford, exited on 103rd to Doty Road for more pictures.
I have never really enjoyed riding with a bunch of people. I have mostly ridden solo since my Sears 10-speed days. Without a doubt, I had the most fun with this crew. What makes the Chicago black biker scene different from all others would have to be our camaraderie, unity, support, clubs, personalities, events, road trips, style, and swagger across the board for both genders, all ages, clubs, and non-club riders, says BJ, sensing my surprise at how well everyone got along. Regardless of the limited riding season here, we max our bikes out custom-wise, we party and hang out together all year long. All throughout the winter when the temps are unbearably low, parties, anniversary events, Toys for Tots, trips, charity causes, you name it, continue strong.
The camaraderie was even extended to the newbie white guy. There was no attitude at all. Not from anyone. I felt completely at home. We cruised down the Edens Expressway, heading to an abandoned road farther south to get some photos. People gave us the thumbs-up at stoplights, and even old ladies waved, which made me smile.
On the highways, gas stations, and such, the reaction of passers-by is always like we’re rock stars, BJ tells me later. Like where the hell did all of these young black riders come from with these fancy slick-ass bikes? It continues to be fun because everywhere we have been (off-the-beaten-path-type destinations that we would have never have traveled to back in the day on our sportbikes) people have always greeted us with respect, hospitality, directions, and plenty of friendly questions regarding our bikes.
The shift from sportbikes to slower cruiser bikes took place after the dawn of the new millennium. He explains, Not that we were done with going fast, but more so because the Harleys represented the type of status that sportbikes simply could never providethat status being one of success and accomplishmentI would say that baggers are most definitely a huge part of the black biker community, he continues. More so now than ever before, especially with my generation. I call it the ’70s babies! Both genders have made the switch. Women once started off with the 883 and maybe the 1200 Sportsters but now have upgraded to the Street Glides. A lot of us crossed over from sportbikes too, so that we would be in familiar company as well as in the company of new alliances.
The KNK guys aren’t affiliated with any outlaw clubs, but some of the members have some serious history with them. BJ has done his time. He’s left the days of former gang involvement and drug dealing behind him and has served in the Navy then the Army. Now BJ simply enjoys the fun aspects of club activity like the roller-skating parties, one of which he says I can participate in the future. Yes. I said roller-skating. That shit is freaking huge with the black bike clubs in Chicago. As for roller-skating and the different skating parties that clubs throw, skating in Chicago predates any type of club involvement for a large percentage of damn near every black biker, explains BJ. Skating (JB skating) just as well as Stepping (a form of dance) originated here in Chicago. We grew up on the stuff basically because our parents most likely were jamming to it and ultimately influenced us. JB skating is short for James Brown. This is a very distinctive style of skating influenced by all James Brown music back in the day. So in Chicago, by right of passage, you are either a JB skater, a stepper, or both. Skating and stepping are two of the biggest urban pastime recreational activities in the black community, which makes them both so popular when it comes to throwing a club party.
So there you have it my dear editor, friend, and riding partner. I emerged from the ghetto unscathed, with my underwear still clean and with an invitation to a roller-skating party. How do you like that? Send me my money. Papa needs some new pipes and a 300-rear wheel for his PC 800. B