The Pride Of Perryville
Here at Baggers I get to meet the most interesting people; from riders, and readers, to the most talented builders. If you haven't noticed yet I enjoy featuring custom bikes that are built by more regular folks, not guys who are in this business to make a quick buck and get famous. I'm drawn to the old American work ethic, the kind of people you'd find out riding and working to make an honest living doing what they love. The types that aren't driven by fads, inflated ego, or call themselves 'master builders', whatever that over-used, and in my opinion meaningless saying means. Arrogance and greed killed much of the chopper world and I'm not going to contribute to that happening here.
Below is a cool story about someone most of us have probably never heard of from Eastern Missouri. I love the stories behind a man and his bike, and in this case both are worth a look.
Pete Meier is a very interesting person and, without a doubt, unlike anyone else you have ever met. He is difficult to describe and I just hope that my writing ability does him justice. Pete is very well known in this part of the country and his name is synonymous with motorcycles and the biker lifestyle. Pete has owned Harley-Davidson's since the day he graduated high school in the late '70s. Since then he has rarely worn anything other than blue jeans, t-shirt, boots, a bandana, and a cycle chain belt. He has long unruly hair and has not been clean-shaven since 1982. Pete usually has a cigarette burning and most afternoons enjoys a cold Bud Light. Interestingly enough he has no tattoos or body piercings and never wears a watch or any jewelry. When on a long ride, Pete will not wear sunscreen and prefers to drink coffee while the rest of us gulp down water and Gatorade. Pete has attended the past 25 Sturgis rallies and jokes that, "a rally is not a vacation, it's a business trip"
Pete is a throwback; he does not own a cell phone, does not e-mail and will not use a GPS even though his sense of direction is sometimes lacking. Pete signed up for his first credit card just last year only because a newly located supplier could not set up direct billing. He embraces technology only as it relates to rebuilding or painting bikes.
Although you would never guess by looking at him, Pete is soft spoken to the point of being hard to hear at times, and never talks about anyone behind their back. I can personally attest that I have never heard him say a single negative thing about anyone not present. No one, however, confuses his easy-going personality with weakness. No one would ever cross Pete.
Pete is almost 50 years old, or as he stated, "I'm a few beers shy of 50." A professional painter by trade, he has worked for the same company for over 30 years. The majority of his evenings and weekends, however, are spent painting and rebuilding Harleys in his shop in Perryville. At any given time he is working on one or two bikes with one or two waiting their turn. His shop is a monument to motorcycles past and present as he has old parts, calendars, rally announcements, and years of accumulated paint overspray on the walls. Pete heats and controls the humidity with a huge homemade wood stove. There is a nearly constant flow of friends and customers through his shop that's been the unofficial gathering spot for every bike enthusiast within 100 miles for the past 30 years. Anytime someone shows up, Pete will quickly finish up his work and greet them with a cold beer and a bucket to sit on. If the weather is nice, he opens the overhead door and lets the crowd spill outside.