a motorcycle meet

in wauseon, ohio

welcome to the wild world of antique motorcycles.

it's a world that initially made me feel a little out of my element, what with the greasy motorcycle parts and the many middle-aged men adorning grey beards and faded tattoos who so ardently worship those parts. but i've found that some of the richest experiences in life are the ones that intimidate you at first, and that you soon conquer with a confidence that shakes the very thing that scared you. this was our experience last weekend at wauseon.

when we first arrived at the fair grounds, we could already see motorcycle enthusiasts circling an antique indian like hungry vultures. we surveyed the premises a little and then took a deep breath before unpacking because we knew as soon as the tarp was off the bed of the truck, the vultures would descend upon our boxes of stuff, diving in for their rusty prey.

sure enough, as soon as the boxes were uncovered, the men came headfirst with a tunnel vision focused on the antique parts. they didn't even shake their eyes away to greet us. it was a silent scavenging parade and it continued throughout our effort to unpack. some men invaded our space on the other side of the tables we set up, and some even snooped through boxes not yet taken out of the bed of the truck.

i was immediately overwhelmed. i remembered the eustis meet my brother and i helped mom with, and how i caught a man shoving expensive bolts into his pockets. my brother couldn't be with us for this meet and i wondered how i could confront a grown man of stealing without ryan standing tall beside me.

luckily i didn't have to. the initial flock of scavengers was a little overwhelming, but all i had to do was watch while mom handled the money. then the crowd thinned and the stress dissolved. because after the men sorted through all of the parts we brought, that hungry animal look left their eyes and the simple innocence of little boys playing with toys returned.

and that's all they seemed to me for the rest of the meet--little boys who just wanted to ride their bikes. no matter how fierce their tattoos or how mean their mug as they scowled the sun out of their eyes, their features softened as soon as i greeted them, and those crinkles at the outer corners of their eyes let me in on the secret of their inner innocence.

and mom knew most of the other vendors that visited us. sweet, sweet men who miss toney and love mom for sticking around the scene. i met characters from all over the country. real legends of the antique bike community. an amalgam of men all aiming to find the pieces that belong to the puzzle that is an antique motorcycle.

many of the men who didn't already know mom from the seven years she spent accompanying toney to these events were utterly shocked to find a woman selling motorcycle parts. but once mom started spewing her knowledge, she took their breath away and they all seemed pretty smitten. most men came back to our spot five times each to find more parts and talk.

one man bought us dinner, another bought us lunch, and one man delivered me beer on his bike every couple hours like clockwork. a young austrian man bought some fender trim from my mom and while saying goodbye to me, tripped over parts on the ground, turned around and ran into a man behind him, and then nervously backed into a metal plate. i tell you, it was like a scene straight out of a movie. you'd think these boys had never seen a lady selling motorcycle parts before ;)

and to think we were ever nervous in the first place.