Let me please introduce myself

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Let me please introduce myself

The Virtual Bar and Grill and Beyond

by Dennis Peterson

The top of the hat says it all, don't ask how you can get one yourself.
(photo by Dennis Peterson)

It is a phrase frequently hammered out by newcomers to the place on the Internet known by the locals as "The Virtual Bar and Grill". You can find us on your local news server at rec.motorcycles.harley.  Come on in, grab a chair in the back row, sit back, keep quiet for a bit, get to know some of the etiquette and maybe a few names, then jump into whatever conversation appeals to you.  I have just one more suggestion for you when you come out of lurk mode and start talking:  buy the house a round and leave the plastic on the bar.

As in any brick and mortar beer bar that attracts people who ride motorcycles, and Harleys in particular, here you will meet folks from all walks of life and from every eddy in the gene pool. There are gray beards here (and a couple of Red Beards, too) who have racked up more miles backing up to the curb than many of you have logged while puttin' down the highway.  Listen to them, as they know of what they speak. Newbies abound and often draw attention to themselves by failing to observe the hints I offered earlier in this story. There are more than a few morons here as well and I'm not going to spoil the fun by pointing them out - you'll spot them quickly enough.  It is considered bad form to engage them, as it tends to lead to protracted mindless drivel, which lasts for days, sometimes weeks. Suggestion: don't poke the bears.

If you read enough of the chatter you will notice the signatures of some patrons include letters and number such a AH#95 or BS#3. There are also Wenches, Bitches, DOF's, SENS, NTXNS, and others. DON'T ASK HOW YOU CAN GET ONE! They are the online version of patches and are earned. Period. If you are truly worthy one will show up in your e-mail someday.

That said I'll define a few for you to relieve some bewilderment: AH stands for Asshole (tm) and is probably the oldest and certainly the most exclusive and even the most elite of the enumerated types.

My favorite group, because it is a local crowd of misfits, is the Pacific Northwest Brotherhood of the Slug, or BS. This horde, which severely overlaps the AH crowd, is aggressively inclusive. Whereas becoming an AH is cloaked in dark closely held secrecy, getting a BS# requires only that you meet and ride with another slug. Oh, and there's this rule - once you've been assigned a number you have to write up a story describing how you got that number. The stories produced by the "slimed" parties range from serious attempts at prose to outrageously funny fiction (this latter being preferred). Growth of the group is exponential and soon will include everyone on two wheels.

There is but one "BOTY" (Bitch of the Year) and the torch is passed each year during Sturgis week at the Buck 'N Gator beer bar in Rapid City, SFD (South Dakota you fill in the rest). I had the good fortune to join the recent ceremony, which was a well-attended affair, and this year even included our favorite Scot on a Scoot all the way from Scotland.

If you are a DOF then you are both dirty and old - you take it from there.

There is a group from the deep south and are known as the Southeast Net Scum, or SENS. These folk meet up once or twice a year at a function called "LieFest" and I can tell you from personal experience that these people know how to party!!

For alla y'alls in the Lone Star state you have the North Texas Net Scum whose membership includes some of the finest folks on two wheels.

This list isn't nearly complete - New England, the Dairy State, Colorado and plenty more are represented but you can suspect from all this that we do more than pound the keyboard - much more, in fact. Each year there is a gathering in Illinois called MITM (Meet In The Middle) where folks from every corner of the US and Canada hook up for three days of serious fun.  There isn't anything else quite like it. It offers people who have met via the Internet the opportunity to meet "in real life" in a laid-back tent city that springs up in a tree-lined pasture turned campground.

If a three-day party is not on your radar then there are other opportunities to meet up with your fellow netscum.  On or near the 4th of July in the hills above the Feather River in California the SNDR meet (Sierra Nevada Digest Readers) takes place and is a complete blast to attend. It also exposes you to some of the best riding in the state.

Got more time? The "Run to the Sun", or Sun Run, is a two week ride that begins at Hungry Horse, Montana, and courses up to British Columbia and Alberta, a round trip along the Glacier Highway through Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff, back to Montana, then past the Grand Tetons, over to Jackson Hole, WY, then up over and back across the 11,000 ft high Bear Tooth Highway. From there a crooked trail wends its way to Sturgis and the Black Hills of South Dakota. The party at the Buck 'N Gator signals the end of this excellent tour.

The Slugs put on a ride-in party as well. Known as SLIMEFEST, it takes place wherever the sponsor chooses. The first meet was held near Mt. Rainier under three days of heavy, nasty rain.  Despite that we had a helluva good time.  This year it was held near Goldendale, WA, and included attendees from Alberta, CAN, and a repeat visitor from St. Louis, MO. This year I am the sponsor and am thinking about a multi-stop tour.  The current plan includes stops at Crater Lake, OR, Goldendale, WA, Roslyn, WA (Cicely, AK to you people in Palm Beach), then possibly Winthrop or Curlew Lake, both in Washington state, or a quick trek up to the Penticton, B. C. area.  Truth is, though, we Slugs are better known for our planning parties than our plans.

It's not all fun and games here - motorcycling is a dangerous pastime and our community has had its share of heartache, injury and even death.  The news of anyone going down is immediately greeted with notes of condolence, and best wishes for a speedy recovery free of complications.

There is also an injury related community activity that began in 1994. That year one of our own went down hard - very hard. Eddie's story can be read at http://eddiekieger.com and is worth a look. It is quite a tale of good, caring people responding to and standing by a fellow rider and friend in need, and it is a caring that continues to this day.

Now if all of this sounds like fun or seems interesting to you, and having done all of these rides and functions personally I can assure you that it is both, be advised that these events are attendance-limited, and focused towards folks who have developed friendships on-line in The Virtual Bar and Grill.  If you are one of those hopelessly friendly riders who enjoys the time spent on two wheels and the company of others while doing so, you may have found yourself a new watering hole.

I believe it's your round, friend.

Dennis Peterson is a Puget Sound resident, a regular contributor to Sound RIDER! and Thunder Press, and is allergic to spiders like the rest of us.  You can e-mail him at dpeterso@halcyon.com or check out his website at DP's Place.

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