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Riders for Life? Wusses!

Letters published October 11, 2001

Sanctioned racing is where it's at:

I like to think of motorcycling as a noble sport, where rider skill is demonstrated on a racetrack. Dissidents like Riders for Life ["Danger Incorporated," September 13] are tainting the public's image of motorcycling. I ride a sport bike, and every time I pass a group of kids, they motion for me to pop a wheelie. Even though I'm ultraliberal, I find it difficult to condone the actions of Riders for Life. Wheelies are all show; they don't gain you speed and are very hard on a bike's suspension. These guys actually have very few riding skills: New bikes weigh only 350 pounds, and the engines are 130 to 150 horsepower, so anyone can pop a wheelie. Next time you want to write about motorcycling, go to a national dirt or asphalt race.

Mike Mitchell

Terror on the highways:

Riders for Life: The Taliban of bikers. Just as in the wider world, it's usually the unorthodox group that makes the news and the orthodox members that take the heat.

I found the story about the stunt squids very interesting and informative. Unfortunately, most of the nonriding public will associate this small band of morons with the wider world of bikers. It is important to point out that these idiots do not represent the majority of bikers. The article confirms that these guys are a bunch of losers looking for their 15 minutes of fame. Big Man claims this activity is his "livelihood." Since when is illegal and dangerous activity a legitimate livelihood?

Who cares if what they do is dangerous and illegal? I do, and so do other bikers. We're the ones who have to deal with restrictions and outright bans on motorcycles in certain places because of the actions of a few. Normally, we of the orthodox faction would just ignore these yahoos, and eventually they will plaster themselves over the freeway somewhere, thereby cleaning up the gene pool. But when they threaten other drivers and sully the reputation of riders in general, somebody needs to speak up against them.

I invite you to write an article about real bikers. They are the HOG groups, the Goldwing Clubs, the Christian Motorcycle Association, Rolling Thunder. These are groups doing good things to promote riding, and they actually make a difference in people's lives by being involved in charities. But that isn't nearly as sexy as the "extreme stunts" these guys perform. The only extreme stunt Riders for Life performed was convincing you that they are worth writing about.

Rick Matisak

Embalming-fluid highs date back to the '60s:

People have been getting wasted on reefer soaked in embalming fluid (then dried and smoked) since the late 1960s [The Edge, September 20]. It used to be called "sheba sheba" or just "sheeb." It never went away; the name just changed. A joint cost anywhere from $5 to $10 back in the day, and yes, it made people do crazy, irrational, and unexplainable things. Many people I knew left this earth tripping off sheeb, and prisons are filled with people doing Buck Rogers time for committing some heinous -- or stupid -- crimes they probably can't even recall.

Wet gets a lot of play now, but I'm sure more people indulged in laced marijuana trips in the 1960s and '70s than now -- if not in raw numbers, then percentagewise. If you check, the murder rate -- as well as the rate of people getting knocked upside the head -- was much higher back then.

Sheeb or wet was more popular years ago because herb was so "sometimey" back then. If you spent $15 on a half-ounce in the 1970s and found the herb to be incredibly weak, soaking it in embalming fluid was the magical solution. Where did they get the embalming fluid? Well, all I'm gonna say is that some funeral-home workers were making some serious cash that Uncle Sam didn't know anything about.

Andrew Hamilton

Sports could use more men like King

I seldom follow football, and I rarely read sports articles. To paraphrase what Frank Zappa said about rock and roll, I find sports journalists "people who can't write interviewing people who can't speak for the benefit of people who can't read." But Martin Kuz's article on Andre King ["Next-to-Last Man Standing," September 20] was so well done that I read it twice. More than a story about sports, it was a story about nobility. Were there more athletes like Andre King, more of them could justifiably be called heroes.

Dr. Jerry Heckler

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