You maybe hear stories about bikers involved in accidents and then helping each other, bikers riding fast or riding in between lanes. This is no such a story. This is about being an open minded human being, who rides a motorcycle (no matter what make, size, or type) and thinks of other bikers as equal. If you’re a rider, you probably know that the feeling of freedom, the wind blowing in your face, or the power of the bike you ride, it all comes with a price. Besides the careful maintenance of your loved ride, you’re exposed to all traffic that may or may not be biker-friendly but also to the elements of the nature (rain sucks, snow even more). But this story is also not about the traffic or weather, nor about the awesome feeling you get while riding. It’s about how it feels to meet a good person, and maybe you’ll become one.
As you know, I rode my Mexican bike through the Central America. This makes my travel a lot more flexible, comfortable and more open to encounters with the locals. What Central America has, and I haven’t seen in Europe, is a good amount of motorcycle clubs and an effective way of communication in between them. There are a few Whatsapp groups among the clubs, and one designed to help anyone in need. As my motorcycle is not exactly new or even fault-proof, I appreciated the chance of being part of this group. I never thought about its effectiveness until I suddenly needed help. As much as you prepare for that moment, checking and re-checking all the things on your bike, it’s probably bound to happen sooner or later.
I can talk about the purpose of this group, but I don’t think it is defined exactly. Roughly, it’s a very friendly helping-group for bikers in Central America. My story with this group starts in Belize, where I med Bill D, who added me to the group. Thanks to the group, in El Salvador I met El Magico and Marvin, the president of Panteras MC. They offered me a meal and a place to stay, patched my bike with a few stickers and changed the oil. They also found a leather jacket for me to sew the patches on (I had to leave that behind). Then, in Costa Rica, I met Mauricio, who hosted me for a night in his luxurious hotel in La Fortuna, along with a very pleasant chat about human values and what makes you a good biker. And you know how important it is to have a nice hotel room once in a while, especially when it rains. Not far further, I stopped to meet Danilo, another friendly biker who first introduced me to Mauricio and convinced me to print some stickers to give as a memory of my passing.
Then it comes the moment when I find myself in need. The bike battery died while shopping in Limon, some 50km from my house. First I tried to jump-start the 250kg bike by pushing it around the parking lot for 15min. Then the group comes to my mind, so I simply ask for help. Fortunate or not, help came in less than 5 minutes, giving me no time to walk and buy a drink. Jorge Grillo showed up with his car, with electric cables at hand, and a cold drink on top of that. It is probably the fastest help I ever got online. And then, crossing the border to Panama and meeting everyone there, it’s a whole new story.
I find myself welcomed in Panama by Rose – this cute girl rider on a shiny white bike she’s so fond of. Unbelievably, she rode to the border to meet me, then showed me the area till nightfall, when I set up my hammock in a restaurant we went to, on top of a hill, with a great view. A couple of days later we rode together another winding road for about 70km – what a great feeling to ride again with good company, especially when the road is good and the sun shines bright! Minutes after we parted, I meet the first Africa Twin motorcycle in months, carrying two riders from Argentina heading to Alaska. We both stopped at the same time, at this nice empty viewpoint, and had a 20min chat sharing experiences – a wonderful encounter of travelers heading opposite ways. This definitely made me pass through the incoming 30min of heavy rain with a smile on my face.
And right after crossing the mountains, wet to the underwear, I end up at Jorge’s place in David (David is a city). I found out he is the president of LAMA (Latin America Motorcycle Association) and the co-founder of the whatsapp help group I’ve been talking about. He didn’t hesitate for a single moment to open up his house for me. The best way of experiencing a country and its lifestyle is staying with a local. He took me out for a drive the very same day, introduced me to his friends and some of his club members the next day. And as this was not enough, he recommends me to another friendly club in Chitre – Free Rider. Three of them, including Julio, the president, came to meet me about 20min ride from their home, giving me an unexpectedly warm welcome. I finally got a feeling of what it means to ride with big bikes when we got stopped by police just to check out the bikes and have a good chat with the guys.
In Chitre, the clubhouse kept me ‘captive’ and well fed for about a week. Enough to participate at the ‘grill and beer’ event they organized this Saturday and meet plenty of friendly bikers, creating a few connections and gathering some information, but also meeting some friends I’ve met before. Wish I could write more about my stay in Chitre, but the rest is well kept in my heart. It’s a lesson learnt. Thank you, brothers. Here I found out that Panama has a fairly good number of motorcycle clubs made up of good people (who love beer and loud pipes).
My trip is not over yet and these people are making it well better. Every day I check the chat and see how many have been helped, towed, or offered a room. I see the smiles shared and the drinks drank at the end of the day. As I grew up alone, it’s hard for me to imagine having a brother to go to, but every time another biker welcomes me to his place I imagine a brother. Just a bit different than CouchSurfing, because we’re talking about this passion we share, and the roads we rode, the bikes we ride, and all the things that affect us in this world. This is no biker’s code I’m talking about. You can be a human being offering to help another, all you have to be is open minded. Fortunately for me, I’ve been introduced to these people and I must thank them for all the help offered so far.
Here are some pictures of them.
This is my “Thank you” album and I will keep adding pictures to it.
Biker or not, be a good person, and you might end up here! Nice threat, right?