I had the privilege of riding with a few members of the Canadian Bondslave Motorcycle Club recently. I met Gerry “Shot Put” and Bill “William Tell” by the side of the road. I had just returned to my motorcycle to fix a puncture. Almost as soon as I arrived, Bill and Gerry pulled over. After the wheel was back on the bike, they offered to ride with me to Thunder Bay to make sure I made it in one piece. I was grateful for the escort and excited to try riding with others.
Riding with the Bondslave members was my first group riding experience. As a motorcycle club they have a protocol as to how they ride. They ride in formation, side by side in pairs, in tight rows. Road captain, officers, members, probates, guests. At first I was a little nervous of riding so close to other bikes, but after a while I got used to it settled into the formation. As a guest I was usually riding at the back. It’s a very different experience to ride so closely behind another bike.
Usually while riding I’m pushing my awareness of the road as far as I reasonably can. I’m looking to anticipate turns, vehicles, people, animals, road hazards, and so on. Anything that might require me to take action. Riding in tight formation my attention was more closely focused on the bike in front. I placed a great deal of trust in the rider in front of me, trusting him to see the road for me. I would still look ahead somewhat, but most of my attention was on the rider in front and the road between me and their bike.
The riders use hand and foot signals to communicate. For example, if the rider in front’s left leg floats outwards from his bike, he’s warning you of something on the road. A pat on the head means police. A single finger pointed upwards (singalling 1) and touching his helmet means fall into single file.
The formation and signals seem to be an integral part of the spirit of a motorcycle club. The club has a structure, a purpose, a way in which things are done. There are formal and informal rules about how men conduct themselves within the club. There is a protocol to govern riding with other club members. Protocols about colours (the badges that show club membership) and so on.
I was told that the Bondslave club was founded by a man in prison and that many of the members are recovering alcoholics, recovering drug addicts, ex outlaws, and so on. (I believe an outlaw, in this sense, is a person living a lifestyle outside of the law.) These men have found Jesus and have been saved. One of the men told me he had come face to face with death through a drug induced heart attack. He had lost his wife, his children, his family and his health to alcohol and drug addiction. His journey to find Jesus and the resulting faith had saved his life and returned him to his loved ones.
These words might sound light and airy. These men and their stories are not so. When these men tell me they had been saved, I truly believe them. They told me they had made radical changes in their lives that brought their familys, their health, and much more, back to them. I felt honoured and humbled to hear their stories and share in their journeys.
I met 6 Bondslave members Gerry “Shot Put”, Bill “William Tell”, Barry “2 Speed”, Alf “Petra”, Kerry “Salt” and Mike “Lucky”. Each of these men was kind, generous, friendly and only warm towards me. Gerry and Bill stopped to help me without any request. They went above and beyond offering to ride with me to Thunder Bay. They went to Thunder Bay to visit their brothers there. Alf, local to Thunder Bay, arranged accommodation for us in their club house. He showed us the sights of Thunder Bay. He told fantastic stories of his family and his daughters adventures in Sweden and Finland. He offered the use of his garage where we changed my rear inner tube. Later the same day he noticed my tail light was out. Within a couple of hours he had given me a replacement bulb and a spare to carry.
The members said grace before eating each meal. I couldn’t seem to remember that, so mostly grace was said after I had started! A few years ago I would have felt resistance to the idea of saying grace. Now, it felt meaningful to give reverence before eating. The members also shared a number of prayers with me. Again, I would have strongly resisted this in the past. Today, I feel privileged to have shared in these men’s prayers.
I have a slightly different view of divinity and spirituality than the Bondslave members. However, we share a great deal of common belief. I perceive that Jesus is the vehicle Bondslave members use to embody their spirituality and divinity. My own perception is different in appearance, but remarkably similar in fundamentals.
I would like to thank the 6 Bondslave members I met and rode with for sharing with me. Sharing their company, their stories, their prayers. This is a brotherhood of men that I found to be only positive, only kind and generous beyond compare. Thank you.
Now I’ll share some pictures.
Here’s Gerry, me and Bill, bikes in the background, getting coffee at Tim Hortons as we arrive in Thunder Bay.
Bill posing by the shore!
Bessy parked between some of the Bondslave bikes at the Thunder Bay clubhouse. Barry “2 Speed” sitting on the far bike.
A view over Thunder Bay.
A few of the guys showing their colours.
Now their faces and badges. From left to right Kerry “Salt”, Alf “Petra” (our Thunder Bay host), Bill “William Tell”, Mike “Lucky”, Gerry “Shot Put”.
Before Bill and Gerry left for Winnipeg we had breakfast at Kakabeka falls. It’s a beautiful spot.
Looking back upon this adventure, I’m glad to have had a puncture and not had the tools to fix it. The whole experience turned out to be overwhelmingly positive.