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Republic of Texas Rally

MAY 29, 2007

There are so many ways to kill yourself: Warm bath, razor blade; big baggie of barbiturates; exhaust rerouted through the car window; DIY hanging; high rise swan dive; shotgun blowjob (a celebrity favorite: Hemingway, Cobain). Yes, there are plenty of stylish and inventive ways to do yourself in, but if you want to go with something daring and spectacular, albeit with a slightly less predictable outcome, buy a motorcycle. Motorcycles are and ever have been … cool – sort of like smoking cigarettes. Combine the two and your coolness goes into warp drive. Feel free to throw in a few tattoos and maybe some leather pants and a leather jacket. Life is short and yours, statistically, will be even shorter. Might as well leave a beautiful corpse. (By the way, if you can afford it, go with Kevlar. Leather staves off some of the road rash, but your undertaker and next of kin will really appreciate the fact that you popped for the Kevlar.) You might want to spend a little extra on your bike as well. While it’s true that pretty much any motorized two-wheeler is cool, generally the bigger the better. Harleys are among the most massive. They’re also known as “hogs,” not because their parts are made of pig iron or as an allusion to the girth of their riders, but rather because during the 1920s a very successful motorcycle racing team in the South named the “Hog Boys” used to take a pig for a victory lap on the back of their winning Harley. Of course, that was back in the days when Harleys actually won races. These days, Harleys are the Clydesdales of the motorcycle world. Just about any lightweight Japanese crotch rocket can outrun a Harley in the quarter, but if you’re looking for a big, obnoxiously loud, anachronism of engineering that will wake up the neighbors and impress tube-top wearing high-school dropouts, you’re safer on a hog. Honda also makes some pretty big bikes. There’s the Goldwing, a favorite of retirees and pragmatists that is the two-wheeled equivalent of a Winnebago. You can fit two people comfortably on a Goldwing, but neither will probably be comfortable with the term, “Biker Bitch.” There’s also the Honda Valkyrie, which is a Harley knockoff of sorts. It’s also the most honestly named motorcycle on the market, borrowing its title from the Norse goddesses who carry souls into the afterlife – proof positive that the Japanese are not without a sense of irony. What next? Maybe the Honda Sumo? Of course big bikes come with big price tags, but you don’t necessarily need a big bike to speed your way to Valhalla. Plenty of people have met their maker on mopeds and electric scooters … and their maker wasn’t surprised at all. If you’re going to be price-conscious, leave the helmet at home and invest in a nice, colorful silk scarf. It will flap around like crazy even at low speeds and serve as an ineffective tourniquet when your leg gets lopped off by a drunk in a pickup. Really, the safest way to enjoy motorcycles is vicariously, and this weekend is the perfect opportunity to do just that when the Republic of Texas Motorcycle Rally rumbles into Austin. Friday night sometime after 7:30pm, a parade of some 60,000 bikes will sputter and fart their way from the Travis County Expo Center and to Congress Avenue. Following the parade will be two stages with live music and scantily clad women. Scheduled acts include Podunk, Butcherwhite, Patricia Vonne, the Meat Puppets, and Patrice Pike as well as performances by Big Star and Sideshow Burlesque and the girls from Coyote Ugly. After taking it all in you may still want to draw a warm bath, but for different reasons.

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