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Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 2.35.53 PMDo you agree with the adage — “You are what you ride?”

While I don’t claim the axiom is foolproof, there are many observable examples that support the concept — from the successful lawyer driving to the office in a tire-shredding German sedan and then rides a chopped and stripped down Forty Eight on the weekends, to the general contractor who most days is in a tool-ridden F-250, but prefers to ride a CVO Limited, the grand American cruiser for the long road trips.

I fell hard for Harley-Davidson (over 20 years ago now) and it took me more than three models later to acquire the current riding spirit of the Road Glide.

I’ll admit it.  I enjoy the attention that comes with owning motorcycles of the Harley-Davidson caliber — parking lot discussions and drive-by salutations from strangers.  Sure it sounds pretentious, but I’ve spent way too much time behind the handle bars of a Honda and Yamaha to resist metaphorically blowing my own horn.

Right or wrong, many of us place a great deal of importance on what we ride. Critiquing others freely, we are likewise judged by the sheet metal of our ride.  Because, like it or not, motorcycles are a reflection of ourselves — a view into our wind in the face wandering soul.

Think about it.

We often purchase what fits our current character and life status. Everything from the color to the style and model is carefully and deliberately selected.  Much of our riding and our life for that matter, is spent developing this ride persona — and it evolves as we do.  Our environment may change from year to year where a mortgage or a kid in college influences what sits in the garage — as would the line of work, the economy, the community and our circle of friends.  Whether we currently own the motorcycle of our dreams does not mean the statement is any more or less true.

As we know, not everyone can live with a Harley-Davidson status symbol — whether they intended to or not. Just go to any dealer and look at the low-mileage castaways in the used area. Those owners moved on to a more practical ride or abandoned the entire motorcycle “lifestyle.”  An association with a Harley-Davidson motorcycle is an extension of ourselves and a natural consequence of the freedom of the road culture. Like clothing, we dress in leather, steel and rubber, the same as we do with cotton or silk. Color, texture, design and shape — we’re being seen in public with our best “outfits.”

But, there is one great equalizer for all this pomp and circumstance activity — the gas station!  It’s the one place where we gather like creatures in the desert at the waterhole, replenishing empty tanks. The perfect spot to critique both motorcycle and rider while staring through polarized shades at the others from a distance.  I might dismount and swipe a credit card at the pump as fellow bikers draw conclusions based on my re-fueling habits.  I’m not bothered by that — after all, I’m doing precisely the same thing they did just minutes earlier.

Vanity comes in many forms, and even the modest will present their motorcycle with some defiance — like wearing blue jeans to a formal event.  It’s just a different perspective.

You may deceive society by how you look and the way you dress, your manner of speech and education, the neighborhood you live in or the reach of your bank account, but none of this really matters in a material world.  Because in that moment of judgement, you are inevitably what you ride.

Photos courtesy of H-D
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Senate Bill 805 - Bureaucracy In Action

I’m talking about the Oregon legislature!

But, I’ve gotten ahead of myself and should provide background on Senate Bill 805.

In the U.S., 78.5 billion eggs were produced for eating in 2010. The breakdown is that 2.5 billion were exported, 6.3 billion went to food service use, 24.8 billion were processed into liquid, dried, and frozen products and 44.9 billion went to retail.  There are 187 companies who “lay” claim to about 95% of egg-laying hens in the U.S. Thirteen of these manage flocks of more than 5 million and sell specialty eggs under other names. Cal-Maine Foods, the country’s largest egg producer, owns the brands Eggland’s Best, Farmhouse, and 4-Grain.  Oregon (2.5M) doesn’t even make the top 10 producer list (as measured by number of egg laying hens) and the top 5 egg production states are Iowa (54M), Ohio (27M), Pennsylvania (23M), Indiana (23M) and California (19M).  In fact, at retail, more and more businesses and consumers are demanding organic eggs from hens that are either cage-free (hens able to run about inside huge chicken houses but not outdoors) or free-roaming (hens have access to the outdoors for at least 51% of their lives (~18 months, but there are no regulations on the quality or size of the open-air space)).

It turns out the tastiest, healthiest, most humanely produced eggs come from your local farmer’s free-roaming small flock.  Eggs contain varying amounts of 39 vitamins and minerals—many of which don’t even make it onto the nutrition facts label. Some eggs are healthier than others and it’s really all about what the hens are fed, which ranges from corn and soybean meal to a chicken’s more natural diet: a blend of grains and whatever the hen finds by foraging the pasture.  Again, egg nutrition value is determined by the feed, not breed.

Oregon’s Senate Bill 805 (SB 805) provides hens with a few more inches of space for laying eggs, but may well cost the farmers (which will be passed on to consumers) who will need to purchase/prep for the incremental space mandate.  It’s hard to imagine given the current budget issues facing the state how this matter rises to the level of debating a bill that is largely being determined by consumer purchases of the best tasting eggs.  But, I’d like to congratulate the Oregon legislature for displaying so much intellectual honesty, storming the farmland and solving an issue that isn’t even a problem. It’s another “teachable moment” for those who went to Salem for a life-long political career to do nothing.

I’d bet a Grande Coffee at Starbucks that the next bill after SB 805 will be mandating the quality and size of the open-air space.  Maybe they’ll even look to mandate ambient noise levels so the hens can breathe without excessive sound…hopefully no flocks are near a highway where a group of motorcycles may travel as OSP will be ask to single out motorcycles and set up an EPA-compliant exhaust check point!

The point of this post is not directly related to the Oregon egg industry, but about the unending government proposals, rules, and regulations that affect or creep into the motorcycle lifestyle.  Today there is more bureaucracy about eggs/hens and the amount of breathing space.  Tomorrow it’s about how and what we ride and drive. From taking away off road land areas, to the Federal Register re-defining what is a motorcycle, to performance modifications, and denial of insurance benefits — everywhere you look there is a current or proposed law that will negatively impact all of us. Every day as a result of the current economic collapse I get reports about home foreclosures and short sales, but Oregon lawmakers would rather waste tax payer money debating topics on chickens vs. being “compassionate” to the residents of the state.  Is a chicken’s well being more important?

All this ranting and talk of eggs in the morning made me hungry.  Who’s up for breakfast?!

Photo courtesy of the egg industry.  Fun fact: Did you know that 300,000 eggs go to Peg’s Glorified Ham N Eggs on South Sierra Street in Reno, NV., every year, where they are transformed into heaping breakfast platters piled with hash browns and homemade salsa.

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