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Favorite films of bikers

By Staff | Aug 25, 2010

Lyrics from “Born to be Wild,” which opens the famed “Easy Rider,” advocates “heading out on the highway… lookin’ for adventure and racin’ with the wind.”

  Several motorbike owners named “Easy Rider” as their favorite cyclist film and offered insight into their philosophies behind riding on their bikes.

 Adam, a 20-something rider at Buddy’s BBQ, 1537 Third Ave., stated, “You never see a motorcyclist in the psychologist’s office.” He explained that a rider does not need pills or a therapist’s couch. Riding itself is therapy.

“It’s just you, a motorcycle and if you got an old lady that’s fine. You’re getting away from stuff. If you get a nice stretch like Route 2 or Route 7, there’s nobody around. It’s a very calming feeling,” Adam explained.  

An ‘old school’ rider who called himself Rain Man, added, it’s like, “When you read a book, your mind is someplace else. If you’re on a bike, you mind is where you want it to be. You’re free. 100 percent free, man. “

Rain Man, a Vietnam veteran, agreed that riding “helps keep me sane.” He favors “Easy Rider” because Peter Fonda rode a Harley “Ghost Rider pan head,” which has “been around since 1948 when I was born.”



However, not all riders attest any particular lifestyle to rolling on a bike, except a work related two-wheeler for pulling over vehicles for traffic violations. 

Two former law enforcement officers found Steve McQueen’s “The Great Escape” as their favorite bike movie. Their viewpoints came strictly from watching the silver screen, rather than asserting any philosophy that rolls with cycling.

 City Councilman Russ Houck, a retired Huntington policeman, said “I rode a motorcycle for three-and-a-half years,” but described himself as “gutless, so I can’t identify with riding.”

 Former policeman and Cabell County Sheriff Kim Wolfe said, “It’s gotta be the one with Steve McQueen in it.” McQueen was himself an avid cyclist and, “If you watch that movie when they jump over the fence, he’s doing the stunts himself,” Wolfe said.

 Actually, a little movie research uncovered a controversy. McQueen was an avid auto racer and cyclist. He often did jumps himself. But the one for the chase scene in “The Great Escape” brought in the insurers, who apparently balked at the star making the leap.

In the film, McQueen’s character seizes a military motorbike while trying to escape from Germany into Switzerland. During the chase, the bike and rider had to make it over two fences.

McQueen’s son, Chad, in a 2009 interview said his dad was “never happier” than working on “The Great Escape.” Still, Chad said, “Insurance is a funny thing when you’re doing a big movie. They hired Bud [Elkins] to take the risks.”

The now Huntington Mayor Kim Wolfe doesn’t attest any special experience to cycling. “I feel safer on a horse than I do a motorcycle.”

 The late Steve McQueen, though, had stated, “Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting.”

 During the cycle movie discussions, James Dean’s “Rebel Without a Cause” and the death defying airborne stunts of Evil Knievel were mentioned.

  Other classic biker flicks that you can catch on DVD include, “Wild Angels,”  “Wild One,”  “Psychomania,” “Chopper Chicks in Zombietown,” “Running Cool,”  “Electra Glide in Blue,” “On Any Sunday,” “Beyond the Law,” and “Angel Unchained.”

Contact Tony at trutherford@graffitiwv.com