top of page
Search
  • Writer's pictureAOB

Hunting For Camaraderie

Updated: May 7, 2020


Riding; It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. Graduating in 1977, I celebrated the fact I was free from the misery that high school caused me and was enrolled in vocational automotive mechanics and excelled at it. When I landed my first job pumping gas and changing the odd spark plug I realized it left a bad taste in my mouth, was this to be my future? Partying was so much more fun than grown up responsibilities so, naturally, I quit.


Trading in my bass guitar for my first motorcycle (a Can-Am TNT 175 2-stroke smoke bomb) was a decision I don’t regret! I fabricated a denim vest, added a pirate patch on the back and sewed chains along each seam. I was awfully proud about that get-up and felt pretty badass! This was daring considering my ride was….well, as you could imagine. The bike was a junker and I wound up selling the engine to a local karting circuit, putting the proceeds towards a brand new Can-Am 125 motocross bike. I toyed with that until my brother joined the military and gave me his Suzuki GT550, another smoke bomb, and this was my first street bike.


Realizing I could barely afford insurance and plates (scraping by for a couple seasons before partying took the forefront) I returned to school and earned myself a diploma as machinist. Unsuccessfully seeking work, I wound up doing a fantastic interview with a company that told me they didn’t even have a machine shop! However, they did ask me if I’ve ever seen an injection molding machine….and as they say the rest is history.


Now that a modest amount of money was coming in I was able to purchase a Yamaha YZF600. I was done with the motocross grime and looking for speed! Speed found me when two years later I upgraded to a brand new YZF750 with all the racing bits. Speeding through the Adirondack Mountains of Vermont, always pushing it to the edge, was a badass thrill indeed. I spent 10 good years with that bike.


Raking in the bucks after working my way up from my first job, I found myself in a position to train some fine people in North Carolina for 6 months. A software engineer heard I was a rider and graciously invited me to his home to meet his wife and show me his guns and Harley collection. This guy had money; he insisted I show up at his castle the next day, threw me the key to his springer softail (equipped with straight pipes), gave me a map with a highlighted route and sent me on my way. It was an experience that changed me as a biker for the rest of my life. I saw the local groups (even gangs) and admired them for their loyalty, friendships and trust in each other. Now I understood what it really meant to ride. I was going so fast before that I didn’t even notice the scenery or the smell of the lilac trees in the evening, I had missed the whole point.


Returning from North Carolina I immediately sold my crotch rocket and swore if I ever got another bike it would be a Harley Davidson. Unfortunately years passed and I concentrated on my new job as a supervisor for the injection molding department for a company whose laurels are too long to list, but one of the very best in the country. I forged an incredible friendship with one of my coworkers, we were true blue brothers. He taught me how to wood work and hunt and we were able to finish each other’s sentences. Tragically in 2009 he was accidentally killed on a hunting trip and my world collapsed. My wife kept me sane but I was lost and was sure I would never find a friend so loyal and kind again.


A few years later my wife looked at me and said very calmly, “you have been talking about motorcycles since I met you in 2001, so when do we go to Harley?” She didn’t have to ask twice, I was waiting in the pick-up truck telling her to hurry up as she locked the door! I purchased a brand new 2012 Blackline, it was the closest thing I could find to a Night-Train which I love so much. I rode and rode and rode but still there was emptiness in my heart. I desperately missed my friend. I rode and rode and rode, hunting for camaraderie. Sure I had a family and acquaintances but I was missing something in my life that money could not buy, brotherhood.



One day something amazing and lucky happened, my fuel pump failed. This was the best thing that ever happened to me. Not wanting to go to the dealership because we all know the prices are next to stupid, I looked up a local bike shop with stellar reviews. I limped my bike into the parking lot and asked the owner if they could handle the job, of course it wasn’t a problem for them at all and the bill was dirt cheap. I asked who the mechanic was and the owner pointed to a massive man named ‘Dan’. I request the opportunity to enter the garage and thank Dan and was allowed to do so. The closer I got to him the smaller I felt, this guy is huge at 6’4 240lbs and looking the part 2000%. I excused myself for bothering him and expressed my gratitude for his work fixing my ride. He looked over his shoulder, stood up and faced me, wiped his hand with a rag and shook my hand with an evil smile and said “You are one of the only people who has ever thanked me for fixing their bike.” After a bit of a conversation he mentioned every Friday at the end of the day they have a few brews and joke around. I thought that was just what I needed.



The next afternoon I headed back to the shop just to talk to Dan again. I pulled up, killed the engine and kicked out the stand. As I looked up, there was Dan towering over me and asking me if I wanted to try his bike. Ahhhh…..geeee I don’t know…He told me if I dropped it he could get himself another one. I laughed, but agreed to test his bike. Springer softail with 21” apes! Good God, was I really going to risk it? I thought to myself I may as well man-up and accept the offer, well hell, Why not?! What an experience it was to ride some big dude’s bike which looked extremely bad ass. We wound up riding down a highway within two feet of each other at speed and the chemistry was awesome. We just knew how to ride together in close formation always trusting the other.


My Blackline today has ported heads, heavy cams, ThunderMax tweaked on the dyno, ape hangers, loud pipes and a ton of attitude. She’s been lowered and tricked out in so many ways. Who did all the work? Dan. Who watched over my family and dropped in everyday while I was in China on a business trip? Dan. Who has been there for me under any hardship or celebration? Dan. He has introduced me to so many fine people, made me laugh my brains out, helped me with tons of shit and always has a stupid joke. This guy is the bomb and is very well respected in local club circles. Although Dan no longer wears a patch for his own reasons, he’s one badass biker and having him as a friend is beyond brotherhood. We have been stuck like glue ever since and my wife and daughter just adore him. He’s an incredible human being and though nobody knows…..this killer is a teddy bear in disguise. We’ve ridden in groups of 60 strong and he protects everyone. What an honour for me to be introduced as his best buddy. Spending time together has given me so much knowledge about v-twins and I’m doing a lot of my own work now. (I have to otherwise he’ll heckle me to death)!!! LOL.


The saga continues and I never would have believed I could find friendship again so intense and precious. There is nothing I would not do for my bro and if he even suspects something is off he’s there in a flash. I gave him a titanium handled knife out of the blue and told him that he meant the world to me. He was really touched and I could tell at that moment we were inseparable. We rode today, 2 feet apart like pro’s, smiling, laughing, revving and dumping the clutches on back country roads racing each other. Then we back off and just cruise…until the next stop sign in the middle of nowhere. Rev the engines…you know how it goes, right?


I think what I’m trying to say is this; we all can have bad shit happen in our lives. It’s hard. We need to push through. Always believe that there’s a true friend waiting to meet up with you. Keep true to yourself, be yourself, take no crap from anyone ever. Take a chance and do something out of your comfort level. Things will happen and they will be for the better. For anyone whose lost, for anyone with dreams, for anyone with a yearning for brotherhood, I say “Keep hunting, keep hunting for camaraderie.”


Your strength should be used to prove your loyalty to others who deserve it. Don’t settle for less, shoot for more. Sometimes I think the friend I lost fixed it so that I could keep going. Who knew….


Michel Leclerc

Brossard, Quebec

Canada


Ambassadors of Badassery would like to hear your story too. For your chance to be featured in a blog please email us your story to

info@ambassadorsofbadassery.ca

107 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

DISCOVER

bottom of page