by Stephen Rowland
I didn't figure I had a chance. While stopping by the Yamaha/Suzuki Cool Springs motorcycle shop to purchase a manual for my son, the salesman asked me "Why don't you enter your motorcycle in the bike show contest held here March 24th?" The bike show was for a very worthy cause. Funds collected would go towards My Friends House which is a group home for boys operated by Williamson County Youth, Inc. The boys end-up in the home through no fault of their own, such as abuse or neglect. Being a member of the Knights for Christ chapter of CMA (Christian Motorcyclists Association) there is a soft spot in my heart for charity causes; CMA organizes quite a few of the "charity rides." CMA was not involved with this one, but the good cause was enough to induce me to plunk down the money to enter my bike in the show and hang a numbered sign from my handlebars. I knew there would be a lot of new highly customized bikes in that show, so my 1999 stock used motorcycle wouldn't exactly be an expected favorite.
The event itself turned out to be quite a success and was well attended. The Buzz (WBUZ-FM 102.9) had their remote broadcasting truck there and was emceeing the event. The Nashville Predator's "Ice Girls" cheerleaders were helping with the Yamaha sign-up booth. The 1993 Grand Prix World Champion GP rider Kevin Schwantz was there signing autographs. The first 750 people in-line would have a chance to win $1,000 through a scratch-off card, but the big prize was a brand new Suzuki GSX-R Sportbike that was going to be given away. A half-hour before the event started the line of people stretched through the doors down the sidewalk and a good ways down the adjoining street. Police officers were directing the flow of traffic and monitoring the crowd.
There were three trophies given (1st, 2nd, and 3rd place) for each of three categories: Sportbike, Cruiser, and Best of Show. Some of those cruisers that my bike was competing against were so expensive they were not ridden -- they were trailered in and unloaded. I was told some of those custom paint jobs by famous artists were worth more than the bikes themselves. I was also informed that some of those cruisers had $30,000 or more invested in custom suspensions, custom frames custom handlebars with all the wires and cables hidden inside the bars, custom fat rear tires with artistic chrome rims on stretched-out rear frames, etc. Surveying those extremely expensive rolling pieces of metallic art made me wonder exactly what it was that made me sign-up. It must have been that salesman -- that's what they do for a living -- induce you to make a decision that you might not otherwise.
The judges for the event were a few young men from My Friends House; they walked slowly down that long row of customized bikes pausing briefly at each one. When the awards were announced, they started with 3rd place for Cruisers and then 2nd place. Both were beautifully customized machines. Then the 1st place winner was announced -- bike number 16. The realization suddenly hit me -- that was my number. The announcer once again stated "Bike #16 -- where are you?" as I stumbled to my feet and waved to indicate I was there. I walked in a disbelieving daze down the hill of that front lawn to collect my trophy. A young man from My Friends House gave me a big smile and a hearty handshake.
I was told that my bike really stood out as being different. Most of those $30,000 machines tended to look much alike -- all chrome, sleek, modern. Mine was retro-styled after the old 1940's to 1950's Indian Chief, and was the only bike there with light brown leather seats, saddlebags, and leather accents. I had "played-up" the Indian theme by putting an Indian mandela on the sissy bar and saddlebags, Indian nickel conchos on the leather accents, feather decorations on the engine guard chaps, and a Cherokee Nation flag flying on one side and the American flag on the other. I had rode-in on a $6,000 used bike and rode-out with the first place trophy.
After the event I reflected on why my bike had won -- it was peculiarly odd, different from all the rest. Christians are supposed to be that way -- "a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14). It's my goal to live a "different" life that might be considered "peculiar" to many others -- to live with the purpose of letting God's love flow out to others to bring glory to my Savior, Jesus Christ. It's not just "cool" to be odd, it's Godly.
Stephen Rowland is a former resident of Lewisburg who is working on a master's degree in biblical literature.