Backroads With Betsy: What It Means To Be An Easy Rider

Betsy figures it out at the Easyriders Bike Show

By Betsy Huelskamp

Its barely a week since we rang in the New Year, and the annual Easyriders Bike Show came back to the L.A. Fairplex in Southern California. With the shaky economy and everyone still mending their debts from the holidays, I expected to find a near empty venue. But I like to visit my many friends who are builders and vendors, riders, entertainers and writers, and show whatever support I can offer in these lean times. The good news is riding a motorcycle is an economical mode of transportation these days. More good news is that meeting up with friends is absolutely free. OK, parking was a ridiculous $9, and the door was $15, but riding on a perfectly sunny 75-degree day in January, is about as amazing as it gets.

My friend Carlana and I arrive at the event. Carlana, a paraplegic, rides a Harley-Davidson Trike that#39;s been modified with all hand controls.

With the worries that everyone has to face on a daily basis, just getting out in the fresh air and sunshine is a much needed relief. I was glad to see that I was not the only one feeling that way, and the Easyriders show had a great turnout. My friend Carlana Stone joined me on the ride for her first Easyrider show, and even though its just a freeway ride away, the route skirted the snow capped mountains the whole way, and the landscape was fresh and green from recent rains.

When I left my yard the aloe vera plants were all blooming bright orange, and ruby throated hummingbirds were darting from flower to flower. When I got to Carlanas house, the smell of the orange trees blooming in her yard was thick and sweet. My whole family is back in the Midwest fighting the sleet and record low temps; I almost feel guilty that this is my backyard.

My best buddy Qian (far right) and friends.
Me, Carlana, Christina and Qian.

My forever friend Qian (pronounced Chin) and a group of her friends met up with us at the event. And my friend Christina, who is a recent cancer survivor, rode over with her Orange County crew. My Cheeky Chap girlfriends came up from San Diego with their sexy apparel, and shamelessly flirted about. And my “Parts-Whore Customs” pal was abducted by my Cheeky Chap girlfriends, and I never saw her again!

The Cheeky Chap girls!
My “Parts-Whore Customs” pal.

There were loads of hot bikes, Hooter girls, rock and roll bands, and of course cool stuff to buy. The word from most of my vendor friends was that there was not much money being spent, but the good news for us is great sale prices! I bought a really beautiful Indian print wool and leather Easyrider jacket for $40. Wheeeeeeee! And found some of the best headbands ever, called Noginz. Finding the perfect hair bands is a never-ending search, so check out I want one in every color.

Hot bikes.

The biker club the Mongols were there in full force, and I was scolded for pointing my camera in their direction. Sorry, point taken. Carlana and I tried to go out on the patio to get a bite to eat, but stopped at the staircase. In her innocent southern glory accent she said to the boys behind me, “Would any of you nice Irish boys be so kind as to help me down these stairs?” And a group of Vagos scooped her up without hesitation. She enjoyed the ride, and joked around with the boys.

Carlana getting carried away!
Enjoying a laugh.

We bumped into my pal Gilby Clarke from Guns N Roses fame, hanging with his rockin musician pals. I also did my own subconscious inventory and scoped out the cutest guy at the event. His name was Jeffrey. It doesnt get more adorable than him. See photo below.

The coolest guys: Gilby Clarke (second from left) and friends.
Cutest boy award goes to Jeffrey!

The Soldiers for Jesus were also present as they are at most events. One of them was the ex- husband of my friend Kathy who was there. I asked how she could let a sweet guy like that go, and boy did I open a can of worms! Apparently he wasnt always so sweet. An old helmet of mine has a sticker on it that reads, “You have to sin to be saved.” And when you walk past the Soldiers booth, you know they are representing exactly that. It would seem that it is human nature for us to appreciate the light a little more when we have known a little darkness. And the good news is that every day is a new opportunity to start again. Life is a journey.

Member of the Soldiers for Jesus.
Carlana at the Soliders for Jesus booth.

I have been feeling the pinch of the economy, like just about everyone, and worrying about the future as I pondered what I wanted out of 2010 and the years to come. I have a tendency to think, re-think and over think everything. And I decided if I cant continue to afford to travel around the world, then Ill travel around the country. And when I cant afford to travel around the country, I will travel down every road of the beautiful state of California. And if I cant afford to travel around the state, then I will ride my motorcycle on every mountain road around my city. And when I cant afford to do that, then Ill ride my bike around the block, a lot. And Ill hike it, and ride my bicycle, and roller skate, and ride horses.

Lookin#39; good girlfriend!

Hardship paves the way to the appreciation of the pleasure of simplicity. The friends I have made in the world of motorcycling are the survivors. I find strength and inspiration in every one of their stories. They have survived hardship and adversity, illness and addiction, sadness and the loss of many friends. But their hearts are still full of love, and hungry for adventure.

Enjoying a wonderful day with good friends, Carlana and Qian.

So I got to thinking about Easyriders — the magazine, the movie, and this event — all of my cool buddies like actor Peter Fonda, longtime biker journalist Bandit, and Easyriders magazine editor Dave Nichols, the people behind the scenes and what it means to be easy riders. Taking life easy, taking it slow, taking it all in, and enjoying the ride of life. Seeking and finding the pleasure of the simplicity of the day.

To read more about Betsy, visit her Web site,

7 thoughts on Backroads With Betsy: What It Means To Be An Easy Rider

  1. Just reading through the days. I have to say, I am lucky to be so blessed with the word of “forgiveness.” I miss my days of riding more frequently, but the joy of those that enrich my life go on. Thank you Betz for reminding me of the good and the reason for lessons. I remember this day fondly. We had some good laughs.

  2. Hi Betsy,I love your full of life attitude.Keep rocking!

  3. Betsy you ROCK. Thanks for sharing your life with us. Accept the people as they are, the world as it is.

  4. As always LOVE hearing about the adventures of Betsy! Wish I was motorcycle buddies for a day with her and her friends! Have ridden some of the same areas, but with a lot less adventure and confidence. She always inspires me to go for more! Keep up the articles, I love reading them!

  5. I love your line:

    “Hardship paves the way to the appreciation of the pleasure of simplicity.”

    It's when times are tough that you need to appreciate what's around you…to put real things in their perspective and, what the hell, enjoy the ride!

  6. As usual, what a great article from Betsy! I wish I could live (or ride) a week in her shoes. Thank you for your inspiring stories. I hope to see many more.

  7. Hi Betsy!

    How about a photo of that great bargain you got?
    The beautiful, Indian print, wool and leather jacket.

    I bet it looks awesome on you!

    A Fan and Rider

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