As the story goes, an old gray-beard biker was heading back from a Mexico road trip late one night. His saddlebags held trinkets and gifts for kids at the orphanage where he worked. Enjoying his solitude and the cool desert night, he counted his other blessings — kids at the home, biker friends, and a bike that never let him down.
Everything seemed perfect. Some 40 miles north of the border he was out on the road in the still coolness of night in the high desert the full moon rose and the cactus cast shifting and shortening silhouettes on the still-warm desert floor.
The graybeard didn’t know that just a few miles up the road, just around one of the few sharp bends, a nasty group of gremlins awaited their next victim.
Most bikers know about gremlins. They’re the evil little creatures who lay out traps of road debris. Re-treads, boxes, mufflers, diesel fuel…. Or deploy invisible devilish devices that puncture tires or break chains. They also chase deer out onto the road in front of bikers. Other groups ride themselves but love to tamper with anything that might break. And things that couldn’t possibly break otherwise.
This particular group was eagerly waiting to put another notch in their belts.
As the old biker rounded the turn they startled a coyote onto the road, perfectly timed to detour him into an oil slick. He skidded. And went down.
Waking up in a ditch, helpless, he was barely able to move. As the gremlins approached to complete their evil plot, he noticed that one of his saddle bags had been torn off and lay close beside him. Determined not to go without a fight he began throwing things from the bag at his tormentors. Finally, there were only a few small bells left. He thought of the children he had packed the gifts for as he made another desperate toss.
Amazingly, the tinkling of the bell seemed to confuse the gremlins. But injured and with the little devils between him and his bike there wasn’t much chance of escape. At least he could delay the inevitable and go out fighting.
As it turned out a couple of other bikers had just stopped for the night and were about to set up camp a bit before that tragic turn in the road. They heard a bell ringing and ringing. Curious, they followed the sound until they came upon the old biker. He seemed to be afraid of something, but they saw nothing. Just to be safe they screamed and yelled to frighten away any wild animals.
Our graybeard was grateful for the rescue and offered some money. But the other bikers refused. So, he cut off a couple of tassels from his saddlebag and used them to tie a bell to each of their bikes. He explained how that would warn off the gremlins, and if they were ever in trouble they could ring the bell for help.
Few believe bells actually warn off evil. Yet they’re a great tradition, and a great way to remind fellow bikers why they need to stay safe. But there are a few rules.