Emerging Bootman in the Midst

On Saturday, I led an organized motorcycle ride. I enjoy doing that when I can; about once a month during riding season. I wrote about my concern about preparing for the ride in Saturday’s blog post. I mentioned in yesterday’s post that the ride went very well, despite trepidations. I’m no “map savant” as a good buddy is; he can ride on unfamiliar routes and never get lost. I am not as fortunate, and don’t know why.

Anyway, the ride went very well. I didn’t get lost and the two-dozen or so bikers who showed up truly seemed to enjoy it. We went in a direction and on roads that the group usually doesn’t travel, so it made the ride more interesting for many.

We stopped along the way to stretch, and allow some of the bikes with smaller tanks to be refueled. I forget, having a six-gallon tank that I do not need to worry about running out of fuel on a rather short ride. But I know that is important to some of the guys with bikes that have smaller tanks. I also felt that we needed a break as the group needed to stretch, get something to drink, have a smoke, use the bathroom, etc. So we did.

At that stop, a younger dude came up to me and said, “those boots you have on are awesome! What are they? Where did you get them? They’re cool!”

I have to admit, the last thing I was thinking of on the morning of that ride is what boots I selected to wear on that ride. Because the weather was moderate and actually a little cool when I started out, I selected my old, comfy, well-worn Wesco Boss engineer boots to wear. They feel great, and look good with jeans over them. Real, honest-to-goodness, tough biker boots.

This younger guy just couldn’t get enough views of the boots, and wanted to know more. I sensed, though, that he was not ready for the full explanation of all the different varieties (and cost range) of tall engineer boots, so I kept it simple. I explained that the boots I had on were over 20 years old, and were made by Wesco. I added that new Wesco boots like that now cost in the range of over $500 at the 18″ height.

He explained that his finances are on edge with the payment for his bike alone taking most of his earnings, and that he was still living with his parents because he can’t afford to rent or buy a home for himself. (Still living with parents at age 32? Hmmm… my priorities would be different … spent whatever money I had on a home, build up savings, then buy a Harley, but that’s how I am. He seemed to be fine with his choices.)

So boots that cost over $500 were out of the question. He showed me his boots, which were, as usual, cheap Chinese-made Harley-branded harness boots. He seemed to be proud of them, so I didn’t say anything about my opinion of their relatively low value.

Instead, I explained that a very good alternative to Wesco engineer boots that is more affordable and U.S.-made are Chippewa engineer boots. I have several pairs of Chip Engineers, and like them. Durable, comfortable, long-lasting and well-made, and less than half the cost of new Wesco Boss boots.

I explained that he can get a pair of steel-toe or non-steel toe Chippewa engineer boots for about $200.

Later, when I got home, I received an email thanking me for leading an “awesome” ride, and thanking me for talking to him about boots. He asked me again for the “kind of boots you recommended,” and I answered him again with the information above. He replied with a genuine and appreciative thank-you. He said that he looked forward to riding with me again, perhaps in a new “awesome” pair of “real biker boots like you wear.”

Happy to help.

Life is short: be an “awesome” biker in engineer boots!