The legend of the rider’s bell

Some riders are practically born in the saddle of a motorcycle, but for most people, it’s a hobby that they pick up later. And along with the time and experiences that are necessary to learn to ride a motorcycle, those new to the sport will also need to learn what to bring with them on rides. Some items need to be included out of sheer necessity, but others, like the rider’s bell, are there for a more mystical reason.

Motorcycle riders are a tight-knit group, and develop strong loyalties out of their shared love for riding the open road. That means that even riders who don’t know each other personally will help other riders out in emergencies like motorcycle crashes. The legend of the rider’s bell is a good illustration of that camaraderie.

The legend begins with an old rider returning from a ride to Mexico, his saddlebags laden with gifts and souvenirs. Unbeknownst to the rider, he was approaching a section of road about 40 miles north of the border that was plagued by “road gremlins.” Road gremlins are evil spirits that leave obstacles in the road, dig potholes and take delight in seeing riders crash because of their mischief.

As the rider came to that section of road, the gremlins caused him to crash. He and his gear skidded across the road and one of his full saddlebags came to a stop near him. The rider was unable to move his legs, and the gremlins were approaching him. He reached into the saddlebag and started throwing the gifts and trinkets at the gremlins. He went through the bag’s entire contents before finding a bell. He rang it, hoping that the sound would deter the gremlins.

Not far from the site of the crash, two other riders were camped in the wilderness. They heard the bell and decided to investigate where the sound was coming from. They found the old rider in the road and came to his rescue, scaring the gremlins away. The rescued rider was so grateful for their help that he offered to pay them, but they declined to take his money. Instead, the old motorcyclist found two more bells in the contents of his other saddle bag and tied them to each of his rescuers’ bikes. The bells would serve as a deterrent to road gremlins and the men could ring them to alert other riders, if they were ever in trouble.

Experienced riders know that in addition to having the practical things to keep them safe, like leather motorcycle jackets and good helmets, it’s important to include a rider’s bell in their motorcycle riding gear to really be protected.

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