My name is Bobbie Godin, though if you were to get your hands on a copy of my birth certificate you’d be told that it’s Robert Allen Godwin. I probably would have stayed Robert Godwin had it not been for my love of motorcycles and the whole riding culture. Obviously, bikers aren’t big on formality, so Robert changed to Bobbie the very first time I encountered a group of people to share my hobby with. I was in my teens when that happened. Sixteen to be exact. Because I was so young, I became the butt of many jokes about how I wasn’t old enough to share a drink or a pack of smokes with my new buddies. I didn’t mind that, though. It was a small price to pay to be taken under the collective wing of some of the most seasoned bikers in San Jose, where I was living at the time.
Anyway, I became Bobbie Godin after I put my name down for a restoration competition. It was a small contest being run by my biking friends in conjunction with a church to raise money for a local legend who had fallen on hard times. The idea was anybody who was interested could work on a dilapidated bike and try to turn it into something special. I don’t recall how the competition actually generated any money, but I’m proud to say it was a success and raised over $1000. Anyway, when the MC was announcing the participants, he misread my name and referred to me as “Godin, Bobbie”. I didn’t win the competition, but I came away with something much more valuable: a real biking identity.
As Bobbie Godin, I was able to separate myself from the many mistakes of my youth and become a whole new person. A little while after that competition, Bobbie Godin thanked the older bikers who had taught him the ways of the world and hit the road.
Riding on the bike I had restored for that competition, I set out to explore America with no real plan in mind. I had saved some money so that wasn’t going to be an issue, the only thing I had to worry about was where I was going to go first. I chose San Antonio, Texas, for no other reason than the first song I heard on the radio after leaving San Jose was about San Antonio. Plus, I figured since they both began with San, there wouldn’t be too much of a difference between San Antonio and my hometown. I was wrong.
In San Antonio, I learned that biking is not always just about hopping on a motorcycle and riding through town. For some, it’s a way of life; and I don’t mean that in a good way. I fell in with a gang which was made up of the kind of people a working stiff imagines when they think of bikers. I mean these guys were hairy, smelly, violent thugs who were more concerned with getting drunk than riding. I figured this was just biker life and tried to live it for over two years, but eventually I just couldn’t handle it anymore. It was time to get out.
Fearing my fellow gang members would try to stop me if I gave them a heads up, I boarded my trusty restored bike and sped out of San Antonio without telling anybody I was going. The first day of my journey out of San Antonio was a liberating ride. I kept thinking about how I was going to go to Tampa, Floria, where I had been told the motorcycle scene was thriving. There I could enjoy riding in its purist form, without spilling any blood or breaking any windows. Things went awry on the second day, however, when my mind wandered way too far from the road and I ended up in a ditch, destroying my bike, snapping my forearm, and very nearly losing my life.
For much of my early biking years, I refused to wear a helmet. I’m not sure why. I think it was partly out of pride and partly out of a mistaken belief that helmets weren’t really necessary as long as you knew what you were doing. But for whatever reason, before I left San Antonio, I stole the helmet of a fellow biker. I know that isn’t the coolest thing to do, but had my morals not bent that day, I would have died the moment my bike went into that ditch.
After I got out of hospital, I promised myself that I was never going to be so stupid again. There was no way I was going to give up riding, but I would never again ride without a sturdy helmet protecting my skull. And I would never allow my fellow bikers to do so either.
Long story short, I got to Florida and immediately began researching motorcycle helmets. I hit up a buddy of mine from high school who I knew had gone on to study IT in Orlando and together we began to work on a website which would provide motorcyclists with comprehensive information on helmets and other necessary safety equipment. This isn’t just a site for biking novices. Older, more stubborn bikers who have finally decided to start properly protecting themselves while they ride will benefit from its contents also. It’s for everybody who understands the longer you live, the more miles you can cover.
I’m Bobbie Godin, that’s my story, and this is my website.