Monday, October 9, 2017

Interview With A Biker - Nick Q. Keeler By Emily Young

Living The Dream
Pic © Nick Q. Keeler
Nick Q. Keeler was born and raised in Quebec and spent most of his adolescent life in Ayer’s Cliff, Quebec. He went to Stanstead College for high school and went to many post secondary institutions in Quebec. Nick has recently written a book on Estate planning, and has happily been married to Gail for 50 years they had a son and now two grandchildren.

Canyon Carving
Pic © Nick Q. Keeler
Emily: The first question I wanted to ask is what type of bike are you riding right now? 

Nick: We ride a Harley Davidson Ultra Classic Electra Glide, a touring bike.

Emily: The second question I have is how old were you when you got your first bike?

Nick: (Laughs) 63 or 64.

Emily: That’s really interesting. So, why did you decide to get a motorcycle then?

Nick: We watched a program on a regular basis called the ‘Orange County Choppers’ and I don’t know if you ever saw it or not but it was a family run business where they build bikes and it was a sort of reality show on bike building and both of us enjoyed watching it and enjoyed the family dynamics and admired some of the bikes that they were building. So, we had done that for a couple years, then on one of our trips to Florida in the Spring, we spent a full week just simply going around to motorcycle stores, and one thing led to another and we became quite intrigued in this whole issue of owning a motorcycle and so one day we were out for a ride in the car in January in 2005 I think, and we just decided on our way home to stop in at a Harley Davidson dealer and before we left we had made a commitment to have a bike built for us which we took home with us in April 2006.”

Emily: Wow, that’s really interesting! 

Nick: We really had no friends, or no connections to it at all but it was just that we simply thought that it would be a great activity for us.

A Couple Who Rides Together, Stays Together!
Pic © Nick Q. Keeler
Emily: That’s awesome! Alright, so of course I had to throw a question in hear about your father (a very close family friend, who has passed) what did he think when you first got a bike?

Nick: He was as a parent quite concerned for our safety but, fully supportive of our decision on activity, he was always interested in what we did regardless of what it was and didn’t ever suggest we shouldn’t do it but he did express that he was always glad to hear when we returned from a trip that we were safe! It was never anything that he said that we shouldn’t have done, he was already interested in hearing about our trips and seeing pictures and seeing how we enjoyed it. He was pretty supportive of us as you know he is of people that he loves!

Emily: I was wondering if you have ever, since you got your motorcycle, met anyone who has a made a large impression on you guys, or who you are still friends with?

Nick: We have had many, many friends that we met on the motorcycle and as a matter of fact we are having dinner tonight with some of our friends that we met at the first meeting that we ever went to that had to do with a major trip where we flew our bike to Las Vegas and had to pick it up there, and so we have as many friends today that are in our circle of friends that are motorcycle related as there are people who have nothing to do with biking so we’ve met people all over the states from all walks of life, that have become our friends and the interesting this is when you are on a motorcycle or when you are riding in a motorcycle group you don’t know of the person beside you is the janitor or the president because when you’re on a motorcycle, in the groups that we have encounter, the main interest in the people we have encountered is simply to be riding a motorcycle and enjoying what that affords as opposed to displaying how successful they were or their ego, it has been great for us Emily, as an activity and it will be one that we will be very sad to stop, our motorcycle activities because we have such great camaraderie with the people we ride with.”

Nick & Gail Safari Tours?
Pic © Nick Q. Keeler
Emily: What was one of your favourite places that you have travelled to on your bike?

Nick: Probably, in broad terms, the grand canyon area, being Arizona, Utah, Colorado, probably the most strikingly impressive, but I remember the first time we went on a major trip with a group and it was a brand new experience to us, we rode through the Mojave desert, and it still sticks in my mind, I think I was 65 at the time, that here we are just new into motorcycling and riding through the Mojave desert by choice, surrounded by a group of friends, some of who we only met the year before, and just getting the experience of doing that, that will probably always stick in my mind for some reason.

Emily: That sounds amazing! Is there one place that you guys have always wanted to go to and haven’t went yet on your bike?

Nick: Fortunately, the answer to that is no. Emily, we’ve ridden 2/3 of the United States by state and I think that the places we have gone we’ve knocked off our list on places we’ve wanted to go, there are a number of websites that talk about motorcycling that rate the rides there are in north America from one to ten and we have ridden eight of the top ten rides in America and I’m some cases considered the top ten motorcycle rides in the world, so we don’t have a bucket list of rides we want to take now rather than simply wanting to ride.

Emily: So, you have already completed your bucket list of rides! Amazing!

Nick: We have been so fortunate Emily, we’ve seen things we never expected we would see in our lives, mountains, snow, some absolutely beautiful towns, we have pretty well covered more than what we would have liked to do.

Emily: Have you ever been the rider on the bike, not the driver? 

Nick: I never have ridden, I’m not sure I would trust anyone else, my wife always rides and she is just an absolute marvellous rider, I don’t even notice she’s on the bike.

Nick & His Two Ladies
Pic © Nick Q. Keeler
Emily: My last question is, if you had to write a six word story of your motorcycle life, what would that story be?

Nick: You know it is so interesting that you are saying that, I was looking at something in front of me here as I was scribbling while we were talking, and I wrote down six words, before you asked me for six words and I wrote down, culture, subculture, social, solitary, respectful, rude, to describe the experience that I had and to capture the whole issue of riding a motorcycle. There is a culture encompassing in motorcycles, there’s a subculture by the type of motorcycle that you ride, because my choice was Harley again on our first trip we pulled up to our hotel and in front of the lobby there was a sign that said, ‘Harley parking only, all others will be crushed’ so, right there we knew that there was a subculture we were not aware of, now the social and solitary comes to mind is that you have a choice of riding all by yourself, or riding in a group and in both cases they apply to what we do, sometimes we ride by ourselves but many times we ride in groups up to 100 bikers as part of the social groups. Now, respectful and rude aspect of the biking group, respectful motorcycles give and receive a lot of respect on the road, so often you get a nod or hand wave at an intersection to let you move through the intersection, yet on the other side you have those who give us a bad name and just frighten us, who are rude and just have no respect for people on the road. So, if I were writing a six-word story those would be my words, Culture, subculture, social, solitary, respectful, rude. 


I would like to thank Nick Q. Keeler for taking the time to be interviewed and for letting me have the honour of sharing his story.

About Emily Young

Emily Young studied at Champlain College Lennoxville located in Quebec, Canada. Interview With Annie Wood was written as part of a class project for a course titled Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Studies in the Department of Humanities.

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