It Will Get Tough: Cops & Bikers
Ralph “Teach” Elrod
Stories about bikers remind me of cowboy stories. If Ralph “Teach” Elrod’s book, It Will Get Tough, was a cowboy story, it would be Lonesome Dove. I am by no means a biker, but I still found it entertaining to read about the sun setting on an era so different from modern times. It almost feels like fiction. Community gang bangs, a serial killer, glorious self-made bikes and the understanding that anything in a bar can be used as a weapon round out a few of the wonders in this bygone era. But this is not fiction. This really happened.
I would say “buckle in,” but a car metaphor doesn’t fit the motorbike theme. Further, from what Elrod’s book covered, safety was not a concern at all for the bikers. They wore no helmets and successfully protested. These are people who fought for the right to live as they wanted. Their club parties would go for days and make Coachella look like a bloated horse that has been beaten to death.
Elrod goes to great lengths to reference these stories. Details on the police brutality bikers encountered were shocking. It Will Get Tough calls out officers by name, airs out all their unmentionables and… well, I imagine this book will upset a lot of folks. Honesty can be frightening to some. At times, this book can be downright terrifying.
Between violent incidents, though, It Will Get Tough has a softer side. Elrod explains his life out in Montana with such serenity that you almost feel like you’re watching the sunset with him. However, these men and women worked very hard for their freedom, and it cost them a great deal. It would take one hell of a sunset to let all that go.
The thing about swallowing tough pills is that they go down better with sugar. Elrod’s prose is sugar. His practical, down-to-earth frankness has a wonderful charm to it. With everything now being so exaggerated, it’s refreshing to hear someone simply tell you how it is, was and will never be again. When Elrod says, “He was a lying, good-for-nothing son of a bitch,” you know that individual was an untruthful, useless, child of a female dog.
Another strength found in It Will Get Tough is the camaraderie and sense of unity that exists among bikers. These men and women would die for each other. Elrod creates a feeling of family and honor around a group of people from all walks of life. Some of these people have families, some of them have broken families. But the biker club family is still unique because it’s the family they chose. Their family name sits on a patch worn with great pride—and get this, people actually show up to the reunions.
Elrod is a man who doesn’t waste words. So it’s a treasure to have so many of them in one place. It Will Get Tough is not a vacation. It’s one hell of a road trip.
So buckle up, wear a helmet of don’t—whichever, as long as it’s your choice. –Benjamin Tilton