True counter culture. Not in the trendy sense of the late 60s or the Goth movement, but a true dismissal of societal expectations. This group arose in the early 90s from the notably unique culture surrounding the Hard Time Cafe on the west bank of the Mississippi near the University of Minnesota Minneapolis campus. Hard Times culture is diversity. The only type of people who are not represented are those who are scared of the poor and the homeless. Both the Cafe and the Bike Club get a bad rep based on their appearance, and it's true that they have little regard for white middle-class corporate values, but they are not dangerous people and the Hard Times is quite a safe place to go.

The foundation of the club is bicycle building, most notably tall bikes. A tall bike is simply a regular bicycle that has additional height, generally in the form of a second frame welded on top of the first and some modifications to the drivetrain to make it work. Tall bikes have been around for decades, but the groups such as the HTBC have popularized the concept by making it very visible. The HTBC doesn't have a strict formula though, they build experimental bikes of all types. They make side cars, choppers, recumbents, platform bikes, and just recently they've even built what can only be described as a bike in a wheel. That is a regular bike with a rubber-edged metal bar that encircles the entire bike and rider from front to back so that a forward roll can be performed by tapping the front brakes and rolling over the bar. Another recent creation was a super-tall bike that looks to be built of about 10 frames welded into an enormous pyramid structure. With the rider sitting twenty feet in the air, dismounting this monstrosity without injury looks to be a formidable challenge. But that's what the HTBC is all about, building crazy bikes and having a damn fun time riding them.

The club itself is made up of a variety of members from all walks of life. They don't have regular meetings or membership rules like some clubs. They just like to ride a lot, alone and in groups. They mostly sport denim jackets with large patch on the back reading "Black Label BC*". Though their gutter punk appearance and the connotation of a bike club evoke all kinds of prejudices, they are not involved in crime or drug-dealing (at least at an organizational level). They build with donated steel frames (easy to come by and easy to weld), and are quick to welcome fellow riders interested in unique bikes. For the most part they are very friendly to anyone who treats them with common decency, and can be seen en force each year the annual May Day Parade in Minneapolis.

*Apparently they recently changed their name to Black Label Bike Club, but they are still more well-known as the Hard Times Bike Club, hence the name of the node.

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