Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sturgis 2011.

When does Sturgis start.??? Well, this year the official dates were August 6- 14th but my Sturgis always starts when I leave the house.  Little did I know that when I left my house on the 26st of July headed for Mountainfest in West Virginia I had actually started my Sturgis trip.
I arrived in Morgantown, West Virginia at dusk on my second day of tooling around the backroads of Kentucky and WV. I looked at two campgrounds but thought I would continue searching. I found a lovely little spot behind the Pilot Truck stop. I set up my pop up camper trailer and settled in for the night. Working with Cycle Source Magazine does have it's benefits. The next morning I found the Chateau that we would stay in while in Morgantown. Thats when I found out that I could have been in a feather bed last night instead of an air mattress at a truck stop. Such is life. We had a great time at Mountainfest. A great time to me is catching up with people that I have met before and finding new people to build lasting relationships with.  The WV. crew treated us better than family and the laughs and drinks lasted till the early morning hours. We had a super Bike Show and I had the time to catch up with some other friends. I am always amazed when I get to meet the people that I have met threw association on facebook. After the rally was over and we were loading out Chris Callen made the comment that it would sure help him if I would come to his house in Pittsburgh to help get ready for Sturgis. I think he said this with no expectation of that happening. I called my loving wife and explained the upside of this plan. number one in my mind was the 24 hrs of riding that I would be saving. I have the most understanding wife any man has ever known. Next stop, Pittsburgh.  I rode north with Rob Keller and his wife and Kieth. That night we had the pleasure of having dinner with John Rogue. This man is considered a freedom fighter for our industry and in 2005 he was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame for his work. A man deserving of all respect. The next couple of days Chris and I worked on issues related to the magazine. We were also able to design a new t-shirt for me. I was suprised with the amount of work we had accomplished.
This is when I have to share the biggest part of my life during this time. The last day of Mountainfest was the last day of my 10 month addiction to Morphine. A prescribed medication to manage pain after my motorcycle crash and the surgery to repair my shoulder. I have never known addiction and I have never gone threw the related detox.  The last two days at Chris's house were physically the hardest time of my life. You could have hit me with a taser and it would have been gentler than the full body convulsions I was experiencing.  Part of my reasoning for not going home to Tennessee was to avoid the chance of getting more Morphine. On day four of detox I left Chris's house headed to Ainsworth, Iowa to help Papa Clutch prepare for his annual pre Sturgis Party.
 Pittsburgh to Ainsworth is not that long of a road but the turmoil that my body was in made it the roughest road of my life.  I arrived to find almost all of the preparations already done. I was pleased to spend some quality time with some dear friends.  I often refer to these people as some of the greatest people on planet earth. I don't say this halfheartedly. People like Tim and Dana. Roadside Marty. Jeff Cochran and Wes Hackett. These people are truly golden in my book.  We had a great pre party at the local Casino. Right up until I was informed that I was scaring the staff at the casino. I'm still not sure what that was all about. So back to our suite for more story telling and belly laughing until early morning. Chris pulled in that night and we started about the business of fixing the broken and bent tow hitch on the RV. As usual, our party was with wrenches and cutting torch in hand. My pain level and lack of sleep had finally got the best of me and I had set about to get wasted enough to pass out. This was a great plan until I found out that Chris wanted to leave as soon as the tow hitch was fixed. at 2am we were hitting the road. Sturgis bound.

After an uncomfortable amount of hours at 52 mph because of an over heating RV engine and the temp. gauge buzzer sounding in my head. We pulled into the Buffalo Chip with only enough time to unload the bikes and blaze to the Broken Spoke for the staging of the annual Michael Lichter ride.  This is one of the must do rides in my life. Its not the road or even the motorcycles that excites me. This is a meeting point for most of the people that I know. Some that I only get to see once or twice a year. Sasha Mullens lives 60 miles from my house but I see her once a year and we ride threw Vanocker canyon together and then talk about how we should really get together more often. The ride turned into a mad weather event.. Hail the size of golf balls came down for 10 minutes. As people ran for cover and to cover their bikes, I found myself under the safe cover of a mid 1800's stagecoach..  More of this story, later.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

What a Wild Ride.

I've been on top of the world in my travels. I've seen the highest mountains and the lowlands of the Bayou. I love riding motorcycles but more than that, I love the new and interesting people that I encounter on the road. I have been on the road alot this year and I'm on a super busy cross country run as I type this. Let me just hit the high spots. Omaha, Ainsworth, Laconia, Savannah, Myrtle Beach, middle Ohio, Morgantown WV. I sit here Outside of Pittsburgh at Chris Callen's house. a couple of down days and then we are off to Ainsworth and then on to Sturgis. To say the least, I've been burning up the road but there is one huge difference in the way I ride and alot of other people. I DON'T RIDE TO A DESTINATION.
WTF does that mean??? I'll tell ya. When I set out to go somewhere, before I cross the bridge at the end of my driveway, I am on a journey. In my mind the trip has begun. I don't wait till I get to the party to have a good time. This mindset first hit me on a trip to Daytona Bikeweek. I was still busted up from a wreck and I had reservations about the 800 mile ride. 30 miles into the ride, my shoulder killing me, I was passed by a truck, trailer and two bikes. It clicked in my mind that their "good time" won't start until they get there. "My journey starts now". became my mind set and I try to to take a little more time to enjoy the journey.

I left for Morgantown, WV a day early. I set out north into KY. and realized that I was on the same road that I had been on for the ohio trip and the return from Laconia. I did the unthinkable... I took a south bound highway on my north bound trip. That decision on the surface seems counter productive but it turned my ride around. Smart phone and road atlas was no longer my friend. I took the road I wanted and at times that was the road less traveled. I stopped for ice cream at the smallest stores I could find. I had a great time talking with people and sharing experiences with them. I rode threw the Daniel Boone National forest and I rode with no destination in mind. I rode for the sheer pleasure of the ride. No care in my mind of where I would eat, I wasn't hungry. No care of where I would sleep, I wasn't tired. I have realized that those things that we worry about on a road trip are not important enough to fill our minds. my point here is,,, I have never wanted for a place to sleep. I have thought, at times, I would "LIKE" a better place to sleep but my needs have always been met.

The next day I was close enough to Morgantown that I didn't have to rush to get there. I was on the verge of being lazy about the ride. I would stop to look at a stream and I missed not one scenic overlook. When I arrived in Morgantown around dusk my mind was free. I didn't have that feeling of accomplishment that I get from finishing a balls out, epic long road ride. What I had was more about the memories and the people that I had encountered. I have blazed many  1,000 miles in a single day. I have done a lot of that kind of riding. I got to tell ya,,, I find peace for my soul and hope for my country in the people that I take the time to meet along the road.
Until we meet again,

The Human side of the Photograph.

Mountain fest 2011. Morgantown, WV.

As I have travelled all around this fine country, Tramping from one rally to another. I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the greatest people on planet Earth. Each one an individual and each with an extreme story to tell.
Michael Lichter is a photographer. We have all seen his pictures in magazines and other print media. Hell, The man has been working his craft for 30 plus years. I had the pleasure of being in Sturgis last year when he was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame for his many contributions to the industry. The mans body of work is in my humble opinion the greatest in the industry. I can spend a large amount of time looking at his work and picking out all the little suttle elements that make up the photo's. I have often thought about a picture of his and wondered what the story was that went with the picture.
In the last year Michael and I have gotten to know each other a bit more. Daytona  BikeWeek 2011 he rode backwards on my motorcycle shooting photo's of a group of custom bikes out on a ride. In Arizona, He make the trip from Phoenix  north to the mountains to shoot an event that I was involved with called Choppertown Camparound. In all this time he was working and I never took the time to ask about the stories behind the pictures.
Mountain fest. Michael had set up about 60 of his pictures in the air conditioned pavilion and he and his lovely wife were there answering questions and selling books of his work. Now understand this was not a photo album on a table. This was a full blown art exhibit with each photo framed with special lighting.  I had the High honor to be with a small group of 4 or 5 people that Michael took from photo to photo. He would explain in great detail about the where's and the when's of the picture. He was very involved with communicating to us about how it came to be and the elements of that picture that struck him.  This man took the time with us to answer all of our questions. He would take us to the time and emotion that was depicted in each shot. After we had reached the last photo, we all thanked him because it was such a High Honor to spend that time learning about all that his art is. As I turned to thank his lovely wife and talk a bit about the schedule for the day, I turned to see that Michael had already started the process with another small group of admirers. The sight of him sharing his stories with other people did my heart good. I hope they gained as much from the experience as I did.
It's not often in the world of successful people that you meet one who will take the time to share with you. I feel that Michael Lichter is one of the good guys in that group.
Until we meet again,