Lock the welder
The ability to be outdoors every single day year round is quite a wonderful adjustment for me. I arrived in LA about 4 months ago and since then have almost forgotten how to drive a car. To be honest I don't understand why anyone in this state owns a car at all! Traffic is horrific, but with the bike it is almost irrelevant. It is a simple game of "don't get hit", that you play every time you ride. Now, don't get me wrong, I feel like anywhere you go drivers are unlikely to see you in most circumstances, but this place takes the cake for oblivious drivers. It doesn't really make sense, I feel most cities breed better drivers (due to the more challenging conditions they operate in), but here it is the opposite. So much texting. So little shit given. Several good things have came out of this for me. One is that I am becoming quite slick on my bikes. Not that I wasn't before, but nothing beats practice, practice, practice. My head is on a constant swivel, poised to swerve or scoot away from any possible threat. The art of assessing the oncoming threats and prioritizing them, and possible responses, happen a thousand times a ride. Learning to expect the dumbest possible thing to happen, and your escape route if it does. This is the ultimate riders safety course.
The second great thing is that my bikes are being ridden harder then ever. For a guy who prides himself on making a good product, this is fantastic R and D. Anything that isn't designed correctly will come to light if you ride long enough. I wonder how many "custom bikes" can be treated no differently than a daily driven car, and still continue to function? Baking heat, potholed streets, buzzing vibration, hole shots, skid outs, and non stop shifting and braking really separate the men from the boys when it comes to solid design and reliable component choices. Based on what I have seen on my own bikes since moving here, I feel most of my recent build decisions have been sound ones.
Thats is not to say that I am, by any means, stuck in a city. Escaping is easy, in about 20 minutes I can be deep in the Angeles Forest. There are a few roads through it that are almost deserted on weekdays, and serve as a nice break from the relentless traffic. Here is a video of the last ride, taken by my friend John Sender. Thanks to Dale, John and Kully for a great day!
The shop space is still not finished due to a rat and insect infestation we recently discovered. The good news? who cares, its 85 and sunny every dam day!
I am back in frozen CT after another CA adventure. This latest trip lasted a little over a month, and culminated with finding a great shop space. The move west will happen as soon as I settle some business here, and pack up the critical tools and furniture from the current shop. Once again, this latest scouting mission would not have been possible without the help of a few good people, namely John, Brooke, Agatha, Steg, and of course Candice and my dad. Without their generosity and input, this move would not have been possible. From storing the bikes, giving Fre and I places to stay, educating us on the ins and outs of LA, and holding down the CT shop while I was gone, I owe them a huge thanks.
Here are a few random shots from the trip:
The trusty "Interceptor" was my chosen transportation out there. I rode it relentlessly, and it performed perfectly.
Getting used to the riding in LA is somewhat terrifying. I don't think I have ever ridden in a place with such bad drivers. Maybe bad isn't the right word, more like intentionally careless. I witnessed at least 5 accidents, all of which occurred right around me! Not bad ones, but slow, casual smash ups. People out there drive as if cars are disposable, and as if occasionally wrecking your car is just a way of life. The average speed is not really any faster than other cities, but the awareness just isn't there. I phones are looked at more than windshields, literally. Riding a high powered bike through the mess is an exercise in restraint for me. Its hard to exploit the occasional stretch of open road, because at every intersection there is some brain-dead housewife or teenager just waiting to ambush you. Making direct eye contact as you approach does seemingly nothing. On a bike, you just don't exist in Los Angeles.
The good news (at least from an east coast perspective) is that you have quite a few privileges that cars don't, namely being able to park almost anywhere, ride between cars, and cut to the front of traffic lines. Come to think of it, I was amazed by how few people were riding bikes, despite the weather being above 60 every single day.
Luckily motorcycles were not the only vehicle I got to play with during my visit. My friend Jackson invited Fre and I go flying with him in a helicopter, specifically an "R44 Raven 2". It is a cool little amalgamation of aluminum, plastic, and a fuel injected flat 4. We flew out of an airstrip in Camarillo, and just flew around the surrounding area for about an hour. Jackson practiced landings, which was probably the most entertaining part for me. here is captain-jackson giving her once-over.
Fre looked a bit skeptical....
I also spent an entire day exploring the "Angeles National Forest", a great spot not far from the new shop location. The main road that winds through it is amazing; an endless series of smooth turns and switchbacks. Unfortunately the "Interceptor" lacked the range necessary to get from one end to the other, so I made a decision a ways in to turn back. I little extra fuel in a jug should get me through it next time.
Thats all for now. Next up: the drive out
Posting this for Matt Olsen from Carls Cycle Supply. This is a contest he is having. I did about half of the cannonball with Matt a few years ago and it was a blast. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWShJCNHb1I
I got a phone call from my friend Matt Olson asking if I wanted to ride out to Born Free this year from his shop (Carls Cycle Supply) in South Dakota. We had 4 days and had to travel approx 1600 miles, and would do it on our rigid bikes. I'm not one to pass up something cool, so I was in. I arranged to have my bike (Icarus), shipped from the shop here in CT to SD, and chose AA Motorcycle Transport to do it. Mind you this was over 2 weeks before we were planning on leaving from Matts. The person on the phone assured me that despite the "remote location" Matts shop is located in, it would be there well before the departure date. I faxed in some forms, gave them the credit card, and a few days later the bike was picked up.
Mind you, anytime I ship a bike I spent over a year of my life building from scratch, with almost $35,000 invested in components and materials, I am a little nervous. This time I had reason to be.
A few days after the bike was supposed to be at Matts, I began to get worried. After the runaround trying to get the right person on the phone, and giving them dozens of confirmation numbers and codes, I was told that because of the "remote location" Matts shop is in, the bike was being held at some shipping terminal in Minneapolis, and wouldn't be to Matts for another 10 days or so. No amount of pleading would motivate them to get it there in time, so Matt sent one of his friends to pick it up for me. This took her over 6 hours of driving, but got the bike safely to the shop in time for us to leave. Thank you Terresa!
Lesson learned- FUCK AA TRASPORT. Don't use them, they tell you what you want to hear, take your money, then don't deliver.
Anyway, here we are at our first fuel stop in SD. Matt is riding his mint 1936 knucklehead.
The trip across the plains of South Dakota and Nebraska are fairly boring, but amazing none the less. Doing this on a bike is an eye-opening experience- so much land. I can't imagine doing this in a covered wagon.
We didn't take much, just a few spare socks, and about 50 pounds worth of tools and spare parts. We could go about 100 miles between gas stops, thanks to both of us having about 4 gallon tank capacity.
We crossed the Rockies in CO, which is the dividing point between tons of flat grass, and tons of flat desert. A welcome change in scenery. The massive changes in elevation and temp forced us to stop often to adjust our carburetors.
There was one problem staring us right in the face- heat. The further into the desert we rode, the hotter it got. Mind you it was hot the whole way, but now it was getting really hot. Our rest breaks were getting longer, we had to stay in long sleeves to keep from getting sunburn, and our bikes were on the verge of meltdown. We had no choice though- Born Free or bust.
By the time we got to Las Vegas, it was 120 degrees. Riding into it is like riding into a hairdryer on full hot mode. We adjusted our carbs full rich to keep the motors cool enough to survive.
Any shade was a welcome sight, like this bombed out crackhouse in the middle of nowhere. It was dead silent, except for the occasional gunshot from deep in the desert.
At this point I stopped taking pics, mostly because I was beginning to see the effects of heat stroke. Once we got across the mountains outside LA, the temp dropped to a survivable 100 or so. I spent the last night before the show curled up in a hotel bathtub puking my guts out and chugging water. Hey, if it was easy everyone would do it!
more pics of the show coming....
Wow, one hell of a trip! I just returned from almost 3 weeks of motorcycle heaven, minus a bit of driving. Unfortunately my camera ran out of batteries the first day, but I have already found a few pics out there. I drove out with Jay from Acme Choppers, because we both were invited to show our work at the Buffalo Chip, where Mike Lichter has his yearly show. Once the bikes were set up, we retreated to the "Thunderdome", Jay Allens latest venture, where we had our encampment. Dale from Mad Jap was there with us and we set up one booth for all three of us, right inside the dome, complete with Dales purple couch, carpet, and ottoman.
We did a ton of riding over the course of the week, some sponsored rides and some just for fun. Matt Olson took a group of about 20 guys on the "old Iron Putt" as Jay puts it. Matt handed over the routing to Panhead Billy, who legend has it knows every road in America and doesn't need a map-ever. He decided we should ride about 40 miles into the middle of nowhere on dirt roads. I love riding on dirt because it filters out the do-rag crowd immediately, but I don't think there were any with us to begin with. The dust got so thick I cant believe my motor even ran but eventually we reached a clearing, where Jay unloaded a mountain of beef jerkey packets, provided free by a sponsor of his (forgot name of company). We ate them and then all parted ways.
Later in the week when the Lichter show was over, 6 of us got our bikes down from the pedestals and went for a ride, with Mike doing his typical backwards camera position on a guys bagger. The protocall is to simply get as close to each other and the bagger as humanly possible without literally getting tangled together. For some reason Mike always sets the pace at around 75, even though you cant tell in the photos, which makes it even more complicated. It is fun though, especially trying to communicate....
Icarus ran like a champ, held at 75 for about a solid hour in high heat. The homemade rockers and solid lifters are proven in my mind after that ride.
During the week we also rode to Deadwood, Spearfish Canyon, the Badlands, "The Ranch", some random lake in the middle of nowhere east of Sturgis, and endless miles of black hills back road.
It was great to see all my friends who I only see once a year. Special thanks to Mike Lichter for letting us be in your show- it was something I had wanted to be a part of for years.
We also checked out the AMD W0rld Championships. This is the last year the show will be held in Sturgis. Apparently The next version will be in Germany. Here was the winner of this years freestyle, from Thunderbike...
Jeremy Cupps hillclimber. I have a feeling a lot of people didn't look at this bike closely enough. It had exposed valves and rockers with a recirculating oil system plumbed through it.
A lot more pics coming stay tuned....
Just made it home from another kick ass trip. Where do I begin? AMD's? Giant windmills? Old friends? Idiots on baggers? Matt Olsons knucklehead heaven? wow, lots to post.... For starters, the trip out to Sturgis takes me approx three 14 hour days of driving with my trailer. Luckily, no problems with either my indestructible ford f150 or my trusty trailer. My companion and fellow bike builder friend Leo was the co-pilot. Escaping New England was of course the hardest part, after that it's all flat, corn field-lined highway for over 1000 miles. Upon entering Sturgis we located our vending spot on Lazelle street downtown and set up with dale from Mad Jap Kustoms. I put one of my new bikes, "Daddy go Hard" in the AMD Championships amongst many other amazing machines. Check out www.amdchampionship.com for pics and the results. Needless to say there were some unbelievable machines in there this year, especially the winner. I got to catch up with Satya Kraus, from Kraus Motor Co and Stellan England from SE service, and get the lowdown on their latest bikes.
I also got to do some amazing riding with my friends Scott on the "Flash in the Pan" and John on the "Steel Butterfly", as well as Dale on his "unicorn bike". We went to Devils Tower and Mount Rushmore, and got caught in a torrential hailstorm at one point. It was so bad that 18 wheelers were pulled over on the side of the road as we went by, trying to simultaneously control our bikes and guard our faces from the beating!
On our way home Leo and I made a 6 hour detour to visit our friend Matt Olson and his girl "Bettie Bicycle", and Matts dad Carl. They own "Carls Cycle Supply", which is one of, if not the best knucklehead restoration shops in the world. His collection of running knuckles and parts is legendary, and he was kind enough to let Leo and I ride them into town for a tour.
That is it in a nutshell, but there will be a lot more to come once I figure out how to get the dam pics off my phone! here are a few for now:
me on Matts knuckle...