HD115

Harley-Davidson’s 115th Anniversary Celebration

Words by Ben Giese



When the folks at Harley-Davidson called and invited me to attend their 115th anniversary celebration in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, initially I wasn’t all that excited.  Sure, I knew the trip would be fun, and I can recognize the impressive legacy of this American manufacturer and the massive influence it has had on American culture.  But for some reason I have never really felt a personal connection to the brand. I’ve always had an image of the Harley-Davidson rider to be like something from the movie Wild Hogs.  Weekend warriors and outlaw bikers wearing leather vests with club patches, chaps, bandannas, and tassels hanging from one place or another while riding a gigantic motorcycle. Obviously that was a very silly stereotype, and there is much more diversity to this iconic brand than I ever realized.

I went into this trip feeling like an outsider, not really knowing what to expect. Little did I know that the experience and the people I was going to meet would completely change my perspective on what it means to ride a Harley-Davidson.

 


When I arrived at the historic Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee I was greeted by Harley-Davidson’s very own, Jennifer Hoyer.  Jennifer went above and beyond to arrange some amazing accommodations for me and assure that this weekend would be one to remember. Upon meeting the warm and welcoming staff, and when Jennifer handed me the keys to a brand-new Sport Glide for the weekend I immediately went from feeling like an outsider to becoming part of the Harley-Davidson family.


The following day I woke up early and rode to a nearby coffee shop to feed my caffeine addiction before starting the day.  Sitting on the curb outside drinking my coffee I witnessed literally thousands of motorcycles ride by within 30 minutes.  I spent that morning riding the highways and back roads surrounding Milwaukee getting familiar with the motorcycle and that experience was much the same. There were thousands upon thousands of bikers and each one of them would give a wave, thumbs-up, peace sign, or some sort of a “hello” acknowledging that we all share a common thread and these motorcycles bring us all together.  No matter who you are, what you look like or what model of bike you are riding, we are a community.  That’s pretty cool if you ask me.  

That afternoon I met up with Harley-Davidson’s VP of Styling, Brad Richards to talk all things design and motorcycles.  Brad leads a team of designers responsible for the design and styling of Harley-Davidson’s motorcycles.  Listening to Brad explain the Harley-Davidson design process, philosophy and vision for the future left me feeling inspired and buzzing with excitement.  He then proceeded to walk me through the features and design of Harley’s new Pan America adventure bike and Livewire electric bike and it was clear that the next generation of Harley-Davidson motorcycles are forging a bold new direction.

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One of the most exciting aspects of Harley-Davidson’s 115 Year Anniversary was all of the racing action happening throughout the weekend.  The competition started with Flat Out Friday, an indoor flat-track race on a Dr. Pepper syrup soaked surface inside the UWM Panther Arena featuring several different classes ranging from the highly competitive Open Expert and Open Hooligan classes, to the more fun and light-hearted Boonie & Goofball classes. The following morning we woke up early and drove about 45 minutes north, in the rain, to watch the Harley-Davidson Hill Climb at the Little Switzerland ski resort.  The event featured several different classes starting with many of the same hooligan riders that were competing the night before in Flat Out Friday on the same machines.

And as soon as the action at the Hill Climb in Little Swizterland was over riders loaded up and headed straight to the Bradford Beach Brawl for some old fashioned beach racing! 

For the first time in over 100 years, bikes were battling it out on the sandy shoreline of Lake Michigan.  Vintage and new bikes battled it out on the oval paying tribute to the early days of racing.  The race classes included Walksler's Period Modified, TROG 45" (w/brakes), 45"(brakeless), Hollywood's 80", Open Hooligan, Hooligan Amateur-Pro, Vintage Sportster, Dealer and Employee.

Watch all the racing action below!

One of the most special moments of the Harley-Davidson 115 year experience was meeting the Harley-Davidson Museum Curatorial Director, Jim Fricke and museum PR Director Tim McCormick.  During one of the busiest weekends ever at the museum with literally thousands of people swarming the complex to enjoy the brand’s rich history, Jim set aside a few hours to personally walk us through the beautiful museum the he curated. The brand’s impressive heritage goes without saying, but what I was most impressed by was the immense archives and preservation of that history. The folks at Harley-Davidson have saved everything from 100+ year old photography, advertisements, and at least one of each motorcycle they have ever produced including Serial Number One, the oldest bike in their archive built 115 years ago.

Not only has this trip completely shifted my perspective on the Harley-Davidson image, but meeting Jim Fricke has opened my eyes to the diversity, rich preservation of history, and legacy of this legendary American Motorcycle manufacturer. My conversation with Brad Richards has filled me with excitement for the new direction Harley is taking with their next generation of motorcycles, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future as a newfound Harley-Davidson fan and rider. Thanks to Jennifer, Brad, Jim, Tim and the entire Harley-Davidson staff for giving me an unforgettable experience at the #HD115.

Land of Discovery

Finding Inspiration in Portugal

Words by Ben Giese | Photos by Luca Gambuti


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A desire to explore new territory is part of human nature, and our innate craving for discovery is something that is hardwired into our DNA. Much like Christopher Columbus’s first voyage across the Atlantic or Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon, this curiosity is something that continuously drives humanity forward. And that thrill of breaking new ground is what sparks our imaginations and helps expand our understanding of the world we live in. 

 

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As the infamous ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau once pondered, “What is the origin of the devouring curiosity that drives men to commit their lives, their health, their reputation, their fortunes, to conquer a bit of knowledge, to stretch our physical, emotional or intellectual territory?” He continued: “The more time I spend observing nature, the more I believe that man’s motivation for exploration is but the sophistication of a universal instinctive drive deeply ingrained in all living creatures. Life is growth – individuals and species grow in size, in number, and in territory. The peripheral manifestation of growing is exploring the outside world.”

Back in March Ducati had invited me to Portugal for the release of their new Scrambler 1100, and while riding through the historic city of Lisbon those profound thoughts of human exploration, instinct and our natural desire for adventure were racing inside my helmet. During my visit I stopped by the impressive Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries). This monument was constructed in 1939 on the northern bank of the Tagus River to celebrate Portugal’s Age of Discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries. The monument pays tribute to all of the fearless navigators, particularly the Portuguese explorers who once departed from these banks.   

Portugal spearheaded early European exploration of the world, and Portuguese captains of the era quickly became the best in Europe, sailing the most maneuverable ships and using the latest innovations in navigation and cartography. The monument includes depictions of many groundbreaking explorers, including the likes of Ferdinand Magellan — a Portuguese explorer who led the first voyage to circumnavigate the globe.

 

Crews of men numbering in the hundreds would depart on massive wooden ships to venture across the ocean and return years later with only a fraction of the crewmembers surviving. In those days, if the ship didn’t sink, crewmembers would likely die from starvation, disease, pirate raids or even attacks from the aboriginal tribes occupying the land they were exploring. Many people believed in sea monsters, huge whirlpools and a searing sun that produced boiling waters in the outer regions of the Atlantic Ocean that would kill anyone who came close. Yet amongst all that terrifying folklore and the loss of so many human lives, these bold navigators ventured onward into the unknown to discover new worlds.

 

  Photo by Nathon Verdugo

Photo by Nathon Verdugo

Feeling inspired, I start up my Scrambler 1100 to depart from the monument and ride through the historic city of Lisbon. The significant architecture of this city still echoes the Old World, and I can’t help but think about how these old cobblestone streets I am riding are the same those great explorers once walked.  As I reflect back to that time, and to those people, I come to the realization that the modern-day motorcycle adventurer is not all that different from those early explorers.  Sure, our expeditions might be a bit more calculated, and with a much higher survival rate, but ultimately we share the same passion for adventure and curiosity for the unknown.

Portugal will forever be known as the Land of Discovery, and much like those early wooden ships, my Scrambler 1100 is a vessel for discovery. It’s a tool for exploration and a means for seeing the planet from a new perspective.  With this newfound perspective I saddle up and ride south down the beautiful Portuguese coastline.  And who knows what I might discover… 


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Read the story in Volume 012

Reverb: Steve Caballero

Volume 012 Music Selection

Curated by Steve Caballero | Photography by Evan Klanfer


 
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For Volume 012 we asked our friend and skateboarding legend, Steve Caballero to curate a selection of his favorite albums. What we received was a mix of punk rock ranging from the late 80s to 2,000s including legendary bands like Bad Religion, Minor Threat and an album by Cab's very own band, The Faction.

 
 

 
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Read our story on Steve Caballero in Volume 003

Shrimp

An Indian Scout Sixty by Anvil Motociclette

Words and photos by Anvil Motociclette


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The project with Indian Motorcycle became real right before 2017 Christmas when we read the email sent by Melanie Dubois, Indian EMEA marketing manager, saying that the project was accepted by Grant Bester, Indian EMEA director. Soon after we received the Scout Sixty to customize.

Like all good Christmas stories, that email was like a gift. In that moment we were still unaware of what we were facing: not only was it a unique project, but also the chance to work with an incredible brand, precise and innovative. We soon learned that Indian is like a big family, where everybody works to improve the brand everyday. It is not easy to find this kind of commitment.  

 

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Let’s take a step back... 

This project started a long time before that email.  It started when we were doing some research on the story of Albert Burns, a motorcycle racing pioneer that lived in early 1900s.

Not many people know of him, and before this project he was unknown to us inside an old dusty book, forgotten in the library.

But his story deserves to be remembered.

“Albert Shrimp Burns” was born in Oakdale, California and since he was a child he was been enchanted by motorcycles. The first time he rode a bike was in his fathers dealership. He started racing when at 15 on a bike he built himself against adults. He frequently won and eventually they decided to ban him from entering the racetrack because he was too young.


Related content

Against the Grain

When Motorcycles Raced on Wood

 

They saw it coming. They must have. With six motorcycles racing together at more than 90 miles per hour on wooden circle tracks with steep banks, the consequences of board-track racing could not have been a surprise.

 

But this didn’t stop young Burns from racing. He simulated alternative starts from the side of the track and then he jumped onto the course and finishing first, even thought it was illegal.

In 1915 Shrimp won three of the most prestigious races in Pleasanton, but would get injured in a pile up at a race in Marysville. None of the other injured riders would race again, but Shrimp attended and won the following race with a broken shoulder and collarbone.

 

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His strong personality made him stand out and in 1910 he was hired by Harley-Davidson as official pilot. He raced with the brand only one season and then he became an official Indian pilot until the end of his short career. In 1921 he died during a race, only 2 days after his 23rd birthday.

Albert "Shrimp" Burns was born in August 12th 1898, and this year is the 120th anniversary of his birth. It might just be a coincidence, but we deeply believe that he wanted to be discovered by us. Shrimp would have been a friend of ours.

Indian liked the idea to pay a tribute to this great pilot of their own historical heritage. The project of Indian Shrimp Mille has been made on a Scout Sixty base and took us six months to build. The bike still has the original engine, part of the electrical system and the throttle housing.

All the other parts have been redesigned and reprojected specifically to develop a flat track special to use in major European events.


Build Details

 

FRAME: The frame has been reprojected thanks to engineering studies to make it more competitive. We have been inspired by the old Ron Wood flat track frames, keeping the headstock inclination 25 degrees. 

 

STEERING PLATES:  They are made in aluminium, with a specific offset for flat track. 

 

FORKS: we chose Ohlins, the same forks they use in the USA AMA, as well as the two rear shock absorbers. We replaced the mono to give a vintage touch. 

 

THROTTLE HOUSING: it has been moved externally thanks to a steel collector and it is connected to a K&R filter.

 

TANK, FENDER AND PLATES: they are handmade and they have been projected as unique pieces in wrought-aluminium.

 

GEARBOX: we transformed the classic belt drive into the chain drive and we reprojected the sprocket.

 SEAT: it has been made by an Italian craftman following our design. We got inspired by the flat track seats from the 40s and the made a contemporary modelWe used black and white cow leather, giving the typical striped pattern of our racing team.

BRAKES: the rear brakes have been substituted with a Brembo one, with pads and disc made by Newfren.

 

RIMS AND HUBS: they are 19’’ with Tubeless technology by Alpina Raggi.

 

RADIATOR: the original one has been substituted with two off road radiators.

 

LIQUIDS: engine oil is specific for races and it has been provided by Pakelo

 

WORKING TEAM:

Further than our usual working team, we have integrated: one engineer to study the frame geometries, a framebuilder, a sheet-metal workers that made the tank and plates, an upholsterer for the seat.

 

In the beginning the bike weight was 248 kgs, now it is 180 kgs and 90 kgs are only for the engine.

 

PARTNERS OF THE PROJECT:

  • ALPINA
  • NEWFREN
  • OHLINS
  • PAKELO
  • ZARD
  • RIZOMA
  • ARIETE 

The Moto Bay Classic

Motorcycles, Music, and Art at the City by the Bay

Words by Dale Spangler | Photos by Jacob Vaughan

Presented by Tucker Powersports


 

It’s no coincidence that motorcycles, music, and art give us a similar type of rush. All three help us to escape the routine of daily life, allow us to feel more alive—and free. That’s why when we heard about the inaugural Roland Sands Moto Bay Classic in San Francisco, we knew we had to be involved. Moto Bay was inspired by the 2017 Moto Beach Classic held in Huntington Beach that combined motorcycle flat track and drag racing with a surf competition, art show, and music. The event was an overwhelming success and for 2018 Sands decided to create a second Classic in the motorcycle-friendly city of San Francisco off the Embarcadero at Pier 32. With its urban setting and spectacular views of the Oakland Bay Bridge, San Francisco Bay, and downtown skyline, Pier 32 is a picture-perfect place to hold a motorcycle event. With racing, stunt riding, music, and art on the schedule, Sands created the Moto Bay Classic to have its own unique festival atmosphere with the same focus on fun as Moto Beach.

 

 

No stranger to motorcycle action, Pier 32 is the same location where the 2000 Summer X Games took place—the first to include Freestyle Moto-X. It was here that a then 15-year old Travis Pastrana recorded the highest score in X Games history with a 99.00 Gold Medal run. Less talked about, is that Pier 32 is also the location of Pastrana’s (in)famous jump into San Francisco Bay. Having just won his first X Games Gold, Pastrana donned a life vest under his riding gear and proceeded to launch himself (and his Suzuki RM125 motorcycle) off a four-foot high berm into San Francisco Bay much to the delight of the fans in attendance. Needless to say, the city of San Francisco (and EPA) were not as impressed, and Pastrana’s leap into the bay is something that’s not talked about much to this day.

 

 Travis Pastrana's jump into the bay, X Games 2000 | Photo spread featured in META Volume 004

Travis Pastrana's jump into the bay, X Games 2000 | Photo spread featured in META Volume 004

 

As the Tucker crew arrived at Pier 32 on Saturday morning, for final set-up, it was apparent from the laid-back vibe that we were in for an epic day. With our Tucker tents placed in ideal locations near the hooligan track, gymkhana course, concert stage, and art show areas, we were ready to entertain some of our bay area dealers and treat them to a VIP fun-filled Saturday afternoon in the city.

Practice for the hooligan racers kicked off the program at 11:00am. If you’ve never been to one of these races we suggest you go if one comes to your area. The sound of these bikes alone is something else!  Probably like the first time you hear a MotoGP bike or a Formula One car—startlingly impressive. The roar of the twin-cylinder engines combined with the smell of burnt rubber is infectious, and we laughed out loud like little kids as the raw, guttural sound reverberated through our chest like a bass drum.

Although hooligan racing has been around since the 70s, “run what ya’ brung” racing has really taken off in the last few of years, and as a result, a national championship series was created. With events scattered throughout the western half of the country, the 2018 Super Hooligan National Championship Series (SHNC) is comprised of nine races. With a limited set of rules, racers must show up on a 750cc or larger street bike, from any manufacturer, and the rules focus on minimal fabrication to keep costs low. For example, a stock production frame must be used, and no geometry changes are allowed unless they are not bolt-on.

 

 

The result is an accessible form of racing with a more level playing field and closer racing. In addition to the premiere Super Hooligan, other less-serious classes include Run What Ya’ Brung, Air-cooled 2-Stroke, Mad Monkey Mini (150cc or under), SuperMoto, and even a small-bore XR class. Part of the allure of hooligan racing is that the bikes the riders race are typically not meant for the racetrack. Instead of exotic and expensive factory race bikes, these are everyday motorcycles—which only adds to the grassroots street-cred appeal of hooligan racing.

As the racers burned in the hooligan track, at the same time over on the gymkhana course, the finals of the fifth annual San Francisco International Police Motor Skills competition were going on. The competition started on Thursday with Semi-finals on Friday and the finals Saturday. Think these policemen just sip coffee and eat donuts all day? Think again! These guys can ride! Seeing the bike handling skills of these policemen possess was impressive—especially the ones riding police-issue baggers.

 

 

A stroll around the venue around noon revealed the other Moto bay activities going on such as the “Kidkhana” electric strider bike demos for kids, the “Architects of Inspiration” art and bike show sponsored by Husqvarna (with content provided by META), and bike demos by several of the OEMs. Vendors were scattered about selling their wares, and Tucker distributed brands Roland Sands, Arlen Ness, Vance and Hines, Performance Machine, Burly Brand, Progressive, and Dunlop were all in attendance to display product and interact with the fellow motorcyclists in attendance. Around this same time, the local punk band The Nerv kicked off the music line-up, followed by fellow bay area bands Lujuria and the Screaming Bloody Marys.

 

 

One of our favorite events of the day took place around 2pm, the Cops vs. Hooligans Gymkana Showdown. The irony of these two groups coming together didn’t go unnoticed, and despite the requisite smack talk between the two groups, the competition was a show of mutual respect and camaraderie between brothers from the same motorcycle tribe. In true ‘run what ya’ brung’ fashion, riders from both teams took to the course on scooters, dual sport machines, Groms, hooligan bikes and police baggers in an all-out timed battle of bike handling skills. The cops held their own against the hooligans, fun was had by all, and Tyler O’Hara recorded the fastest time by 0.08 seconds to give the win to the Hooligans. Look for the cops to return next year with a vengeance (and for redemption) at the second annual Cops vs. Hooligans Gymkana Showdown.

The main show kicked off at 3pm with the national anthem followed by a fireboat water cannon display put on by the San Francisco Fire Department. Hooligan racing commenced and Long Beach punk rockers T.S.O.L. hit the main stage for their set between the heat races and finals. Andy DiBrino took a close-fought win in the Super Hooligan final with Robert Bush and Mikey Hill rounding out the podium. A crowd-pleasing display of tire-shredding burnouts followed the finish and the air filled with smoke while shards of flying rubber peppered fans lining the race course. It was awesome!

 

 

The show wasn't over yet, and with the crowd pumped up after the Super Hooligan main event, The Vandals hit the stage for some Orange County punk rock before the stunt riders took to the hooligan course for an entertaining display of wheelies, powerslides, burnouts, and impressive demonstration of bike handling skills. Sands joined in on the fun with his custom-built “Squatch” Polaris Sportsman ATV retrofitted with a Toyota Tacoma front end and old couch welded to the back. Sands cranked off wheelie after wheelie around the hooligan course with two passengers onboard surrounded by the stunt riders. The Sands wheelie show shenanigans ended with an unsuccessful attempt to smoke the tires off The Squatch.

But wait, there’s more! The remaining crowd headed to the main stage for a brief awards ceremony before the Eagles of Death Metal brought down the house with an energetic and engaging set. Lead singer Jesse Hughes is a character on stage and the epitome of a rock-and-roll entertainer. He’s also a fellow motorcyclist and a friend of Roland Sands. To see Hughes and his EODM bandmates enjoy the company of fellow motorcyclists, in such an intimate setting, was a rare treat. As they tore through their set and closed out the day’s show, it seemed like the fitting end to a unique event.

 

 

With its mix of motorcycles, music, and art in a laid-back festival setting, the Moto Bay Classic had all the right ingredients for a perfect day of fun. As the event’s description states, “the RSD Moto Bay Classic promises something for everyone. With a constant flow of activities and participation from attendees, you’re not just watching the show, you’re a part of it.” Based upon our personal experience, and the fun we observed, we’d say the RSD crew hit the mark.

Body & Motion

How the Motorcycle Influences Architect Antoine Predock

Words & photos by JC Buck


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It’s six in the morning, and Ben is picking me up outside my garage in Denver. We are about to embark on a six-hour drive from Denver to Albuquerque to meet renowned architect and motorcycle enthusiast Antoine Predock. 

Last year I discovered the work of the New Mexico-based architect, who is celebrating 50 years of architecture, and have been photographing his buildings since. 

I work as an architectural photographer, and I am fascinated by Antoine’s career. So much so that, in my own time, I have photographed his buildings in Arizona, Wyoming, Las Vegas, Minnesota and Colorado. 

 

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Antoine has designed award-winning museums, libraries, university buildings and private residences all over the globe. He has been awarded the prestigious AIA Gold Medal (joining the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Kahn), among many others, and is considered to be one of the most notable American architects of our time.

His buildings are works of art and come out of the ground like geological events. They truly become part of the landscape, with canyon-like approaches, mountainous shapes, dramatic sloping rooflines, and a deep and thoughtful respect for place – historically, culturally and geologically. 

 

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We arrive at his Albuquerque studio shortly after noon, and there he is waiting for us with a diverse trio of his motorcycles on display (Vincent, Ducati and Zero Electric), one for each of us! 

He resembled a rock star more than an international architect, with his steampunkish sunglasses, beanie, black-on-black outfit, skateboard shoes, and Ducati T-shirt. Antoine is particularly fond of Ducati motorcycles, we soon come to learn.

He greets us like old friends, invites us into his studio, and gives us a quick tour. The space provides us with a glimpse into his design process, with tables displaying clay models, 3D-printed models, gallery walls of sketches, paintings, large-format handmade collages, photographs, awards, and stacks of books upon books. 

Antoine proceeded to show us his large collection of motorcycles, from a 1929 Indian Scout to numerous Ducati and BMW sport bikes, to his current favorite: a custom electric Zero motorcycle, which had been raced in the Colorado Springs Pikes Peak Hill Climb. 

 

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Following the tour of his studio and my lusting over his beautiful collection of motorcycles, we crack open some S.Pellegrinos (it’s still early in the day) and settle into a small, comfortable seating area in a window-filled corner, with expansive views of the Rio Grande river valley and Sandia mountain range. 

We asked Antoine all kinds of questions, and he talked to us like friends – explaining his process, designing architecture, and passion for motorcycles. He shared with us his body-and-motion philosophy, a tale of a recent motorcycle crash and the archives he recently donated to the University of New Mexico.

It was a time I will cherish: The three of us talking about motorcycles, architecture, design, and life all while overlooking the most beautiful otherworldly and iconic New Mexico landscape.  

 

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Antoine is fascinated with the idea of body and motion. Throughout his career, he has studied how the body moves through spaces and landscapes. For him, the motorcycle embodies this philosophy more so than anything else. 

As he poetically says,

 

“The connection to place, to the land, the wind, the sun, stars, the moon ... it sounds romantic, but it’s true – the visceral experience of motion, of moving through time on some amazing machine – a few cars touch on it, but not too many compared to motorcycles. I always felt that any motorcycle journey was special.”

 

We all know this feeling, and it’s a sensory experience like no other. I can see how this influenced Antoine’s work. Prior to discovering his buildings and learning about his design process, I would not have connected these two. I am now seeing things differently as I ride through a landscape, or in the way I approach and move through a building. I have become hypersensitive to my own body and motion. 

 

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“The body moves through space every day, and in architecture in cities, that can be orchestrated,” Antoine says. Not in a dictatorial fashion, but in a way of creating options, open-ended sort of personal itineraries within a building. And I see that as akin to cinematography or choreography, where episodic movement, episodic moments, occur in dance and film.”

I’ve experienced this with his buildings I have photographed, most notably the Nelson Fine Arts Center at Arizona State University. The building has multiple options to enter, pass by, and interact with the space, from its subterranean levels to ascending its tower into the sky, overlooking the campus.  

 

“Architecture is a ride – a physical ride and an intellectual ride,” says Predock.

 

He wants people to move through his buildings, in fact, he wants everyone to be able to move through his buildings; such as the Human Rights Center in Ottawa, Canada, a stunning futuristic sculptural building, for which he won awards for its accessibility for people with disabilities.

 

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Antoine shares with us a recent motorcycle crash he experienced in Los Angeles: Someone drove right into him while he was riding. He wasn’t lane-splitting or anything aggressive like that (and he did comment on how much he enjoys lane-splitting), but just out of nowhere someone hit him, resulting in a brief hospital visit with several non-life-threatening injuries. He has mainly recovered, although at the time we were meeting, he was still dealing with some pain. 

He goes on to talk about how he wears armor now, to protect him from the elements, like “asshole commuters,” he jokes. Wearing motorcycle armor for protection, he ties it back to architecture – how he designs for place. For example, designing for the New Mexico landscape, the extreme conditions of of which have defined him as an architect. 

“I try to understand ‘place’ on a deeper level than just the physical or environmental aspects,” he explains. “It includes cultural and intellectual forces, too. It’s an inclusive approach that brings in many disciplines and sees place as a dynamic thing.”

 

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Antoine’s education and entire career has been rooted in New Mexico. The Land of Enchantment has defined him as a person, his design process, and his architecture. 

In his words,

 

“New Mexico has formed my experience in an all-pervasive sense. I don’t think of New Mexico as a region. I think of it as a force that has entered my system, a force that is composed of many things. Here, one is aimed toward the sky and at the same time remains rooted in the earth with a geological and cultural past. The lessons I’ve learned here about responding to the forces of a place can be implemented anywhere. I don’t have to invent a new methodology for new contexts. It is as if New Mexico has already prepared me.”

 

Before we wrapped up our afternoon with Antoine, we follow him down to the University of New Mexico School of Architecture and Planning, a building that he designed. I wanted to capture some architectural photographs of him passing by one of his buildings on his motorcycle. 

 

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The strong and rectilinear university building, with its articulated southern-facing façade, is a modern interpretation of the New Mexico landscape, specifically inspired by the cliffs of Canyon de Chelly. It sits on Central Avenue, a main east-west street that was once part of the famous Route 66. 

The sun was raking the southern facade as cars passed by, and I capture a handful of compositions with Antoine on his electric Zero Motorcycle, beautifully showcasing the scale of the building in comparison to Predock and his motorcycle.

While there on campus, which happens to be graduation day, we join the architect inside to see dozens of celebrating graduates of the Architecture and Planning School in their red caps and gowns. Antoine is greeted with hugs and smiles as he congratulates the students.

We say our goodbyes, and just like that we are on the road back to Denver. As we passed through the New Mexico landscape with the sunset in our rearview mirror, I couldn’t help but think about body and motion. What a great philosophy and way to live this life. 

 

Body. Motion. Life. It’s all about movement.


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Story featured in Volume 012

The Blackwater 100

America’s Original Extreme Offroad Race

Words by Dale Spangler | Photos courtesy MX Sports


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Many would agree the Blackwater 100 is America’s original extreme offroad race. Before the terms “extreme enduro” or “hard enduro” even existed, before there was an EnduroCross Series, and before there was a Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) series—there was the Blackwater 100. One of the most famous (some would argue most infamous) offroad races in the world, the Blackwater 100, for the most part, has been all but forgotten. What’s the background of this race and why was it so significant? What became of it?

It began as an idea in the mid-1970s, when a preacher from the small town of Davis, West Virginia, located in the northeast part of the state in the heart of coal country, approached a race promoter by the name of Dave “Big Dave” Coombs at one of his motocross races. The preacher, concerned for the economy of his struggling little town, had an idea to hold a motorcycle race on lands surrounding Davis in the hopes of attracting spectators and racers to the area. Big Dave and the preacher watched the movie On Any Sunday, and after seeing the scenes featuring the Lake Elsinore Grand Prix, they decided a similar type of event would be just what was needed to the boost the economy of Davis. Big Dave went down and inspected the land around Davis and saw that the area had immense potential for a motorcycle race, which resulted in the first race being held outside of town in 1974. For 1975 the race was moved into town and became part of Davis’ “Alpine Festival.” The event was named the “Blackwater 100” because of the surrounding Blackwater River that runs through Davis, and the nearby Blackwater Falls. The race’s length was to be 100 miles, therefore “100” was added to the end of the name, and the Blackwater 100 was born.

 

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Steep hills, tight woods, water crossings, swamps—you name it, the Blackwater had it all. The event was a true test of endurance—for both man and machine—and to simply finish became a sought-after achievement. Due to the difficulty of its varied terrain and four grueling 25-mile laps, the event was eventually dubbed “America’s toughest race.” The winner that first year in 1975 was Kevin Lavoie from Chepachet, Rhode Island riding an Ossa, and he would go on to win the 1976 and 1978 versions of the event also. Other notable names in those early years included Frank Gallo (1977 winner), and Mark Hyde (1979 winner).

“I always looked forward to Blackwater every year as it was one of those must-do events,” remembers 1979 winner Mark Hyde. “After watching the movie On Any Sunday, and seeing how that played out, it was cool to be in a race that had an impact like that. After I won the race for the first time in 1979, I was rewarded with my first factory support ride, and started my career in the motorcycle industry.” [Hyde would go on to win the event three more times].

 

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Through the support of spectators, racers, and sponsors alike, the Blackwater event continued to grow in popularity. Davey Coombs, son of Big Dave and current Editor-in-Chief at Racer X Illustrated magazine, explains how the event quickly gained the attention of powersports media at the time: “A large part of the popularity of the event came when the staff of California-based Dirt Bike magazine—Rick ‘Super Hunky’ Sieman, Tom Webb, Paul Clipper and Dennis ‘Ketchup’ Cox—came back east for the event at the invite of Big Dave. They had little experience with the thick woods and bottomless swamps, and struggled to even finish the event, yet they wrote very complimentary articles about it (it was Super Hunky who dubbed it ‘America's toughest race’ after he tried to ride it on a big-bore Maico and had a brutal day just trying to get around). They gave the event immediate credibility, and helped bridge the gap that existed between eastern off-road racing and the mostly-California-based motorcycle industry.”

By 1980, due in part to the event’s popularity, the single-day Blackwater event evolved into a three-race 100-mile series with the Blackwater 100 as the premier race. Three-wheelers were added in 1983 (later to become four-wheelers) and then in 1984 Wiseco Piston signed on as title sponsor of the seven-race “Wiseco 100 Miler Series,” which was renamed the Wiseco Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) series in 1986.

 

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“It was back in 1981 when I was working for Wiseco that I first met Dave Coombs,” explains Bob Gorman, former Wiseco Sales and Marketing Manager and current CEO of Cometic Gasket. “He threw out his idea of the Blackwater 100, and I thought, ‘what a great way for Wiseco to reach out to its customers, and at the same time have some fun.’ Knowing Dave and the Coombs family and how they operate—treating the competitors with respect and always taking care of their sponsors—it wasn't a tough sell.”

Just how difficult was the Blackwater 100? Unlike today’s GNCC series, where each race is a timed event, the Blackwater, and the other races that comprised the Wiseco 100 Miler Series, were distance events. Perhaps the speeds may not have been as high as today’s races, and of course, the machines of today have evolved to allow higher speeds, but in some respects, the 100-mile races may have been more difficult than today’s races. Whereas today’s GNCC races last around three hours, the winners of the Blackwater event clocked in at over five hours—and that was for the winner! A grueling five hours on a motorcycle or ATV unlike today’s lightweight, high-horsepower and high power-to-weight ratio long-travel machines.

 

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“Going into the race, my first goal was always just to finish, and if you did that you would end up with a good result,” recalls Mark Hyde. “I never finished the race in under five hours and I don’t think I ever made it through a year without getting stuck at least once. It was also on Father’s Day Weekend every year, and since I started out riding with my dad as a kid, he went to most of my races. That was also special.”

“The Blackwater 100 made the Baja 1000 look like a trail ride,” shares former pro motocross racer and Wiseco employee at the time, Steve Johnson. “I have ridden them both and finished.” Johnson raced the 1989 Blackwater on a mostly stock Yamaha Warrior 350 ATV and finished fourth in the Four-Stroke A class. “It was like racing on the moon in some spots, the Bayou in other spots, and rainforest in others,” continued Johnson. “You would be riding a wave of mud on top of the moss, it was insane, if you stopped you sank to your waist! I have never been so tired in my life. The best feature of the Warrior was e-start and reverse! Nothing like backing up at a bottleneck.”

 

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The Blackwater 100 was survival of the fittest, and finishing not only required endurance and strategy, but also the ability to keep one’s machine running for the entire event after crossing gas-tank-high streams, smashing through hundreds of rocks, and navigating the swamps and deep woods of rural West Virginia. And then there was the dreaded Highway 93 river crossing, the most famous and popular obstacle on the race course. A place where thousands of adult beverage-fueled spectators (called “mud fleas”) lined the course to watch riders navigate the Blackwater River, followed by a steep, greasy uphill embankment. Imagine a chaotic festival atmosphere where riders funnel through a narrow chute, cross the river, then attempt to climb the slippery embankment. The tricky part, climbing the embankment, often involved a technique whereby a rider launched their motorcycle or ATV up the sheer face in hopes that the mud fleas deemed the effort worthy of their assistance. Make it across the Highway 93 River crossing once, and you only had to accomplish the task three more times.

Adds Hyde, “Having the race in that setting was very special and my wife would go every year along with other family members and friends. We would go check out the falls and other interesting things in the area. Year in and year out, it was always the most difficult race we had on the schedule. It had a wide variety of terrain that was very challenging, plus the bogs and river crossings made line selection very important. The spectators were also very different and they did not hesitate to jump in and be a part of the race. I have been lucky enough to travel the world racing motorcycles, and when that race was in its prime, I would get asked about it where ever I went.”

 

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The list of winners of the Blackwater 100 reads like a veritable who’s who of offroad racing legends. Names such as four-time winner and KTM Ride Orange Manager Mark Hyde, multi-time ISDE Gold Medalist and AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Jeff Fredette, four-time National Enduro Champion Terry Cunningham, and future GNCC champions Scott Summers and Fred Andrews. ATV winners include two-time winners Jeffrey Bernard and Roy Dains, three-time winner and two-time GNCC champion Bob Sloan, and future seven-time GNCC champion Barry Hawk.

“My first experience at Blackwater was something I will never forget,” describes Barry Hawk. “I was 15 years old and went with a friend who ended up with a broken collarbone, which left me scrambling to find a way home. Somehow, I made it, but the entire experience of being there and watching the race, the sights, the smells was something I knew I wanted to be part of from that day on.”

 

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The following year, Hawk was finally old enough to compete in the race, but as he explains, it didn’t quite go as planned: “I’m pretty sure I finished, but I didn’t get a trophy which was something that I absolutely wanted in the future. Heck, thinking back on it, I didn’t get a trophy until the final year in 1993, but it was well worth the wait. I started on the last row of the pro riders and it was extremely dry and dusty that year. I knew any guy that I caught I would beat on adjusted time, but that wasn’t good enough for me. I pushed the entire race until the last lap and passed Bob Sloan who was physically leading the overall, and even though I didn’t need to pass him because of the time adjustment, I had to do it, and it paid off: I crossed the finish line first and won the freaking Blackwater 100! To this day, that ranks up there as one of the best and most memorable wins for me. I have so many more stories and memories from that event, it truly was a unique experience that every person that’s been there I think would agree with me.”

In its heyday, the Blackwater 100 was the Indianapolis 500 of offroad racing, and at the time, there was no other race like it, except the Baja 1000 in Mexico. The race was as unpredictable as it was difficult, such as in 1990 when a little-known racer from Norfolk, Massachusetts named Tommy Norton won the overall on a 125cc KTM—the only rider to ever do so. Then the following year, Scott Summers would win the 1991 race on his 321-pound air-cooled Honda XR600R and follow it up with another win in 1992. The Blackwater required strategy—not just speed—and nothing was a guarantee until a rider crossed the finish line. Winners of the Blackwater 100 earned their win, and winners became instant legends.

 

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“The Blackwater from a racer's perspective was so thrilling,” recalls 1991 and 1992 winner Scott Summers. “The place is breathtakingly beautiful, but when trying to negotiate all the dangers lurking, from course obstacles and sometimes spectators, you didn't have much opportunity to really soak in all the beauty. The faster you went, the more dangerous it got, but the reward was significant. Winning that race was a big deal. Maybe like winning the whole GNCC series today. What made it so thrilling is that it always lived up to the hype. It was physically, mentally and emotionally draining—so many eggs were in that basket—the stress was unbelievable.”

The last Blackwater 100 took place in 1993, the race shut down due to environmental and liability concerns. “One of the reasons for the demise of the event was that it had outgrown itself,” explains Davey Coombs. “Because there was no admission, no fences, no real rules out there in Canaan Valley (where the race was mostly contained) the liability became too much for not only the Alpine Festival but Racer Productions as well. Too many people were out there riding around on their own ATVs and motorcycles (but not racing) or just walking the trails that the event became risk adverse.”

 

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Adds Summers, “I'll cherish my Blackwater memories forever, there was no better way to enjoy nature and quench your desire for excitement than to spend Father's Day among other thrill seekers in the middle of one of West Virginia’s biggest parties. It was insane, and it was a legendary experience—definitely quality time.”

During its heyday, the Blackwater was a legendary offroad race with lasting effects on those who witnessed or experienced the event. “In all of American motorsports there are very few events that are larger than the series or sport they are a part of,” suggests Fred Bramblett, Scott Summers’ mechanic and business manager at the time of his Blackwater wins and GNCC championship runs. “In automobiles, for open-wheel racing it’s the ‘Indy 500,’ and in NASCAR it’s the ‘Daytona 500.’ In motorcycles, for road racing there is the ‘Daytona 200,” and for offroad racing there was the ‘Blackwater 100.’ To have entered and finished was a huge rite of passage. Any winner of this event was ensured huge media exposure and a line of happy sponsors wanting to be associated with them. Here it is 20+ years later and you cannot name any other single offroad event that a rider could make a career around winning.”

 

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Fortunately, by the time of the Blackwater’s demise, the GNCC series had grown into 14-rounds for both motorcycles and ATVs and established itself as one of the premier national championship offroad racing series. Today the GNCC series is considered the pinnacle championship in offroad racing in the United States and a coveted title by the OEM manufactures. Wiseco remains a big part of off-road racing, being a feature sponsor of GNCC today, and even having a title GNCC event, the Wiseco John Penton in Millfield, Ohio. Riders from around the world move to the United States to race GNCC events, and the series has experienced record crowds and rider turnouts at each round in recent years.

From its humble beginnings as a single-day, one-off event called the Blackwater 100, to the multi-round GNCC championship of today, cross country racing continues to thrill racers and spectators alike. Wiseco is proud of its shared history with an event of such legendary status and its continued support of the GNCC series today. It was an easy decision early on for Wiseco to get behind the Blackwater 100 and Big Dave Coombs’ vision of an elite offroad racing championship series.

Fly Summer Camp

The Good Life

Words by Andrew Campo | Photos by Jimmy Bowron & Andrew Campo


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“Years ago I was out flying with Bob Hannah scouting hunting spots in Northern Idaho. We flew over Payette Lake and the small town of Mccall and I was instantly blown away with how beautiful it was. I had seen a lot of the world already and there was something very special about this area. In that moment I told myself that this is the place that I want to call home. A few weeks later I had packed up my life in North Carolina and was making my way across the country to start a new chapter of life in Idaho.”

 

These are the words of Damon "The Best From The East" Bradshaw as we drove down the mountain following an incredible trail ride at Bogus Basin, about an hour away from the FLY Racing headquarters in Boise. Earlier that day I had no idea that I would spend the afternoon riding alongside Bradshaw and to be completely honest it’s a moment in life I will always cherish. Damon is one of nicest people I have met along my journey through the industry and somebody I have admired and looked up to since I was a kid back in the early 80s, when I had aspirations of one day becoming a top tier factory racer. That of course never happened, but days like this make me feel like I did something right along the way.

 

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We were attending the second annual FLY Racing Summer Camp. FLY hosts this event in effort to bring motocross media to the great state of Idaho so that they can better understand the DNA of the brand. Unlike the majority of the other gear brands in motocross FLY was born far outside the confines of Southern California's rat race. Since 1998 they have taken a lot of pride in the fact that they have managed to it their way. Rightfully so as they have claimed their spot amongst the industry leaders and are moving into the future with enormous momentum and solid a foundation that spans two decades.

Operating from a unique location is something that META shares with FLY. When we launched our publication nearly five years ago and decided to do it from our home in Colorado, and for all the right reasons. Sure there are challenges that come with not being located in California, but there is a certain pride and drive that comes from birthing something in your home state, and like FLY we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Throughout the week at Summer Camp we had the pleasure of spending time with Craig Shoemaker, the Founder and CEO of both FLY Racing and Western Powersports. He shared brand insight, history, and laughs, but what I really appreciated was the fact that he clearly made time to interact with everybody in attendance. His passion for this brand and the sport as a whole is clearly second to none.

 

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We were introduced to the 2019 Raceway line by way of Jason Thomas and FLY athletes Blake Baggett, Zach Osborne, and Weston Pieck. We where then presented with the opportunity to put the gear to test on track at Owyhee Motocycle Club and later through single track offerings at Bogus Basin and once again Summer Camp left us grinning from ear to ear.

We would like to thank FLY Racing for the incredible experience and to note that it is really cool that you bring all the media into an event that allows us to build friendships and memories together outside of a race environment. We will continue to look forward to Summer Camp!

 

View the 2019 Fly Racing Gear Line

 

Be sure to check the 2019 gear line and enjoy a look inside this year's summer camp with a video from our friends at Evergood.

 

Sam Jones: Exposure

Flying Machine Stories Episode 005

Produced by FMF


 

The life of Sam Jones is a pursuit of expression–capturing it, setting forth and feeling it. As a photographer and a filmmaker, Sam has touched all of us through the eyes of the most influential artists and athletes of our day. Riding motorcycles is another way Sam experiences the world from a unique perspective. For us riding is about the power of making personal connections. Welcoming Sam to our tribe was a thrill of a lifetime. Check out the story at flyingmachinefactory.com, and enjoy the ride

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Italiano

Moto Guzzi's Italian Heritage

Words by Brett Smith


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Behind a red metal gate in the small Italian town of Mandello del Lario are the ingredients to building great motorcycles. It’s an imposing 10- or 11-foot-tall barrier that gives the impression of something substantial happening on the other side. But it’s nothing like the foreboding gate Charlie Bucket encountered in front of Willy Wonka’s factory (“Nobody ever goes in … nobody ever comes out”). 

No, the century-old façade of Moto Guzzi doesn’t stand in an attempt to shield or withhold secrets. Moto Guzzi wants everyone to know what’s coming out of its factory, which sits a few blocks inland of the Lecchese branch of Lake Como. Looming over the east side of the town is Grigna, the 8,000-foot-tall mountain massif. 

 

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Everything is assembled in the Mandello del Lario factory, but what’s even more important to Moto Guzzi is that it’s an all-Italian brand. Even the parts they don’t directly manufacture are made in Italy by Italian companies. “Heritage is our strength,” press officer Alberto Cani told half a dozen journalists as they carefully sipped nuclear-hot coffee and nibbled Italian pastries. That heritage is the reason why we’ve flown to Northern Italy in late March: We did it to ride Guzzi’s lineup of V7III models, because to fully appreciate and write about an all-Italian bike, made by Italians with Italian components, it’s important to ride the bike on the Italian roads near where the bikes are made.  

Moto Guzzi isn’t the oldest Italian motorcycle manufacturer – Beta (1904), Gilera (1909), Benelli (1911) and others came first – but Moto Guzzi is the oldest to have been in continuous uninterrupted production, which started in 1921 with the Normale. It was a 500cc model that featured a single horizontal cylinder and produced a whopping 8.5 horsepower. Top speed: 52.8 miles per hour. The bike had no front brake, no headlight and no suspension. 

 

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The Guzzi story, however, actually began in the middle of the Great War, when Carlo Guzzi put forth the idea of building a better motorcycle to his friends. Guzzi was an engineer in the Royal Marines; Giorgio Parodi and Giovanni Ravelli were pilots. In 1919, they built a prototype with financial help from Giorgio’s father, Vittorio Emanuele Parodi. In a letter dated January 3, 1919, he wrote to his son: 

“Although technically I am little more than a donkey, nevertheless I feel able to give a quite competent and practical judgment on the convenience and the probability of success in a similar imprint …
“The answer that you should then give to your classmates is that I am favorable in maxim, that the 1500 or 2000 lire for the experiment are at your disposal … but that I reserve the right to personally examine the project before granting my support defined to seriously launch the product. That if by chance I liked it I am willing to go a long way without limitation of numbers.”

 

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Two thousand lire (the monetary unit of Italy until 2002) was enough for the young men to start work on “a new kind of moto.” Sadly, before their prototype was finished, Ravelli died in a plane crash. To honor him, the remaining founders designed the eagle logo, which is always looking forward on the motorcycle. The original prototype was called the G.P. (Guzzi-Parodi) but to squash the possibility of G.P. being solely linked to the initials of Giorgio Parodi, they (wisely) settled on Moto Guzzi as the brand name, as Moto Parodi sounds like something one would eat.

Carlo loved racing and realized early on how much that exposure could benefit them. They had success very early. In late May, 1921, only 10 weeks after the official founding date, they raced from Milan to Naples. That September, Gino Finzi won the famous Targa Florio event around the island of Sicily. Three years after that, Guido Mentasti won the first-ever 500cc European Motorcycle Championship riding a Moto Guzzi. Then, in 1935, Irishman Stanley Woods won the Isle of Man Senior TT. It was the first time a non-English brand had ever won the prestigious event. 

 

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As sales increased, so did the emphasis on winning. In 1949, the first year of the World Motorcycle Championships, Bruno Ruffo won the 250cc class on a Moto Guzzi; in fact, the brand took 7 of the top 10 positions in the standings. Six years later, with the help of an engineer named Giulio Cesare Carcano, Moto Guzzi showed up at the Belgian Grand Prix with a 500cc eight-cylinder monster. The first version of the “Otto Cilindri,” a 90-degree V8 four-stroke, produced 68 horsepower. But in 1957, Italy dropped a bomb on the racing world. Moto Guzzi, Gilera, Mondial and MV Agusta made a joint announcement that they were abandoning their racing efforts at the end of the season, citing the rising cost to race and a decline in sales. MV Agusta pulled out of the pact and went on to win 17 consecutive championships in the 500cc class. 

The V8 motorcycle never had the chance to reach its full potential, but in the end its engineer, Carcano, gave the motorcycling world an even better gift: He developed Moto Guzzi’s first 90-degree transverse V-twin, which was put into the 1967 V7, the original version of what I’m riding around Lake Como. It became the eagle brand’s bestselling motorcycle and the engine style most closely associated with Moto Guzzi. The V7 was considered the first Italian sportbike and remains classic over 50 years later. To continue to call it a sportbike, however, is a bit of a stretch by today’s standards – it’s a 750cc that puts out 52 hp, has plenty of power, and yet is easy to ride. 

 

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At first, I was terrified of riding in Italy. I had never ridden in a foreign country. But after several hours of riding wicked tight tornantes (Italian for hairpin bends), I didn’t want to get off the bike. We left the shores of Lake Como and climbed up to 4,000 feet of elevation in the countryside between the southern branches of the lake. My fingertips were already getting stiff when the patches of snow showed up on the sides of the road. Then my fingers just went numb. 

Being surrounded by so much beauty, classic architecture and adorable elderly Italians ambling across roads in front of me – or just watching me ride by from their stoops – frigid fingers were easy to ignore. After 100 kilometers of riding, we returned to Mandello del Lario for a factory tour and museum visit. Walking around the inner courtyards felt like taking a step back to the 1920s and ’30s, when these buildings were erected. In 1921, the factory was 3,230 square feet. By 1970, it had ballooned to 383,000 square feet. Much has changed; the wind tunnel built in the 1950s is no longer in use, but it was such a revolutionary testing mechanism that it remains intact and serves as a showpiece. Even though the grounds still have a pre-WWII feel and look, the guts of the buildings now house modern assembly lines, dyno rooms, offices and loading docks. 

Standing near the final assembly area, we watched a red-coated inspector critically examine every Moto Guzzi. His process was meticulous, performed with mesmerizing precision. High season at the factory had just started, and the 120-employee workforce can push out 65 bikes a day, depending on the model. Yet, from the engine builders to the shipping department, nobody seemed to move with any kind of urgency. It’s not a race. It’s not how many or how fast; it’s about how good and how enjoyable. 

 

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The number of Italian makers that have come and gone since the early 1900s is well into the hundreds. From Acerboni, Aermacchi and Aetos all the way to Zenit, Zepa and Zeta, a list of the defunct marques is as shocking as it is long. It also points out a striking realization that Moto Guzzi has done something special: It has survived wars, dictators, economic crashes, buyouts, major sales declines and model flops, and never once ceased production. And for nearly 100 years, they’ve done it all from a small Italian town that’s home to barely more than 10,000 citizens. 

You don’t have to travel all the way to Lake Como to experience a Moto Guzzi. No matter where you ride one, you’re going to experience the decades of development it took to give you that bike – the races done, the feats of endurance, the expeditions, the countless miles spent riding around the Dolomites. Moto Guzzi motorcycles may be manufactured behind a red metal gate, but they’re developed in the tornantes of Northern Italy.


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Read the story in Volume 012

Scram Africa

A Video by Fuel Motorcycles

Produced by Riki Rocket


Scram Africa is not a trip like any other.  

 

2.500km full of challenges to overcome every day... sandstorms, bike failure, cold weather, hot weather and extreme fatigue.  This ride will make you stronger and as this Charles Bukowski poem says, "if you are going to try, go all the way, otherwise don’t even start”.

 

 

Photos by Gotz Goppert

Roll of the Dice

Behind the Lens

Words and photography by Jon Wallace


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My passion for photography has always been driven by my love of motorcycling. Capturing the perfect picture, the ultimate interpretation of why we ride, why we race, why we spend countless amounts of time, energy, and money chasing that unexplainable feeling we get. That’s what drives me to pick up a camera and attempt to tell our story, a story I like to call The Quest for Gnar. There’s no better place to try and tell this story than at Pike’s Peak, a place where once a year brave men roll the dice on one of the most unforgiving race courses in the world.

I’ve been coming to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb for the better part of a decade and I still can’t get enough. I believe it’s one of the Gnarliest motorsport contests in the world and makes any MotoGP circuit or AMA motocross/supercross track seem like ginger beer. The PPIHC is the closest thing we have to the thrill of true Irish road racing. It’s held on a unforgiving public road with ZERO margin for error, any one of the one hundred and fifty six turns can be fatal and many have proven so.  I think Greg Tracy said it best  “this is the closest thing to big wave surfing you can do on a motorcycle, it’s like paddling out to the scariest, biggest, gnarliest wave you can find and trying to ride it”. Those words really spoke to me because you don’t race against your competitors your racing against mother nature. The gravity of the situation is pretty hard to fully understand unless you yourself take the ride up 14,110ft and experience each one of the corners and then take a moment and imagine guys like Travis Newbold, Chris Fillmore, Rob Barber, Rennie Scaysbrook , and Michael Woolaway sending towards the clouds while wide open in 5th & 6th gear.

Enjoy a look inside some of my captures from the 2018 event.

 

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Everchanging

Hidden New York City

Words by Carmen Gentile | Photos by Jason Goodrich

Produced by One Down Media


 

Early Saturday mornings are serene in most major American cities. Last night’s revelers have already staggered or been driven home, conceding the streets to the well rested and those who can rage beyond the dawn. 

New York, of course, is not your average city. Not only does it never sleep, Gotham doesn’t even micro-nap. 

I witness firsthand New York’s legendary freneticism while riding alongside Blue Thomas, my friend and guide on a New York moto adventure, two minutes into which he’s nearly clipped by a garbage truck. 

 

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We’re riding through Lower Manhattan’s Flatiron District, home to the iconic building bearing the same moniker, when the hulking refuse collector rolls up on Blue’s rear wheel and blasts a warning honk that resonates off the steel and concrete towers flanking the street. 

We round a corner to escape the foul-smelling mass bearing down on us, only to roll up on another garbage truck. This one is parked, however, and its driver is cleaning the windshield. 

“You guys finally have a nice day for a ride,” says the man in a jumpsuit wielding a hose, a reference to the long, brutal winter New York had endured. 

Not bad, I surmise, if you’ve got your head on a quick swivel at 7 a.m. and the throttle-brake reflexes required to navigate the city’s traffic, construction, jaywalkers and a cornucopia of other potential distractions and dangers. 

So far, I’m loving it.

I’ve ridden all over the world and in cities far more chaotic and less mannered than New York. I first learned to ride in Rio de Janeiro, where moto-boy messengers are regularly hit and killed by drivers who favor the “offensive” motoring philosophy of constantly weaving and never relenting to the will of other drivers. 

More recently, I was riding motorcycles in northern Iraq while reporting on the fighting between the Islamic State and Iraqi forces, trying to show folks back home the picturesque and peaceful side of an oft-misunderstood country. 

 

I’ve lived and ridden all over the world and find riding to be the best way to get to know a foreign land and its people. 

And though I’ve visited New York countless times for work, and been one of those bleary-eyed fun seekers scurrying home before the first thin wisp of dawn, I can’t say I know the city all that well. 

 

That’s why I asked Blue to give me the 50-cent, two-wheel tour of New York you wouldn’t see from the top of a double-decker bus that rolls past the Empire State Building and other spots made famous by the cast of “Sex in the City.”

 

Not one to half-ass such an important assignment, Blue gave his task some serious thought, then devised a day ride for us that would highlight some historical New York sights, as well as some hidden gems.  

 

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From Flatiron we ride through Midtown and into the Upper East Side, cruising through the iconic Park Avenue tunnel near Grand Central Terminal. As my knowledge of New York is often relegated to my recognition of the cityscape in popular movies, I immediately recognized this area as the scene of the climactic final battle of the first Avengers movie. 

I see no sign of Hulk rampage damage on any of the skyscrapers as we head east to leave Manhattan by crossing the Queensboro Bridge into Queens. 

There I recognize not the landscape but a familiar style of home popular among previous generations of Italian-Americans like myself. The two-tone brickwork of houses in the Flushing neighborhood are ornamented with white lion statues and gilded cherubs on the front porch, reminiscent of those from my working-class, Italian hometown. 

While cruising along a Queens boulevard, I can’t help but note its being a centerpiece of my favorite Eddie Murphy movie, Coming to America. Beyond the boulevard, we arrive at our first stop, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, home to the giant World’s Fair globe and twin pillars adorned by what closely resemble UFOs that many may recall from the final scene of Men in Black.

 

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The “Unisphere,” as the globe is known, stands 14 stories tall and was erected in 1964 as an attraction for that year’s World’s Fair. The seemingly alien aircrafts on poles are actually old observation towers constructed around the same time to provide 360-degree views of the entire city. The UFOs of MIB fame are long dormant and rusty, unlike the globe that maintains its stainless steel sheen.

We park our bikes and walk up right to the southern pole of the globe. A young father is performing a series of headstands and other convoluted poses while his daughter attempts to climb up the base of the world. 

“You want to do yoga with Daddy?” he asks her, a request she ignores while trying to touch Antarctica. 

We circle to the other side of the globe, where Blue points to the tip of South America and suggests offhandedly: “Patagonia trip?” 

“Why not?” I tell him. “We’ll find some stories along the way and make an assignment out of it.”

 

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The seed of a future ride planted in our minds, we mount up and head farther east for our next destination: Breezy Point, a blue-collar beach community that’s also home to many a New York police officer and fireman. 

Spring is still struggling to make an appearance as we ride along the Grand Central Parkway heading south toward the shore, whipping us with salty, biting winds as the trees still struggle to bloom. 

 

I’m overjoyed to slow our roll to a casual cruising speed when we reach Breezy Point. It’s both picturesque in its natural beauty and a bit hardscrabble and rough around the edges, like many a New York neighborhood. The area was also hard hit by Superstorm Sandy back in 2012. Some homes and business still bear the scars. 

Out here, less than an hour ride, the towering buildings of Manhattan are no longer visible in our rearview mirrors. On our right shoulders are sand dunes and surf I vow one day to revisit in order to catch some swell. I’ve heard stories about New York watermen and women being particularly territorial about their waves, though they can’t be any rougher than the gang members I encountered while surfing in Brazil. 

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We ride until we run out of road, passing the gated side streets of Breezy Point until we arrive at the Breezy Point Surf Club, a popular family destination.

It’s still too early in the season for most beachgoers. The pavilions are desolate, although the sun glinting off the sand makes it seem almost like a summer’s day to the naked eye. A deserted beach anxiously awaiting the arrival of summer is not what I had imagined to find on a two-wheeled tour of New York. 

With food on our minds, we double back and head for fish and chorizo tacos. Along one wall of the outdoor seating area are large lockers for storing boards. However, on this brisk day, it appears that none of the clientele would be bold enough to paddle into the frigid surf. 

 

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Before completing our loop back to Manhattan, Blue’s got one more stop in mind, a place not known for its natural or architectural beauty, but rather as an oddity even most New Yorkers have never seen for themselves. 

 

At the mouth of a footpath, we park our bikes and stroll along a trail lined with sea reeds twice our height, creating an near-natural tunnel that I remark would be a good place to ditch a body. 

Turns out my macabre observation is somewhat apropos, considering that Blue is taking me to Brooklyn’s Dead Horse Bay, named more than a century ago for being the home of a glue factory whose main ingredient was the bones of aged and lame horses. 

In those foul-smelling days of industrialized old New York, discarded horse carcasses were known to clog the bay and emit an indescribably foul odor. 

Today there are no more horse corpses along this stretch, but there are many a remains from a bygone era littering the sand. 

 

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It seems Dead Horse Bay was also where much of the city’s garbage was dumped in the old days before caring about the environment was en vogue. Today, erosion of the old landfill has uncovered untold numbers of old bottles and other discarded items from those less-than-Earth-friendly days. 

Blue and I pick through some of the bottles and see brands we recognize, such as Clorox, although in brown, loop-handled jugs more commonly associated with moonshine rather than sparkling whites. 

They’re just the kind of relics hipsters love to place on mantels and bookshelves to let people know how eclectic they are, as evidenced by the handful of people walking up and down the stretch trying to find the perfect collectible. One generation’s garbage becomes another’s quirky conversation piece. 

Brooklynite Jessica Gaussion is scouring the sand with her mother for smaller pieces for some yet-to-be-envisioned craft project I can only assume will be a mosaic of sorts. 

“There’s very little red glass out here,” she tells me. “That’s a really coveted piece.” I suppress the urge to offer my opinion of her search when recollecting how a week earlier, I was in Mosul watching young children sift through the rubble that was their neighborhood for anything of value to sell to the scrap dealers, just so they could eat. 

 

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We bid our farewell to the odd stretch and saddle up for a ride back to Manhattan. The sun is getting low as we pull onto the Belt Parkway, casting the Verrazano Bridge in a golden glow. 

Just before sunset, we return to Lower Manhattan, past hoards of tourists milling around the memorial at the base of the Freedom Tower, before arriving at the legendary Ear Inn. This historical watering hole was a favorite haunt for sailors as far back as the early 1800s and now attracts bikers and civilians alike. Its history is intimately intertwined with the city we spent the day exploring.

Our bartender relates an old tale about how the sail-power vessels of yore would float right up to the dock, which in the earliest days of the Ear Inn was just outside the front door. In those days some sailors apparently weren’t allowed to leave ship, so the proprietor would pass crates of beer and stronger spirits right into the hands of eager seamen. Those that could leave, and landlubbers alike, were known to visit the working ladies in the upstairs bordello upstairs to slake a more carnal thirst. 

 

Our bartender relates an old tale about how the sail-power vessels of yore would float right up to the dock, which in the earliest days of the Ear Inn was just outside the front door. In those days some sailors apparently weren’t allowed to leave ship, so the proprietor would pass crates of beer and stronger spirits right into the hands of eager seamen. Those that could leave, and landlubbers alike, were known to visit the working ladies in the upstairs bordello upstairs to slake a more carnal thirst. 

Old maps we examine in a book that the bartender lends us attest to the bar’s previous close proximity to the water. However, two centuries later, the Hudson River is several blocks to the west, thanks to Lower Manhattan’s ever-expanding waistline. When the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were built, the dirt excavated for their foundations formed what is known today as Battery Park. 

The Ear Inn also did its duty to provide shelter for those New Yorkers fleeing the collapsing World Trade Center in 2001 amid the uncertainty and mayhem of that fateful day in September. 

All these years later, the Ear Inn is still a refuge of sorts for bikers and non-riders alike, though the sailors and working girls are long gone. 

We ponder the inn’s bawdy past and wish we could have been there during those debauched days long ago. 

 

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Our bikes plinking and cooling by the curb, Blue and I recount the day’s ride and marvel at how much ground we were able to cover in a single day. Blue’s been living in New York for more than 14 years and been riding here nearly as long. His street-by-street, encyclopedic knowledge of the city certainly served us well on our exploration. 

“I bought a bike when I came to New York to get out of the city more often,” he tells me over drinks, reminiscing about his earliest days of riding in a city not known for its patient or courteous drivers. 

 

“But I soon found out that I could discover so much more about the city, particularly the out-of-the-way places, just by riding around and seeing where my bike would take me.”

 

Amen to that, I tell him, now familiar with a few more sights in the city that many a longtime New Yorker would have difficulty identifying, thanks to our ride.


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Featured in Volume 012

Equilibrium

Precisely Enough

A film by VOCA Films | Words by Ben Giese | Photos by Aaron Brimhall


 

"Only great minds can afford a simple style."

–Stendhal

 

This has been one of my favorite quotes for many years now, and it not only inspires my work as a designer, but it’s also a concept I try to apply to my daily life. I am a fan of minimalism and believe that good design is a form of intelligence. My personal interpretation of minimalism is not necessarily an effort to have as little as possible, but more an effort to strip away the unnecessary. To silence the noise and let quality do the talking. Simplicity can be a beautiful thing if done correctly, and minimalism can be a powerful source of freedom. And I think these are two very mportant characteristics of a well-designed motorcycle. Even the great Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” 

Motorcycles should be simple. They should be exposed and unobstructed, much like the experience of riding them. I believe that good design appears in the lines, stripping away all the unnecessary gimmicks to present the machine in its purest form. But great design … Great design appears in all the things you don’t notice. It’s not in the things you can see or touch; the magic of a great motorcycle should be something you can feel. 

 

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“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

–Leonardo da Vinci

 

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In the fall of 2015, Swedish motorcycle manufacturer Husqvarna invited us to the annual EICMA Show in Milan, Italy, to witness the unveiling of their new Vitpilen 701 concept bike. Swedish design has always been synonymous with quality and minimalism, and true to its DNA, the Vitpilen revealed absolute excellence in its simplicity. I could feel that magic “something” immediately as I gazed upon the masterful work in design. 

With today’s popular trend of retro-inspired motorcycles and motorcycle culture, the Vitpilen 701 is a breath of fresh air. The progressive and forward-thinking design breaks boundaries with a nice reminder to stop looking to the past and start dreaming about the future. I’m a sucker for nostalgia just like the next guy, but from a design standpoint, the seamless aesthetic and unique lines of the Vitpilen stand alone and offer a new perspective on motorcycle design. Reduced down to the bare essentials of what a bike should be, the Vitpilen is a jaw-dropping statement for Husqvarna’s bold return to street.

 

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Two and a half years have passed since I first laid eyes on the Vitpilen 701 concept, and the anticipation to ride it was finally coming to an end. The first production models recently landed in the States, and I would be lucky enough to journey out to beautiful Palm Springs, California, to be one of the first to swing a leg over it on American soil.

Palm Springs is a cultural desert oasis, hosting the world’s largest concentration of mid-century modern architecture. Since the 1920s, visionary modernist architects have designed sleek homes to embrace the desert environment. The dramatic geographic surroundings of the Coachella Valley inspired a design aesthetic that became known as Desert Modernism, where the simplicity of the desert landscape is reflected in the minimal design of the architecture.

 

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"Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean and make it simple.”

–Steve Jobs

 

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Notable for its use of glass, clean lines and sophisticated design, Desert Modernism evoked a lifestyle of simplicity and elegance. Palm Springs became the place – as journalist Joan Didion once wrote – for dreaming the golden dream. Influenced by the intensities of living in a desert climate, this style of architecture aimed to be the perfect combination between form and function that challenged the current idea of what a home should look like. Thoughtful design became part of daily life, with ideals to not only look stunning, but also improve the experience. These principles very much remind me of the design philosophy behind Husqvarna’s Vitpilen 701, and the more thought I put into this connection, the more I realized that there could not be a more appropriate location to ride this motorcycle.

The Vitpilen 701 and Palm Springs’ Desert Modernist architecture have a lot in common. Both dance between the balance of form and function and the relationships of materials in an effort to create a seamless transition through space. They both feature a minimal design aesthetic that has been purposefully built to complement the experience. And when combining the elements of this modernist architecture, the minimal desert landscape and the progressive design of this motorcycle, it begs the question: Does innovation really need to be complex?

 

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"If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

–Albert Einstein

 

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Husqvarna has answered this question clearly with a motorcycle culminating in 115 years of progression, innovation and a never-ending quest to pioneer new territory.  I found that magic “something” in the honest and thrilling riding experience enabled by its simple and progressive design. As the sun sets over Palm Springs and I reflect on the day’s ride, this motorcycle has made an obvious statement: Perfection is not about more or less, but the balance of precisely enough. It’s about finding equilibrium. There is a fine line between too much and too little, and with the new Vitpilen 701, you can finally ride that line.


Read the story in Volume 012

From Silence the Word

Uniquely Jeff Emig

Words by Andy Taylor | Photos courtesy Taylor Creative


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Everyone who watched Jeff Emig race a motorcycle in the early ’80s could see he had the flow—a natural control. Head up. Eyes forward. Back straight. He was poetry in motion when he was on a motocross track, touted from his early teen years as something special. He had “it.”

Though it didn’t necessarily come easy. Emig’s ability on the bike was more the result of being able to summon a singular focus. Champions have a unique power to quiet the outside world at the moment everything is on the line. Like his motorcycle, when Emig rode, he screamed: “Race me.” “Push me.” “Tell me I can’t.” On the bike, everything made sense. His world was simple, and he the master of it.

 

Off the bike, Emig struggled with expressing himself. The idea of speaking in front of a stranger was daunting, a terrifying endeavor. Imagine being a natural-born champion, yet privately fighting something most of society takes as everyday routine.

 

Today, Jeff Emig can be seen in broadcasts every weekend throughout the winter as the voice of supercross. Thirty-five years ago, he was a simple Kansas City kid who hauled ass on a dirtbike, but who also secretly struggled with the demons of a speech impediment. Staring down at the gate was nothing compared to the logistics of a basic conversation. Emig had a stuttering problem. He couldn’t get the words out, while on the inside his frustrated mind was always going as fast as his Supermini. In his youth, it was easier for Emig to choose silence rather than face the snowballing humiliation of tripping over his words again and again.

 

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Imagine lining up for a supercross main event as a top contender. Fifty thousand fans are on their feet, shouting waves of electric energy. Blazing pyrotechnics cut through the damp night sky. Heart rates accelerate. Your entire life has been pointed toward this moment—toward this race. And all that fills your mind is the dread of that approaching microphone.

In Emig’s days as a professional, the trackside commentator would walk down the line and have each rider introduce himself to the crowd. The closer the microphone got, the more Emig’s spirit sank. There he was, trying to do his job and race a motorcycle, with a black hole growing in his stomach at the idea of speaking into a microphone. He had a secret disdain for the announcer holding the mic and coming ever closer to his spot on the line. Emig always made it through just fine, but shifting his mind back to the business at hand wasn’t easy, and it took its toll.

For years, it was difficult for Emig to comprehend how this distraction affected his racing. For him, there was speaking and there was racing; the two did not intersect. But, over time, he realized confidence was being ripped from him—and on the stage where he needed it most. Professional motocross is a level of top-tier competition, a mental battlefield, and Emig often started his bike on the gate with his confidence at a devastating low, all because of his relentless struggle with that microphone.

As Emig entered the peak of his career, he made a decision: It was time to face this thing down. On the motorcycle, he was a champion. He learned to gain strength from failure, and understood the force and wherewithal it took to reach a transcendent moment. It was time to use unstoppable will to find his words.

 

If you would have walked up to someone at the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National in the mid-’80s and told them Jeff Emig would be the voice of our sport in the future, they would have laugh-spewed sweet tea in your face. But it’s only because most people don’t have the thing in them, the thing that would rather die than quit, nor do they understand it.

Emig reached for the same determination he used to beat the world’s best motocross racers. He attacked the problem as a competitor. Toiling through countless hours of grinding therapy sessions and exercises, he fought through his obstacles. Every champion is born with the power to tirelessly chase a goal until it is in their grip. Jeff Emig had reached the pinnacle of racing and now had a new rabbit to chase.

The days following retirement can be brutal for a professional athlete. Remolding a career after a lifetime of relentlessly pursuing one goal—motocross glory—requires dipping a toe back into the motivation well. For Emig, it was more than finding something he enjoyed and the drive to do it. He had to overcome a lifelong obstacle more perplexing than the gnarliest of rhythm sections. The beauty of being on the motorcycle was living in his own secluded domain. Now Emig felt thrown into the lion’s den. Speaking had always been a nagging part of his job—an afterthought, more than anything. But now he would need to do a lot more of it.

 

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But there’s a common theme in the life of Jeff Emig: He sets his mind to it, and it happens. From racer to announcer, Emig applies the power of will to all of his challenges. But perhaps Emig’s most important quality is his humility and willingness to be just as open about his struggles as he is his victories. For Emig, his early failures were a learning experience, building blocks on his journey to becoming an icon of the sport on and off the motorcycle.

 

Along with his goals in business and sport, Emig still has places he wants to go in life, and goals to achieve on the way. He genuinely loves helping people find the drive to realize their dreams. He doesn’t unmask his life struggles for enjoyment; he does it because he understands the importance of lifting people up, of helping them reach new levels of potential. His desire to break boundaries brought him to the summit of motocross success as a multi-time champion, one of the greatest professionals the ’90s ever produced, and the same hunger continues to drive him forward off the track. He hopes in the future to communicate such a desire to anyone who will let him. The innate ability to catch sight of a goal and unyieldingly chase it is what makes a champion, a champion. For Jeff Emig, there is no other way to go about living.


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Read the story in Volume 005

Carey Hart

The Marketing Maven

Words by Brett Smith | Photos by Aaron Brimhall


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Carey Hart has a fear of being broke. Yes, one of the most recognizable motorcyclists in the world—who transcended freestyle motocross more than a decade ago, who still collects a paycheck for riding, who owns a chain of high-end tattoo shops, runs a clothing line, and co-owns a team that wins Monster Energy Supercross and Lucas Oil Pro Motocross races—is scared of going belly up. It’s an esoteric thing for him to say, yet it’s the first comment given when asked where his energy comes from, why his brain spews an unlimited supply of ideas. The fear of an empty bank account is partially what motivates him to finish a 10,000-meter SkiErg workout by 5:30 a.m. and answer emails and messages before the sun rises. There are businesses and deals to keep an eye on—a lot of them. Hart isn’t delicate with his words; he’s pointed, honest, and quick-witted. Sitting on a metal workbench in his 4,000-square-foot garage filled with motorcycles, bicycles, tools, half-built hotrods, guns, skateboards, and a lofted fitness center (yes, a fitness center), Hart needs no prodding. He’s happy to explain how a tattooed scumbag from Las Vegas became way more successful in business than he ever did as a rider and how he’s now winning races in a sport that, two decades ago, didn’t want anything to do with him. 

 

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Hart’s actions, however, betray his fears; judging from his history, he seems unafraid to fail, and there’s one action that helped launch Hart’s name well beyond the motorcycle microcosm and proved that he would take big risks in life: the first backflip attempt, at the 2000 Gravity Games in Providence, Rhode Island. He didn’t know if he could do it, no other riders were making the effort to try, and many thought Hart was nuts for even thinking about it. While Hart estimates he spun 600 practice flips on a bicycle under the guidance of friend, roommate, and BMX professional TJ Lavin, nobody was able to truly teach him the physics of inverting a 220-pound Honda CR250 and bringing it back to the rubber. Beyond that, nobody at that point knew the geometry of a proper takeoff ramp. It was all one giant experiment. Hart’s father, Tom, took a loader and carved into the face of one of the freestyle landings, cutting a 12- to 13-foot wall that Hart remembers looking to be 2 degrees away from completely vertical. With a shovel, Hart spent two hours digging and shaping and throwing his hands in the air in animated visualization of what he was soon to attempt. 

 

When Hart dropped in on what was supposed to be a 75-second-long freestyle run, the standing-room-only crowd already knew what was going on. In an unintentional marketing maneuver, he didn’t try to keep his backflip plan a secret.

 

“Ninety-nine percent of the people in the stadium thought a backflip was impossible,”

 

he says today. But he certainly had the attention of 100 percent of the audience. Hart didn’t come to Providence to win a medal. He hit no other jumps, did no other tricks; it was backflip or bust. After two passes to feel out the makeshift takeoff, he clicked into second gear, repeatedly blipped the throttle on approach, then grabbed a handful through the transition. He shot 30 to 35 feet in the air from the flat bottom, spun slightly more than a complete rotation, brought both tires back to dirt, and crashed; technically, he failed, yet he simultaneously succeeded. Even today he admits everything he did on the jump was wrong, from the ramp angle to the amount of speed he carried into the approach, but he was the first person to prove it was possible. While he didn’t actually land a backflip, he landed himself and the sport into unprecedented media territories; everyone was talking about Carey Hart.

 

 

“Someone was going to attempt it,” he says. “It was a matter of time. I wanted it to be me.” 

 

The backflip as a business-strategy model has been used over and over by Hart for 15 years; he’s not afraid to be the first one in, but he’s smart enough to know when something isn’t working well.

Now 40, Hart can still remember the feeling of being broke. Broke was cold showers as a child because the gas service had been cut off. It was the nights when homework was finished with a flashlight because there was no power in the Las Vegas home where he lived with his dad. These periods were some of the happiest in his life because he always had motorcycles to ride, always raced on the weekends, and developed a passion that eventually turned into a career. The Harts were not in poverty, but they often prioritized motorcycles over paying bills. Hart was born in Seal Beach, California, but his parents split soon after, and when he was 4, he and his father moved to Las Vegas. They bonded over bikes. A construction worker, Tom Hart would “borrow” heavy equipment from the job sites of his employer on the weekends to build tracks for Carey on undeveloped land outside of town. During the week, Carey rode on the gas tank of Tom’s clapped-out Suzuki RM250 for the 6-mile fire-road commute to school. In the afternoons, Tom would be waiting at the curb to take him home. Everything they did together revolved around motorcycles.

 

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Hart, himself now a father, doesn’t want to have to choose between paying utilities and buying new tires, but he’s thankful for the unconventional sacrifices his dad made. But there were lessons in work ethic, too, and Hart got a taste of manual labor working with his father and uncles. Being 12 years old and shoveling asphalt or pouring concrete under the full force of the southern Nevada sun in August isn’t something a kid forgets. Ever. For many summers, that was how Hart made extra money to buy himself a new pair of riding boots or a helmet. During the school year, his job was to maintain grades at the A/B level or the bikes were  parked—“And there was a couple of times that my bikes were parked,” he says—but if he was going to predict the direction his life was heading in, swinging a shovel, toting a wheelbarrow, and choking on drywall dust wasn’t it. Hart knew what he didn’t want to do for the rest of his life. 

Hart has been blessed—or cursed, depending on how you see it—with what he calls “Hart Luck,” and the play on words (“hard luck”) has become not only a tattooed reminder on his knuckles, but part of his brand. 

 

“I’ve always said I had ‘Hart Luck’ because sometimes it’s really great and a good chunk of times it’s really, really bad,” 

 

he says. Hart is a glass-half-full type of person and would say the good luck is winning. For all the right timing, relationships, investments, and well-calculated risks, Hart’s life has been filled with tragedies that he has been able to turn into opportunities to create something better, bigger. 

 

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He’s broken close to 80 bones and is still trying to repair all the damage from his horrendous collisions with the earth. In February 2014, two vertebrae in his lower spine were fused to alleviate back pain. He already knows he needs a hip replacement, and he’s currently nursing a torn right rotator cuff. He’s had two riding crashes that should have killed him—one in 1991 as an amateur racer and another in October 2003 at the Tacoma, Washington, stop of Tony Hawk’s Boom Boom Huck Jam. In Tacoma, he broke bones in every limb and spent four weeks in intensive care because blood clots breaking free in his body threatened to take his life. The 2003 crash effectively ended his freestyle motocross career. During recovery, he focused his energy on the Hart and Huntington Tattoo Company, which opened its first store less than four months after the crash. Preparing to become a proprietor was sort of like learning to flip.

 

“I didn’t know a fucking thing about running a business,”  

 

he says bluntly. But Hart, who had been drawing on his own skin since elementary school and received his first permanent tattoo on his 18th birthday—some flames, skulls, and #111 on his left pec—knew the tattoo business could benefit from an image upgrade. He wanted to move it away from a niche, gritty, edgy, feels-like-you’re-doing-something-almost-illegal environment to an upscale, service-oriented, glossier establishment. He convinced George Maloof, Jr., then the majority owner of the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas and the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, to gamble on allowing him to open a tattoo parlor amongst the boutique shops and day spas. Hart said no other casino in Las Vegas had tried having a tattoo shop as part of its retail lineup. Again, Hart wanted to be the first.

 

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The tattoo parlor led to a TV show on A&E, which led to a marketable brand, more store locations, a book, a nightclub, late-night TV interviews, and a cast-member role on season five of VH1’s “The Surreal Life,” where Hart taught Jose Canseco how to ride a motorcycle.

While most top American motorcycle athletes go unrecognized outside the two-wheeled world, Hart became so famous that he remembers encountering people who were surprised to learn he also rode dirt bikes. His notoriety was spread amongst several buckets: motorcycles, business, television, and as the boyfriend of musician P!nk (Alecia Moore), whom he married in June 2006. While he was growing businesses, walking red carpets at the Grammys and other galas, and producing reality TV, Hart still wanted to be an athlete. After spending two years recovering from the Boom Boom crash, he knew his days of trying to win freestyle contests were over. He started a supermoto racing team instead, and in 2006 they contested the AMA series. In the summer of 2007, the “Hart Luck” reared when the entire Hart and Huntington race rig turned into a roadside barbecue on I-15 during a drive to Salt Lake City. The team lost everything—the vehicles, bikes, tools, and parts—and Hart learned the valuable lesson about insuring the contents of a trailer as well as the trailer itself. With just a few weeks until X Games, an event that would provide more exposure for his sponsors than all the other races combined, Hart scratched out a $500,000 check to buy a Concept Hauler, eight new motorcycles, parts, and more, and then called an emergency meeting with his team manger. 

 

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“Me and Kenny Watson sat at the Spearmint Rhino in Vegas with a napkin and started writing out ideas to do a [supercross] team,” 

 

Hart says. With that much money laid out, he knew he wouldn’t get the desired return from competing in supermoto, and he couldn’t afford to hire freestyle riders, who, at the time, were fetching $100,000 a year from clothing sponsors. The end goal was to promote the Hart and Huntington brand at the races. “Sell tattoos and T-shirts,” he says. “A supercross team that goes out and does 17 supercrosses is a lot cheaper than sponsoring five freestyle riders. That was kind of the business model that I built, or the justification for doing my supercross team.”

The year 2008 was possibly the worst to start anything. Financial troubles consumed the country and the catchphrase “You know, with the economy the way it is and all” was becoming part of the American lexicon. In October, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) authorized nearly $500 billion in expenditures to bail out U.S. banks and auto manufacturers. The motorcycle makers started a sales decline that lasted for half a decade, and Carey Hart decided it was time to go racing. His agent, Wasserman Media Group’s Steven Astephen, jokingly told him he was an idiot. 

 

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“I have always cared about him personally,” Astephen says. “It’s a hard, hard gig, and it wasn’t the right time to be doing it when he did it. He put a lot at risk.” 

Hart wasn’t deterred, and he said his total out-of-pocket investment was close to $1 million in the first three to four years. “I just looked at it as an investment into the brand,” he explains. “I love the sport of motocross; I love going to the races. Nowadays, it’s tricky; this thing has grown into a monster. We now deal with Fortune 500 companies.” 

At the 1992 World Mini Grand Prix, Kenny Watson was helping out a friend who was racing. Parked next to them was a 16-year-old 125 intermediate rider named Carey Hart and his dad. Watson didn’t speak to them, but remembered the bond the father and son shared over being at the races. Four years later, at a supercross race, Watson—wrenching for Scott Sheak—was parked next to Hart again. They met, and Watson remembers the teenager having an edge to him—“Not cocky, but grounded,” Watson remembers. He was most impressed with how the kid was doing it on his own and living in a van, sleeping on couches, sometimes staying at KOA campgrounds, being resourceful. “He was business savvy, budget oriented, and knew how much money he needed to keep going,” Watson says. “I respected him for that.”

 

In the world of freestyle motocross and tattoos, talking about mathematics is not an image-building topic, but Hart says he has always loved numbers, and he graduated from Green Valley High in Henderson, Nevada, with honors in 1993. He thought he might someday become an accountant if he didn’t become a supercross champion first. By 1998 Hart had appeared in several freeride videos, already had sleeve tattoos running up his arms, and rode for Fleshgear, a baggy-riding-gear company—his first paying sponsor. Greg Schnell was a friend and practice partner. Hart remembers sitting in a pickup truck together laughing over the language of a contract Schnell had signed: no visible tattoos, no colored hair, no piercings. Motocross was attempting to protect its image and distance itself from the burgeoning freeriding and freestyle culture.

But Hart was still racing in the late ’90s. In 1998, he traveled the entire AMA Supercross series, competing in the premier class. He made two main events in the 16-round tour, Daytona and Minneapolis, and he finished dead last in both. In the Cycle News coverage from Daytona, the text from the last-chance qualifier recap read, “Bauder always had to keep an eye on Kawasaki rider Cory [sic] Hart.” After the supercross finale in Las Vegas on May 2, Hart’s phone didn’t ring, even though he felt he was a top privateer with promise. “Nobody wanted to help me,” he says. “I’m like, ‘Fuck it. I’m over it. This is it. I’m done.’” 

 

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He enrolled in the Community College of Southern Nevada for the fall semester of 1998. He was getting an education to become an accountant. That summer, he got the opportunity to spend nine weeks jumping in the Warped Tour for $1,000 a week plus per diem. He still went to school that fall, finished the first semester, and had plans to transfer to UNLV, but 4 Leaf Entertainment had started a freestyle motocross series that Hart squeezed in on weekends. The series expanded in 1999 and Hart took a semester off school to focus on building his trick list. Seventeen years later, life hasn’t slowed down.

“The little chemistry project that I did with my tattoo shops and TV shows and promotions, it was a college education,” he says. “It was also a whole lot more expensive than a college education.”

 

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Somewhere in the two decades of Hart’s career as a professional racer/rider and entrepreneur, he learned the value of ROI (return on investment) and how to under-promise and over-deliver. Even as a young freestyle rider, Hart knew his sponsors expected something in return for the money they were paying him. When he and Watson went supercross racing full time in 2008, Troy Adams and Cole Siebler were the riders—hardly a lineup expected to win races. Hart knew the return to his sponsors wasn’t going to come from the racetrack—at least not right away. But he had also not forgotten the feeling from the late ’90s when he couldn’t find enough support to keep his own racing career alive. That chip on his shoulder still has sharp edges.

 

“I wanted to come back and prove everyone wrong, prove that some tattooed scumbag can run a business and be successful and eventually, hopefully, win races,” he says.

 

 

But first he had to show commitment and growth, and that meant doing something better than Honda and Kawasaki and Yamaha and the other teams. Instead of keeping their team area shrouded in secrecy and erecting barriers to keep out the fans, Hart decided he had to win off the track. They called it “activation.” “We embrace the fans, we embrace the people,” he says. “We bring them into our truck. We want to establish that touch and feel of what racing is now. Now you look through the pits and everybody is doing it, which is great. I feel like we’ve helped change the sport of supercross from an experience standpoint.”

Loyalty is important, and Watson said he noticed it as far back as 2006, when they were a truck/trailer supermoto team.

“I always noticed how many people loved [Hart] and wanted to be around him,” Watson says. “He wasn’t winning. He was a top-10 guy, but he had so many people around his truck.” Hart has at least one fan so loyal that she tattooed his autograph onto her body. The four bars of the Hart and Huntington logo is a tattoo he’s seen on the arms, legs, and bodies of many fans. He is flattered by the gesture. At the races, Hart makes sure the fans feel like they’re part of something, and the team tracks these experiences and takes extra effort to make sure the engagement goes beyond the races.

 

“We work extremely close with the sponsors and we figure out what their mechanism is. You want to sell hotels? You want to sell vehicles, you want people to see your logo, you want feet in the door? We really focus on that and try to give a return on that,” Hart says. By 2012, however, they knew they had hit a ceiling. The show in the pits was working, but the on-track performance had improved as much as it could without better equipment and the technical knowledge to attract top talent. Team Hart and Huntington was still writing checks to Pro Circuit for performance work, and the bikes, while not stock, could have been built by any rider. Hart wanted more, and in February 2012 he leaked a hint on the “PulpMX” radio show. 

“I don’t want to just be a dog-and-pony show in the pits,” Hart told host Steve Matthes. “I want to go, eventually, still be a dog-and-pony show, but win races. I want the best of both worlds. That’s what we’re working on for 2013.”

 

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In October 2012, Hart and 15-time AMA Supercross/Motocross champion Ricky Carmichael announced a partnership that would have seemed like an April Fool’s joke 10 years prior. The team’s name was changing to RCH Racing and Carmichael was bringing Suzuki factory equipment and support and his own technical knowledge that he used to win 150 career races. Watson was friends with Carmichael long before becoming co-workers and remembers the idea first being floated in the summer of 2011. At that point, Watson says, Carmichael was contemplating starting his own race team. Instead, Carmichael asked Watson to set up a meeting with Hart at the Anaheim Supercross opener in 2012. Nine months later, they announced the partnership. “The marketing power that Carey has is second to none, and I needed to join a team that I could bring something to,” Carmichael said at the announcement that year.

On Jan. 3, 2015, RCH won its first Monster Energy Supercross race, and the 55-pound trophy, signed by rider/winner Ken Roczen, is on display in Hart’s garage. Hart remembers the emotions being surreal, and he was so elated about the win that he posted four different photos of the trophy to his Instagram feed that night. He also remembers the overwhelming feeling the next day of both satisfaction and the urge to do it again and chase the next milestone: a championship. 

 

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On a warm December morning, that’s exactly what Hart is doing in his garage as he conducts business over the phone while preparing his own riding gear. Or maybe he’s working on his new 10-year deal with the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, of which he was the grand marshall in 2015. Or maybe he’s working on the upcoming opening of the new tattoo-shop location: Nashville. Or maybe he’s setting up a riding tour with Fox, whose roster he’s still on as a rider. Maybe he’s negotiating a deal for a new television show. It could be anything; Hart is always grinding, looking for the next best way to get exposure for those who believe in and invest in his brand. 

Now living on a 220-acre vineyard in California with his wife and 4 1/2-year-old daughter, Willow, Hart’s life is drastically different from the humble desert-rat upbringing of rural Nevada. As big as Hart’s businesses, image, and list of assets have become, he’s never developed an ego. While his personal stock has grown, “He is the same person no matter what room he is in or who is in the room,” said his wife, in September 2012 during an appearance on “The View.” Hart nods in agreement when asked about the statement.

 

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“I’m just a straight shooter. I have no time for bullshit and I don’t want to be around people that have to act certain ways in different circles. I’m me, love me or hate me. Rarely is there anything in between.”

 

After all the questions and shutter clicks—through which Hart was immensely patient—he drops everything to go back into his home and take care of priority number one, his most prized possession, the invaluable asset that he’s most proud of:  his family.


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Read the story in Volume 005

Alternation

Leticia Cline

Words by Leticia Cline | Photos by Matt Jones


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The morning air was crisp, each inhale serving as a brisk wakeup call, stinging the lungs. I awoke with a knot in my stomach from yesterday’s decision to rent a motorcycle and set out on a 400-mile ride. It had been six years since I had been on a bike, and the rapid beating in my chest reminded me of that with every thump. I sat on my porch and my thoughts turned to my father, who taught me to ride and, up until his death, had been my steadfast road-trip partner. I was afraid. I was alone. But this was something that was bigger than just me and a motorcycle. 

A lot had changed in six years. The women’s movement in motorcycling was something that I was not well familiar with. I’d never ridden with girls, and really did not even surround myself with them in regular life. I had a couple of women friends at that time and even they acted more like men than most men I know. For the first time in my life, I was nervously yearning to be accepted, even though I wasn’t yet sure why.

 

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Having become familiar with the massive population of female motorcyclists through social media, I found myself wanting to do more than just connect with women online; I wanted to actually meet, to hear their stories in person and ride with them. For so long, we women have been labeled as “catty” and “emotionally unstable,” and even though I am a woman, I generally tended to agree—up until I discovered this subculture of women who actually encouraged one another. Maybe it’s because they are a subculture and by nature that comes with the territory; those in the minority tend to look out for each other.

It’s no secret that women have been riding motorcycles for a long time. What’s changing now is that women are no longer encouraging only other women to ride, but men as well. We have become pop culture, showing up in ads for anything from purses to mascara to feature films, riding away into the sunset at the handlebars, not feebly sitting on the hero’s backseat.

 

Today, one in four motorcyclists is a woman; there are nearly seven million female riders worldwide, a 45 percent increase since 2003.

 

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Every day, a new women’s motorcycle club or woman rider is born, and the world is taking notice. The American Motorcyclist Association’s #getwomenriding hashtag demonstrates an understanding for the movement and, more importantly, support. They even highlighted female influencers in the industry, including Ducati rider and blogger Alicia Elfving (The Moto Lady) and East Side Moto Babes member and racer Stacie B. London (Triple Nickel 555). Microsoft even highlighted woman rider, racer, and builder Jessi Combs in their #DoMore campaign.

Surprisingly enough, men have had a lot to do with making this women’s movement possible. The male culture of motorcycling has finally recognized that there’s more to women and motorcycles beyond the idea of “Hey, she’s hot. Let’s put her on a bike and take pictures.” It’s because of a man, my father, that I started riding, and a lot of other women were introduced to motorcycles in similar fashion. Whether it be a boyfriend, friend, brother, uncle, or father, they are teaching alongside us women that our daughters no longer have to conform to societal norms, that they, too, can break through the glass ceiling created from age-old mindsets. It’s a common struggle for all riders, men and women alike. The modern American motorcyclist is not a rebel and lawbreaker who doesn’t bathe and looks like a Sailor Jerry tattoo photo. 

 

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The women’s movement in motorcycling is important for more than just the girls who swing a leg over a bike. The biggest challenge ladies face is overcoming insecurities. Since birth, we have been told that we are the weaker sex, that we should uphold some old-school standard of femininity. Comments like “You’re too pretty” or “You act like a girl” are still common criticisms in today’s world. What’s worse is that after hearing it over and over, you believe it. It holds a lot of women back, and at the same time it’s the fire that ignites a lot of us to ride, run, play, jump, or push even harder. The women on bikes inspire not just those within the realm of motorcycles, but anyone who has ever felt too weak, too small, too fragile, or simply afraid to do something they always wanted to do.

It’s a great time to be a woman riding a motorcycle. The legacies of the women before us are heard now more than ever, and new legacies are being created every day.

 

Every time you get on a bike, you are saying to the rest of the world that you live passionately and ambitiously and not only do you not mind being a leader, but you revel in it. Women riders are changing the way the world thinks, one mile at a time.

 

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I have been fortunate enough in my travels to have met a lot of you who own the title of female motorcyclist. I read your stories online, l listen as you talk with passion and vigor, and I retell those stories to others in hopes of encouraging them to take the first step toward living an adventurous life. I am but one voice in this movement; there are so many others, and it’s with all of our voices combined that we become one and provoke change. You all inspire me. That may sound cheesy, but by my feminine nature, I hold the right to get emotional when need be, damn it!

Not long ago I was just a girl sitting on the edge of her porch, nervous to embark on a fuel-inspired journey. Finally understanding the desire and hunger that you ladies feel ignited a fire within me. I finally feel like I have made it home, and now I understand what it means to be a part of something great. I’m so happy that you all have embraced me with open arms.

 

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So I say ladies, celebrate your ability to be a woman who’s not afraid to get beat up and dirty. Paint your nails and chip the polish on your journey. Fix your hair and stuff it in a helmet. There is no reason that you cannot be both feminine and powerful, and as long as you believe that, then there is nothing you cannot do alone and nothing we cannot do together.

 

“Other people will call me a rebel, but I just feel like I’m living my life and doing what I want to do. Sometimes people will call that rebellion, especially when you’re a woman.”

Joan Jett


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Read the story in Volume 004

Fearless Leader

The Legend of Evel Knievel

Words by Andrew Campo


 

Several years back, my mother was in my ear about world crisis—preaching her views on government, the conspiracy of the Illuminati, and their role in the impending economic collapse—but I was tuned out, thumbing through a fresh issue of Racer X. I tried to make eye contact, faking my best “Oh, really?” expression every so often, hoping she’d let me get back to the “real issue” at hand. The charade was over; she wasn’t buying it. She could see by the blank stare in my eyes that I was elsewhere. Her voice cut through my thought process like a hatchet:

“All you have thought about since the third grade is motocross; can’t you put down that magazine and give your mom five minutes of focus?”

I knew the answer to her question was no. I did not have five minutes of focus for rantings about global chaos. 

My love affair with motorbikes began when I was 4 years old. Since then it’s grown infinitely, its infectious and inexplicable nature weaving its way into every facet of my life and of those around me. Motorcycles create a special bond and unite the souls of those who ride them. As we started to pull together the pages of this book, I drifted back to my earliest memories of motorcycles and the people who introduced them to my life in an attempt to celebrate it in written word. Tracing the thread back in my mind, I arrived at the memory of me building backyard ramps for a toy that would impact me for decades to come and ultimately help to shape my character.

 

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In 1973, New York–based Ideal Toys created toys based on Butte, Montana’s daredevil son, Robert “Evel” Knievel. This toy changed my life and history was made. I spent countless hours winding up the stunt machine and sending Knievel rocketing to ramps better suited for “Hot Rod”; he jumped anything and everything I could conjure up. Win, lose or draw, I was addicted to those precious seconds between takeoff and touchdown. Those moments when time slows down, life hangs in the balance and one way or another you’re gonna leave saying, “Whew, that was a hell of a ride.” When it was time for bed, I would end the day with a gander through one of my Evel Knievel comic books, and when I woke up and headed to school, you can bet your ass I didn’t forget my Evel Knievel lunchbox. I could care less about football teams, superheroes, any of that. I was on a steady diet of dirtbikes, Farrah Fawcett and AC/DC at an early age when most kids were playing around with Stars Wars figures and Little League.

 

Knievel had become a household name, but to me he was much, much more. American hero, daredevil, death defier and living legend defined his character and created an allure that put him above all on my list of badass dudes. Knievel was a pioneer who would influence my life path for decades to come. From jumping my sisters on my Schwinn Stingray back in ’77 to going over the bars and cartwheeling into the Pacific in February of 2014 to the Whiskey Daredevils tattoo I wear with pride, Knievel has been there as my fearless leader.

 

 

The legend of his death-defying feats came to life at sold-out stadiums across the globe as fans flocked in anticipation of witnessing the baddest man on two wheels hurl his Harley over anything standing in his way. He was a one-man show of enormous stature in a golden era. Through the ever-furrowed brow and piercing stare of his trading card, Knievel challenged me to fight the system and defy the odds. Knievel’s story is best told through the facts below, but not before noting his eminent ingenuity and ability to look forward. His marketing genius not only influenced kids of the era and beyond, but it also opened the door for his son, “Kaptain” Robbie Knievel, and the likes of Travis Pastrana and Robbie Maddison, who continue to keep his daredevil spirit alive. The legend of Evel Knievel will stand the test of time. As an journalist, a fan and a motorcyclist, it is simply an honor to put this to press.

 

Evel Knievel, 1938–2007 

An American Daredevil


More Facts on the legend, Evel Knievel

 

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After a police chase in 1956 in which he crashed his motorcycle, Knievel was taken to jail on a charge of reckless driving. When the night jailer came around to check the roll, he noted Robert Knievel in one cell and William Knofel in the other. Knofel was well known as “Awful Knofel” (“awful” rhyming with “Knofel”), so Knievel began to be referred to as “Evel Knievel” (“Evel” rhyming with “Knievel”). He chose this misspelling because of his last name and because he didn’t want to be considered “evil.” 

Wanting a new start away from Butte, Knievel moved his family to Moses Lake, Washington. There, he opened a Honda motorcycle dealership and promoted racing. During the early 1960s, it was difficult to promote Japanese imports. People still considered them inferior to American-built motorcycles, and there was lingering resentment from World War II, which had ended less than 20 years earlier. Always the promoter, Knievel offered a $100 discount to anybody who could beat him at arm wrestling.

After the closure of the Moses Lake Honda dealership, Knievel went to work for Don Pomeroy at his motorcycle shop in Sunnyside, Washington. It was there that Jim Pomeroy, a well known motorcycle racer taught Knievel how to do a “wheelie” and ride while standing on the seat of the bike.

While trying to support his family, Knievel recalled the Joie Chitwood show he saw as a boy and decided that he could do something similar using a motorcycle. Promoting the show himself, Knievel rented the venue, wrote the press releases, set up the show, sold the tickets and served as his own master of ceremonies. After enticing the small crowd with a few wheelies, he proceeded to jump a twenty-foot-long box of rattlesnakes and two mountain lions. Despite landing short and having his back wheel hit the box containing the rattlesnakes, releasing the snakes and dispersing the crowd of around 1,000, Knievel managed to land safely.

One of Evel’s qualities was that he had great pride in his core values. Throughout his career (and later life), he would repeatedly talk about the importance of “keeping his word.” He stated that although he knew he may not successfully make a jump or even survive the canyon jump, he followed through with each stunt because he gave his word that he would. 

Knievel would regularly share his anti-drug message, as it was another one of his core values. Knievel would preach an anti-drug message to children and adults before each of his stunts. One organization that Knievel regularly slammed for being drug dealers was the Hells Angels. A near-riot erupted on January 23, 1970, at the Cow Palacein Daly City, California, when a tire iron was thrown at Knievel during his stunt show and Knievel and the spectators fought back, sending the Hells Angels to the hospital.

 

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On the morning of his December 31, 1967, jump at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Knievel stopped in the casino and placed his last $100 on the blackjack table (which he lost), stopped by the bar and had a shot of Wild Turkey and then headed outside, where he was joined by two showgirls. After doing his normal pre-jump show and a few warm-up approaches, Knievel began his real approach. When he hit the takeoff ramp, it was perfect; the landing, however, was a disaster. Knievel came up short, which caused the handlebars to be ripped out of his hands as he tumbled over them onto the pavement, where he skidded into the Dunes parking lot. As a result of the crash, Knievel suffered a crushed pelvis and femur, fractures to his hip, wrist and both ankles, and a concussion that kept him in a coma for 29 days. For certain, it was the most famous motorcycle crash in history.

 

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On October 25, 1975, Knievel successfully jumped 14 Greyhound buses at the Kings Island theme park in Ohio. Although Knievel landed on the safety deck above the 14th bus (the frame of the Harley-Davidson actually broke), his landing was successful and he held the record for jumping the most buses on a Harley-Davidson for 24 years.

In January 1977, Knievel was scheduled for a major jump in Chicago. The jump was inspired by the film Jaws. Knievel was scheduled to jump a tank full of live sharks, and it would be televised live nationally. However, during his rehearsal Knievel lost control of the motorcycle and crashed into a cameraman. Although Knievel broke his arms, he was more distraught over a permanent injury his accident caused the cameraman, who lost his eye. The footage of this crash was so upsetting to Knievel that he did not show the clip for 19 years, until the release of the documentary Absolute Evel: The Evel Knievel Story.

 

After the failed shark jump, Knievel retired from major performances and limited his appearances to speaking only, rather than stunt riding, saying “a professional is supposed to know when he has jumped far enough.”

In one of his last interviews, he told Maxim magazine, “You can’t ask a guy like me why [I performed]. I really wanted to fly through the air. I was a daredevil, a performer. I loved the thrill, the money, the whole macho thing. All those things made me Evel Knievel. Sure, I was scared. You gotta be an ass not to be scared. But I beat the hell out of death.”

 

Knievel died in Clearwater, Florida, November 30, 2007, aged 69.


 
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Story featured in Volume 001

Purchase the entire collection of back issues!

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Revenge


The Resurgence of Husqvarna Motorcycles

Words by Andrew Campo & Ben Giese | Photos by Sebas Romero


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On this day, life had treated us very well, and as the sun beamed off the fields of yellow rapeseed flowers outside the Hotel Gyllene Uttern banquet-hall window and onto Sweden’s Vättern Lake in the near distance, our minds began to drift. The room was grand: tables dressed with fresh-cut flowers, warming candlelight, whitefish roe, Arctic char, and Swedish cheese curd. Laughter and smiles swept the room as Husqvarna ambassadors from around the world shared stories and smiles. A sense of obligation had swept over us as we pondered how we would take this experience and share with you the extraordinary brand heritage that we have experienced along this journey. We continued to drift off in thought while watching the wake from the Visingsö ferry flow into the calming fog that was slowly blanketing the second-largest lake in Sweden.

Metal gently chimed against crystal and the room silenced. Standing center was Anders Sarbäcken, the managing director of Husqvarna Scandinavia, and in a commanding tone that represented three centuries, the words “This feels like revenge” echoed through the hall. We got chills that were instantly followed by a sigh of relief. The room exploded again, this time in celebration, and we sat smiling simply because it all made sense and we had found what we were looking for.

 

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The previous day was spent in total captivation as we soaked in the vast history of the brand during our visit to the Husqvarna Fabriksmuseum, located in the heart of Huskvarna, Sweden. This was the same location that once housed the original factory where the Husqvarna brand was founded in the 1600s producing weapons for the king’s army. This legendary structure rests at the base of a series of waterfalls that feed the river that runs alongside the building. As we stood on the bridge just outside the front entrance, overlooking the powerful waters raging beneath us, an overwhelming thought came to mind: water is an essential component to life, and during those early years this water had served as the lifeblood that fueled the hydro-powered weapons factory. It’s these sacred waters that spawned a legacy and it’s where more than 200 years later some of the world’s first motorcycles would be manufactured—true to their heritage, ready for battle. 

 

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Absorbing this history within the museum environment was somewhat surreal. As we stepped into the room that showcased Husqvarna’s racing heritage, we were greeted by a 1931 500cc V-Twin built by Folke Mannerstedt. This motorcycle won the Swedish GPs in 1932 and 1933 as Husqvarna experienced their first taste of victory over the competitive Norton works team. The ability to touch, see, smell, and even hear these legendary machines fill the air left a compelling impression. 

 

 

Our time in Sweden was spent under the guidance of Motorcycle Hall of Fame inductee Gunnar Lindström. A Swedish-born rider who helped introduce the sport of motocross to America during the 1960s, Lindström’s talent on a motorcycle was matched only by his ingenuity in engineering, developing chassis and suspension for Husqvarna Motorcycles. Lindström then went on to write Husqvarna Success, a book curating the history of Husqvarna Motorcycles, so it’s safe to say we were in the right hands. He gave us an intimate look into the evolution of off-road motorcycling and the birth of motocross through sharing stories of when the likes of Rolf Tibblin, Bill Nilsson, and Torsten Hallman helped pioneer the sport throughout Europe, eventually introducing motocross to the United States.

 

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Earlier in the week, Lindström had invited us to the picturesque town of Gränna, where cobblestone streets were lined with colorful flowers and white picket fences. The town was coming to life as locals wandered the streets en route to their favorite coffee and pastry shops. We watched life unfold while gearing up off of the main street, then fired up our collection of FE models and began the journey, following Lindström’s lead as he guided us through town. The air smelled rich with fresh peppermint and flowers as we rode past the endless candy shops, cafés, and gingerbread-style cottages that overlooked Vättern Lake. As we toured the countryside and rode through the rolling farmlands, tiny villages, and castle gates, we got lost in time, and it felt as if we would soon be waking from a good dream. There was something special happening in that moment as we overlooked the lake, soaking in the best Sweden had to offer and experiencing firsthand the monumental history of the brand. 

 

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Motorcycle Hall of Fame inductee, industry icon, and Husqvarna business advisor Mark Blackwell gave us a little insight into why the recent rejuvenation of the brand is so monumental. “After Electrolux sold the Husqvarna Motorcycles business to the Castiglionis and the factory and engineering were moved to Italy, there was tremendous concern, sadness, and frustration in the hearts of those who loved the Husqvarna Motorcycles brand. For many, it had been their life’s work—for others, a brand they had raced and risked everything for. Most just had no idea what would happen to the brand following the move, and, as a result, most of the engineers and staff chose to stay behind in Sweden and not make the move to Italy,” he explained. “In the following years, there was a lot of bitterness over how the brand was treated under the Italian—and, later, German—ownership. 

“But once acquired by Mr. [Stefan] Pierer, he immediately went to work with the help of Gerald Kiska to substantially rejuvenate the Husqvarna Motorcycles brand and the quality and performance of the motorcycles, with special attention to the heritage and Swedish roots of the brand. And in the first full year of production under Mr. Pierer’s leadership, the brand achieved its all-time record sales in its 111-year history. So to have more than 50 leaders (managing directors and brand managers) from around the world back in Sweden to immerse themselves in the rich history and celebrate the comeback of the brand was the sweetest revenge.” 

 

 

We came here to experience the legacy of one of the longest-running motorcycle brands in history. To soak in the culture alongside the pioneers who so elegantly paved the way to what motorcycling has become today. To make a toast alongside all the brand leaders and innovative minds currently cultivating this exciting new beginning. It’s inspiring to see a brand so rich in history experiencing such a reawakening, and if there’s one thing we can take away from this trip, it’s that the soul of Husqvarna is back with a vengeance. The spirit of pioneering lives on as the next chapter unfolds.


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Read the story in Volume 004