West America


5 Months, 25,000 Miles

Words by Jordan Hufnagel | Photos by Jordan Hufnagel & James Crowe


 

In the fall of 2013, after an intense couple of years working toward this dream, James Crowe and I took off on a motorcycle journey that would see us from Whistler, British Columbia, to Ushuaia, Argentina, to the southern tip of South America and beyond. What followed was a beautiful shit-show, two friends constantly throwing themselves in over their heads and making it all work out.

 

 

On our way down, we rode a large portion of the Baja 1000 course, fully loaded with all of our gear. This happened a week after the race had run and immediately after some large storms had swept through. It was the most challenging riding I could conceive of, and consequently I became a hundred times the motorcycle rider I was before. Early in the journey, we realized that our dumb asses didn’t get the paperwork we needed for the ferry to  mainland of Mexico, so we found ourselves backtracking 1,000 miles to the Mexican border. After that life lesson, we were sufficiently prepared for every border crossing and qualified experts on the ins and outs of border paperwork. 

 

 

We dove off cliffs and bridges in Guatemala just a day after I broke two ribs on the ride, because I was decidedly against allowing any non-life-threatening injury to quell this once-in-a-lifetime trip. We tried sailing for a couple of days on open seas on our way to Colombia, with mixed results; suffice it to say that seasickness is no joke. We took off on a renegade six-day backpacking trip by ourselves, hardly a week’s worth of backpacking experience between the two of us, and were welcomed by some of the most beautiful and remote mountains either of us had ever seen. Luckily we hooked up with an incredible and experienced couple while riding the rural milk truck to the beginning of the trek and got schooled in more ways than one by our new friends as we shared the journey together. An hour into a hike bound for one of South America’s most badass waterfalls, James found out that he is extremely allergic to ant bites, which resulted in a frantic rush back to our bikes to get him stabbed with an EpiPen. After that we never left on a hike without the EpiPen, and we also developed some new relaxation methods to help fight off serious allergic reactions—yet another life lesson for the mental folder. We changed countless flat tires in the middle of nowhere and now have a dialed quick-fix kit and method. We rode through snow at 14,000 feet several times with every layer we could possibly dig up, and while we were physically miserable and possibly delirious from incredibly long days in the saddle, I am challenged to recall landscapes as beautiful as the ones up there. 

 

 

We logged more than 25,000 miles in five months on our way to the southern tip of the Americas, taking every step we could to spend the majority of the trip off pavement and in the most remote areas. Help, directions, a place to stay: They were all just a simple interaction away due to the amazing kindness of all the people we met. 

 

 

When I reminisce about this trip, it’s all the harebrained ideas, struggles, and lessons that I remember most fondly. I feel lucky to have a friend who is constantly willing to push limits and learn as we go. And the best part is, there is so much more to come.


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Read the Story in Volume 002


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Born Tomorrow


The All-New Yamaha XSR700

Words by Andrew Campo | Photos by Kevin Wing


 

I have spent the past three years riding a 1973 TX650 as my daily driver. It’s ranks near the top off my all-time favorite motorcycles and just has that little something special to pulls other people in.  I am often approached by folks asking what year she is and then diving into memories of times spent on their late model Yamaha’s. This is usually followed by a trip down memory lane I witness them glow with nostalgia of the best days they can recall. People fall in love with motorcycles, and just like that special someone you haven’t seen in years, they can claim a little piece of your heart and never let go.

 

My 1973 Yamaha TX650 in Golden, Colorado | Photo by Ben Giese

My 1973 Yamaha TX650 in Golden, Colorado | Photo by Ben Giese

The interesting thing about my old Yamaha is that also attracts a new breed of motorcyclists that are clearly drawn to the vintage scene, and drawn to the cultural that comes with it. This demographic appears to be growing at a rapid pace and Craigslist is nearly depleted of classic models.  This has not helped the manufactures, but it's apparent they are responding to the new consumer demand.

This is what truly interested me when given the opportunity to visit San Diego and attend Yamaha’s Sport Heritage Motorcycle Mixer and XSR700 Intro Ride. This new bike was built on Yamaha’s ‘Faster Sons’ philosophy, paying homage to a rich motorcycle heritage while maintaining focus on performance for the future.

The foundation of the XSR700 comes from Yamaha’s MT-07 that features a compact 689cc liquid-cooled, inline twin cylinder, DOHC engine that is light, slim, and thrilling to ride. This 270-degree, crossplane crankshaft concept engine provides a unique power character, combining outstanding low- to mid-range torque with strong high-rpm pulling power. This core allowed Yamaha to focus on styling and this in my opinion is where things could go very wrong if not executed properly. Seeing that XS class of bikes birthed in 1968 have continued to retain that something special I noted earlier and are also known to be of the most flexible platforms you can find when it comes to custom building, creating a true modern classic was paramount with this effort.

 

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After spending some time admiring the XSR700 amongst industry peers it was clear that Yamaha did not 'try too hard' and has built a bike that will likely stand the test of time. The styling attributes are simple, clean, and inviting. The XSR delivers a well balanced mix of timeless style, modern technology and gratifying riding experience. Both Add to that a six-speed transmission, modern suspension components tuned to provide a balance of comfort and control ideal for the street, lightweight aluminum wheels and powerful ABS brakes, and the XSR’s contemporary abilities become evident. New and experienced riders alike will appreciate the modern LCD instrumentation, comfortably upright seating position, low 410-pound wet weight and up to 58mpg fuel economy when navigating through urban traffic or ripping down a twisty road.

Customization potential abounds as well, thanks in part to removable aluminum tank panels and a removable rear sub-frame. Along with the release of the XSR700 Yamaha has launched an accessories line that allows you the ability to personalize your bike through offerings such as their flat seat, fork gaiters, rear rack, side covers, aluminum front number plates, radiator guards and and Yoshimura XSR Y-Series full exhaust.

 

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The XSR700 was simply a treat to ride. We had the opportunity to put them to the test throughout San Diego’s urban terrain and then moved east into the mountains where the XSR700 truly came to life. When it was all said done, I experienced a bike that I was proud to be seen on was more than impressed with its performance capabilities. A bike that i would love to ride again and hope that one day I will see one sitting in my garage alongside the 73 TX650.

Congratulations to Yamaha on job well done.

 
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2018 Yamaha XSR700 Features

 

Engine Type - 689cc liquid-cooled DOHC inline twin cylinder; 8 valves

Bore x Stroke - 80.0mm x 68.6mm

Compression Ratio - 11.5:1

Fuel Delivery - Fuel injection

Ignition TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition

Transmission - Constant mesh 6-speed; multiplate wet clutch

Final Drive - Chain

Suspension / Front - 41mm telescopic fork; 5.1-in travel

Suspension / Rear - Single shock, adjustable preload; 5.1-in travel

Brakes / Front - Dual hydraulic disc, 282mm; ABS

Brakes / Rear - Hydraulic disc, 245mm; ABS

Tires / Front120/70ZR17 Pirelli® Phantom Sportcomp

Tires / Rear180/55ZR17 Pirelli® Phantom Sportcomp

L x W x H - 81.7 in x 32.3 in x 44.5 in

Seat Height - 32.1 in

Wheelbase- 55.3 in

Rake - (Caster Angle)25.0°

Trail - 3.5 in

Maximum Ground Clearance - 5.5 in

Fuel Capacity - 3.7 gal

Fuel Economy - 58 mpg

Wet Weight - 410 lb

1 Year (Limited Factory Warranty)


Available in Matte Gray/Aluminum or Raspberry Metallic

MSRP: $8,499


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The Chemist, the Catalyst, the Creation


Punk Rock & Moto with Strung Out's Jordan Burns

Words by Vince Eager | Photos by Denise Borders & Louis Ramos


How could the most unlikely person help to shape modern motocross?  It’s doubtful that Jordan Burns will ever land a spot in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. There’s no national championship to his credit, no manufacturing firm bearing his name. But there’s simply no denying what he–the drummer from the independent band, Strung Out, which happened to be a fan of the sport–managed to do  by combining two outliers of Southern California culture: punk-rock and moto.

 

 

Tell me a little about how you got involved in the moto industry, Jordan.  

 

Jordan Burns

Jordan Burns

 

That would go back to being a little kid. I was always into BMX bikes and dirtbikes, but my parents wouldn’t let me have a motorcycle. I was fully deprived and was not allowed to have a motorcycle. [Laughs.] I would always see kids riding in the hills and would be the pesky kid asking, “Can I try your motorcycle?” I was always into it, but didn’t get my first motorcycle until I was older and able to buy it by myself. It wasn’t actually a dirtbike, but was a Honda XL350 that I still have today. That’s pretty much the roots of me getting into it. 

 

Strung Out

Strung Out

You obviously have an acclaimed background in the music industry with your band, Strung Out.  Where did your punk-rock roots stem from?  

 

 

My parents threw a choice at me. I don’t think a motorcycle was ever in the mix, but they asked, “Would you like a drum set or [to] save some money for school or a car?” And I was like, “I want a drum set.” We didn’t have a whole lot of money or anything, but that was where the money went. I wanted a brand-new drum set, and they made me rent a drum set for three months before I ever got to buy mine. They wanted to make sure that drumming was something I would continue to do, not something I would start and then be over, like kids can be.

 

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So you have been playing music your whole life?  

 

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I have been playing music, and started playing punk rock when I was 15. I got my first kit after renting one and took lessons for a while. And bam, here I am. 

 

 

Tell me a little bit about your view on how your music has influenced the motocross industry, particularly with the Moto XXX movies.

 

 

I was in my band, Strung Out, which I had joined in 1993, and we got signed to Fat Wreck Chords. About that same time, Kenny Watson was my roommate, and Erik Sandin [the drummer for NOFX] and I had this idea of making a movie. Through Kenny, I met all of the riders and built some great relationships and friendships. That was my goal: to familiarize our music with all of these different riders. Back in the early ’90s, a lot of the motocross riders were still in the mullet stage and wearing Wranglers. No one was really familiar with punk rock in those early days. You had some old-schoolers that did know about us, but I don’t think the general motocross rider knew. 

Erik and I came from the punk-rock scene and had seen all of the snowboard, surf, and skate videos that were all really cool and edgy, with snowboard videos like Whiskey. We’d watch some of the motocross videos that were out and they were so embarrassing. Those were the kinds of videos that made me think we had to make one, but we’d make it more along the lines of the surf, skate, and snow scene. We were friends with all of these bands, but I don’t think we directly thought, “We’re going to introduce punk rock to motocross!” It wasn’t a specific or direct thought at the time, but when I look back on it, and without patting ourselves on the back, I do believe that with Strung Out, Erik, Kenny, and myself had a first hand in it with the Moto XXX video. I really do believe that. It was something brand new back then and people started to latch onto that type of music. Now you look where things went and it really blew up for a long time until everyone kooked out with dubstep and all the other crap. 

 

Moto XXX the movie on VHS, 1994

Moto XXX the movie on VHS, 1994

Strung Out

Strung Out

What is the perception of moto amongst some of the other punk bands out there? 

 

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I never really picked up on it, or if they were into it; I don’t necessarily remember. It seemed like Byron [McMackin, the drummer] from Pennywise was into it, and Rory [Koff, the drummer] from No Use for a Name seemed to be into riding and snowboarding. But once again, and I don’t mean to pat ourselves on the back, but I really believe that with Strung Out and the Moto XXX video we opened up a lot of different bands to this scene. We were just connected with so many bands and back then were just handing out our VHS tapes to everyone to blow it up with all of the different band members that we knew. It was fresh and brand new and exciting. And of course you had the Crusty Demons, which came out and jumped on using a little bit of punk-rock music, and Strung Out had a song on there. 

 

I just think that all that type of stuff gave everything new exposure, and I think it worked in a vice-versa manner. The whole punk-rock attitude and the music that was involved was exposing motocross to the music scene, and the motocross was exposing all of the punk rockers and the music. It was collectively generating momentum for this whole scene that was pretty much untouched at the time. That’s why it was wide open back then, and there was a lot of energy and edge. A lot of people weren’t sure what to make of it, but there was an underground scene and that shit exploded.

 

 

Strung Out has been making music for more than 20 years now.  What’s it like to be a musician now compared to back in the ’90s?

 

The thing for me is that I see a band blow up, like Rise Against. We took them on their first two tours, and the next [thing] you know they are among the biggest bands in the world. You struggle in your head to think, “What was it about them?” I’m jealous, but it’s a proud envious to see everything they have accomplished. Like, back in the day, Blink 182 was just called Blink and we saw them open a bunch of shows for other bands. I would have never guessed in a million years they would go on to be one of the biggest bands there is and sell however many copies. You just never know. These scenarios have the same chances as winning the lottery. The chances of blowing up to that level are less than one percent. They hit that timing right and created something. They had all of the formula, with all of the right people behind them, and it turned into a phenomenon. 

Do I think that our band could be the next NOFX? It would be difficult to achieve those levels. We are fortunate that people still care about our music and we are able to make a small living at it. We are fortunate at that, because for a band to make a living at what they like to do is a difficult task. In this day and age, if you are a young band, I feel bad for you. It is so hard, and the chance for a smaller band to blow up is so small. Radio doesn’t blow a band up. It is an interesting time, that’s for sure. 


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Story Featured in Volume 002


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Submerged


An Homage to South Dakota's Motorcycle Heritage

Words by Andrew Campo | Photos by Michael Lichter


 

Early into October I was invited to spend a few days riding through South Dakota with Matt King the Editor of HOG Magazine and a group of veterans from around the state. This was my first time visiting South Dakota and I had never ridden with veterans, so needless to say I was looking forward to the new experiences and made my way to Rapid City alongside renowned photographer Michael Lichter.

Harley Davidson had been working on a special project in recognition of the Navy’s unveiling of a state of the art Virginia class fast attack nuclear submarine, the USS SOUTH DAKOTA (SSN 790). A 2018 Street Glide was donated by the Harley-Davidson Motor Company to help celebrate the state’s new U.S. Navy submarine and to pay homage to South Dakota’s motorcycle heritage. The bike will live in Sturgis and be available to use by any USS SOUTH DAKOTA  crew member over the thirty year lifespan of the submarine. Custom paint was done by artist Mickey Harris and honors Battleship SOUTH DAKOTA (BB 57) and commemorates the new Submarine SOUTH DAKOTA (SSN 790).

 

 

A flag ceremony lead by retired U.S. Navy Commander Wiley Cress of Rapid City took place in Sturgis at the Harley Davidson Rally Point and kicked off a ride unlike any I had ever been on before. Our group would help transport the flag across South Dakota with stops in Pierre, Aberdeen, Groton, and Sioux Falls where we would raise the flag in each town. The opportunity to ride alongside these men and women is something I will always be grateful for, I felt a strong sense of purpose, pride, and admiration as we rolled through the town of Sturgis and the community showed their respect to the parade of veterans.

 

 

I also felt like a kid in candy store riding the 2018 Fat Bob 107 with three days of wide open spaces seat time ahead and a Milwaukee-Eight 107 Big Twin power plant underneath me. Our group was about sixty strong and although I was a stranger within this close-nit brotherhood it only a took a few minutes to feel right at home. Come to find out that is the South Dakota way. Although large in mass the state has a total population of only 800,000 and the end result is that people treat each other like family or neighbors. This is something I have not fully experienced before and it helped me to restore some faith in humanity. The miles started to unwind underneath a welcoming blue sky and sea of fall colors. I was able to drift away, let my helmet do its magic and escape into a day I will cherish for years to come.

 

 

We were headed east and our last stop of the day would be at Carls Cycle Supply in Aberdeen to visit with Carl Olsen and his son Matt. The Olsen’s are considered to be amongst the finest in business when it comes to Knucklehead and Panhead restoration and have made it a passionate family affair at their quaint home based shop. Carl founded the business in 1982 and his son Matt who grew up in the shop has a long list of accomplishments including; the Smitty award at Davenport, the first ever AMCA Youth Coordinator, and the 2012 Born Free Best of Show honors.

 

 

Upon our arrival, I was simply overwhelmed by a combination of genuine hospitality and a first hand look at a collection of incredibly beautiful restoration projects. History and heritage spilled out of every nook and cranny as I was experiencing something incredibly special and somewhat surreal. Matt seemed equally as interested in my bike and the the Heritage Classic that Matt King was riding and in a matter of minutes a friendship was born. As we shared a meal that evening with the Olsen’s plans to pair the Heritage Classic with a 1936 Knucklehead for a morning ride came to life. Harley had done an amazing job taking inspiration form the past with influence found through Heritage Classic styling and we wanted to capture the likeness that spans over eight decades.

Morning was soon upon us and we made our way to small town of Groton to raise the flag. Seeing that the submarine is being christened in Groton, CT we felt it was it was a must to raise the flag in Groton, SD. We then headed back to the Olsen’s for a photo shoot with the past and present. Later in the day Carl asked me if I would like to ride one of his private collection bikes. I was grateful, but said no thank you and he laughed at me and then explained that its rare for people to say yes as they get easily intimidated by the classics. It’s a scary deal riding a bike that of that value and historic importance. Throw in fact that I had never ridden with a  suicide shifter and I was a ball of nerves to say the least. Carl did not allow me to say no and before I knew it he was giving me lessons in the back field and then sending me down an unforgettable road on a 1948 Panhead. I felt beyond fortunate and rightfully so and can’t thank the Olsen’s enough for sharing their world with me.

 

 

Sioux Falls was our next and final stop as we burned miles into the night. J&L Harley Davidson hosted the unveiling of the USS SOUTH DAKOTA (SSN 790) Commemorative 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Glide in front of our group of veteran riders, artist Mickey Harris, locals, news teams, and South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem. The U.S Flag was then placed in the saddlebag of the bike before it was transported to Groton, Connecticut in time for the christening of the SOUTH DAKOTA (SSN 790) Submarine on October 14th.

 

 

All good things come to an end and it was now time to head home. I said goodbye to countless new friends and although a little sad to go, I found myself eager to hurry back and honored to be part of such a remarkable experience amongst great people. I would like to close by thanking Harley Davidson for the experience and to also thank all of our military personnel for the sacrifices you have made for our freedom.


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LXXXIV


Jeffrey Herlings: First Impressions are Lasting Impressions

Words by Wes Williams


Photo by Garth Milan

Photo by Garth Milan

In today’s age, first impressions are wildly diverse in nature. Your initial impression of someone might come from actually meeting them face to face, through social media or an Internet forum, or, in the case of the Netherlands’ 20-year-old motocross superstar, Jeffrey Herlings, in an autograph line at a round of the World Motocross Championships. In most situations, people are generally able to form their impressions of one another from an encounter or personal interaction; yet in Herlings’ case, one’s first introduction to the Dutch rider could be quite varied depending on circumstances. With the many reputations that precede Herlings, and the aura of mystery that surrounds him, the likelihood of having an unbiased first impression is rather slim. Everyone knows the kid is fast and has amazing ability on the bike, but the true question is who is Jeffrey Herlings as a person, away from the bike and without a helmet on?

As an amateur-motocross aficionado, I can recall hearing nearly a decade ago rumors of an unbelievably fast kid from the Netherlands on a Suzuki 85cc. Granted, the Internet then was sparse on information, and the stories you would hear coming from Europe seemed more exaggerated myths than actual reality. However, it took only a few times hearing the names of Ken Roczen and Max Anstie being spoken alongside Jeffrey Herlings’ before it was evident that there was a reason for the hype behind these three kids.

 

Photo by Garth Milan

Photo by Garth Milan

It’s objective to say Herlings’ amateur career was overshadowed by the aforementioned riders, but with Roczen turning pro half a season before and Anstie moving to the USA and running atop the amateur circuit, Herlings’ limelight was certainly hidden from the masses—for the short time being, anyway. Fast-forward to Motocross of Nations 2009, the Olympics of motocross: It was here that the then-15-year-old prodigy decided to make his professional debut. This was where I was first able to put a face to the name I’d heard so much about. 

Standing atop the Red Bull Energy Station sporting an obviously European haircut and a manner that seemed reserved, the young Herlings greeted me with a big smile. We exchanged names and pleasantries, joked for a bit with Roczen by our sides, did a small interview, and we were all on our way. Despite being biased toward Herlings based on his legend, I left that encounter with an official first impression—one that, to this day, hasn’t changed. 

That was the first and only time I would see Herlings until 2011, when I once again crossed paths with him at the Motocross of Nations. Within those two years, Herlings had become the second-youngest rider ever to win a World GP and had finished runner-up to Roczen in the MX2 championship. On the bike, his reputation was infallible; he was a supernatural talent, he’d taken seven MX2 overalls and, with Roczen departing to race in the USA, he was the clear choice as successor to the MX2 championship throne. However, off the bike Herlings had created a stigma. Characterized by a quick mouth, ruthless words and an ego befitting someone his age, he’d become the infamous bad boy of the GP scene. While not many would say his attitude and way with words were politically correct, that’s ultimately what defined and shaped his persona. It’s a trait that built him an even bigger following.

 

Photo by Garth Milan

Photo by Garth Milan

Herlings himself admits, ”As a person I used to say things, do things, which are not correct, and now I think twice before saying something and doing something. I used to just say whatever came to me, and that’s what I’ve really been changing. It’s also because I’m getting older. I started on the GPs when I was just 15 and now I’m turning 20 in September [2014]. I’m still really young, but I’ve been around the world for so many years already and [been] with adults and professional motocross teams.”

With age comes maturity, and Herlings accepts that his adolescent antics were sometimes a bit over the top. But it’s those occurrences that have shaped public perception and the impressions he’s left on the world. With a mission to reveal the mystery of Jeffrey Herlings, we sought out some of the most highly respected and influential people involved in the World Motocross Championships.

 

“Who really knows who he is, but he’s one of the biggest talents [I’ve seen] in all my years in motocross. The boy is incredible. Seeing him riding, seeing him riding in the sand, I call this a piece of art. Maybe when you talk to somebody who is in opera or theater, [they] say art is painting, but for me the way he rides is art. It’s the highest art. It’s an unbelievable talent.

 

“He’s young. He’s at times a young, angry man who still doesn’t know who he is. He needs to get mature. He needs to find his way. He needs to find his personality. Like all of us, he’s [made] terrible mistakes, but maybe he [wouldn’t be] where he is without this. The only one who can destroy him is himself [and that would prevent] Jeffrey from being probably one of the greatest. He has all the potential to become a mega-superstar with titles and GP wins—when he keeps himself in one piece. At a certain age he also needs to listen to some people. He needs to listen when somebody gives him advice, when a doctor gives him advice. When he stays in one piece, then we see something great. This is what I hope for him.

“For the world championship, a rider like him is so important. He’s a character. Just like Valentino Rossi … We need that. He’s a character. Sometimes he talks too much. I remember the situation we had in Portugal; during his live interview [he made very vulgar remarks]. I said, ‘My goodness, what the hell are you talking…? Please be quiet!’ He’s important for the championship. He’s a personality. He’s not finished. He needs his years to mature, but I really wish him well. The boy is needed for this championship. He’s such a great rider. He’s such a pleasure to watch.”

Wolfgang Srb, director, FIM

 

Photo by Ben Giese

Photo by Ben Giese

“Jeffrey Herlings is a great personality and a fighter. Very, very strong character, and a good boy, [and that’s] what the majority of the people … don’t know. Everybody knows Jeffrey on the bike—very powerful and always very determined. But in the experience I have, I think Jeffrey is a very good person. On the back of his façade, it’s somebody good. I have a very good relation[ship] with him, very respectful.

The guy [is a] champion; they have … character, and they are strong. If they are not like this, maybe they [wouldn’t be a] champion. Sometimes also you have to cool them down. I really believe [he’s] a great value for the world championship, not only because he’s a great rider and a great talent, but also [because] he’s somebody that is very communicative with the young [crowd]. So [he has] a lot of young fans. They can see him like a hero. This is very important for our sport.”

—Giuseppe Luongo, president, Youthstream

 

“In the eyes of MXGP fans, Herlings is either a messiah or a pariah, but you can hardly accuse him of being boring. He can be as sparky and fascinating off the bike as … on it. We love the fact that he seems to lack a filter when it comes to expressing his thoughts and opinions. There is a refreshing lack of bullshit mixed with occasional attitude. He’ll speak his mind and seems to enjoy being gently provoked on subjects like his rivals’ opinions of him.

 

You have to remember that Herlings came to Grand Prix as a 15-year-old long hailed in his country as the savior of Dutch motocross, on a factory bike and with a 10-time world champion in his corner. These are not normal circumstances for a motocross racer. Then [again], Herlings is hardly your typical rider, and [he] burst through the press and glamour bubble at the highest level with Ken Roczen in a frenetic teenage spell of angst, speed and utter success. A dazzling podium (and win) in just his third appearance and an astounding record in the sand, two world championships before his 19th birthday—as an athlete and in terms of his record, we might not see this rate of accomplishment so fast, so soon, for quite a long time.”

—Adam Wheeler, journalist and editor, ontrackoffroad.com

 

Photo by Garth Milan

Photo by Garth Milan

“He’s a hell of a guy. I’ve never met a guy like him. In a way, he’s very, very good in what he does. He’s got a supernatural talent. He’s got enormous views, an enormous way of riding in general with tactics and lines. He’s really an animal, also, on training. He can be very extreme on his riding; [he’s a] high-demanding boy. Puts in a lot of hours on the bike. Destroys a lot of bikes. Needs a lot of attention. He’s in a way organized, but in another way also very chaotic. [He has] many different extremes. He’s a very extreme guy, one side to the other side. Many times it’s tough to deal with all the things he’s bringing with him.

 

“At the end of the day, he’s doing the job and he’s doing it well. He’s a hardworking guy. He trains hard. Again, you don’t see that with everyone. He puts in the time to be how good he is also on the track.”

 

—Stefan Everts, manager, KTM MX2, and 10-time world champion

 

“Jeffrey Herlings is probably one of the most talented riders to have graced the motocross world championship in a while. His results obviously are outstanding. He’s rocketed up the win list pretty quickly. Is that because of him and his talents or is it because of the, dare I say, inconsistencies of the other riders that’s allowed him to do that? I don’t know. As a person, I don’t really know him—only what we see week in, week out. I did a photo shoot with him a few years ago in his first year in GP. Seemed a nice enough kid then. Always seems to have a lot of time for me personally when I speak to him. Seems well-mannered and well-natured in that respect, but of course he’s had his problems as well. It’s difficult to see why that’s the case, whether it’s because you look at sports people at the top of their game, whether it be tennis or football or golf or Formula 1 or moto GP; success doesn’t come without its element of drama. We win, win, win, win, but then when it goes wrong or when there’s a problem or whatever, we see maybe the insecurities of a rider or the way that they can react when it’s not going well. A short temper, short fuses, that kind of thing. Donny Schmidt I remember being like that, but a great rider. So I think from Jeffrey’s point of view, definitely talented, great to have him in the world championship.

“He’ll tell us he’s matured, but maybe he’s still just got a little bit more growing up to do. I don’t know. I can’t answer that. But I think he’s great. I think he’s a good character. Good to have him around because it’s a talking point, for you guys in media and for me in TV. That’s what makes it more interesting. If he wasn’t like that … then we wouldn’t have anything to talk about, but it wouldn’t be as exciting. And we need characters.”

—Paul Malin, commentator, MXGP, 1994 MXoN winner

 

Photo by Ben Giese

Photo by Ben Giese

The words of journalist Adam Wheeler summarizes this best of all.

 

“Herlings has endured the hard cliché of having to grow up swiftly in a professional racing environment; understandably, at times he has struggled for maturity, guidance and wisdom in his four years of GPs to date. As a world champion, Herlings has evolved to be a courteous and more receptive racer—but, like a sleeping bear, he can be dangerous if prodded (and therefore motivated) too harshly. In press circles his candor and openness is met with receptivity, and hopefully he keeps these traits of his character through what is bound to be a fantastic and long-standing career. One thing is for sure: His impression will be everlasting.”

 

In the end, though, Herlings probably knows himself best:

 

“I’m a motocross racer to start off with. On the bike I try to be as smart as possible and try to not make mistakes and be really consistent. When you want to be consistent, you have to be smart. I always try to work on my weak points, not only as a racer, [but] also as a person. I like girls, which is normal. [Laughs.] I like to have fun with my friends. I like to hang out and have a good time and sometimes go have a party in the winter. But at times I’m really serious when I have to put the helmet on. I work hard and I’m a driven person. I try to be the best I can be as a person and as a racer. Every day I go out and I just have fun and be the best I can be in both things, [as a] person and as a rider. I just want to make improvements and learn every day. Who else am I? I think I pretty much said everything.”

 


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Story featured in Volume 001

Purchase the entire collection of back issues!


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The Moto Beach Classic


The Inaugural Moto Beach Classic

Presented by Roland Sands


 

The inaugural Moto Beach Classic started out as a wild idea and developed into a Southern California cultural explosion. The one-day festival brought together Super Hooligan street bike flat track racing, drag and mini bike racing, No Limitstunt shows, surf contests, art, music, food, custom motorcycles and of course, the love for two wheels. From sunup to sundown, SeaLegs at the Beach in Bolsa Chica was at capacity and filled with lovers of all types of creativity and counterculture. At any given moment, engines could be heard on the purpose-built hooligan flat track while waves were crashing as some of the West Coast’s best surfers competed for bragging rights in the WCBR Surf Competition. Live music from talented bands such as Black UhuruUnwritten Law, and Lit performed until the doors closed on what many thought was one of the most entertaining and authentic moto events to hit the coast of California in years.  we streamed the Moto Beach Classic live on our Facebook and you can re-watch the entire event above!

 

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At the core of the event were the race pits, with over 120 hooligans, veterans and professional racers from across the nation orchestrated into a compact carnival. Recognizable by their multi-colored pop-up tents, teams brought makes and models of almost every motorcycle out there raging from antique hand shift Indians and Harleys, to modern Ducati's. The smell of burning octane and brakes mixed with salty air and taco's made for quite the sight to onlookers on Pacific Coast Highway and those hanging on the fences beachside.

With over 40 Super Hooligan racers signed up, the points series final of the Roland Sands x Indian Motorcycles Super Hooligan National Championship (SHNC) was primed to be one of the most exciting race events held in recent years. It was also primed to be the most gnarly and guarenteed a backburner of a main event with over six heats packed with hungy Hooligan riders gunning for the top spot.

And because that's not gnarly enough, race day was also the day that one lucky Hooligan would win a brand new Indian FTR Purpose-built Flat track race bike. Three riders had the opportunity to snag the unicorn and bring her home in a winner-take-all double points finale. Fortunately, Alex Mock of DRT Racing, along with his crew made short work of wrangling the Hooligans and keeping the program running like clockwork.

 

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The ultimate prize, an Indian Motorcycle FTR750 was up for grabs to the SHNC Series Champion, and three riders had the opportunity to take home the bike in a winner-take-all double points finale. Points leader and Grand National Champion, Joe Kopp, was leading Brad Spencer by a single point, with Andy DiBrino trailing by only 10 points – all three were in contention for the FTR.

 

Mikey Virus took the 1K Dunlop Dash for Cash in a sneak preview of the front runners for the evening.

 

 

 

Local spoiler, first timer and eventual double winner, Frankie Garcia, ended up with the Super Hooligan main event win on a freshly prepped Ducati Scrambler, and took home an Airtrix custom painted Bell Helmet, amongst other prizes. Mikey Virus of the Rusty Butcher team took a close second on his HD Sportster, and also took home the K&N Holeshot award. This left the battle for the Super Hooligan Championship wide open with Joe Kopp and Brad Spencer scrapping for the fourth position.

 

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As racing goes, you put two competitors together vying for the prize and shit can happen, as it certainly did when Spencer tapped Kopp’s rear wheel in turn three resulting in both riders losing several positions with only a few laps to go. This scrap and loss of position by the two points leaders nudged DiBrino into the SHNC points lead with his third place finish. A double points round is bound to stir up the leaderboard, and proved to do so by placing DiBrino in the lead by a mere one point over previous leader, Joe Kopp. Robert Bush finished 4th on the Deus machine with Johnny Murhpee a close 5th on the RSD Pickle Tracker. Joe Kopp finished up 6th, James Monaco 7th, LCQ winner Troy Hoff was 8th, Joey Robinson 9th, Brad Spencer 10th, local hooligan Jason Klements 11th, Jordan Baber 12th and Chris McDougal ended his night with a DNF after crashing at the beginning of the race.

 

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Sponsor and Indian Motorcycle partner, Baume & Mercier supplied custom engraved Clifton Club watches to SHNC runner ups Joe Kopp and Brad Spencer. Speakeasy Original provided custom Super Hooligan Championship rings to the top five leaders as well, which included Jordan Baber and Jordan Graham. Smokey Elford, a vintage Indian bike builder of Smokeys Classic Motorcycles in Long Beach, was dubbed with the Motul Cleanest Bike award at the event. It was Super Hooligan National Championship winner, Andy DiBrino, who took home the lions share of the prizes, as well as a $2,500 check from Bell Helmets for his accomplishments. Hooligans were not the only guys ripping around the track, as multiple classes hit the dirt including: Open Pro, Cycle Zombies Degenerate Choppers, Born Free Tank Shifters, VonZipper Vintage and Run What Ya Brung, where winners of each class were presented a custom trophy by FMF Racing.


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Fun in the Sun With Deus

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Moto Beach Classic Flat Track Winners:

 

Open Pro Winner – #98 Kayl Kolkman

Cycle Zombies Degenerate Choppers Winner – #79 Rob Bush

Born Free Tank Shift Winner – #3x Scott Jones 

VonZipper Vintage Winner – #262 Craig Bouman

Run What Ya Brung Winner – Shawn "Mad Dog" McConnell 

 

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BMW Boxer Cup Challenge

 

The BMW Boxer Cup Challenge featured a host of riders from diverse backgrounds. Frankie Garcia, who won the Super Hooligan finale, also took home the sprint race win in a hard fought duel with Kevin Duke. It was a tough crowd with legends like Nitro Circus star Andy Bell going out in the first round, Shameless’ Justin Chatwin, custom builder Maxwell HazanCycle World’s Sean MacDonald, META's Ben Giese and seasoned photographer Preston Burroughs behind the bars - anything could happen on the sandy narrow course.

 

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The Vendor Village

 

The Vendor Village was lined from asphalt to sand with industry leading manufactures. Interspersed were local style makers along with dozens of additional moto and surf vendors. This eclectic grouping of large companies and individual shops lent to a high energy atmosphere where attendees could enjoy a cold beer at the Pacifico Airstream or opt for a spiked drink served up at the Red Bull Energy bar.  

Architects of Inspiration was one of the centerpieces of RSD’s Moto Beach Classic event; a collection of unique installations inspired by surf and motorculture. Curated by Kelly Yazdi and the Roland Sands Design team, the Architects of Inspiration area was a combination art collective, bike show, live mural displays, and a library lounge all designed to complement the Moto Beach experience by providing guests with a relaxing atmosphere.

Initially structured to solely be an art collective and bike show, the Architects of Inspiration grew to be a bigger platform that included more creatives, such as live muralist painters, local music gurus, as well as international builders. “On the day of the event, we constantly had to expand the borders of the Inspiration area because there were just so many amazing things to encompass in the show; so many unique installations, never before seen builds, and local talent who came to the show wanting to share their creations with us,” says Kelly Yazdi, “... it was truly a special event that took on a life of its own, and I’m blown away by the hard work and creativity of the RSD team as a whole.”

 

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Attendees of the Art Collective and Bike Show got to experience unconventional visions in 3D which combined music, art, surfing and motolife into a visual exploration. Next door to the Collective and Show was the Library Lounge, a relaxing space where event-goers got to hang out and catch up on some of the best editorials of the culture including METASideburn and ROLL. The Architects of Inspiration was truly a feast for the eyes and ears, surrounded by breaking tides and the vibrations of motorcycle racing and great music.

Artists: Adam FedderlyAlex Earle (Earle Motors), Eddie LeeErik JutrasGenevieve T. DavisMatt Allard (Inked Iron), Nicolai Sclater (Ornamental Conifer), Guy Salzaar (local artist), Riot Cycles,  Jamie Robinson-MotoGeovideo/booth, Eddie Lee- creator of Iron Vault Studio

Live Artists: Jackie Danger (Live Muralist) , Andy Schmidt (Guitar Cycliano Drumme) , Mark Moreno (DJ), and The Love Crew

Builders: Aaron KlinkRevival CyclesBrat Style, Chopper DaveYuishi Yoshizawa (CW- Zon), Greg Tomlinson(VonZipper), Hugo Eccles (Untitled Motorcycles), Lindsay RossLossa EngineeringKott MotorcyclesMaxwell HazanMike FloresRaccia MotorcyclesRiot Cycles, Satya Kraus (Kraus Motorcycles), Shaik RidzwanShinya KimuraSpirit Lake CyclesLucky Wheels Garage, RSD bikes, UMC (Untitled Motorcycle) Ducati “Hyper Scrambler”,  Stacie London’s Honda “Triple Nickel 555, Yuichi Yoshizawa and Yoshikazu Ueda of “Custom Works Zon.”

 

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The Ones He Left Behind


A Tribute to Kurt Caselli

Words by Megan Blackburn


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A cool morning welcomed August 24, 2013. It had rained all week in Panaca, Nevada, and the 100-mile course for Round 9 of the 2013 AMA National Hare and Hound Series would be prime for the guy who could muster the speed to be out front all day. This round was a deciding race for the champion, and all he had to do was finish in front of the guy who was second in points.

Hundreds of racers rolled up to the line of the bomb run, ready to transfer their nerves into speed. Dark clouds of thunder rolled in just minutes before the banner was to drop, and soon raindrops small enough to be a nuisance on the riders’ goggles fell from the sky. The banner rose and the raindrops grew, falling heavier and faster. Claps of thunder roared from above and lightning reached across the horizon. The intensity was at an all-time high, as if nature knew a champion was about to be crowned.

The banner dropped and the rider on the #1 Factory KTM 450SX-F quickly lit his electric start machine, winning the duel against his peers. Instantly the heavy rain turned into hail, pounding against the helmet, hands and back of the #1 racer. In his own iconic way, he held the throttle wide open and stared with tunnel vision through the raindrops to the banners that marked the course. With nothing to fear in his heart, he left his friends and fans behind as the adrenaline pumped through his veins. He pushed faster and faster through the mountains and valleys, over rocks and brush. There was nothing that could hold him back. His innate ability and poetic speed separated him from the riders he left behind.

 

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Every turn was calculated, every sprint was timed and every motion was precise. His mind raced faster than his bike could carry him, because to be a thought ahead of his actions was key. In this moment, his mind was free and his clarity of purpose allowed him to be the best possible version of himself. He trusted his team to refuel him, and they did it perfectly without hesitation. He was the one no one could catch, the lesson to be learned by those he left behind.

 

"There was nothing ahead that could hold him back; that's what separated him from the ones he left behind."

 

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"The rain cleansed the desert of it's imperfections, and he would pave the way for the ones he left behind."

 

This course was like no other he’d seen all year. The rain had dampened the dirt beneath him and there was no tread that lay before him. His lines were smooth as he positioned his body with grace; a racer couldn’t be more perfect. The rain had cleansed the desert of its imperfections, and he would be the one to pave the way for the riders he left behind.

 

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Kurt Caselli became the champion that day. Nature greeted him at the finish line in the same way she had at the start, with a sudden burst of heavy rain that came now in a cheering fashion. He accomplished what many had come for, but failed to achieve. His smile beamed from east to west while his team, friends and fans walked up to him, proud of their champion. Caselli sat respectfully at the finish line, waiting for the riders he left behind. He took more wins in three years than any of his peers who finished alongside him in his Hare and Hound career.

Kurt Caselli’s racing life began in the desert just as it had ended: victoriously. Born into Prospectors M/C of District 37, Caselli began riding alongside his father, Rich Caselli, to ribbon enduro races in the Southern California desert. By age 14 Caselli had become the mini-enduro champion with a firm hold on the 1L plate (now known as K1). In 1998, at age 15, he had earned the K1 plate in desert. In 2000, Caselli put all his cards in and took the C1 plate in enduro, desert and GP. The year 2002 brought even more excitement to Caselli’s progress when he took the overall win at the Vikings MC National on a 125. The following year, the H1 Heavyweight award went to Caselli in GP. Through his growth as a racer, Caselli also dominated worldwide and garnered a list of accomplishments in ISDE beginning in 2003, including his revolutionary efforts to bring Team USA to the event. 

 

That was truly just the start of Caselli’s career, as he moved beyond local competition to nationwide and worldwide events. After reaching the professional level, Caselli took his first WORCS championship in 2007 against the likes of Nathan Woods, Robby Bell and Ryan Hughes. In 2009 Caselli switched gears and committed to racing the GNCC series, but came home after realizing that the Western desert was where he truly belonged. He returned to WORCS in 2010 and worked hard for the championship over Ricky Dietrich and Mike Brown. The next year was Caselli’s final one in WORCS, and he concluded his year again with the championship.

 

However, WORCS wasn’t Caselli’s only success in 2011. The Factory KTM rider decided to go back to his roots of true desert racing and committed to the AMA National Hare and Hound Series. Caselli officially dethroned JCR Honda/Red Bull rider Kendall Norman after taking almost every win of the season. A repeat performance in 2012 secured his second consecutive National Hare and Hound Championship ahead of Dave Pearson and Destry Abbott. Caselli decided to give the Hare and Hound Series one last run in 2013, and of course he completed his season just as he had in years past: in the number-one spot. 

Before his final victory in Panaca, Caselli and KTM Europe made the decision that he would be moving on to new endeavors—this time in rally racing, after finding himself able to challenge the front-runners at the 2013 Dakar. Caselli even won the Ruta 40 in June of that year. But to complete his 2013 season back home, he had to take on the SCORE Baja 1000 finale with teammates Ivan Ramirez, Mike Brown and Kendall Norman for KTM North America. Ultimately, this would be Caselli’s final run, both in racing and in life. He left this world after colliding with a large animal, a horse or a cow, that caused fatal injuries. Caselli is survived by his mother, Nancy; sister, Carolyn; fiancée, Sarah; other family members; and countless friends and fans.

Simply put, Kurt Caselli left this world doing what he loved: racing off-road. And those in the racing world are grateful such a man didn’t go out any other way. From the desert to Dakar, from his family to his fiancée to his friends, and everyone and everything in between, Caselli gifted this world with a legacy for the ones he left behind.

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“I know the truth, and I will tell you now: he was admired, loved, cheered, honored, respected. In life as well as in death. A great man, he is. A great man, he was. A great man he will be. He died that day because his body had served its purpose. His soul had done what it came to do, learned what it came to learn, and then was free to leave.”

- Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain


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Featured in Volume 001

Purchase the entire collection of back issues!

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Deus Slidetoberfest


Fun in the Sun with Deus Ex Machina Indonesia

Dustin Humphrey interviewed by Richard O'Shea


For seven years now Deus Ex Machina Indonesia has been hosting a four-day Moto, Surf, Art, Music Festival, by the name of Deus Slidetoberfest. This year’s festival was bigger, better and definitely more pickled than anything they’d done in the past. We asked Dustin Humphrey, International Media Director and President of Deus Ex Machina Indonesia a few questions to get the good oil on everything that went down and why.

 

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What is Slidetoberfest?

 

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It’s a celebration of all the things that are near and dear to us. Family, friends, moto, surf, art and of course music. It’s about mixing all those bits together and making them taste like something inordinate. There really isn’t another event around like this one.

 
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Where did the idea first come from?

 

 

Slidetoberfest actually is our birthday celebration. It marks the opening of the Temple of Enthusiasm here in Bali seven years ago. It was born out of an inkling of inviting people to come and share in what it is we do here. Whether it be going for a surf or riding bikes along the beach. Things we do on a weekly, and daily basis. We have the Deus Gallery here and are presenting art shows throughout the year, this just gives us the perfect opportunity to get an international artist, usually someone who we know and respect, and give him or her exposure to our friends here in Bali. And music, well… not only do we love it, but you just can’t have a party without it can you?

For the first few years the day events consisted of just the surf and the MX. In those days, as it is still today, we were doing the MX on small bore bikes, mainly VMX, and I love the fact that these two core events are still integral in the festival that we put on today.

A few years back we added a Flat Track Beach event we’d have to run at low tide. This year we stepped up our game and actually built a small, but proper, Flat Track in our parking lot.

We also added a fourth day this year with a light hearted enduro style event called the Swank Rally. It’s something our Italian friends thought up. Of course, ours had a thoroughly Indonesian flavour to it. 1.7 miles through stunning tropical forests, along magnificent beaches, before swinging them through a few rivers and inclines until riders ended back from where they started from.

What was really cool about this event is that riders were racing against the clock and not each other, with the fastest time being the winner.

We customized four brand new Honda CRF 250 Rally’s. Two were in the vein of VMX, another scrambler and the last had a touch of the enduro about it. Theoretically, this gave everyone a pretty equal paying field from which to compete.

 

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What was your favorite event at this year's Slidetoberfest?

 

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Besides the great times and the incredible vibes, we got to enjoy all weekend long. The Flat Track Event would have to be, hands down, my favorite.

Together, with our family in California and Italy, we’d been playing around for a while with Flat Track both here and when we’re away. Slidetoberfest provided us with the perfect vehicle within which to drop an event like this. As far as we know, we are the first Flat Track in Indonesia.

 
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So, was this a ‘Run what ya brung’ type of event?

 

 

No, with over 70 people preregistered for the event months out we made a conscious decision to build some actual flat track bikes. Not only that, if we’d allowed the nobbies onto the limestone topped surface, they would have made very short work of the track in under twenty laps.

Only two months before the event we went out and bought, five brand new Kawasaki KLX 150s. Changed the rake, gearing and subframes. Added custom made tanks, seat & tail combos. Wide bars, new exhausts and dropped the front brake off.

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150cc? That doesn’t seem very fast.

 

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We only had so much space in which to build the track so it was quite small and 150 was more than enough power to get your slide on, especially because they were so light and nimble. Not to take anything away from the Hooligan races, but how often do you see those guys using the full power of their bikes? I’d rather go fast on a slow bike, than slow on a fast bike!

 
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A four day festival with a different event every day and night, it must have been a tremendous amount of work for you.

 

 

No, not for me. I just come up with the wacky ideas and the amazing team of people we have at the Temple of Enthusiasm take the ball and run with it. During the event, I get to kick back and throw shakas while the machine that is Deus Indonesia really kicks in. From the managers who hardly got a wink of sleep over the entire time, to the Workshop Boys who built ten bikes and repaired countless others, to the media team who shot hours of video and took thousands of photos, to the retail staff and of course the restaurant and bar staff who kept our blood sugar levels up there. This is a team effort and we have a great team.

 

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Are there winners and losers from the weekend?

 

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I didn’t hear one complaint all weekend long so if that is our litmus test, then there were no losers. We did have a few big crashes but nothing too serious. That is a win in itself.

As for winners, there are of course winners. We have them for each of the four events and then we run a Supercross type scoring system across the lot, allocating 1-25 points to contestants in each event. By day four we can come up with an overall winner for the weekend. For the third time in a row it was Forrest Minchton, and for the girls if was Abbie Lengui.

 
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You had a girls class?

 

 

Yeah of course we had girls, why wouldn’t we? We had kids, older guys… Local guys, internationals. People come from all over. Slidetober, always was and always will be inclusive rather than exclusive it is a fundamental component and central to the remarkable occasion we all got to share in.

 

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ATWYLD


Made For the Modern Woman Who Rides

SHE: Volume 009


 

Atwyld is a women’s motorcycle gear and apparel brand inspired by the void and built for the voyage. Founded by Anya Violet, Jaime Dempsey and Corinne Lan Franco; Atwyld was created to put a layer between you and the road that is both stylish and functional. Driven by a sense of freedom, independence and a bond to the road; Atwyld is not just a passenger on your journey but an integral part of your riding experience. From the mountains to the beach and the deserts to downtown Atwyld gives you the freedom to fly.

The word Atwyld is something that we created to represent the single moment that exists between fear and thrill. It’s that moment when you are on the absolute edge of your comfort zone and your adrenaline is pumping. Riding a motorcycle is, for us, about reaching this Atwyld moment as often as possible.

 

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Terra Incognita
Into the Unknown

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.”

 

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Featured in Volume 009

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


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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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Lotawana


A New Film Starring Todd Blubaugh

A film by Trevor Hawkins


 

Synopsis

Empty materialism and the constraints of modern culture have pushed the unfulfilled Forrest (Todd Blubaugh) to a voyage of discovery. This resolute young man escapes to nature by living aboard a sailboat on a rural Missouri lake. He is seeking something more, something beautiful, something real.

 

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After setting sail on his journey, he promptly catches wind of the rebellious and free-spirited Everly (Nicola Collie) and their idealistic dreams align. As they let go, they fall head first into the ambitious yet unprepared idea of leaving the old world far behind. Soon reality hits, and it hits hard. Can they survive and rewrite their own rules of modern existence or will they discover that society operates its way for a reason? 


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Acclaimed filmmaker and photographer, Trevor Hawkins of Mammoth, based this personal film around his life at the real Lake Lotawana and then filmed it all in his own back yard. Adventure isn't comfortable. Adventure isn't safe. Balanced between the artifice of filmmaking and capturing genuine real-life moments as they happen, Lotawana takes the viewer on a thrilling and romantic inward journey.  While exploring the unpredictability of life’s ethereal wonder, intimate relationships and overwhelming tragedies, this visceral experience will stay with you long after it’s over. Remember when you had your whole life ahead of you?

 

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Out of Africa


Into Our Hearts: The Story of Tanya Muzinda

Words & photos by David Bulmer


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In the grand scheme of sport, motocross is a tiny blip on the radar. Even now, with the pyrotechnics and the live TV coverage, it pales in comparison to the Goliathan following and consequent media presence of the NFL or NASCAR.

But sometimes it’s the basic and fundamental complexion of motocross and those around it that makes it such a fascinating place to be involved. There’s a real community feeling around the pits, and strangers are treated like friends just because there’s a dirtbike in the back of their truck.

And perhaps the coolest aspect of the motocross community’s kind nature: It is invariably the same, anywhere in the world.

 

 

In the last few years, I’ve been lucky enough to see this in person all around the globe, from Brazil to Belgium, New Mexico to New Zealand. No matter where I’ve been, I’ve always been treated as part of the family, simply because I’m into motocross and so are they. However, it was on my last trip, to Zimbabwe, that I truly appreciated just how awesome this sport is and what an effect it can have on kids, families and, indeed, entire communities.

 

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Zimbabwe isn’t exactly known as a motocross powerhouse, and when I got the call to go down there, I must admit to being slightly shocked and a little bit apprehensive. However, I’m always up for something new, and the fact that I’d be accompanying three-time women’s World MX champion Stefy Bau certainly eased my mind. 

So why were we both flying halfway around the world?

Quite simply, Tanya Muzinda.

 

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Now it’s not as if Africa as a continent hasn’t produced top-quality motocross riders before; I’m sure everyone is familiar with Grant Langston, Greg Albertyn and Tyla Rattray. All of them have been elite competitors in the world motocross and AMA series, but they also share three other similarities: They are all from South Africa, they are all white, and they are all men. Now, without delving too deeply into the mercurial social, economic and cultural climates of the southern end of Africa, to have a 9-year-old black girl like Tanya Muzinda competing in motocross is a rarity. And to then have her actually beating boys her age makes her someone very special indeed — an anomaly well worth seeing in person. Also, even if we weren’t sure about the legitimacy of the trip before we arrived, the fact that we were greeted by the national press as soon as we got through airport customs cemented our belief that this was sure to be an extraordinary experience.

 


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All the journalists, photographers and TV crew gathered to see Bau and Muzinda together and find out why a world champion would take the time and effort to visit a country where motocross is such a small sport compared to soccer and cricket. Bau’s presence was another part of Team Tanya’s strategy to not only highlight Muzinda’s skill and help her develop, but also to promote motocross to the masses, and show that anybody, whatever their background, can still compete. James Stewart once famously said,

“With a helmet on, we all look the same anyway.”

That exact philosophy would come to outline the whole affair:

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like; motocross can be for everybody.

 

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Muzinda is a fairly shy girl, so she was a bit blown away by all the fuss and attention that she received for the duration of our stay, but she handled it well. By the end of our time there, she had no problem speaking to anyone interested in her story. However, while the off-track stuff was certainly refreshing and a change-up from the usual national coverage that our sport receives, it was Muzinda’s ability on the track that was the reason for Bau’s visit, and it’s that ability that will be the deciding factor in how her career will turn out.  

Team Tanya had planned our trip to a T. Our visit coincided with the Zimbabwe Summercross Series, one of the biggest motocross events in southern Africa. Spread over four separate days of racing, it features two evenings of supercross and two days of motocross racing and attracts riders from Zambia, Botswana and South Africa—plus, of course, all the Zimbabwean talent, which meant that each class was relatively stacked.

 

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Muzinda ended up coming in second in her 65cc class, winning a couple of races on both the SX and MX circuits and showing everyone that her talent on the bike is worth all the publicity. It allowed Bau a chance to see her in action and help out with on-track advice as well as pre-race routines and day management, which can sometimes be just as important at that age. Obviously there is room for improvement, which is why Bau has invited Muzinda back to her house in Florida for this year’s Mini O’s, so she can race against different competition in a whole new environment, on a totally different track, and get to see what the standard of competition is like elsewhere in the world.

The tracks of Zimbabwe are not fit to cultivate an international motocross prodigy for long; Muzinda will need to seek out competition elsewhere in the world.

 

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That’s not to say the standard of racing in southern Africa isn’t high: riders there have proven themselves on the highest stages of motocross competition in the world, from the MXGPs to Loretta Lynn’s. The tracks at Donnybrook are pretty decent, and although they could definitely do with a bit of sprucing up, the overall quality of the surfaces was good, even if the supercross landings were a tad on the short side. Perhaps the best aspect was the fans, as herds of them came across the fields to cheer on the Zimbabwean riders. In fact, the coolest (and most shocking) part of the racing was the final MX1 moto, when crowd favorite Jayden Ashwell was cheered on to victory by the throngs of supporters being kept off the track by female wardens hitting fans with sticks if they ventured too close to the action.

It is the fact that fans and riders can interact so closely with one another that makes motocross one of the coolest sports to be a part of, and with a rider like Tanya Muzinda, there is a chance that she can become an important figure to help promote the sport to a whole new audience. This may seem a little premature, given her age, but her dream is to become the first African girl to compete at the highest level. If she remains under the tutelage of Stefy Bau, that dream just might become a reality.


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Story featured in Volume 001

Purchase the entire collection of back issues!

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To the Beach!


Roland Sands talks Moto Beach Classic

Interview by Maggie Gulasey


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The team at Roland Sands Design has been dreaming about a beachfront moto event for years and they have finally been given the keys to the kingdom at Bolsa Chica State Beach. Partnering with Sea Legs Live, a legendary concert venue on the sand, to bring a day of reggae with Black Uhuru and Wargirl and a night of punk rock with Lit and Unwritten Law. If that wasn’t enough, they are also taking Super Hooligan Flat Track and motorcycle drag racing to the beach. Throw in a West Coast Board Riders Surf Comp, art show, demo rides and unique vendors, and you have an incredibly entertaining day at the beach with something for everyone. We recently caught up with the man himself, Roland Sands, to pick his brain about the inspiration behind the upcoming event.

 

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Bolsa Chica beach is a distinctly unique venue for this event, particularly for a flat track race.  Why hold this celebration of motorcycle, surf, music, and art at the heart of one of the most heavily frequented corners in Orange County?

 

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I think you just answered that question with a question. Thank you. We want to bring racing to the people. The best way to get new people involved in something is to take it to them where it’s hard to ignore. Plus it’s right down the street from where I grew up and currently live and I could put everything I dig into one event at one place with a bunch of great people. We want to see everyone, kid’s, teens, boys, girls, newbies and pro’s and old vets come and see the event. I think a solid crew of like minded people from all walks of life are going to show up and have a great time and see something new no matter where they’ve been. The majority of motorcycle racing or lifestyle events are either rallies held beyond the confines of major cities and suburbs, or races that take place at outdoor tracks or speedway venues. Those events are great, but the problem is that they largely end up only reaching the core motorcyclists. Right now, we need to find ways to bring the glory of motorcycles and the incredible lifestyle associated with riding to brand new people. That’s why we’re so stoked to have this incredible venue, right in the heart of suburban Southern California where its significantly easier for families to come out and enjoy a totally unique type of event that everyone, from the parents to the kids, can enjoy. It’s exactly why our sponsors like Indian Motorcycle and BMW are excited about this event.

 

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It cannot be an easy task to custom build a flat track next to the surf.  What was the inspiration behind hosting this race beachfront?  

 

It’s a pain in the ass. We had to wedge it into the parking lot there next to sea legs and re route the boardwalk. We’re brining in 20 truck loads of dirt starting Monday for a week long process to build the track. It’s not cheap or easy, but it’s going to be bitchin. People have told me I’m crazy, guys like Brad Oxley who’ve been doing this for years have told me I’m nuts. But with no risk there’s little reward. And no matter what happens were going to have a gas racing next to the beach with all our friends old and new. There’s a shared DNA between surf culture and motorcycle culture. More and more we’re seeing action sports and guys who love to both ride and build custom bikes. It’s all about freedom and taking risk and enjoying life. So that relationship is a big part of it. The other critical aspect is the ability to more easily reach a whole new set of consumers by bringing an event like this to a beach venue, where a far wider range of people are going to be present. 
 

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It seems as though you have been very focused on hosting a handful of one-of-a-kind events recently.  What has motivated you to be on the forefront of the hooligan racing movement?

 

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For me personally it started very organic. Literally showing up on the bike I road to Costa Mesa Speedway and entering Harley night 12 YEARS ago. And having a gas and winning a few races on a stock bikes on street tires. And it’s just grown slowly and consistently from there. More and more people have come out to ride and started building bikes. And everyone has gotten really good. We’ve got stunt riders, motocross guys, road racers, old pro’s, industry guys, creatives, magazine guys and plumbers all riding against each other on bikes many of them built in their garages. It’s literally the everyman class of racing. We’ve just elevated it and partnered with some of the raddest bikes shows in the world. The One Show, Mamma Tried, Wheels and Waves and the pro races with AFT to make it something special. 10 races all over the US, ending at Bolsa Chica with a double points paying round to win a 50K Indian FTR. It’s insane. There’s no better adrenaline rush than when you’re pushing a motorcycle…truly “sending it” and you don’t have to necessarily be a pro to do that. With Hooligan racing, we’re trying to demonstrate the “riding” side of owning a motorcycle and the fun and excitement of getting together with friends and pushing the bike and pushing each other in a manner that’s intense and thrilling, but way less formal that pro racing.

 

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What is the significance of connecting motorcycles with art, music, and other action sports?

 

It all blends doesn’t it. I’ve been watching live music, surfing, going to art shows and creating art, Skating, partying with friends, building bikes, racing and generally finding excuses to have fun my whole life. Throwing that all into one event just makes sense. There are a ton of shared lifestyle elements between motorcycles, art, music and action sports. First and foremost, each of these things is about self-expression. Each of these things were born out of some level of rebellion against the norm and the desire to express your individualism in a totally unique way. Each of these things carries its own brand of “awesome,” whether it’s the adrenaline rush of riding or surfing, the gorgeous beatify of a piece of art, or the power of good music. To bring these things all together in a single event is kind of a perfect storm where everything fuels and feeds of each other. Not to mention, it creates an environment where there’s something for everyone, regardless if your thing is motorcycles, surfing art and or kick-ass live music. It’s not an event I’d want to miss. 

 

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If you can’t make it to the event, is there still a way for us to watch the fun from home?  

 

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We’ve got the MotoBeach Classic live feed powered by Valero if you can’t make the show but want to watch it.

You can go to MotoBeachClassic.com or if you follow any of our sponsors you can potentially check the feeds there… or on META’s Instagram & Facebook!

And I before I go, I want to thank all our sponsors:  
Indian Motorcycles, BMW Motorcycles, Baume & Mercier Watches, Redbull, Geico, Ducati Motorcycles, Pacifico, Law Tigers, Hurley, Waves for Water, Dunlop tires, Iron and Air, Motul, Cycle Zombies, Fast Surfboards, Von Zipper, West Coast Board Rides, Sport of Kings, Bell Helmets, K and N filters, Bonnier.

 

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Swedish Army Knife


Gunnar Lindstrom: A Man of Many Tools

Words by Mark Blackwell | Portraits by Sebas Romero


If there were an entry in the dictionary for a Swedish version of the famous red knife, a photo of Gunnar Lindstrom would perhaps be more suitable than one of the tool itself: Both are of the highest quality, multifaceted, at home in any setting, resilient and iconic. His achievements are truly remarkable and should be an inspiration to young motorcycle enthusiasts all over the world.

 

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The Early Years

 

When Gunnar Lindstrom reflects on his early days growing up on his family’s dairy farm in Southern Sweden, he realizes how fortunate he was. Life seemed simple in those days, yet in retrospect, he can see how rich those early experiences were and how they presented many pathways to the chapters of his life.

Gunnar Lindstrom was born in July, 1943, in Eksjö, a small town of around 10,000 people, with farms sprinkled across the mostly flat land between dense forests and myriad small lakes. Gunnar’s father, also named Gunnar, was a rather special individual, even though it wasn’t apparent to the young boy at the time. The Lindstrom patriarch was a leader in the local farm co-op and often hosted other farmers and faculty from nearby agriculture schools during field trips to showcase the Lindstrom Farm. The farm was considered cutting edge in its methods and productivity. In his spare time, the elder Gunnar learned to throw the javelin and went on to represent the Swedish team in two Olympics, holding the world record for a period. He was also an accomplished equestrian competitor, but was tragically killed as a result of a jumping accident when young Gunnar was just 7 years old. 

 

“This was the start of a confusing time for me and the entire family, since I was so young,” Gunnar says. “But as I think back, it probably made me a stronger person.”
 

As the eldest of three boys, Gunnar naturally was expected to help out with farm chores before and after school. In the summer, work days were long, but also filled with chances to drive the tractor and operate other farm equipment. Even at a very early age, Gunnar found himself fascinated by the farm’s machinery, and yet he will never forget the day he first spotted his neighbor powering up their shared dirt road on a motorcycle. 

 

“This shiny new 350cc Royal Enfield came flying by, and had a sound I had never heard before,” he says. “Then it had this small rooster tail shooting off the back wheel as my neighbor powered by. I knew right then and there, this was something I had to experience.”
 
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A Time to Race

 

Fortunately for Gunnar, after buying his first motorcycle – a literal basket case – he looked up the owner of a local motorcycle repair shop, Bengt Kling. In time, Kling took Gunnar under his wing, acting as a personal mentor and teaching him about mechanics, problem-solving and making economical repairs. At 15, Gunnar, with the help of Kling, started building a modest race bike; he was already focused on his 16th birthday, the age required to participate in local races. 

Of course, his mother, Inga Lindstrom, was concerned about her young son’s safety and his determination to begin racing, so she visited with the chairman of the local motorcycle club, SMK Eksjö, who also happened to be Bengt Kling. He provided reassuring advice about the benefit of closed-course, well-supervised racing. Shortly after, with his mother’s reluctant blessing, Gunnar entered his first event, an observed trials. While trials was not his aspiration, it was a start, and Gunnar was finally able to boldly paint a number on his first number plate and tell his schoolmates that he was now “racing motorcycles.”

Military service was mandatory in Sweden at the time, and Gunnar served his required period of roughly one year. Fortunately, he was assigned to the nearest army base, which was actually in the town of Eksjö, so Gunnar remained close to home and also had the comfort and support of being known by many of the officers, some of whom looked out for the teenager. It was a good experience for Gunnar, who spent much of his time riding, maintaining and repairing the Swedish military motorcycles,  at the time Czechoslovakian-made Jawas. 

But it also made Gunnar realize he didn’t like being put into a “small box.” Gunnar was an individual, and he had his own aspirations that didn’t fit the mold the military might have wished. This is a moment that probably forged his determination to go his own way. The death of his mother and younger brother in a tragic car accident around the same time may have further tempered his Swedish determination. 

 

“This was a difficult time for me,” Gunnar explains. “I was alone with my brother and without any real direction in life. The expectation from family and neighbors was for me to continue as a farmer, so I duly entered an agricultural college and spent an entire year there.” 
 

Motorcycle culture was already rich in Sweden, with a long history of legendary riders – including Bill Nilsson and Rolf Tibblin, who dominated races on their large, powerful four-stroke motorcycles across Sweden and also down in Continental Europe. But with World War II ending and economic growth returning to Northern Europe, small motorcycles were becoming increasingly popular – even in rural Sweden – and the motorcycle culture was changing. Not far away from Eksjö, also in Jönköping County, the Husqvarna Factory, founded in 1689 by the King of Sweden, was producing a small, lightweight motorcycle. The Silverpilen was being used for transportation and, increasingly, for sport riding and competition. These small motorcycles were much more affordable than their large, four-stroke predecessors and could be ridden by a significantly wider range of enthusiasts, helping to expand the sales and sport of motorcycling.

 

 

With increasing confidence gained from some early racing successes and the encouragement of his mentor Bengt Kling, Gunnar came into contact with some of the leadership team of the nearby Husqvarna Factory. While there were dozens, if not hundreds, of young riders vying for the attention of the factory bosses, Gunnar’s riding and mechanical skills, his determination, and his tenacity seemed to combine to get Gunnar in front of key leaders on a regular basis.  

 

“But I soon realized that, while there were plenty of riders in Sweden that aspired for a ‘factory ride,’ chief engineer Ruben Helmin let it be known that they were actively looking for engineers who also understood motorcycles,” Gunnar says. “I quickly abandoned ag school and applied at a technical college in a nearby town. It was already late summer, but I was lucky and got in thanks to a last-minute cancellation.”
 

When he did, it seemed to further raise those leaders’ interest in the young Lindstrom. 

This was a special period in the development of the Husqvarna Motorcycle brand and the sport of motocross in Europe. Fellow Swedes like Tibblin and Torsten Hallman were regularly returning from their conquests on the continent with Grand Prix trophies, wreaths and prize money, and vivid stories about their plunders. The stature of these modern-day Vikings soared as their legendsspread, as did the desirability of their factory Husqvarna mounts. But in reality, these bikes were hand-built one-offs, and the most a rider – even one with Gunnar’s connections and growing credibility – could hope to obtain was the occasional hand-me-down cylinder or some other remnant part.

Gunnar continued his studies while spending many weekends traveling down to the heart of Europe to race, often driving all night after school to get to events and returning home again on Sunday evening. “Once I graduated with my engineering degree, I rushed over to the factory expecting to be welcomed with open arms,” Gunnar recalls. “But contrary to my expectations, the welcome was rather cool in typical Swedish tradition, and after some discussion and introductions I was offered a job on a contract basis as a test rider of the Husqvarna military motorcycle [MC 256 A] that was just being prepared to go into production.” He adds,

 

“In the winter/spring of 1966, I would put on all the cold-weather riding gear, including sealskin gloves and with outrigger skis attached, ride the 100km to Rolf Tibblin’s house, have lunch, maybe a short stretch or workout and then ride back to the factory in the afternoon.”
 

This was a very expansive time at Husqvarna, so it did not take long until Gunnar was hired full-time and became involved in development of another project, the new Husqvarna front fork.

 

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Adventuring Abroad

 

Around this time, the larger export markets for Husqvarna Motorcycles were beginning to heat up. While Torsten Hallman was first to race and introduce motocross to North America, Gunnar had the opportunity to travel to New Zealand, and later followed Hallman as one of the first Swedes to race in the U.S. Gunnar was asked by the factory to stay, race, set up dealers, provide technical training and act as an ambassador for the Husqvarna Motorcycle brand. 

It was clear to some of us Americans at the time that, like Hallman, Gunnar Lindstrom was a highly intelligent and talented person with many skill sets – far more than just a motorcycle racer. In his second language, he could easily command the attention of the aspiring young riders, fans, dealer prospects and the press.

 

He could not only prepare his Husqvarna to race and make repairs as needed, he could weld, make prototype parts – even in a small machine shop – and provide valuable product development feedback to the engineers back in Sweden. He could then hop in the Husqvarna van, drive hundreds or even thousands of miles to a new market area, lay out a track, put on a motocross school, set up a new Husqvarna dealer and train the dealer and his staff.
 

Between these activities, Gunnar often found time to provide market-development advice to the Husqvarna management team back in Sweden, and also council the local Husqvarna leaders in the U.S. and Canada, highly valuable contributions for a rapidly developing motorcycle brand in the largest and fastest-growing market on the planet. 

Gunnar also met and developed important relationships with Husqvarna dealers and industry icons like Malcolm Smith. “I had met Gunnar at the factory and was impressed with his thinking on many things we discussed – he was clearly a very special and clever individual,” Smith recalls. 

“I had won a gold medal at the [International Six Days Enduro] in Poland, and the factory rewarded me by gifting that bike and shipping it to my shop in Riverside,” he adds. “Gunnar needed a bike for an upcoming race at Saddleback, and he rode my Six Days bike, lights, license plate and all, and finished on the podium. Gunnar stayed at our home during that time, and I continued to be impressed with his thinking.” That relationship would prove valuable years later.

During the following years, Gunnar spent the majority of his time in the U.S., traveling while living in a motorhome much of the time. But he also went back to Sweden several times per year to maintain relationships at the factory and stay in contact with his family in Eksjö. 

Gunnar later served as Husqvarna Race Team Manager in the U.S. During this period, he began finding it difficult to convince the Husqvarna Motorcycles leaders back in Sweden what was really needed to compete with the increasingly dominant Japanese manufacturers. This frustration ultimately served as one of the catalysts to his decision to leave the employment of Husqvarna Motorcycles – somewhat of a shock to the company and the many young riders who looked up to Gunnar, as well as the Husqvarna dealers and the motorcycle press. But while Gunnar was leaving employment with Husqvarna, his heart and soul would remain connected, and his passion for the marque would resurface years later...


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Read the full story in Volume 009

 

Brooklyn Invitational


Indian Unveils Bobber Trifecta at 2017 Brooklyn Invitational

Words & Photos by Andrew Campo & Indian Motorcycle


 

A few weeks back I was presented with the opportunity to take in the weekend alongside the team at Indian Motorcycle while attending the 9th annual Brooklyn Invitational Custom Motorcycle Show. The invite included a front row seat to the unveiling of three custom Indian Scout Bobber’s from renowned builders Satya Krause, Keino Sasaki, and a collaboration effort from Steve Caballero and Roland Sands. 

A weekend in a Brooklyn soaking in one of the most sought after shows on the calendar for the first time was soon a reality. Life was grande as I settled into my room at the exquisite William Vale Hotel perched high above the bustling Williamsburg neighborhood below. I counted my blessings while sitting on out on my balcony taking in the sea of glistening lights from the Manhattan skyline just across the East River. I reminded myself that night’s like these are few and far between as I began to photograph the streets below and began to feel as tomorrow could not come fast enough.

 

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The following morning was spent in the company of fellow media peers downstairs eating lemon-ricotta pancakes, laughing as Roland entertained us with his stories, and listening to Steve Caballero explain why he does not believe that natural talent exist. You sir, are a wise man. The day could not have started off any better and I was simply honored to be in such good company. Anticipation was building and after the final sips of coffee rolled out of our cups we gathered our gear and headed out and around the corner to the venue at ROOT Studios to experience the the show first hand.

Before the doors opened to the public we were treated to a private introduction with the three commissioned Indian builders and they each walked us through their inspiration, vision and processes as they unveiled their finished creations. This was an impressive and respectableoffering by Indian as they honored the show through a creative offering that allowed each builder the opportunity to work from the one canvas expressing individual genius. Sponsoring an event is one thing, contributing opportunity in addition is another. Well done.

 

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The end result being three totally unique custom interpretations of the Scout Bobber, which showcased the versatility of the platform and wide range of creative options each builder had to work with.

 

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Keino’s build seemed to be from another world, it is a work of art and took on a creature-like life form that fit perfectly within the gallery setting.

“It was a great opportunity for me to work with the new Indian Scout Bobber with freedom of creativity and ideas. When I stripped the bike down to its main chassis, I knew it could go beyond its styling originally intended.  I hope this bike showcases the possibilities of the Scout Bobber with little imagination and creativity.”

 

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Kraus presented a performance inspired caged monster that breathed insane notes through its 2-into-1 exhaust while creating curiosity through its unique styling.

“When we build on the foundations laid by tradition we are reminded to learn from the past and push the limits beyond what has been done.  Indian Motorcycle has opened the opportunity to recreate American made quality standards and performance.  Each Indian model platform has unique qualities that offer the aftermarket and consumer opportunities for customizations to easily reflect individual styles and designs.  It has been a complete pleasure to customize and build upon the foundation laid by Indian Motorcycle's engineers.”
 
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The tasteful Caballero inspired Roland Sands street-tracker was oozing with attention to detail and truly resembled the man himself.

“The Indian Scout is a fantastic platform for customizations, and when we decided to customize a Scout Bobber for the Brooklyn Invitational I knew I wanted to work alongside Roland and his team at RSD. As a renowned bike builder, Roland has extended experience with the Scout platform and has a suite of offerings for the street flat tracker look we wanted to achieve.”

 

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The room was alive with energy, it reminded me of a bunch of starry eyed kids in candy factory, all three builds warranted great respect and garnered a lot of attention throughout the show. The opportunity to see, touch, and hear these bikes in a personal setting brought to life a river of conversation that flowed all the way through lunch at the Keg and Lantern where we gathered with the team from Indian to watch their boy Jared Mees clinch the 2017 American Flat Championship. The beers began to pour and it was a treat getting to celebrate such an iconic moment alongside so many that have helped the brand to reach new heights after a 60 year hiatus from flat track racing.

 

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We then returned to Brooklyn Invitational to experience the show and community. A beautiful collection of machines from the likes of Walt Siegl, Toshiyuki Osawa, Jim Garrison, and Nicke Svensson and others were on display thanks to the efforts of Jessica Wertz, Keino Sasaki, and John Copeland the team that curated the space and brought this years event to life. Live music belted out from one room, while ringing tattoo guns drew blood in the other. Everyone was drinking Coors Banquet, and I felt right home even though I was 1,800 miles away in Brooklyn.

 

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The show didn’t stop at ROOT in fact it spilled out for blocks on end in every direction with custom bikes of all makes lining the streets, an impressive party indeed. I wondered around for hours just looking at bikes and making new friends. I fell in love with Brooklyn and the community and for the first time found myself inspired with the thought of riding daily in an urban giant like NYC. We capped off the night at the Westlight rooftop bar taking in one the most beautiful views the city has to offer and once again I found myself counting my blessings while imagining my return. 

 


 

The Builds

 
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CUSTOMIZER: Keino Sasaki

BUILD TIME: 6 Weeks

INSPIRATION: Harkening back to the 1950's, 60’s and 70's, Keino’s custom Scout Bobber was inspired by streamliner trains, airplanes and automobiles.

MODIFICATIONS

  • Aluminum fuel tank
  • Front/rear fender
  • Front fairing
  • Exhaust pipes
  • Beringer inboard brake system
  • Custom spoke wheels
  • Stock Modified rear set foot control
 
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CUSTOMIZER: Satya Kraus / Kraus Motor Co.

BUILD TIME: 4 Weeks

INSPIRATION: Kraus Motor Co. was inspired by a new generation of motorcycle riders looking for quality and performance in their American motorcycle and aftermarket products.

MODIFICATIONS:

  • Inverted Front Suspension with Ohlins Forks
  • Beringer Radial Brake Caliper
  • Beringer Master Cylinders
  • 320mm Brake Tech Rotors
  • Rotobox Carbon Fiber Wheels
  • Pirelli Tires
  • Clearwater LED Headlights
  • Linear Steering Damper
  • Kraus Isolated Risers
  • Moto Style Bars
  • Rizoma Mirror and Lever Guards
  • Custom Seat by Saddlemans
  • Billet Rear Shock Mount / Fender Struts
  • Ohlins Rear Shocks
  • Chain Drive
  • Rear Radial Brake Caliper and Oversize Rotor
  • Foot Controls - Rizoma Components & Beringer Master Cylinder
  • Taylor Schultz Paint Job
  • Stainless Steel 2 Into 1 Exhaust Executed by Fab28 Ind.
 
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CUSTOMIZER: Steve Caballero with Roland Sands Design

BUILD TIME: 3 Weeks

INSPIRATION: Steve Caballero’s custom Indian Scout Bobber was inspired by the style and designs of a street flat tracker.  Utilizing Caballero’s number 360, he worked with Roland Sands to feature a variety of RSD’s premium offerings for a clean and classic look.

MODIFICATIONS:

  • Narrowed Gas Tank 6 Inches
  • RSD Enzo Solo Seat
  • RSD Hand Fabricated Aluminum Oval Number Plates
  • RSD Track Stainless Steel 2-into-1 Prototype Exhaust
  • RSD Custom Stainless Steel Mesh Radiator Guard 
  • RSD Front Belt Guard
  • RSD Pulley Cover
  • RSD Rear Belt Guard
  • Front & Rear Wheel – Indian Spoked Hubs, Re-laced with Excel Rims (Pinstriped by Sonny Boy)
  • Front Tire - Dunlop DT3 Flat Track Race Tire (130/80-19)
  • Rear Tire – Dunlop DT3 Flat Track Race Tire (140/80-19)
  • RSD Traction Grips
  • RSD Radial Master Cylinder 9/16’ bore (custom 1”-to-7/8” reducers)
  • RSD Radial Cable Clutch Perch & Lever (custom 1”-to-7/8” reducers)
  • RSD Mid Controls
  • Barnett Cables & Clutches
  • Renthal FA Tbar Handlebars
  • RSD Pullback Riser 1-1/8”
  • RSD Gauge Relocator
  • Turn Signals Removed with Custom Spacer
  • RSD tracker Fork Brace
  • 12.0” Proressive Suspension 970 Series Reservoir Shocks
  • RSD Verticle Shock-mount Taq Bracket
  • Jesse Davis Pain
  • Sonny Boy Pinstriping & Indian Headdress and 12k Gold Leaf Work
  • Colors – Grigio Telesto with Brushed Silver Sides
  • Powdercoat Work by Specialized Coatings (Huntington Beach, CA) 

 

Man in the Machine


The Art of Albert #004

Words by Mike Mayberry | Photos by Ben Giese


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I spent most of my youth taking things apart just to see how they worked – sometimes managing to put them back together. I welded my first bicycle frame when I was 12 years old.  My father told me when I was young to follow my heart, and the money would follow.  My success and my satisfaction in this life have largely been the result of my continuing quest for new projects and new challenges, and my insatiable curiosity of everything.  I have built my career on following my passion for all things mechanical, beautiful and challenging – so I suppose it was inevitable that I would fall in love with Albert.

Albert is a remake of a 1919 Excelsior OHC boardtracker and is one of ten bikes that will eventually be produced by Paul Brodie in his modest Vancouver shop.  In 2004, Paul was looking for “something big” as a project to sink his teeth into, and while walking a vintage swap meet, he stumbled across an old set of engine cases from a 1910 Indian single.  He was struck with the idea of building a replica racer and set upon researching bikes of that era.  He soon learned that one doesn’t just build a boardtrack replica without stepping on the toes of people who restore and curate the few originals that still exist, and with that realization Paul set his sights on remaking a bike that no longer existed: the Excelsior OHC.

 

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Excelsior had been racing for years but was long the underdog to Harley and Indian. A few people within the company had secretly been working on a new overhead cam engine to beat them both, and this new engine made its first debut at a race in early 1920 at Ascot Park in L.A., California.  Before the race began, engineer and factory rider Bob Perry wanted to show just how potent this new design was, and he set about taking a few hot laps before the race.  To everyone’s amazement, he reached an estimated speed of 95 mph, which was faster than anyone had ever gone around this track.  

What he didn’t realize was that with all the fanfare of showing this new bike, the rear wheel axle had not been properly torqued.  Less than two laps into his run the bike came apart, and Bob slid into the side rail, instantly killing him.  Ignaz Schwinn, the founder of Schwinn Bicycle Company and owner of Excelsior motorcycles, thought of Perry as a brother and was devastated upon hearing of the crash. Ignaz ordered all four race bikes smashed and buried and the race team dissolved.  The OHC was gone almost as quickly as it had emerged, and the Excelsior name would never race again before closing its doors permanently when the Great Depression hit.

After learning of Paul and Albert through a good friend, I made a call to Canada and spoke with the man himself.  It was an awkward and brief conversation, but not long after I found myself the proud new owner of a motorcycle – the last of the first 4 bikes he built.  Little did I know that in acquiring Albert, I was also starting what would become a friendship of like minds and shared ambitions. 

Paul Brodie is a kindred spirit.  He welded his first minibike frame when he was 12.  He is passionate and has an insatiable curiosity for all things mechanical – a true Renaissance man and engineering enigma.  He is a designer, fabricator, artist and racer.  He is both spiritual and mechanically minded.  He is fearless yet patient. His name as a builder of mountain bikes ranks among other pioneers such as Gary Fisher and Joe Breeze.  He has built his own vintage race bikes and competed with them, he has built his own motors from scratch, and he has done all of this with impeccable attention to detail and craft and without the slightest hint of bravado. He’s polite, soft-spoken, and often only speaks when spoken to – or when he sees that you, too, are passionate about something.  You might think that he doesn’t have much to say, until you see his work.  Only then do you appreciate the volumes he speaks.  

Albert is a stunningly beautiful creation.  It is possibly the most beautiful machine I have ever seen.  One must see it in person to truly appreciate the level of detail and care that has gone into every component of this complicated and antiquated artifact.  When you hear the phrase “hand-built motorcycle,” you might think of a bike that has been cut and welded, a custom seat, custom tank and maybe a rebuilt engine with tig-welded headers.  Albert redefines what makes a handmade motorcycle.  With the exception of the tires, rims, spokes, pedals and magneto, every part of Albert has been designed and fabricated, tested and finished by Paul, with the occasional help from a few passionate friends. 

Sitting on a lift in my shop, I have gazed at this bike for years now, and each time I stop to look, I notice something new.  A small hand-turned screw on a throttle linkage, a one-off brass cam on the carburetor body, a perfectly machined castellated nut on the rear hub that firmly holds the pedal sprocket – one of the few vestigial indicators of its origins as a commercial motorcycle.  All of these details amaze me and remind me of just what this bike was built to do – both by its original designer and by its inherited creator – and of just how much thought and passion went into realizing this vision.

 

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Brodie built this bike much in the same manner it would have been made back in 1919.  The creation of bikes of this period were very much driven by – and limited by – manufacturing techniques of the time and the passion of a few guys with unwavering drive.  In a way, re-manufacturing a vintage bike like this is more accessible to a modern builder.  Gravity casting was very common back then and is something you or I can do today with minimal cost.  Just as was done back then, a designer could readily bring an idea to fruition with little more than the desire to make it happen and the skills to know how to do it.  

Paul Brodie made it happen, and he started with the engine cases.  He drew them by hand at full scale and sent those drawings to Pacific Pattern, then over to Globe Foundry where they cast the aluminum parts.  Similar techniques were used for casting the frame lugs and cylinders (cylinders and heads were cast as one piece back then because we hadn’t yet figured out how to make a reliable head gasket).  Other cast parts include the carburetor, fork linkages, control rod linkages, fuel petcock and intake manifold.  All of them impeccable and gorgeous on their own.  Parts that could be made on a mill or lathe were cut from billet, such as the hubs, drive gears, sprockets and all (yes, all) fastening hardware.  You can’t just go buy hardware for a 1919 boardtracker, so Paul made all of the nuts and bolts for this bike by hand, and they are the most beautiful bolts you likely will ever see – each perfectly and consistently cut and chamfered on every edge so as to reflect light perfectly.

Much like the founders of Harley, Indian and Excelsior, Paul has accumulated substantial experience in the design and fabrication of lug-brazed bicycle frames – and so building a lug-brazed motorcycle frame was a natural evolution, if not an unavoidable eventuality, for him.  In addition to drafting the frame layout and bending the main tubes, Paul also carved the patterns for the lugs.  The lugs are the business ends of the frame and include the head tube that carries the fork bearings, the bottom bracket for pedal crank bearings, the dropouts that the rear hub is bolted to, and every other point at which one frame tube joins another.  Tig-welding didn’t exist in 1919, so lug-brazing was the most common and most reliable technique for building steel-tubed frames.  It works well and is still used today.

Working from just a few old photos – and only of the right side of the bike – Paul had a lot of guessing, experimentation and reverse-engineering to do.  He could calculate the angle between the engine cylinders, but he couldn’t see what was going on inside the engine – or on the other side of the entire bike.  Through trial and error and hours of research, he had to work out cam gear angles, oil circuits, ignition timing, carburation and every other aspect of what makes a great engine – albeit a 98-year-old design.  The cylinder heads alone took months to decipher, and Paul used Bondo and scrap metal to craft models of the cylinder head layout just so he could get his own head around how best to arrange all the parts that had to live in that small space. 

 

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As if this wasn’t challenge enough, Paul was working with 100-year-old technology. There were no exploded views of this bike, no jetting charts and no shop manual with tips on what angles to cut the valve seats at, or what the ideal compression ratio is.  Albert has a carburetor that looks and operates like nothing else you’ve seen.  Nothing else on the bike is ordinary, either.

 “Let’s go back in time and take a peek at a motorcycle racing era that was so unique there is no chance of it ever happening again...” – Paul Brodie

After staring at this bike for three years, Paul realized that the time had come for it to be started and ridden.  Forever dedicated to his creation, Paul had promised to come to Denver to help start Albert for the first time whenever I was ready.  So after a morning of test and tune at the shop and fixing a sticky float valve, we drove two hours to a dirt track outside of Castle Rock, Colorado, for some laps.  The experience was amazing and exhilarating, but the realization of just what this bike is – and of what a boardtrack race must have been like – became more real than ever for me, and was overwhelming.

On the track the bike is a handful.  It demands all of your attention.  With a good push from a few friends, Albert comes alive and pops off down the track like a big string of firecrackers just lit.  The gearing is so tall that the first few seconds havethe motor turning at a speed so slow you can count the RPM on one hand – crack … crack … crack – eventually building to a growl, and then a 1000cc bark will catch you off guard if you aren’t ready for it.  Where today there would be invisible electronic ignition, there is instead a magneto that must be manually advanced by a left-hand twist grip – all while still also working the right-hand throttle.  Where you would normally find a clutch and brake lever, there is nothing.  There are no brakes, no clutch, no transmission, no starter, no speedo and no kill switch. The bike is either on or it’s not.  You have a control via a throttle that is akin to reins on a pair of runaway horses. That’s it.  

There is a ring on the carb that needs turning to adjust air mixture once you’re up to race pace, and there is an oiling plunger that needs an occasional push to keep the engine from seizing under wide-open throttle.  The original OHC likely had a total-loss oil system, which meant that all the oil that circulated in the engine eventually got spit out the top end, and the oil tank would eventually run dry just like the fuel tank.  This expelled oil went everywhere – including onto the track, and is just one more reason why boardtrack racing was so deadly for so many.  

Back at the shop, Albert again rests peacefully on his lift.  Wiped clean of dust, debris and spent oil, all evidence of the track experience is now gone.  What remains is pure form-follows-function design.  It is machine aesthetic in its most honest form.  There is nothing on this bike that doesn’t serve a purpose, no plastic covers or chrome bits or fancy paint. And yet every component – every bolt – is inarguably beautiful both on its own and as a whole.  This bike’s timeless beauty and lasting appeal comes from it painstakingly perfect fabrication, and from its pureness in being designed and built to do a specific job – and do it beautifully.  We are lucky to have builders like Paul Brodie to carry on this craft, creating masterpieces like Albert, and through his work and that of other kindred spirits, this passion will continue for another 100 years – we can only hope.


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Featured in Volume 009

Terra Incognita - BTS


Behind The Scenes

Words by Daniel Fickle | Photos by Aaron Brimhall


 

Ben Giese and Maggie Gulasey came to us with the idea of producing the film Terra Incognita and our response was an immediate "fuck yes". From that initial conversation, the entire process was organic and collaborative.  We captured this film over the course of a week. Driving almost 2,000 miles across southern Colorado and New Mexico to six different film locations the days consisted mostly of driving/riding and only shooting during the last couple hours before the sun disappeared.  Because we sought out to capture this otherworldly vibe shooting during golden hour and magic hour only made sense.  The only exception to this  was White Sands because that place looked like another planet regardless of what time of day it was. 

 

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From about 6pm until dark, we had a very short window to shoot at each location, so as soon as the light was right we began rolling camera and Maggie followed her instincts. I have this theory that Maggie is tapped in with a network of extra terrestrial life, so it was no surprise that she nailed the performance. 

 

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With an everlasting positive vibe from Ben, there was never a dull moment on the trip. You know you are with a great group of people when you can spend 7 days on the road and not once was there a disagreement or any negative vibes. It really says a lot about the characters of the people you are working with and it's refreshing to be on a project where everyone is on the same page. Sure, not everything went according to plan; one day it was too windy to fly the drone, another day the stabilizer wouldn't connect, and we even had a scary moment when I clipped the Ronin stabilizer on the asphalt while filming out of the back of the car. But thanks to everyones optimistic nature, no shitty moments lingered. 

 

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I must admit, I felt like a bit of a poser going on this trip because my partner, Ben McKinney and I don't ride motorcycles. I'm obviously all for it, but skateboarding has always captivated my time and interest. Aaron Brimhall, Ben McKinney and myself were packed in a car following Maggie and Ben on their BMW’s.  Aaron is a mad man, telling us tales of climbing sky scrapers in Hong Kong and cliff diving at his local spot in Utah.  And after countless conversations in the car with Aaron about the freedom and excitement riding, Ben McKinney and I were already hooked. At one point driving down a long stretch of highway, Ben and Maggie must have passed 8 or 9 cars on at once hitting speeds well over 120 mph.  All of us in the car felt pretty left out at that point. Needless to say, we and I got our motorcycle endorsements a couple weeks after returning from the trip and the rest is history. They say making movies is a magical experience. Well, riding motorcycle definitely has some of that same shit. 


 
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Featured in Volume 009

Danny Laporte


A Life Less Ordinary

Words by Davey Coombs | Photos by Drew Ruiz | Video by FMF


 

Danny LaPorte’s motorcycling odyssey has taken him across the globe and back many times.

“I'LL NEVER FORGET THE DAY MY DAD PULLED UP IN FRONT OF OUR HOUSE WITH A BULTACO IN THE BACK OF HIS TRUCK,” BEGINS LAPORTE, LOOKING BACK ON A LIFE IN MOTORCYCLING. “I JUST SAW THAT BIKE AND THOUGHT, `WOW. THAT IS SO COOL!' I WAS MAYBE NINE YEARS OLD, AND IT BLEW MY MIND.”

 

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LaPorte grew up in Torrance, California, west of Los Angeles, not Yucca Valley, as it says in the AMA record books. 

“Yucca Valley was my parents’ second home, and that’s where we built some tracks once I started racing for Suzuki in ’76,” he explains. “Roger (DeCoster) was with Suzuki, and when he was in the country to race he went out there with a dozer and built some tracks. A lot of teams and racers tested there after that.” 

There were also lots of tracks in the area, which gave LaPorte and everyone else the chance to race two or three times a week at hotspots like Ascot Park, Indian Dunes, Perris Raceway, Carlsbad, Saddleback Park and more.

 

“THAT WAS A REALLY FUN TIME BECAUSE EVERYONE WAS STILL EXPERIMENTING AND LEARNING, AND THE BIKES WERE GOING THROUGH A LOT OF DEVELOPMENT,” HE RECALLS. “NO ONE REALLY THOUGHT MUCH ABOUT THE MONEY—MY FIRST CONTRACT WAS LIKE FIFTEEN OR TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS, AND I THOUGHT I WAS RICH!”
 

LaPorte rose quickly through the ranks, though his parents made him stay in school so he would have options. He worked with his father, an electrician, after school and during the summer. He wanted to keep his options open, not knowing whether a career as a pro motocrosser would ever pay the bills. And when Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawasaki decided to go all-in in 1976 on their shared goal of knocking off mighty Team Honda rider Marty Smith, LaPorte was in the perfect place.

“There were all of these fast SoCal guys, like (Bob) Hannah, myself, Broc Glover, Jeff Jennings, Danny Turner and more, and the other factories all wanted to beat Marty and his Honda. One day phone rings and it’s Tosh Koyama from Suzuki,” LaPorte says. “He told me that his factory wanted to pay me to go race the 125 Nationals. I said, ‘Okay, but I need to ask my parents first!’” 

LaPorte woundup driving down to Suzuki and negotiating the contract himself. He was 18 years old and still in high school.

“We all knew Marty, and we really looked up to him—he was a SoCal guy who made it, and we all wanted to be just like him,” adds LaPorte. “He really opened the doors for all of us.”

That didn’t stop LaPorte and the others from wanting to beat him. And at the first round of the ’76 AMA 125cc National Championships at Hangtown, someone did beat Smith, but it wasn’t LaPorte. “Hurricane” Hannah erupted that day, reestablishing the American motocross hierarchy in two blindingly fast motos. Smith and LaPorte each had bike troubles in one moto, though they were no match for Hannah in the other. 

How popular had motocross become by that time in California? At the Hangtown 125cc National opener, nine of the ten top finishers hailed from the Golden State. Only eighth-place Steve Wise wasn’t a Californian—Kawasaki had hired him from Texas. 

“Practically the whole industry was in California by that point,” explains LaPorte. “The OEMs were there, the magazines, the aftermarket companies, and there were endless places to ride. Even though we lived in the city, I could just go down the street and ride in any dirt lot. That was why a whole bunch of us in California just kind of emerged all at once.”

By the end of the ’76 series Hannah had dethroned Smith as champion, and LaPorte finished just one point behind Smith in the final rankings—and he won the last two rounds.  

One year later, LaPorte was in position to take the title from Hannah, but at the now infamous finale in San Antonio, team Yamaha’s pit board ordered Hannah to “Let Brock Bye.”

 

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Overlooking both the grammatical errors, the Hurricane grudgingly did, leading to tie in the final championship standings at 240 points each for LaPorte and Hannah’s teammate Broc Glover. Based on tie-breakers, Glover was declared champion. 

“It was a bad deal, though I actually think it was worse for the other guys,” offers the ever-gracious LaPorte. “They didn’t want to do it, but the company wanted to win the title badly and had invested a lot of money. It was just normal team stuff. Suzuki didn’t want to get into a big protest or anything, and neither did I. To me, I lost the championship at some other point. I had won both motos at the opener and had some really good races, but some bad ones, too.

 

“IT SHOULD NOT HAVE COME DOWN TO THAT LAST MOTO, BUT IT DID. I JUST MOVED ON TO THE NEXT THING, WHICH IS WHAT I'VE DONE MY WHOLE LIFE—I NEVER LET THINGS HOLD ME BACK.”      

 

Indeed, within two years, LaPorte had his own AMA National Championship, albeit in the 500cc Class. That’s the same class his hero and sometime mentor Roger DeCoster was dominant in, only DeCoster’s five titles were FIM World Championships over in Europe. As a kid LaPorte watched DeCoster on ABC’s Wide World of Sports when they featured the annual 500cc U.S. Grand Prix from Carlsbad, and soon he and his friends were calling every good wheelie or cross-up they could pull on their bicycles a “DeCoster” in his honor. And when DeCoster retired at the end of the 1980 season and went to work at American Honda, LaPorte immediately switched teams to ride for The Man.

Unfortunately, LaPorte had an injury-riddled ’81 season, but it culminated with a life-changing event—two of them, actually. DeCoster talked Honda into sending four of his American riders to Europe to compete in the Trophee and Motocross des Nations, which are basically the Olympics of motocross. The young Americans shocked the world at both races, first on 250cc motorcycles (Trophee) and then 500cc bikes (Motocross), winning each event for the first time ever. It might not have happened if not for a special request DeCoster made of LaPorte.

“The Trophee race was in Lommel, Belgium, which was a sand track, and the week before the race Roger said, ‘I’m not sure our fuel tanks we use in America hold enough gas for 45-minute motos here,’ so he asked me to go out and do a full moto at race speed,” explains LaPorte. “I did it, and sure enough, the bike ran out of gas on me. So, we all switched to our bigger 500cc tanks. If not for that, all of us would have ran out of gas at the end of the race!”

LaPorte, who always had an eye on one day racing Europe, used the unexpected results as a bargaining chip to get him a deal in Europe. DeCoster and Honda had nothing to offer, but Yamaha did, so LaPorte lined up for the 1982 FIM 250cc World Championship in Europe riding a white-works YZ250. 

What transpired over the course of that summer was even more earth-shaking. While LaPorte battled the elegant Belgian legend Georges Jobe for the 250cc title, “Bad” Brad Lackey’s decade-long crusade to win the 500cc world title finally reached a successful conclusion. Yet another Californian, speedway ace Bruce Penhall, was on his way to the FIM World Championship. And DeCoster returned with his American Honda riders to sweep the Trophee and Motocross des Nations again, which meant neither of America’s first world champions, Brad Lackey and Danny LaPorte, were on the team. No matter: The balance of global motocross power has shifted from Europe to the U.S.

 

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The following year LaPorte battled the late Jobe again for the 250cc world crown, but this time the Belgian Suzuki rider got the better of the American Yamaha rider. LaPorte did one more year in Europe, this time in the 500cc class, but by that point Yamaha was in financial trouble. Their bikes had fallen well behind Honda’s exotic-works bikes, and that had a profound effect on LaPorte’s results. He would return to the States at the end of the 1984 season, but even with his diverse resume, he found it hard to get proper support. He didn’t even race until that summer’s 500cc Nationals. LaPorte’s last-ever pro motocross race would be the Six Flags National in Georgia, in which he finished a remarkable fourth overall. What made it so remarkable was the fact that he was on Husqvarna, then a fading Swedish brand on the brink of bankruptcy. That would stand as Husqvarna’s best AMA Motocross finish until the 2015 Hangtown National, when Jason Anderson finished third for the revitalized brand, now owned by Austrian juggernaut KTM.  

LaPorte was done with motocross, but not racing in general. Many top European stars, like Gaston Rahier and Andre Malherbe, transitioned into endurance and desert racing following their MX days, in part because the money transfused into the sport by cigarette brands like Marlboro, Lucky and Gauloises made it more lucrative than racing Grand Prix motocross. LaPorte wanted in, despite the news that Malberbe, a three-time world champion, had suffered a broken neck in a Tunisian race. He was advised by his friend Jean-Claude Olivier of Yamaha France to try U.S. desert racing first, which he did. He teamed up with Kawasaki legend Larry Roeseler. Three Baja 1000 and three Baja 500 wins later, he was ready for even bigger races, like the Paris-Dakar Rally and the Pharaohs race across Egypt. 

“That was a great way to round out my career because that’s how I grew up, going out to the desert and riding with my family,” says LaPorte. Unfortunately, he suffered a big crash of his own in Niger, resulting in a heart contusion.

 

“I NEARLY DIED. IT WAS TWELVE DAYS OF MY LIFE WHERE I DON'T REMEMBER ANYTHING, EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT MY LUNGS WERE SO FULL OF BLOOD THAT THEY STABBED A TUBE IN MY CHEST SO I COULD BREATHE.”     
 

But he did recover, and he would go on to win the Pharaohs Rally as well as finish second in the Paris-Dakar, holding the highest finish for an American to this day. It was enough to allow him closure, and he soon retired altogether from professional racing. In 1997 he was offered a job at FMF Racing by lifelong friend Donny Emler, and he still rides “at least a couple of times a week” as part of his role in research and development.   

It was while racing in Europe that LaPorte met his future wife Georgia, a lovely woman from Paris he was introduced to by Gabriele Mazzarola, of Alpinestars fame. Danny and Georgia have two children: Shane, who lives in Norway, and Estelle, who was in London but now works in Florida with the World Tennis Association. 

 

MOTORCYCLING HAS HAD A PROFOUND EFFECT ON DANNY LAPORTE'S LIFE. IN TURN, LAPORTE HAS HAD A PROFOUND EFFECT ON MOTORCYCLING IN GENERAL.  
 

“I feel extremely fortunate to have lived the life I have so far,” says LaPorte, still rakishly young at the age of 60. “I got to travel, I got to meet wonderful people along the way, and my world is just so large because of all that. And I still get to ride motorcycles pretty much whenever I want. It’s a good living.”

Absolutely. Not to mention a life less ordinary.


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Featured in Volume 009

America Long Gone


Return to Hallowed Ground

Photos by Jimmy Bowron | Words by Andrew Campo


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Sitting just above the stars on The Great Seal of the State of Kansas reads “ad astra per aspera,” a Latin term chosen as the state motto that in translation means “to the stars through difficulties.”
 

An unusual May storm that produced an abnormal amount of snow had been hammering Denver, Colorado, for days and was now beginning to push east toward Kansas. It was early evening and snow was still falling to the north and to the south of the city, leaving us only two options: get some sleep and head out in the morning like a normal person, or throw on our helmets and hope for the best as we tempted fate and rode east into the unforgiving night. Although covered by clouds, we of course chose to run to the stars, and the word difficult as mentioned in the Kansas state motto would become a bit of an understatement in this case. The snow had turned to rain, and all I could see was a glimpse of red illuminating from the taillight in front of me. We were on a mission, and regardless of the weather, there was simply no turning back. Three hours later, we found ourselves drenched and nearly frozen stiff as we piled into a roadside motel like a pack of drowned rats. 

Fingers slowly thawed and the laughter began to flow as we talked about the many things that could have gone wrong. Distinct and fitting guitar and harmonica offerings soon filled the room, echoed by the voices of Jimbo Darville and Paul Tamburello, who made up the traveling band duo I had pulled together for the ride. Our like-minded crew was in search of the same thing – escaping the urban landscape and daily grind that we know so well and embracing the lonesome road and soul-cleansing wide-open places unique to the Great Plains region. Although brutal and scary as hell, our journey had begun in memorable fashion. With Mother Nature dictating our unknown path the following day, we eventually drifted off to sleep knowing only the destination: Comanche Road.

 

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In an attempt to honor Indian’s brand history, we had set our sights on venturing through the back roads of Kansas en route to hallowed ground, where race history was stamped into the record books by way of Glen Boyd over a century ago. In 1914 Boyd earned the honor of winning the inaugural Dodge City 300 aboard his Hendee Indian in front of a crowd of spectators who had traveled from around the world. The event attendance was estimated to be nearly twenty thousand strong, five times larger than the population of Dodge City at the time. The two-mile dirt oval track just north of Dodge City would later become recognized as home to one of the largest and most iconic races steeped in motorcycle history. 

Morning light was soon upon us, and as we traded turns drying our boots with a hair dryer, I recalled a quote from Kansas author Cheryl Unruh that reads

 

“We who live on the prairie love our sky. It is as much a part of the landscape as the land itself. While the earth gives us roots … the sky gives us flight, imagination ….”

 

I had discovered this quote while doing a little research on Kansas leading into this feature. As we faced the new day, her words would be my inspiration, my simple reminder to live in the now with my eyes wide open. 

We were in search of America long gone and for all the right reasons. The opportunity to be confronted with a glimpse into a simpler life coupled with the ability to escape and somewhat journey back in time was ours for the taking. Small towns can be beautiful that way. They can make you believe that things are simple, things make sense, and remind you that anything is possible. The people can inspire one easily. A simple wave is common; everybody wants to know your story and to tell you theirs. Genuine would best describe most roadside encounters in these parts.

 

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As the day unfolded we ventured south along the Colorado-Kansas border, stopping often along the way to appreciate and explore nearly every town we rolled into. We were in search of aban-doned barns in hopes of discovering fragments of motorcycle history along the way. While resting lakeside under shade trees, friendship bonds were strengthened and memories unique to this ride were etched within the spirit of all of us.  As dusk approached, we found a deserving watering hole just south of Syracuse, Kansas, and decided to tempt our fate with the locals. Outside was a collection of weathered farm trucks, and as we approached the front door we all looked at each other and agreed that we might be in for a good, old-fashioned ass-kicking. 

As we stepped up to the bar, the voices under the looming tall hats among us began to fade to an awkward silence, and wisdom told me that it was time to buy a round for the locals. Spirits were lifted, and we had found what we were looking for: the opportunity to share the gift of music and tales of adventures with strangers. Jimbo fired up “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” on the six-string, and Paul soon joined in with some elevated harmonica riffs. You can’t go wrong with a Willie Nelson offering, and that solidified us as legendary strangers with the good ol’ boys in no time. We couldn’t stay long, as promise of a wild night in Dodge City was only a few hours away. The music soon died, we said goodbye to our newfound friends, and once again pushed east and into the night.

Dodge City is best known for its rich frontier history from the days of the Wild West and is recognized by locals as The Wicked Little City.

 

Originally a stop on the Santa Fe Trail, Dodge City was once home to legendary deputies Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp and a long list of outlaws and gunslingers. The lore of the city runs deep.

 

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After enjoying a proper cowtown breakfast and taking in a bit of culture at the Boot Hill Museum, we had finally arrived. The sky had a cold but calming tint to it as we stood along the side of Comanche Road. In the near distance a roadside history marker had been placed in honor of the Dodge City 300. The field was empty, and only a few dilapidated yet beautiful structures remained. One of the buildings had a little side window that looked to be where race entry sign-up might have taken place. I locked eyes with that window and let my imagination fly. As I walkedaimlessly through the field, my mind was filled with images and sounds of period-correct recollection. Racers, including William Harley, Walter Davidson, Bill Brier, Carl Gowdy and Glen Boyd, had gone to battle on this very ground. Exemplary machines brought to life by the Indian, Flying Merkel, Thor, Pope, Harley Davidson and Excelsior manufacturers had once shaken the soil beneath me. The thought of a sea of people traveling across the world in 1914 to witness this race and the mountain of stories their adventured birthed simply overwhelmed me. The thought of twenty thousand spectators roaming this field over one hundred years ago truly made me believe that anything is possible. Monumental in grandeur and influence, this ground was powerful, meaningful, and nearly unfathomable. 

A bit of chill came over me, the kind that comes from inside when moved by something compelling; history had given me goosebumps. I picked up a little rock. It was flat, smooth and perfect for rubbing between your fingers. I played with the rock for a minute or so as I pondered back in time. After putting the rock in my pocket as a keepsake, I turned and glanced over at the Indian parked under the historic marker and smiled as I felt a sense of pride knowing that we had brought her home. We were here to honor the spirit of those who were instrumental in bringing to life the quintessential motorcycle racing history that marked this hallowed ground. In that surreal moment, I felt complete and as if I belonged.


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Featured in Volume 009