Monday, February 28, 2011

Hey Toto, Kansas Rocks!

Who knew that Kansas; fly-over state, home to stout college hoops and the occasional trailer-park clearing twister, was also a land of enlightened lawmaking? Rest assured it is dear Chromies......witness the recently passed "Dead Red" bill.

According to Fox News;

"The Kansas House on Tuesday approved a bill that would allow bikers to run a red light if the signal "fails" to turn green after a "reasonable period of time." The proposal leaves the discretion in the hands of the motorcyclist, but is aimed at ensuring riders don't get trapped in perpetuity at intersections because of signals that either malfunction or don't detect the motorcycles." 

A moment of silence for the collective wisdom of the Jayhawk state law-givers! How many times have you sat frustrated at a signal while it cycles yet again, never giving you the green? OK, me neither, but at least now you can bomb through without the threat of John Law waking from his slumber just in time to clock in and do his share of revenue generation for the day, and slapping you with a completely unjustified citation. If you reside in Kansas of course.........almost reason enough to move!

Imagine, letting the rider decide when it's safe to proceed.........yeah, that's why this tidbit of legislative wisdom has about as much chance of becoming law in the Peoples Republic of Kalifornia as Charlie Sheen does becoming a spokesman for AA. Ah, dare to dream............oh, and major props to ABATE for their work in getting the law passed..........way to go my friends!

Sturgis Or Die, Day Seven

Head hurts, mouth is dry............oh yeah, the Full Throttle Saloon. Couple that with the fact that I was blogging (at least I hope that's what I was doing!) until about 5am, and I'm in no shape to go on any long sight-seeing  ride today. The good news? Neither is any one else in the crew......well, truth is Mark is pretty spunky, but the rest of us are through. Plans change...........Mt. Rushmore is gonna have to wait until another trip. No big deal, we'll regroup.
Just when you thought it couldn't get more crowded

First cool day of the trip, overcast sky, temps in the low 70's.......a major storm rolled through in the night just north and east of us, our luck continues. The lads decide to hang with Nate while he gets some more LED's mounted up to the mighty Road Glide, after they hit the civic center to look at all the new Harleys and catch a stunt show (stunting a Harley, think about it!), the three old guys head to downtown (Rapid City) to check out a gun store.

The store is impressive, lot's of stock, cool stuff you can't get (legally that is) in the People's Republic of Kalifornia. We then walk down the street to the Firehouse Brew Pub for lunch. Very tasty, had a buffalo burger.........and we were treated to card tricks after our meal, the kid was good, real good.
Trust me, I'm smiling on the inside

Not to be out done by the boys we take a short jaunt to the civic center to look at the new rigs. Way cool stuff......the new Screamin' Eagle Road Glide is sick, (we know for a fact that Nate is already calculating how he can score one) and the mods to the touring line are pretty trick too. I harass a couple of HD engineers about the new XR-1200; "So when you guys gonna release it in the states, huh, huh?" Nothing. They don't give up a thing........but one of them does say he's put a lot of miles on a test mule, "It's a real sport bike, nothing like the Harleys we know. Dare to dream I suppose.
Not everyone's on a Harley

Feeling somewhat better, we head off to Sturgis to wander around and see what we haven't yet seen (it would take a full week, so we're kinda kidding ourselves), and pick up some last minute swag. The sky has cleared, but it's still not nearly as hot as it's been, so it's a little easier to walk the streets.

And the streets are full, the Rally crowd has really started to swell, it's total gridlock in all directions from the center of town. The scene is even more over the top.....more crazy bikes, more freaks and characters, more woman almost wearing clothes......and a few that should rush back to the motel and put on some more. We're just digging the sights........the cops have the street in front of Pee Wee's blocked, over twenty including dogs. H.A. guys everywhere, a stand-off, a show of force. And just as quick the cops split....."guess they showed us" one of the H.A. members sniffed when I asked him what was going on.

More and more club guys can be seen; Boozefighters, Sons of Silence, and more. They keep to themsleves, and help the posers feel tough........sort of a “badass umbrella effect” I guess. We decide to blow off the Buffalo Chip and Kid Rock, we're still tired and we've got to do about 300 miles tomorrow. One more soft serve cone and its a bun run back to Rapid City. We need to eat and pack.

Regrouped we dine at the Ruby Tuesdays next to our hotel. Good meal, friendly server. Early night tonight, no bloggin'  until five am. We're on our way to Hardin Montana tomorrow...........and I'm told the roads are fantastic. Time to turn in.............

Daytona Bike Week Blues

Quick, get 911 on the horn and call out the "Whaambulance", yours truly won't be seen at Bike Week this year.............sniff, sniff. Yes, for the first time in decades my bros on Main Street will have to carry the torch, and bottles without their spiritual leader in tow. Oh the shame......

Ah the memories, the old days racing at the you didn't know that our little road race team, lead by myself and one notorious "NG" (trust me, Doug and Dixie knew what they were doing when they named that lad) was one of the hottest supersport efforts of the late 90's. No really.

Co-sponsored by Suzuki we competed in the hotly contested 600 and 750 supersport classes......and dear reader, unlike today, there was some depth on the grid.........hell the first few rows of 600 were ALL factory machines........these days I'm pretty sure row three is reserved for top club novices.....but I digress. Our little rag-tag army; Carl, Seamus, John E, Randy, turned out some of the most beautiful and competitive machines in the paddock. How good you ask?

Good enough that future Daytona 200 winners and national champions the likes of Steve Rapp, Jake Zemke and Roger Lee Hayden all made their professional road racing debut's riding for our team. You could say old NG had an eye for I made sure the stickers were on straight, so what if everyone went into fits of hysterics when they saw the term "master mechanic" on my AMA hardcard ID..........whatever.

Ah the memories..........arguing with the always helpful Speedway security shock troops, these guys were usually retired NYPD, so you can imagine the people skills. Carrying team members out of, ah, "gentleman's club" only moments before the cops raided the place (yeah, it happened), begging parts from other teams after we had blown through all our "spares" by Thursday..........honestly, I've never had so much fun.

But that was years ago, more recently my Bike Week adventures centered around Harley folks and all things custom. Usually I'd sneak off, camera and notepad in hand........(yeah, I know, how biker is that!?) and spend hours scouring the streets and lots looking for the "next thing". Funny, you learn a lot when you're actually out among folks, asking questions, thing about your average biker, he'll tell you what's on his matter how long it takes.

Seriously, it was a blast, from the Rat's Hole show, to Main Street, to some of the hole-in-the-wall bars out of town, to the amazing young guns at the Limpnickie Lot, if you're into the American V-Twin scene, Bike Week is not to be's no Sturgis, and in some respects, Laughlin and Street Vibe have it beat for shear raw biker vibe........but the mass of peeps, variety of motorsport, and Daytona history make it a bucket list must.

And you're gonna have to do it without me...........but I'll be at the Ocean Deck if only in spirit, toasting you all with a frosty cold one, or two...... so off you go you lucky bums and Bike Week your little booties off..........I promise not to hate you for it..........not much!   

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Motorcycling's Passion....Best Video Ever?

I was turned on to this video by Steve Johnson, the top guy over at Tucker Rocky, one of the powersports industries biggest and best distributors, and I have to say it's flat amazing. More than any other piece of video I've seen in years, this one captures the magic and passion that draws us all into motorcycling, and in doing so frankly transcends motorcycling entirely. And yes, it was produced for a bank!? I really don't want to set the piece up.........just click on the link and enjoy...........

2011 Indy Dealer Expo.....The Powersports Industry Lives!

Another Dealer Expo in Indy has come and gone; hands were shaken, drinks were drinked, massive amounts of food were consumed (Slippery Noodle Inn, burgers and blues, you simply have to go), and just like every prior year, I'm pretty sure some business got done as well........and the fact that there was business to be done at all is a very good thing. As you know the last few years haven't been particularly gentle for the good folks in the powersports industry.

A cool Road Glide trike......who knew!?
I should explain that this particular Expo was a bit of a first for me, after over two decades of loyal annual attendance (yeah, I remember when it was in Cincinnati....hell hole!) I was no longer playing my accustomed  role of a powersports retailer, plying the hallowed halls in search of yet another vendor/distributor/manufacturer to put the bite on........that must be why no one ran off this year, faking an urgent meeting! It was great to reconnect with old least those that didn't bolt.

No downsized booth for the Dunlop crew
Instead I was graciously offered an opportunity to work with Advanstar (these are the folks that produce the event, and put me up in the just opened JW Marriott, the best hotel ever.....thanks Tracy) team as a "Pillar Leader" for the marketing group in the Leadership Experience seminar program. My role was very behind the scenes, and given the top level of talent that Advanstar had recruited for the program, I had it pretty easy. The marketing group covered the gambit of topical issues such as; social media, e-commerce, email marketing campaigns and more. The feedback from session attendees was overwhelmingly positive, which tells me that if your future plans involve the Indy Dealer Expo, you owe it to yourself and your business to check out the Learning Experience. Special thanks to the marketing crew, you guys were a joy to work with; Heather Blessington and Peggy Olson (, Craig Cervenka ( and Cat Mac Leod (

Being more or less free; only when my talent wrangling duties permitted of course, to slink about the exhibits I came away from the weekend cautiously optimistic about the industries future. Yes, attendance appeared to be off, and rather significantly, but given the carnage in the motorcycle market that has to be expected. Downsized booths were visible everywhere, as were some notable companies deciding to give the event a pass.........but that said, there was a pervasive positive energy to the whole event. Oh sure, dealers were looking for the next new thing, and hefty discounts on that next new thing to be sure, but they were also looking for strategies, insights, and tactics that would allow them to take advantage of the massive opportunities to gain market share in the current selling doubt one of the reasons the Leadership Experience was so well attended.

Oh damn, I love this bike....and one will be mine, believe that
The powersports industry seems well on its way to adapting to the "new normal"; reduced sales volume, higher operating costs (OK, maybe not rent, if you're a business owner and have not gone after your landlord for rent concessions, I'm really, don't even talk to me), and an uncertain near term economic environment. That said, interest in the sport of motorcycling is extremely strong. Make no mistake, motorcyclings appeal just may be at an all time high, the notion that motorcycling was had somehow outlived it's "time" is a bunch of dung. And stinky dung at that.

Cool custom, don't know if it won people's choice
Couple the passion of those in the business still standing with the rabid enthusiasm of the average motorcycle owner/rider and my guess is the industry will not only survive, but thrive for years to on it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Power Plant Choppers

The man behind Power Plant, Yaniv Evan
If you've been an inmate here at the Asylum for any length of time you know that I have a thing for Sucker Punch Sally's (, Christian and the gang, flat get it. Their bobbers and choppers exude old school style and class.........and best of all, they don't break the bank. Many complete models sell in the very low twenties, and considering the quality, that's a steal. Hell, you can even purchase a rolling chassis, motor and tranny and finish the beast yourself. They're aces in my book, and still are..............

But, hold the phone, I've just discovered another builder (OK, when I say "I discovered", I'm well aware that they've been around for a while, and you dear reader have known about them for years and years, but they're new to me, it's my blog.......fill in the blanks) out of So Cal that is really rockin' it big time with an owner that only knows how to do it his way; Power Plant Choppers ( The bikes have a vintage look and feel........raw and in some cases almost unfinished. Almost like how you'd do it yourself, if you had the mad skills that is.

The man in charge is Yaniv Evan, and by all accounts this dude is one of a kind, but why take my word for it, there's an article in the current issue of Ol' Skool Rodz magazine ( another nifty gem from the folks at that profiles the man and his shop. Oh, and notice that Power Plant was featured not in a bike rag, but in a hot rod magazine, proving yet again that looking beyond the usual motorcycle publications can really pay your mom always said, broaden your horizons!

Cool truck, huh?
After you've checked out the article, please visit the Power Plant website, there's two actually. One is focused on the bikes and accessories, it has a super cool post apocalyptic industrial vibe, and not much detail on the machines (there is a note about prices starting in the $25k range, so not awful), you're gonna have to call for that. The "other" site is features a gallery and PP clothing and it's got to be one of the prettiest in the BS, tell me it doesn't remind you of a Lucky jean site.......high end, high fashion..........damn fine bikes, and almost too perfect models. For the record, the dud's Power Plant is hawking are very cool.........if there was only a way to actually order them from the site!! Maybe it's me, but ain't nothin' clickable, not cool. I emailed them about it, nothing back so far.

Just the way God intended
So check it out, let me know what you think...........looks like Power Plant's got some good stuff goin' on.

Monday, February 14, 2011

More Stuff We Like

Look, we all know that magazines are in a world of hurt these days, and for many of them, the grim reaper is nearer than a Charlie Sheen relapse. But that doesn't mean there aren't some pretty cool rags out there for us hardcore riders to cuddle up to. And be honest, there are just some times when only print to paper can know what I'm talking about.

Luckily we've got a couple of suggestions for those "old school" moments. And by "couple", we do mean only two. Here goes;

Cycle Source, "a grass roots motorcycle publication" (, $4.99 at the newsstand. If you're into the hardcore chopper and custom scene, this is your mag. Tons of cool pics, and profiles of builders you just may not have heard of yet. Don't expect any OCC profiles or road tests of the latest Milwaukee iron........'cause you ain't gonna find any. Or hot chicks languishing over, under and barely on these rolling testaments to American creativity........sorry guys. OK, you might find a couple in some of the ads.

Unfortunately another thing you're not gonna find is good writing, or editing for that matter. You would think that they'd at least use spell check, come on guys (and yes, I know my stuff is very far from perfect). Think ninth grade yearbook.........almost. That said, there's a lot of passion for the industry and the people that make it great.......and that goes a long way in making you forget some of the rather painful prose. Oh, and Cycle Source does incorporate the latest in cool QR bar code technology, if you have a smart phone, it's really a blast. Pick a copy up this month.......we think you'll be back for more.

The Horse, Back Street Choppers, (, $5.99 at the newsstand. Very similar in vibe and feel to Cycle Source, but maybe a little more sophisticated in terms of technical depth, more how to's and build articles. And yes Virginia, this rag has chicks, and they are hot.........and usually inked up. Nothing your mom would ground you for, so don't get all shy. Every cover features a lovely astride some wicked cool chopper or bobber.......makes for great garage art if you ask me.

Alas, the writing is not much better, and at times can be downright painful, power through it, and focus on the metal, because the featured machines are truly amazing........Again, you're not gonna find too many of the "big name" bike builders, but you just might find some of the most inspired. I guarantee you'll learn something in every issue........and most importantly, be entertained in the process.

Lastly, you have to love a publication that offers subscription discounts to our brave lads and ladies that put their butts on the line defending our freedom.........way to go. They also offer a discount (though not as much of course) to folks spending time, or I should say, doing time........and it just doesn't get more hardcore than that.

Sturgis Or Die, Day Six.....Full Throttle Baby!!

No early day least not for Vince and I, up way too late the night before, talking and blogging.....until 5:30am to be exact. The lads took off to the Rapid City Civic Center to look at all the new Harleys, while Mark rode off to see Ft. Hayes (was used as a set in Dance's with Wolves). Don't want to rush, but can't waste the day.....there's so much to see and we've only got one more full day in Sturgis.

Vince and Mark mug for the camera

While Vince does his best Fred Sanford's not really a walk, and it's not quite a shuffle.....but it is entertaining, I try and finish up some last minute blog details. Ready to go, the three of us (Vince, Mark, and myself) head back to Sturgis to see more of what we missed the day before. It's a great ride in, only t-shirts, but I did wear sunscreen, so safety wasn't completely abandoned for the sake of biker style.
Not much parking on Main Street

The lads we're gonna take Matt's rental in to Sturgis later and meet us if it worked out. Cruising into town, we find a shady spot to park (sweet!) and set off walking. It's noticeably more crowded today, folks are beginning to roll in and the streets are filling up. Talking to vendors, the mood is apprehensive, business is already off from last year, but there's still quite a bit of the Rally to go, so it may yet turn around.

But looking around the Corbin Seats display you'd never know business was off..............five guys standing around, and me (the only customer in sight) wanting to purchase a gel seat for the ride trick custom unit is just a little tough on this old bod, and I can't get one staffer to give me the time of seat for me, no business for them. Too bad all around.

The temperature is in the low 90's with humidity about the same..........think convection oven. We amble around taking in the sights, stopping off at the Jack Daniels display for some fun and swag.........first class marketing, these guys know their business. Mark is searching for a painter to do some custom lettering, it's gotta be just right, so not just any hack will do, each candidate must be vetted..........doesn't look like anyone is gonna make the cut. The boys kind of weave in and out, they're around for a bit, then they disappear.
The best part? I scored the scarf!

I go down to the Broken Spoke Bar to check out the action and pick up a long sleeve t-shirt for the trip home. Walking back to meet Mark and Vince it occurs to me that there is virtually never a moment that the sound of a Harley motor is out of ear-shot. No B.S., no's total immersion Milwaukee style. And that's what makes this place so great, it's all about Harley's and the lifestyle, simple as that. No apologies, no "...yeah buts". Go Harley, or go home.............and they saw it was good.

I finally get it, what makes the Sturgis Rally special; it's not about the half million dollar motor homes and trailers, accountants playing badass for the week, the MILF's with way too much tan and boobs, posers that shouldn't be on a Vespa let alone an overweight motorcycle with sketchy brakes, muscle bound pretty boys, wanna-bees, or never were’s, hardcase old timers. It's about all those people coming together to share the same experience, and in that moment all barriers come down and folks that would never cross paths in their "normal" lives are sharing stories and beer. Magic. Enough philosophy........gotta  buy a sticker.

We stroll along Main Street drinking in all the people and machines, the truly cool and the incredible weird. It's all here. Vince picks up a cool t-shirt and does some shopping for a friend that couldn't make the trip. Scoring my stickers.......I wish I could tell you what they say, but it's not that kind of blog (well almost not).

Time for some ice cream cones (soooo good, must have been the heat, but we all swear they were some of the best we'd ever tasted), check out the new Indian's (hope they make it this time) and we reach our bikes. Time for the short ride to Deadwood. Only about 20 minutes along a sweet stretch of asphalt that winds its way through a canyon bordered by rock and thick forest..........they could make car commercials on this road. But today it's all ours, the cars are out-numbered 50 to 1, the way it should be.
Street action in Deadwood

If you've never been, Deadwood is a worthwhile look-see. While not quite like going "back in time", it's about as close as you're gonna get.......Main Street's buildings alone are just amazing, and there are always costumed characters walking the streets (at least during the Rally). And the bikes, streets lined with only bikes........hard to believe there are that many in the entire country. We park and start walking. No real purpose, just taking it in. Mark looks at wallets, Vince at belts, there's a fair amount of really nice leather goods in these parts and one never knows what treasures are in the next shop.
Those things aren't loaded, right!?

I score a nifty Sturgis "road sign", perfect for the garage....Vince another t-shirt. Mark's more selective, nothing for him. The lads have decided to head up to Deadwood as well, just as we're leaving...........sometimes that's the way it goes. We'll all meet up in a few hours to take in the vibe at the Full Throttle Saloon.......oh, yeah, that'll be fun! The three of us fire up our machines, take the reverse route back down the mountain, hit I 90 .......and see our first motorcycle accident of the trip.

As quick as a thought, there's a bagger on the opposite side of the freeway that's drifted into the center grass median, for a brief second, I think he's coming all the way over and we might just meet...........but the tall grass and steep "V" of the terrain have other plans. Just as he passes, his machine begins to swap violently at the back, and as I look in my mirrors, it goes down and he goes over the bars. Vince and Mark, who were behind me, saw that the rider to get no tragedy.

But a reminder of how quickly things can turn to doody on a motorcycle, and why you've got to respect it every moment.............and if that didn't get our attention, the freshly killed dear carcass on the side of the road about a mile from the downed rider sure did. We're focused.

Focused on throwing down some beer and cutting lose..........quick rest at the hotel, and we're off...........Full Throttle! What you say!? The dead deer, the dude hitting the deck.......have you forgotten already? Nope, fear not. Matt has rented a car (he's Paul and Nate's friend that flew in for a few days) and will be our designated driver for the night. worries.
The lads should look happier, yes?

The Full Throttle is an open air bar that sort looks like Andy Warhol meets Tombstone......a whacked out rodeo arena, but instead of livestock there's bikes everywhere (you can ride your bike up to a bar if you were so inclined. There's a school bus planted straight up in the ground, a bridge to nowhere, bars and stages everywhere, a burn-out pad where you can smoke the tire's literally until the wheels fall me, you've never been to a bar like this.....unless you've been here.
You should recognize this lovely......

Tonight, there's an AC/DC cover band; "Big Gun", that's actually doing an amazing job. The joint is thumping, the bartenders who happen to all be women, are friendly and fun...........we're diggin' it. It's all just a huge show and we're part of it...........although how much is subject to strict editing! Nate and I down a fair number of beers (only Corona for me, gotta be loyal to our team!), while Vince and Mark cruise the many vendors, JP and Matt snap photos and make new "friends".

We cap off the night watching JP and Nate get launched about 200 feet straight up into the sky in a steel ball...........very cool. We can still hear JP laughing. Time to slink back to the'll be light soon.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cool Chrome.....Stuff We Like, That You Might

From time to time were gonna post some info about company's that pimp really cool least we think it's cool, but you'll have to check it out for yourself,  which is really half the fun right........getting a line on what's new (at least to you) and sharing it with your bros. Or not.........totally up to you.

If you dig really "out there" hot rod and rock inspired artwork, you've got to check out ; the site features all things "Coop" (aka Chris Cooper); stickers, posters, statues, t-shirts, and books. I have to say I really dig Coop's style; his devil girls and devil head are simply iconic, it's not for me, your mom would not be pleased, so you might give this site a pass. Or, you might be rushing off to it as we speak, your call. One other thing, and this is kind of a bummer, apparently the site is closing down, once they sell off what they have, finis!! So get it while you can, I know I'm gonna be placing a fat sticker order real soon.

And while one the subject of hot rods, there's a couple of slick car culture magazines (yeah, I know, magazines are dead, but until the paper actually petrifies, you need to check these out) you may not be familiar with that will blow you "Fast and Furious" import crap here, only heavy metal American iron. The first is "Car Kulture Deluxe" (, who's motto is, "not your old man's car magazine"........that alone makes it worth the $5.99. The other rag, and my fave is "Traditional Rod & Kulture Illustrated" ( , both are spawned from the same publisher ( Car Kulture has more ads and "how to" features, while Rod & Kulture is fairly crammed with photo spreads on some of the coolest rides ever.......from Willy's to Merc's, rat rods and Gasser's.........with the occasional sick bobber thrown in for good measure. Oh, and the pin-up chicks (G rated, stop sweating) are kinda hot too......

If you wanna sport some nifty tee's that aren't brandishing the bar and shield, I've got some good business for you. The first site is, with a name like that how could it be anything but awesome??? And it is........check out their take on Harley's "number one" design, and make sure you get yours today before the Motor Company drops a buzz kill on the Death Machine crew. It's mostly skull themed designs, but they're fresh, simple and a biker t-shirt should be. Their shopping cart is Pay-Pal which is kinda lame, but works OK. They process/ship quick and even dropped some bonus stickers into the box! Good stuff.

But wait, there's more. American Made Kustom ( has some mouth wateringly sick designs, think "rock-a-billy meets rat rod" and you're on the right track. The prices are reasonable, and the service solid. Check out the "Straight to Hell" shirt........very cool. You can't go wrong with any of them.........and bonus, many of the designs are available in women's styles as well. Now your honey can look as dope as you.............well, almost.

That's it for now..............OK, one more tidbit..............go to, there it is, that's all I'm gonna go, scurry............

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sturgis Or Die, Day Five....We Have Arrived!

Time leave the tiny town of Lusk, but first another free hotel snack. It's there that we learn that the railroad and a women's prison (easy out there you perv's) are the main employers of this small burg. That might explain the nonstop procession of freight trains we saw, each about a mile long when we were cruising into town the day before.....we even got one of the engineers to give a long tug on the air horn..........we honked too..........a mutual salute from one classic American machine to another.
Sturgis bound, the morning crowd scene at Lusk's main gas station

Pulling out of the motel driveway and ......what the heck!? It's a parade......a real live small town, 4H kind of parade, complete with girls on horses, a band on a flatbed, fire engines, an old pick-up truck and a guy riding what can only be described as a mechanized demonic really!

We watch, mostly because the road is closed in the direction we need to throw candy, haven't they heard of litter, growing landfills? Damn things could put  out an eye.........Unruly children gone, we pull out and get on down the road...............we've got to get to the promised land, we've got to get to Sturgis dammit.

Once again the weather is great, hot and humid, but manageable. The scenery is stunning; open countryside, rolling grassland, and low rock formations. No traffic at all as our Harley's cruise full tilt in perfect staggered formation down the two lane blacktop (which actually kind of appeared pink, go figure). It's as though we had an invisible escort, magically clearing the way to Rapid City.
Great grub and the entertainment was free!

A quick stop at the All Star Cafe in Evanston, tough to find a place to park there were so many motorcycles...........Nate and our server could have done open mic night at the Improv, oh yeah, they were funny. Some good chow, lots of laughs and we're ready to split. We're on a mission..............gotta go.

Our charmed ride continues to the tune of a staccato V-Twin orchestra........damn these bikes sound good! Nothing particularly new about that last fact, but there's just something about the low rumble of a Harley cruising in top gear............sometimes I  roll the throttle just enough to feel the sound a little more intensely. If you've ridden one of Milwaukee's finest,  you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Pinned at 75mph Rapid City comes into view in short order, we navigate to the hotel, no problem, Vince gets us there without a single wrong turn. We roll up to the hotel, Comfort Inn and Suites...........very nice, the room is clean and neat, and the AC is awesome. We're good. A quick pit stop, clean up the bikes a bit......OK, Vince and I are the only ones to actually buff up our bikes, the other guys are proudly sporting their road grime as a badge of pride for the miles they've ridden. Which by the way stands at over 1,450 when we put the kickstands (oops, jiffy stands) down at the hotel. A good friend of the boys, Matt, has arrived as well. He flew in and will be joining the a feeling Matt and his rental car will be called into designated driver duty before our stay in Sturgis is over..........hello Full Throttle Bar!!
Just a section of the t-shirt wall at Black Hills HD

Sturgis is about 30 miles northwest of Rapid City, but first we stop at Black Hills Harley Davidson along Highway 90 (it's perfectly located between Rapid City and Sturgis), which has become a destination in its own right. Huge dealership, lots of vendors, some of them big time like Vance and Hines, Dunlop and many more. We score some t-shirts (the first of many no doubt!) and head on down the road to our real destination............the reason for the 1,450 mile journey - Sturgis.
Main Street, Sturgis

The action goes on well into the night....sort of

We roll into town, the "back way", a benefit of having been here before. It's still 95 degrees and the humidity must be at least 90 too. We park on a side street and begin the walk to Main Street. Nate, Paul and Matt are slack jawed, so many bikes, people and sounds, it's hard to know where to turn next..........this isn't Street Vibrations, it's not Laughlin............this is Sturgis, and there's nothing like it......anywhere!!!

You know what they say about photos..............that's why the words are stopping and the viewing should be starting. Take a look at a fraction of what we saw in a couple of hours on Main Street. Be brave, be very brave!

Neve Campbell? Nah, happy bear girl

Land Grab, Your Government Skirts Its Own Laws

Given that Chrome Asylum is a site pretty much dedicated exclusively to the American V-Twin lifestyle, and all the zany, madcap antics that we tend to engage in, it might seem kinda odd to find an article focusing on our off-road riding brothers. Or is it? For the record I ride and have ridden off-road for years, it's a blast, and really sharpens the bike handling skills, my current mount is an '08 KTM XCF250W, lovingly nicknamed "the black hearted bitch", since it seems that every time I take her out, she pitches me on my noggin, the last time cost me a couple of screws in my right hand........more on that another day. See, I've always been of a mind that once we drink the two wheel Kool-Aid, we automatically kind of "opt-in" to a larger family; and like most families we don't always get along, we don't hang out, we make fun of each other, and our reunions might more closely resemble a heavyweight MMA bout than a touching Hallmark moment......but yell, slap and spit as we might (and that's just the grandparents) when the family is threatened we rally, and this is one of those times. We had better push ourselves away from the table and get on with the rallying, because something fundamental is in jeopardy.

Seems to me at the core of what we love most about motorcycles is the simple, yet fundamental concept of freedom..........freedom to ride what we want, when we want. The freedom to go wherever our tiny reptilian brains dictate without undo (read "just about any") interference from family, friends and most of all "The Man". It goes to the very soul of just about every motorcyclist, whether he throws a leg over a Harley Ultra or a clapped out YZ 400..........doesn't matter, it's freedom that we cherish.

And that very freedom is under assault (please do pardon the "hate speech") by the weasels in Washington. Proving that you can "be a pimp and a prostitute too", U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed Secretarial Order 3310 which essentially created a new "land use" designation called simply, "Wild Lands". Why does this matter? Because it's the latest attempt by the Green Elites to circumvent the will of the people and shove their extremist agenda down the throats of the American public, an agenda, we have to be clear here, that has virtually nothing to do with the "environment" and everything to do with governmental control over virtually every aspect of our lives.........the hugging of trees is merely a means to an end my friends. Cap and Trade? Income redistribution, pure and simple.......under the guise of feel good pablum. Don't buy it.

What this new "Wild Lands" designation has the power to do is potentially close off up to 130 million acres of BLM land to responsible motorized recreation. And since the Eco-Fascists have encountered strong resistance to their radical proposals in Congress (remember your eighth grade civics class boys and girls, Congress and only Congress, has the Constitutional authority to manage and control public lands.........our lands) they've decided to avoid the process entirely and seek the aid of fellow travelers in the current administration (EPA is trying the same un-Constitutional ploy with regard to Cap and case you didn't know). They're crafty bastards, you have to give them that.

Today it's access to land, tomorrow it's banning motorcycling entirely........think that's too alarmist, too extreme!? Really? Consider for a moment universal, government controlled health care ( hey, we sort of have that now, don't we? heh, heh, heh). Now consider an HHS audit of activities that place undo "strain" and "cost" on the feeling me now? Where do you think motorcycling would rank in such a study........near the flippin' top, that's where. And with a stroke of a pen, all for the common good mind you, you're prize machine becomes lawn art. And once a right is surrendered, it's pretty tough to get it back, just ask the Brits that would like the right to legally own a handgun.

Now that you're armed (damn, there's that nasty hate speech again) with some knowledge, do more research, understand what's going on, share it with folks.........including your representative in Congress. Let them know that you expect them to do the right thing.

Lastly, join the AMA (, they're out there everyday fighting for our right to ride. I know, as an organization they haven't been too kind to those of us in the club community (One Percenters know what I mean), but we have to get passed it, the stakes are simply too high.....don't tell anyone, or tell everyone, just join up today! Don't let someone else determine your rights as an American..............if for no other reason than that would be profoundly un-American!


Monday, February 7, 2011

Full Frontal Lids, 100% Biker, Believe That!

Few topics get a room full of bikers as hell bent, eyes bleeding, spit screaming, lit up as much as the subject of motorcycle helmets (or lids as they are also known, and for those in the audience on a first name basis with your local DEA station chief, we ain't talkin' those kind of lids); safe v. unsafe, cool v. lame, law v. choice, black v. everything else........the arguments are as endless as the government's appetite for our hard earned dough. And to be honest, we're not gonna solve much of anything here either, not a matter of fact we're not gonna accomplish much more than to add a dash more napalm to a Molotov cocktail. Come to think about it, that kinda sounds like fun, doesn't it!?

For the record, I wear a helmet, full face, and always have, even before the goons that pass for legislators in the Peoples Republic of Kalifornia decreed that if the proletariat choose to engage in two wheeled motorized transportation, they must do so with a "proper", PRK junta approved lid. Great for helmet sales, pretty shameful on the personal liberty front.

Just as choosing to ride a motorcycle in the first place is a deeply personal call, so too should the donning of a helmet. To "wear or not to wear" should be left up to the individual rider and not some faceless, over-paid, SEIU lapdog, bureaucrat........who's riskiest adventure to date was to order the hot wings at Applebee's on an empty stomach. Not the governments job to protect me from myself 24/7 in every aspect of my life. Go ahead, show me that amendment in the Constitution.......not there?! Didn't think so. Butt out.

Unfortunately that train has sailed, and it looks like, at least for now, most of us are going to be dealing with at least some sort of relentless "safety Nazi" blitzkrieg on our right to remain lid free.......just know, you smarmy little jack-weasels, we're coming for ya........start planning for an early retirement (you guys live for that anyway right?) in 2012. I'm just saying........

Now having said that I think helmet usage should be up to the individual motorcycle rider, it's pretty obvious to your humble scribe, that wearing a lid, just about any lid to be honest, is a pretty smart move. I've heard all the "restricted peripheral vision" arguments, as well as, the time tested "helmets cause broken necks" fiction, or the "you can't hear with a helmet on" lie.........all bulls*#t. There's simply no rational "scientific" argument against wearing a lid based on the premise that helmets are inherently "unsafe". Don't do it, you'll just look like an idiot. Really, don't do it.

If you think that wearing one is "uncool", fine. I can respect that. If you don't cotton to "The Man" telling you what to do, even better...........that dog hunts. If you want to head out on the mean streets with nothing more between your melon and the grill of that pimped out 'Sclade than a receding hairline......far out. This used to be America and you should be free to do just that. No judgements.

But here's the deal, not only do I think helmets make a dandy "buffer" between me and Terra-firma, but I think they can look pretty damn cool doing it..........and full face lids just might be the coolest of the bunch "style-wise". There. I said it.

What!? I know what you're thinking, if John Law says I have to sport a bowl on my noggin, I'm going for the absolute minimum.........screw them. My skull cap, my "novelty" helmet lets the whole world know, that I'm not taking any crap from "The Man". But let's think this through. Forget for a moment that a full face helmet is by far the most comfortable, quiet, and versatile helmet you could choose. And don't even think about the fact that over fifty percent of all "head to ground interface" incidents tend to impact the front of the face below the eyes, down to the jaw-line (yeah, nothing like having your fillings drilled on a bots dot). We're not the nanny state here, we accept risk willingly, and don't whine like a school girl when it bites us in the butt, no sir.........this isn't about "safety".

Nope, this is about style, and the full face rig has it in spades. Think about it, your head is completely surrounded in a battle-hardened shell, just like some medieval Templar knight. Not only that, with a dark smoke shield in place and flipped down, we have become truly mysterious to all who gaze upon your sinister being. Who is the man behind that "mask", sinner or saint, no one really knows? On the other hand, with an open face or half helmet, we're hanging it out there for all to see (oh, I know, you can wear a mask or scarf, and those are kinda cool..........except in the summer when it's a buck ten in the shade, with zero air flow).........and for some of us, maintaining our bad ass street cred is way more problematic when our decidedly non-threatening mugs are on display for the whole world to see. Personally, I like to keep 'em guessing.

Are all full face helmets equally cool you ask? Not at all. White helmets are out, don't do it. As are most any "race replica" graphic wanna be Nicky, cool, buy an 1198R, not gonna play on a Harley (does it matter what the metric guys do?). By far the best bet is flat black, with a dark, dark, smoke shield. Stickers are optional, but at least one "Loud Pipes Save Lives" should be prominently affixed to bolster that "anti-social" biker vibe.........again, just think through your choices, devils heads good, Hello Kitty, not so much. You might have noticed that I haven't addressed "flip-up" or "system" helmets.....mostly because they confuse me. I know tons of cruiser guys are switching out to them, and that's good, I's just that when the chin bar is down they look really cool, but when it's flipped up, oh damn, do they look lame! Remember Devo? Ah, most of you don't.........just trust me on this one.

Still don't think going "full frontal" is biker cool? Well my friend, start checking out your local club members (and just in case you need clarification, we're not referring to H.O.G. members here, think more on the lines of deaths head feeling me now?) and see what they're sporting........more and more are doing the full face stealth thing. Need I remind you of the obvious advantages these helmets might offer those with a less than comfortable relationship with the local constabulary? And let's be honest here, these are the guys many of us look to when deciding what makes the cut when it comes to cool. You know it's might not want to admit it, but it is, and that's OK.

There you have it Chromies, not only can these full face jobs save your bacon, but they can look damn fine while they're doing it. Look, you've probably got to wear a lid anyway, why not bust out, and be at the pointy end of the spear and go full frontal and leave those mushroom top half-helmets to the wannabees and style challenged that "think" they're all bad ass biker. I won't tell them if you won't........ 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sturgis Or Die, Day Four....Damn It's Hot!

Day 4

No taps on the door, no jarring wake up calls this morning. The wrecking crew is spent. Over four hundred hard miles the day before, up late blogging, and there's a rumor going around that certain folks were playing dominos and downing Crown Royal until all photos though, so no proof. Well almost no proof, let's just say it was the "old guys" rousting the lads this a.m., draw your own conclusions.

A quick shower and it's down to the lobby for a yummy free breakfast; OK, "yummy" might be a stretch (does anyone ever really know how long the sausage has been decomposing in that fat encrusted pan? And the eggs, well let's not even talk about the eggs)..........but did I mention it was "free"?? Blood sugar levels stabilized, we wander outside to load up the bikes.
The open road, Wyoming style

By day four our routine has become, well, routine. Everyone has their own method and style for packing and unpacking their stuff, I'm a minimalist....take out just what I need for the day, leave everything else alone. Vince, on the other hand, does a nightly inventory and "rearrange" of the contents of his trunk. Five guys, five different ways of doing the same thing. But we're becoming more efficient every day, less wasted motion, ready to hit the road that much's a small thing, but it's one of the things that makes "riding the life" a truly unique experience. It’s in the doing..............if that makes sense.

Loaded up, ready to go....... oh, damn it's hot! A dash across the parking lot for a quick splash and go (NASCAR-speak for fueling up for you folks not up on redneck lingo) and..........and my head is spinning, no doubt about it, gotta get more than four hours sleep tonight..........being dizzy and riding 300 miles in an oven isn't a winning combination. But ride we must.......straight to Flaming Gorge (yeah, that's the actual name.......I swear) Harley Davidson on the next block for a long sleeve shirt. Only had two, need one to get me to the promised land. Properly equipped for safety, the vest stays in the T-Bag today, we head out east on the 80.
Gas station hydration, Nate's feelin' the heat

Today is going to be great, we're finally going to get off the Interstate and on to some proper two lane roads with real curves. But first things first, we've got about 150 miles of Highway 80 to put behind us. Mark leads us out and we're on our way. Still morning and the mercury is continuing its ascent......fifteen minutes out, cottonmouth. Lot's of construction around Rock Springs.......left lane closed, right lane closed, and back again. What are we "constructing" you might well ask? Pretty much nothing, from what we could see.

After crossing four states our little group has developed a theory on "highway construction", it may not be original, but it's ours. It's all a revenue scam. "They" (insert corrupt government agency of your choice) create a "cone zone" (invest in whatever company makes those damn orange barrels), doesn't matter if any work is being done, then double the fines for speeding. Give the troopers some radar guns and bingo! You've got a money making machine, like I said, it's just a theory.
Relax, it's just a loose footpeg

A strong cross wind buffets the Harley’s, but only randomly, no big deal, we cope without even thinking about. Our group stays tight as we pass an endless procession of trucks. It's kind of a game, you approach the truck, the bike starts to wiggle and shake from the "jet wash" coming off the back of the rig. But then as you pull along side the draft effect takes over and you can feel your machine speed up as you roll past. It's a neat feeling. Once past the cab you might get punched by the cross wind that the truck had been shielding you from...........or there might be.........nothing. You never know, that's what makes it fun.

We are seeing more and more bikes heading east, mostly Harley's, so we assume they're on their way to Sturgis. We also see quite a few bikes on trailers, towed by everything from Prevost motor coaches (aka rockstar buses) to ratted out rusty pick-ups. A word here on the practice of "trailering", rather than get into the "are they real bikers or not" argument......I just think it's kinda sad. They're really missing out on one of the best aspects of motorcycling.............the riding that's the basis for all the adventures, tales and lies that follow. How many really cool stories begin with,"......there I was in my F-150...." See what I mean? So we're not gonna pick on the trailer crowd, sorry.

We're thirsty and so are the bikes, time to exit 80 for the last time in Rawlins, Wyoming. Pulling into the first gas station we see, we jump off our machines and head for the store. We hang out, rehydrate and plot the rest of the days route. It's gonna be good.
Biker friendly and clean, with a pool!

It's mostly two lane from Rawlins to Casper..........the kind of two lanes you see in the movies, stretching to the infinity of the horizon, rising and falling with the contours of the ancient Wyoming badlands. Miles and miles with no fast food joints, strip malls, or Wal-Marts. Just the occasional family farm, oil pump (who knew, oil in Wyoming?) or antelope. OK, as Nate was only too happy to point out (the kids got some good eyes!) the place was practically crawling with antelopes.......and me without a dear whistle (inside joke....Vince!).

Anyway, the riding is absolutely choice (and soon to get even better), sure there are slow pokes to get around, who cares........just another excuse to flog the might V-twins. After about 30 miles the group separates into two with Mark and "JP" setting a more leisurely pace, while Nate, Vince and I wick it up a bit. We regroup in Casper. More gas, and we're on our way to Lusk and a meal and a bed.

Leaving Casper we take Highway 25 south.....more stunning landscapes, and yes, more antelope. Oh, and Republican Presidential hopeful John McCain. Yep, about twenty miles out of town, we pass the Straight Talk Express heading north. Cool. Around Douglas we hop on State Route 20 for the forty mile jaunt to Lusk. If we thought the ride was amazing so far...........oh, man. More remote, more beautiful, more "real American heartland" than I've ever ridden before. A tight group of five of Milwaukee's finest cruising at 75, sweeping through the curves as one........smiles in every helmet.

Pulling into Lusk (pop 1,400.......small town, frozen in time) we check into the Covered Wagon Motel. Clean, neat and very biker friendly. If you're heading this way you could do way worse. They give you towels just to clean your bike.......sweet. Shower off the road grime and its off to the Silver Dollar Bar for an awesome Rib eye, fries and salad. Old school bar, old school customers......great dinner.
Hank and Vince doing a little "bug removal", JP looks on

Back to the room (bloggin for me), pig wrestling for the boys.......I should probably explain that last bit. But it's late and tomorrow we roll into Sturgis and the real fun begins.........stay tuned (assuming someone other than my mom is reading this) after over 1,200 miles the best is right around the bend.........  

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sturgis Or Die, Day Three......Cop? What Cop!?

Day 3

Six o'clock in the morning and there's a light rap at the hotel door, way too early for housekeeping.....maybe one of the slightly wasted Elko high rollers just hit it big on a nickel machine and wanted to share the news. Roll over, not quite time to get up........ten more minutes. The phone!? I pick it up,"......who is this?" "What's up?", the sickeningly upbeat voice chimes from the other end, it's "JP" and the boys are ready to roll, and roll right now!

Packing up.......good bye Elko
Guess all those beers Nate and "JP" downed by the pool the night before hadn't slowed them down a bit........youth, you gotta hate it! They should be draggin' the wagon, instead, along with encouragement from Mark (who as the elder statesman of the group should know better) they badger us to hit the deck and hit the road. This is gonna be a good day.
 It's also a long one, with over 400 miles on tap, the day ending in Rock Springs Wyoming. As we pull out of the Red Lion, the sun is already making its presence known. No jackets today, long sleeves (better than sunblock) and vests are the uniform of the day. Next door is a Chevron, we roll over to fill up. The plan is to get over 100 miles under our belts before breakfast......that would put us in Windover.

Following Nate
Gassed up, we head out on 80....still smokey, would be really nice to see some blue sky. About forty miles out I spy what looks like a State Trooper in the rear view, pretty far back, and pacing us. "Hey Vince, does that look like a police cruiser", I figured he know (retired cop, remember). "Yeah, looks like." As the miles click by, the cruiser inches closer. I'm last in line so I get the first "inspection", stays right alongside, starring at me and the Road King. Satisfied, the cop moves up to the next in line, Vince. Same routine, on to the next guy. Finally he gets to the front of the line, Mark was heading up the group at this point, and...........he lights us up!

Being solid citizen's and model motorcyclists, we all dutifully pull to the side of the road. The Trooper pulls in behind me. As we get off our bikes, Nevada's finest barks, "back on the bikes, kick stands!" At first I don't get it, in California it's always," the bike, keys in your hand, helmet off!" I'm thinking maybe our numbers are making him just a tad nervous. Kinda cool when you think about it, we're making a cop nervous! Which in and of itself is pretty crazy, because unless you think buying the occasional pay-per-view UFC fight can make one a certified badass, we're all pretty much screwed.............with the exception of Nate. He's the nicest kid you'd ever want to meet, but on looks alone, he qualifies as hardcore biker, hands down, end of story. Yeah, he's the reason for the added security, no doubt.

Confident we're not gonna throw down, and probably not caring if we bolt (can't outrun a radio after all) the cop begins with the questions; "Where ya from?", "Where ya going?" Since Vince and I are the closest, we do all the talking. Remember, everyone has to stay on their motorcycles. We tell him what he wants to know. Finally he gets to the pay off.

"Have you boys had any problems with a big rig, maybe harassing one?" WHAT!? Harassing a big rig!? I can't believe what I'm hearing, he's got to be kidding! He goes on to tell us that a trucker had called in a report of five bikers that were brake-checking trucks. How insane is that? What kind of stupid does a person have to be to try to "harass" an eighteen wheeler with a motorcycle, even five.............that's well beyond the dumbest thing you'd ever do while drunk and in high school. Come on!

We assure John Law that weren't the perps he sought.............his attitude improves, "......have a safe ride to Sturgis, have fun!" And with that, our first brush with the law ends. It ends a bit too photo op, damn.

JP rockin' pop's Dyna
Back on the road, it's an uneventful ride into Windover. Breakfast at the Peppermill, quick fill-up and it's a mind-numbingly dull stint across the Utah salt flats. Ruler straight, white lines disappear with assembly-line like rhythm in the mirrors. Ahead, the horizon resembles molten metal, transforming into asphalt just in time for us to continue on our way. Slight breeze, that's good, the cross winds on this stretch of road can be brutal. On we ride, miles counting down.

Winding our way through Salt Lake City we dodge early commute traffic as we crawl through construction zone after construction zone. Is it just me, or have they been rebuilding this particular maze of concrete since Brigham Young first rolled into town? Get it done people! Can't get through town fast enough.......way to many aggressive cage pilots.

Once safely out of town, the scenery begins to improve, the traffic thins, and the sky is finally a proper shade of blue. It's all good. Into Wyoming, and the ride continues to improve, we're making some time and the weather couldn't be better. The heat we were dreading never really materialized. Our longest leg of the east-bound ride was almost over.

Nate with goodies you just don't find in California
We cruise into Rock Springs around 7:00pm, park the Harleys and check in. We're tired, but spirits are high, not too far from Sturgis now, and tomorrow promises some great riding. Time to eat.......Applebee’s looks good, if for no other reason than it's right across the street. No energy to strike out for the local dining hot spot, maybe tomorrow..............