Archive for October, 2010

Making Lemonade

What an odd summer I had. If you followed the “Road to Sturgis” blogs and webisodes you were probably there with me either in spirit or if I met you on the road you were part of my life if only for a few short moments, hours or in some cases days. I met people I’ll never forget, people I’ll be friends with forever. And then there are those mistakes you make that bring you into the lives of people you may be better off not knowing.

I’m a proud person, I’m a very brave person but let me tell you now. I made some huge mistakes this summer that almost slayed me. It’s taken me three months to actually sift through the rubbish of the worst choice I made this year and make some sense of it.

I’ll tell it to you the way it came to me. Some of it does not make sense even now. But then I erroneously believe that all people are inherently good and they do stupid or bad things because they are tired or lost.

I went to the Big Mountain Run on the invitation of a friend who was going to be there. It was great fun, a well run party. I met Chris Callen, the organizer. I had met him briefly before at a trade show, someone introduced me, I got a card for Cycle Source magazine and that was it. No big thing. So at the Big Mountain Run I meet him again, I sit with a large group around a camp fire, nice chat, warm night. No big thing. I enjoyed the run and wrote an article for my site “Road to Sturgis” and I also send it to Cyril Hughes Blog.

After the run, I ended up in Chicago at the house of Gina Woods. Gina owns “Open Road Radio” in Chicago. I met her in 2003 during the 100th Anniversary of HD. We had kept in touch and I had stayed at her house several times during the next seven years as I rode my motorcycle around the country. I liked her very much, she was fun.

When I got to Gina’s house there was a guy who had been at the Big Mountain Run already there. He had the band that played at the BMR. I didn’t know him except I had danced to the band during the BMR. Gina introduced us, his name was Rob Keller. He reminded me of the old pictures from the Allman Brothers Band. He was small, blond, very low-key, one of those men that seem like seventeen year old boys their entire lives. I liked him. I tend to mother everyone so he fit right into my idea of the perfect friend.

I learned that he was picking up a motorcycle from the new Indian dealer that Gina was working for and that he was going to do this motorcycle race from Key West Florida to Homer Alaska.

Wow, very cool. He had driven to Chicago from Pittsburg on the Indian which he had picked up a week earlier in Chicago but now had returned to get bags, engine guards and a windshield. Why they didn’t put them on in the first place is a mystery. He now had just a few days to get down to Florida. He wasn’t going to get more than a few hours of sleep between arriving in Chicago to leaving for Key West. I offered to ride down with him.

At 5am we left for Key West. The Indian had an electrical malfunction a few miles from Gina’s door so we pulled over and tore out the tool kit. We figured it out, wrapped a few wires and we were off again. We moved fast through the Chicago traffic and headed straight down the map as the crow flies. Stopping only long enough for gas and my videos we practically flew. We stopped at night, slept on the ground beside our bikes and kept on like that all the way to Florida.

During the ride we learned that Robs son was coming to Key West to see his father off. Rob was ecstatic. From that point on all he talked about was how much he loved this kid. I have a great appreciation for men who love their kids. I didn’t grow up with one so I like it.

In Florida we arrived at Vagabond Choppers. Chris Callen was there working on his motorcycle. I interviewed him and he told me this heart warming story about how his father had passed away the day he bought the bike. And how his mom had also passed and he carried his mom’s ashes in the bike. It was an amazing story. One of those sweet stories that help you see the humanity in a big burly biker.

Within the hour Rob Keller and I were back on our bikes and headed for Key West leaving Chris to finish putting his bike together and catch up. We arrived in Key West at 3am, checked into a hotel, took a shower, slept for a minute and made it to the check-in. Gina Woods had flown in and was already setting up to do a radio show. She asked me if I’d do the show with her. I had been interviewing people for the “Road to Sturgis” site so I invited some of the guests I’d interviewed to be on Gina’s show.

After the radio show a man, Jon Compton approached me and asked what I was shooting for. I explained I was working to produce a film next year called “Road to Sturgis” and I was just pre-publicising it before I shot it. Unusual? Yes. A good idea? Yes! No one had done it before and a publicist friend of mine had suggested since my film is about a woman rider, and I ride, this would be an interesting thing to do. No need to ask me twice. My butt was in the saddle a month later.

Jon explained he was producing a show for the Discovery Channel. Oh very cool. We talked a bit about the changes in TV to reality programs. I told him I didn’t have any history with reality. I had worked below the line most of my life, I prefered independent features now but that was as close to reality as I got. And then I got back to work.

I shot everybody I thought was interesting. I found some great stories. A woman riding with her dog. Military Special Forces guys. Breast cancer survivors. I avoided the guys Jon Compton was zeroing in on. The guys with bag pipes, signs and gimmicks.

Later I ran into Gina who was with a man, John White. He asked us to come to a get together he was having in his suite. When we arrived we were introduced to his company. I was told they had a show on the air about Pile Driving (what ever that is). I was told his company was currently negotiating with the US Govt. to stop the oil leak off the coast of New Orleans and tomorrow John would have to fly to that meeting. I was told the story about how he had a motorcycle company called, “Crazy Horse” and how Jim Red Cloud had an issue with that so he had to go to SD to meet about the name. And even though he had the rights and the copyright to the name “Crazy Horse” he had decided to change the company to The Hoka Hey Motorcycle Company. In fact they gave me a t-shirt.

I didn’t know you could copy write a name. Well actually you can’t. Perhaps he was confusing his words. But then during the press conference with the riders in attendance Jim Red Cloud told this story about how this guy John White had used the name “Crazy Horse” and well… the same story I had just heard. Perhaps the Indians were a controlling factor to that name. Who knows. Boy was my friend Joann Bortels from Crazy Horse Painting going to be surprised.

Late that night I meet back up with Rob Keller, his sons bike is in florida in a shop it blew a gasket or something but it has full coverage so HD will get him on the road fast. Chris on the other hand is having a problem with his bike and may have to buy a new bike for the run. What do I think. Well, if it comes to buying a new bike or missing the run I say go get a new bike. I continue shooting, I run into Gina again who says Jon Compton is looking for me. OK. I get off the property, go for a ride, have dinner in a quiet place. I get more tape because I’m going to shoot the exodus out of Key West.

And then tomorrow I’m going to toss myself into the warm warm waters of Key West. So far I have seen nothing of Key West. In fact since we arrived in the dark I didn’t even get to see the landscape as I drove in.
I’m expecting Jon Compton wants to buy some of my footage or at least have a look at it but I’ve been shooting interviews all day and I am not going to squeeze the rest of my time that I have to shoot these riders with viewing my footage. Ain’t gonna happen.

At almost midnight as I’m exiting the hotel bar after interviewing the US Army rangers I bump into Jon and his wife. They say they’ve been looking for me all day. I tell them I’m sorry I haven’t had a moment. Jon says we would like to hire you to ride with the riders and shoot the Hoka Hey. What do you think?

I don’t know. I’ve not had a lot of sleep. What are you paying? What would the job entail?

We don’t have any camera’s on bikes. Can we put camera’s on your bike, and have you ride with the pack. You can shoot the accidents if any. Find the interesting stories as you see them. Don’t forget it’s for Discovery. We will pay you your regular rate what ever that is.

And maintain my motorcycle? Yes. And pay for gas? Yes of course all expenses. We’re a class act, I’ve been a producer for a long time. Give me your personal info and I’ll get a contract from my exec producer in the morning.

I give them a card but say…

(And here is where I make a mistake of monumental proportions.)

OK listen I have to get some sleep. If I decide yes, then I’ll be here at what time? What time is crew call?


OK If I don’t die tonight because I am so exhausted then I’ll be here.
I return to the room, Rob is asleep. His kid has arrived. Nice kid. I fall out.


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