Back in August at Michael Lichter's "Motorycles as Art" show in the Buffalo Chip event center, the 2014 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was roaring in full force outside, and I had just arrived to the Black Hills for all the festivities. Industry and media folk from every corner of the motorcycle world was fluttering around the massive room full of art in motion with their spirits high, familiar faces abounding and loud stories of their journies getting there.
Every year I tend to meet the most interesing characters at this gathering. This event was no different when a conversation was struck with Stefan Hertel from Revival Cycles out of Austin, TX. In all honesty, I had never heard of him, yet I was very familiar with his shop and the new motorcycle show they had recenly introduced to our southern motorcyle culture. Before I knew it, we were best friends and he's inviting me to be a builder for The Handbuilt Motorcycle Show the follwing April. As honoered as I was, I didn't put much tought into it assuming it was going to be like most hype out there... empty promises. Either way, I used it as an excuse and started building my 2012 Triumph Bonneville just in case the invite actually came through.
Fast forward two months and I am on my way to the LAX airport for some business in Nashville.... didn't even make it four blocks from my shop and was T-boned by a woman who failed to look again before she mashed the throttle to turn left... I was riding the Bonneville. Aside from the ambulance trip to the hospital, almost loosing my right foot, and a long four weeks in a cast; the bike was slightly mangled and found to be totaled by the insurance company. Somehow my friends got a hold of some friends and their friends happened to be Triumph corporate kind of friends. When they heard about the accident, Triumph along with Castrol put their best foot forward and offered to finish the bike for me.
A hard pill to swallow: a builder handing off their own bike to another builder. Yet with my gimp leg and crazy schedule all jacked up from the whole accident fiasco, I humbly accepted the offer and the bike was off to the East Coast. Good thing is, I trusted that not only were they going to fix the damage as they normally would and still keep my style with the bike, they were gonna make it a wee bit better. When I say a wee bit better, we're talking a Carpenter Racing almost-double-the-horsepower wee bit better. Yes please!
Well, I quickly learned Stefan is a man of his word when the most crafty invitation to the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show arrives in my mail box. It was made of leather; part of it punched out as a keychain; it was pretty legit. Oddly enough, my schedule offered one day between the show opening it's doors to the public and me retuning from three weeks of racing in Africa. It was gonna be a tight one. A few phone calls later and thankfully Triumph and Revival agreed to handle the shipping and receiving from Triumph of Westchester, NY to Austin, TX, along with anything else that really mattered for a proper reveal. My faith was in full effect that everything would be handled while I was on the other side of the world, and because I had only a small clue what they were actually doing to the bike, it would be a welcomed surprise for me.
Fast forward yet again 4 months through Ultra4 Nationals, SEMA, FabTech, Baja 1000, filming in Italy and the east coast, the holidays, castles, King of the Hammers, Spain, lost phones, Africa, planes, trains, boats, automobiles, and one hellacious trip back to the states; I end up completely missing the unveiling of my Bonneville on the opening night of the show. With Theresa (my RealDeal business partner) already there to pick me up, a slew of more-than-hospitible event organizers and attendees, and an accomodating Airbnb host who had really fluffy beds; I couldn't have felt more welcomed coming back to America. Seeing my revived motorcycle all staight and pretty-like was such a sight for sore eyes. It was my bike, my baby, but better.
The show was one of the more fun yet laid back shows I have ever been to. All the invited builders are really good at what they do, so each bike told a story of it's own. Every genre of motorcycle was present. The venue and location was picturesqe. The Wall of Death was peforming their dizzying stunts... super cool crew. Lincoln Electric was giving away copies of our new ARC magazine and a welding machine. Did I mention it was open to the public, and free of charge?!
April 12th, 2015 would be the first time I rode a motorcycle in over 6 months. 740 solo miles around Texas and she is getting sent back to I California, I am forever grateful to have such an amzing machine as a reminder of how generous our community is. Everytime I turn her key, that little leather keychain brings up lovely Texas memories. Thank you Austin for being as rad as everyone claims.
Thanks for reading - Jessi