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Both Ends And The Middle
Article By: Chris Callen
Originally Published In The September 2018 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
So, this editorial is being written right before we pack up the Cycle Source gear and hit the old highway for our annual pilgrimage to Sturgis. While most years are crazy busy leading up to the motorcycle world’s equivalent of the Super Bowl, this year is especially so, and due primarily to yours truly. Now, I have mentioned this to you faithful readers a time or two, but I must say it here again. During my younger years I had quite the torrid love affair with drugs, and of them, Cocaine was most often at the top of the list. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not romanticizing here, just mentioning that I have a natural aversion to going at life in normal gear. Since then, I have the privilege of saying that I’ve been clean for some 25 years, but that part of my personality still exists… Exhibit A: my current situation.
As I sit here writing this brief account of insanity, I’m on the couch in our living room, not the office that flooded for a second time in less than a month. I am joined by my lovely wife on her laptop just two feet away from me as we both sit in the middle of what can only be described as a blast site of a motorcycle explosion. Somewhere in the past six months or so I have committed myself to having three motorcycle builds, four mini bike race upgrades, one rather large oil painting, and a custom painted helmet, all due by Sturgis. You might think it would be impossible for anyone not to realize that they were traveling so far up shits creek. Allow me to explain precisely where and when I lost my paddles. The Twisted Tea Chopper went so good last year that the folks from Boston Beer asked us to build something entirely different this year. Of course, neither RJ nor I could just do a straightforward build, so we went all out. Now the bike is a couple of months past due, but it will be ready for Sturgis if it kills me. We signed on to do five events for Progressive Motorcycle Insurance this year with Grease & Gears Garage. Throughout that tour, we agreed to build a bike called the “Pro Tracker.” Again, not settling for half-assed we began by enlisting the help of Will Ramsey to collaborate on a brand-new frame design for an Evo Sportster called a droptail. Let’s just say that it got way more involved from there. Somewhere in the middle, Mike Lichter called and invited me to be part of “Passion Built” his exhibit at the Buffalo Chip this year. Since this is a tremendous honor and would be my second time in his show, of course, I accepted. I designed a traditional 70’s chopper that I’ve decided to call “Something Wicked” to mirror the Dark Carnival that is my life.
Right after Daytona, we were well on our way to the rough mock-up of the Twisted Tea Tracker. By Leesburg, we had bought the donor for the “Pro Tracker” and stripped it on stage and mocked up the roller. I had the ’77 donor for the Lichter build that I got for Christmas from my dear wife and agreed to do the hardtail with Will on stage during Laconia. No sweat, this would give me time to build a jig that could travel with Grease & Gears and on that we would do the frame work to “Something Wicked.” I began ordering parts for three bikes at once, designing the paint jobs and making trips to RJ’s shop and Faith Forgotten Choppers during any “spare” time I could muster, which was skinny since we did four Grease & Gears stops, had our own annual event BMR and a side gig with a show and mini bike racing at Gettysburg. The parts started to pour in, the cardboard boxes began to pile up, and the amount of work was instantly overwhelming. Did I mention that sometime when I was too busy to notice Michael called and told my wife that if I did an oil painting and a helmet for his show, I could be the first ever trifecta? I just can’t say no to this man; he’s been my hero for far too long.
This leads us to the last two weeks before we leave for the Black Hills. The Tea Tracker is in final assembly as we speak. The Pro Tracker needs two more days of fab work and then it goes to paint and “Something Wicked” is a complete roller in my living room that scares my dog and makes it hard to see the television, which at this point only serves as background noise to keep the hum of the stupid between my ears from becoming deafening. At this moment there are five shops: RJ in WV, Mark in Pittsburg, Matt in WV, Donny Loos in Ohio and Big Will in Indiana, who all are working on some part of one of the three of these bikes. Motor here, tranny there, Mark is covered in seven colors of paint, and we are on deadline for the issue you are holding right now. I guess the good thing is if you are reading this we made at least one of those deadlines. As for the bikes, we’re giving it hell, and it will have to come down to the wire. But I kinda think that’s where the moral of this story is.Just like I found in my younger days, too much of even a good thing can be dangerous. As big as the honor of being involved in all these projects are, I would wager that the enjoyment of them individually would be far greater at a little slower pace. I think in that, I am writing this as much for myself as I am for you, as a reminder, to do a little less, get a little more. Now, don’t get me wrong, it would be a sin for me not to be thrilled with what we got to do this year but as I look over at Heather, glasses on top of her head, crazy hair and a phone stuck in her shoulder, so she can type as she talks, I realize that this has been harder on the people around me than it has on myself. I’m obviously crazy, and these poor bastards are sane, or at least were at the beginning of this year. In any event, protect your sanity, or stave off the crazies a bit and slow the hell down. You might get a little more out of life a gear below the one you’re in. What the hell is this bolt to?