Article And Photos By: Chris Callen
Originally Published In The August 2014 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
In the middle of the worst winter this country has seen in at least a decade, a number of brave souls travelled to the white wasteland known by those of us who live there as Wisconsin. To Milwaukee to be exact, for a new premiere event from here forward called MaMa Tried. This event started in the mind of local dignitary Scott Johnson; he is also one of the two I main cats who started the Rockerbox event in August on Center St. He was looking to do more of an artistic display of bikes and culture from the upper Midwest and the surrounding country. Scott pitched the idea to Warren Heir, Jr of JR’s Cycle Products and between the two of them a new show and destination was born in the dead of winter in Brew City USA.
The main thrust of the show consisted of bikes from all genres. There were chops and bobs, as well as great antiques from both street and competition worlds. Also some beautiful café and imports from Britain, Japan and the rest of Europe. Load in was Friday morning and then a chill afternoon with a Dice party starting at the Harley Museum later that night, where I got to see all who had rolled in by then, good times, goooood times. From there we moved the party to local bar Sabbatic, where the laughs just kept on coming. It definitely warmed my heart to see all of those faces from all over the country in my local watering holes. Saturday started early and was crowded right from the get go, the venue was unique to say the least, it is a empty floor in a building that will eventually become high end warehouse living spaces. In the meanwhile, it is a great blank canvas and hope it will be available in the future but if not I am sure the replacement will be just as awesome.
As I said the venue was packed with unique bike displays and artwork. There were also a handful of vendors hawking items such as high end leather and jewelry courtesy of Heyltje Rose and the Heavy Boys were making a presence as well in the Show Class booth. The art work came in different forms as well, there was a great display of moto based photography and some original oil works as well. An on hand artist from Blue Anchor Tattoo was also throwing down some Mama Tried tattoos for those who wanted to make the commitment. There was also a great display of the original artwork used on the 76’ bicentennial Harley models, and a meet and greet with the artist Paul Smith. Of course the stars of the day were the bikes; the varied collection of all those different bikes definitely drew a crowd. About 5000 through the door I was told, and at a few times it felt like more. I was almost dizzy from spinning around all day to talk to friends that I haven’t seen in years. It was a phenomenal afternoon and evening indeed.
As Saturday wore on we drank the bar out of beer and then all merch was sold and great conversations continued on to the next venue which was the Show Class after party at the Cactus Club. Which again was packed to the rafters and fun galore the conversations started to not make sense any longer and then it was time to head home to prepare for yet another day of the long weekend. Sunday morning started off with a somewhat early morning with Michael Lichter having a photo documentary with a question and answer session in the lower level of the Iron Horse Hotel. I have seen a large majority of these photos before but to hear Michael explain the where’s and whys from across the many years of his photographic career is something quite special and I highly recommend that if you are given the opportunity , do it.
From the Iron Horse it was down to the lakefront and McKinnley Marina for an afternoon of racing on the ice. As I said the very cold winter had done something we have not seen in years, it froze Lake Michigan to about 90% frozen so the marina had a solid patch of ice so we didn’t have to go far to enjoy some impromptu ice racing. Like the show there was a vast array of bikes slinging hard water, everything from dirt bikes with studded tires to some vintage Triumphs and even our own Big Joe throwing his studded tire FXR around out there. The star of the day was a guy from Georgia flinging his knuckle around and at one point breaking thru in a soft spot and burying it to the back axle in icy cold water. So if next winter is anything like last year, there will be a bright spot in the middle. Point your vehicle towards Milwaukee and let the weekend begin! I can’t wait to see what Scott, JR and the crew cook up for next year. Hope to see you there!