Thursday, November 15, 2018

Caveman's New Jacket!

One of the perks of being 'Caveman' is that I'm often asked to review a product every now and then. Working on and modifying bikes, and riding all over hell and creation (my mother used to say this expression a lot, go figure.) pays off.

Usually it works like this, "Hey, Caveman can you do a product review and say nice things about our product?  We will give it to you for free!"

Sounds good don't it? Except in a few cases the 'product ' is something I have already used. And they sucked. So, NO.  I will not endorse your shitty product. My Brothers and Sisters deserve more respect than that.

However, there are times when a great product is offered (Or at least I think it will be). Such is the example I'm now writing about.

Having had quite a bit of use of my Viking bags I have found that the item is always better than the price would suggest. I have a roll bag that the zipper just finally gave up the ghost after 5 years of use from hot dry AZ to muggy-ass FL. And truthfully it only broke because as usual, I way overstuffed the thing.

So Viking called and said, "How about a jacket?"

Ok I'll bite. Send it. But if it sucks, I'm gonna burn it on all platforms Facebook, Twitter, Blog, etc. You asked me, so I don't feel obligated to lie on your behalf, nor would I.

They responded, "We agree."

Ok deal me in and send me the jacket called 'Enforcer'.

Being a textile jacket with lots of pockets, it would be just the ticket...if it was any good.

OK, so here is my experience with textile type jackets so far...
Ten years ago I went to Virginia not expecting cold weather and didn't bring a proper jacket. I ended up paying way too much for one at a stealership.  But at least it was from a 'reputable' line of clothing and should be worth the price...right? Well, yes and no.  I liked the textile fabric's wind resistance, durability and the fact that it was light-weight.

However, within a week the damn zippers on the sleeves broke. So, mixed reactions especially for the price - damn near 200 bucks. I still use it as my go to jacket when out and about. Or at least I did, until a a couple weeks ago when Viking sent me theirs...

Well, damn!  I wasn't expecting all this in a jacket. Especially for the advertised price of 125 bucks.
Plenty of storage pockets, smaller purpose-built pockets for a knife and earphone storage with a pass thru to your cellphone stored safely in a lower pocket (Actually double that as it's on both sides of the lapel so your choice of left or right....or two knives.)

Shoulder, elbow, and back pads for cushion and shock resistance are all removable and replaceable with other types, if you wish. WITHOUT looking like some 'sportbike wannabe' or 'Joe Rocketeer'.

Durable zippers, (I yanked them up and down many times with pliers just to be sure.) A removable liner which is pretty much standard these days. However, this one has a great feature: buttons that hold the sleeves in the jacket so that every time you take your arm out, the liner don't come out with it.

A zippered pocket on the left sleeve with a small band and clip fastener to hold your debit card or keys and such, for easy access. Black reflective stripes for extra visibility at night, yet almost invisible during the day. Two large cargo pockets in the front. Three inside pockets of good size and a sort of hidden zippered 'gun' pocket inside also. (Or in my case the ever present diet Coke bottle.)

Ventilation vents that seal well and yet let wind pass thru quite well when needed. A zippered pocket across the backside to place gloves, etc. Velcro straps on the sleeves and sides to adjust for comfort.

The fit was excellent (a little snug on the middle-aged belly but not too much). The weight was between a jean jacket and a leather, about medium. Not too heavy to wear yourself down after a long day of riding. A little stiff but that's to be expected before breaking it in. Range of motion even new is unhindered. From previous experience with textiles, this will improve even greater with time.

On the top in the middle of the back is an embossed logo that just says VIKING.  I'm Norwegian, so perfect! On the shoulders, a smaller Viking Cycles medallion..not overly obtrusive or garish.

Not really any. It's a damn good jacket. Perhaps some side-entering front pockets so you can just slide your hands in. But truthfully, just use your pants pockets for that as I don't know where you could add another set of pockets to this jacket. Perhaps a little instruction sheet for some of the features for adaptability. (It's got a zippered attachment on the inside lower back, possibly for a larger back pad?)

The main problem with jackets of this type is that you can end up looking BMW-utilitarianish
or weekend tourer. But the old military 'Eisenhower' style tailoring (Google it) allows it to be a good look. I would have no problem riding with 'one percenters' while wearing this jacket.

All this for 125 bucks! Color me impressed!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Culture Lost

Hardian was beyond excited. Today was the first day of staying at grandpa's house for summer vacation.  11 years old, he was finally considered able to handle and learn the in's and outs of his favorite sport. Repairing, restoring and sometimes customizing legendary motorcycles. His grandfather had promised him that if he learned to build it properly from axle to axle, the family's 50 year old genuine Harley Davidson Sportster which had been passed from family member to family member for decades, would be his! By summers end, he would know by heart the history of Harley, Indian, Triumph and many such famous brands of bikes and he'd know how to fix most of them.
The work and study would be harder than anything at his traditional school had ever expected of him. For once in his life, he welcomed the challenge.

Rushing out to the garage helmet in hand he saw his fathers Indian chief was already packed ready to go. In his excitement and anticipation he didn't see his father at first, slowly standing up from kneeling to do a tire check on his bike. "Can we go, Dad?"

"Well, I don't know son. You think you're ready?" Dad replied with a twinkle in his eye.

"Come on DAD!" he exclaimed.

With an almost inaudible chuckle his Father replied, "Get on son, time to hit the road."

Climbing aboard and settling on the passenger pad he adjusted his helmet straps and tapped his fathers shoulder indicating his readiness. The Indian fired to life rattling the walls of the shop, His father kicked the kickstand up, stepped on the shiftier in one fluid motion and...nothing moved!

"It doesn't seem to want to go son!" his father yelled over his shoulder.

"DAD, Let the clutch out."

Barely containing his laughter his father did as asked, "Oh , so that's how it works'?"

Riding on the back of his Dad's bike was always one his favorite things to do, but not today.
All he wanted was to get to Grandpa's shop and start working on HIS bike.

Pulling up to Garage and parking, Hardian, in his impatient exuberance jumped of the bike before the kickstand was down. Stopped short by his father's hand grabbing his jacket, "First lesson son, a bike is an awesome thing to have. But remember, they will never forgive recklessness or impatience." Sheepishly realizing that his Dad was right he apologized. His father replied, "This is the only time I will forgive this behavior near a motorcycle. Never let it happen again."

"I won't I promise."

"OK, then. Where is that Old fart you call Grampy?"

"Getting ready to beat your scrawny little ass for calling me that" replied Gramps, yelling from the back of the shop.

Laughing loudly His father looked at Hardian and replied, "Oh, shit."

Hardian, smiling just looked at his father and said, "Well Dad, you had a good life and I'm sure gonna miss ya. At least I'll have a great story to tell all my friends someday."

Dismounting from his bike with a shit-eating grin, he started toward Hardian, "You little shit C'mere!"

Smiling back Hardian started quickly toward the back of the shop, "Nope, too slow, old man!"

"There's my little man!" called out his grandfather and with a wink. He continued while pointing at his father, "Maybe this time I can raise one right."

"No chance of that happening, Gassy" replied Hardian's father while reaching out to hug Gramps.

"If your ready to get started young buck, go up to the attic and grab the box labeled Annabelle from the rafters and bring it down while I talk to your Dad." Hustling up the stairs Hardian replied, "Yes sir."

Hardian had never been up to the attic of Grandpa's shop. He was always told, "it's not a playground son, someday when you're old enough." Frames, tanks, wheels and seats lined the rafters among numerous boxes. Old posters fading and tattered were stapled to the ceiling. Taking a brief look at them he saw the words 'MC Run for Tots' in the barely legible lettering. Never having heard of an MC before he quietly resolved to ask Grandpa about it someday.

Trying not to get too distracted by all the boxes and parts scattered about, he proceeded to look for the box labeled Annabelle which he knew was the given name of the sporty that would soon be his.
Pulling down box after box in his search he came across a box with hand painted lettering labeled
'Hellions MC Arizona'.  Curiosity got the better of him and the Annabelle box was momentarily forgotten.  He had to ask Grandpa about it now!

Carefully carrying the box down the steps he placed it in front of his Grandfather and Dad and asked,
"What is this?"

Turning from their conversation to see what Hardian was asking about, both men fell silent with a wistfully sad look. A few moments of silence passed before Grandpa spoke. "Well I think your old enough to hear this, boy," looking toward Hadrian's dad for agreement.

"Yes, I think so too," replied his father.

Grandpa added "In fact son, that's where your Mom and Dad met. Him on an Indian and your mom rode a Harley. Thus your name when you were born. Har-Dian."

"I always wondered where they got that name," said Hardian.

"Pull up a chair, son. Time for a history lesson."

Placing the box on the counter, Grampy reached for a key upon a hook that Hardian could see had been there so long there was a clear outline on the faded white paint. Placing the key in the clasp of the box he wiggled it around muttering, "Damn, this thing's a bit rusty." Unlatching the straps he gently pried it open. Hardian stood up from his chair to glimpse a look inside as his grandfather lifted a well worn and dirty old leather vest. Holding it up for Hardian to see, he started to speak, "This is my old MC vest from way back in the day.  MC means Motorcycle Club, Hellions was the name and Arizona was the state."

Hadrian could see the what looked like the devil wearing a old leather brimmed hat and in it's grinning teeth was what looked like a stick of  dynamite. Pointing to the devil grandpa said, "And this is Glycerine the name of the symbol for our club."

"Wow!" was all Hadrian could reply. He had heard of riding groups and social clubs, But never anything like this. And that vest! Nobody he ever saw wore a vest like this. A few minutes passed before he could ask, "Do they still exist?"

Grandpas eyes betrayed a sadness before he spoke, "No son, they don't exist anymore. No MC does'."

Hadrian had trouble believing the words and thought to himself how could something so cool be gone? "Why?" Was all he could respond.

"Unfortunately, they were their own undoing" said Grandpa.

"But how?" asked Hadrian.

Grandpa pulled up a stool, sat down and began to tell the story. "They started up clubs like this for people who loved motorcycles...truly loved riding and wrenching on bikes. You couldn't even be a member unless you knew at least basic maintenance and a willingness to learn more. As time went by the shared rides and travel started to build trust and very close brotherhood and family ties among all involved. A separate culture and lifestyle with it own rules and conduct emerged. They were called bikers and wore the title proudly. Overtime more clubs became formed and eventually minor disputes started between them. But overall life was good and great times were being had."

"As time went on some clubs decided they were entitled to their own neighborhoods and then states.
But still, most clubs accepted the rules and got along for the most part. Then things started to change. It started to be less about camaraderie or brotherhood and bikes than titles and status in some of the clubs.  Garages gave way to old houses then changed to warehouses that had to be rented or bought. So many clubs became too much about revenue and the art of fixing your own bike or riding started to become less and less. In addition in every culture there are 'Bad Apples'. Unfortunately the public and law started to see everybody as criminals instead of a very small few. Then some clubs allowed some in the ranks to bend rules and codes out-casting many viable members of the community based on some personal egos of a few within."

"Then came an incident in Waco TX and for the first time Law enforcement got away with arresting over a 150 innocent citizens and openly violating their rights, causing loss of money homes and property.  Bikers didn't band together across the country and demand justice. Prior to this bikers banded together to fight for our collective rights and were damn good at it. Or for raising awareness or money for charity. The general public never cared or noticed because it didn't affect them. We were not part of 'their' world. We were outsiders. Outlaws from society's conventions."

"Then came the Bikers biggest mistake. Prior to this they never entered the national stage in support of one political party. Instead of keeping to themselves and staying away from what we called 'mainstream' society. They came out in many numbers to support a presidential candidate."

Hadrian interrupted his Grandfather to ask, "Why was that bad? You always said it was an Americans duty to vote. They shouldn't have spoken up?"

"Yes it is," replied his grandfather and continued, "Bikers should have supported him if they wanted to privately. They brought undue attention to themselves. It was a very unusual election that year and some hoping for change missed a key part of the candidates words on law enforcement. Specifically about 'street gangs'. You see, no club member ever considered themselves gangsters or criminals because truthfully, the overwhelming majority were not. But the general public didn't see it that way and law enforcement agencies around the country saw it as a way to get headlines and favor from the 'law and order' president. And the new president never understood or cared about the 'biker culture'.
The opposing political party never forgave the bikers for supporting him."

"Soon, all the clubs were being harassed and arrested for erroneous charges. Even if you won in court, you lost thousands of dollars in legal fees and jobs, homes, and so on. And if you lost? Just being a part of an MC got you several years over and above whatever you were charged with. Over time the culture could not survive the risks and hardships. They slowly started to lose members, and eventually law enforcement won and clubs were outlawed completely.

Hadrian Looked at his Father and Grandpa after a few minutes reflection on what he had been told and said, "Sounded like a great life when it worked like it was meant to."

"It was, son," replied Grandpa and Dad at the same time. "It truly WAS."

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Bike Show

My name is Bill. I build custom bikes. I got a room full of trophies for first place and people's choice. Some are big and some are unique. In fact one is 45 pistol that is layered in gold and silver. The ammo is even silver plated jackets and solid gold bullets. And engraved on the stock it says 1st place peoples choice. Quite the piece. I carry it always.

Recently I entered a bike I spent two years building. Hand formed frame with intricate carvings on the engine, paint that goes a mile deep.

I looked around the showroom floor and knew I had them all beat.

Then over near the judges stand I saw it.

It was the most outstanding piece of work I or anyone else had ever seen. The frame was whittled out of solid billet by hand, the handlebars curved upward in sculptured harmony. the risers were made of solid Crystal.

The wheels had been formed of concentric circles that sparkled like diamonds. And the paint? Well, it looked like a multifaceted jewel . Giving the appearance of being transparent. The engine had been re-designed to produce 200 horsepower and still get 300 miles to the gallon. It was a marvel of engineering, what every builder strives for when working on a bike. This bike, I knew, would be the new standard and almost no-one would ever reach it.

The owner saw me and walked over to meet me. He handed me his card which upon looking, I saw he had a list of letters after his name that went around the entire card. PhD in engineering etc. Impressive.

The man was showing true humbleness and humility.

He was an extremely handsome man and had a body that looked like a Greek Adonis. Wrapped on his arms were two of the most beautiful women one ever got lucky enough to lay eyes on.

We spoke briefly and he spoke so eloquently that you couldn't help but listen. He wished me well and walked toward the Judges stand away from me. I knew I was out-classed and out of a chance to ever reach his kind of stature. I fell to one knee and realized this man truly deserved gold.

So I shot him in the Ass!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

The 'Pins' of the Father

The springs of the minivan protested as it traveled the rutted old dirt driveway. Brittney silently wondered how her childhood home had held up over the intervening years. Deep forest gave way to unkempt brown withered grass surrounded by a potholed gravel driveway.

Early morning sun filtering through the trees revealed the remains of the porch she had stormed off of 20 years earlier. Missing roof tiles lay scattered among broken slats. The railing supported by just a few remaining posts sagged in unison with deep waves in the old house's roof supports.

'I don't know why your father's lawyer said it had to be done today, there's not much to look at' chimed Brittney's husband Justin from the drivers seat.

'It could have been on the cover of any house and garden magazine when I was a child' replied Brittney. 'I agree, it's not much to see anymore. But, I'll bet the garage behind the house is still in tip top shape.
My father had some strange priorities'.

Silencing the minivan's engine augmented the isolated feel of the surroundings. Humidity regained hold in the summers heat as the cool air escaped from the opened doors. Mounting the first warped steps memories struggled to the forefront of her consciousnesses.

Fights over her choice of friends and clothes gave voice inside her head. The heated exchanges with her father caused rifts that time had never repaired. She felt that in light of her mother's recent tragic death, he had become resentful of her. She hadn't spoken to the man since the day she left. Announcing to the front door as if it could relate the message to him, 'You never gave a damn about me did you? Bikes, rallies, whiskey and that damn patch was all that mattered to you wasn't it?'

As if responding, hinges groaned in protest as she pushed open the front door. Glancing around the living room she saw the overturned coffee table and the broken vase still littered the floor where she had thrown it in heated argument years before. 'Couldn't even clean up, since I wasn't here for "chores" could you?'

All her perceived  injustices came flooding back to her. Recent heated exchanges with her own teenage daughter suddenly rang familiar to her ears. 'We are not the same,'  echoed down the hall as the voices in her mind responded, 'maybe more than you think'. The dialogue between thoughts and voice were interrupted by Justin's reply 'what did you say?'

Waving her hand toward the backyard she curtly responded 'Go check the garage will you?' Stung by the sudden dismissal in her tone, he headed out to do as asked, leaving her alone to her thoughts.

Walking down the long hallway she noticed that nothing had changed in the house. Though older and faded, pictures along the wall were still crooked as they had been years before. The realization that no one had entered this part of the house in years started to become apparent.

Entering the kitchen brought further proof to her eyes as she noticed the table was set just as she had done so that night all those years ago. 'What did you do, close the doors and never enter again?' she asked. The voice in her head responded 'Certainly appears that way.'

Entering her childhood bedroom the only change was what looked like an old upright gun safe in the corner. Well worn grooves in the floor told the story of many years travel to the safe. The bed had a depression at the foot as if someone had sat there for long periods of time. 'I don't understand.'

Reaching into her pocket she retrieved the letter her fathers lawyer had given her when the will's reading was done. Unfolding it, she read the three numbers. That was all had been written. Looking towards the gun safe she knew it had to be the combination to it. Dialing them on the safe, she became aware that the numbers corresponded to the date 11-27-92, the day she had left home.

Swinging open the door, the well greased hinges were absent of sound which told her this had been a  well-used safe. Stacks of letters sealed with rally and commemorative pins filled the safe almost to the top. Removing the top envelope, she unclasped the pin and opened the contents: flyers for a recent rally held in Prescott, Arizona several months earlier. The dates read August 12 and 13. It had been the same town and date of her recent college graduation. 'Bet you didn't even know I was there, did you? she said aloud. Unfolding the enclosed letter caused a  picture to fall to the floor. The writing on the back said Masters degree in Finance with top honors. Overturning the photo she saw that it was of her giving her  valedictory speech. 'What the hell, you were there?'

Grasping a stack of letters off the top, she began checking the dates and locations. Most dates matched pivotal moments in her life, some did not. The first was a letterhead from her place of employment.
Inside was a letter addressed to her father:

To Dan "Scooter" Wilson:

I have received the letters and recommendations you have sent.
I agree she is highly qualified and would be a perfect fit for employment here.
She will be hired for the position.

Love and respect Brother,
John 'Cowboy" Peters

See you at church.
You're buying.

'What the hell, my boss is a patch-holding Hellrider?' Opening further letters revealed the high school Guidance counselor, the admissions director at college, various teachers, professors all were Hellrider members. Yet more envelopes showed correspondence with many of her former employers. And ride pins matching the dates.

'My God, I wish I had known'

Now she was intrigued as to the dates she didn't recognize. She found more letters addressed to her father:

Your daughter's car broke down outside of town.
Roach and I provided assistance and got her going again.
We are still looking out for her as asked.
She still don't care for bikers, but accepted the help begrudgingly.

Love and Respect
Roach and Popstart
P.S. Here's the pin for that day.

'Are you kidding me, them too?' She opened yet another.

Dear Scooter,
My daughter Vicki assisted Brittney in her selection of a wedding dress.
She looks fabulous.
The dress she wanted was sold to her at half cost and we are forwarding the bill's
remainder to the club as instructed. Enclosed is a photo of her in the dress.
The clubs pin maker has been instructed as to the design.
Love and respect,
P.S. "our Daughter" is making us all proud!

'Our daughter, what could she mean by that?'

Retrieving the pin attached to the photo, she saw the it was indeed in the shape of her
wedding dress. The photo had slight water damage from faint droplets.

The source of the droplets burst forth in her minds eye. 'Oh Daddy, you cried?'

Others followed with similar writings; assistance carrying groceries...another pin. Help moving No matter how inconsequential the help. In all aspects of her life where a little help was needed, it was provided. Mostly by 'prospects' of the Hellriders. And a custom-made pin for every single event.

The club and her father had always been there for her. She had never known. Believing herself to be self-made and fiercely independent she had always considered herself bereft of family ties. The realization of her 'family' had weakened her knees, landing on the well sunken spot upon her bed.

She understood it all. He had followed her directive, "Don't ever contact me again" But, a fathers love can't be constrained. He did all that had been available to him.

Reaching the final letter in the safe, she saw it was addressed to her:

Dear Brittney,
I tried to honor your wishes. But as you now know, I couldn't completely. I love you too much.
I'm proud of the woman you have become. I even like the man you married. And damn!  What amazing grandchildren I have!!
They will make mistakes in life, just be there for them. That's all one can do. You will love them in good times or bad. Don't let anger separate you.
As time moves forward you may have many questions and or regrets in life. Don't, as it took me a lifetime to understand. Regrets are yesterdays choices. Todays are the ones that matter.
If I can make one final request of you, please check behind the back gate before you leave.

Love always,

Tears fell from her eyes staining the letters as she carefully refolded and inserted the contents, reattached each pin and closed the safe. Holding a photo of him, she spoke, 'Daddy, your grand-daughter is in trouble, but, I suspect you already knew. She is as I was at her age. I won't allow her to make the same mistake. I promise.'

Reaching for her phone, she placed a long-overdue call. 'Heather, it's Mom. When I get home, you and I really need to talk. I love you.'

Walking towards the garage her husband Justin met her on the path. 'You were right, honey, his garage is immaculate. He has a helluva bike back there. Looks like that's all he ever cared about.'

Brittney grabbed Justin's shirt, pulling him close to her face, 'Don't you ever speak of my father like that again!'

Stunned Justin just stood there as she opened the back gate. Her heart skipped a beat at what she saw: over two hundred motorcycles and hundreds of bikers applauding her arrival.

'Who the hell are they?' he asked. 'That', she replied 'is my family.'

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Man from Nantucket

On a blustery winters day early in Dec of 1923on Nantucket island, a son was born to immigrant parents from Norway. This firstborn child would go and live to see the world change as never before in history. He would go on to leave an indelible mark upon it.
His family,country, and friends would be forever in debt and gratitude.
This is the story of  that Man from Nantucket.

As his last born son, I will attempt to give you some sense of the man.
I will from time to time in this narrative tell you of my recollections and lessons learned.
We didn't always see eye to eye on a lot of things. Thankfully in his last years we came to an accord of each other.

And so it begins.....

Of his very early life I know less than I would have liked.
Here are the few things I do know:
After leaving Nantucket my grandparents settled in the small fishing village of Noank, Connecticut.
This is just outside Mystic, the famous whaling port.
This was a time when four-masted schooners still sailed, outhouses were still common,and milk and ice still came delivered to your door.
In his youth he belonged to the sea scouts [a nautical boy scouts].
At thirteen he built by hand a 16 foot sailboat with a small cabin,
hand cut, sanded and assembled from keel to mast.
It made the local papers.  [Somewhere in my vast library I personally have a copy and photo..Impressive as hell.]
From the cabin he witnessed history we have only read about.
The last age of grand sailing ships interspersed with the modern age of shipping unfolded under his gaze.
Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart flew past his boat...Lindbergh even waved.
The Hindenburg passed over so low he could see the faces of the passengers on it's final fatal journey to New Jersey.
He also got a job driving and delivering the local milk truck at 12.
He also got into harmless mischief from time to time....
Moving outhouses a few feet back in the dark..
Relocating ships in the harbor..
Sneaking into the local old cranky sea captains house and making spooky noises,relocating furniture.
Deep in the middle of the depression his father [a fishing boat Captain] died of pneumonia.
At the age of 16 he was the sole breadwinner for his family of 5 siblings and his mother.

He worked three jobs and carried on.

The winds of war came in 1941.
He heard the call to arms and volunteered.

Selected for duty in the then relatively new Army air force.
He was chosen for Bomber command aboard the pride of the air force fleet.
The new B17 flying fortress.
[Having seen the Bombers of WW2 ....I gotta say it was the best looking plane ever built]
He tried as a pilot but due to his size the local commander asked if he would consider belly gunner.
This was no small request.
From  Piloting to sitting in the most vulnerable spot on the plane.....I doubt many men would have said yes.
But, it was stressed that not many had the fortitude and size to fly in that small turret....His service would be better served.
Going where the need was most, he agreed.
Off to gunnery school near Kingman, AZ.

Most of us know our parents as straight laced do-rights and my perceptions were no different.
Imagine my surprise..
In his eighties after my mothers passing I offered to track down the lady he had dated when he was stationed in AZ.
He replied...I think she would have passed by now as she would be over a hundred..
Yes, my straight laced conservative father dated a 40+ year old women when he was 19!!
Rock on DAD!  you little Cad.

Back to the story.

Off to Europe aboard the troop ship Queen Elizabeth 2.
Final destination Kimbolten England.
Staff Sergeant Lief H "Flash" Nelson.
[The story is told that when asked to due a task...He'd get it done so fast they called him "Flash"
Personally..I think it was the "Eisenhower incident" as my mom called it..;]
379 bomb group. 524th  Squadron.
His first was to Bremerton Germany attacking the heavy water plants..[German nuclear research]
Students of bomber history will recognize certain famous names..., Dresden.. Schweinfurt.
Some raids 80 percent were lost.
On one mission an inexperienced pilot drifted into my fathers slot in the formation.
His plane rose and veered into the others spot.
No sooner had the planes settled in their accidental positions..
A direct hit from anti aircraft flak exploded the plane now in their slot.
All hands lost.
Another raid had flak go off just below him
Blasted the ball turret up into the  belly of the plane.
Another, He saved his fellow airmen by shooting down a Focke-wulfe.
[To put this in perspective..try shooting an airborne fly with a bb gun....actually that might be easier]
Another he took a direct hit of flak that blew his pants off.
[Upon landing he had to walk pass Gen Eisenhower reviewing the troops in full dress.
Half frozen and pants less...The Eisenhower Incident]
His courage under fire and determination gained him notice of the local fighter pilots commander.
He was recommended for p51 fighter pilot duty.
[This is huge...the two branches rarely if ever interchanged...A bomber pilot isn't considered a good candidate for fighters and vice versa due to the extreme different flight characteristic's of each respective plane....and a gunner?   Forget it!]
Unfortunately the war was by then coming to the close and the head brass decided no new pilots were needed.
Ending the war with a DFC with 2 oak leafs [each oak leaf is another award of the same medal]
The Air-medal with 4 oaks and numerous ribbons and medals. Not a purple heart among them..Imagine!!
[I imagine he walked lopsided with all that brass hanging off his chest]

After the war a 21 year old Veteran of war met a feisty little tornado of all of 16...Even combat experience never prepared him for the fiery tempest that was June Delores Harris.  Daughter of a direct Mayflower descendant and former whaling ship fleet owners.

Knowing when the heart's battle was lost, He surrendered his name to her and she became June D Nelson.
For the rest of his life, His heart was hers even after her passing.

Meanwhile for reasons I was never told,when the Army and the Air force became two separate branches...He chose Army.
Peacetime didn't last long.
Off to Korea.

Now here in the narrative things get a little sparser,yet by no means less impressive.
This is truly all I know about that time.
It was unbearably cold and miserable.
Perhaps that's why he never discussed it.
Two things I Do know..He faced a machine gun embankment on foot, the bullets shot off his ear flaps on both sides,the spacing of the bullets was just wide enough to miss his face!
During a very intense battle he ran up the hill and rescued two wounded GI's carrying both at the same time, put one down momentarily, drew his service pistol and shot the North Korean trying to shoot him. He calmly picked up the GI and continued on to the M.A.S.H unit.

Dad +2   North Korea-1
Check and Mate!!
The other is my personal favorite for obvious reasons.
He was the first motorized conveyance to cross the 38th parallel under fire.
ON A Harley!!
WLA 45 liberator to be precise.

I swear the man needed a wheelbarrow just to carry his balls.

After Korea he raised 7 kids while working for the Army on Nike sites.  [Titan nuclear missiles]
Highest classification.
Two story's from that era
The first
Sears had introduced the first home garage door openers during this time.
Every morning near 7am and at 5 pm...The bases missile doors would open and alarms would go off.
The base would go on high alert..this was during the Cuban missile crisis.
The silo doors and the garage door openers were on the same frequency!!

They used to bring the missiles on to the secret bases disguised as milk tanker trucks.
The base commander held drills every morning stressing to GI and family alike
Never discuss our base or purpose here!!
Later at the local country store a little girl began screaming at the passage of a milk truck "The missiles are here the missiles are here!!"
It was the commanders 8 year old daughter.....;]

Dad retired from the military in 1968.
Started a successfull television repair business.
Became the local commodore of the Taunton Yacht club.
In his mid 70's he chased down a car thief, made him lay on the ground till the police could catch up all without laying a hand on him just by force of voice and will.
In the mid 1980's he needed surgery. They still sent an MP to stand by in case he spoke while under anesthesia. I have often wondered what top secret information he knew that was still relevant 20 years  later.
Still needed that wheelbarrow!!

Shortly after my mom's passing in 2003 he never went home again.
He stayed at the nursing home till it was his time.
Left us 1 day before valentines to be with her.
We survivors are completely at peace with it.
Damn he earned it!
He did all this...
And raised one Crazy Biker writer kid who thinks a hundred miles an hour in a pack of 50 is...Just cruising.
What can I say?  he started the daring shit first!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pack Riding.

I just got back from a huge run for a local dealership with 'Celebrities' Dan Hagertey, Barry Carroway...Etc
It was the 'Rub' Crowd.
Scary as hell....3/4's of the jackasses riding couldn't hold their own.
Wobbling, weaving, slow speed near misses..redlight slides..almost hitting parked bikes..[Mine] I'd could go on but since your reading this I imagine you've seen plenty of what I'm describing.
We have all heard the rants about cagers 'Not respecting our right of way'
This is True.
But just as many go down due to their own stupidity or inexperience.
I have never been one to 'claim' riding expertise.
I let others speak to my abilities.
This time I gotta speak up.

So you bought a bike....Good for you.
You overcame the fear and grew a pair and learned to ride.
Got your license and leathers..and are gonna be part of this 'Biker community'
Welcome aboard!!
Life just got infinitely more exciting for you.
However there's plenty of excitement in this life to go around.
Barely making it because of shitty riders shouldn't be part of it.

You know that new hire at your work...who thinks he knows everything and don't know shit??
Guess what?
That's you.
Ohh that's right, Not obviously are smarter than the average bear.
Nope, You ain't.
All of us 'Roadtramps' paid our dues to earn that name.
It didn't happen overnight.
The best ones took the advice of Scootertrash and observed...and observed and emulated...and still do.
Day in day out....still watching and learning.

I personally have worn bikes out with many many miles.
Many at an excessive rate of speed.
Not safe?
Probably not...Yet I have had many a rider along side wheel to wheel hauling ass.
And both of us felt safer than sitting in our living room chair.
When it's done right....It's artistry, synchronicity almost religious in feeling.

Want to ride like that??
Perhaps not. And that's fine.
But you should try to ride good enough to be able to.
You will end up at some point riding's damn near inevitable.
Small or large, doesn't matter.

The building blocks of a good rider are surprisingly simple.
They really are.

Try this.
When riding always ride like you're in a pack...always.
I don't care if your in Death Valley and are the only bike for a hundred miles.
Always, always ride pack style.

One foot from the line.
Simple,that's it.
One foot.
One foot left if you ride right side.
One foot right if you ride lead left.
That's your line...period.
Always ride that fine line.
Get used to it so it becomes habit.
And in doing so, you have taught yourself not to wobble.
When turning...stay in that line.
Left side turns tight into that line.
And right side stays out in theirs.
Right doesn't cut in font of the lefts line and always swings wide enough for left to clear.
Left does not swing wide and push right out of his/her lane.
Simple no?
You'd be amazed at how often this simple rule gets ignored.
Always expect it to happen...even with experienced riders.
Nobody's perfect.
Always watch your partner.
Riding 'Outlaw'
Stay wheel to wheel.
Not just a little behind or ahead.
There is a blind spot.
If your front wheel is even with my engine, you have vanished.
I look left and no bike....I look in my bike.
Your gone....Now I'm looking everywhere for you...WTF where the hell did he go?
He was just here a sec ago.
I roll off throttle and lo and behold there you are.
This is seriously bad.
While my attention is momentarily diverted looking for you and not focusing on my 'line' foot.
It takes constant vigilance to maintain.
As it should be.
It keeps you alert and aware at all times.

"I don't ride Outlaw I ride staggered because my Hog riding book says so"
If this is how you feel comfortable riding, Then ride there far enough back so I can see you in my Mirror.
It's a false security.
At the average speed of 60 you're only milliseconds behind and that old chestnut of 'Room to maneuver' is deadly.
You didn't see what made me swerve right as I am most likely blocking your view of the obstruction anyway.
Following behind at a 'respectable distance still ain't gonna give you enough reaction time.
Seen it happen time and time again.
We both see the Object at the same time and both instinctively swerve right in unison.
But better than the other way and if you wanted a Segway.
Also how many times have you been in a hurry in your car to turn left...wait for the car in the left lane to pass and gun it across lanes to get in.
We have all done it..Don't even try denying it.
And after the car went by...oops there is a car/Bike just behind in the right lane.
Luckily you were paying attention... could have been a helluva wreck..Whew!!
This is actually where a lot of left turn cagers meet bikes
They didn't see you..they couldn't.
Try this.
Go to your hallway,stand on the right.
Have your spouse stand a few feet down the hall facing you on the left near the middle.
Have someone else stand just behind them closer to the wall.
Can't see them can you?
Your spouse is blocking your view.
Always try to match the traffic going through an intersection, don't be just behind them.
Following traffic.
If your partner is riding a few feet back...Throttle off and stay along side.
Don't ride ahead even just a few feet.
Kinda gives you pause on the whole staggered thing don't it?
And in a pack... staggered spreads the line out so far you have idiots racing to catch up..and as you'll note the novice riders tend to congregate back there...recipe for disaster.
I have seen too many riders overtrust the braking ability of themselves and the bike.
Happens more than you think.
A excellent riding Buddy of mine was guilty of this from time to time.
He finally tagged a car and went down.
He was almost stopped when he hit so no damage of consequence..except his pride.
Yet just three little feet back.....never would have happened. 3 feet.
Your table that you're sitting at probably ain't that wide.

Is this all? No, not by a long shot.
But do these things and practice braking, downshifting, situation awareness,tight turning.
Watch the "Scootertramps" around you and learn.
Ask them for advice.
I'll have far more respect for you than if you try to fake it.
You can't..Trust me.
We can tell.
But if you do these Simple things,Perhaps you'll someday overhear.....
Man, That fucker can RIDE!
Trust me...ain't no sweeter words ever uttered than that.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Here it is....First "real paint" Job in thirty years.
Hugger Orange base,
Airbrushed candy tangerine and pagan gold scallops,
Another set overlaid and past the lines 'Ghost Scallops',,,in gold prismatic clear.
Shot over with three coats clear.
The back fender is done the same with the exception of the prism gold sprayed on all the fender,
Hand sanded to a high gloss and no ridges between coats felt.
Smooth as Glass.

The flash kept changing the reflection.
Think the OL'Man's still got it???