Westgate Bike Night

IMG_0737So last night I got together with the riders from the AZ Victory Meetup group for motorcycle night at the Westgate Plaza. This was my first time at this event which I understand is held weekly on Thursday nights. As you can see from the photo above, there were a ton of bikes. A lot of Model Ts and even some sport bikes. And of course, a slew of Victories. After reading the cyclerides website, apparently it was largest Westgate Bike Night in the last three years. I guess they knew my bike was going to be there.

IMG_0360It was the first night I’ve ever worn my spiffy new Ariat cowboy boots. Complete with my leather jacket, I was feeling pretty bad ass. Riding and style seem to go together. And style, like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This all comes to mind because with as many people who were there last night, I got to take in a lot of diversity. It helped me realize who I am and who I am not.

I am fairly traditional. For example, wearing boots is functional while riding so why not a little flair beyond the typical black Keens I wear? But the character, Jax, on the Sons Of Anarchy television show wears low top white leather sneakers. My traditional style is simple. You might call it boring. But you really can’t mess up the classics. Leather jacket — “scooter” style with no collar. T-shirt and blue jeans. I like the black fingerless gloves because of the practicality as opposed to the style but the style message it sends is ok with me.

I am not hard core. By that I mean, you will never see me wearing motorcycle club (read: gang) colors — a black leather vest (cuts) with my club’s logos. You will not ever see me wear a black Harley Davidson t-shirt with the sleeves cut off. I won’t wear a jean jacket vest (torn sleeve style) regardless of color. My face is clean shaven. The best you’re going to get out of me is a three day growth. No ZZ Tops here. And frankly, I just can’t bring myself to wear anything with a skull on it. I don’t know. That just ain’t me. I’m sure there is a version of the quote, “If the music is too loud than you’re too old.” that applies to me in this situation but hey, I’m ok with being boring. For me, it is about the style but it’s more about the ride.

There were a ton of motorcycles there last night. There were plenty to take photos of but I focused on the Victories I saw and interesting things people did with their Cross Countries. Like my bike’s twin which was chromed out instead of blacked out.IMG_0734┬áIt belonged to a guy who works for Victory Scottsdale. You can tell he put a bunch of money into it. Or this bike which was tricked out to the maxIMG_0735There was so much customization on this bike including the extended windshield, the lights in the engine guards (which are kind of difficult to see in this picture), the added chrome to the bags, and the chrome name plates on the sides of the tank. Pretty unique color as well. One of my favorite paint jobs of the night belonged to this bikeIMG_0740Like mine, it was a matte or suede finish but I really liked the striping and how it complimented the lines of the bike. Gorgeous. The accessory of the night belonged to Doug, who was with our Victory Meetup groupIMG_0736He placed a custom luggage rack on the back of his Vision which was an homage to the previous Victory logo. I had to take a photo and add it here.

Last night was one of those nights in the Valley you dream about. The weather was pretty much perfect. I wish I wasn’t fighting off allergies but that didn’t matter. The temperature was ideal and the wind while riding was more justification as to why I live here and ride the motorcycle. We walked around and gawked at everyone’s rides and then got hungry so we put our names in for a table at the Saddle Ranch Chop House at Westgate.

After about a 40 minute wait we all sat down to eat. Stop me if you’ve heard this one. I want you to picture, bike night and all it entails, some unknown lady riding a mechanical bull, Eddie Murphy’s song “My Girl Wants To Party All The Time” from the 80’s playing on the surrounding TVs, and me eating a veggie burger. No this isn’t the Twilight Zone, this was my reality. It was surreal but the food was good.

Another “I’m not hard core, I’m just boring” thing about me is I never drink alcohol when I ride. I respect the feeling I have when I’m on the bike and I’ve been hit by enough drunks driving cars to not even want to approach that situation while on a motorcycle. What was nice was the crew of folks we were hanging with felt the same. I think the stiffest thing we drank was an Arnold Palmer. I’m not hating on the folks who were having a single bottle of beer that night. I drink. Just not when I’m riding. It’s a personal choice.

Over dinner I got pick the brain of Lee. Lee’s a Vision rider and a former Victory mechanic. I probably sounded like a dope or a groupie but with a resource like him, I had to take advantage of his knowledge. My big question coming up on 2900 miles was when should I change my oil in the Suede Nuclear Sunset Cross Country. He made a great point. Victory recommends changing the oil every 5000 miles. He also pointed out that since there is as much oil running through the bike as would be in a big block Chevy engine, that I could easily keep the oil in the bike until 5K. And he said the engine needs to be broken in so changing the oil at 3K would not be what he recommends. A little more peace of mind for me considering I am planning on the big AZ tour in about a month.

All in all a great night though. Gorgeous ride back. Next week will be Mesa On Main and then AZ Bike Week. ‘Til then, Take care.

IMG_0741

Playlist

As I ride nothing beats the combination of the rhythm and the road. I love the music playing from my iPod connection through my Kicker speakers. What am I riding to?

ACDC Back In Black
Black Keys
Black Crows She Talks to Angels
Angel by Jimmy Hendricks
Hendricks VooDoo Child Slight Return
The Stevie Ray Vaughn version of that same song
Jet
Jay-Z
and of course, Kenny Wayne Shepard

Surprisingly no country music. I should change that. I have a playlist set up of about a couple hundred songs but I’m always looking for more. I’m open to suggestions.

Don’t take myself too seriously

The other day, while waiting for my former roommate and her girlfriend to go to a spring training baseball game, I was parked leaning up against my bike in a pretty empty lot under a bridge. There weren’t very many folks there, maybe two or three other cars closer to the other end of the lot.

A black couple in a convertible late model domestic car pulled up next to me to ask directions to Tempe Beach Park.

“Victory? What kind of bike is that?” The driver asked. I smiled in response and told him about the brand in brief.
“Damn! That bike is clownin’.” Which I’m fairly confident is a compliment. “I love the color, man. Keep riding that Victory!” And they drove off.

A man in an orange Honda Element drove up next to me.

“When you first came through the parking lot, I thought to myself, ‘That’s not the copper anniversary edition Harley. I don’t remember them making a Harley where the whole fairing was copper.’ Then I saw it was a Victory. How do you like that bike?” My inside voice was correcting him about the fact that the color of the bike is not copper. “We’ll that’s a beautiful bike. Have a nice day.”

How difficult is it for me to not associate my value as a person with the compliments I get on my motorcycle?

Proverbs 16:18
Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.

How funny is it that I make so much fun of BMW motorcycle riders (full disclosure: I rode a BMW R1200c for my first two bikes) and now I’m beginning to turn into that pretentious asshole. Calm down there, kid. It’s just an orange motorcycle.

I hear it all the time

20130308-180340.jpg

I rode the motorcycle to work today. About half way through the morning a guy walked into my office who I’d never met before. He asked for me by name and then asked if I owned the Victory parked out in back. He asked how I liked the bike and I told him it was the best bike on the planet. He smiled and said he had one too.

He introduced himself and then told me the story of how he bought it. He was a Harley Road Glide owner in the market for a new motorcycle. As he drove North towards Buddy Stubbs Harley Davidson he was passing by the Victory dealership and figured he’d stop and take a look because he’d heard a lot about Victory and was curious.

He told me that when he walked in to the dealership he was greeted by the sales person who was very friendly and inviting. They talked about the bike and the sales person offered to ride the bike right away. This guy said he rode the Cross Country and was amazed at the balance, the power, the handling and how gorgeous the bike was. This guy was actually paid to ride bikes for a living so he could appreciate the subtleties of the Cross Country’s performance.

When he returned to the dealership, he told the sales guy to give him a quote for a fully loaded Cross Country. He said the salesperson kept offering him free stuff to go along with the order. The deal just kept getting better and better. But in order to be a good consumer, he wanted to shop at the Harley dealership before making a decision. The sales person was totally fine with that and told the guy he would have the information saved and waiting for him if he decided to go with the Victory.

So he went to the Harley Dealership and talked to the sales guy about a Street Glide. When the guy asked the salesperson if he could take the bike for a test ride, the response he got back was, “Do you have an appointment?” The guy said that he didn’t have an appointment and just wanted to test the bike before he bought it. The salesman said he could not work out a test ride. So the guy asked for him to work out the pricing for a fully loaded Street Glide in order to have a comparison which the sales person was happy to do. The final quote was over $7,000 higher than the equivalent Victory. This decision was a no brainier: better customer service, better bike and a better price equals buy the Victory Cross Country which is exactly what he did.

After he told me the story I told him that I’d heard very similar experiences over and over. He agreed and said people are just buying the name when they get a Harley. I am not a Harley hater. I appreciate all bikes– sport bikes, dual-sport, cruisers, customs, you name it. But I will say that I really love this bike and I know with confidence that it’s the best bike on the road. But even though I’m not a hater, I do smile a little every time someone riding another brand covets my Cross Country as I ride by.