Each year my dad and I go on a trip together. This year was a little special because he just had a successful prostate cancer removal surgery at the beginning of the year and this was our first chance to get together since. Since he is the one loyal reader that I have, he thought it would be a great idea to head to Vegas for the New Media Expo.
What is the New Media Expo (NMX) you ask? That’s a great question and one I had as well. Not really sure how my dad even finds this stuff. But, NMX is a convention for bloggers and podcasters. I will reveal my inner nerd when I say that I am a big fan of podcasts, as is my father. But neither of us are interested in starting or having our own podcast, which was different than the majority of the attendees. But there was very useful training and in regards to Passion106; I think it helped the author.
NMX helped me because I got to see who else had blogs and was blogging. I got to see my “peers”. And in seeing my peers I got a much clearer definition myself. And the clearer definition of me leads to clearer definition of Passion106.
Let’s start by saying, I’m a fan. I’m not a blogger. Yes, I have a blog but I don’t write it for anything but a celebration of the motorcycle I love. I’m not here to build a loyal audience. I’m not here to make money off of ads. I don’t have any cooking tips. I can’t tell you any anecdotes about my baby diaper changing stories.
I’m a guy who likes to write and rides a Victory Cross Country with a really sweet paint job. Which means I’m not relatable. And not being relatable means not having followers or an audience. I might possibly appeal to a quiet niche of nerds who are into the brand of Victory motorcycles. There might be one or two more guys out there like me. And if those guys think this is worth reading then I would be happy about that. But they aren’t why I write.
I’m passionate about the way the bike feels and where it takes me and the experiences I have when I ride. That is why I write Passion106. Sure it’d be nice to get recognition from the company but if that did happen, I have to be honest, it would also suck. If Polaris suddenly deemed me worthy of some minor spotlight (which I just can’t ever see happening) then there would be all this pressure to meet deadlines and post on a schedule. As it is now, this is the first thing I’ve written in this blog in about five months.
Which kind of circles back to definition. I’m a fan. I’m not a writer, or a journalist, or even the best speller for that matter. Which puts me somewhere below Snookie and her podcast on the scale of people who create things which they have no business creating.
In a prefect world, Passion106 would be a conversation. I would have those one or two audience members who weren’t related to me provide info or tips or perspective and we would pass that along to others in hopes they could learn more about the bike and the brand. Because being a fan also means that I’m not an authority. I know all too well how much I don’t know about the brand and about my own bike and about riding. If I didn’t have a life, I would bring in guests from my local area as well as anyone of significance I could grab over the phone and have them weigh in. But not only do I have a life and a job I have to tend to but I don’t have an audience so …
OK, so that’s my rant. I’m not going to apologize for the content of the blog. I accept it and so should you. If there was a point to this it would be so you know the purpose of Passion106. And I hope you know, I’d really like for you guys to weigh in. Comment, criticize, share. Hopefully it’s constructive. Regardless, I’ll be here, if I hear from you or not, trying not to beat myself up to bad for not posting enough because I’m out riding in this amazing Arizona Spring weather and not inside in front of a screen.
Yesterday, Victory of Mesa held a customer appreciation event at their dealership. This dealership also owns the Apache Junction dealership, Arizona Kawasaki where I take my bike for service. The main reason I wanted to go to this event was because of a raffle they were holding. One of the raffle prizes was a set of tires which was really appealing to me. I recently had to replace my back tire because of an f-ing nail in the tire which caused a slow leak. That was about $300 I wasn’t looking forward to paying out. But you had to be present to win the raffle and I wasn’t intending on staying the whole day… can you say backfire?
But it was cool to see all the bikes together. Like a mini Victory motorcycle rally. And I ran into some of my friends from the Victory Owners Group Meetup who also happened to be attending. I did get a free hot dog and some Cheetos out of the deal.
I also ran into a buddy of mine who had just purchased a 2014 Vic XC with the sweet metallic flames on a green paint scheme. I haven’t been on Facebook in a while and he asked me if I wanted to see what happened to his ride. I was a little confused until he explained to me that he was rear-ended while he was stopped at an intersection. He was hit by a vehicle that was rear-ended by another vehicle.
I was really happy to see he was ok. He said nothing happened to him. But his poor motorcycle… the picture says almost everything. He explained that the car pushed him into another car but he was able to veer right and lay the bike down without having much more damage. Because he was already stopped the collision was “low speed”. What a heart breaker. I felt really blessed at that moment that I was safe and able to ride without any issues.
Ride safe out there, folks. Take care of yourself and keep the rubber side down.
October is one of the best months to spend in Phoenix. But as Halloween passed I was still able to take advantage of the first day of November temps by attending Motorcycles On Main in Mesa once again.
The skies are clear blue and the highs are in the 80s. By the time the sun was setting the temps were in the upper 70s and slowly falling as the night got darker. Feeling the crisp wind on bare arms as I’m riding is a refreshing chill. Tonight would be special because I would reunite with my Meetup.com Victory Owners Group at an Italian deli on Main Street in Mesa.
If you aren’t familiar with Meetup.com, it is a website where people with common interests can “meet up”. They have everything from card playing meet ups to pet meet ups to singles meet ups to sports meet ups. And there are dozens of motorcycle meet ups that can get very specific. This meet up or that meet up is just for Harleys or just for women or just for sport bikes. Ours is technically just for people who ride Victory motorcycles but I’ve been out with these folks on rides in the past and people riding any make and model of bike have joined in. What I like about these guys is they are just down to Earth nice folks. The guy who established the meet up, David, does a great job about ensuring safety on rides by making sure everyone in the group rides carefully and no drinking is allowed. Another member of the meet up is Lee, who used to be a Victory mechanic. Between the two of them, both Vision riders, they know more about the nuances of Victory bikes than anyone I’ve met including people who work for Victory. They are an excellent resource and they love riding and they love Victory.
As I rode through the barricades in order to park my bike next to the Italian deli, I saw there was another VXC with the same color as my bike. Obviously a man of good taste. I joined the table where everyone was gathered and started shaking hands of the people I hadn’t met before. One of the riders, Steve, began talking with me about his VXC Tour and his pin striping. I took a look at his bike while I was waiting for my food to arrive and was extremely impressed by the custom paint Steve had done. Steve told me he went to Vegas to have a guy do the work who he had read about on the internet. An hour and a half later and the very professional hand painting was finished. He called it “Subtle elegance” which basically meant, the pin striping would add to the whole bike and not be the dominating feature. His painter nailed it. Not all artists use clay or canvas.
So a funny thing happened tonight. As Steve and I sat back down, we began talking Victory and the discussion eventually lead to maintenance and I shared with him my recent experience. He had gone to the same dealership to buy his bike. He said he read a blog about going to that dealer and because of that he would be returning there when his next service was up. He told me the blog was called, Passion 106. A smile crept across my face. At first I had to confirm what he had just said in my own mind. But once I figured out he was talking about this blog, I told him he was speaking with the author. It was a classic moment. To be totally honest, I wonder who even reads these words I put down here. My expectations aren’t really high. But hearing Steve talk about the blog did a couple things for me. One, it showed me that I will probably never know who does or doesn’t read what I write and that’s perfectly ok because I’m really writing this for me at the end of the day. Two, Steve actually enjoyed what I wrote and learned some things from my experiences. I might be writing for me, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m putting these thoughts and opinions out there for the world to judge. I would imagine this is how an author feels when their book is reviewed positively by a critic. It was just nice to know Passion 106 is being well received.
The rest of the evening was spent talking at the table outside of the restaurant behind our line up of bikes watching the passers by take notice of the uniqueness of the Victory line, point, ogle, and comment. It was like people watching at the mall during Christmas. After a while we all went our separate ways and walked the strip of bikes ourselves.
Tonight I was on my own. Cris was drinking wine with her girlfriends, so I was free to wander. At events like this, I feel the need to separate myself from the rest of the model T riders. I don’t want to be mistaken for a Harley guy so I don my Victory trucker ball cap and confidently pick a side as I walk the street. Both curbs and the center median are lined with motorcycles for about a mile down old Mesa downtown. There is no shortage of leather vests. Bands playing a mix of blues, Kid Rock, and country battle for your attention depending on where you are along the road. Pop up tents selling motorcycle crafts dot the route as well. It was nice to see the Hells Angels maintaining their capitalist nature.
If you go to a car show, you will not see dealers showcasing their newest models on the side of the street like you do at bike nights/rallies. I was able to look at the new ’14 Harley line and see up close what all their relentless marketing was really about. But I naturally gravitated towards the Mesa Victory tent. They are good folks and invited me to a breakfast ride they have at the beginning of every month which was happening tomorrow. If I didn’t already have plans… but next month. Then I saw it. Like a Holy Grail or some kind of unicorn, there was a deep blue Indian Chieftain on display. So I took it for granted that Victory dealerships would naturally also start selling Indians as well. But I learned last night that despite both bikes being owned by Polaris, there were separate brands and not automatically sold by Vic dealers. Here is where it gets confusing: the Chieftain was being shown by Victory BMW of Chandler who does not sell any Victory bikes. They had the “Victory” name much longer than 16 years ago when Polaris introduced the Victory brand. Their “Victory” dealership sells, Vespa, BMW, and now Indian. It kind of makes sense. Now their dealership could sell cruiser motorcycles that were a “higher end” brand which could possibly appeal to their BMW clientele. I get it. Regardless of why they did it, there it was for me to touch and inspect. The engine was a gorgeous work of art and the fairing wasn’t as harsh as I initially thought. It was a great looking homage to the classic Indians. I’m glad I got a chance to see one up close and I’m glad it was the talk of everyone attending the event. No one was at the Harley tent. Soon, more Indians will ride the road. It was great to see. I like competition because I will then expect innovation.
Ironically, I fully expected my next post to be about a ride up to South Mountain and I would just be attending Motorcycles On Main for fun with nothing to write about. Go figure. It was a great time and with great people. I’m looking forward the next ride with these guys.
Arizona Bike Week is an annual event. All the events are around the Valley despite the fact it is supposedly a state wide event. There are rides throughout AZ, but everything is based out of town here.
Last night was the first night of the 10 day bike week. There were a few events around like an 80’s hair band concert at Chester’s Harley Davidson. White Snake. (Devil hand gestures and tongue out) But I deferred to a weekly event in Mesa: Motorcycles On Main.
I will admit to you that I don’t go to Mesa very often. So last night on Main Street was a nice surprise. I didn’t realize the amount of mom and pop businesses that are on the old drag. No chain restaurants or franchises just old school businesses which was great to see. I’m always a big fan of the local business.
I met up with the other Victory owners from the Meetup and parked my bike in front of the Victory of Mesa tent which is the parent of the shop I bought my bike from. Later in the evening, the guy who sold me my bike arrived on his custom Victory cruiser. Nice to know folks practice what they preach. After a quick bite to eat we all walked the street and looked at the bike lined curbs while dodging the late comers snaking through the crowds in first gear.
The crowd was different from the Westgate night. There were nowhere near as many sport bikes and along with that there were not nearly as many black people. I was one of the few non whites in the crowd. There were tents which sold shirts to sponsor their motorcycle “clubs” like the traditional Hells Angels and the Lost Dutchmen. I will not speculate on the relation of the lack of sport bikes and the presence of gang tents. Regardless, I felt perfectly comfortable walking around and will most likely come back to this event some time. As expected the amount of Model Ts was prolific with splashes of Victory bikes and a bunch of three wheelers. I saw something I’ve never see before last night which was a couple of three wheelers where they had chopped the rear ends of cars and attached them to the back of their motorcycles. There was a ’57 Chevy rear end attached to the front of a Model T with a V8 engine. And another Model T with a Chevy Corvette Stingray rear end.
Last night I also realized that I will never have a tow hitch on the back of any motorcycle I ever own. It’s a philosophical thing. If you’re going to ride a motorcycle, ride a motorcycle. Don’t try to make it a car. If you need trunk space, either get rid of some crap or drive a car. I love riding my bike because of the feeling I get leaning into a turn or the wind in my face as I accelerate. So yes, I am kind of a hater when in comes to trikes. And who knows, maybe when I get more mature and I don’t want to let go of the motorcycle thing then maybe I’ll turn to trikes. But for right now, I’m simply enjoying riding my bagger. Last night there was a novelty bike which was a Model T three wheeler towing a glass encased hearse. Cute and morbid at the same time but a huge departure from the reason I love riding motorcycles.
Soaking up the biker culture was great. The night was gorgeous and more evidence as to why I live here. Right before leaving a few guys came over and were appreciating the color of my Cross Country. The guy asked exactly what the name of the color was and I was happy to tell him. He reacted by jumping back in surprise. I smiled and told him I wasn’t making that up.
The night was too gorgeous to just go home so we took a nice detour through Tempe over the bridge across Tempe Town Lake. I lowered my speed as I cruised over the bridge flanked by strings of white lights hanging from lines on both sides. The reflection of the city lights off the water was more beautiful than any other time I’ve seen the same thing from the confines of my SUV.
Now it’s time to ride. The events have been great but now it’s time to take a trip and get the Cross Country exploring. The planning has already begun and I’m looking forward to the adventure next month.
So 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.
It 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. It 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 maxThere 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 bikeLike 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 groupHe 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.