After serving nearly eight years on the fast and furious motorcycles, there really wasn’t much I hadn’t seen on that side of the motorcycle fence. There wasn’t really too many events I hadn’t been to on multiple occasions, too many bikes I hadn’t had the chance to throw a leg over, too many models I hadn’t tried to pick up on (and failed), or too many industry people who didn’t have at least one “John Zamora” story to laugh about. But I truly believe it’s from those times, when your guard is down, when true friendships are made and the cordial handshakes are turned into man hugs (you know the one where the forearm keeps you from a real hug). While my salary is nowhere near what the movies make it out to be, my head is full of priceless memories that no amount of money could ever buy. I have done more things, in more places, that make me a billionaire in terms of life experiences.
I started out with a different mindset when I came over to the V-twin side. People are people, builders are builders, and at last count, a motor was still nothing but a big air pump. After starting at Hot Bike, I’ve had more than a few people try and warn me about a certain company or person, or inform me exactly who they think they are. Since day one, I decided to follow the lines of treat people with respect who respect you. I’m beyond pleased to say that the true big names in this industry, once their guard is down, are at the end of the day … bikers. I’ve walked into several situations where I probably should have known who the person was, but had no clue, only to leave saying how much I truly like him or her and how impressed I was by his or her work. Sure, everyone wants to be nice the magazine guy for a little bit, but that type of superficial relationship is about as see-through as the clothes I pick out for the models. The day you actually think you ARE somebody is more than likely the day you have jumped the shark to jerk status.
I’ve seen what happens when the celebrity spotlight of the non-biker media focuses its attention on an everyday Joe, at least from the outside looking in. I don’t know Jessie James on any level more than any other spectator of the general media, but I know from the outside looking in, he’s never claimed to be anything more than a biker, builder, and welder. Seems to me he’s still doing those same things and doing it better than most. On that same level, I was pretty impressed by Vin Federico’s Sportster because he built a bike that he felt was pretty cool to him. Talking to him on the phone, he knew every bolt and part of that bike without prompting, so you know he built it all with pride. Chris Cross and Brent Moore both work for one of the biggest wheel companies in the industry, but talk to them for five minutes over a cold one and watch their eyes light up about their personal bikes the same as every person who submits to Readers’ Rides. Kevin and Mona from Big Bear Choppers have seen the high of the highs and low of the lows, but instead of showing how gangster you are on the internet, how about taking a few minutes to talk to either of them at the shows that they set up for 12 hours a day. Kevin likes to talk about his bikes because he loves his bikes and Mona has been nothing but nice and respectful to me since our first interaction.
All I can say is, I hope I never become famous, and instead keep my ugly mug out of the spotlight and do my job of making the people that deserve the spotlight glow. Magazine guys should not want to be celebrities, but have a duty to show the world the talents of others. We don’t know everything there is to know about every bike, but probably know the person who does. If I don’t answer my phone, it’s not that I think I’m too good to talk to you, it probably means my kid is screaming at the top of her lungs, I’m under an unrealistic deadline, or like you, when I get off work, I just want to chill out and unwind. So if you didn’t get your free internet prize, phone call returned immediately, or are accidently overlooked for having the coolest custom bike the world has never seen, chill out a little bit. If you’re talented, you will shine. If you make cool bikes, the world will notice. Or if you just want to send in hot pictures of your girl that works too. What better way to show us what you have built, or spend that time over a cold one, than the Hot Bike Power Tour coming up in August?
The spotlight comes and the spotlight goes, but if you are already reading this than you are a biker. Being on two wheels is and forever will be cool despite what the general media says is sooooo hauugghtttt [sic] at the moment. Two wheels forever, forever two wheels.