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Poni Princess chats about the Competition
By: PoniPrincess of The CarolinaRider.com
"Never let your failures get to your heart and never let your success get to your head"
... An appropriate quote for the Easyriders Bike Show in Charlotte this past weekend. After the excitement of snow and ice on Friday and the very brisk temperatures that dawned on Saturday, it was anyone's guess as to the crowd numbers that would show up for the absolutely amazing collection of passionately-created motorcycles. And the crowds did fill the huge Charlotte Convention Center even with a little friction regarding the wearing of colors. A few people were asked to leave (gently, I'm sure!,) and several were turned away at the door if they were unwilling to cover the patches or leave them at their bikes. The group of people in attendance shopped for new treasures, mingled with fellow bikers, watched the bands and dancers on stage, and I hope, visited The BIG RIDE Bus of The Carolina Rider and signed up for the Night at Maggie Valley Inn Give Away.
I had a chance to speak with several of the competitors or their representatives at the Charlotte Convention Center. I asked each one "Why do you compete?" The answers ranged from the obvious, "Money and fame!" to the basic, "I just love to make bikes," and in the words of Trace Atkins some did it for the "Ba-donka-donk!" You gotta love them bikers!
I can remember the anguish of competition from my days of being in the horse industry, a not too distant memory, for sure. Every winter it would begin with the spark of seeing the potential in a young horse, who just might make the grade. You see the class and elegance in his movements as he plays with herd-mates in the pasture on a chilly spring morning. He stands out amongst the others with a presence that says, "Look at me" as he frolics with stunning grace. The intelligence of his mind comes alive in the round pen as you begin his training. He picks up on your cues as though he can read your mind. He trots a little slower as you steady your seat and melt into his strong back. He energetically transitions to a smooth canter as you place one leg back on his side. He responsively settles to a walk as you gently lean back, his haunches gathering up mightily and patiently waiting for your next cue. His muscles begin to develop and blossom over the summer months changing from fuzzy and lanky colt to sleek and mature steed. This could be THE ONE, the one to take you from dusty road horse trainer to Madison Square Garden, or the Quarter Horse Congress, or the Breeder's Cup. The one your have dreamed of all your life, the one no one ever believed you could produce, the one that lets your soul sing.
Similar, I'm sure, to seeing the lines in an arc of steel as the frame comes to life under the careful hand of the welder if the bike is being built from the ground up, as some were at the show. Or a builder sees a stock bike and says to himself, "I can improve that if I just ..." All the personality of a bike begins to emerge as the angles soften and swirl, lengthen and strengthen. Wheels are developed or changed out and tire size is selected so a connection from the designer's mind to the road can occur. The power is revealed as the engine is selected or tweaked and tuned to a purring perfection or a deafening rumble. Colors start to jump from the painter's palette to the smooth steel, either telling a story with pictures or shading accents' depth and length. These are critical choices being made; so many ideas that have to meld and come together. It all must blend perfectly if you want the coveted vote from the judge. The color cannot argue with the light, the seat cannot clash with the steel, the handlebars cannot detract from the body lines. It all must work in a cohesive union or it is just a collection of ill-designed junk.
And a non-biker might have thought he saw some ill-designed junk at this show as well if he ventured to the back of the floor close to the concession stand. There in a perfect line were seven or eight of the most rough and rusted mishmash of iron and leather you could ever imagine. There were a couple of barely distinguishable Indians and several that started as a Honda or Harley but morphed into what ever would hold it together and finish the ride. Those bikes have stories to tell around the campfire for sure! They have enjoyed rain and sun, bugs smashing into them, and even being used as a tent on the side of some long and desolate road. They have had the beautiful and the homely to grace their seats and wrap well manicured or gnarly hands around the grips. No glitz, no paint left, leather as hard as the rides they have been on, but truly they still have life in them and would be willing to challenge the far more expensive "all show, no go" bikes under the spotlights. In many ways I can see these weathered bikes' view of life. Just like the horses back at the trainer's barn that are pretty in the stall and have a pedigree to rival royalty. Take them to the arena and let's see what you've got. These bikes are beyond beautiful sitting in the garage, but get them in formation on the road and point towards Sturgis or Laconia and let's see what you've got.