Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

We look forward to hearing from you.

 

The Godspeed Company

Chris Logsdon

Allan Glanfield


Chattanooga, TN

518.225.9469

For the love of moto.

Bolt

TROG 2017 | IN THE SHADOW OF GIANTS

Allan Glanfield

TROG_2017-86.jpg

It seems like it was just yesterday we were ankle deep in the warming sands of Wildwood, NJ. While we're not frequent visitors of this beach, we've made it a point to make the trip each year for what has become known as 'The Greatest Race on Earth'. Now in it's sixth year, The Race of Gentlemen has quickly drawn international fame appearing in a slew magazines and online pubs that highlight the machines as well as the fashion. With the event drawing massive attention as well as crowds, event organizers have begun to cracked down how the race is captured. In past years the starting line was where you got 'the shot'. Now off-limits to photographers, this meant we had to get creative. We'll let you decide if we succeeded. GSCo. Co-Founders Allan Glanfield & Mike Higgins head back to the beach and in time to bring you TROG 2017. - GSCo.

The long shapes cast by the setting sun mark the finish of another inspired outing for The Race Of Gentlemen. The dark shadows reach back toward the Wildwood, New Jersey shoreline, and manage to stretch back to another era. 

Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. And T.R.O.G., now in its sixth year, plays on that theme like very few events can. It has grown from a few guys with a passion for pre-war hotrods and an idea, into a spectacle that now draws thousands to a 1/8 mile strip of sand butted up against this beach town boardwalk.

We’re here to witness the self-proclaimed automotive carnival – the blur of the lines between grace and grit, theatrics and mechanics, distant past and blissful present. We’re here to the watch the heroes of the day pay powerful homage to the giants of yesterday.

Those giants loom heavy. The Harleys, and Davidsons, the Indians and Excelciors. The Fords, Chevrolets and Dodge Brothers.  The ghosts of Carlsbad that led the way and Daytona Beach that followed. But where the giants of the past give the event gravitas, the heroes of the present infuse plenty of levity. None more so than the gentleman with the method behind all this madness – Meldon Van Riper Stultz III.

Mel is the unmistakable maestro, conducting this orchestra of wonderfully tuned sights and sounds from astride his Harley, shoeless and smiling through his thick, white beard. We owe so much of this to him, along with his hand-selected band of misfits and unusual suspects.

All involved take on their role with eager enthusiasm and each part is integral to the aesthetic and experience of it all. The Emcee, the race official, the announcer, the racers and their crew, the photographers and vendors, even the spectators – each adding an important element to the greater good.

If Mel rules the day, though, it’s Sara that rules the starting line. For as much as we’re here to see the kicking up of the sand and the streaking roar of the race, it’s the dancing drop of the flag that we’ll remember.  Sara perfectly exemplifies the dedication to detail and incredible work all this takes to pull off – race after race, and now year after year.

In many ways the great accomplishment of T.R.O.G. is staying meticulously true to its original intent. There’s nothing new to see here. And that’s the point, and precisely why it’s well worth a look. - Mike Higgins, GSCo.

NEVER MORE PRESENT | Entering the turn with Larry Morris

Allan Glanfield

When I find Larry Morris he is huddled over his vintage racing motorcycle. He has to squint into the brightness of the early morning light to see me. The sun has cracked the horizon and sends its beaming nudges out across the array of motorcycles assembled, and being assembled, for another big race day at Barber Motorsports Park. Larry’s lopsided grin sends me the only hello I need, but he extends a hand, still clutched around a wrench, to give me a proper, grease smeared fist bump.

The paddock area is waking. Signs of activity come to life throughout. The engines are quiet, but the place is abuzz with nervous energy. A still sleeping giant beckons, its twisting tarmack cutting a black swath through the color of the Alabama autumn just beyond the paddock walls.

Larry hasn’t slept much, having to overhaul the transmission overnight to ready his bike, a ’74 Triumph T100, heavily modified to get everything possible out of its 490cc displacement. He’s still at it, creating a makeshift gasket as he works to reseal the engine cases. I set down my gear and join him, eager to get some insight, or lend a hand if it’ll help.

Vintage racing at this level is very much a DIY experience. Larry has been at this for 3 years now, but by his own admition he’s still learning plenty. An enthusiast, collector and avid rider turned racer, he remembers distinctly the moment he made the decision to trade his Levis for leathers and get serious. Walking through this very same paddock at the time, he told anyone that would listen, “This will be the last time I will ever come to Barber, and not be racing at Barber.”

Founder of New York City Motorcycles, Larry had long since embraced the lifestyle. Having riden for years, and partial to vintage bikes with some racing pedigree, he fesses up to being the guy that had to be the fastest in traffic.

“I was a street rider making some dumb choices, and living to tell about it,” he says, lamenting that he looks back to everything he was doing on a bike before with a bit of disgrace. “How could I think I was so fast if I wasn’t even willing to go to the one place where you can be fast, and prove it?”

Like about everything he does, he went “all in,” skipping track days on his own bikes altogether. He jumped straight to buying the Triumph racer off NYC Norton’s Tim Joyce and showed up at race school. This baptism by fire got Larry quickly into the thick of all of it, and quicker still to some humbling realizations.

He learned immediately that he wasn’t the fastest. He may have even been the slowest when he got lined up on the grid for the first time. And he learned that there is a hell of a lot more to racing than going fast. 

With the T-100 back together, Larry slips off his coveralls, the lingering morning chill burning off, and has me help him push the bike down to the inspection station. As we pass the rows of paddocks, each now hurrying through its own version of the morning rush, Larry reveals the biggest realization that he has had since getting out on the track. Now, nearly sixty races behind him, he’s still struck by just how utterly present you are once the flag comes down.

“There’s nothing ever in my life that I’ve done that I was ever as present,” he says, his usual lightheartedness taking a more stoic tone. “It’s the one place I know where there’s isn’t anything but what is at that very moment … and that’s extraordinary.”

He goes on, losing himself a bit as he describes the overpowering sense of hyper awareness he feels on the bike at speed. How there’s no past and no future, only the pure essence of cause and effect, the all-consuming physical presence of what’s right before you – the road surface, the lean angle, the braking, everything up to and including the next turn, but nothing else.

“You’re physically lifting up the atoms yourself,” he says, admittedly getting existential about it all. “It feels like it, anyway.”

The sun has flooded the entire valley by now. The crackle and roar of engines has displaced any semblance of a tranquil countryside. Larry too, has shifted into a different mode. Relaxed and jovial by nature, he’s not without a more serious, surly side, but its matched by a disarming quality that let’s you know it’s good intentioned, and temporary.

A check of the start times and grid assignments seems to strike a sense of urgency in him. We return to his paddock quicker of pace and stricter of purpose than our previous stroll. I gladly take on a new roll of staying out of the way. Short of an extra hand to steady the bike as he wrestles with it, I become an observer.

As much as every nuanced turn of a carb screw or tightening of a clutch linkage is significant, I see Larry dialing in as well. It’s that time. It’s time to tweak the machine, and the mind. Time to recheck the equipment, and the strategy. It’s race time.

Turn nine at Barber is part of a chicane that follows a short straight coming out of what’s known as Museum Corner. It’s a dipping left, followed by an immediate, sharper right. The racing lane between the two bends shrinks to about the length of the Triumph Larry straddles as he shifts his weight to push the bike into the turn. He doesn’t see, and has no memory of the events that pile up against him at this instant. Thousands of miniscule, micro-second happenings. Forces act. Counterforces react. Those atoms lift … and ultimately fall. Larry goes down with them.

Another bike inters his racing line. Trying to overtake, but without the speed or the room necessary, it introduces itself into the physics of that moment. All it takes is a touch. A bump of the handle bar … a wobble … a crash. A disruption to that inviolable present, making it forever a part of Larry’s past, and leaving him to wonder about the future.

He wakes hours later, in the hospital, and in a state of denial about what transpired to put him there. It takes some real convincing from friends and doctors alike before he concedes that he has in fact been in an accident. “Don’t you think I’d know if I crashed?” he questions. The shattered foot that will take surgeries and multiple pins to reconstruct surely works against his morphine-fogged case against reality. “There ain’t been no crash.”

This memory, or lack of it, becomes a point of good spirited joking as he recounts the story from his home in New York weeks later. He reflects on everything with his own brand of realistic optimism. It changed him, of course. It made him take stock of everything he was doing, and all that he hoped to do with racing. 

“There comes a time when you ask yourself, is what you’re getting out of it worth what its asking of you,” he says. Admittedly, racing is a hobby for him, a by-product of his love for motorcycles, of the lifestyle, and yes, of the sport of pushing the machines and yourself to the limit. But what is that limit? That’s an individual question. One Larry has had plenty of reason, and suddenly plenty time to contemplate.

For him it’s not about any fear of getting back on the bike. He’s definitely riding again. But will road racing be part of it? He’s already gotten to experience the thrill of victory, and now that clichéd, but far too real agony of defeat. He’s raced all over the country, battling it out with some great people on some great tracks. Must he keep doing it? Again, he returns to that overwhelming sense of presence that he feels on the track, and feels is absolutely paramount to success.

“Whether that presence is now violated by a memory … that I don’t actually have … which could conjure up a fear?” he contemplates. “I don’t know the answer to that.”

Recovering from the physical injury takes time and process, but it’s tangible. Recovering the confidence and the clarity of mind necessary to race is much more abstract. Now, several months into the process Larry feels good about both sides of that recovery. It has really pushed him to make some decisions, and he’s made some changes. In so many ways it seems to have inspired in him a renewed and even intensified desire to go “all in.”

In the months since the crash he’s moved west, to make LA his home base, and to make vintage motorcycles more of a business than a hobby. By the time I catch up with him in in February, he’s slowly eased into riding again, getting comfortable and feeling his way through it all. It’s all going remarkably well for him. Except for the injury itself, he looks back on the past six months as a really wonderful time.

“I experienced things that I couldn’t have if it weren’t for the crash,” he says. “You gotta take what you can from bad things. Otherwise, what was it for?”

He’s been crisscrossing the country in the old Airstream motor home he purchased as well, attending events and getting back in the thick of things. And he plans to continue pointing it, and himself, in whatever direction he chooses – as long as it’s forward.

“That includes getting back on the horse that threw ya,” he says, referring to his determination to not stop at simply riding, but to get back into racing. “What else am I gonna do?” he continues, regaining a touch of his surliness to add with a chuckle, “I sure am not going to sit in the damn bleachers.”

I wouldn’t fault him if he did, but wouldn’t bet against him either. Regardless, it certainly seems that one thing can be said about Larry Morris – he’s never been more present.

- Mike Higgins, GSCo.

Post Script: Larry Morris is set to race his Triumph T-100 in the Sportsman 500 class at this year’s Corsa Motoclassic at Willow Springs International Raceway on April 21. We wish him all the best, and a heartfelt … Godspeed.

THE “ONE” TO SEE | Reflections From A Weekend Out West

Allan Glanfield

It was 2010 when I experienced The One Moto Show (and Portland, OR) for the first time. That was Year 2 and I haven't missed a year since. Fast forward to 2017 the One Moto is now in it's 8th year and shows no signs of stopping. Due to birth of my 2nd son, I wasn't able to attend this year's show which was a hard pill to swallow, especially when the photos came pouring in. Once again, See See Motorcycles and those in charge of managing the event have outdone themselves. With a new venue that drums up memories of the early years and what seemed to be about 1000 more motorcycles than last year, The One Moto did not disappoint. We sent co-founders Allan Glanfield and Mike Higgins out west to man the GodSpeedCo. booth, snap a few photos, hang with show goers and of course drink a lot of beers. The 2017 season is officially underway. Enjoy. - Chris Logsdon, Founder, GSCo.

Landing at PDX, I immediately checked my phone, sliding it out of airplane mode. It beeped to life. The gang was on the ground. I was a day late, but finally in Portland. Finally going to see The One Motorcycle Show. If there’s a moto-culture mecca, this is it. A decade ago, a glance through Craigslist, eBay, or your old school local classifieds in search of a cheap “donor” bike to get a build going would yield plenty. The gas to go pick up an old CB or GS that “ran when I garaged it,” might rival the sales price. Those days are gone. And we have the boys at See See Motorcycles in Portland to thank – or blame – for it.

These guys weren’t the first to customize old bikes, of course. That’s been going on since the first engine driving two wheels rolled down an assembly line. But as this moto-culture we know today, the café racer clubs, the bobber bike nights, the braaap packs, etc., started popping up all over the country, The One Moto Show was born. It is far from the “One” show to bring together local builders and their builds. But it can be said that it is the “One” that kick started it all. The whole thing has roared to life from coast to coast since.

But this show certainly has a special aura attached to it. Maybe it’s the misty Portland setting, Mt. Hood stoically perched above, the undulating hills and corresponding twisties spread out below. Perhaps it’s the hearty folk, head to toe in flannel and leather and ink, grinning and gritting their way through the chill of a February that would have me dialing up Úber rather than dialing in my carbs. Or it just might be the food, meat-centric, sauce-centric, eyes-bigger-than-your-stomach-centric, its aromas of smoked pork and chicken and hot from the oven pizzas and hot totties overpowering the grease and dust and exhaust-heavy environment.

No. It’s the bikes. Like the steady crowds that streamed through the enormous reclaimed steel factory space over the three-day event, all kinds are welcome. The collection has a little bit of everything. Purists can drool over perfectly restored examples of vintage, off-the-line perfection. Fabricators can drop jaws and rubberneck to see every fantastic detail of handcrafted, one-off customs that both inspire and dismay with their sheer audacity. Even modernists can get their fix of the latest tech-savvy, moto-gadget electrics, and petrol-be-damned battery powered eclectics. A spin through the expansive, multi-leveled show, every corner filled with something worthy of an IG post, debit card swipe, or at least a second look, left me feeling both overwhelmed and overjoyed.

The weekend was full, to put it plainly. Full of expectations; all met, most exceeded. Full of moments; so many memorable, some unmentionable. But mostly full of friends; plenty old (but aging nicely), plenty new, and even a few old, but renewed, those blasts from past shows and FB chats, and the like. This show definitely brings them all – the who’s who, the enthusiasts, the obsessives, the curious – and mixes it all into a wonderful mess, and mass of moto-junky delight. I’ll need a week or two to recuperate from all the stimulation that See See manages to fit into their show, and their macchiatos.

As I slid onto my JFK flight early Monday morning, happily arranging myself into my exit row bliss, my phone chimed in one last time before take off. The alert didn’t say much. It didn’t have to. Just a thumbs up emoji… and an exclamation point. Indeed. - Mike Higgins, Co-Founder, GSCo.

TROG WEST | 2016

Allan Glanfield

Just show up and say hi. It's February, 2016. The location is the 1 Moto Show in Portland, OR where Erik Jutras shows up at our booth, introduces himself and says '...hey, if you ever need someone to shoot for ya, I'm your man.' Now this wouldn't be the first time someone has asked to do this sort of thing for us but then Erik did another thing, he followed up. It was winter at the time and with that came the usual silence of the moto world. A few months later talks of TROG 2016 would break the silence as the show organizers announced an east and west coast version of this spectacular race. As we usually do, we deployed GodSpeedCo. co-founder Allan Glanfield to New Jersey to capture the sights & sounds of the event (check out our previous blog post HERE if you haven't already done so).

Months later, TROG Pismo Beach, CA would be upon us and guess who dropped an email in our inbox? Yup, Mr. Erik Jutras, or @mr_pixelhead as he likes to call himself. Not wanting to miss the inaugural running of TROG WEST and having a few connects in the industry (thank you Sasha of CaferacerXXX), we were fortunate enough to get the highly coveted photographer press pass for E. What follows, in his own words and photos was the outcome. Although the races were cut short due to weather, Erik managed to capture some of the most breath-taking images we've seen thus far and for that we're thankful. Moral of the story: show up, say hi and stay connected. Great things can come from it. - GSCo.

From as far back as I can remember, the machines of days past have always intrigued me. As a young teenager, I was fascinated with all things flight, finding inspiration in the sleek design of the warbirds that fought in the skies during WWII - the P-51 Mustang and the P-38 Lightning to name a few. These interests evolved and expanded over the following years into an obsession for speed and vintage aesthetics (I realized that I should have been born in an earlier era). Naturally, classic motorcycles became my new passion.

So, befittingly, the moment I first learned about The Race of Gentlemen I knew I would some day have to make it to the sands, most likely with a vintage camera in hand, donning some old-timey apparel. Disappointingly, I narrowly missed the New Jersey races when visiting family back east, but imagine my excitement when I heard that TROG was taking over the west coast and only a mere 3 hour drive from my home base of San Francisco. I couldn’t buy tickets fast enough. 

Finally October rolled around and TROG weekend was upon us. I packed and re-packed all of my camera gear, making sure I had every last lens as I played over in my mind the race scenes I hoped to capture out at Pismo Beach. 20mm wide-angle, 24-70mm, 70-200mm telephoto, prime 50mm, 3 memory cards, extra batteries, medium-format film camera, extra rolls of film, flash, Go-Pro, point and shoot camera, I packed it all. Everything but a poncho...and imagine my disappointment (and a bit of stress) to find out that rain was forecasted for the whole weekend, yes, rain for California. Despite this news I wasn’t going to sweat the details or let anything soak my Pismo-bound buzz. 

Equipment in hand, I set off on my road trip south along the coast arriving to Pismo’s shores late Thursday night. When I awoke on Friday morning, there were nothing but sunny blue skies overhead -  maybe we all had lucked out and the weather man just blew it once again! I cruised over to the campgrounds at Grover Beach, where TROG was hosting its racers, to check in and get my press pass. I didn't take more than 5 steps into the place before snapping pictures of the scene right and left. At every campsite on the grounds there were either vintage hotrods, trailers, or motorcycles, and sometimes all three. It was almost overwhelming to the senses- sights, sounds and smells. Engines backfired in attempts to ignite, and the air quickly filled with the familiar and comforting smell of rich exhaust and burnt oil fumes.

Everyone was welcoming, jovial and buzzing with laughter. Folks were happy to engage in hearty conversations about the machines they drove or trailered there from near and far. I could tell I was amongst a close-knit community, one where old friends reunited and new friendships were being forged, all over the love of the details of these custom machines. 2 wheels or 4, both were equally admired. An endless array of patinas and hand-painted lettering adorned the paint of countless bike tanks and cars’ sidedoors and hoods. The gorgeous details of exposed hotrod engines gleamed in the sun and the 100 year old residual build up of oil and gasoline on Harley flathead engine cases drew the wonder of those who set their sights on them. I was getting my fill and it was only day 1.

Race Day: As Saturday morning rolled around, unfortunately so did the rain. I MacGyvered up some waterproof camera protection out of some ziplock bags so I could set out for the races and not worry about anything but getting the perfect shot. I threaded my way through the sandy parking lot which was filled to capacity with vintage cars and trucks, and made my way through the large crowds of excited spectators. Finding a good vantage point proved challenging enough as the sidelines were stacked 5 people deep all elbow to elbow. I found my spot and pressed the shutter button to capture the racers starting to come down the road into the pit. They were being instructed by TROG officials on how to handle the angle and speed of the sandy and wet ramp. Many made it through successfully to the unified cheers of the crowd, while others stalled in the foot-deep sand as fellow racers rushed over without hesitation to help push them along. 

Conditions weren’t supreme so it took racers a good amount of time to all get to the pit. While the start of the race was delayed an hour, spirits were still high and the crowd cheered on each and every racer coming down the line. Once all the vehicles had all made it into the pit, officials started to close the gates and there was a mad rush of the press to get behind the gate. Luckily I was one of few to make it in and there I was able to capture the racers prepping their rides, hanging out and socializing with each other, and posing for the many other photographers covering the event. Motorcycles were set to race first, the riders began to gratefully pushed their way across wet, hardpacked sand towards the starting line. Crowds formed behind the barriers along the sideline, the entire length of the course.

The sight of renowned riders such as Matt Walksler, “Sushi” Akashi Yasui, Scott Jones, Shinya Kimura and many more all donning their leathers, their vintage wool racing sweaters, linesman boots, and helmets as they sat atop their bikes, along with the sounds of their engines idling in unison stopped me in my tracks. Standing amongst them all in the haze of exhaust smoke and the falling rain, I felt like like I was in the middle of a motorcycle regiment preparing for battle. In that moment, I was grateful to witness such a truly unique experience, one that felt timeless.

As the TROG official motioned to them to advance, the first two riders crept to the start line. I aligned myself behind them, itchy finger on the shutter trigger, as flag girl Sara Francello aka @ratherbeagypsy made her way in front of them carrying her checkered race flag. The west coast inaugural of the Race of Gentlemen was poised to begin! Co-founder of Born Free, Grant Peterson and Elias Klein revved their engines and with the highest of jumps and a kick, Sara dropped the flag signaling the start. The racers let loose two sandy rooster tails as they sped off down the beach.

Wave after wave of alternating hotrod and bike races followed, and I continued to capture the roaring action occurring all around me. As I stood further out on the beach to capture the entire scene, the tide aggressively lapped at my boots several times, and I found myself wondering how long we had until it would inevitably interfere with the races. For now, there was still plenty of action, so I just continued shooting.

Eventually, soaking wet from a heavy downpour, I made my way inside Fin’s, a restaurant located beachside to dry off and edit my pictures. And have a damn beer. I took a pull of from my glass while anxiously plugging in my card reader to see what images I had captured that rainy afternoon. A smile grew on my face with every new image that appeared on my screen. I edited a batch and sent them off to Chris of Godspeed Co for a takeover of CafeRacerXXX’s feed that weekend.

Soon after, the officials called the race an hour early due to the heavy weather and increasing tide. There would be no bonfire and I’m sure to the dismay of thousands, Sunday’s races were called off later on also. Mother nature, the party pooper. The following morning, the sun taunted everyone but the relentless tide reached the barriers where the crowds had once stood covering the entire beach, and the staging area of the pits where over 150 racers had congregated with their machines the day prior, was now underwater. 

While it was a short lived event due to the weather, I felt humbled and grateful to have witnessed what I did that Saturday, as I’m sure many others did as well. My thoughts go out to any of the racers who didn’t get the opportunity to race, as many miles were covered in the exodus to Pismo Beach. But at least there’s always next year. Here’s to a great first TROG in the west, and to many more to come. 

Many thanks to Sasha at CafeRacerXXX and the guys at The Godspeed Co. for the opportunity to cover the event, to Mel aka @yeoleghost for dreaming up this amazing Speed laden event, and to all the Gentlemen racers who travelled from all over with their museum worthy machines to partake in the greatest race on earth.

Until the next race,

- Erik Jutras aka @mr_pixelhead, Photographer.     

Feeling The Need For Tweed

Allan Glanfield

Motorcycles have a funny way of bringing people together. And this story serves as a great example of that magnetism. Three years ago GSCo. Founder Chris Logsdon found himself thrusted into the DGR spotlight when the event leader backed out last minute leaving Chris to lead the pack of nearly 150 well-dressed riders through the streets of NYC. A daunting task, but worth the experience. Through this he met a determined group of riders doing their part to battle the ferocious enemy that is prostate cancer. It was here too that he met Michael Higgins. Dressed in a crisp suit with a shop rag as hanky and a beer in his hand, Mike introduced himself and thus forged the relationship they now share.

Fast forward two years. The GSCo. relocates to Chattanooga, TN unfortunately leaving Sir Higgins to manage the ever-growing NYC DGR. But fortunately for NYC, it couldn't have been left in better hands. As you read Mike's words below and experience the photography of Jason Goodrich keep in mind all this was done out of the kindness and generosity of a few individuals willing do their part in raising awareness and funds and contribution to the global cause that is The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride. We applaud Mike and those who have stepped up to aid him in making the NYC DGR one grand spectacle. - GSCo.

Kicking over the motor, my Honda revs to life. It’s early morning, the sunlight pushing through a wisp of clouds that streak an otherwise clear sky. I twist the throttle to wake both the bike and myself. I need coffee, but it’ll have to wait.

As the vintage engine warms, I train my attention to making sure I’m geared up properly for this ride. Running a gloved hand over the lapel of my newly acquired wool Herringbone suit from RRL, I size things up. Waistcoat, dress shirt, pocket square, Chelsea boots … helmet.  Standing beside the quiet chatter of the classic motorbike I thumb at my top button, and lean down to adjust the knot of my necktie in the bar end mirror. Better. That’s it. I’m ready.

I first came across the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride through a random Instagram post a couple years back.  Following up on it, I found myself on an extremely agreeable, and unmistakably unique ride through the streets of Manhattan. I was hooked. The event, now in its 5th year, is a worldwide success consisting of throngs of classic motorcycle enthusiasts all eagerly embracing the mantra, “Ride Dapper.” To those ends, I was now pointing my 1967 Honda toward the South Street Seaport to help host the 2016 ride.

Newly polished chrome reflects glimpses of sun peaking through the city’s architecture as I zip through empty streets toward the bottom of the island. This morning, and this ride, has been months in the planning. While I’m proud to be a big part of it, I can take little credit as this event has taken on a life all its own.

Arriving onto the storied cobblestones that make up the oldest streets in the city, I slow the bike to a crawl. The main square, witness to a bit of everything since colonial settlers first called this tip of land home, will serve as a fitting kick-off point for the day’s charity ride to raise funds, heart rates, and as many eyebrows as possible.

I rock the bike up onto its center stand, shutting it down as I pull off my helmet. The open square, empty except for a few tourists, will soon be filled with every sort of classic two-wheeled machine, and an equally diverse congregation of riders.

Playing host to an event that has evolved to include over 55,000 riders participating in upwards of 420 separate rides across the globe is both overwhelming and utterly satisfying. The good it does worldwide for prostate cancer and other men’s health concerns can’t be overstated. For the handful of volunteers that pulled together to organize the NYC ride, it’s a labor of love. Simply being able to have a front row view of the spectacle is reward enough. 

The riders roll in. A few at a time began to line up in the square, the Brooklyn Bridge, looming just blocks away. Larger groups arrive, each individual somehow more decked out than the last. Bow ties, ascots, braces, scarves and even stogies play in perfect harmony with the gloves, goggles and helmets you’d expect at a motorcycle rally. The bikes don’t disappoint either. A bit of everything makes this ride unlike any other. All of them – classic café’s, choppers, bobbers, brats, and even side-car models – make up an eclectic, if not eccentric collection of enthusiasts.

By the time I find my small band of fellow organizers to make final preparations, the throngs of meticulously clad men and machines have swelled the final ranks to more than 750, well over the 300 riders of the previous year. Finding my bike and my bearings, I revisit our planned route. In hopes of turning heads and stopping traffic, the ride will send us across the bridge to Brooklyn before setting sights on the green of Central Park, the whirl of Columbus Circle, the bustle of Times Square, and the charm of Washington Square, finally returning to the history of the Seaport for a grand Finale event.

The vast multitudes of dashing motorists are restless, and eager, and looking great. I climb aboard my Honda again, giving a nod and a kiss to my lovely pillion passenger, Emily. Proudly leading the mob out of the Seaport to get us pointed onto the streets of NYC, I slow to a stop to let things assemble behind me. I use this moment to take it all in.

The planning, the worrying, the snags and the troubleshooting are over. What happens now is up to the riders, to the streets of this great city, and to fate. Leaning into the mirror to make a final adjustment to my necktie, I catch a glimpse of a smile I can’t seem to contain. Finally, it’s time. The Gentleman’s Ride is ready to take on New York.

I twist the throttle.

The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, founded in 2012 in Sydney, Australia, is partnered with the Movember Foundation to raise money and awareness for men’s health including prostate cancer and suicide prevention and is sponsored internationally by Triumph Motorcycles and Zenith Watches. The 2016 NYC ride was graciously supported by the Howard Hughes Corporation, the Seaport District, Union Garage, Ducati-Triumph NYC, Proraso USA and proudly hosted by Allister Klingensmith, Chris Lesser, Dave Genat and Michael Higgins, with help from countless volunteers. Thank you to them all.

 

 

The Greatest Race On Earth - TROG 2016

Allan Glanfield

In partnership with our friends at CaferacerXXX

We’re back at it! Once again making the long 10hr drive from Toronto to Wildwood, NJ. to cover the greatest race on earth for the second year in a row - The Race of Gentlemen.

As always with The Race of Gentlemen (or TROG as it's now known as), you never know what you're gonna see but there were some big changes this year. First, it was held in June instead of October. In previous years, when you’d arrive in Wildwood, it was a complete ghost town. Half of the stores were closed due to the season and the boardwalk and beaches were deserted. It felt as if we had taken over this sleepy little town for the weekend. This year, being in June, Wildwood was just ramping up for the summer season. This definitely helped to increase the attendance of TROG, but that feeling of being part of a “secret meet up” is certainly over.

One of my favorite changes to TROG was the addition of The Wall of DEATH. It’s nothing too crazy, just a guy on an old Indian sitting sidesaddle without using his hands or feet, flying around the inside wall of a 12-foot high wooden barrel. Nothing too crazy at all. This daredevil is Rhett Giordano, and he couldn’t be happier to be doing what he does best. When the Wall of Death comes to town, it’s a must see.

In previous years, there was a lighthearted spirit to the competition. No one seemed to be overly concerned with the wins, but this year was different… Louder, faster, and meaner machines were flying down the beach fighting to be the first past the finish line. This year, the attitude was certainly to win with the racers rolling into TROG with purpose-built bikes made for dominating the sand. It’s a new chapter for The Race of Gentlemen and this is certainly just the beginning. What will roll onto the beach in the years to come? I’m excited to find out. - Allan G., Co-Founder GSCo.

Art That Really Moves

Allan Glanfield

John Christenson, Founder of Oil & Ink

As we've seen, motorcycles come in many shapes and sizes. But it's their most recent interpretation that has our attention. Our first run-in with John Christenson and his traveling collection of moto-inspired art dubbed 'Oil & Ink' came when we were still headquartered in Brooklyn, NY. That was 2014. Inspired by the movement, the following year we would collaborate with digital illustrator Orlando Arocena aka Mexifunk and join the Oil & Ink gallery with our own piece. Each year the show displays some of the best talent in the art world, allowing for these artists to be experienced beyond the screen in our hands taking their rightful place on walls of some of best shops in the world.

GodSpeedCo. contributor Mike Higgins recently experienced the show at this year's Handbuilt Show in Austin, TX to catch a few words with Oil & Ink curator John Christenson. We hope you enjoy. - GSCo.

John Christensen doesn’t like to sit still. It’s against his nature. He needs to keep busy, to keep moving. Maybe that’s why motorcycles speak to him. Riding them, collecting them, planning weekend trips to shows and rallies with similarly afflicted moto-enthusiasts to admire them. So, when a harsh Minnesota winter and a wife in the midst of grad-school studies created a lull in activity, John decided he needed a new project. Motorcycle related, of course.

Channeling his Nordic roots, John holed up against the brutal elements and created the foundation of what would become the Oil & Ink Expo, a traveling gallery of carefully selected art prints. Born of his affection for motorcycle magazines growing up, the Expo really grew from a realization that no one had pulled together a true collection of all the great motorcycle-centric illustrations he was seeing in publications.

“Reading magazines like Side Burn, Moto Heroes and Café Racer, I’d see illustrations, and I was always drawn to them,” John says of the idea’s origin. “I was seeing the same names popping up too, like Maxwell Paternorster, and Lorenzo Eroticolor."

Diving into his pile of magazines and researching the internet as the snows piled up outside, John discovered an entire world of artists with a propensity for two-wheeled adoration. The amount of compelling work was intriguing, but surprisingly, it seemed no one had ever pulled these artists together as a motorcycle themed collection. Not yet, anyway. John determined he’d change that, and started reaching out.

Now in its third year, the Expo has evolved some, but maintains it’s simple, straightforward origins as a collection of artists that simply love to capture their affinity for motorcycle culture. Originally skewed toward “vintage” and with a tendency for a more graphic, bold style, the collection has taken on more diversity, as its third iteration showcased at this year’s Handbuilt Motorcycle Show in Austin. TX.

"I never dictate what the artists deliver, I let them use their creative freedom. The first couple years was really about whether I liked their style,” John says. “For the third year, I thought, how can I make this a little different – bring in a new perspective?”

That different perspective came in the form of a small group of judges, assembled to help in the final selections for the Expo. Along with John the curation process now includes James McBride, editor of the Silodrome, Stacie B. London of Triple Nickel 555 fame, and Bill Phelps, the artist and designer behind Moto Café Brooklyn.

The collective opinions have created a 2016 Expo that showcases a spirited scope of work. A little of everything has found its way into the traveling gallery, from whimsical water colors, to looser graphite illustrations, to a stark gold and black silkscreened printing. Individually, each piece wonderful showcases the artists’ motorcycle muse. Looked at as a whole, the Oil & Ink Expo successfully captures some real depth and breadth, and even manages to evoke an impressive emotional range.

For John, that range and emotion speaks directly to the culture he hopes comes across through the work. “The motorcycle community has been great. Everyone’s been so cool,” he says of the reception the Expo has gotten, both from the artists and the public. “It’s just awesome people, doing stuff they like.”

With the season in full swing, the Oil & Ink Expo has again taken to the road, this time literally. Now hitting the highways with a fully loaded van proudly adorned with the mantra, “Good Art For Good People,” John has expanded his already busy schedule as a freelance photographer to make room for eight stops on the Oil & Ink tour, including upcoming shows in New Hope, PA and Brooklyn, NY.

“I’m not one to sit around on the couch, I guess,” John says. Certainly not, it seems. At least not until the northerly winds kick up and force the eventual shut down of motorcycle getaways, and the shuttering of John’s own garage. Surely he’ll make best use of his down time getting the next evolution of Oil & Ink in the works. 

Here’s hoping for another inspiring Minnesota winter. - Mike Higgins

Building Worth

Allan Glanfield

A special guest blog post by Noam Bar-Zemer. Photography by GodSpeedCo. & Jeremy Malman.

Please consider making a donation to the Worth Motorcycles Fundraiser here: https://www.razoo.com/Building-Worth-1

In many ways Jeremy Malman, the Executive Director and founder of Worth Motorcycles could be the template from which all other bike builders are cut. A no-bullshit, beard-sporting, mouth-off-a-sailor, do-it-your-goddamn-selfer with a talent for sniffing out the tourists and separating them from the die-hards.

But spend 5 minutes wandering around and you will begin to get the sense that Worth Motorcycles is anything but a regular shop and that Jeremy Malman is anything but a regular builder. For starters, there's the wholesome fruits and snacks on the work bench in the space traditionally reserved for Bud and Pizza. Then there's the child-size gear conspicuously hanging from the clothes rack. And oh yeah, the kids. 8th and 9th graders from Bedford-Stuyvesent and Crown Heights in Brooklyn, confidently loosening rusted bolts with blow torches and stripping vintage 1970's airheads like most of us peal apples. Kids who on any other day might be spending the afternoon in detention or in a police station for threatening to stab a teacher (true story) but who today, are taking and delivering instruction (often to adults and experienced riders like myself) like mature young men. Kids who are working collaboratively and productively on projects that are infinitely more complex than anything that would be expected of them in their normal day-to-day lives.

Worth Motorcycles is built on a simple idea. Work with kids through motorcycle building. But its the way they do it that is remarkable. At Worth there are no classes or formalized instruction. No one teaches anyone how to separate a triple clamp from a headstock or how to spoon on a tire. You want to know how to do that? Pick a buddy, figure it out together. If things get dangerous or just too far off the rails someone will step in but no one is going to stop you from fucking it up - as long as you learned something in the process.

So what exactly are the students and mentors at Worth learning? Well, lets start with where they are learning. Bedford Stuyvesant can be a rough place to grow up. I can tell you from my three years living there that while it is home to some of the most vibrant blocks in Brooklyn, it is also plagued by weekly or even daily shootings and robberies. For kids growing up in that environment (or frankly any environment), learning to resolve conflicts with others peacefully, dealing with frustration effectively, problem solving, and building confidence in their ability to handle complex projects is of paramount importance. And as anyone who as ever done it can tell you, there isn't a better way to learn these skills then trying to figure out how to separate the wiring from the headlight of a rusted R60 when you've never done it before while working with three other people with three different opinions about how to approach it. - Noam Bar-Zemer

NBZ: What is Worth Motorcycle Company?

JM: Worth Motorcycle Company is a nonprofit organization that teaches NYC's at-risk youth the art of vintage motorcycle restoration. 

NBZ: How did you come up with the concept? 

JM: Anger. Longing. Desperation. No. That's stupid. As an undergrad, I spent some time in LA working in a bike shop. I didn't know fuck all about motorcycles, but the owner of the shop must have appreciated something that I once perhaps emoted as a younger person (i.e., enthusiasm, joy...?) and gave me a job anyway. It was different from any other job mostly because it was a job. I never had one before. Sorry. Seriously, I found something super grounding about the work. I did something then something happened. The immediate impact on my environment was no longer some other-worldly, esoteric...thing. I can't recall having experienced that sort of cause and effect before then. I was directly involved and connected to something in a way that I hadn't been before.

JM: I returned to NY about a year later-finished undergrad, enrolled in grad school. I was working on a PhD in clinical psych, but really struggled...not with the coursework, what we we're studying was rad, but to get along. I wanted to do everything and had no time for those who didn't. You know- Thomas Jefferson wrote to Edward Rutledge, "There is a debt of service due from every man to his country, proportioned to the bounties which nature and fortune have measured to him." I know he owned slaves, and having slaves is not cool, but he was also a very gifted writer.  In this letter he may have been trying to convince Rutledge to return to public office... it doesnt really matter. From consulting on Senate legislation to developing intercultural forums, I wanted to do everything because I was obligated to use all that I had to do all that I could. I wanted to create the type of opportunity I was afforded for those without it. 

Needless to say, this "get the fuck out of my way you useless cunt, why are you here, I can't believe we're peers" stance I had employed didn't always make things awesome for me. It was fucking exhausting is what it was. I was exhausted and I needed some time away. After taking a year off, I decided not to return. I created Worth instead. Worth's embodies a real commitment to leveling the playing field along with an aching loathing of status qou. 

NBZ: When we spoke you mentioned that the kids are learning with the mentors. How does that relationship work?  

JM: There are no mechanics at Worth. The mentors who wrench with the kids learn as they do. This is intended to eliminate hierarchical barriers. There's no 'knower' or 'not-knower', just a bunch of dudes building bikes together.

NBZ: Would you say Worth is more focused on therapy or education. Do you even distinguish between those?

JM: I know this is going to sound douchey but therapy is education brother. It's all just learning.

NBZ: What makes a Worth motorcycle?

JM: We are committed to making aesthetically perfect, high performance motorcycles. There are only a few other shops in the world building BMWs of this caliber, Ritmo Sereno, Max Boxer...I also really like what CRD (out of Spain) does. We're also very fortunate to have an amazingly supportive network of sponsors including Works Performance Shocks, Bore Tech Engineering, Racetech, Cone Engineering, Oshmo, Flatracer, Shorai, Spiegler, Motogadget, BMW 2-Valve, Wunderlich, Woody's Wheel Works, Cycle Works, Euro Motoelectrics, G2 Ergonomics, Kustom Tech, Airtech and Treatland. We reached out to these guys because they're all the very best, by far, in what they do. We're nothing without them.

NBZ: What would you say kids get out of building bikes? What are they learning?  

JM: The bikes are often just a means to an end. Some of these kids will continue to work on bikes post-Worth, but many won't. Hopefully, the better majority are learning how to successfully navigate a world that exists independent of 'the block.' 

It doesn't matter if we have a kid who proves to be the most sophisicated tech the world has ever known, If he's a dickhead that no one wants to be around, or worse, a dick head who's not around because he's getting arrested for being a dick-head, no one cares. Being good at something is not enough. We want them to engage in creative, effective problem-solving, functional, non-violent, conflict-resolution, and thoughtful, empathetic decision-making. These are the guts of a good life because nothing good lasts without them.

NBZ: Where do you see worth going in the future?

JM: We expect to open 3-5 more Worth shops in the US within the next 5-7 years.

NBZ: What are you guys building right now?

JM: We're working on an R90/S tribute bike (I'll attach build sheet which you can link to), 2 (pale blue) R100 Monolever conversion hooligan bikes (build sheet also attached), a replica of the '76 R60/6, an early 70's Toaster cafe, a 1940 BMW R35, and a burly Toaster scrambler. We're also hoping to campaign a Worth BMW this season in the AHRMA series because I'm an idiot.

Follow Jeremy Malman and The Worth Motorcycle Company on Instagram here or learn more about all things Worth by visiting there website here. -GSCo.

Follow me to Speed Deluxe

Allan Glanfield

It’s never easy being the new kid, and for the first time in a long time, that’s exactly what we were. When a good opportunity knocks, we believe it best to invite him in and hand him a cold beer. And so it was, after 8 years we saddled up, kissed our beloved Brooklyn goodbye and pointed ourselves south – second star to the right, straight on ‘til morning. 

Arriving in Chattanooga, TN we knew not a soul. Exploring the quiet neighborhood streets we came to find to the local speed shop, Honest Charley, and to our surprise, the famous Coker Tire headquarters. Taking to the interwebs, we we’re also pleasantly surprise to discovered a run down Gulf gas station, brought back to life by a husband-wife duo dubbed Speed Deluxe

Owners Adam and Jamie Sheard couldn’t have been more welcoming. The type of individuals you hope to roll into town and meet. Over the past few weeks we’ve gotten to known them on a personal level and damn, we’re so happy to have found them. More than a physical shop, Speed Deluxe seems to be the beating heart and soul of the motorcycle community. Grab a beer, kick up your feet and nestle in to some serious southern comfort. - GSCo.

Can you give us some background on Speed Deluxe? How did you land here in Soddy Daisy?

Speed Deluxe: Jamie and I both have an automotive background, I grew up in England and ended up owning a small custom shop there for a few years until I decided to change things up and move to New Zealand in 2006 and then Australia in 2008 where I met Jamie. Jamie is from Illinois and after completing an Automotive degree, worked for GM and Honda in their Technical and Development departments until 2005 when she decided to change things up. She went back to University in Australia, completing 2 more degrees and a PhD. We moved to the US in April 2013 and after traveling around, landed in Chattanooga and shortly after opened Speed Deluxe in October 2013. We service, restore and build custom vintage motorcycles, covering all makes (America, British, Japanese, European). Other than powder coating, chrome and some machine work, everything is completed in house, which was our intent from the start, and with a small retail area, we have essentially a small one stop shop. 

SD: Why Soddy Daisy? A question that has been asked many a time especially given my origins! The simple answer is the building we are in, it’s an old gas station from the 40’s and was just what we were looking for, having been on industrial estates before I really didn’t want to go back to that. Soddy Daisy is around 25 minutes north of Chattanooga, and we saw it as a destination for riders; however, this hasn’t quite worked out, and we are excited to announce that we have just signed a lease on an awesome building in downtown Chattanooga.

Situated directly in the middle of Nashville & Atlanta, what can you tell us about the motorcycle scene here in Chattanooga, TN?

SD: The roads within a day’s ride of Chattanooga are arguably up there with some of the best in the US, so it really isn’t that hard to convince people to get on a bike, and that is evident by the amount of bikes you see around, especially in the warmer months. Chattanooga is also bike(r) friendly, holding an event called Nightfall every Friday night throughout the summer months. They shut down a city block for motorcycle parking only and with free live music, food trucks and beer, it’s pretty awesome!

SD: Although it might seem as if Chattanooga is dominated by modern Harley Davidson riders, the vintage and non-domestic custom market is well represented and most definitely growing, especially in the last few years. Because of the surrounding natural landscape, Chattanooga is an outdoors town and has some amazing off road and dualsport riding as well. It feels like this part of the scene is also flourishing especially since we can be on some awesome single track just 15 minutes from downtown! 

We found Speed Deluxe after photos surfaced from last year's RelicMoto Vintage show held in downtown Chattanooga. We soon found out Speed Deluxe had a hand in organizing that event. Can you tell us more about it?

SD: In 2012, a Triumph TR6 we were building whilst in Australia was invited to a show in Melbourne called Oil Stained Brain. The show took a similar format to The One Show in Portland, and to me, it was a breath of fresh air that the show scene needed. After attending some more typical style shows here in Tennessee in 2014, Jamie and I started discussing the possibility of creating a small invitational show in Chattanooga. Fast forward to early last year, we decided to focus on creating a few different events to try to build a sense of community within the Southeast vintage motorcycle scene: a screening of Greasy Hands Preachers, the Vintage 1000, and the RelicMoto show. We wanted the RelicMoto vintage motorcycle show to highlight the quality of vintage stock or custom motorcycles that the Southeast has to offer. The Camp House in downtown Chattanooga fit the desired aesthetic, with a beautiful interior and an outdoor patio. The space defined the number of bikes (30), and the response to our request for submissions exceeded our expectations for a show in its first year, with bikes submitted from Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina. There were 16 makes, ranging from 1929 to 1980. The People’s Choice award (the only award) went to a 1929 Indian that completed the 2014 Motorcycle Cannonball. We’re looking forward to the next show, which can be found on Instagram (@relicmotovintageshow).

You're currently building for this year's Mexican 1000 in Baja. What moto do you plan on bringing to race?

SD: For me, the NORRA Mexican 1000 is a stepping stone to the SCORE Baja 1000, for which my goal is to finish on a vintage bike. Initially, the idea was to race an early 80’s Honda XL600 but as much as the XL is a great bike, it just didn’t sit right with me. I’ve been racing British bikes and am a huge advocate of them. I’m also probably the biggest fan of the BSA/Triumph 250 single there is. I ran a 250 on the Vintage 1000 and contemplated running one in the Mexican, but as this bike might possibly run the Baja 1000, I just didn’t think it was a good idea. 

SD: I had picked up a ’64 BSA A65 project earlier in 2015, and its locked-up engine was calling my name - could this bike handle the eventual goal? I guess we’ll find out. It was missing a bunch of original parts, had a pre unit triumph front end and was generally begging to be made into a desert sled! I’m still in the middle of the build, but so far I’ve changed out that pre unit front end for a Bultaco Betor 35mm type including the 21” front wheel, the internals of which are being upgraded with Racetech Springs and Gold Valve Emulators. The rear suspension is taken care of by a pair of Racetech G3S shocks. I’ve stripped the frame of anything unnecessary and am currently hand making a new bigger aluminum air filter housing and aluminum oil tank. After all the chassis work is complete, I’ll turn my attention to the engine rebuild including a few mild performance mods. The main goal for the engine is reliability.

Last year was the inaugural year of the Vintage 1000, a race along the Trans American Trail that you, Speed Deluxe, gave birth to. We're excited to participate this year but have no idea what to expect. Can you shed some light on what this race entails?

SD: First, it’s great to have you and another British bike on board this year! The Vintage 1000 is really a 5-day 1000 mile vintage (pre 1981) dualsport ride or an adventure, as we like to think of it, but there is a winner, so I guess it’s a race. The winner is in fact determined by the most mileage and/or least breakdowns. Last year’s winner was the only bike that did not have to go on the support trailer at some point in time. The event was born purely out of my own desire to do something like this - the way I work is: I have an idea, I instantly run it by Jamie (who likes most of my stupid ideas), then I put it out into the social media world. I already knew a good friend of mine was in, so even if it was just the two of us, the goal had been achieved. The response was great, but there was definitely some trepidation, and although a lot of people fell by the wayside, we had 7 riders, which turned out to be a great number for the first year. This year, we limited the numbers to 16, and it was booked up within a few weeks! 

SD: What you can expect is a fantastic week of riding the Trans America Trail through Tennessee, Mississippi and back in a big loop. The trail is navigated with roll charts (no gps allowed), and this area has a mix of true paved single lane back roads, giving way to more gravel roads and dirt roads as we head west. 200 miles a day seems pretty easy but trust me it’s a full day of riding every day, which will inevitably include a breakdown of some sort, running out of gas and definitely getting lost! Camp life is split between laughing at stories of the day’s ride and working into the night on yours, or if you’re lucky, someone else’s bike. I’m excited just thinking about it!