by Bruce Mike
Four months ago I told my brother Chip, his son Josh, my friend Rick and my wife, that I wanted to enter my chopper in the Donnie Smith Bike Show. I’m the kind of guy that has a much better chance of getting things done if I give myself a deadline and share that deadline with others. I find by doing this I stay accountable. I don’t know if any of the folks that I made this comment to really believed it was going to happen. You see, I bought this bike ten years ago and have been talking about “getting the chopper done” the entire time I’ve owned it.
The bike had not been ridden since the day I bought it. On that fateful day, I was riding the bike to a friends house to store it and I got about eight miles into the twelve I had to go and the ride was over. At mile six the coil fell off which I was able to kind of hold in place, and then at mile seven the carburetor started to come loose which I was able to keep in place for a little while with my knee. I think I just ran out of appendages to hold the bike together and it just stopped. The friend whose house I was going to was kind enough to come and tow me the rest of the way with a rope. All part of the adventure.
The bike sat in his garage for a year and then it was moved to my brother’s barn/shop. There it was disassembled, kind of boxed up and left to gather dust. I bought a few parts over the years and would occasionally get excited about putting it together but there always seemed to be some distraction that captured my interest more. For a procrastinator like me, ten years doesn’t seem like a very long time until I put it in a timeline.
In the past ten years – I got married, all of my kids have graduated high school. I’ve bought and sold two houses. I’ve bought and sold six other motorcycles. I’ve been employed, unemployed, self-employed and employed again and through all of that, the chopper, like quitting smoking, has just been something I’ve talked about doing.
Well it finally got done. My brother and nephew took care of the mechanicals with me occasionally getting in the way or handing them the wrong wrenches. It got painted by a friend of a friend. Pin-striped by another friend of a friend and hauled to the bike show in my dad’s trailer by my friend Rick. On the way to the show we stopped at the Sears parking lot in St. Paul to ride it for the first time.
We pulled it off the trailer and got it running. I put it in gear for the first time in ten years and took off across the parking lot. It was pretty much un-rideable. The rake and trail aren’t right and it was scary to ride. My nephew gave it a go and he had the same issues. He’s younger and more courageous than I and rode it much faster with no improvement in handling. It did run and shift well so that was a plus.
I posted pictures on-line and received a comment from a gentleman in Watertown South Dakota who I met a few years ago on the popcycle rally. He could tell just by looking at the pictures that the rake and trail were wrong. He told me how to fix it and I was able to find what I needed at the swap meet that goes on during the bike show.
You know they say it takes a community to raise a child. I found that it takes a community to build a bike. I didn’t even come close to listing everyone who helped me with this thing. It won third place in it’s class. I don’t know how many bikes were in it’s class but we decided it had to be around twenty. Give or take seventeen. Thanks to everyone who helped me get this done. I may own this bike but I had very little to do with it’s return to the road.