Saturday, July 6, 2013

trials and tribulations bf5

     it's the beginning of july 2013.  northern california is in the middle
 of a scorching heat wave. the last 6 days i've felt as if
i was coasting downhill… in a good way. Like a 12year old boy
 who borrowed his older bothers superior and faster bmx bike
with out asking and is making his way home from the store 
with a pocket full of cheap candy, the summer air blowing through
his hair, sun on his face, warm and golden. Maybe it's because 
it's the beginning of summer, and i think around this time of year
my brain reverts back to when i was a kid and school finally was out,
 and it was time to live each day like school would never open
it's doors again.

       Around this time of year for the last 5 years I've buried 
my head deep inside a bike for the annual born free show.
 I remember the night
before the first show very well… sleeping on my front lawn
 next to a panhead i was building that was fired for
 the first time only a few hours
before. Catching a few Z's on the cool, damp grass
 one hand on the foot peg and the and the other
 clenched tight, covered in grease and blood
form all the scratches and burns, hoping that i 
wouldn't fall into a sleep deprived coma and wouldn't
 miss my ride. Caught a little cat nap in the
van, and then proceeded to climb in the back with the
 bikes to replace Chris's blown head gasket on his knuckle,
 not the easiest task while bumping
down the freeway. But it's always been a major point with
 me to be able to ride the bikes into the show.
 By the time we reached LA i was so nauseas 
with fatigue and anxiety that i asked Chris to pull
 over so I could puke. We made it to the show,
 rode in, saw friends, ate mexican food and enjoyed
a few dozen amazing choppers. It was the time of few
 and far between on the really cool bikes. Simple and pure and
 just everyone stoked on our 
little chopper "scene"

  Every year since it's been a similar scene in my life 
before the bornfree show. No matter how hard i tried to
 plan, there was barley enough time to
finish. I'd be a liar if i didn't say it was a rush. Those
 last few weeks…..18 hour days or more, throttling across town
 to buy that one missing nut or bolt.
Calling the chrome shop two days before the show
 pleading   "hey man, you think you'll have it done today?!"
 Calling on friends that have only polished
their pecker, to help machine polish some handmade
 part you have days of work into. The shop becomes
 pure chaos… and then in the final hour,
in the midst of all the scattered tools, spilled chemicals,
 parts, and rags this machine starts to take shape in
 front of you….. for the first time. Shiny and
proud  like a peacocks feathers opening wide….
 Your stomach starts to whirl, your hands may
 start to tremor a bit, you may even sprint to your fridge
to crack a cold one, just mellow out the flood of emotion
 that is starting to overtake you. But that's it…. it's heavy, and it's weight is priceless. 

      This year was really no different… Time came up fast on me,
 and as much as i planned  ahead when the final 2 months came i had miles to go. A major
change for me would be that i have a super talented friend that is down
 to help. Dylan was huge inspiration last year and helped with various pieces of the
project, this year was no different. The final 14 days of the build he flew
 down and we worked long and he crashed on the floor. I can get quite ornery hanging
around the same person for more than a few days…. 
when dylan and I rode to Iowa together this was not the case.
 As was these final days of the BF5 build. 
We respect and compliment each other. He's an amazing talent
 and humble and we got so much done and had fun doing  it.
 We hit some walls and fucked things
up but in the end the walls were tore down and unfucked
 the fucked. The bike show was on saturday…. thursday 
evening we fired up the bike, high fived, danced around,
cheers-ed beers and felt the glow.  Two weeks before  felt like 
months and minutes ago at the sometime. I slept like rock that 
thursday night…. I was so fucking happy the bike
was done. It was a little hard starting, but i'd deal with that in the
 morning(friday). Friday morning i got the shop early, i put a different
 carb on the bike and it fired right up,
again and again, i even rode it around the neighborhood. Smile ear 
to ear, tingle down the spine.  Loaded the bike up, grabbed the gf
 and hit the road and prepared for
a mellow 400 mile van ride down to the land of SOCAL.  
    5 Years later it's crazy to see the growth of bornfree. 
There are folks that i saw at the first one one just getting 
into choppers, that are full on chopper dudes now. And there
are the dudes like John Edwards that still seem to be doing it just 
like they always have. It's rad to see. I have a real respect for
 Mike Davis and how hard he works at his bike show.
I can barley plan a BBQ, I can't imagine having to organize 
his show. I don't know his partner very much more than a handshake. 
But being invited to the bornfree show 5 years in
a row has always been flattering… but more than anything a push
 to finish a bike that seems to make me go a little further than i 
normally would. One of the rules this year 
was -the bike must run-….. well it was last year too…. but many
 of the bikes that were in the show did not run. Fuck, i worked my
 ass off to make sure mine did, but if youve gone
through this process you know you hit some snags, so it 
wasn't a point of contention for me to argue, question
 or snitch on last years builders who couldn't get em to run. So
even though I had a year to finish my bike i couldn't really
 plan for the the Friday before the show events to unfold.
 It was one hell of a hot day…104 on the grapevine and the van
starts to overheat, I grew up with driving the grapevine with 
my dad in an old volkswagon van.. so i'm no stranger to the
 woes of the I5 in summer. But in a newer van i was
lil bummed, we cooled it down and motored on… in the final 
stretch the rear tire blew out, i had to laugh. And our friends 
van was missing the jack. On top of that the lil spare
doughnut tire was rotten and rusty, but we hobbled through 
east LA trying to buy a good spare. Hours later we're back on
 the road on the final stretch, oddly I was still smiling,
so happy to have this machine tucked into the van behind me
 safe and running. Then sunset crept behind the hills and i 
waved her a goodbye, and we drove into a black canyon,
and nosed into the born free site. Greeted by the show's purveyors 
with a handshake and smile i wheeled my bike into the show and 
set up my little zone. Having no idea i had already
been disqualified form the show… or technically disqualified
 from 1,2,3 place  and from voting on the other bikes. That was
 the hardest pill to swallow, because it's pretty fun looking
over everyones machines and deciding which ones you dig. But
 this was not the case this year, I was late and so were some 
others( 9?) so were were excluded from that part of the 
show. When i heard this i was pretty shocked….and I kinda 
figured it was the decision of a corporate wiener eater type
 that was doing this for their own personal gain. In the end
it turned out it was vote among the punctual builders and
 more voted for disqualification than to postpone it till morning,
 the day of the show. I came to the realization years ago
that my chances of winning bonfree were slim, And I'm so fine
 with that. My builds are probably a little too under done and 
truthfully i don't think it's my place in the chopper land.
But i guess one builder that voted for the disqualifications
 was quoted "they had all year to get here, we all made it"……….fuck really?
 That same guy can probably be 
quoted saying "it's all about fun" or "it's not about the competition"
……. well to me i would hate to have to look at anyone
 i voted off in the eyes. I would have never done that,
it's disrespectful and embarrassing. The show is called BornFree.
 I could see some of the newer guys doing it, because
 they're scared and want to have their day in the sun but i'd
rather have a spine and a heart sealed with a genuine 
handshake than the 15 minutes they deserve. 
Theres a lonely desert highway and flat tire in your future.
 A guy came up to me
with his stack of raffles tickets and said " if they pick my number
 the first thing i'm finding out is who voted against the other 
builders……and those dudes bikes will not be picked."
Pretty solid logic. A big thanks to those builders that voted to
 postpone to the actual day of the show….. that all bikes were present on. Shows class. 

   Once again, thanks to Mike Davis. I don't envy the position
 you were put in, or the amount of time and stress
 it must take to pull this thing off. In the end, it is just a show,
it is about fun and about 5 other positive adjectives. 
Rules are rules. I should have planned ahead better, but 
the show does and did go on. My name and myself promoted
it. Thanks to everyone that stopped by the 4Q shack
 and said hi…. it's really cool. Daniel thanks for letting me
 build you a bike that i would love to call my own and you were
cool enough to say you'd let it be in the raffle, if it got raffled off we'd just build you another. Too cool.
 Stay pure.  
                                                     max schaaf 2013