Expect Delays

Road to Rigid plate

Those orange and black construction signs aren’t just traffic warnings, they’re also good advice for life. “Expect Delays.”

No shit.

We were going to be riding through the backwoods of North Carolina today. We were going to be covered in dust and far away from traffic and bills and work. Instead we are all back to our respective grindstones as we’ve postponed until next summer.

Delays can be seen as setbacks, roadblocks. But they’re also opportunities. With any luck, this delay will turn out to be a chance for improvement. We’ll build better bikes, raise more money for cancer research, and enhance the scope of the film.

This expanded timetable gives our director, Paolo Asuncion, a chance to create a series of webisodes called the “Road to Rigid.” The first one, “Roadblocks,” is a cunning satire of the myriad hipster motorcycle movies bouncing around these days. We hope to bring you webisodes showing the bike builds and explaining the unique challenges of making an independent motorcycle film.

The delay also gives other riders a chance to join the project and we’ve are extending an open invitation to all comers. Dirtbag competitor Brian Van Horn was planning to finish the Colorado to Portland leg with the group but will now be able to do the entire ride. If you think you’ve got the stones to build a hardtail chopper and endure 5,000 miles of misery, well, we’d love the company.

 

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Crunch Time

“It’s better to have something to remember than nothing to regret.” -Frank Zappa

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Crunch time is rapidly approaching. We’ve been trying to make minds meet, make dreams collide, get life to step out of the way. And our plans have been interrupted by family illness, economic setbacks, and shifting priorities. Our line-up has changed as a result, making it all the more apparent that it’s time to turn wrenches or call it quits. And throwing in the towel just doesn’t feel like an option.

Continuing with the trip, despite our hardships, illustrates the intangible urgency of life. Go get it now or be caught in the catacombs. Turn around and realize that the opportunity has passed, that you no longer have the free time or money. Or even worse, wind up old and jaded, not giving a shit anymore, letting the bikes rust and drinking Guinness Extra Stout at noon on a Thursday while watching Family Feud in a holy pair of boxers and chili-stained slippers.

And we expected setbacks. But as we continue pursuit of this far flung, dirt-road chopper trip, it becomes clear that perhaps one of the most confusing things in this world is simply deciding what you want. Do you want to spend a month on a dirt trail in the middle of nowhere with some grimey bikers? Do you? Really?

Well, ok then, it’s time to get moving. Because once you’ve made up your mind, there is no real choice. It becomes a Hobson’s Choice, a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. And then, just like fighting an illness, it becomes something you work at or give up on.

And before you give up, you have to ask yourself: “Will I regret this?” When you look back, what will you have to remember? Will you look back on the life you’ve led and smile before you drift off to sleep forever?

In the face of all this heavy thinking, we’ve decided to donate any profits from this little film adventure towards fighting cancer. There’ll be more details on that later, but for now, we’re happy to think that our struggles can be folded in and used to help others.

 

Choose Your Own Adventure

We found Portland covered in snow. It was an ice-coated metropolis of hoodies, beards, tattoos and girls with rocker and roll haircuts. The town also seemed full of people equipped to snow-shoe, ski, or snowboard down the street while being pulled by their dog.

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So, being its rockin’, outdoorsy self, the place still turned out for the One Motorcycle Show and the screening of “Dirtbag” – including the teaser trailer for “Rigid.”

A few people even rode to the events, despite a supposed warning from the City to stay inside. At the One show, there was a Yamaha TT500 with sand-paddle tires leaned against the exterior brick wall. And one crazy fucker ripped down the iced-over avenue on a mini-bike. “That guy’s got a death wish,” said a local bystander.

Across from the Clinton Street Theater, a moped was locked up, bungee cords wrapped around its front tires as makeshift snow-chains. And a good portion of the crowd inside the theater turned out to be moped riders. This was a group riding what they want, where they want, regardless of whoever said it was a bad idea.

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The group took to the socio-economic dogma of “Dirtbag” like a burger to a bun. They cheered Robin’s smoking of douchebags on R1s with his ratty old whateverthefuck. They applauded Scotty’s derision of fancy skull cap helmets and laughed at Poll’s assertion that most rich folks got rods jammed so far up their asses that they couldn’t be cool if they tried.

And afterwards, they asked a lot of questions. When the film was screened in Oakland, the Q&A session elicited mostly crickets and Poll said, “Fuck this Shit. Let’s go on a ride.”

But this time – after raffling off some swag from Icon – Poll, Turk and Paolo answered questions for about half an hour. And the crowd was engaged and interested, asking poignant questions regarding the route for Rigid and speculating how the Dirtbag Challenge might evolve. Would Rigid be a race like the Stampede? Would Poll add rules to make the Dirtbag chops all hard-tails? Would we come party with them at the end of the trail?

Answers: No. No. Hell yeah.

The session even grew into a sort of life discussion panel and Poll brought up this inspirational quote from Casey Andersen: “Adventure begins when our plans fail.”

“Whether you’re trying to get a plane to Portland in a snow storm, or riding across the world, or whatever it is in life that you’re doing, I think that’s a pretty good philosophy,” said Poll. “You know shit goes wrong all the fucking time.”

“Every day, all day,” piped up one assertive lady in the crowd. “I think the key is to say, ‘this is shitty’ the whole day and then be like ‘oh man, that shit was awesome.'”

“Yeah, but if you say it’s shitty all day, you’ll start believing it,” said Turk.

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And it had been shitty out all day, all weekend even. But we were having fun.

On the way to the screening, we watched the mini-sidecar from the One show come to a stop that left the passenger and his fancy camera splayed out in the snow. They were both laughing.

At the end of the day we can see unexpected setbacks as injustices or as new challenges. We can see the morning run with the dog ruined by snow, or we can start digging out the snowboard gear.

“Good god, why?!”

More often than not, that’s the response to the thought of riding 5,000 miles of dirt on a hardtail chopper. And sometimes, “That’s stupid.”

But let’s address the question of why – without getting into a bunch of inspirational quotes (“I took the path less traveled by…away from the safe harbor…because it was there…”) or rhetorical questions (“Why do anything? Why get off the couch?”).

The real reason, and the origin of the project, is that Poll Brown and Casey Andersen decided they want to do it. And they didn’t decide while safe at home, watching youtube videos or while warm in a trendy coffee shop with “caf-bobbers” parked out front. They decided they want to ride the Trans-America Trail on hardtail choppers while they were riding the Trans-America Trail – backwards, and on Honda Trail 90s.

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Taking the Trail backwards presented an additional challenge because most of the western slopes are steeper than their eastern counterparts. After being forced to turn back at one shale-lined pass, they decided that with a little more power, they’d have a lot more fun.

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So they have some experience in doing the hard-to-imagine. So maybe it’s not that stupid. They have some inkling of what they’re getting into.

They’ve also ridden hardtail choppers across America before. Poll and Casey rode together in the Stampede, a cross-country, rigid-frame, no-fairing, no-windshield, soft-saddle-bags-only sort of affair. While it was a grueling event, they decided they wanted a challenge that couldn’t be completed in just a few days. And they began kicking around the idea of the Trans-America Trail…

Hard from Day One

Poll Brown’s fender is bent.

Again. 

“The fender bent due to the… extreme ground clearance,” says Casey Andersen – sarcastically.

And that same cop has just pulled up – but on top of the hill this time. If we were on the other side of Atherton, we’d be under sheriff’s jurisdiction, but no, we’re in Novato. She was nice enough about it the first time. Coming around the back side was a pretty impressive tactical move. 

Poll, Casey and Turk have been taking turns riding Poll’s chopped XR500 around what has turned out to be private property. Kirk captured some good helicopter shots with his go-pro-equipped quadro-copter drone.

A father and son from SF came up to ride. The cop chases them off, too.

Having got most of what they came for, the crew heads off to lunch.

-Sam Devine