Part II of our series of posts concerning items we dig…
This company of innovative rogues is in so many ways the clothing company I would have created, had I had the money, the cut and sew knowhow, and the necessary amount of confidence to do so. For years I’ve been bitching to friends in the industry that there is in fact a market for fashionable garments that cater to real riders who not only have a sense of style but still care about functionality and safety. Mostly, my screams fell not quite on deaf ears, but ears who personally wanted the same thing but couldn’t invest the scratch to take the risk.
Meanwhile, in South Korea, there was a guy who believed the same thing that I and many others did… only difference is that he sacked up and jumped into the game.
Man, am I glad he did.
This company is currently producing some of the coolest motorcycle garments we’ve seen at CCRacer. They’ve successfully cracked the code of providing functional clothing that possesses a strong, unapologetic aesthetic while still maintaining technical elements of rider safety. Which is to say, they are designing well developed pieces, not simply manufacturing them. I own two pairs of their pants which you see regularly throughout this new crop of CCRacer episodes because they are pretty much the only two pair of pants I’ve been wearing lately. Quality-wise, they are no joke and you truly can feel the consideration when you wear them both on the bike and off. Not to mention the removable armor is so easily removed that you can do so while walking from your bike to the front door without missing a step, yet low profile enough that most of the time I don’t bother removing it at all. I also have their Fender V2 Moto Flannel which is kind of amazing, not only because it’s a flannel worthy of any Portland coffee shop, but also because it happens to be armored at the shoulders and elbows. Admittedly it’s not built so much for serious amounts of ripping and running, I can’t imagine flannel having much abrasive resistance, but with something like this, it’s the thought that counts and I like where their head’s at and where this kind of thinking may lead for other garments to come.
uglyBROS have helped significantly in successfully answering one of the biggest issues I’ve had as a rider… how to represent my own style sense through the clothes I wear and not sacrifice function and safety in the process. Word is, uglyBROS is already killing it throughout Asia. If I had to guess why it would be in no small part due to the fact that they’ve captured that particular kind of Americana cool as only the cool kids in Asia can.
If you understood that last sentence, then you will definitely dig their stuff.
If you didn’t, then you just might dig it anyway.
I’ve decided to run a series of posts sharing my discovery and subsequent relationship with a few choice items that have become staples in the CCRacer wardrobe.
As a rider, like many of us, I’ve found myself on the losing end of spending way too much money in search of that perfect kit that will not only allow me to commute and cruise and boogie when the mood strikes, but also allow me to step off the bike and into any scene without suddenly looking like a RoboCop fanboy. I’ve tried just about everything and have the pile of bad internet purchases on my garage floor to prove it. Eventually, like a lot of us, I gave up and would often choose fashion over protection… the ego and insecurities of this man are nothing with which to be trifled. Not to mention, I’m a Racer and what that means is that I’ve pushed myself to and beyond my respective limit at the track and in so doing understand the great value of protective gear rooted in quality R&D. I also understand that the street is a far more combative environment that any racetrack. Therefore every time I chose the exclusively fashionable route, I did so knowing that I am at best only slightly compromised. However, I also know myself well enough to know that regardless of skill set, it is in my DNA to push from time to time and it simply does not matter if I’m on a borrowed Japanese liter bike, my 2000 FXDX, or my daughter’s tricycle. At some point the odds are I’m gonna twist the wick, if only a little and when that moment comes it really doesn’t matter if I’m in race leathers or a T-shirt.
This conundrum has been a legitimate point of concern for me, one that over the years I’ve simply, though begrudgingly, agreed to accept as a daily burden of the daily rider.
Then, along came a Huntsman…
Simply put, this is in every way the jacket I’ve been waiting for.
The design aesthetic is clean and classic, the armor is easily the least intrusive that I’ve worn, and because it’s Alpinestars there has been no shortage of R&D whatsoever.
Run it raw, or with a denim vest, it doesn’t matter, the jacket just works.
It is something special to have that go to piece, just ask the pile of misspent money on my garage floor.
For this Rider, as far as jackets are concerned… the Huntsman Jacket by Alpinestars fits the bill perfectly.
A letter we received from one, Paul Satterlee.
With his permission, we felt it only fitting that it serve as a guest post.
“John et al,
Thank you very much for putting this project together for the rest of us to experience.
I watched all 5 episodes one night in bed after the rest of the family had gone to sleep. Ipad on, headphones on, everyone else asleep.
I really hope to see more. I am especially interested in the mix of life, work and racing.
My story is getting better as the year goes on. I am a 41 year old guy with a great wife, a keen interest in sport bikes and now, our 3rd child. I tell people, my wife wants 4 children, I want 2 and we are are going to compromise at 4.
Our children, ages 6,5 and 10 months have changed our life. Up until I was 35, I only really had to worry about myself and then our marriage, but could do what I wanted. Children has changed that, but I have finally come to realize that I still need a hobby. I still need to spend a little time doing something that opens up my spirit.
The second thing that had restricted that was my career. I spent the first 27 years of my life in school and at age 28 became a board certified emergency room physician. I have worked 50 or more hours a week, holidays, weekends, and nights for 13 years now. It is a great career. It is rewarding, it is interesting, it helps with maintaining a balanced life perspective. It offers the financial means to do a lot, but the time commitment has affected friendships, family relationships and, I am realizing now, personal happiness.
For years I told myself “I don’t really have a hobby,” but I wished I did. I have motorcycles and ride them to work, but nothing that stuck in my brain when I went to bed and greeted my thoughts when I woke up. I tried guitar lessons but that was a chore. I tried buying and maintaining an older motorcycle but found riding a 30 year old bike is not nearly as fun as a new Ducati 848.
So this year, I signed up for a track day through the local Ducati dealer and now I think I have found that thing that I want to make time for. I am doing track days locally, asking for days off work to make room for more track time and looking to do some schools in a different state this winter where there is no snow. I am going to try a few more track days and then may try to get my racing certificate. I have no thoughts of winning, only of competing and being in the middle of it all.
Funny thing, I used to ask people ” if you could do whatever you want as a career what would it be? Let’s say that you didn’t have to worry about making money to pay for mortgages, car insurance, tuition etc. Just do what you want to do purely because you could do it as a job”
When they answered and then asked me what I would do, I always said” Race motorcycles”. I answered in a way that spoke of a person who was thinking about the past and missed opportunities, not as a real possibility in my life. This summer, with the help of your project, I see being a motorcycle racing as hobby I could realistically do.
So, thanks for the inspiration. I am working on my new hobby and I am a better Dad and husband since I have figured out it is OK to make time for yourself. Your family will understand, your job will just have to deal and your spirit will thank you.
Thanks for the words, Paul… they were inspiring to say the least.
More CCRacer to come folks, stay tuned.
A funny thing happened to me the other day. I experienced something that I don’t believe I have yet at the racetrack.
I think they call it fear…
Sure, I’ve had many an “Oh, shit!” moment at the track. That feeling of adrenaline coursing through the top of your skull at such heat that you might be able to ignite a match were it placed at your hairline, but this was something different.
This was consuming.
This was constant.
This made me simply want to go home.
It started with a simple thought… my family.
It then blossomed into something greater.
That something was the constant question of what I was doing at a racetrack, and for the first time, I simply, dimly, and hopelessly had no answer.
This was a nightmare.
I was suddenly living a lie.
The risk far outweighed the reward.
And, I was dangerous.
There is precious little more destructive than a tightly wound, fearful being flailing around an unknown racetrack, relying on muscle memory and pure hope.
I hated every second of it.
Jeremy Toye asked me,
“How’s the bike?”
“The Bike’s fine.”
He knew what I was saying… “I’m lost, I’m fucked, I’m riding like shit, and I’m probably a danger to myself and virtually anyone out there with me. The problems not the bike, it’s me… all me.”
At the end of it all, I survived the weekend.
Race 1… I DNF’d. I kept losing the front and felt that it was a matter of time passing before I wadded the 848 again.
Corey Nuer said two words to me as I pulled in,
Yep, rider input… still would’ve crashed, because I was still scared.
Told everyone goodbye and went about getting my gear together to go home.
To my family.
The only thing on my mind.
John Ethel of Jett Tuning came and sat by my side.
“If you go home now, you’re gonna regret it. Please, do me a favor and race again.”
Virtually everything of John radiates the goodness in a man and when he shines such a thing your way… well, let’s just say there wasn’t much choice.
Race 2… I think I finished 10th. Honestly, I don’t even know. I didn’t care. I was in pure survival mode, waiting for the flag to tell me it was over so that I could get the fuck out of Fontana.
I pulled in from Race 2 to hear John Ethel say two words to me,
How do I repay a man for that one?
I’m not sure…
But, I can damn sure tell you that the fear passed.
And, I can damn sure tell you that I’m counting the minutes to get back out there and start having fun again.
Vegas, here we come…
The skin on my hands is broken… this I noticed as I gripped the steering wheel of my truck to head out of Willow Springs toward the Cantina and a download of all that is seemingly wrong with the motorcycle and the rider. Where once there were well earned callouses, I’d now gone soft.
It’s been awhile since I’d lined up on a grid to test my mettle. So long in fact that I couldn’t help but question why I’d even bothered to show up. My speed used to be respectable… now, it simply isn’t. And, enough time has gone by that I’d lost the right to place blame on things like setup or geometry.
If the source is suspect then the information flowing from it shall mostly be tainted, and I had become highly suspect in such things.
This was my Friday. A day of slow times, no confidence, and zero feeling with the front end other than feeling as though it would wash away from me at any moment which led to nothing more than a few actual minutes of riding.
Now on this evening it was time for tortillas at the airstrip, and sitting amongst men who make their living at the track. Men who are faster than I. Men who know that the only cure for what currently ails me is saddle time. Sure, the bike is fucked too, but it’s the rider’s job to make it go regardless.
With a full stomach and on the tail end of patient listening, Corey Neuer of CT Racing simply said, “You don’t need to win, man… you just need to ride.”
Music to the ears of the insecure.
There’s a certain freedom to knowing that you’re probably gonna lose. You no longer care about the guy stalking you from behind. You no longer care about lap times. You no longer care about even getting on the bike.
So… I didn’t. Didn’t even bother to suit up. Instead, I spent the day floating around the pits, waving off the confused looks of people wondering why I wasn’t out there practicing for the races on Sunday. You see, I’d given up. I knew now that there was little to no hope of me having any sort of good weekend. I was sweating in the desert for nothing. I wouldn’t figure out what was really wrong with my bike because I hadn’t ridden enough in the past two years to be in touch anymore. I’d lost the finesse and I wouldn’t know it again until I spent time where time mattered in such things, but such time would not be spent well in the combat sport of racing. No, that time must be found in less combative environments. Therefore, with hope gone, there was nothing to do but take a stroll.
That is until I crossed paths with one Tige Daane who took a passing look at my 848 and said, “That bike is fucked, dude. I can’t believe you haven’t crashed yet.” When I told him I had is fact done just that recently up at T-Hill, he said, “Let me guess, front end washed out without warning.” I nodded, quietly amazed. “Well, of course it did bro, it’s fucked. I don’t even need you to get on the thing to tell you that.”
“Can you un-fuck it?”
He answered by grabbing a socket, telling me to lift the front of the bike and grumbling, “I hate working this way.” A man bound by his own work ethic is often the most inspiring of things to see.
And thus Mr. Daane held aloft a single lantern at the end of a dark tunnel with a promise that perhaps light might ultimately be enjoyed.
SUNDAY: RACE DAY
I was entered into three races all of which were WERA West Novice Class. Since it’d been so long since I’d raced, I was and will be required to race Novice until I amass enough points to bump up to Expert.
Regardless, it didn’t matter because I was destined to lose… or at the very least was destined to do something unremarkable.
Then again, who am I to try and define what will be?
Race one was a wash as for results. Got about as shitty a start as a man could without stalling. Probably didn’t help that I hadn’t practiced a race start once since picking up the bike in the first place.
I passed one person to finish eighth.
My times were still slow, five seconds off the pace I used to carry around Willow Springs, but they were faster than they had been all weekend and that was a good thing. Not to mention that because of Tige, I could now feel the front end and where limits might live. All in all a good test run.
Race two… The flag waved, I dropped the hammer, and I won.
1st place. I could write more on this, but why? I was as happily surprised as anyone might be. I was quicker and more confident than the rest of them. I had a bike that finally worked, just enough time in the saddle to pick up the pace, one race start under my belt, and a good amount of “Who gives a shit?” to run it up under anyone in my way.
The lesson… there is great freedom in letting go, in not caring, and in embracing the wide-openness of what will happen regardless of how you feel about it.
No need to line up. I’d won my little plastic cup and now had to be off to other endeavors. Therefore, I watched with a bittersweet heart as the others took to the grid. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel as though I’d made a mistake in not taking to the track once more before heading home… but then again, I’d gotten back in the saddle and surprisingly done what I came there to do. Not necessarily win mind you… but ride. And, that I had done at least well enough for now.
I love the track, and I love the type of people that I know there. There is something so special about a breed of human that openly engages the processes of life without regard for what may have come before or what may come after.
It’s good to be back.
It’s a funny thing, tearing the bodywork off a motorcycle. There is little else I can think of that has the ability to serve as a more intimate introduction to what makes the thing so beautiful. Often times, it’s also an exercise in trying to decipher what the hell they were thinking when they put it together in the first place. A lot of layers to peel away in order to set the thing free.
Armed with little more than a set of sockets and just enough knowledge to get into trouble, I went to work. The one thing I have going for me when it comes to being a home mechanic is that I’m fearless.
Unlike any other bike I’ve prepped to race, this one had not one superfluous piece to it. No plastic rivet whose sole purpose seems to be to discourage any would be do it yourselfer to go further, no unnecessary flap of plastic whose presence seems to communicate that the factory knows better than you, so why bother?
No… this was different. This was something new to me. Each bolt led to the other, serving as a roadmap into the palm of the engineer’s hand responsible for its physical creation. This was a machine that carried with it into my garage a message. “I’m here now… I’m here to race, or to become whatever it is that we will become together. I welcome you to join me, and I will not stand in our way.”
An old racer once told me that a motorcycle is nothing more than a collection of parts.
I believe he was wrong.
For, behind every part is the hand that placed it there. And behind that hand is the soul of a human. And a piece of that soul’s energy finds its way into every element of that motorcycle. Every smile, drop of sweat, and heartbeat that transpired on the assembly line leaves a little bit of itself in that machine.
Collectively, this combination of energy, metal and plastic came together to form this motorcycle… from this ore of the Earth. the gold is refined.
Though we have ridden together, this is the first time we’ve truly shaken hands.
Nice to meet you, friend.