We parted ways and when I returned back to L.A., Derek sent me an email, “It was really cool to meet you. Thank you for shooting Mike Adams’ orange bagger and my Dyna. Not many people in this world are willing to help someone they don’t know but you did. I have always worked hard and helped out when I could and you made me feel like it was all worth it.” I responded, “Thanks for the kind words—very cool of you. Nice to talk with you; hang in there, do your thing—you have the talent and disposition.” And not one to disappoint, Derek showed what I saw in our brief meeting: “Thanks Toph; and no brother, I’ll never give up the fight. Thank you for all your help.” Mike’s bike was subsequently featured in Baggers (Feb. ’09). I flaked on sending Derek some copies of pictures for what seemed like a year, but the web eventually came to our rescue and he got the pics.
Derek and I exchanged a few howdy emails, then a year or more had passed and Derek hit me up. “Toph, I have a bagger that one of my clients is customizing that will be one for the books. Every mod from engine to wheels to our Wicked Paintworks’ copyrighted Chaos Undertone scheme. I listened to your advice and got serious with the photography side of my work. I can provide you with high-quality shots of the bike if you like.”
Derek is a friendly, smiley, devoted family man but he’s serious about his craft and path, and was never one to bother me. After seeing the thumbnails he emailed me, I asked for the photoshoot. The pics were very good; it’s hard to get a riding shot that is both composed correctly and in focus, even for “real” photographers.
The story of the bike’s owner is just as full of soul. The rider on the cover is Natascha Niffka, and she and her partner, Staci Baker, own Granite State Harley-Davidson, in Lebanon, New Hampshire (close to Wicked Paintworks). Natascha’s path to owning a Harley dealer took her around the globe. Having grown up all over the US, she mainly swapped coasts and spent most of her high school years in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Natascha graduated from the University of Vermont with a Civil Engineering degree and moved to Germany to begin her career. After moving back to the States, Natascha began her financial career in Boston, then taking it to the next level as a Commodities Specialist in Orange County, California, where she met Staci. In 2001 they moved back east after buying a manufacturing converting facility in Sharon, Vermont, and then in early 2008 they purchased the dealership.
The Street Glide is Natascha’s fourth motorcycle—her first Harley was an ’01 FLHRC she bought new in 2000. After buying Granite State H-D, she customized an H-D or two a season, then sold it. Natascha told us, “Staci, my partner of 13 years and our 4-year-old son love to ride on an ’08 FLHTCU with a sidecar that has an H-D radical paint set numbered 4/15. They love it.” She went on, “I then decided to customize a bike I would call my own. I chose a stock 96ci White Hot Denim FLHX and called Derek at Wicked Paintworks.”