My love for motorcycles actually started with a love for the smell of fuel, load noise, and speed. As a young boy I remember lying in the grass on summer evenings and listening to the roar of racecars at a distant drag strip in Morrison, Colorado, just dreaming of the day I could get behind the throttle and see what I could do with a machine of my own.
Not many years later at the age of 22, I met an amazing woman by the name of Carrie who was born to be a little bit on the wild side herself. Unlike me who had never been on anything with less than four wheels, she grew up riding on the tanks, fenders, and sidecars of several different motorcycles looking for that next good card on poker runs with her dad.
Little did either of us know how much we would one day enjoy riding side by side down miles of twisting asphalt headed nowhere in particular.
The sense of “responsibility” and having a family kept me from becoming a rider for years, but after my father purchased his very first bike, which was a 2005 Heritage Softail Classic in celebration of his own birthday, I watched him become a first-time licensed motorcycle rider at the age of 60. It was at that same moment that I finally talked my wife into letting me make the leap to the wild side and I purchased my first Harley-Davidson in the form of a 2005 Road King Classic. My wife and I quickly discovered a shared passion for riding and the bike rarely left its reserved parking slot without my best friend sitting right on the back.
Running Into Gunslinger
Only a Harley rider can understand the passion and sickness that riding brings. You not only find yourself reminiscing over the stories of crazy rides in hail and rain, but you find yourself becoming absolutely fanatical with everything that has anything to do with an H-D. I say that to express how excited I was the day that Jeff Theisen called me.
I am a second generation owner and operator of a wooden pallet manufacturing and recycling plant in Denver. My family started the business 39 years ago and we have always taken great pride in serving other Colorado companies. When I see a customer’s product riding on the surface of my product, I truly feel a part of something great and exciting. Especially when they are local. When I received a call for a pallet quote from a company in Golden, Colorado, looking to ship motorcycle tins to Wisconsin, I can honestly tell you that I became a little more excited than normal about making that first site visit. First of all, the name “Gunslinger” just sounds tough. Throw a few skulls into the mix and you can’t go wrong in my opinion. I can only describe walking into their facility as being similar to what Charlie must have felt like the first time he went with Willy Wonka into the Chocolate Factory. Never before had I imagined how creative and crazy you could get with customizing a bike to your own personality and style. The place was amazing. Jeff, Dave, and I soon became good friends. Being like-minded entrepreneurs, we found ourselves sharing many of the same goals and hobbies. It was not long before I talked them into not only painting my drag car helmet, but I also had Gunslinger throw some hand-painted graphics on my ’63 Corvette that made it a spectator favorite. That paintjob along with a perfectly tuned 1,300hp Chevy big block by the Speed Shop helped me to win the championship our first year teamed together. What a rush to run the quarter-mile at 180 mph. It was only a matter of time before we would sit down at the table to talk about building my own one-of-a-kind motorcycle.
Designing the Bikes
I have always liked projects. Creating the themes, picking the accessories, and watching the bikes develop their own character during the build was one of the most enjoyable things I have ever done. It has given me such an appreciation for what goes into each of the amazing bikes I find myself admiring when I see a custom rolling down the road, or see one in a bike show. My bike was simple; it had to have skulls and flames and it had to be black and red. The artists at Gunslinger designed the paint scheme and I dialed in the parts that made it my own. There is truly nothing like riding a bike that is made to fit the rider physically and mentally. It’s truly awesome. Initially I had only intended to build one bike, but the summer mine was completed, my wife decided that she no longer wanted to be a passenger. She was ready to take the throttle into her own hand and decided to get her endorsement. Coincidentally, we had also recently become the proud owners of an ’07 Street Glide that we had cosigned for with a “friend.” Making payments on it and watching it sit there was just more than she could bear. The addiction quickly overtook her and on more occasions than I can count, if she had the itch to ride and I wasn’t home in time to join her for a quick trip through the canyons on a warm afternoon, that bike was no place to be found when I returned from the office. It wasn’t long after she started riding it though that she began to feel a little left out and jealous that her bike didn’t have the blinged-ness that a crazy girl needs. So began our second build with specific instructions not to get too crazy, to maintain a tough look and feel, while being certain to incorporate enough female flare that would clearly indicate that this was no dude’s bike.
Riding in the Black Hills
Returning to Sturgis each year has become a shared infatuation of ours. Not many people understand us when we explain how spending time together riding through the Black Hills could have been one of the most romantic times that we ever experienced during the 2011 rally last year (when these pictures were taken). It’s about getting away; it’s about being with those you love; and it’s about being with friends. But more than that, sometimes it’s just about heading down roads for no other reason than to see what might be at the other end. Getting to do it in style is simply a blessing that we are very thankful for. Hope to see you there!! B