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In the dark depths of Minnesota winter, we often think about weeks like this last one to keep us warm and turning wrenches. Last week was jam packed with activity both at and away from the shop. We held our monthly Third Thursday event, hosted a wedding rehearsal, and actually closed our doors for a day to attend the Bearded Lady Motorcycle Freak Show. It was pretty exhausting, but worth it for a fresh injection of moto enthusiasm.
Things kicked off Thursday night with July’s Third Thursday. It was a good turnout, even though the regular Taco Truck was double-booked and absent. We improvised, firing up the grill and turning out burgers and dogs on the fly. The usual eclectic mix of motorcycles, scooters and mopeds turned up throughout the evening. The Heck’s Angels scooter club even made an appearance. I got a test ride on Dave Harrington’s new fuel-injected Royal Enfield. It’s a capable machine, with lots of grunt and classic feel. The nose dove pretty badly under braking, but the otherwise forgiving nature of the Enfield makes it an appealing, if flawed machine. Not quite my style, but I was grateful for the demo. I met a couple more readers, which I always appreciate. You’re all always so nice about the blog and I really appreciate that. The music played on, and the bikes kept revving in and out. It was another Third Thursday just like we like it.
Friday was a prep day for a couple of big events. If you can believe it, there was a wedding rehearsal going on as we closed up. Jake, one of our former mechanics and still friend of BlueCat Motors, is getting married next week here at the shop. That night we did a quick walk-through with everybody involved. Mutt officiated and everybody got their cues. It’s going to be a fun service. (By the way, we’re going to be closed next Saturday for the wedding. Private event. Thanks for understanding.)
More immediately, we had to get ready for Bearded Lady — just a day away. The plan for this year was to ditch the merch and instead focus on being there to enjoy the show, meet local moto heads, and help people out if they have a mechanical question. We wanted to have fun with that, so we got in touch with our childhoods and the local Charles Shultz connection. Ryan channeled his inner child and fashioned an advice booth Lucy Van Pelt herself would be proud of. The mechanic would definitely be “in” since we were bringing the whole crew with us and then some. We also took some time to put the finishing touches on the bikes we were taking with us.
Saturday came and something rare happened. We actually all got together and rode motorcycles. Yeah! We rode them. We didn’t just work on them, or talk about them. We actually rode together. That probably comes as a big surprise to everybody, but we don’t get to ride bikes together very often because everybody is so busy. With the shop shuttered for the day, we all gathered there to head over to Bearded Lady together. The BlueCat regulars as well as some of our closest cohorts arrived a little before noon. The bikes we rode were appropriately eclectic. From Pooter’s nearly new Honda CBR, to Meisha’s Ducati Monster, to Jeff’s CB250, to Tristan’s ground-up custom KZ, to Mutt’s vintage Vespa VNB — no one observing our group would have been able to figure out how this weird mix of bikes came to be riding together.
Rolling into Bearded Lady, the event was already bumpin’ and full of bikes. Our booth was all set up and already staffed by Ryan and Rob. We lined up our bikes next to the booth against the curb, leaving Rumple’s CB350 and Katherine’s CL100 (with its awesome new Vinyl-Lux seat) out in front to steal the show. We got settled in on our camping chairs and started answering questions from passers by. Our booth got lots of attention as people recognized the concept. Soon folks were turning up with their nickels and actually asking us questions. We collected a pitcher from the 331 and before the day was out had a small pile of change and a shorter stack of business cards.
We took turns wandering around looking at all the bikes. This year was a lot more Harley than we’re used to seeing at Bearded Lady. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I also saw more than a few guys flying biker club colors on their backs. Not that there’s anything wrong with this — the more the merrier — but it does highlight a shift in the nature of the crowd. BL was never intended to be a mini Sturgis, but rather a run-what-you-brung, backyard customs, anything goes kind of show. That will likely never go away, but there was a significant shift in the crowd and the bikes this year that we couldn’t help but notice. We also couldn’t help but notice that with a lot of the Harley guys, they were definitely much more concerned with how their bike looked than how it ran. Lots of hogs started hard and many were running on just one cylinder. Looking good is great, but understandably, we’re much more interested in bikes that run well. Meanwhile, the fantastic tri-tone seat on Katherine’s CL100 was stopping traffic left and right.
The day wore on with lots of interesting bikes and fascinating folks passing by in front of the booth. The weather turned out to be great as well, although the specter of storms loomed over us throughout the day. I never saw a drop of actual rain though, even as the sky turned more and more gray. It wasn’t too hot either, but by the time the street needed to be reopened, we were definitely ready to pack up and move on. We parted way with some of us sticking around to play gigs, others headed home to cool off and relax, and the rest of us headed back to the shop as one last little ride.
As I parted ways with Jeff and Katherine for the shop, I was tired but jazzed. Bearded Lady had been fun, just as I’d expected. It remains, for me anyway, one of my favorite moto holidays. It marks the almost midway point of each riding season. This show more than any other informs not just our summer, but also our winter. We’re already thinking and talking about what projects are going to happen this winter, all with Bearded Lady in mind for debut. I can already imagine those bikes-to-be lined up outside the shop for Third Thursday too. What do you have planned for late July next year?
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