Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Thunderbird Nights

Moto 400 (Dawsonville) and Triumph held Bike Night at Firkin and Crown British Pub tonight to showcase the Triumph Thunderbirds and to unveil the Triumph Thunderbird 1700.

The Thunderbird line is obviously aimed at the cruiser market with upright seating positioning, wide rear tires, and the looks of the traditional cruiser. Tip of the helmet to Triumph for abandoning the square automotive radiator that sticks out both sides of the bike and looks horrendous and instead tucking the radiator between the exhaust pipes and not letting is stick out past the forks. This detail makes the Thunderbird line of bikes more appealing that some of Triumph's other cruiser lines.

Triumph Thunderbird 1700 photo source:

The 1700 boasts 97 hp and 115 ft lbs of torque from the huge parallel twin cylinder engine which is impressive in its own right, but I have to admit that they are gorgeous cruisers. I would wager that Triumph sells many over the next few months.

Of course Moto 400 and Triumph also had representatives of the other models that Triumph produces on hand as well...

And attendance was good despite the fact Spring skipped past Summer and Winter and had gone straight away to Fall...

Bike nights are always a great time to commensurate with other riders of all kinds. There were Harleys, Ducatis, Yamahas and BMWs scattered through the parking lot and everyone had a great time.

This was my first trip to the Firkin and Crown British Pub despite its relative proximity to my home. The food was good, the Iced Tea was up to my Southern standards and the wait staff was easy on the eyes...

Moto 400 announced they would be holding Bike Night the last Wednesday of each month. I could not argue with that idea.

Kudos to Moto 400, Triumph, and the wait staff at Firkin and Crown British Pub!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"The Champ"

I learned early on that there was two things I could not do while living in my parents' house while I was growing up: play football or have a motorcycle. My parents made the point real cleat early on, and it was a non-negotiable.

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Around the time I turned 16-years-old and obtained my driver's license, my Mom acquired a 50cc Yamaha Champ which she quickly adorned with a white wicker basket on the handlebars that was complete with artificial flowers.

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After weeks of asking, she finally let me ride the scooter one afternoon but with one caveat, I could not take it on the street in front of our house. I could only ride it on the grass of our front yard. So, I started riding a long circle around our front yard and picking up a little more speed every lap. After about 5 laps, I turned a little too hot on pine straw in our yard and the little scooter dumped me. Sliding across the pine straw did no damage to me, however it did crumple the little white basket a bit. But fortunately for everyone involved, the white bicycle basket pressed back out into original design shape. Mom quickly forbid my brother or myself from riding the scooter anymore in the future.

A few weeks later, she encountered rain a couple of times and decided rain gear would be required. So, after much deliberation and consideration, she elected to purchase a yellow rain poncho.

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One Spring afternoon, I was driving home from high school in a light mist. As I turned on the street to my parents' house, I met my Mom. She was riding her scooter, half helmet securely strapped in place and a bright yellow poncho flapping in the breeze behind her from around her neck.

On first blush, it reminded me of the cape of the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz with the exception that my Mom doesn't look like the witch and her cape was yellow and the witch's cape was black. Regardless, all I could hear in my head was "I'll get you my pretty and your little dog too!"

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Trying to be safety minded, I pulled my 1974 El Camino to the curb, put it in park, and laid down across the front seat and laughed until I cried.

I realized today on my ride home that this was my first experience riding a scooter/motorbike on my own. So, I guess Mom's 50cc Yamaha Champ has some piece to play in my love of motorcycles and riding. However, I do not have a Yamaha tattoo, a scooter, a flower emblazoned white basket, or a yellow poncho. I guess there were some lessons learned from the whole experience.

Friday, April 02, 2010

heartbreak & triumph

When I was in high school, I developed a friendship with Jack. We both enjoyed hunting and fishing, country music, chewing tobacco and Georgia Championship Wrestling on Turner Broadcasting (TBS).


My Saturdays developed a pattern. I washed my Mom's Buick Electra 225 (deuce and quarter as we called it), washed my Chevrolet El Camino, mowed my parent's front yard, and headed to Jack's house to watch wrestling.

It was the days of the American Dream Dusty Rhodes, Tommy Rich, Ole and Gene Anderson, The Assassins, Mr. Wrestling II, Ivan Koloff, George "The Animal" Steele, "The Nature Boy" Rick Flair, and Rodney "Roddy" Piper.

Piper originally came into the GCW(which was renamed "World Championship Wrestling") as Rondey Piper and on one of those Saturday sitting in Jack's parents' den, Piper told Gordon Solie that he wanted to be known as "Roddy". While making his case for the name change and wearing his trademark kilt, Dusty Rhodes walked onto the set and interrupted. Rhodes wanted to comment on the name change, "I got one thing to say to ya Piper", he said, "Rodney, Rodney, Rodney."

Even then, it was obvious to us that there was a significant amount of acting going on in wrestling and some very cheesy writing behind the scenes, but it was entertaining.

Once I graduated high school and moved four hours away to try to make it through college, the ritual was broken. I began following the NASCAR Winston Cup Series my freshman year at school while also keeping up with the Atlanta Braves, "America's Team", and I did not continue to watch wrestling.

Occassionally over the last 20 years, I have watched an occassional match with "Hulk" Hogan, "The Rock", "The Undertaker", but it was never the same as those days in the early 1980s. I am sure that it was a combination of the changes in my life as I grew up and the changes in wrestling as it became a multimillion dollar promotion.

Last week, a friend of mine gave me his copy of "Heartbreak & Triumph: The Shawn Michaels Story". I accepted it with a passing interest and began reading it on the train ride to work and back for a couple of days. Soon I discovered that I had read the entire 343 page book and suprinsingly, I had enjoyed it.

Granted, to someone that has never enjoyed wrestling, it might not be the best read. But to someone that once had a boyhood interest watching wrestling, it was an enjoyable read and a pleasant way to pass the time on a train.

I could see a parrallel in myself during my 20s and Michaels early days trying to break into the wrestling business, young, cocky, and making lots of mistakes.

I would recommend the book to anyone that has at anytime in their life had a passing interest in wrestling, even if it was just to question, "is that for real?" The book answers a lot of the behind the scenes questions than many have asked for years and provides a pretty fair inside look at what goes into putting on "the show".

Probably the most rewarding part of reading the book to me was the memories it triggered of high school summer days hanging out with a friend who is no longer with us. Jack died a couple years ago from complications that resulted from an injury in a car wreck that occurred while we were in high school.

The host of Georgia Championship Wrestling, Gordon Solie died in 2000 from throat cancer. The Omni where a lot of the events were held was demolished and replaced by the Phillips Arena. And, Georgia Championship Wrestling was replaced by World Championship Wrestling which later was replaced as well.

The Omni (photo:

I will always fondly remember the laughs and good times that were had sitting in Jack's parents' living room watching the Superstation TBS and Georgia Championship Wrestling and the dean of wrestling, Gordon Solie.