The past 4 years there has only been one place to be in February and that is Milwuakee, Wisconsin at The Mama Tried Show. Surrounded by a weekend jam packed full of festivities, there is no reason one should ever leave on Sunday back home with a feeling of disappointment. From the flat track racing on Friday, to the Harley-Davidson Museum, to the show it's self. Every single year I leave exhausted and overwhelmed by the amount of motorcycle fun there is. With never a dull moment, Scott Johnson and Warren Heir do an amazing job creating a motorcycle heaven for the masses and because there is so much to do, each year feels different yet familar.
Leaving for Milwuakee from Cleveland around 7:30am, I rolled solo to the show this year with the Lowbrow Van and The Pan-American in the back. I made it to the show venue in pretty good time. As I jumped out of the van, who did I see? Shawn Long from Imperial House Paints and his wonderful wife walking across the street. I yelled, "Hey you guys!" in a silly manner and with a smile they ran over to say hello. Thankfully I ran into them because Shawn offered to help unload The Pan-American out of the van and into the venue safely. It's always a pain to unload a bike by yourself. After checking into my hotel, in what I could only say is a sketchier party of town. I ventured off to the BMO Harris Bradley Center to get a place on the floor for Flat Out Friday.
Flat Out Friday
Walking into the arena through the loading dock/the pits area where bikes were being tweaked and tuned, you could smell the gas in the air. Instantly the adrenaline rush overwhelmed my body in anticipation of capturing the races from the floor again like the previous year. The feeling was crushed instantly when I learned they weren't starting the races till 7:00pm and practice was over... It was only 4:00pm. Standing in the center of the track I got a chance to catch up with some good friends while we watched people slowly fill the arena seats.
Walking on the course a few second before the races started I thought to myself about how the floor didn't seem nearly as sticky with coke syrup as it did last year. 7:00pm rolled onto the Jumbotron the heats started off with the Hooligan Class. My assumptions about the floor were spot on because racers were flying around all over the track. When I say flying I don't mean they were flying with their bikes. The crowd roared every time a wreck happened. So loudly, it felt like as if I was in the center of The Colosseum in Rome while gladiators battled for their lives. I found myself getting dizzy a few times following the leaders of the heats and though it was a small circle track the atmosphere of it all seemed larger than life.
Mama Tried Show 2017
Arriving to the show around 7:30am on Saturday morning, the sun light shined through the windows of the front of the building, vivid and bright. My eyes took a little while to adjust into the space but as they finally did, you could tell the staff took a great deal of time to set the bikes up in their placements. Each bike was placed with enough room to really get a good look from all sides. One of the best parts about this show is the wide diversity of bikes that are shown, from original 36 Knuckleheads, to beautiful choppers, to cafe racers, and even land speed bikes. There is something for every two wheeled machine lover at Mama Tried and it really opens your mind up to the possibilities of what you can do with a motorcycle.
With the weather being in the mid 60's all week Slippery Sunday was officially cancelled a few days prior to the weekend. Running into my friend Jacole at Mama Tried on Saturday night, she gave me the heads up that the Frozen Few and some others where possibly heading up north an hour or more to try and get some ice racing in. I've missed out the past three years and this was the small chance and glimpse of hope I was looking for.
Sunday morning, Jacole texted me that the ice was good and the races were on. Full of excitement I jammed over to the show to pick her up and we made our way out to Neider Park. This park was is in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin. There was just a bunch of cornfields and small towns the entire way there. We started seeing little mounds of snow and small lakes frozen over the further we went north.
Driving into the parking lot, there were maybe a dozen people out on the ice and a handful of guys preparing their bikes to go out. As we got closer to the boat launching area where the bikes where getting onto the ice. I noticed it seemed kind of thin. My entire life, I have never set one foot on a lake covered in ice, so I was a bit hesitant to step out at first. As I made it out further to where everyone was ripping around the whole idea of falling through stopped scaring me and I got into my groove. Watching these guys rip around and slide all over shooting slush into the air was incredible.
I could not have asked for a better ending to my weekend. The adrenaline rush I got from shooting these guys ripping around the ice is the kind of stuff I live for. The weather was absolutely perfect that day. The locals didn't care one bit we were out there having fun. I even got to catch up with a few friends I haven't seen in a long time.
If you are looking for a good way to cure your winter motorcycle blues. I promise you going to Mama Tried and experiencing all that it's weekend of fun has to offer, is your answer. Just being in the birth place of Harley-Davidson alone has it's own feeling of nostalgia. Combine that with the H-D Museum, the different styles of racing and the show itself gives you one memorable weekend. If you missed this year's show, make sure you don't next year.
Words and photos by:
- Mikey Revolt