Sunday, December 18, 2011

History of Motorcycle Riding in Kansas City

Back in 2003 I interviewed several people around KC and wrote this article for Wide Open. It was fun.

Some cool pics of Sonny Rogers' Shotgun bike and others. I interviewed Don Rooks, Sonny and Lisa Rogers, Jerry Pollock, John and Beth Povenmire and others.

Black Sam Barnes showed up at the David Mann Benefit at KCIR. Dad talked to him, but I didn't get a chance to ask him if he ever saw this article. He must have been a real character from Grandpa John's dealings with him.

Lots of colorful characters in KC!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wanted - 1965 Chevy Chopped Top

Have you seen this car? It was Grandpa John's back in the 80's when I was in high school. I always loved this car and would like to have it back. If you know where it is please e-mail me from my profile page.

It was a 1965 Chevy Bel Air 2 door post with a 4 1/2 inch chopped top. It had "Orange Crush" painted on the front fenders when he owned it. It was a 6 cylinder with a Powerglide transmission. Another unusual feature was the louvered dash board.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dan Estes - Good Bye Double D

When I first started hanging out at Rocky's Green Gables in Independence I met two guys that later became good friends. They were in the Freedom of Road Riders Local 14 that held meetings there. Jesse Bryniarski and Dan Estes were closer to my age than the others and they both really loved to ride. It wasn't long before we started riding together beyond FORR Local 14 specific runs.

Dan always told the story about our first evening out running the bars. We all stopped for a checkpoint ahead and Jesse announced that he was putting his gun in the toolbox compartment under his seat. He asked Dan if he wanted to put his gun in there also. I piped up from the back and asked if I could put mine in there too. They both said that was the point in our relationship that they knew I was OK. I guess a short-haired guy with no tattoos was a little out of the ordinary for them, but from then on we were thick as thieves.

This was 1994 and I was riding my '69 Triumph and Dan had a Yamaha V-Max. Here we are in all our outlaw glory as young men!

Later he bought an old frame from Doug's Choppers in Avondale and eventually came up with an Ironhead Sportster motor and put the whole thing together. It was a rough one, hard to start and very tempermental. He rode it on the Toys for Tot's run in 1997 pictured here. I believe this first picture is Jesse laughing at him for all his kicking to get it to fire.

Me, Dan and Frenchie at the run. Frenchie later got life in prison where he still resides.

We all had a lot of fun together for several years and I eventually met my future wife Abby. We started having parties at the house and Dan became a regular at those too. Here he is with a woman whose name I can't remember at our annual Christmas party.

Dan and I continued to grow closer. He had lost his father several years before. He and his father were working on Dan's over the road truck and his father told Dan to go to the auto parts store to get some parts they needed. When he returned he discovered his father crushed under the truck as it has been left in neutral and rolled onto him while Dan was gone. He never forgave himself for that. It was something he struggled with the rest of his life.

He continued to live in his house in Lone Jack and kept riding and working like the rest of us. Then he met Jerry "Dresser" Fletcher at a few bike events. They hit it off and eventually Dan decided he wanted to try club life. He started as a comearound, then hangaround and eventually made Prospect for the Ar Lay Dah Vee Sohn Motorcycle Club. They were a dresser club that was around Kansas City since 1970. Jerry "Dresser" Fletcher was the President. They were allied with the El Forastero M/C and the Galloping Goose M/C.

Dan got rid of the Ironhead chopper and bought a Shovelhead Super Glide. Since the Ar Lays were a dresser club, he put saddlebags and a short windshield on it to conform to club rules. He started doing well and seemed to like it. Some people have negative experiences in a club, but Dan seemed to have a sense of belonging and family. I noticed a big difference in him. The older guys made him grow up a lot and he seemed to be more mature. It is hard to explain, but I thought it made him a better man.

Just as things seemed to be more stabilized in his life, he was speeding down 58 Highway in Cass County and flew (the cops estimated he was going well over 100 mph) around a corner where a man was in the process of turning left into a friend's driveway. It wasn't the truck driver's fault, Dan was hauling ass and came out of nowhere as the driver was turning. Unfortunately he also left himself no time to react. In fact, there were no skidmarks from his bike. He just hit the truck head on. It was not a pretty scene. That was June 22, 2001.

I got the call from Jesse's wife and heard the bad news. Dan was gone. It was a sad day for all of us.
His funeral was in Lee's Summit and was full of his club brothers, other club members, motorcycle friends, coworkers, other friends and family. He was buried with his club patch.

There were also about 4-5 young women who no one really knew that were visibly shaken and cried nonstop. Dan was a pretty successful ladies man, so I figured they were women we didn't know about.

After the funeral we all saddled up and headed down 50 highway. We took him to Lone Jack Cemetary where he is buried. A lot of tears where shed that day. I still think of him often, even now days.

As I get older I have realized that Dan got what many people want out of life, he got to be forever young.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! You Can Get Anything You Want at Alice's Restaurant...

I am a father now, so I am trying to carry on some fun family traditions. One of those is playing Alice's Restaurant every year at Thanksgiving. It was one of Grandpa John's favorite things to do (he loves Arlo Guthrie).

I know it doesn't make sense, Grandpa John hates hippies and everything they stand for. If he was in the crowd at Woodstock he would have been shouting for more Sha Na Na, but he always played this for us as kids every Thanksgiving.

It will be playing in the Grand Am as we head to Aunt Mindy's tomorrow. Hopefully one day Wesley and Audrey will also play for their children.

Of course after dinner we will be shooting our AK-47 and making fun of hippies. After all we are Povenmires!

Friday, November 18, 2011

D&S Parts Shed - Northeast Kansas City

Going through some old files I ran across another favorite story from Wide Open. This was about the bike shop owned by Jerry "Dresser" Fletcher and John "Shifty" Sheaffer.

Dresser and Shifty were real old-time motorcycle enthusiasts. Their bike shop was not for the faint of heart. I enjoyed the time I spent there and still have my t-shirt. They have both passed away.

More colorful characters from the Kansas City motorcycle community.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Abby Povenmire - Ladies that Ride

Back years ago I was editor of Wide Open Magazine. It was a fun time for both me and Abby. We got to travel around a lot and meet some interesting people.

Each month there was a section on Ladies Who Ride. For October of 2003, the lady featured was Abby. I forgot how good she looked in those pictures. Actually 8 years and two kids later she still looks great!

This article reinforces Grandpa John's famous words, "There are two kinds of people who ride motorcycles. People who have fallen over and people who are going to fall over." Luckily Abby got back up and kept on going.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cowboys, The American Royal Rodeo and Sonny Barger

I have been working for the American Royal Association for about 9 months now. It has been an interesting experience to say the least. One of the more colorful parts of my job was the Rodeo we had at Sprint Center. I was all over the place for sponsorship signage and fulfillment.

One of the places I was intrigued with most was behind the chutes interacting with the cowboys. These were not just guys with boots and hats that you see running around town. These were guys with black eyes, broken bones, taped up wounds and missing teeth. They were thrown every which way but loose (right turn Clyde) from various bucking broncs and nasty bulls. While standing behind the chutes with the Channel 41 News Crew, it reminded me of the part of Sonny Barger's book "Hell's Angel" where he talked about Bakersfield cowboys and Hells Angels in the old days.

"In the Bakersfield bars there was usually trouble between Hell's Angels and the Okies. Cowboys and bike riders have always clashed. Put them both in the room and there's always a fight. A lot of the cowboy types worked as oil riggers or ranchers, and a lot of them came out of the Oklahoma Dust Bowl thirties. Man, they liked to fight, and they were tough as hell too. In many ways, we were all the same animal, except the Bakersfield Okies drove trucks and rode horses. We Angels rode motorcycles."

I don't know how many Okies there were in the bunch, but there were some tough guys riding in the Rodeo.

"Like the Hell's Angels, Okies didn't call the cops when things got rough," Sonny says in the next paragraph.

I don't think any of the rodeo cowboys have 911 programmed in their cell phones...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Scooter Trash - Carrying on a Family Tradition

Had a father son bonding moment this week. I let Wesley operate the throttle and brake while we were riding the little red motorcycle. It took him a lap around Povenmire Raceway (around our house and garage) to get the hang of it, but he did great for 5 more laps. I think there is going to be more scooter trash in the family!

One thing is for sure, Grandpa John would have never let me operate the controls on any of our adventures while I was riding on the gas tank. These are good times indeed.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Jack Larson - Larson Machine

Over the years I have had several generations of engines in my Super Glide. The last version is by far the best. I took it apart myself and took all my parts to Jack Larson with Larson Machine in Belton, Missouri. He did a complete work over and built me a strong motor with 88 hp and 88 ft lbs of torque that functions great as a reliable daily driver. The Mikuni carb and Thunderheader complete the package.

I picked up the finished motor at his place and then reassembled the bike. For a guy like me it is a good feeling to know you have seen all the working parts of your motorcycle first hand. The only piece I haven't had apart at this point is the transmission.

I highly recommend dealing with Larson if you need/want any motorwork. He has been around a long time and knows what he is doing. He has been wrenching longer than I have been alive, and I will be 40 this May. Jack runs ads in Wide Open Magazine and operates out of his garage in Belton. He does work for many of the bike shops/dealers in the KC area.

Here is my paperwork (prices omitted).

Here is my dyno sheet from Worth North. The dyno process there was a fiasco. I will write more about that later. I have learned not to expect much from people who were working at Home Depot a few weeks ago...and when you go back they aren't there anymore.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Where Can I Get a Primary Chain Belt?

I have received several hundred e-mails inquiring how to get a primary chain belt. For those interested, I thought I would post some answers to common questions I receive.

Do you have any belts or parts for sale? No, I don’t want to sell mine and I have used up all my extra parts over the years.

Where can I find a belt? Your best bet is eBay. If you don’t want to spend $200+ you probably will have a hard time purchasing one. They are hard to find and the longer they are the more money they are worth.

Some suggestions for eBay searching:

1. Look for smaller belts and purchase two and make one. Sometimes there are extra chain pieces that are also for sale.

2. Search for alternative names. Many people don’t know what they have and list them incorrectly. I have found them under “primer chain belt”, “biker chain belt”, “motorcycle chain belt”, “gothic chain belt” and some just under “chain belt” (although it takes a while to sift through all the other belts for that general of a term).

3. You don’t have to use a master link for lengthening a belt. If you buy two shorter ones you can take them to a local dirt bike shop and have them put together. Racing bikes and ATVs don’t use master links in their chains, they use a tool that breaks chain and then rebrads the pin back on to put it together. It looks like this example.

4. If you have one that is just a few inches too short you can buy an actual older Sportster primary chain and use a small piece from that. The non-chrome plated section will be hidden behind your buckle.

Who manufacturers chain today? There are a lot of different companies that make this type of chain. The new chain I have is from Diamond Chain. They have distributors around the US, you can search for one near you on their website. When I checked with their KC distributor they had a minimum order of 100 feet. Options included nickel-plated and stainless steel. At the time it was too big of an investment for me.

Are they illegal? I don’t know where you live, but some states did outlaw them years ago. I had a local old-time 1%er tell me to watch where I wore mine in Kansas and Oklahoma. He had trouble there years ago. I haven’t ever been stopped for it; my guess is that whatever law existed today’s cops are too busy to care.

Once upon a time there was a young lady who was making them out of aluminum chain and selling them online. I don’t know if her idea ever took off, but they would have made a better belt with the lighter aluminum chain. She still has a video on Youtube that is here:

Good luck in your search!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Floyd Craig Fuel Injected Chevy Tee Hauling Ass

Grandpa John likes to collect old pics from the Kansas City Timing Association, The Front Street Drag Strip or any vintage racing from the Kansas City area.

This photo is the late Floyd Craig and his Chevy "Tee." Grandpa John thinks this photo was taken by Pam Pollock who is Jerry Pollock's wife. Jerry drove Floyd's dragster later on. This photo isn't in Kansas City.

Obviously this car would never pass today's safety standards (even at the nostalgia drags). Grandpa John said it had a steering box out of a John Deere tractor...the front end pieces don't look to sturdy either!

I only knew Floyd later in life as a grouchy old man. He must have been something when this picture was taken. He signed this photo for Dad before he died. He couldn't understand why anyone cared about that old stuff. In his later years he didn't miss the old days.

Wayne's Motorcycle - House of Choppers Kansas City

In the advertising agency business every so often the creatives find some sort of project that they want to do "pro bono" as in free. Back in the late 90's I worked for Nicholson Kovac, which was then called NKH&W, Inc.

One of our better copy writers named Ned Connolly came to me and asked me about Wayne's on Southwest Boulevard. I knew of the shop (Grandpa John knew Wayne), and I knew the two son's were running it now after their dad had passed. Other than that I wasn't too aware of their activities.

Ned went down there and talked to them and they were interested in some cool creative work for free. So Ned and an art director named Kyle teamed up with photographer Ron Berg and developed these three print concepts/posters. Grandpa John and I were the models for them. We shot it all on Cliff Drive in Northeast.

Berg won a couple of awards for the project. When Ned left the agency he gave me these prints. I had them framed and have enjoyed them over the years.

The magical wordsmith (his own self-appointed title) Ned wrote these headlines:

Souls Never Rust
Silence Starves an Open Road
She Got Her Mama's Figure. But Her Daddy's Heart.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chrome Primary Chain Belt - Peter Fonda

If you are looking for a belt I have posted some tips here.

About 10 years ago I decided I wanted a chrome primary chain belt like Peter Fonda wore in Easy Rider. Peter's was a two row, big twin version. What I was really looking for was the three row Sportster type I remembered friends of my Dad's wearing when I was a kid. I figured I would just hit a few swap meets and find one that would fit me. Fat chance!

I quickly learned that no one was making them anymore, and the ones that were around (if you could find one) were quite small. I guess people were thinner in the 1970's...

I found one that fit Abby at one of the Jeff Williams Twin Drive In Motorcycle Swapmeets. I took it home and showed it to my Dad. He quickly surmised, "We can order chain like that at work, I will get you some." He got me some triple row chain that was nickel plated. Actually he got me 10 feet of it and a box of master links.

So I was in business. I made one big enough for my 38 inch waist and Dad made me a simple buckle. I got it plated and then we had success.

I have gotten a lot of comments on it over the years. There are a few of these belts now that have surfaced on eBay and other sites for sale. I used to buy some every now and then and take a couple smaller ones and make one bigger one. Prices have got too high in the recent times so I gave that up.

They are the perfect fashion accessory. It will hold you pants up and also can be used to get a little "extra edge" when you need to administer a beating to someone.

There was a company called M&M Limited years ago that sold them out of Chicago. They called them Eazy Rider Motorcycle Chain Belts. Here is their ad with the different styles. I have one of each of these belts in my collection except the Gladiator. I have only seen one of those on eBay and it sold for big bucks.

Here are a few of mine and others I have bought and sold over the years.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cruising in Style with Lyle Donkersloot

I was going through some old files and found some of my Wide Open stories from a few years ago. I thought I might post some of my favorites. This story was about Lyle Donkersloot who owned Okobogi Choppers in Iowa. He was a long-time member of the El Forastero Motorcycle Club.

Here is my story about him and the chopper shop.

Lyle with Abby and her friend Kathy at the drag strip.

Lyle was a neat guy. I really enjoyed the time I spent with him working on the article and at later events. Unfortunately he was killed by a drunk driver on July 31, 2005. The motorcycle world lost a colorful character on that day.

Me sitting on Lyle's chopper (with his permission of course) at the David Mann Benefit. Good times indeed.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Olympic Stadium Race Track Kansas City, Missouri

Look out! Grandpa John has a new line of t-shirts planned for this Spring...Get your orders in early!