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.