Motorcycle History Buffs Rejoice!

Transcript below the video

Let’s face it. History can be boring. In a country where attention deficit has been described as a national epidemic, a 30 minute television show devoid of celebrities judging something, or adultery and drunkenness among suburban housewives is going to be a tough sell to Hollywood.

Stan Ellsworth, host of American Ride on BYUTV

But history can be fascinating, especially when it’s presented by 6’ 2” 300 lb, former NFL lineman Stan Ellsworth. Ellsworth, using the “open road” as a metaphor for freedom, travels the blacktop ribbons of the USA, and passionately narrates the quintessential story of America.

Right now the show is only available on BYU television. Yes, you read that right. Brigham Young University, ground zero for The Church of Latter Day Saints, is airing a (gasp) show featuring a long haired, bearded biker dude on a Harley-Davidson!

Forgive my sacrilege, but I’m not sure if the rumble is from Ellsworth customized Softtail Deluxe or Joseph Smith’s casket spinning in his tomb in Nauvoo, Illinois. (Smith was the founder of and leader of the LDS Church.)

But either way, American Ride is probably the best show that may never reach a mainstream audience simply because it doesn’t have sex, violence or people acting stupid as its central theme.

Introduced last year, the first season covered the dramatic story of the colonies and the Revolutionary War. For history buffs and motorcycle enthusiasts, (especially cruiser / Harley-Davidson enthusiasts) American Ride is the best of both worlds.

There’s no doubt Ellsworth knows his stuff, and his large and imposing stature, unscripted and enthusiastic delivery keeps viewers’ attention though what might otherwise be dry and boring when narrated by anyone else.

Now in its second season, American Ride continues following the progress of our nation’s early years, leading up to the Civil War.

I screened the first two episodes of season 2 on a pre-release DVD and thoroughly enjoyed each one.

If your cable or satellite company doesn’t carry BYU TV, surf on over to to catch up on the first season and become a fan of USRIderNews on Facebook as we’ll be giving away season one and season two DVD sets in the coming months.

Does it beat Full Throttle Saloon on Tru TV or the Hairy Bikers on BBC? That depends on your tastes. For me, I’d rather watch American Ride, Full Throttle TV and Hairy Bikers than American Idol, Desperate “Hose Wives” or Jersey Hores, uh Shores any day of the week.

But that’s just me. I could be considered biker trash.

Until next month, ride safe and always take the road less traveled.

The Highway Is For Lovers

View From The Rear
 By:  Sylvia Cochran

Love is what legends are made of, and it’s the number  one ingredient in a good motorcycle relationship. To millions of women, there’s nothing more appealing than a summer day’s ride with a good looking man on a motorcycle.  I probably didn’t realize just how desirable motorcycle men are until I’d been in this business for a few years. I started noticing that more and more of my divorced single female friends and acquaintances would ask, “Don’t you know any single good looking motorcycle guys you can hook me up with?” If I paused, they would almost always continue with “heck, they don’t even have to be that good looking!” What I suspect these women really want is a companion who isn’t “dull and boring.”

Valentine’s is the day we celebrate love and there’s nothing we motorcyclists love more than sharing the highway with the people who are closest to us.  How many of you have been on a ride where everything seemed perfect. The day was warm, but not too warm. There was hardly any traffic, and the road was so smooth that you felt nothing but the breeze. Maybe you stopped for lunch in a little diner beside a bubbling stream, or sat underneath a tree on the side of a mountain soaking in the warmth of the sun. If you’re like me, these little moments are the flowers that add fragrance to our lives. The phrase, “stop and smell the roses” means much more when you take it in the context of motorcycle riding.

At Devil's Tower near Hulett Wyoming

That’s why so many of us “love” our motorcycle trips and especially our motorcycle men. This year I will celebrate being married to my best friend for a quarter of a century. (When you say it like that it seems longer than it really is.) My relationship with Sweetie Pie became richer and more adventurous after he brought that first motorcycle home.

I still remember the first year he rode to Sturgis, without me. We had school age children at home and there was no way I could go. I wasn’t a happy camper those ten days while he was gone, and he admitted he didn’t enjoy it as much without me. We’ve been a dozen times since and I never tire of riding in the Black Hills. I hope this year to return with a close friend who has always wanted to go. It will be fun sharing the trip with someone who is seeing it for the first time.

I’m still looking for those diamond earrings, and I’m sure one of these Valentines Days my Sweetie Pie will surprise me. But I’m not complaining. As long as we get the opportunity to take a long, leisurely motorcycle tour each summer, I’m more than satisfied.
After all, diamonds are pretty to look at, but motorcycle memories are much more fulfilling.

Riding the beach at Daytona

Marketplace Events Enters Motorcycle Consumer Show Business

Marketplace Events VP & GM, Motorcycle Group, Larry Little

For manufacturers and distributors of motorcycles, accessories and apparel, the Progressive Insurance International Motorcycle Shows  (IMS) are where new models and products are unveiled to the press and the motorcycle consumer.  It’s a market that has been dominated by one player, Advanstar Communications.

But that all changed yesterday when  Marketplace Events announced it had hired former long-time publisher of Cycle World magazine, Larry Little, and was expanding into the motorcycle events business with the American International Motorcycle Expo, set to open sometime in the fall of 2013.

Marketplace Events is well positioned to go head to head with Advanstar.  The company produces 21 home shows in major markets across the US and has the infrastructure and experience in running successful consumer trade shows.

Little said AIME will be” timed to align with the annual reveal of new motorcycles…and is intended to create a greater efficiency for the industry to conduct business with retailers, promote new product to the press and consumers, while creating a heightened interest for motorcycling as both sport and as a viable, green transportation alternative.”

Little said his vision for the show is more in line with week long shows like  ICMA in Milan and Intermot in Cologne, Germany where the first two days are set aside for the manufacturers to reveal their new models to the press which fuels the fire for thousands of motorcycle consumers (and dealers) which flood the show floor on the third, fourth and fifth day.

It’s an ambitious goal and to reach it, Marketplace Events must find a way to coalesce the fragmented trade show circuit in the US.  Besides the (mostly) consumer IMS show,  there is the (dealer only) Expos in Cincinnati and Indianapolis produced by Easyriders and Advanstar, and the (consumer) shows like Easyrider Bike shows, Cyclefest in Indiana, Great American Motorcyle Show in Atlanta and the Donnie Smith Bike Show in St. Paul Minnesota.

How Larry Little and Marketplace Events plans to do that is anybody’s guess at this point, but it will be interesting to find out in which major market the inaugural show will be held, and the date it will be held.

Traditionally the New York IMS show is where the major motorcycle manufacturers have released new models to the press and consumers.  This year Victory and Zero debuted new bikes.  To steal the thunder from IMS, Marketplace Events must pick a location and a date that will ensure a larger audience for manufacturers.  Little says he hopes to announce dates and locations by the end of February.

Play By The Rules Senator Lautenberg

Power. n. “The energy or motive force by which a physical system or machine is operated;” or “A person, group, or nation having great influence or control over others.”

In 1887 the English Catholic historian Lord Acton said, ““Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

I wonder if Senator Frank Lautenberg, has ever heard of Lord Acton. By all measure, Senator Lautenberg is a great man. Serving in his 5th term in the US Senate, he is firmly entrenched in the D.C. power base.

I don’t know the distinguished Gentleman from New Jersey. Aside from his relentless attack on personal liberty and individual choice, I know very little about his politics in general.

However, yesterday, December 12, 2011 Sen. Lautenberg used his position and influence in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to introduce legislation which (if successful) will eventually allow the Federal government to mandate motorcycle safety gear and punish the states who do not comply. All in the name of “The government knows what’s best for you.”

Politicians such as Lautenberg believe people do not own themselves. They believe that people, in whole or in part, are the property of the U.S. Congress, or owned by God, who has given divine power to the U.S. Congress to manage them.

They believe an election affirmed their moral and mental superiority above the ordinary men and women who elected them.

The great irony is even as they Lord over us, they go to great lengths to highlight their humble beginnings and lowly economic childhood, constantly polishing it as a beauty queen would her crown.

Sen. Lautenberg, whose parents came through Ellis Island as immigrants, and who after high school, served in the Army, finished college on the GI Bill and became mega wealthy after a successful business startup, is a bona-fide rags to riches success story. I’m not diminishing his accomplishments.

What’s got my drawers in a wad is how easily Sen. Lautenberg brushes aside the Constitution and it’s fragile guarantees of individual and personal liberty.

Since I’m a trusting person, I’m going to assume that Lautenberg believes that what he’s doing is the best thing for me. I’m going to assume that he has the best of intentions.

But someone should remind the Senator that the road to Hell is paved with “good intentions.”

I suggest he re-read the Senate Oath. “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

I don’t read any exceptions for “good intentions.”

On his Senate website Lautenberg is described this way, “In a place that is often plagued with gridlock and inertia, Senator Lautenberg has always been someone who bucked the rules, stood up for what he believed, and persisted in making a difference.”

That may be true Senator, but I’d like to challenge you to take a step back, put aside your personal beliefs, and play this one by the rules.

The rules as written by our Founding Fathers, the ones you took an oath to defend.

Tell us what you think

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Trademarked…Should You Care?

photo courtesy of ·

The arrival of August signals the beginning of the end of the summer for many motorcyclists.

And, the biggest motorcycle event in the summer is Sturgis Bike Week.

Making the pilgrimage to the Black Hills is a rite of passage that some of us only dream about, while some of us do every year.

Uh, oh. I just realized that by not asking permission, and by not using the circle R ® trademark symbol after the word “Sturgis Bike Week” I might be in trouble with the entity that claims the term as a trademark.

While it may seem I’m being a little absurd, and even though I’m using the term in an editorial, Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Inc, (SMRI) might decide that I don’t have that right, and could very well send me a cease and desist letter. Even going so far as to ask for punitive damages.

But, I’m hopeful SMRI won’t sue since they’ve got their hands full, frying bigger fish to fry.

SMRI is flexing it’s legal muscle, fresh off the grill with an out-of-court victory over Little Sturgis Kentucky rally, and two forced surrender wins over Sturgis South (Mississippi) and Sturgis on the River Rally. One rally quit, and the other changed it’s name. Now, SMRI wants its neighbors in the Black Hills to pay up.

Let me see if I can reduce this down to a simple analogy. One day someone (or a group of people) plant an apple orchid on land nobody owns and nobody claims. The orchid is cared for and tended until it’s time to gather in the fruit. Then the community allows outsiders to come in with the necessary equipment and help with the harvest.

This works fine for over 60 years. That’s when someone in the community realizes nobody actually “owns” the orchid. So they file paperwork and now at harvest time, (without doing anything to improve the orchid or enhance the flavor of the fruit) the new owners force everyone, (no matter how long you’ve been picking free apples) to pay for the privilege of harvesting the apples. No fee, no fruit.

While that strategy worked on outsiders, the locals are gathering their pitchforks and torches and marching on the castle.

After receiving notice it was being sued, Rushmore Photo and Gifts held a press conference in mid-July and said it intends to “vigorously defend” itself against allegations of trademark infringement by SMRI (Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Inc.)

And it has recruited others to help. Specifically those small businesses in the Black Hills who stand to lose the most revenue if the trademarks are allowed to stand. Calling themselves the “Concerned Citizens for Sturgis,” The fledgling group is raising money to challenge nine trademark registrations owned by SMRI.

In their counter claims and answer to the SMRI suit, Rushmore Photo and Gifts says that the (previous owner) Sturgis Chamber of Commerce obtained their trademark fraudulently, since they did not have “exclusive use” of the term Sturgis as it refers to motorcycles and motorcycle rally for 5 years prior to filing for trademark protection. SMRI is going to have a hard time with that one.

The Concerned Citizens are also calling for a boycott of “official” licensed merchandise.  That one might be a tough sell to bikers.  A better tactic might be to ask bikers to seek out “Outlaw Sturgis Merchandise” since we all know how rebellious and anti-establishment we old biker dudes can be.

But, that’s just my opinion and we all know the saying about opinions and Uranus. Every solar system has one.

According to reports in Dealernews and a white paper sent out by the lawyers defending Rushmore Photo and Gifts, the owners of Hot Leathers/Good Sports and Black Hills Harley-Davidson are also board members of SMRI.

Both Hot Leathers and Black Hills HD initially opposed the Sturgis Chamber of Commerce’s trademark action, and rightly so, because it would have negatively affected their revenue from t-shirt sales during the rally.

At some point, (and I am going on complete conjecture here) a deal was cut that Jerry Berkowitz (owner of Hot Leathers) and Jim Burgess, (an owner in the local HD dealership) could live with and secured them a seat at the table, and a slice of the “licensing revenue” or at least a “permanent exemption” from having to pay future licensing fees to use the word “Sturgis.”

And that class, is how smart business is done in America.

It’s been said that business and politics are step-brothers and if that’s true, Berkowitz would make the consummate politician.

He can flip flop quicker than a catfish stranded on a sandbar.

In 2001, when the Sturgis Chamber of Commerce started this trademark fiasco,  Berkowitz  as President of Good Sports, (in a sworn affidavit) accused the Sturgis Chamber of Commerce of committing fraud in their claim for “exclusive use” of the mark “Sturgis.”   In that suit, Good Sports (ie Jerry Berkowitz) admitted that the very trademark he is now trying to force others to pay to use  has been used freely  in the public domain continuously since at least 1982 in connection with the sale of Rally Products at the Rally (Sturgis) and elsewhere.

In fact, Berkowitz (Hot Leathers) is so slick that while he’s in one Federal Court claiming the term “Sturgis Bike Week” is unique and should be protected, he’s in different Federal Court arguing that the term “Daytona Bike Week” isn’t special and shouldn’t be protected.

Hmmmm….that’s interesting. But not surprising since a competitor of Hot Leathers pulled a fast one on everybody last year and secured a trademark for “Daytona Bike Week.” So, it’s understandable that Berkowitz wants the Daytona mark invalidated. Otherwise he will have to pay a licensing fee to use Daytona Bike Week.

Now I’m no fortune teller, but I’d bet my right thumb there’s some secret closed door negotiations going on that will give Hot Leathers a Sturgis type deal in Daytona.  I mean you can’t really blame the Chambers who work these deals.  After all, they give Hot Leathers a free pass to use the trademark, and in exchange, Hot Leathers uses their clout to force everyone else to pay up.  I’d say that’s a sweet deal for everyone but those pesky little people who are becoming quite a nuisance.

Besides his legal maneuvering, Berkowitz has also filed to trademark Laconia Bike Week and Laughlin 2005 (and every year through 2010) according to the report in Dealernews.

So, you ask, why should we care that one group of businessmen are fighting with another group of businessmen over who can print a slogan on a few t-shirts?

Indeed, why should we care?

But yet I do. It just smells like legalized extortion.

And the argument that “it benefits the local charities” doesn’t pass the smell test either. Some of the most notorious mobsters in history were big contributors to the church and charities in their communities.

But what the heck, let’s just live free and ride free because we’re not here for a long time, just a good time, right?

Until next month, ride safe and always take the road less traveled.

Beat The Cartoonist!

We’ve talked our cartoonist into a little friendly challenge. We told him that our readers are funnier than he is.  He said we could kiss his muffin ass.  So, this is up to you to decide.   Submit your funniest caption and we’ll post the top five and vote on Facebook.


Are you funnier than our cartoonist? Submit your best one and find out!

Help “Speed” Fight Cancer

Wayne Hanson was diagnosed with brain cancer on March 30th, 2011. He needs our help to win this fight!

Wayne is also well recognized by his nickname, “Speed”. He is known as the best motorcycle performance tuner in the business. He has traveled the country far and wide delivering horsepower to those that crave it.

Speed along with his sons Jason and Jamie operate a mobile dyno tuning business called Speed’s Performance Plus. You may have seen him and his operation at many of the major motorcycle rallies that take place across the country.

Speed is a good man. One we all respect and enjoy. He is quick to smile and laugh. He has energy to burn. If you have ever had the chance to meet him you know what I mean. Speed and his wife Patty make their home in New Market, TN. They live in a peaceful setting and enjoy time with their horses.

On March 30th, 2011 Speed was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. It was surgically removed but the threat of the cancer recurring is very high.

He is currently being treated at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, TN. That is a good hospital but they do not specialize in brain cancer. Therefore, they have referred Speed to Duke University. That hospital is recognized as one of the best brain cancer hospitals in the United States.

Which means Speed is going to get best treatment money can buy. However, in today’s world his treatment will cost more than he and his family can muster.

That is where we come in. Through our donations we can give Speed the chance to beat it and return him to the road where he belongs!

The Hanson family sincerely thanks you in advance for making a difference. They are inspired and comforted by your donation and emotional support.

To get updated details on Speed’s fight please visit his CaringBridge page.


April Issue Funny Caption Contest

What’s Your Funniest Caption?

In honor of the 70th anniversary of Daytona’s Bike Week we dug this photo out of our archives. It was taken at the Last Resort Bar in Port Orange… you remember it’s where Aileen Wuornos, (the only female serial killer ever executed) used to hang out when she was in town.

While there’s nothing funny about women who kill men for pleasure and that’s not Aileen in the photo, there has to be a few funny captions out there just waiting to win our caption contest of this month.  Put your comments on this page or on our Facebook Page.