Sunday, August 14, 2011

KIEHL'S LIFERIDE 2011: TO THE FLAGSHIP

Truly, what a thrill to ride a pack of motorcycles into New York City.  We stopped after riding from Newport to lunch in Connecticut, only an hour from the City, and Timothy White had an inspiration to photograph our group in Harlem under the Queensborough bridge, so that was our target, and suddenly someone else knew where we were going, knew the way home and the goal and the way into that goal, and our gang, for we had become a gang, keeping within eyesight but riding as we pleased, was liberated from our follow-car by hidden permission, a mutual understanding, our mounts within striking distance of Home and set loose to gallop, we wove, threaded between cars and painted lines and highway signs, free and fast and knowing how to do what we wanted to do, because ultimately motorcyclists, or at least those without fear, with miles and years of riding beneath their skin, prefer wild and loose and yes dangerous to organized and linear and staggered formation, prefer paths through cars at speed, prefer the possible to the certain, knowing nothing is certain, not the gap between those cars ahead, not the lines on the highway, not the posted limits, nor even the destination itself, but only that we Are and are moving under the simple control of our wrists and the shift of our weight, the sky and the speed and the road our poetry, separate and together we dispersed and broke free and spread far but latterly bunched up again, expansion and contraction, trailing Tim and Paul to their home city, losing escorts and photographers and cars, handlers, minders, landing in a swarm under the freeway, blocking the streets without regard, these were ours for now, we'd arrived to have our light captured, reflected from our machines, our helmets, ourselves, the end of a trek begun as strangers but finished as friends.
This is not Tim White's photo; it's my camera's pale imitation...
So why, why is a celebrity ride on modern bikes relevant to The Vintagent?

Because we are all motorcyclists, whether we ride modern or dirt or vintage or custom or touring or sport, we share an experience which draws us back again to two wheels, something vital and alive and thrilling, we've all ridden different things, and you know?  It's all good.  It's all motorcycling.
And here's why this ride is important to me, this particular Kiehl's-organized ride, raising awareness for AIDS research, delivering silly oversize checks at media events at stores in three cities: this isn't phony, this is showing up, this is spending a week - and yeah, it was fun - saying we give a fuck about something other than image and cool and career, we'll give our time and stand awkward in front of the cameras to say, hey, we care, we like what Chris Salgardo is doing with the Kiehl's/moto connection, this isn't a toy run, this is about something a lot of people we know have been struggling with, or died from, especially those of us in New York or San Francisco or LA or in the fashion or entertainment biz. 
 And it should happen more often.
On Saturday morning, 200 bikers showed up to ride with us to the Lower East Side flagship store in support of amfAR, and have a party celebrating 160 years of Kiehl's.  I would have liked more vintage riders to show up, but some did, and I was really happy about that; thanks you guys.
Corinna Mantlo on her '71 Yamaha 125 street scrambler which she rides around NYC
Conrad Leach and Lauren Rodolitz share an R1300GS
Our second encounter with the BMW rig, north of Manhattan
Jason Lee and the K1600GTL he rode all week; six cylinders and 160hp
Checking the result of Tim White's photo shoot in Harlem
Trying out the F800GS in Rhode Island; super smooth and agile
Ah, traffic into Manhattan...
Tim White setting up the shot...
Justin Chatwin models schmutz from a long days' ride...
Nice Aston Martin DB5 in Connecticut
Alain de Cadanet gives an earful to Brooke and Jared Zaugg
1915 Indian Powerplus in the Kiehl's store on 3rd/13th
An early Saturday morning sneakaway ride through Manhattan; Times Square
Conrad Leach recreates the 1947 Life magazine photo of the Hollister 'riots'...
Kiehls cutie and HD VL...
DJ Paul Sevigny and WLA Harley
Vintage Road Racing New York!
Tyson Beckford stole my RR!
Tyson's leggy passenger...
Tricia Helfer likes the '37 Indian Junior Scout
Travis Shinn tries the West Coast Choppers 'Kiehl's' custom; the exhaust bleached his calf tattoo...
I tried the WCC bike too; burned my right calf instantly as the pipe wasn't routed to avoid contact nor was there a guard, the open belt drive cut my left ankle, it carburated poorly and vibrated like hell.  What's not to like?
The advancing army
Marguerite Moreau amidst the tall boys
Chris Redman, Grant Reynolds, and Matt Sublett explain the WCC bike to a youngster
Early Saturday morning blast through Central Park
Paul Cox
On the way to the Kiehl's flagship store rendezvous
Grant Reynolds on the WCC; it didn't bite him.
Eat my Honda CB350 with lagged pipes.
Tricia and her personal Ruby Belvedere helmet in blue
Dylan and her Kiehl's birthday cupcake from Magnolia Bakery...

13 comments:

Alberto F said...

Great location! Hot babes and beautiful city! I like vintage’s Bikes!

Anonymous said...

How do you participate in this? Do you sign up - if so where - or are you invited - if so who invites you?

Shane Peterson

Anonymous said...

Good stuff dude ........ you may well be the very last GBA (Gay Biker on Acid) still able to turn on his laptop and make sense.
AdC

Anonymous said...

Awesome Paul! Thanks. I'm an avid reader of yours now. :)

Hope you're well and hope to see you soon!

Chris S

Anonymous said...

LOVE this last posting about the Kiehl's ride - poetic and evocative, made me want to do it!
- S

Don O'Reilly said...

"because ultimately motorcyclists, or at least those without fear, with miles and years of riding beneath their skin, prefer wild and loose and yes dangerous to organized and linear and staggered formation, prefer paths through cars at speed, prefer the possible to the certain, knowing nothing is certain..."

Once again Paul, you have put into words things I only mull about, and put it into words very well. Keep up the good work, and the rubber on the ground! Aloha, Don

RudgeRudge said...

Next time you are over here can I have a Kiehl's "T" shirt, You have all the fun. great reporting.

Anonymous said...

Paul d'Orleans,
Scribe of men, leader of two wheeled beasts, notorious trickster and wearer of leather pants. Glad to hear your words and enjoyed your blog. Hope homeland security leaves you alone and we can get back to simpler living.
Justin

RD from Texas said...

Truly a fun read! The first sentence caught me reading faster and faster...

I think the EAT ME bike might be a CB350 as the 450 had dual overhead cams. ;)

Charles said...

thank you for the coverage of this ride. and? thank you for totally living THE LIFE! awesome and inspiring.

The Vintagent said...

@RD; of course you're right!

Anonymous said...

While I have no time for a non-functional motorcycle like the WCC bike, I personally always wear socks while riding, which are completely covered by boots. A word to the wise.

The Vintagent said...

As a matter of fact, the Kiehl's bike burned my ankle - sometimes you take the opportunity you have, not the one you'd like to have...