Mama Tried was a blast! What makes it so fun is that it’s not just a bike show, but a weekend-long event. It’s not all about polished show bikes either; it’s about daily riders, crusty vintage bikes, choppers, and finely-tuned racers too. All bikes in the show are by invitation only, and you can tell Scott and Warren love a wide variety of motorcycles.
I went last year, but something brand new this year was Flat Out Friday. Flat Out Friday was indoor flat track racing where they coated the floor with Dr. Pepper syrup and left it to dry, which created a very sticky surface. I cheered on my friend Scott (@choppinflour), as he participated in his first flat track races ever. He would end up racing the highly-experienced guys from Rusty Butcher, among others. At Moto Mania, Scott was the guy riding his raked out Sportster chopper around the dirt oval. He spent the next few months building a race bike out of his other Sportster (it’s the one with the Van Halen-esque graphics and #687). Flat Out Friday was a spectacle and so much fun to watch. Lots of people crashed, but thankfully, I didn’t see anyone get seriously hurt. The diversity of bikes on the track was the best part, from vintage Harleys to professional flat trackers, to youth bikes, to the crowd-favorite “inappropriate class.”
I spent most of Saturday at Mama Tried. The show was in a new location this year, bigger than last year. There was a line out the door all day long and the place was packed. The warehouse had a great feel, but the lighting was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it was really dark inside so it was sometimes difficult to see details on the bikes and take clear photos. Some people were using flashlights to get a good look. On the other hand, the space felt really unique, the natural light would change quite a bit throughout the day, and photos that did turn out well looked really cool.
The show was on two levels of the warehouse. Most vendors were set up downstairs and an old freight elevator would take you up to see the bikes on a higher floor. The bikes were incredible. It was sensory overload. I particularly liked seeing some bikes in person that I had only previously seen in photos such as Chopper Dave’s turbo Sportster and Rusty Butcher’s bike.
On the floor with the bikes, there were places to buy beer & merch, and a few artists had booths as well. You could get a tattoo, a tintype portrait, or buy prints from Mike Vandegriff. Mike’s setup was especially cool. He had made an amazing stand for his Sportster, incorporating charred wood whose colors really complemented his bike. His photos are beautiful and he had a few that were backlit in a really interesting way. Along the walls of space, many other artists had prints on display. The entire floor felt like a gallery, with the motorcycles, photography, and architecture all working together to create an artistic vibe.
I had been planning, on Sunday, to watch the Ice Riding on Lake Michigan, since it was so much fun to watch last year. I was bummed when I heard it was cancelled due to the unseasonably warm weather. I decided to head back to the show to take one last look around before driving home. I’m glad I did.
When I arrived, I saw the guys from The Frozen Few and Rusty Butcher packing up their bikes on the street. Someone had a spot in mind where they were all going to ride and take pictures. I asked to tag along, jumped in my car, and followed them there. It was an industrial area with some big dirt mounds, which could have made for some awesome photos. Sadly, the location didn’t work out. I think we were kicked out, but I don’t know what exactly happened. We had to leave before the bikes could even be unloaded.
While the group debated what to do next, word came that someone had found a small lake where the ice was still thick enough for riding, so the group headed there. It was really fun to watch, but it was much smaller than the official event on Lake Michigan would have been. I only stayed for a while, because I had to leave to get back to Minneapolis, so I didn’t get to see everyone take their bikes out on the ice.
The combination of Mama Tried, Flat Out Friday, and Ice Riding (when the weather cooperates), along with the various official and impromptu concerts & parties make this a great weekend. In the Midwest, it certainly helps break up the winter and remind you that the riding season is right around the corner. Don’t miss it!