Fuel Cleveland 2016 weekend is a wrap and man, I'm a beat. I wanted to share a little inside look at what went on in the planning of the show and also recap some of my favorite things from the weekend. I also wanted to start off by saying thank you to everyone who came out to the show; from the builders, artist, the show goers, sponsors and even the staff that helped throughout the weekend. Each and every one of you of you made it special in your own way and I appreciate that from the bottom of my heart.
The Set Up
This year we chose a new venue as soon as planning started. The spot was a bit visually loud and has a lot going on but I could see the layout in my head and I grew extremely excited to start planning it all out when we discovered we could have the show at Ray's MTB back in January. With the natural light in the place I knew it would be amazing as well. I must have gone to that building at least 5 different times months before the show just to get my bearings straight on where we wanted to lay everything out in a generic mind-set. We also discovered a perfect gas tank display already pre made for us with lights integrated and everything! That was a bonus for sure. The photography is a whole other story I'll get to in a bit.
The week before the show was mentally and physically draining with 12 hour days, but I really feel it was all worth it in the end. Gorgeous Greg and I moved a bike around the entire area of the show to map out where light sources would hit the best and if there was no light we would wire one up. We also wanted to spread the bikes far enough from each other for people to see all around them and have room to walk. I also tested some 3m velcro tape for the photos to stick on the long brick wall near the back room. It worked like a charm and I got super excited.
Wednesday: 3 Days Before Fuel Cleveland 2016
As I was about to start hanging all the photos with my wife, Kat, we realized the humidity in there was unreal and the 3m velcro tape wasn't sticking to the brick wall. I couldn't fathom it and started panicking a little. I had no real back up plan, that was it. So we walked around the park thinking what else we could do when I saw the construction area the guys at Ray's had. There were 8 foot tall, 4 foot wide particle boards in a stack with tons of nails. Kat said, "This is going to work - well, we just need to get them over there." The pallet they were on was tiny and the jack they had didn't fit the pallet so it didn't go very far. All that was left was for me to move each board by itself single handily while Kat hung the photos. Let's just say that was a lot of work.
Friday: The Day Before The Show
I had my studio equipment ready to go and as bikes piled in, I started to shoot a handful of shots on a white background of each bike. After the short photo shoots were done, I would walk the builder through the place and we would pick a spot that spoke to them. I really feel like they appreciated being able to pick their spot and the smile on their faces when they saw the whole place was really awesome for me. That was a long day and I knew I had to be up early to do the final prep and load in the remaining bikes in the morning. So, I hit up the pre-party for just a little while and ended up going to bed pretty early Friday.
Saturday: The Day Of Fuel Cleveland 2016
The day was finally here, as I rushed to get ready and fire up my bike, I took the slow way to get to Ray's from my house. It was a refreshing and calming ride. No one was on the streets at 6:30 am and I cleared my head in preparation for the
day. On arrival, I decided the best place for my bike was right in front of the large Fuel Cleveland banner in the front entrance. I ran in and grabbed our tiny Fuel Cleveland arrow signs and walked around the property putting those up. Note to self: make bigger signs for next years! 8:30 am rolled up fast and no one had shown up yet from the staff or even the remaining bikes that were supposed to be in the show. I was frantic for a bit but as I calmed down everyone that needed to be there started to show up. A little hung over for the previous night's party but all in all in good shape to rock.
12:00 pm the doors were open and there were a handful of people walking in to Ray's with jaws dropped on how cool the spot was. I just kind of watched a little to see some of the reactions. Then I ventured off to take photos before too many people started to pile in. 2 hours or so had passed within what felt like an instant and I came out of my zone to realize the place was packed. I walked outside and as far as the eye could see, bikes were lined up all the way down the main strip. There wasn't just choppers and custom bikes rolling in either, but bikes of all different types and models. For me it was really rewarding to see not just motorcyclist but even families with strollers and small children checking out the entire show. Start them young I always say.
I felt at ease most of the day and I ran into so many people I knew, friends, family and even those I work with that are from all over the country. What really blew my mind even more, is how many people came from Canada, just for the show. Everyone who stopped to say hi had nothing but good things to say about the show and how they loved the way the bikes were set up. It was a pretty great feeling to hear such positive feedback from so many.
As the day grew closer to the end of the show, we had picked a guest judge to look over all the bikes in the show and he was in charge of picking one bike that had the best fabrication. Jeffery Wolfsen is an older man and amazing bike builder who doesn't have social media or keep up with other bike builders often. He just knows his way around a bike really well and what to look for which kept the judging extremely fair. The top 3 bikes he picked were Pat Patterson from Led Sled Customs, Alex Rindskopf from Strange Cycle, and Jeremy Cupp from LC Fabrication but only one could win. In the end, he went with Jeremy Cupp! The dude is just too good, he really wins everything and it's because he really thinks outside the box and makes exactly what he wants with real style and taste. Jeremy got to take home a Tig, Mig and Plasma cutter with a bunch of safety gear all from Lincoln Electric. Thanks again to Lincoln Electric for your ever lasting support and making a prize like that possible for Fuel Cleveland 2016.
Near the end of the show, the roof started to sound like rain was falling. I ran to the door to see if it was and sure enough it was a torrential downfall. People were running to get inside. It lasted all of 10 minutes and for some reason some of the guys got excited and started ripping up and down the strip doing wheelies, I even heard my friend Little Steve went down trying to do one, whoops. With the crowd starting to die down, we started loading bikes out a little early. At this time, the exhaustion started to set in with me a little; even more so after my bike wouldn't kick over for 20 mins, HA dumb Shovelheads.
Lowbrow Customs 12th Anniversary/Grand Opening
I started my Sunday morning off with a little reckless donut action from Bear at Old Bike Barn after he loaded his bike out and thought it would be a good idea to check out how his tie downs would hold or not. The remaining bikes at Ray's were finally out and I was off to Lowbrow Customs' new World HQ and my place of work. Upon arrival all I could see was tons of bikes lined up on the freshly laid asphalt and black and green balloons swaying in the wind. As I walked closer to the building people were talking about the previous night's shenanigans at the after party and what they got into. The weather was beautiful and though storm clouds were brewing, there was no rain the entire day.
Bikes were coming in and out all day and the new showroom was packed during the entire party. People seemed to really dig that they could see parts in person and try on helmets before purchasing one. Tony, one of our customer care guys, and Katy, our warehouse manager, were running around like crazy, helping everyone fulfill their orders. Music played by DJ Wolfboy Slim really set a laid back and chill atmosphere. We also had Todd Muller and Ed Vanaman pick 3 of the top bikes at the party. Third place went to Scott with a really cool Triumph chopper, second place was Cubby with an extremely clean and classy shovel, and first place went to Christian Newman with his ridiculous Turbo Shovel. That bike is absolutely insane and totally deserving of the top prize of $500 in store credit at Lowbrow Customs.
This weekend was a complete blur and I'm exhausted but it was all worth it. Cleveland is the city I grew up in and will love till the day I die and it's so cool to see so many people come from all over and experience it the way we do. I heard people even discovering restaurants and places I have still never been to. With positive vibes coming from everyone it was so cool to see so many motorcycles in and out of Cleveland this weekend. I couldn't be more thankful for everyone that was involved in this show and the weekend's festivities. To the weather man, I will just say you were wrong yet again and you can't ruin our fun!
I also just want to say how grateful I am to have two people I work with closely in this motorcycle world, that believe in my vision and help me where ever they can to make my vision true. Thanks again Jesse and Tyler for believing in me. I'd like to thank my wife for helping me with proofreading, set up, ideas, and dealing with my B.S. Big thanks to Gorgeous Greg for always being there to lend a hand. Thanks again to our sponsors Biltwell, Lincoln Electric, SuperTrapp Industries, Buckeye Brewing, and Ray's MTB for keeping Fuel Cleveland 2016 free for all to attend. Thank you again to all the builders, bike owners, artists and photographers that came out and worked their butts off to make such beautiful pieces for the show. Thank you again to each and everyone that came out this weekend to see what Cleveland is all about, we will see you next year with even more surprises, till then.