People flock from all over the world to attend this action packed 4 day weekend event called simply "The Mama Tried Show" which was created by Scott Johnson and Warren Heir Jr. six years ago. It's the wildest winter celebration of anything having to deal with two wheeled machines and it goes down mid-February each year in the motorcycle "Graceland" of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Between the amazing variety of food Milwaukee has to offer, the Harley-Davidson Museum, Flat Out Friday, and the wide array of pre and after parties the guys set up all around town, it's hard not to stay busy during the entire weekend. With that in mind I asked Gorgeous Greg to come out with me to help lend a hand with giving away some Lowbrow Customs Swag at the races, and a assist me with some social media / equipment control etc.
02.14 - The Fuel Cafe Pre-Party
The Gorgeous one they call Greg and I arrived to the Cleveland airport around 10am and didn't end up taking off for over four and half hours on a maintenance plane delay. We sat at the bar and went over the schedule loosely of what and where we wanted to try and hit throughout the weekend when we got to Milwaukee. I don't know why I do this, things always change and it never happens the way I see it happening in my head, but we went with the plan like it was a good one and finally got to board our flight to Milwaukee. When we finally got to the MKE airport we hit up an Uber and made our way to our hotel to check in. I immediately hit up some of my San Diego dudes I heard were gonna be at the show to see where they were getting a bite to eat. We caught up with them and consumed a handful of adult beverages, completely missing the first pre-party at the HD museum. Greg and I just looked at each other and laughed it off, as we jumped into a hotel shuttle and made our way over to the Fuel Cafe (The best bar in Milwaukee hands down). As we jumped out of the shuttle, I immediately saw my good friend Mark Atkins Aka Rusty Butcher on a mini bike flying by on the side walk with what looked like a jousting stick. I was a bit confused and thrown off guard so I hurried up to grab my camera and flash only to learn it was the end of the shenanigans that was happening for the night. Another miss, strike two and off to a great start.
02.15 - Flat out Friday
Surprisingly Greg and I after partying the previous night pretty hard got off to an early start Friday morning. We walked to Panther Arena where Flat Out Friday was going to happen because it was super close to our hotel. We set up some Lowbrow swag for the registered racers to take and left for the show. I had all of my gear with me including two tripods for lights in hopes that after we set up the giveaway table we could grab an Uber to the show venue, grab our press passes, and shoot bikes for most the day. Man was I ever wrong. As we grabbed our passes we ran into Scott Johnson. He informed us that there were only a handful of bikes loaded in and they were shoved into a dark cubby hole of a room and weren't moving until the previous night's rap concert equipment and staff were finished loading up. I felt so bad for them, they didn't even start the show prep yet and it was a day before the show. "Strike 3", I said to Greg as I laughed to myself on the whole game plan thing.
After failing at attempt three, I decided to throw the mental schedule out the window and just go with the flow. Greg and I headed back towards the arena for Flat Out Friday and spent most the day there. I shot a ton of photos and ended up catching up with a lot of great friends I haven't seen since the last years event. Tired and drained after the entire day of being at the arena, Greg and I decided to take an easy night off which consisted of ordering a pizza and having a few free beers at the hotel bar. It was a great call and let me just say I don't remember where the pizza was from but, holy shit was it good. Chicago style and it weighed around 10 pounds, I'm dead serious.
02.16 - The Mama Tried Show
No matter where I stay with Greg the dude is always up at 7 am doing work on his phone and ready to go. He's a good guy to have around to help out because he just never shuts off. We made our way over the show early in the morning to check out the layout and snap some shots before the over barring crowd took over the floor. This year they had a bunch of different height boxes for bikes and they were in straight lines. It also seemed like less bikes were in the show than previous years which gave off a little more spacious feeling. I found out later my presumptions were correct and in fact Warren and Scott scaled back on the entries a bit to allow for better flow in the main hall.
Thousands of people started to pour into the main hall around 11 am and most of my over all bike shooting was done at the point. I said hello to more people I haven't seen in years and got handed a few beers. I thought to myself its 5 o'clock some where and began to enjoy myself a little earlier then normal. That didn't work out to great for me, because shortly after my second beer a wicked migraine took over my head. I hunted down Greg and asked him if he wanted to go eat and take a break from the show. I needed some food and a quick nap to get rid of the migraine, so thats what we did. We got a bite and headed back to the hotel for a bit. I took some meds and conked out for about 2 and half hours. When I woke up from the much needed nap, I remembered they were showing "Oil In The Blood" around 7pm and I really wanted to see it. We rushed back to the venue and got some pretty good seats. Finally something went right.
"Oil In The Blood" is a 2 hour motorcycle documentary movie but less about the motorcycles themselves and more about the people behind the motorcycle and the industry that surrounds them. I also heard through the grapevine a handful of my friends were going to appear in it, so it really peaked my interests. After the film was done, I felt inspired. The film work was brilliant and the idea behind the whole thing just kept wrapping around in my brain. My take on the movie is no matter what kind of motorcycling you are into, as long as you love it, thats all that truly matters. "Joe Blow" from the corner might fucking hate what you love, but who gives a shit, you like it and thats all that matters. And in this concept of everyone loving their own kind of customization of motorcycles separates us all as individuals but pulls us together as a large community. It's a really beautiful notion and can be taken at real face value. Our lives are meant to be ours and no one else can take our beliefs, love and passions away and if you let them, you aren't truly being yourself. It's a beautiful message and movie.
The show went till 12 pm this year and by the end of it, Greg and I were completely out of it. We headed back to the hotel and skipped out on the wild after parties. Like two old dudes, we missed out on all the "FUN" I saw later in peoples social stories etc. I was actually excited to hit the hay because it was finally a cold year at the Mama Tried show which meant... Ice Racing! The plan was to wake up early and Uber out to where ever they would be taking place grab some shots and head to the airport to catch our plane. Again the theme of this whole article is nothing went to plan.
02.17 - Sunday Funday, Ice racing, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
After much needed rest and a little extra snooze buttons smashed, I hit up a few of the locals in the area to see where the ice racing was going down. Everyone kept saying The McKinley Marina but no would gave a time. Greg and I decided we would just grab an Uber and head on over to the marina around 9:30 am. As we looked out our hotel window we noticed it was snowing pretty hard and blowing sideways. All I could do was laugh at Greg and his hoodie/ear muffs situation as we made our way down to check out of the hotel and grab the Uber. Who brings just a hoodie to Milwaukee in the dead of winter?
We hopped into our Uber and the driver looked extremely confused at the map. He asked us, "Why do you want to go here?". We just explained to him there were hopefully going to be some ice races and we wanted to see them in person. He shrugged his shoulders and took off towards the Marina shaking his head. As we pulled up to the Marina I scanned the area dreading the thought of having to get out of the warm vehicle, hoping to see some sign of life in a white out ghost town of wrapped up winterized boats. There was no one in site and the driver told us "this is it, have a nice day!" and kicked us out at the beginning of the parking lot of the marina. He literally left us at the entrance of the Marina. Greg and I walked for a good while listening and looking for motorcycles and there was absolutely nothing except a few ice fishing tents flapping in the wind. I felt like a big joke had just been played on us and there wasn't anything going on that day because the weather being so shitty. Greg and I found a building to shelter us from the wind, but nothing was open so we just got close together and hid on the opposite side of where the wind was blowing. I frantically started texting a few people seeing what the hell was going on and thank god for Cory from TrackerDie who was already on his way to the Marina to scope it out came to the rescue. He did a styling power slide in his ProMaster and we ran over to jump in and get warm. We were probably out there for a good thirty minutes or more.
With no one in sight we decided to call it and go grab some food. Botanas has some of the best Mexican in Milwaukee if you are interested in where Greg and I went most of the weekend. After smashing lunch and catching up with Cory and his girlfriend I got a text that said the races were starting at 12 pm. We all laughed pretty hard about Greg and my winter wonderland adventure we just had for no reason and made our way back to the Marina. At this point there were a ton of guys already on the ice flying up and down a handmade track. This track was really cool because it did some fast switchbacks after what I assumed was turn 2 all the way down to the end and then a really long straight away on the opposite side coming back into turn 1. At this point of the day the snow was coming down really hard and the wind was brutally cold. I think with in fifteen minutes into shooting my hands felt frost bit and my toes were not happy and after forty-five minutes I couldn't bare to take the cold any longer. I looked over at Greg and could only imagine the bitter cold he was experiencing in just his hoodie and ear muffs standing there watching. So we called for another Uber and headed towards the airport.
As we arrived to the airport and checked in with our airline, we learned that with the horrible icy conditions they had cancelled our flight to Chicago all together and there was going to be a delay from Chicago to Cleveland. They rebooked our flight from Chicago to Cleveland for us and said we should take a bus to Chicago. I told Greg we would be better off just cancelling both flights, renting a car one way, and making the long drive home. It was the best idea at the time and the only one that really made sense in my eyes. The entire drive home we kept getting alerts that our flight in Chicago was delayed and eventually cancelled as well which would have left us stranded at the airport.
All in all I realized that though we had loose plans through out the weekend, none of them really came through and yet we made the best of the situations at hand and had a ton of fun. Mama Tried is a blast and every single year I think I know what to expect and yet it turns into something completely different. You can't ask for much more in life than random chaos and a lot of fun. If you have still never been out to Milwaukee for The Mama Tried Show, mark off your calendars for next year and take the polar plunge. I swear you will never be disappointed if you just let the show take you where it wants to take you. See ya next time Mama Tried, it's been real.
Words and Photos by: Mikey Revolt