30 years at Chillicothe
Chillicothe, Ohio, Aug. 30–Sept. 3—What started out as a motorcycle show for Ohio State Prison inmates caught on like a brush fire on a dry breezy day, and has been going on for three decades now. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again; the event is like Valhalla on earth to the true-blue biker. Barrels of booze, lots of cool bikes and trikes, and more than a few women who are more than willing to bare their assets to total strangers in exchange for cheap plastic beads; these are staples of the Chillicothe, Easyriders Rodeo experience. If you attend, leave the kids with a sitter and come prepared for a party.
Also come prepared for a damned exciting, and, at times, ear-piercing loud rodeo. The Harley-powered pulling machines shake the ground and scream like angry panthers while dragging their payload down the dusty dirt track. This year, the conditions on that track seemed perfect, and darn near every run by a trike resulted in a clean, full pull. At one point, while surrounded by a thick cloud of dust caused by Mark Rockafellow roaring past, Christa and I heard some parts being ejected from Mark’s powerful fuel trike engine. I became slightly uneasy, thinking that one of those parts had struck me, when I felt a burst of something or other touch my leg. When the dust cleared, I found no injury to my leg, not even a bruise, but one of poor Mr. Rockafellow’s pushrods and pushrod tube were lying in the dirt about eight foot away. The puller just smiled, while calmly stating, “She was still pulling, even after she broke.” Even with the malfunction, Rockafellow still managed a second-place finish in the class, with pulling veteran Robert Tabor besting him for a first place finish and Patty Nuefer coming in third.
The solo pullers placed as follows: Jason Tabor in first; Loran Whittaker took second, while Ted Grummett secured the third-place position. The gas trike winners were Mark Wilken, first place; Jim Hale, 2nd place; Loran Whittaker, third place; with Jason Tabor coming in fourth after burning up his clutch.
Jason’s fried clutch wasn’t his only setback of the day. During the slow race at which Tabor is an expert, he either blew a head gasket or had a valve stick. The bike was popping like all hell, but Tabor still pulled out a first-place finish in that competition.
A new rodeo contest for this year was a kickstart competition. The idea was to see how many times you could kick start your engine to life in a given amount of time. The prize was a $160 kick starter assembly. It was a damned good idea, but they didn’t get a required six riders to enter their kickstart machines. Sad, but true; the number of kick start motorcycles at Chillicothe is fairly small, but there were more than a half dozen of them at the fairgrounds during the rodeo.
In other competitions, Nikki Able won the wienie bite competition, once again, while riding on the back of Robert Tabor’s bike. These two are as hard to beat at wienie biting as Chrissy West is at the potato in the haystack challenge. Yes, once again she took first place at that.
As usual, several fine examples of American iron lined up in hopes of taking home the coveted plaque that verifies you won at an Easyriders bike show. Christa and I didn’t make it to the awards for the bike show however, because we were flagged down by tattooist Mike Bentley, of Underground Tattoo, from Heath, Ohio, while en route to it, and delayed until after it was over. But the delay led to Christa getting some great photos of Mike tattooing a wild boar on a guy named Taylor’s Noggin. While looking at the artwork, even though it was not quite finished, Christa and I came to the quick conclusion that it would win the tattoo contest. Sure enough it did. Congrats to the artist and his living, breathing canvas.
It would be remiss to fail to mention an award received by the Remnant Sons Motorcycle Club at this year’s rodeo. It was quite possibly the most deserved bit of official recognition given out that Labor Day weekend. A plaque and certificate was awarded to the club for the endless hours of back-breaking, dirty, dusty, and sometimes-muddy work that the Sons put in at Easyriders Rodeos at no charge.
Moving on to the musical acts, Miss Intent is a band with a chick that performs a lot of Pink songs and does them quite well. Wheeler Walker Jr. sang some X-rated tunes while seemingly stoned and/or drunk. He seemed intent on pissing off his audience at times, and quit a half hour early after someone tossed a “marital aid “ up on stage towards his direction; Laid Back Country Picker was a country group so laid back that one of their band members came out on stage with a bathrobe on and rollers in her hair. I think that’s a bit too laid back, and I wasn’t sure what that was all about, but they did a presentable job of playing and singing, so what the heck. After all that, but before headliner David Allen Coe, the Purrfect Angelz danced around, hung from rings, played with lighted hula hoops and tossed burning objects through the air, all while three-quarters naked.
There were two bikes that I feel the need to make special mention of. Mark File of Greenville, Illinois, brought his 2009 Renegade trike which was powered by a small-block Chevy motor topped off with Moroso Marine heads. The unique heads made the engine look like an old flattie. The trike also featured a rumble seat, and is capable of seating a family of five, as long as at least two of them are small children. The other was a sweet mid-’60s Aermacchi Harley, with a story connected to it that’s worth repeating. The present owner of the machine, John, inherited it from his bro who perished in a motorcycle accident. John doesn’t consider himself the owner of the machine, however, because as he sees it, his deceased bro, James Wade Dillinger, still owns the cool little motorcycle, and he is just taking care of it for him for a while. John’s wife said that James was the safest rider of the group. That being the case it was especially shocking to Mr. Dillinger’s friends that he would be the one of their crew to have his life ended while riding a motorcycle. R.I.P. James Wade Dillinger. At least you died doing what you loved.