It's mid-February. The Midwest is frozen under a layer of ice and snow. Temperatures are a chilly 26*, and the winds freeze your skin in under twenty minutes; yet, Milwaukee comes alive with a flurry of activity, as builders, buyers, collectors, enthusiasts, and riders all congregate in the heart of the city to see the new builds of the season. The first glimpse of the projects we watched come together on social media all winter break... even the ones that aren't done yet. It's why everyone knows braving this weather is worth it.
As trailers unfold and gleams of chrome and paint catch the fleeting and rare sunlight of the midday sun- The Eagles Ballroom is filling up with a showing of the best examples of the motorcycle culture the midwest can muster. These are garage-built, garage-found, many female-owned, death traps, speed machines, labors of love that never cease to impress, laid on top of a theatrical backdrop that almost dwarfs the 100+ bikes set up in the center.
This year was the sixth annual gathering- with builders from over 35 states. The impressive vendor turnout was the perfect place to find your new t-shirts for the season, get a tintype photo taken, or get that tramp stamp you've always wanted at one of the tattoo booths. There was something around every corner to keep your attention, if you could stop staring at the eclectic mix of machinery that was on display. Benny (my partner in crime) and I walked around for HOURS pointing out details and little bits of every bike we saw to each other as he snapped the photos for this feature.
Every year, I indulge in a few rituals in Milwaukee during the Mama Tried weekend, including The Brat House complete with two cold handles of Spotted Cow, the Harley-Davidson Museum, Karaoke at the High Note (never disappoints), and on Friday night I always go to Flat Out Friday to see the races. It's the perfect way to pregame before Mama Tried, and you get to watch brakeless antique motorcycles race (and crash), among other incredible things!
Sunday we found the pier in a blustery wind and soul-shattering 24℉ for a few seconds to get a couple of pictures of the racers on the ice. This was the first year in many years the races have even tried to happen at the pier, and I was glad I got to witness 20 minutes of it before my entire body froze off!
Until next year, enjoy these photos by Benny; he knows exactly how to capture a moment in time, and would love to feature your bike. Hit him up if you're interested! -Amy