Some life experiences create memories worth saving and Hood Bush definitely left a lasting impression in my brain that will make me want to go back every single year to try and recreate the madness. In the city where Pabst and Harley Davidson was created; Milwaukee is the home of Hood Bush.
Organized and thrown by The Valley dudes (Dusty Ciborosky, Justin Mulry, and Luke Mouradian) The show was held in the middle of a piece of abandoned overgrown land that was next to some projects about 30 minutes away from The Valley Garage. It was totally a gorilla type show – no permission, no permits, no cares. Nate Powers created the name Hood Bush “The World’s Filthiest Chopper Show.” Little did we know what we were really in store for.
On Thursday night we loaded the trailer up with four bikes and made a huge cuddle puddle nine deep in the back of Kerry and Steph Sayre’s new van. Leaving Cleveland we were Chicago bound. We stopped in Indiana to pick up our friend, Jesse Atteberry and his super clean Shovel. By 3 am we finally got to Negative Mike’s house in Chicago where everyone crashed super fast. So tired, we didn’t even say hi to the Columbus dudes that beat us there.
On Friday morning everyone ate breakfast with the biggest grins on their faces as we talked about the rain that was coming. “Well, the bikes are still loaded on the trailer and truck, I mean I don’t want to be the only guy that doesn’t want to ride.” This was what everyone almost said in unison. We all agreed to just trailer it the rest of the way to Milwaukee and so glad we did. There was heavy rain fall the entire drive to Milwaukee. We stopped at the Cheese Castle to do some tourist crap and then made our way off to The Valley. When we arrived at The Valley Garage we went down the line introducing ourselves to some of the pre-party people and the guys that work at the garage almost like the end of baseball game. Justin shouted out, “Hey you guys all want to go to the Harley Museum? We got free vouchers here and we are all leaving now.” What perfect timing. It was still raining pretty hard so we made our way to the museum in the van.
The Harley Davidson Museum was some serious eye candy. If you are not running around that place with a huge smile on your face, there is something wrong with you. To see knuckle heads with 3 miles on them, the first 45 Magnum, 1903 bikes hanging on the wall, the original easy rider chopper from the movie, and the archives of hundreds of bikes all on shelves like collectible real sized toys was just breath taking. I was at a real loss for words so I snapped shot after shot with my camera. I highly suggest anyone into motorcycles, choppers, even crotch rockets to go check that place out if you are ever in Milwaukee. They are trying to sell you a Harley the entire time you are there but otherwise, what an amazing place of history. The other bike worth mentioning was the bike that floated from Japan all the way to Canada in the Tsunami. It was absolutely incredible to see that a bike could survive, though heavily damaged, float across the entire Pacific.
After the museum we unloaded all the bikes. No one’s bike would start after the extreme car washes they had just received for the past six hours. I have never pushed start so many bikes in my life. My friend Dan and I made it a game, when someone would drop the clutch we would yell “Choppers!!” out loud and the bike would start! About twenty of us rode out to the Hi Hat bar where most of the festivities were to take place Friday night. Raw cheeseburgers, under cooked pulled pork and 3 dollar pints pretty much summed up the establishment. Good people surrounded us though and we met a lot of new friends. There were a lot of back in forward trips from the bar to The Valley but made for some good riding through the streets of Milwaukee. By the end of the night everyone that arrived early Friday was partying at the garage. A boob cake showed up for my good friend Jarrett Ward’s birthday. We found out it was another dude Nate’s birthday as well, so we sang along to both of them drunk as they smashed their faces in to the cake. The camping situation felt a little uneasy being across the street from The Valley in a random grassy lot but it seemed as if no one was messed with at all. Some people grabbed hotel rooms for the weekend including my wife and her friend Emily. Emily offered for a couple of us to stay with her, we grabbed some late night pizza and hit the hay.
Early Saturday morning we ventured back to The Valley to see bikes filing in from each side of the entry way. Around noon everyone fired up their bikes and we were off to the Bush. A sea of choppers that rode through the streets is something words are going to be hard to describe. Cars pulled over to get out of the way, scared, every lane taken by 3 bikes in each lane. This was not your normal run where everyone was single filed and split every two car lengths. Splitting lanes, a thunderstorm of exhaust pipes rolled over 100 bikes deep, dudes gave high fives side by side, nothing but smiles on every single face and everyone took pictures with their phones and cameras going down the highway 65mph or more. It was probably one of the most amazing rides to ever be a part of and witness. I wish I could be back there right now, feeling the ultimate freedom of taking over a four lane highway and knowing we were unstoppable.
As we arrived to the Bush, guys and some babes began to launch their bikes through a huge mud puddle to get to the back area where the show was to happen. As I pulled in I thought I’d be a smart ass and go around the huge puddle just to find my self hitting a second one, my back end got squirrelly and I dumped my bike to the left. It was pretty funny and I’m super glad I didn’t mess anything up on my bike. A couple others did the same as me but over all we got back there in a mess of mud. I soon realized why they called it “The World’s Filthiest Chopper Show”.
Immediately as we pulled into the entrance I recall seeing a lady at her front door screaming “I’m calling the Police!!” She did indeed and in less than an hour and a half 20 or more cops were there to kick us out of the Bush. There were drug dogs along with cops preparing zip tie cuffs for those that refused to leave. The party immediately got moved back to The Valley. Muddy bikes all pulled out of the Bush one by one, some cops shook their heads at us in disappointment, but most of them were actually pretty cool and helped the bikes get out of mud and over the big hills.
Everyone eventually made it back to The Valley in different groups. Truck beds were full of Pabst, raffle tickets were being called, light blue denim Harley jackets along with other rad sponsorship gear was being won and bikes flew back and forth down the main road. The day turned out to be really awesome. There were amazing bikes no matter which way your head turned, a chopper paradise really. As night fell the first thing to commence was how many dudes could fit on the 250 dirt bike chopper that the Canadian guys brought with them. From there some Detroit dudes started doing some bike surfing, wheelies and burnouts. It was pretty amazing to see a guy doing wheelies with a chick on the back with all the trust that they would both be ok and ton of people surrounding them. I think there may have been a bit of liquid courage there. Soon after us being rowdy in the street, the cops showed up and had to search the entire party. As they entered the garage someone yelled “The strippers are here!!!” and everyone started whistling, hooting and hollering at the cops. All they could do was smile, wave and walk out embarrassed. The party had to be kept off the streets so we all piled into the garage where the real strippers actually came out. It was truly a picture perfect night.
I want to take a minute to thank some people. Thank you to Dusty, Justin, Luke, and all the other Milwaukee dudes for your hospitality and showing us a great time. You guys gave me some amazing memories. Thank you to Josh Kurpius and Luke for inspiring me to finally use my camera while riding and not just my phone. I would have never worked up enough balls to do so, but seeing you guys and how you ride while shooting made me grow a pair. I got some super rad shots on the way back from the Bush and couldn’t have done it with out the inspiration. Thank you to Kerry and Steph Sayre for dragging my bike back and forth from Cleveland to Milwaukee and back. Thank you to Negative Mike and your mom for letting us stay at your house and breakfast. Huge thanks to Emily Schreiber for letting me and the wife crash in your hotel.
Overall, Hood Bush was a pretty exciting and successful event to be a part of. I met so many great people that are now new friends and I couldn’t be more excited about that. There are so many more stories I could tell but I’ll leave it to your imagination on what did and didn’t happen. The only way to experience all that goes on at Hood Bush is to make it a point to take time off to go party with the Milwaukee dudes next year at Hood Bush 2014. I promise you will not be disappointed!