GOOD RIDE SALUTES

CAREY HART AND BIG B GO TO GER­MANY

Hot Bike - - Life - WORDS AND PHOTOS: MIKE CALABRO

As we roll up to the se­cu­rity gate, a stout polizei waves us over and asks to see our pass­ports. A side arm on her hip, she ges­tures at my tat­too-cov­ered com­pan­ion and de­mands he “schow das handz! You schow me das handz!” In my head, I im­me­di­ately go into panic mode, imag­in­ing be­ing tor­tured in a dank cell. She de­mands that he re­move his gloves. My new buddy is about to be cuffed in a for­eign coun­try. I haven’t been in Deutsch­land for more than 24 hours and al­ready have a case of fear-in­duced anal leak­age. “Vhere ist das tat­too?” Con­fused, he lifts his sleeve to show the fresh ink of an In­dian Mo­tor­cy­cle tat­too. Sud­denly the of­fi­cer goes full-on fan girl. “It’s you! It’s you! It’s Carey Hart!” The se­cu­rity guard (it turns out, not po­lice) starts tak­ing self­ies with my rid­ing part­ner. Two more se­cu­rity folks show up, autographs are signed, and I des­per­ately try to fig­ure out when I’m go­ing to have a chance to change my un­der­wear.

For this year’s Armed Forces Day, Hart teamed up with In­dian Mo­tor­cy­cle and trav­eled to Ger­many to honor and celebrate with our ac­tive sol­diers overseas in an event called Good Ride Salutes USAG Stuttgart. Dur­ing the month of May, which is Na­tional Mil­i­tary Ap­pre­ci­a­tion Month, In­dian Mo­tor­cy­cle do­nated $20 per test ride, up to $30,000. But this ride was dif­fer­ent, not a fundraiser, but a di­rect ac­tion to help lift the spir­its of U.S. sol­diers at Europe’s largest base: U.S. Army Gar­ri­son Stuttgart.

Good Ride is a non­profit char­ity that was started by Carey Hart and Big B. In case you missed the memo, Carey is a freestyle mo­tocross rider turned cus­tom bike builder who hap­pens to be mar­ried to pop su­per­star Pink. Big B is a rap­per and en­tre­pre­neur. The two have been friends for a cou­ple of decades, own busi­nesses to­gether (in­clud­ing a cus­tom bike shop), and for

the past three years, have run Good Ride as a way to give back to the mil­i­tary. All of the pro­ceeds from Good Ride are fun­neled to the In­fi­nite Hero Foun­da­tion, a mil­i­tary char­ity cre­ated by Carey’s eye­wear spon­sor, Oak­ley. They fund pro­grams that drive in­no­va­tion and ac­ces­si­bil­ity of ef­fec­tive treat­ments for mil­i­tary he­roes and their fam­i­lies deal­ing with ser­vice-re­lated men­tal and phys­i­cal in­juries.

“Big B and I have been friends for about 20 years,” Carey says. “He put out a bunch of al­bums. He was part of my tat­too shop when I first started it. He helped me out with my race team. Over the past cou­ple of years, when I got se­ri­ous about V-twins and build­ing bikes, he moved out to where I live, and we now do all of our builds to­gether.”

He tells me that while he doesn’t “per­son­ally have any ex­pe­ri­ence with the mil­i­tary, my wife’s mom and step­dad served in the Viet­nam War, and her brother is a lieu­tenant colonel in the Air Force.” The ef­fects of Agent Orange on Carey’s fa­ther-in­law and “how the gov­ern­ment throws peo­ple by the way­side when they come back home” sparked the idea to cre­ate the Good Ride.

Those tat­toos the guards were so ex­cited about? Those were like the fi­nal bond­ing rit­ual be­tween Hart, Big B and In­dian. Right there in the back of the Stuttgart In­dian deal­er­ship, they got match­ing tat­toos of the In­dian logo, us­ing ink made from a burnout. Last year, Carey did a long, smoky burnout on an In­dian Scout—in­dian du­ti­fully col­lected the dust and used it in the pig­ment of a lim­ited-edi­tion ink. That’s a true com­mit­ment, from both sides. In­dian has sup­ported Good Ride since in­cep­tion. “In­dian came to me and asked what I thought about tak­ing it to Stuttgart, the largest base in Europe,” Carey re­mem­bers. “And I said, ‘Tell me when to book my flight.’”

Good Ride gave our ac­tive-duty sol­diers and their fam­i­lies a day to es­cape from the stresses of mil­i­tary life. Many of the men and women sta­tioned here are ei­ther com­ing back from a hos­tile sit­u­a­tion or are pre­par­ing to go to one. Though both Carey and Big B had been to Ger­many sev­eral times each for mu­sic and mo­tor­cy­cle shows, they’d never stopped to tour the coun­try­side, es­pe­cially not on In­di­ans. “It’s one thing to see a coun­try through air­planes and ho­tels and venues, but it is a whole nother thing to do it on two wheels,” Carey says.

The Amer­i­can V-twin mar­ket is strong in Ger­many. Once you get out of town and on the open roads, they are the per­fect way to cruise the

coun­try­side. Ger­mans seem to love the style and soul of the bikes. It’s a lifestyle. They don’t want to go fast. They want to cruise—in style. Which is a lit­tle ironic in Stuttgart, home of Porsche and Mercedes.

The Armed Forces Day event with the mil­i­tary dudes was on Sun­day, but we did a press ride on Sat­ur­day with a bunch of Ger­mans in­vited by the In­dian deal­er­ship in Stuttgart. Our ride was our first sam­pling of the amaz­ing Bavar­ian roads. Ev­ery mo­tor­cy­clist lusts for the rare freshly poured road. This is one of the rea­sons why rid­ing in Ger­many is so rad. Ev­ery road we cruised on was in im­pec­ca­ble shape. I stayed an ex­tra week af­ter the event ended and didn’t see one pot­hole or tar snake. The engi­neers must be bike en­thu­si­asts who built the roads just for them­selves. They are pure as­phalt per­fec­tion. Even the high­way exit signs are en­joy­able. I gig­gled ev­ery time I read “Aus­fart” as I tried to obey the flat­u­lent com­mand without s—tting my­self.

On Sun­day morn­ing, the day of the poker run, the weather was rainy and dis­mal. That didn’t stop more than 50 rid­ers from show­ing up—not bad con­sid­er­ing it would have been re­ally easy to sit at home and watch soc­cer.

The base has more than 700 reg­is­tered mo­tor­cy­cles, but many of them that had planned to go were re­cently de­ployed. That is the life of these war­riors. It doesn’t only af­fect them. They have fam­i­lies that have to deal with them hav­ing to leave without much no­tice. Imag­ine be­ing one of their young sons or daugh­ters. The kids know what is go­ing on. They un­der­stand that Daddy might never make it back home. The event even had a bounce house and other fun kid stuff to help them have a taste of a stress-free day. Big B later tells me the event “wasn’t just about mo­tor­cy­cles. It was about com­mu­nity. A break from stress. Just fam­i­lies. Rais­ing morale and pay­ing re­spects to the troops.”

The com­mand sergeant ma­jor (that ba­si­cally means the head dude of the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary in Bavaria), Michael D. Sut­ter­field, and his wife met up with us for the poker run. He has more dec­o­ra­tion than a Christ­mas tree. Once I fig­ured out how im­por­tant he is, I apol­o­gized for my lack of a vo­cal muf­fler. The com­mand sergeant ma­jor smiled and told me he “is flu­ent in sar­casm.”

I asked around to bor­row a pair of

leder­ho­sen for the ride. One of the Ger­man guys I met at the deal­er­ship al­most hooked me up un­til he told me more about them. “Peo­ple wear them dur­ing Ok­to­ber­fest to sit around all day and drink. They are hot and sweaty. When you are drink­ing all day you have to pee a lot. The but­tons are a pain in the ass, and there is lots of splat­ter.” The more I thought about it, the more I re­al­ized it was a bad idea.

Without the afore­men­tioned leather breeches, I donned my rain gear, and we headed out to our first stop. I was lucky enough to get a Road­mas­ter with heated seat and grips. It was comfy and kept me dry. The route snaked through pris­tine roads in the Black For­est. I was glad I’d got­ten to ride the day be­fore, since I had to keep it tight in the bad weather.

We spent way more time than planned at our first stop. The Brauhaus Schön­buch is a classic coun­try­side drink­ing es­tab­lish­ment, with a tree grow­ing through it. It has its own whiskey still and bot­tled the brown hooch into mo­tor­cy­cle-shaped glass bot­tles. Nat­u­rally, we re­ally wanted

to try a taste, but that would have to wait un­til later. Ev­ery­one bought a bot­tle to take home. I took a page from the se­cu­rity guard’s book and had Carey sign my bot­tle.

There were five stops to­tal, which makes sense since a poker hand is five cards. Our third stop was a restau­rant that served, you guessed it, more fried meat. We were low on time and only had a few min­utes to sit down and chug some wa­ter be­fore we had to go back to the base. No need to men­tion it, but none of us ended up win­ning the poker run.

Back at the base, there was a bar­be­cue fea­tur­ing more en­cased meat and lots of smiles. Ser­vice­men and their fam­i­lies thanked Carey for all he does with the Good Ride char­ity and took photos with him. A cou­ple of vet­er­ans shook his hand and gave him chal­lenge coins as a thank you. To some­one like Carey, the sen­ti­ment goes a long way be­cause he un­der­stands that a lot of them are “get­ting shipped to places with civil war and go­ing to help keep the peace. These guys are in pres­sure-cooker sit­u­a­tions.”

There are al­ways more peo­ple to reach, which is prob­a­bly what keeps him go­ing. There were even a few peo­ple who only knew him as the guy who is mar­ried to a pop star and not the per­son who in­vented the Hart At­tack freestyle moto trick. A hand­ful of non­mo­tor­cy­clists even showed up to hang with Hart, B, and the rest of the vet­er­ans to help sup­port the cause.

The good news is that Good Ride raised more than $100,000 last year for In­fi­nite Hero Foun­da­tion. “This year, our goal is to write a $150,000 check to In­fi­nite Hero. I hope as this thing grows we can put a zero be­hind the num­ber,” Carey says. “But you’ve got to crawl be­fore you walk.”

When it be­came clear that Pink wasn’t go­ing to show up, I knew it was time to go home. I had a great time and would have loved to spend an­other month rid­ing through­out Ger­many, but I didn’t have enough re­place­ment un­der­wear with me. The ba­con strips in my un­der­pants from eat­ing pounds of en­cased meat were a hint that it was time to go home for a fresh pair of chonies. HB

Com­mand Sgt. Maj. Mike Sut­ter­field (top left) and his wife, Kelly (bot­tom right), rode a cou­ple hun­dred miles to come celebrate Armed Forces Day with the troops at Stuttgart. Vet­er­ans, ac­tive-duty mil­i­tary, and other lo­cal rid­ers got to come out and en­joy food, drinks, live mu­sic, test rides, and more.

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