OUR BOTTOM NINE
Long live the cruise
Now, as the wind blows cold and the skies turn grey, we must drive only for good reason. And in boring winter beaters with heated seats, power steering, snow tires and bluetooth. Inside these soulless cages of creature comforts we collectively yearn for winter to be over, even though it's barely even begun.
We grip our cold, arthritic hands around the warmth of our heated steering wheels and think longingly about our toys languishing in storage. "I wonder if my motorcycle is thinking of me too?" we ponder quietly. "I hope it's not too cold in that garage," we worry. "Did I add enough fuel stabilizer?", "Will it turn over in the spring?"
'The cruise' is one of the simplest of summer pleasures. A ritual. A parade of one. Folks have been engaging in the cruise since Gottlieb Daimler retrofitted a horse-drawn stagecoach with his wacky gas powered engine in 1882. From horny, pimple-faced teenagers rolling up and down the strip with a fresh G1 to old-timers travelling from car show to car show with nothing but time to kill and two old school lawn chairs in the trunk.
@hobbslightning shot by @kylepoole47
But you don't. You don't do any of this. Instead, you drag the heft of your half-dead body around the house until your cramped and fumbling hands manage to locate the cupboard with the Steeltown coffee in it. Mustering the very, very last shred of life-force within, you manage to brew a cup. And just like that you're reanimated. You're jolted to life by an invisible defibrillator. You're yourself again. And you realize, as you bask in the glow of a caffeine induced euphoria, that our coffee beans have been roasted specifically for the eradication of this seemingly incurable weariness.
Speed is everything
The tach is useless, you sense the rotations of the crank on a finer scale than an instrument cluster ever could. And there's no need for the speedometer, you know you're speeding anyway. You anticipate, you predict, you react subconsciously. And in this monk-like state of motorcycle transcendence, you suspend yourself in reality. You're there, but you're not really there. You think you exist, but do you really?
Whipping through Dallas, Texas with @kn1ckster in a pair of Steeltown Armoured Riding Gloves
Pic by @7th.visual
Back to basics
We go back to the basics. We get creative. We draw. We doodle. We look for inspiration in the most random places. We think about Steeltown in big, wide, abstract ways. We try to forget, at least for a few fleeting moments, the granularity of owning and operating a scrappy little brand. Taxes. Long hours. Payroll. Screen fees. Ad spend. Espresso machine repairs. Rent hikes. Meetings with lawyers. Financial instability et cetera.
We take this time to decompress, defragment and detangle. Even if it's only a week or so. It was Jackie Stewart, one of history's greatest race car drivers, who famously said "Sometimes you need to ease off in order to go faster." So excuse us while we ease off. Excuse the slow email replies, the shipping delays, the Instagram silence, and what may appear to be a general lack of enthusiasm. We're still working, we're just working differently.
Cross the threshold
And as you leave the safe space of the garage, as you cross that threshold from womb to world, you get that feeling deep in yer gut. That feeling that suddenly, anything could happen, good or bad. That feeling that you're no longer protected, no longer safe. That you're no longer in control. This is the exact moment that preparation ends and living life begins.
They say your comfort zone will kill you. But that's not really true, is it? In all likelihood, your comfort zone will do nothing more than keep you safe and secure. The only way your comfort zone will kill you is by stopping you from actually living. So live. Cross the threshold. Go out into the madness of the world. Risk everything. Leave the garage and ride.
#SteeltownJeff shot by @robanzit
Burnin' gas n kicking ass
But if we had to chalk it up to something it would be the fact that we've never, not once, ever, taken our foot off the gas. Since that fateful day in the spring of 2017, we've been going unapologetically flat out, white-knuckled, holding on for dear life, refusing to give in, our face-skin pulled taut from the sheer velocity of it all, trying desperately just to outrace the mental madness of small business ownership.
Built for the everyday
Hitting the gym with @btakyi
Shot by @erinsydneymitchell
But every so often you're gonna put that crash helmet to the test. You're gonna make a miscalculation, or the winds'll change when you're already in the air, or for no other reason than life just being cruel and unusual sometimes, you'll find yourself suddenly getting an up close view of the hot asphalt at 80mph.
You'll think to yourself in this moment: How did I get here? What have I done? Well, you did something that most people only fantasize about. You tried. You really tried. You stared unblinkingly into the eerie abyss of fear and you did not back down. When it said to you "go home, you don't belong here, you don't have what it takes" you revved your engine back in its stupid face and gave it all the hell you hadinya.
On May 26, 1975, Evel Knievel tried to jump 13 busses at Wembley Stadium. This is what the landing looked like. He broke his hand, two vertebrae and his left pelvis. Miraculously, he rose to his feet minutes later, announced his retirement over the loudspeaker and hobbled off. He changed his mind about retirement three days later. "Bones heal," he said, "pain is just temporary".