Even though I’m only three completed episodes into Stories of Bike, I’m feeling pretty lucky with the guys and their bikes that I’ve had the pleasure of documenting so far. Particularly, as each of the episodes mostly came to be on the back of conversations that started with, “You’ve got a nice bike, I’m doing this thing, do you want to help me out?” or “You should go and have a chat with this bloke”.
I’m pretty sure there hasn’t been any sort of careful curation on my part. I think it’s just been totally awesome that anyone has wanted to be involved with Stories at all so far, and that I’ve interviewed pretty interesting guys who happened to have pretty interesting stories to tell as well. These have been narratives that worked well with the whole Stories format. Not too complex and with just the right amount of colour and detail.
But this was a bit of a lazy process that I didn’t feel I could depend on for ever. So I just began to keep my eyes and ears open a little more, to be a little more selective.
When I met Brad for the first time, I did think that he would be a great candidate for a Stories episode. He’s American, well read, travelled and easy with the gab. To me it was a no brainer. Brad and I had a brief chat over the phone while I was getting my cage wheels balanced and we spoke about his migration to Sydney from the US, how he got into riding and why he rides. All the essentials. Again, I thought it should all be fairly straight forward.
So, sitting down with Brad and hearing his story, I actually got more than I bargained for. Going into any interview, I’m usually a bit nervous. Probably more so that the people I’m interviewing. I know the questions I want to ask, I have a bit of an idea of what my interviewee will say, but not completely. I like to keep some of it a mystery to me so the conversation we have is fresh and genuine. But it’s still the unknown that gets me nervous. While I tried to cover most Brad’s story in Episode 3, there was a tonne of great stuff I just had to leave out, purely for the reasons of pacing and length.
In the finished episode, I had covered some of the aspects of his childhood/teen years riding bikes with his Dad and sister, but there was some really nice insight into the relationship with his sister that I had to cut. Brad spoke fondly of her and how, with she being back in the US in San Fran Cisco, they both have developed similar interests and tastes in bikes, even with the timing of their interests and tastes. Brad recalled a phone call with his sister, after having not previously talked for about 6 months, where they were chatting about each getting the same new bike. It was as though they were living the same motorcycling life on opposite ends of the world.
I also (ever so) briefly touched on his life in New York, but couldn’t go into the reasons why he didn’t ride there (cold, snowing, nowhere to park your bike, your bike getting f*cked up, etc).
But most importantly, I didn’t go into Brad’s crashes. Yes, Brad has crashed his bike numerous times since being in Australia. I think he counted about six times in total. He also has crashed other people’s bike. (Side note: Up until Jordan recently crashed Mark Hawwa’s “Ton” Brad was the first and only person to do so. I’m actually considering creating a whole stand-alone episode about this story – it’s that hilarious.)
In fact, Brad actually crashed his bike while filming this episode. And. I. Got. It. On. Film.
While driving along Crown Street, Surry Hills, Sydney, we were crawling along just getting some slow footage of Brad trailing me with the camera mounted on the back of the car. We approached a pedestrian crossing and a couple decided, at the last second, to cross the road. I braked as slowly as I could, completely aware that Brad was behind (and I had asked him to stay fairly close to the back of the car to remain in focus). But he braked, locked up the front and went down to the left. I’m pretty sure he landed just under my rear left wheel (as you can see below).
At the time, I totally shit myself when it happened as I felt totally responsible for it, being the only reason it happened was because he was helping me out by featuring in this episode. Fortunately for both of us we were only doing about 20kms. I was so, so relieved that Brad was okay, but a little shaken, and only some minor damage to the bike. Unfortunately it happened where there were lots of folks getting around on foot. So we were both a tad embarrassed.
Brad was totally composed about the whole thing. After having picked his bike up and dusted himself down, Brad and I headed back to his garage nearby, got his bike cleaned up and back on the road to finished filming for the day. Biggest sigh of relief in the car on the drive back. But having a crash in this episode didn’t go with the tone I was aiming for and didn’t add to the story. So it went.
Finishing the rest of this episode wasn’t as dramatic as the crash, but still a little challenging. Deciding on which narrative thread to follow in Brad’s story was giving me some mild heartburn. At one stage, I went to sleep with a small request to my subconscious to give me the answer by the time I woke up. Which actually worked. I think my brain kept reminding me of the line, which Brad says in the opening shots of the episode: “there are two main ways that I connect with people; music and motorbikes…”. So it became clear that I needed to link everything else to this statement and everything else fell into place.
Narratively, “Contact” was the most complex episode to finish so far. I needed to tell, what was pretty close to a life-story, as efficiently and with as much heart as possible. The heart of Brad’s story, I felt, was that his SR400 connected him to all the people that mattered in his life: His new found friends in Australia and his family back home. Yes, it’s a little cheezy and a little bit obvious. But I think that it’s nice to be reminded about the obvious things in our lives that we usually overlook.