I’m croaking. Not dying (well I am, we all are, but let’s not get existential). I haven’t even done a full day of One Moto Show duty and my voice is going. It’s not the show’s fault. Well, not entirely. It’s Portland’s.
I’ve been visiting the city, once or twice a year for the One Show or Dirt Quake USA, since 2013, and I both know my way around and know lots of people in the city and, even though, I am NOT a party person. I’m a morning person, yes, one of them, that sense of familiarity is a factor in my current state. Plus, even though I’m here to work, I feel like I’m on holiday and hit the ground running. I’m collected from the airport at 9.30pm by Todd, a firm friend made through Dirt Quake USA. ‘Thor’s been on the phone. He asks if we’re going to the Handy Slut.’
The Handy Slut is not one of the many strip clubs Portland is inordinately proud of, but the Spoonerist name of a neighbourhood dive bar, real name, The Sandy Hut. Thor, as you should be aware, is founder of See See Motorcycles and furry spearhead of The One Moto Show. I love Thor, and the Handy Slut, let’s go. (Lift Off Lounge pictured)
2am, 36 hours after leaving Lincolnshire, I finally flake out for all of 4.5 hours sleep. This uncharacteristic dearth of shut-eye is repeated, give or take 45 minutes, until I get on the plane home six days later. Hence the croaking.
You know what the One Moto Show is, a melting pot of bike genres, art, music and dirt track racing. A feelgood knees-up, open to all. It helped establish the blueprint that has been adopted in other corners of the world, including London and Paris by the Bike Shed. And you know Portland, even if you’ve never been. The self-proclaimed weird city was instrumental in drafting the blueprint for ‘hipster’ bikers, and for that I am truly grateful to it. I remember what UK motorcycling used to be like, before the new-gen revolution, and it was a less interesting place.
After moving, every one or two years, from empty space to empty space around the city, the show barged its way into a basketball/ice hockey arena for 2020, the Veteran Memorial Coliseum. The Beatles played here, Evel jumped here. Last year the show was held in a dilapidated pickle factory, a place with no infrastructure so everything had to be brought in: bars, toilets, lights, power, everything. The move to coliseum also allowed the show’s sister event, The One Pro flat track races, to be held under the same roof, rather than one hour away in Salem.
Having organised much more modest events, and knowing how small the core See See team is, the move and investment was mind-boggling. I wondered how the somewhat grungy and anarchic One Show would translate to a space where every flake of paint pulled off the wall by an artist’s double-sided tape results in a bill. The drunken electric minibike racing was a casualty, but there was axe-throwing, ‘name’ live rock bands and hours of indoor flat track, the latter being one of the reasons I’d flown to America for the show.
Hundreds of riders had travelled from all over North America, a couple more – Leah Tokelove and Anthony ‘DTRA’ Brown, had flown from the UK to race. Tons of Oregon clay had been trucked in, flattened down, torn up, flattened, torn up again and squished flat to try dry and compact it. Making temporary flat tracks is notoriously difficult, and even with an experienced team of dirt perverts the track was challenging. Which was fine with me, because I wasn’t racing on it! Beer in hand, collar up, after a long day chatting to Sideburn readers and selling merch from a borrowed picnic table, I was ready to watch the finals.
There was a whole meteor field of Bultaco Astros, enough hooligans to fill Millwall’s Den and the buzz of the world’s first Electric National – won by pro flat tracker Sammy Halbert on a Zero. Leah was racing a borrowed S&S Indian FTR 1200. The Lincolnshire student gains fans wherever she goes and it’s not hard to see why. She qualified for the final of the SuperHooligan Pro race, having won her heat race. That meant she was in arguably the biggest race of the whole ten-hour day on a monster of a bike, on a somewhat beastly track, sharing the grid with a pack of axe murderers. I love racing, really love it, but not one molecule of me wanted to swap the can of beer in my right hand for the throttle in Leah’s. She finished an impressive mid-pack, against pro racers on bikes they were dialled-in on after season’s of development.
Much of the rest of racing was a blur of oohs and aahs and it ended in time for more chats back at the Sideburn booth for me, heavy rock for others, drunken karaoke for some and contemplation of the 200 or so bikes and, was it 80 traders?, that were all for the taking till midnight.
The One Moto Show raised their game, added some polish, and a few tons of dirt, attracted a massive cross-section of the two-wheeled world and kept smiling all the way through. The show, and its hometown, welcomed me with open arms and bearhugged me till I rasped like a part-time fire-eater and felt the need to gobble vitamins by the fistful. Thanks Portland. – Gary
Gary’s iPhone dump
And some pro shots by Alyssa Del Valle
If you don’t follow Sideburn, See See or The One Show – then who actually are you?