As it turns out, a good way to make dreams come true (or at least make your life change) is to just start typing things you like into the jobs section of Craigslist. For example, a floor stain like myself might try such search terms as: frozen burrito, roadkill, or my own muscles. Sparkling with a childlike optimism rarely glimpsed in our fair Eli, he entered motorcycle into the search bar, and forever changed the course of The Rampage. In fact, he derailed it temporarily and the trailer is sitting vacant (hopefully including mice) at our friends’ house outside of Reno for the next 5 months while we roll around the East Coast living out of hotels and working a demo tour of Can-Am Spyders.
Here’s how it happened: Our faithful Amazon fulfillment center, which has been funding this rampage for the last two years, shut down in January. Without our annual 2 months of income the rampage had been jolted back into the fiery chaos from whence it came. The months after Amazon were supposed to be a New Dawn of freedom, except that my apparently chronic butt injury wouldn’t heal, and living on a permanent climbing trip in such a state is a special kind of torture. Instead of listening to me insist that I would be fine and able to climb “any day now” for infinity more months, Eli decided that I needed to be somewhere I couldn’t continue trying to climb (read: re-injuring myself) in order to heal. When I told my mom this, she asked, “How the Hell did you find him?!” Well, I noodled him out of a catfish hole. Serious catch. On top of all this, we needed to make money again. Our first stop was Florida, for Daytona Bike Week.
Daytona Bike Week can be summed up by loudly slurring two words while dumping beer on someone:
SPRING BR BIKE WEEEK! For example, roving packs of old Harley guys expect to be able to do things like call me Princess, or pretend I’m running a kissing booth that they get to patronize, and walk out with all 11 of the teeth they walked in with. Untrue!
Truth is, Bike Week was a lot of fun, and (with the exception of Kissing Booth Guy, who had to be eliminated) every time someone sexually harassed me they backpedaled immediately upon seeing the disgusted look on my face, “Sorry, it’s just, it’s Bike Week!” Which is, of course, the most noble of excuses. It was harmless, and honestly it was still a great environment. Everyone had come to Daytona to have a good time, and working with people who are on vacation almost makes it feel like I’m on vacation. Regardless of the fact that I’ve never made a bucket list (because I never plan on kicking the bucket), I vanquished the shit out of one in Daytona. Between doing a burnout on Main St., watching Supercross from a VIP suite at the International Speedway while being served free beer and a three-course meal, and getting paid real money to ride motorcycles* I can’t even complain about the long days we work. I mean, I’m capable of anything I put my mind to… so I’ll give it a shot.
There are two types of stops that dominate the demo tour: bike events such as Daytona Bike Week or Sturgis, and Demo Days at dealerships. The bike events are busy, but the dealer stops are grueling. The schedule for those days begins at 7am when we drive to the dealership and start unloading the semi truck we travel with, which includes 13 Spyders, many ridiculous displays, the cone course, and a giant black igloo of a tent that vaguely resembles a spider and has one million pieces. We then lead demo rides from 10am to 6pm, pack everything back into the truck (~7:30 or 8pm), and drive to the next location, which this past Friday was 281 miles away. Checked into the hotel around midnight and fell asleep by 1am. Woke up at 5:30am to do it all again. So far that is the most extreme example, but 1 or 2 hour drives are standard. Fortunately, the job itself is worth it.
Before we began this job I was excited because I knew that one of my main responsibilities would be making sure people have fun all day. What I didn’t consider is how much more accessible Spyders are than motorcycles, and as a result, how much more meaningful it can be to get someone onto a Spyder. Many Spyder riders are older people who can’t hold up motorcycles anymore (so maybe they’ve dropped their Goldwing with their wife on the back…) but still want to have adventures. One demo rider couldn’t ride motorcycles because he didn’t have a left leg, and the semi-automatic Spyder was the perfect solution because he wouldn’t have to hold it up at stoplights, or shift with a nonexistent left foot. Because states don’t offer Spyder endorsements, everyone has to have a motorcycle endorsement and pass our cone course before we take them out on the road. The cone course offers a special opportunity for people who are curious, but might be intimidated by motorcycles, to experience the thrill without having to learn to ride a motorcycle first. We teach them how to use the bike and let them ride around the cone course as much as they like while everyone else is out on the road. At the end of the day, giving someone a chance on a Spyder is more rewarding than getting a bro onto a crotch rocket, so even though it isn’t the bike I own, I’d be hard pressed to think of a job I’d rather do.
*As our registration waiver makes very clear Spyders aren’t motorcycles, they are roadsters.