Have you ever caught yourself lost in thought, daydreaming of a time when people were really free? I feel like the word “free”, and “freedom” get thrown around too halfheartedly. I mean the kind of freedom that we have heard from the gray beards, old stories and tales that leave us longing for a time that has all but seemed forgotten. Dreaming of a place when people were wild, fun loving, good hearted, and in the heat of pursuing their passions. We all find ourselves wandering through these thoughts at one time or another. Well, the Georgia Grundle Run is an open field, filled to the brim, with the people that may be one of the last frontiers of this dying breed.
My beautiful bride, Nicole, and I, got a late start heading out. We left Henry County, Ga, about 40 minutes south of Atlanta, at 5:00pm on Friday. We were both elated to finally be moving down the road as the day had seemed drag on, leading up to this moment. Nicole had posted on her social media that we were heading that way and through a series of events, we ended up linking up with our friend Anthony, while we luckily were not even out of town yet. He caught us in the nick of time. He said he needed ten minutes to grab a pillow and a blanket and a shower, and he would be ready to roll. True to his word, we weren’t waiting long before we were screaming up I-75 and on our way to those rolling North Georgia Hills.
As we rolled up the interstate, our luck held out. We pushed through downtown Atlanta at the height of rush hour and were only in traffic for maybe ten minutes. The weather was nice, and we were chasing the promise of good times on the horizon.
We stopped at Cabela’s on the way up to grab Anthony a tent for the heavy rain that was scheduled in the forecast. We stopped there because it was right off the interstate and if anyone would have a tent, it was going to be them. Anthony found a tent for the price of his soul and the troop of girl scouts, posted up outside, suckered him out of the rest of the contents of his wallet. Those macadamia nut cookies hold a power over us all. We took off back down the road, stopping only for beer, chips, and an almost illegal amount of honey buns, as is our way.
We pulled into the Georgia Grundle Run a little after 9:00pm. Just driving down the road, you would never notice it. We were even looking for it, and I knew where it was, and we still passed it. The wall of trees were too thick to even see the lights through, and the roads were winding and have steep drop-offs on the sides, which makes it a little more difficult to take your eyes off the road at night. It is a perfect hideaway. Last year, the area was newly bought, and had been cleared of brush the day before the event. I was amazed at how much grass had grown and how much work and maintenance had been done to the property. As we pulled in and made our way through, we saw that there were two places to really make camp. There was a big open area at the bottom of the hill, and at the top of the hill, where the party was, it was mostly filled up already.
We attempted to find a place in the bottom but after working through the bottomlands, we decided to park our bikes, load up with a few beerskies, and scope the land on foot first. As we made our way through, we ran into familiar faces. We stopped for short conversation, knowing that we still had to put this tent up before we can let loose. We parted ways and made our way through the rest of the camp. We found an ideal spot in the dark, on the upper level close to the action, went and grabbed our bikes and made camp.
With the tent setup and all our responsibilities finished, it was time to party, and party we did. We first went over to Custom Destruction’s tent, filled with top quality dudes and top quality ¾ helmets. For those not familiar, Custom Destruction makes the finest ¾ helmets known to man. They fit like a glove (or really good helmet), and they’re veteran owned, made by a fellow Marine. They don’t just sell helmets though. Go check them out at customdestruction.com. Wes, the owner is a solid dude, and you can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep. Every single dude in that crew is just teeming with good character and a love for good timing. I could easily talk to those guys all night. We spent a few hours at their tent, hanging out and catching up. It was the perfect way to begin this fun filled weekend.
We eventually stumbled our way out of their tent and meandered around throughout the campground. We got to meet so many cool people, a lot of whom I had been wanting to meet for a long time, and everyone was just so nice and welcoming. We linked up with Panhead Jim, an incredible moto journalist and photographer, and also a great conversationalist. He’s a sharp guy and busts out one liner after one liner. I have to be on my game to keep up, but he had me rolling! I really enjoyed talking with him and his articles are so well written and well thought out. He’s the kind of writer that I aspire to be. He specializes in vintage motorcycles and goes into some really great stuff on pieces of history and far off places. He also has a mechanical knowledge that I don’t think I even scratch the surface of. There is a 5-part piece “Panhead Jim Builds a Sportster Chopper” that my wife and I are going through in great detail, as we are working through our first build of a sportster chopper, that will eventually be Nicole’s once we are finished, and require every ounce of guidance. Go checkout his work @panhead_jim on Instagram and his linktree panheadjim.
We also got to meet Gorgeous George that night, who when we met, I had had a few drinks, and blurted out “Hey, you’re Beautiful George!” Because I’m a fangirl, and I am just that smooth. As soon as it left my mouth, I knew I was wrong, I knew what his name was, but the beer wouldn’t let me think fast enough to redeem myself. George was super cool about it though and it led into good jokes and a good time. He was a super easy to talk to guy and I am glad I got to meet him. Gorgeous George does amazing illustrations that all blow me away. He also sells unique and vintage pieces every so often on his Instagram page @georgeousgeorgeyardsale. I got a Harley Davidson belt buckle from him, from 1978, and Nicole got some Jewelry that I don’t think she has taken off yet. If I come into some money, I am going to clean him out of his wares. Go checkout his page @thegorgeousgeorge to checkout his work. From there, we headed back to our tent and called it a night. When we laid down, I saw the time said 3:00am and realized just how much fun we were having. Mom and Dad don’t stay up past 11 anymore without a struggle, so I know that if it was 3 and we didn’t even notice, we were having a blast.
The next morning, we woke up bright eyed and surprisingly well rested. We set up our 5-dollar chairs that I am glad we remembered to strap to the bike and posted up in front of our tent for an easy wake up into the morning. As I looked out over the campground, people were walking around, enjoying coffee and breakfast beers with each other, hopping from camp to camp. Campfires and grills had breakfast going, and all those good smells filled the air, with the sounds of laughter in tow.
We decided to hop up and run to the store for some supplies, so we hopped on the bikes and headed down to the nearest gas station, about 3 miles away. We loaded up with coffee, more honeybuns, beers, and all the other necessities and then I had my morning poop in the A/C. After my time in the Marine Corps Infantry, I get that air-conditioned poop every chance I get. It’s the little things in life.
We got back to camp, and our dude, Anthony, has a street glide, with the attachment that acts as a trunk. I was instantly sold to its usefulness, when it was turned into a cooler for the length of the trip, filled to the brim with ice and beers. We were dumping our drinks into this thing, when over walks, probably the most hospitable human being that I have met in my 33 years on the earth. His name was Michael Livingston, and some of you may know him as @faster_than_your_mom. We were camped out right next to him and he walked over to introduce himself and to offer us some breakfast potatoes that he had cooked up, and that he had in hand. Michael is from New Jersey, and I have to point out, that this is the second event in a row that we have been posted up next to people from the north, and twice now, they have been nicer than any southerner I have ever met.
We hung out with Michael several times throughout the day and during that time, we got to speak with him in depth. He invited us to pull up our chairs up to his spot, so we did and drank some beers and spent some time together. I sat and listened to the stories about his life, and found myself awestruck on more than one occasion. He has survived wild event, after serious encounter, after near miss, and is still rolling with the most positive outlook a man can have. Building and moving forward and pressing on, living a life of growth. I am certain that you could hit this guy with a truck, and he would still come at you, smiling. He spoke about the importance of putting good out into the world and good coming back to you because of it. He is the owner of “Faster Than Your Mom” and posting up at these chopper events. Hit him up if you see him and go buy something cool. Plus, who doesn’t want to party with good people? Just being around a guy like Michael, full of charisma and good tidings, has you leaving feeling better about the world yourself. I am looking forward to hanging out again at the next one.
There was a real o’neal wrestling match, planned for later in the night, and I am still not entirely sure how it happened, but Anthony and I got recruited to move the wrestling ring 150 feet across the field. I honestly enjoyed taking the ring apart and assembling it again. I was able to meet some guys involved with it and was offered a chance at wrestling myself if I was interested. Don’t let this tough exterior fool you, I bruise like a peach, and the padding on the mat might have been a whole inch thick. I had to respectfully decline but get a few beers in me and I might be ready to tangle for fun.
Shortly after finishing the ring, the bike games began. There was a section of field roped off for the games. I would guess that it was roughly 50 feet wide by 80 yards long. I also want to point out that the track wasn’t by any means void of holes and divots. Going slow, my own bike wanted to dump every chance that it got. This is not a race for the faint of heart. Guys lined up their bikes up at the start point and then walked down the track about 100ft. When the signal was given, they all took off on foot, racing to get to their bikes. All of the bikes in this race were kick to start, and as a generality, don’t necessarily fire that first kick. They raced to get their bikes to fire. As soon as each bike came to life, they tore across the field, full bore and with abandon.
The next game was the “slow race”, always a classic, and based around the idea of, from the moment they say go, who can’t go the slowest and least distance, for the longest, and without putting your feet down. Some of the guys had a tremendous amount of skill, and catlike balance. Coming from a person with the agility of newborn deer, I find it specifically impressive.
There were more games from my understanding, but I got distracted with conversation and wandered off. There was also a contest following the games and the winning titles were “Nice Try”, “Longest Turd”, “Sketchiest Bike”, “Wow What A Sportster”, “Coolest Van”, “That’s Not A Harley”, “Longest Ride”, and the coveted title belt, “Best Chopper”.
In perfect timing after these events, the sky opened up. A full-on monsoon, rained down on the inhabitance of chopperdom, and it stopped absolutely nothing. A giant roll of plastic was rolled out for the slip and slide of your childhood dreams come true. Dawn dish soap was used to slick the slide, and away we went. It was the shower we needed, coupled with the good times we wanted. Dreams to come true. Nicole and I went down hand in hand, and as I hit the slide, I instantly realized my mistake and began to summersault. There was a point where I was airborne and upside down, time slowed to a halt, and I watched my knee come within an inch of cracking my wife in the head as I tumbled. I missed and all was well, but party at your own risk.
The time we all had been waiting for had finally arrived and the wrestling match was firing off. These guys came out and instantly started dogging the crowd, working everyone into a frenzy. It was bedlam from the start! Half full beer cans were getting thrown into the ring, obscenities shouted from all parties, wrestlers jumping off the turnbuckles, the crowd going wild! There were multiple matches and with each passing matchup, the crowd grew more electric. I wandered off for a second to get a refill, and I came back just in time to see “The Monster Cyrus” begin to enter the crowd. This indomitable, mountain of a man, making his way through a crowd of boozed up, frenzied bikers, with zero concern. A staple gun got pulled out somewhere and I watched him take multiple staples to the body like they were nothing. I lost sight of him, and it seemed like a few minutes later I caught a sight of him bleeding from the head, daring the crowd with every step. It was incredible showmanship.
The matches continued and blood was spilled, people were hit, and thrown, and slammed, to our hearts content. Gorgeous George made his way into the arena as well, fully done up in a get up that reminded me of a mixture of Sting (without the face paint), and Stone Cold Steve Austin, whipping wholesale ass.
The matches finalized and it was back to a night of good music, drinks, and friends. The slip and slide was still rolling, the stripper pole (courtesy of Faster Than Your Mom) was still in use by anyone who wanted a crack at it, and things were cruising right along. I saw Cyrus, standing not far off, and made a B line for him. I offered him two beers, because I didn’t’ think one I was going to do anything for a man that size, and into conversation we went.
After the display that I just saw, I was blown away that this colossus that I was talking to was one of the most well-spoken people that I talked to at the entirety of the event. A super cool guy. He told us about the places that he has gotten to travel to and the cool places that wrestling has taken him, the next on the agenda, I believe, is a match in Japan. We got to hear about his life outside the ring too, a loving husband and father, who, like myself, is proud of his family and enjoys talking about them. Being a husband and father is the best part of my life and the way he talks about his family, I think Cyrus would agree. Nothing is better than big powerful dudes who are fully into the dad life. I liked Cyrus a lot.
He’s a guy pursuing what he loves and who sounds like he’s hit his stride on all fronts. I could have, without a doubt, talked to him all night, but naturally others were biding for his attention, so we parted ways.
Somewhere in the evening, a bonfire the size of a small shed was set ablaze, and Nicole and I were drawn to it like moths to the flame. I remember spending the rest of the evening there, smoking and joking, and then Wes handed me a margarita and after finishing that one off, I was ready to turn in. I stepped into the tent with the love of my life, kicked off my wet clothes, snuggled up and off to dreamland we went.
I woke up the next morning, head spinning and voice a little hoarse, poked my head out of the tent, and to my surprise, the field was mostly empty. Everyone apparently gets up much earlier than me after the beer and bikes party. Anthony was already packed and ready to roll, so we followed in suit. We said our goodbyes, loaded up, and headed back home. Thanks to Cody, Ron, and Michael, for putting on such an awesome time! It was so seamless in design. My only regret is that we did not get there sooner to meet more people and take in more of the surroundings.
The older I get, with the gray beginning to enter my hair faster than expected, the interests of my life and the things that I care about grow and shift. At the heart of my enjoyment, I want to hear about people’s lives. I want to hear about their stories, where they’re from, how they got here, and what they’re after next. The Grundle Run and the chopper community have highlighted the kind of motorcyclist that has my interest, and I intend to take it further. This event was healing for my spirit, and I enjoyed it to the fullest. I look forward to the next event and I look forward to taking these journey’s farther across the country. Thanks for reading. Be excellent to each other and party on!