SCRC Loudoun VA Featured Member - March, 2007

Name:   Chuck Owings

Nickname:   EasyRider

Marital Status:  Happily married to Debbie for 28 years.

Location:  Hillsboro, VA

Hometown:  Born in Gladwyne, PA - 16yrs&
Shewsbury, MA - 2 yrs&
Vienna, Herndon, VA - 18 yrs&
Hillsboro, Va - 17 yrs

Children:  Crystal-25; Matt- 21

Age:  Older-n-dirt 52

Occupation:  Short Hill Design & Construction

Current motorcycle(s):  Honda VTX 1800 Retro 2002; Honda Shadow VLX600 Deluxe: Debbie's; Honda VTX 1300-C: Debbie's NEW bike.

How did you hear about the SCRC and when did you join?
Best I can remember, I was at the Roy’s parking lot and saw the group getting ready to head out on a ride. Asked what grup it was and got a card from Parkash with the website address on it. I think it was in 2004.

How long have you been riding?
Since 1998 this time around. I did a bit of riding back when I was a teenager but, I rode full throttle or full brakes and knew I’d probably kill myself if I kept it up. Decided to move on to old Triumph TR3 sports cars instead.

Have you ever taken a motorcycle safety course?
Not an official MSF course but I’ve worked with the MotorMan training course extensively.

What was your first bike?
I built my first "bike" in Junior high school shop. It was a kit mini-bike that I customized with an 8 hp motor, springer front end, ape hangers, banana seat and sissy bar. Terrorized the neighborhood for a while on that and then worked on a 250 Yamaha with a friend and turned it into a bobber.

How many bikes have you owned?
Picked up a Honda 750 in 1998, kept it for 2 years, traded to a Honda 1100, kept it for 2 years and then VTX’s hit the production line and I knew I had to have one. Debbie and I were riding around on the 1100 and dropped into Winchester Honda. I wanted to show her this new VTX. I said, "We should really get one of these". She said "OK"! That was unexpected but, not to look at a gift horse in the mouth, I traded the 1100 in right then and there and we rode out on the VTX about 2 hours later.

Why do you ride?
I call it "Motorcycle Therapy". It’s one of the best things you can do with your life. I’m a contractor so stress is a big part of my life. When I put the 1800 between my legs and turn the throttle, all that stress just fades away. I become one with the road and the world around me. Kind of a smell the roses thing at 90mph!

Have you ridden with an organized group before?
The first group I hooked up with was the Virginia X Riders. It was originally all VTX 1800 owners. We started a sub-group in Northern Virginia and I put together many of the rides. They were basically "catch me if you can" rides. I rode with Debbie on the back and figured, if I could make it through whatever the road was, everyone following me should be able to do it as well. It was exciting but, we scared off a bunch of potential members because of the speed. We have tamed it down a bit and any kind of bike or rider can ride with us now. Although, on a prime set of twisties, well lets just say, we’ll meet the rest of the pack at the next intersection when they catch up.

What modifications have you done to your bike?
Short of chopping the frame and rebuilding the motor, I think I’ve done just about everything that can be done to a VTX. Every winter since I bought it, it would be completely torn down and on a jack all winter. I’d go out to the garage and ponder it then come up with something, head for the computer, order a part I just had to have and wait for the UPS guy. Best I could count up is 37 mods not including the ones I have changed more than once. I’ve surely spent more on the mods than I did for the bike!

What accessories do you want to add to your bike?
Looking hard at installing VTX NEO fenders and repainting it again. A rather large investment but, if I do, they will be on there by the time good riding weather happens again.

What is your dream bike?
I really want to do a custom pro-street chopper. I have looked hard at what Crazy Jane’s can do and like their style. I would probably work with them and my brother at Custom Cycle Studio to come up with the perfect custom ride for me.

What kind of riding do you like to do — straight-aways or twisties?
I'm a back-roads kind of guy. I can spend all day in the mountain twisties. I’ll do highway if I need to get to some good twisties. Debbie and I have been planning on going out to the west coast and doing route 1 from Oregon to southern California and back up through the Sierras. Maybe we’ll get around to it one of these days.

If you have a nickname, how did you get it? Tell the truth!
Easy Rider is the name. I picked it as it was a movie that kind of cemented the notion of needing to ride in my blood. Just had to get through the whole family thing before I could do the motorcycle thing again.

What is your favorite riding route?
Like I said, If it's twisty back roads, that's my favorite route. I think I've worn some permanent groves in the roads around here. I had to pick a good local ride I would say the Blue Ridge and Skyline although the speed limit is a bit low.

Do you ride your bike to work?
I would but the X doesn’t do stairs well. I have a home office.

What is the fastest you’ve ridden?
Well, I stopped looking at the speedo at about 125 mph. I know the X will do about 145 mph before the rev-limiter kicks in and I didn’t get there. Although, when riding with the X Riders, we passed a speed trap going in excess of 110 on route 211 heading back from Skyline. He flashed his lights at us and shook his head. We did slow down a bit after that.

What is your favorite time of year to ride?
Any time the temp is above 40 and there is no snow and preferably no rain!

Have you ever been down? If so, how were you hurt and what did you learn from the incident?
Just slow speed or stopped lay-downs to date. You know, that stupid stuff. Messed up my ankle pretty badly trying to load my 1100 onto my truck when it fell off the ramp but, that’s the only injury I’ve had, yet... Laid that ol’ mini-bike into a telephone pole, lying in a field, at about 50 mph back in the day. That hurt a bit as I went flying through the ape hangers.

Have you ever done an "Iron Butt" ride?
No, not yet. I understand there is one that kind of does the perimeter of Virginia. Might get around to that someday.

If not, what is the furthest you’ve ridden?
Haven’t done a lot of multi day road trips. Single day ride, maybe 500-550 miles.

What was the worst weather in which you’ve ridden?
Sleet. Sleet really sucks with a half helmet!

Do you know how to work on your bike?
Yes. I do all the work on my bike. If for some reason I need to put it in the shop because I don’t have the tools I need, I will be right over the mechanic’s shoulder working with him.

What is your favorite road song?
Maybe Born to be Wild but, I leave my music at home. The best music while riding is the rumble of a good set of pipes.

What was your most adventurous ride?
Every ride is an adventure if you do it right. Isn’t that the point???

What rallies or events do you like to attend?
Bike shows. I really like to see what creative things people do with their rides.

Is there someone who rides "two-up" with you?
My wife Debbie just loves to ride with me up until last year when we got her that VLX600. I think she prefers to ride on her own now. I’m pretty sure that when we get her on the VTX1300 that will be the end of her two-up riding. Since she started riding on her own, two-up riding just doesn’t do it for her any more. She is a great 2-up rider. She rides with the bike and likes to go fast. I would forget she was back there until I screwed up and I’d get a smack in the back of the head!

Off the cuff from...EasyRider
I really need to talk a bit about the Southern Cruisers and any of the other riding clubs I am involved with. Generally, a really great group of like minded riders. We come from all walks of life with a common love for riding on two wheels. We share that ability and need to leave that work-a-day life behind for a while and enjoy the open road and the camaraderie of the group. A better group of people I will not likely find elsewhere. On a motorcycle, you are out there on the edge of sanity and it is all consuming. I need that in my life as we all do weather we choose to admit it or not. It is the ability to really live as close to the edge as you wish. It keeps me in touch with my mortality while strengthening my morality. We have chosen a path that many consider crazy but it makes us know we are alive. As they say, the journey is the destination. I choose to go there on two wheels.