This essay is by Clifton Kump, who has worked for years at northern Nevada motorcycle shops and today can be found behind the counter at Reno KTM.
"Cliffy, I'm getting everyone a new set of Shift gear,” Layne said after calling me into his office at the shop. “We are a huge dealer and they are giving us a few free sets and you do a good job, so pick one out!"
When he called me from my post at the parts counter, I figured he was going to bust my chops for putting Richie's (who today is the owner of Moto Source, your MOTO source!) Troy Lee Designs mountain bike gear out on the shop floor, but this time it turned out well. I picked the gold stuff and man, the fit was perfect ... if I could just lose about 20 pounds. Always wishful thinking. Layne made sure we never went without. Good dude!
In the motorcycle industry, there is a culture of "paying it forward." What that means is that when someone does a good deed for you, you repay the favor to someone else in the future. Never have I encountered this pattern more than in my years being involved with dirt bikes. You really do meet the nicest people riding motorcycles. Well, except Harleys – but we will leave that one alone. I don't need any trouble, haha.
I told Ray Sbriglia to meet me at my place so we could get my CR500AF off the godforsaken hill that Russ Pereira had decided I must climb. Russ is a hardcore dude who puts everyone who goes riding with him through Hades. It is all for the betterment of the people he rides with, as he cares about all of them, even though he has a crazy way of showing it. I am a better rider for having ridden with him.
Anyway, Ray was off early that day and told me that he would help me out and tow my bike off the mountain and down to his truck. I had never been a part of any motorcycle "towing," so what did I know? Apparently not enough, because simply Ray towed me off the hill and circled back to retrieve my chain and chain guide. After that, I simply coasted that pig down to his truck, save for the times he towed me up the hills.
Ray is a good man for doing that for me and I still owe him dinner for it. Ray paid it forward that day, as I'm sure someone had done for him in the past. Let me know when you're ready for that dinner, Ray.
"Hey Cliff, is Chester in? I need him to weld my radiator and get me outta here. We are going to Hangtown tomorrow. Think he can do it?" asked one of our customers.
"If anyone can, the mad scientist can,” I replied. “Lemme get the phone to him and you can ask him yourself."
Chester chatted on the phone for close to 15 minutes about the job. He then told the guy to bring it down to the shop (Reno KTM, your local KTM dealer!) and he would get it done. Chester busted out the welder and welding material, pressure-tested the radiator, worked his straightening magic and voila! -- that Chester-fied radiator was as good as new. Chester called the gentleman to notify him and charged him about a third of the price of a new radiator. We had another satisfied customer.
Chester does quality work for less than average. That's his way of paying it forward to everyone that comes to call at his shop.
Brandon, my nephew, came to me and says his Tao Tao (or whatever Chinese garbage bike he has) won't run. It's a pile, but it's his pile and he loves it just as much as I do my 350. He couldn’t care less that it's rigged together with duct tape and Bondo, with a mish-mash of stolen parts from various bikes in his garage. It's his and I could tell he was distraught about its inability to start.
I scoped it out, figured out he needed a new throttle cable and ran to the shop to find him one that would fit. Big Valley Honda (your local Honda Powerhouse dealership) happens to have quite an extensive inventory and some buying power to match. I found a cable in stock that would work (it was originally meant for an old two-stroke) and drove back to my brother’s house. I pulled off the tank and installed his new throttle cable. Brandon was happy as the bike roared to life. He ran inside to tell his pops that his old roach was fixed and that he was going riding.
In helping him out, I paid forward just one of the good deeds someone has done for me while motorcycling. I couldn't have been happier to do it. It was the least I could do.
The cramping between my shoulder blades felt like my spine was in a vice and the pressure was getting seriously unbearable. I had been told by Russ to chill out and not get too crazy on that day’s ride. Did I listen? No way. The day had brought a bizarre chain of events. Russ had just fixed the stator cover on my CR250 about an hour and a half before, after I had rode it into a rock. He JB Welded it and carved a frowning face into the damn thing. He is a smart aleck that way.
Fast forward to him loading my bike into my truck and hauling me to the ER – about an 80 mile drive from Nixon. Russ was on the phone with my girlfriend, telling her that I am an idiot, but he was hauling me back anyway and she should meet us there. I had broken my neck, but Russ was there to get me to the hospital safely.
Most motorcycle shops will go the extra mile to help a fellow rider, and so will the individuals you meet in motorcycling. Pete, the service manager at Reno KTM, repeatedly helps 50cc parents with their bikes out at the track. He knows how it is, as his son Chase is a local racer as well.
Brody at NMS/Reno KTM, Jerry at Moto Source and even the beautiful and talented Tina Bodden at Reno Motorsports will go to great lengths to get you what you need. Go to your local OTHG or Club MX775 meeting and you will meet and mingle with people who have had favors paid forward to them and done the same for others.
There are examples like the ones above happening all over our sport, industry, hobby, passion – whatever you want to call it. There are always people willing to help out. That goes for your local shop, club member or dealer rep, be it Calvin from Western Power Sports, Tony Partsalone from Parts Unlimited or the aforementioned Layne, who today works for Tucker Rocky.
Many of us experience hardships in the pursuit of our passions, but when those moments strike in motorcycling, you can bet there will be someone around to pay it forward.