Sunday, July 15, 2012

Girls Wrench Too! Meet Chris Gibbany from Boneyard Choppers

About a month ago I received an e-mail inquiring if I profile women riders/builders.  I'd say that this woman rider/builder e-mailed the right person!!  I love seeing women who forge the way for all the women out there that love motorcycling or anything moto related.  I'm excited to introduce you all to Chris Gibbany and her passion for motorcycles, cars, living an amazing cheap life, and hedgehogs!! 

Give us a bio about yourself.
I am 39 years old, married to my soul mate, Gabe. I was born in California but raised here in Arkansas, currently residing in Harrison. I have worked a bunch of minimum wage jobs only to find that just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, it in fact DID, so I have been self employed for 6 years now. I raise and rescue hedgehogs and am one of only about 30 breeders in the whole USA.  I help my husband build vintage bikes (calling ourselves Boneyard Choppers), and am an extreme couponer. I also sell T-shirts, sell vitamins and essential oils and experiment with all kinds of things. I have raised and sold meal worms, sold and shipped cat food, been a professional wedding photographer for 10 years and now I play the "credit card game". I also enter sweepstakes and write a blog called Amazing cheap life.

Was there something specific that drew you into the motorcycle lifestyle?
I've always loved bikes and cars- in fact, that's really all I ever think about. As far as a “lifestyle”, I'm not real sure what that means. I just live the way I want to, do what I want and put every dime I get into all of my toys. I have actually went down to 2 cars (first time since I was 19) because bikes are easier to maintain, take up less room, we can build them in the house, and instead of several thousand dollars for a paint job, at best it costs a couple hundred.

How long have you been riding?
I've been riding since I was 16. I learned to ride before I learned to drive.

What was your first motorcycle?
First bike I learned to ride was a 185 Yamaha Exciter, first bike I bought for myself was a 1990 Yamaha DT Enduro. I bought it during my third year of college in 1993.

What do you currently ride?
I am currently riding a 1981 Harley Ironhead that we built, that I call my “Billy Bike”, because I built it to look like a "billy bad ass". I also ride a Yamaha TW enduro but am fixing to sell it and build a BSA or Triumph to use as my multi-purpose bike. I am almost done with my 1956 Panhead (kick only) that we have been building in the living room for 2 years. I also bought another 'secret” project as I always like to be building something in the living room.

How do you feel when you are riding?
I feel like riding gives you a certain form of “power” and it gives you the sense of freedom that makes all of your troubles disappear. The feeling I get when I am riding is the same feeling I used to get when I was drag racing- except that the riding lasts a lot longer and is WAY cheaper! When my thoughts are taking over my brain, or I just need to clear my head, nothing does that better than getting on a bike and just blasting down the road. I also like to talk to GOD when I ride and since I like to “lolly-gag” when I ride, my mind is always thinking about my next big project or some goal that I would like to accomplish.

Is there a motto that you live by?
“You only live once, so you better make it count”

Why Harley Davidson?
I really love the look and appeal of the old vintage Harleys. Although I started out on small metric bikes, nothing looks OR sounds like the real old iron of yesterday. When I start thinking about an old bike, I wonder about it's owner, and where they went and how that person felt when they owned the bike. The sheer fact that something that old is still around is amazing to me and I wonder why more people aren't into the old bikes. I like the history and I also am BIG into “reduce, reuse and recycle” so I like the fact that we can keep the old bikes. “Old iron never dies”.

Do you feel you are treated differently because you choose to ride a motorcycle?
I feel like I get more respect because I ride. When I am wearing my Boneyard Choppers work shirt, I notice people not only won't talk to me, but they don't even want to be caught staring at me. But when I wear a low-cut shirt, it's a whole different ballgame. One day I was wearing my work shirt and this guy starting asking me about it. He then told me he had a 57 Fl, and I said “Yeah, I have an FL too”. I grew up around here and have always had hot rods and raced, so most people know me and I don't think they think much about it- just Chris doing something else motor-related.

Is there really a motorcycle “wave” or is it just something we do to freak non-riders out?
I still get it all the time. Back in the day when there were fewer bikes on the road, it was cool to meet another biker but now with so many people riding, it's just irritating. When I am driving my Corvette, other Corvette drivers wave at me and when my husband is driving his old Jeep, other Jeep owners wave at him. I think it is an acknowledgment that “Hey look, I am riding too” or in a vehicle “Hey, I am driving a Corvette too”. I don't mind it when I am in one of my cars, because you don't see too many on the road. But if everyone was driving a Corvette, (1) I'd get tired of waving and (2) I'd sell my Vette!

What do you think of helmet laws?
I believe in freedom and the freedom of choice. I personally think that EVERYTHING should be legal- all drugs, prostitution, assault weapons, Diet Coke, etc and that WE as responsible people should have the right to choose and if we make the wrong choice, then as in everything else, there are consequences. I think that we should have morals, use good judgment and 'everything in moderation'. So I think there should be fewer laws, fewer rules and less government interference.

Do loud pipes really save lives?
YES! With so many distracted drivers, doing everything BUT driving, the more that you can do to get their attention, the better. It makes me so sick to see everyone on their cell phones and I cannot EVEN believe people drive down the road while texting! I usually try to wear a bright shirt and bandanna and I will swerve back and forth in my lane, thinking that maybe it will gets someones attention if they are not paying enough attention. I still think that people who ride make better drivers and that if everyone had to ride, the world would be a safer place.

Do you have any mentors or heroes?
No, I would say not. I've always said I am my own hero, which means it is up to me to make a good life for myself and accomplish all the things I want to do in this life before I die. Now I do have a lot of respect for people in the business, especially women who have fought their way to the top.

Is there someone in the motorcycle community that you would like to hang with for a day and have never had the opportunity to before and why?
Yeah, ask anyone who knows me and of course that would be Jay Leno! For so many reasons- he's super funny, has around 200 cars and bikes and is child-free!

Do you have a favorite rally or event?
We don't go to a lot of rallies. We hit some of the local shows and always make the Branson Vintage Show and Meet, but when you have a lot of animals, you can't really be gone for long and I don't know anyone who would be willing to take care of them. Also, we only make $25,000 a year and we can't honestly justify going to a lot of rallies when (1) It would cost us money and (2) we would rather use that money to buy more parts for what we do have or save that money and buy another toy.

Do you have a favorite place to ride and why?
YES-on pavement! I ride almost daily when the weather is decent. I like to just ride into towns, go to thrift stores with my back pack and see what I can find. All riding is good.

What is the wildest thing that has happened to you on the road?
It involved several cops surrounding us, a ticket, a mirror getting kicked off and us NOT going to jail!

What has your most memorable ride or trip been?
Every time we make it back in one piece, without parts falling off or us not getting a ticket is a good and memorable trip.

Are there any lessons that you’ve learned on the road that stand out the most?
Always have a cell phone with you.

Do you like riding with a group or are you more of a lone rider?
ALONE. Since I like to “lolly gag”, I don't like anyone pressuring me to go faster or me having to wait for other people to catch up if I am in the 'go-fast” mood. I don't like to have to look into my little mirror and worry about where the other person might be and wonder if they are mad cause I'm going too fast or if I am going too slow. I enjoy being alone and riding alone.

What has your greatest accomplishment been?
Not having children! In my 20's I had my tubes tied after my first husband tried to force me to have kids. I have to say I knew as a kid that I didn't want children and it has to be my biggest accomplishment that has allowed me to go on with my life, doing what I want and buying what I want and living the life that I have always wanted.

Do you feel like there are divisions in the motorcycle community because of the type or brand of motorcycle you ride?
Yeah I think the stereotype of Sportsters still being a “woman's bike” still exists and when I meet those type of people, I know that they in fact know nothing of the history of Harley Davidson and no matter how much you tell them, they will go on thinking “yeah right, just a woman's bike”. There are still some people who think that if you aren't riding a Harley then you might as well not be riding. I think all those people are idiots! If you ride, you ride. Doesn't matter what brand it is or what size it is. I think that people who believe in these things just do it to make themselves look better but it only works if they are in the company of people who feel the same way. A person who truly loves the machine does not care.

If you knew this was your last day on earth, what would you do?
Spend it with my husband, pray to GOD and eat lots of ice cream, candy, and everything else that I wouldn't normally overindulge in.

When you are not riding what do you enjoy doing?
Driving my 81 Corvette and my race car, a 1978 Z-28 that I've had for 20 years, hitting thrift stores and yard sales, hunting mushrooms in the Spring, hunting deer in the Fall, shooting guns, gardening, reading self help and non-fiction books, tye-dying,and always trying something new, I am currently learning to weld. I also like entering competitive contests such as bike shows, car shows, Halloween costume contests, tattoo and burnout contests. I have also entered hedgehogs in a Hedgehog Show and took home "Reserve Best in Show", "Grand Champion", 2 first place and one third place ribbon. I once won a contest for saving the most money, a contest for writing about saving money and I was selected to be on ABC Nightly News before the show Extreme Couponing came out but Wal Mart wouldn't allow video cameras so I didn't get to appear. I am BIG into natural and alternative therapies- I love getting reflexology, massages and colonics done. I make all of my own cleaning supplies and use very few chemical laden products. I like to dye my hair pink (all vegan) and it has been pink on and off since I was 16 in 1989. I collect anything with hedgehogs, am always looking for cool motor related art for my house and I like buying bandannas, cool scarves, knitted hats, fingerless gloves, patches for my jeans, buttons and pins and would one day maybe like to design clothes.

If you could change anything about yourself what would it be?
I would be independently wealthy! But since "necessity is the mother of invention", I guess I will keep on inventing a new source of income!

What do you think makes a "Biker"?
I think the term “biker” has been thrown around so much that no one wants to be associated with it and everyone who does use it is probably dressed in head-to toe leather. The real definition of “biker”, of what I think makes a "biker" would be one who puts everything into their bike(s), a person who loves the machine so much that they sacrifice other areas of their lives for it, and who lives and breathes motorcycles. A biker is one who protects his bike like it is his kid, who has to be seated next to a window so that he can watch his bike, and a person that when he sees some kid put scratches on his bike, runs out the damn door screaming, not caring if he's going to jail or not. I have always felt like my cars and my bikes have "feelings" and they are not just some piece of metal- I have poured countless hours of time and money into making the machine be just what I want. My cars and bikes ARE my kids!

Do you feel you are a role model for the women of the motorcycle community?
I don't feel I am a role- model per se, but I think that because I am so driven and so passionate about my toys, on such a small yearly wage, that YES, someone could look at that and say “Well, if she can do it on that small amount of money, then so can I”. A person has to have their priorities straight and I have always known what came first. Even when I was younger I never got my ears pierced because I didn't want to have to buy earrings when I could be using that money or saving it for something else. I saved all of my allowance as a kid and when I got into college on scholarships, I was able to buy 2 Camaros and my first motorcycle. I have been thrifty my whole life.

Do you have any advice for women that are thinking about moving to the front of the motorcycle?
If you really want to do it- do it for the right reasons- NOT to get attention or to pick up men. There are SO many women around here that do it for that very reason. I would tell them to start small, I think learning to ride on a dirt bike or enduro is probably the best way to learn. Learn the mechanics of the bike and then take the course. Every woman I know who has never rode before, goes out and buys the biggest, heaviest Harley they can afford and then when they drop it or can't pick it up, they give up.

Tell us anything else you would like us to know about you.
I am being featured in the next issue of Throttle Gals magazine. You can read more about my lifelong involvement with cars, racing, bikes and the lifestyle in there. I also have pictures from 20 years ago that go along with the story. I can't wait for it to come out!

Do you have a favorite swear word?
Yes, most definitely.

What are you currently reading?
I just finished "Coming Apart- The state of white America 1960-2010" by Charles Murray, "200 quick cash jobs guaranteed self-employment alternatives" by Todd Abernathy, and "Back to basics - how to learn and enjoy traditional American skills" published by Reader's Digest. I am a reviewer for about 10 different publishers so I get books free. I am currently reading 'Greater" by Steven Furtick and "The coming revolution" by Dr. Richard Lee. Between the local library, all the free books that I receive and all the free magazine subscriptions I get, I never run out of good material to read. The library is the best way to get an education for free and you get to choose your own subjects. I usually focus on one subject a year to learn about. Last year it was vitamins, oils, natural remedies, living healthy, etc. This year it is more on the state of the economy, the zombies (don't get me started), and ways to be more self sufficient.

What music are you currently listening to?
John Conlee "Rose Colored Glasses", Alabama "My Home's in Alabama" and Bob Seger "Still the Same". I've got some Neil Diamond coming in Tuesday! I love all kinds of music - Metallica, Kid Rock, Hank Jr, Waylon, Willie, Merle, AC/DC, but lately and for a while now I have really went back to my roots of what I grew up listening to which was good old country!

Do you have any pets?
YES! My American Staffordshire Terrier (aka the largest of the pit-bull breed), Solomon. I call him my son. He lives in the house and we rescued him from the Humane Society about 6 years ago. He was on the chopping block to be put down and I went through a very tedious process to track him down once I saw his picture in the local paper. I also have 25 hedgehogs! I have had hedgehogs as pets for almost 15 years. I LOVE them and can't imagine ever living without them. I have had all kinds of different animals as pets- squirrel, rabbit, guinea pigs, ferret, snapping turtle, frogs, fish, and different breeds of dogs but I am in love with the Am Staff and hedgehogs!

Make sure you visit Chris' blog - Amazing cheap life. 
If you are interested in learning more about making a hedgehog a pet visit - Got Hedgehogs?!


Ronman said...

Eclectic gal for sure. Cool post. Some of the best riding I've ever done was in that area of Northwest Arkansas.


Lady R (Di) said...

Hedgehogs! How cute!

Chris is a genuine lady for sure. I enjoyed reading about her.

Now... about those hedgehogs... lol!

Chris Gibbany said...

Yeah...those hedgehogs sure have made my hands tough! Don't step or sit on one of their spines though!
Hedgehogs are such a cool pet- I very rarely meet anyone who even knows what they are!
My kitchen is done in hedgehogs and the best stuff comes from England. A little harder to find than say, roosters or pigs!

Anonymous said...

I really like your 81 sporty I ride a 92 xlh but would love to own a shovel.