Sunday, August 29, 2010

Keep the Rubber Side Down - An Interview with Rick Slark

A few of us in the Harley community follow a guy named Rick Slark who writes a blog called Keep the Rubber Side Down. We also follow each other on Facebook and the banter about Harley Riders vs Riders of other motorcycles has been quite comical at times. We all give Rick a very hard time that he actually has Harley envy. I thought it would be interesting to get to know Rick a little more so he agreed to do an interview.

Rick is from Columbus, OH and currently resides with his wife Michelle in Springfield, OH. Rick has two sons, Jonathan and Ethan and an Alaskan Malamute named Dakota. Rick's passions include writing, touring on a motorcycle, cigars, and starting small businesses. He also attempts to follow Christ which he does some days better than others.

When did you first discover motorcycles?

My childhood friend got a Honda 50cc as a gift and we rode it up and down the sidewalks in our neighborhood. I think that was the beginning of the madness.

What was your first motorcycle?

A friend was moving into a tiny apartment and had no storage so he gave me his 1975 Kawasaki H1-500. I love that bike and hope to add one to my stable of motorcycles one day.

How many motorcycles have you owned over the years?

Not many. I tend to fall in love with them so I keep them for long periods of time. They are like my friends. I know many people buy and sell motorcycles quite often, but I have never been that guy. I guess I am too much of a romantic.

What are you riding now and why?

Currently we have four bikes, 1985 Honda Nighthawk 450, 2003 Yamaha V-Star 1100, 1996 Triumph Daytona 1200, and a 1000 BMW R1100RT.

Most of the time I ride the BMW. My friends call me a super slabber because my style of riding is more long distance riding. The RT is the perfect long distance bike and therefore the one I ride the most.

Why did you decide to begin blogging about motorcycles?

For me it began as an outlet, a place to write down what I was thinking about at the time. I wanted to document some of my cycling experiences, the skills I had learned, and what's more, my mistakes. From there it just evolved and continues to do so.

What is your site called? Why and how did you decide on the title of your blog?

The site is called "Keep the Rubber Side Down" and I chose it because I think this phrase speaks to the camaraderie of the motorcycling community and secondly, because one of the main purposes of the site is to offer stories and tips that will help make one a better rider.

"Keep the Rubber Side Down" is a phrase often used by motorcyclists to encourage one another to be safe while on the road. It is also a great metaphor to be used as we journey down the road called LIFE!

Do you have any other blogs?

Yes, I have Rick's Ramblings.

What types of subjects do you enjoy blogging about?

At Keep the Rubber Side Down I strictly deal with issues pertaining to motorcycling. My readers are not there to read my views on other subjects. I reserve Rick's Ramblings to deal with other topics that interest me such as spirituality, books, humor, etc.

Do you do freelance work for other motorcycle publications or websites?

Yes, I have written for our local paper and a few online magazines, but honestly, keeping my two sites fresh, and working on my book, takes up most of my writing time.

Do you do any creative writing?

I always have a pen and pad on me. I write everywhere I am. I am always listening for something that will spark my creativity.

You use video submissions from time to time. What do you use to do those?

I use a Flip HD camera. Easy to use and fabulous video.

How many states have you traveled?
I have visited most of them, but a couple years ago I decided to ride my motorcycle in every state. To date I am up to 31 states.

What is your favorite state to ride in?

As I mentioned, I haven't been in all of them, so I can't definitively answer that, but I love riding in Tennessee and along the east coast.

How does riding enrich your life?

Big question. Riding, especially long distances, affords me the time to move beyond the surface things that normally clutter my brain. It is the time I am able to connect to that which is important and meaningful in my life.

Do you enjoy attending rallies?

I tend to avoid rallies and riding in large groups. I am most able to enjoy the very essence of my riding style when I ride alone or perhaps with one or two others, but I far prefer to be alone.

What do you think makes a "Biker"?

I despise this term.

Be you really dislike Harley Davidson Motorcycles as much as you seem to?

Let me just say, I don't believe they warrant the following they have. I simply don't get it. It is not the motorcycles as much as the few riders who make me want to hurl my Cheerios. I love all motorcycles whether they are new, old, big, small, rusted or shiny, and yes; American or foreign. It seems to me some HD folks give off the vibe that if you aren't riding a HD you are a second class citizen and I think that takes away some of the joy of cycling for those riders who can't afford a Harley. Especially when the majority of those riders learned to ride on another brand.

I always ask a couple of fun questions like the guy on "In the Actors Studio" does.

What music are you currently listening to?

Moon Dance by Van Morrison. Music does not play a crucial role in my life.

What are you currently reading?

I am always reading something, be it "Newsweek", or a Triumph service manual. I am a task reader and very seldom read for entertainment. Here is a list of books I am reading now.

They Say I Say - A book about formal writing.
The Oath by Frank Peretti
The Devil Can Ride
The Treasury of Religious Verse

Thanks to Rick for answering the questions that he did. Enjoyed getting to know a non HD rider a little more and it's always good to learn someone elses perspective on motorcycling.

Check out Rick's blogs:
Keep the Rubber Side Down
Rick's Ramblings


FLHX_Dave said...

It's all good. Rick is a biker whether he likes it or not. He's got the attitude, he just says what he wants to say no matter what any swingin' dick thinks about it and he is into bikes. He has the spirit and the essence...sorry Rick, you're a biker dude.

Another great InterPeep IHG!

Dean "D-Day" said...

Agree with Dave.

Sorry Rick. Whether you like the term or not, you're a biker.

(You act like it's a bad thing!?!)

Crusty said...

I have been reading his blog on and off for a while. I agree with most of it. On the subject of over the top Harley zelots i agree 100%. So i guess that makes Rick and myself total oppisite the 99% out there that worship Harley's. So that makes us the true 1% ers.-Crusty

boomer64 said...

I hate to say this, and I will most likely get my head bit off over this, but Rick makes a ton of very good points especially the Harley Davidson stigma. I ride a Harley but not for reasons some folks might think, and I do not EVER criticize someone for riding something else because its a lot like spitting in the wind. In fact, just today I saw such a collage of different models it was almost like a collection of world cycles out there today. Saw a couple guys on Triumphs, a lot of Gold Wings, couple of BMWs and a few custom choppers. To me it don't matter what you ride, as long as you ride, love the road, and love life. For me its about the ride, not what you ride. IMHO!

Ronman said...

Yet another great interview Steph. Rick is a very entertaining individual.

Ride Safe,