Not a breath of wind from the Sant Ana desert. Only heat, real heat. The thermometer of the old Indian Roadmaster says 104° Farenheit, real hot, but in reality it’s just 40 degrees. The same degrees that Italy is facing in these days, oppressed by sultriness and immobility. But this is a different heat, a burning one, without the alibi of humidity. It enters the lungs, awakens the head, gets you move to escape, rather than going into a coma under the shadow of a fig tree. But when it comes to the crunch, we are here for this reason. In the Silverado Oak Canyon Ranch, about 20 miles east of Anaheim. Disneyland suburb, Los Angeles. It makes sense flying to Born Free from the other part of the world, for the best weekend of the Californian summer dedicated to old school custom.
This year the organizers, Grant Peterson and Mike Davis, reached number 7. A lucky seven that brought good luck and success. The event was a big success. In two days there were almost 10000 people coming, going or staying there. Apart from the 150 exhibitors in the commercial center, everyone was there for the same thing: Freedom. Born free. Even just for a while. Strange concept to understand: What is fredom in a young country, born by abuse and thrived in hypocrisy? Could one be free while the National Security Agency, the social networks and the credit card monitor every moment and every single choice of the American citizen? The Born Free answer is that one can be free even just for a weekend. When the moment comes to open the door of the garage and drive an old school chopper, an old non homologated bike that, however, on the West Coast can afford unbelievable freedom if compared to Italy.
Born Free is an event that aims to bring back the concept of bike, and freedom on bike, at its origins: bring back the possibility for every one to work on his own vintage bike, doesn’t matter if Harley, Honda, Indian, Triumph or Guzzi (yes, there was a beautiful Ambassador of 1971, in California go crazy about it). Born free, born great. Shinya Kimura apperas on Saturday for an hour, just the time to see that if in the first edition there were 2000 people, this year there are between 5000 and 10000. He is one of the many famous customizers who date in Silverado Canyon. Kiyo Kiyonaga, Jason Webber, Go Takamine of Brat Style, Jeff Wright, Paul Cox, Kyle Edgar, Roland Sands, Shaun Long, Uwe Ehinger, Powerplant Choppers are some of the protagonists of the builder showcase set up in front of the stage. At the end, the Best in Show of the jury goes to Quicksilver of Ryan Grossman. He won a voyage to the famous Hot Rod & Custom Show of Yokohama next December, if the great Shige Suganuma of Mooneyes will organize it in time. It seems like being in a tridimensional version of indipendent magazines like Street Chopper (which is also the media partner), Dice or Show Class. The informal and friendly air is the same. Almost nobody is full of oneself as a professional biker, just one girl doesn’t want to be photographed, At Born Free little rules, but clear: back colors are not allowed. You come here for the love of the bike, not to get involved in crazy blood feuds. So at the end, nothing happens, 2 days of peace, love and bikes. One the most expected moments was the lottery that issued a prize, a 1977 Harley-Davidson Lowrider, a Sportster Evo customized by Speed Merchant and a 46’ Knucklehead chopper. When the winner is invited on the stage, his words are always the same: FUCK!
It doesn’t seem but in this small custom festival time goes by quickly. The show starts at 9 a.m. and is open till 17 p.m. And then? We go back home, or to the camping. No after party or dinner till midnight, everything evolves regularly in office hours. Despite all the freedom, beer and wild, at the end you cannot find a piece of paper or a bottle on the ground. No Fight. No injured people. No problems. People smiling at you. Even the couple of sheriffs supervising the event. And so you understand that the freedom that you breathe at Born Free is linked with the respect of the laws and rules, the respect of people. It’s California baby, but it looks like Switzerland.