Sideburn Hooligan Grant Martin, was invited to Harley-Davidson's Ride Ride Slide event to teach the basics of flat track to journalists from around the world. This is his report.
After leaving on Monday morning, driving for two days and 1239 miles we, that is me and Caylee, rolled into the hotel car park in Split, Croatia on the Tuesday night. After two days in the confined space of our van I think we were both a little delirious, but equally as anxious to check out the hotel and what was actually in store for me. It become pretty evident early on that this was a big operation. I remember smiling as the hotel receptionist handed over the key card for the room, it had the Harley Davidson bar and shield printed on it, nice touch! After freshening up and a quick sunset pic.
I received a text from Nik to say he was in the hotel lobby, I made my way to meet him. We only ever spoke on the phone or emailed each other so I quickly stalked his Instagram to remind myself what he looked like, one embarrassing moment avoided. After being introduced to the team and some dinner a meeting was arranged for the following morning, I still really didn’t have a clue as to what was in store.
Up early and to the meeting and today’s itinerary was laid out, we were off to the Radošić region where we will build a flat track course for the Slide part of RideRideSlide. As we headed out of Split, we passed over a mountain and down the other side I wished I was on a bike, the views and roads were stunning, not to mention the blue skies and mid-20s temperature. As we rolled up and were greeted by the local family who’s land we would be using. First we were shown around the village, a beautifully nestled bunch of stone buildings laid out on the hill side, which was inhabited by all generations of the family and their partners. One building was dedicated to housing all kinds of interesting objects and historic items. This was my favourite.
From the village we made our way down to the field where we would build the track, on our way we was shown the bullring, but this was bull fighting as we didn’t know it...yep bull vs bull. A huge event that gathers 15,000 spectators each year, crazy.
A bit of sporting arm wrestling from Nik and me (I won) and we continued to the field where the track would be built.
A view of mountains in the back drop and a good vibe about it, although a little smaller than I hoped for I knew this would make an awesome setting for us. We discussed what we needed doing and the locals got straight to it.
Back to the hotel and a meeting that evening I had my next two days sorted, and I was stoked! I was asked to help run in the road bikes and to go with the guys check out the riding routes for when the journalists arrive.
Day 2 and 3
The next 2 days I covered 1000km and rode four awesome new Harley’s Street Glide, Road Glide, 48 Iron 1200. I couldn’t believe I was actually getting paid to ride around Croatia in the 25C plus sunshine and blue skies on smooth twisting roads. Life is good.
Today it was back to the track to check on progress and to help out with anything that needed doing. This time I got my wish and we got to take a couple of Roadster 1200s out for the journey. What an awesome bike! Couldn’t resist it and we stopped a couple of times for a photo opportunity
This day turned out to be one of the best days of the trip, it was an early start and off out to ride and shoot the new Harley Davidson 48 and Iron1200. I got to ride around with my girlfriend, behind a hire car, boot open with some crazy dude hanging out the back of it taking photos. that crazy dude is the amazing photographer Jordan Pay, Jordan hails from SLC Utah. His energy and enthusiasm is contagious. Paul Butler drove the car, Paul is the big boss on this event and another happy positive enthusiastic dude. Thank you guys for making this day so fun!
The next few days we spent at the track with lots to do, Tony and Wendy had been flat out getting all the banners up and it was up to me to get the track dialled in. It was starting to look legit!
Another passion of mine that I was luckily enough to do most mornings was to head out on my bicycle for a ride, it helps me clear my mind and gets me ready for the day. I explored some great roads and climbs around split, with a different perspective from thrashing around on motorbikes.
By now everything was ready to go at the track as well as the arrival of MotoGP and World Superbike star Ruben Xaus. We impatiently awaited the arrival of the journalists. Each day for the next week had the same format with a new wave of journalists from all different parts of the world.
Mine and Ruben’s job was to teach and help the journalists to ride flat track on a Harley Davidson Street Rod 750 which also shows the versatility of the bike. But for me the main thing was to have as much fun as possible, we even included a head to head challenge at the end of each day for the guys and girls to get a feeling for racing! with a podium and trophies for the top 3. It was the most humbling experience to interact with all these people throughout the week and to watch them get better and better as each lap passed. Everybody stepped off the track with the biggest smile on their face including me!
The week went way too fast and it was soon time to head home (well actually our next stop was hells race in the Netherlands) but not without one last meal with the entire crew and a few too many whiskeys. It was clear to me when I was first introduced to everybody on day one it was like one big family and now i feel part of that family. What a great bunch of humans to have the pleasure of working with, thanks to all the fantastic journalists that made it an amazing and memorable experience. And of course Nik Ellwood for the opportunity!