As I peacock into the Sheraton LeCentre Montréal wearing only the finest Affliction gear I could find at Marshalls, the dank odor of UFC fanboys dipped in Axe body spray smacks me like an engine pop to the eardrum. We are here with Harley-Davidson to kick off Motorcycle Boot Camp and the Taste of Freedom tour, an adventurous journey that will take us through five states, cross-country, and back to Milwaukee, living and breathing the American dream on two wheels.
The first stop is Montréal, where we are gathered to push the limits and experience a world-class fight up close at UFC 158. A fighter, a white rapper, an Artist, an Instagrammar, a Pro Skateboarder and I have been invited on this journey that will teach us all about the H-D motorcycles and the mechanics of how to ride. We'll polish it off with a tear through California later this year and a three-day party in to celebrate the 110th Anniversary of The Motorcycle Company.
The setting behind the scenes of UFC 158 served as the perfect backdrop for the beginning of Harley Bootcamp. Beyond the excitement of the looming Georges St Pierre fight in his hometown of Montréal, our anticipation to get on some of America's finest motorcycles is rolling to a boil. From Candy metallic fleck custom paint sets to retro classic, and back to dark custom black on black everything, the choices go as far as your imagination can. But before we get to the bikes, lets get to the fights ...
Crack the throttle and sample the monstrous belch of motor-kissing combustion.
It was extremely obvious how popular UFC was in Canada. The stands at Bell Centre were filled to capacity, and the main event had spectators anxious. Chris Camozzi and Mike Ricci both picked up wins over their lackluster opponents to start the evening, but they weren't exactly who the crowd really traveled to see. That responsibility fell to Johnny Hendricks and St. Pierre.
Hendricks took on former UFC welterweight champion Carlos Condit for the under card. The victor would get a shot at reigning champion St. Pierre and his belt, all or nothing. Back and forth, Condit and Hendricks beat and kicked away at each other for three long rounds. Condit tried as he could, but the brute strength and mighty meat paws of Hendricks quelled any glimmer of hope for the then 28-year-old.
The main event wasn't too different. Georges St. Pierre stepped to the plate, having already defended his title seven times before this. Opponent Nick Diaz didn't stand a chance at making this anything but a mere routine for St. Pierre. GSP is a bad man, and the world saw just how deadly he can be. The demolition put GSP second all time in the UFC in title defenses, two behind Anderson Silva's 10. The pure adrenaline of the experience powered us through the night and into the morning.
Harley motorcycle boot camp snuck up on us early and was a nice wake up call. Checking out the latest motorcycle technology is always a trip, and being able to hop on every one of Montréal Harley-Davidson's offerings was a rare treat. Familiarizing ourselves with VRSCs, Sportsters, and Dynas was a warm-as-apple pie experience. After examining the incredible craftsmanship, I threw a leg over 600 pounds of cold idle steel, flipped a switch, and let her rumble to life at the push of a button. That's when you crack the throttle and sample the monstrous belch of motor-kissing combustion, letting gasoline dreams envelope you like a lap dance.
Once your kickstand's up and rolling, there is nothing more unmistakable than a Harley-Davidson. This is why we are all here; we're all part of the same force. Sometimes, a taste of freedom is all you need. Just like that, you are part of a family. Outcasts, nerds, rebels, doctors, or whatever your professional occupation is simply becomes secondary to the bike life. Welcome to the club.
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