Freedom Machine: (frēdəm_məˈSHēn) n. a conveyance that leads to a carefree feeling, through tangible factors – tactile, aural and olfactory. eg. wind-in-hair, roar of engine, smell of oil and gasoline.
We all have attachments with our various Freedom Machines. For some, it’s all about truly making them their own by adding, reducing, bending, chopping, replacing…
When I first heard about the First Annual Freedom Machine Custom Motorcycle Show from my pal Paul Dutra last winter, I was intrigued. He was tasked with transforming a barn-found Honda CB750 to give away at an event which was a short ride from the GTA.
Summer couldn’t come soon enough as I saw Paul put the finishing touches on the giveaway bike, with help from other participating builders and vendors, as they donated parts and labour to the build. I was thrilled when the organizers invited me to display some of my motorcycle-themed photos and shoot the event, with full access to all the bikes and their builders.
So, on a perfect July morning, I packed up my photo gear and sleeping bag, straddled the scoot and rode northwest towards Durham, Ontario. The 400 was a slow-moving caravan of cottagers, so my decision not to slab it proved to be wise. I decided to take the fun way, and I was rewarded with a nice, twisty ride through Hockley Valley, Creemore and beyond. The thrill of riding new roads is always electric and I meandered, got lost, discovered and ended up having a nice lunch in Markdale, just down the road from the Freedom site.
And what a sight the site was!
Formerly a family-oriented dude ranch, Frontier Ghost Town was the perfect spot, its faux-western setting providing the perfect tableaux to host a gathering of metal steeds. It was creativity unbridled! The first few customs started rolling in before noon, and they kept coming.
At the saloon, the feature builders’ custom bikes lined up at the trough, hailing from all over Southern Ontario:
By mid afternoon, there was a long lineup of bikes at the entrance. Garage-built custom choppers, bobbers, trackers and cafes kept pouring in and were told to take their rightful places in Ghost Town. Stock rides filled the back lot, their owners enjoying the custom show – I’m sure seeds were planted as to what they wanted their next bike to be!
Lots to see and do beyond gawking at bikes and talking builds: rocking out to the bands on the patio, shopping for bike-related swag and throwing axes, courtesy of the BATL folks. My photos were displayed outside, taking up the whole side of the weathered barn, amidst wagon wheels and horseshoes.
And where else would you be able to win a hand-built beauty with the price of a $20 admission? When it came time to raffle off the giveaway bike, the excitement was palpable. The hush when the winning ticket was read turned into excited shouts – at least from winner Jason Beanger from Port Elgin. Running through a gauntlet of back claps and congrats, he presented himself front-and-centre and promptly straddled his new acquisition.
The sun set on Frontier Ghost Town to the sound of Rockabilly champs The Greasemarks inside the saloon, the seeming end to a perfect day.
But the day wasn’t done as we decided to accept an invite to kick back in Chewyville, a community within a far corner of Frontier Ghost Town. The night became more surreal as we gathered round the bonfire, singing songs, dancing to classic tunes and generally getting happy with the Chewyville regulars, Freedom Machine organizers, vendors and guests well into the early morning.
For an inaugural event, the Freedom Machine Custom Motorcycle Show was a resounding success. Perfect concept, perfect venue, perfect execution, and best of all, perfect roads for the ride to and from. I made sure I did some more exploring on the way back, and can’t wait to ride that way again, next time with a friend -or-three.
See more photos from the event here: