Saw a rainbow yesterday morning on the hill above my house. I’ve always heard rainbows bear gifts and promises, but at the time I didn’t know what gift this rainbow had for me. Now I know. It’s reassurance that my friend Kyle Clack will be all right, that the man whose spirit has lifted so many will now have his spirit lifted. With larger-than-life graciousness, a contagious smile, an infectious never-say-die attitude, we could all learn a lesson from the way Kyle lived his life.
I first met Kyle at the Victory Motorcycles 2013 press launch in Boise, Idaho. He had taken over the media relations position from the Pandya brothers, a dedicated pair of planners and organizers. Kyle’s approach was – different. He was Kyle. He dove head first into things, went with the flow, swam with the tide to see where it would lead. He embraced each moment for what it is, shot from the hip, and others were always more than willing to go along for the ride because of his zeal for adventure. Though we had just met, he had the type of personality that made you feel like you’d been friends for life.
I remember charging across the wide-open plains of Montana at over 100 mph on big Victory baggers and tourers the first time we rode together on our three-day journey from Boise to Sturgis. I remember passing a copper cup around the table at Casagrande’s Steakhouse as I sampled a Moscow Mule for the first time-ever. Something about passing a drink around and swilling from the same cup has a way of bonding people together.
Later that night we walked the streets of Butte, Montana, looking for another watering hole to host our party. Banners from Butte’s Evel Knievel Days celebration still hung on the sides of buildings though it’d been a week since the festival was over. Still not sure how we ended up at Cavalier Lounge of The Finlen Hotel, but it seemed appropriate for our bunch. We bellied up with the locals in the bar’s shabby chic, the dark and musty interior like stepping into a time machine. We drank and laughed, even when we had to wait an hour-and-a-half for the one working cabbie in town to come pick us up. The laughter amplified as we piled 10 deep into one mini-van for the ride back to the hotel. This scenario repeated itself for the next three days, the running joke of the trip becoming how high we were running up Kyle’s company card on his first trip in his new position. We knew for sure we were going to get him fired.
I recall our chance meeting in the amphitheater of the Buffalo Chip. Never know who you’re going to run into at Sturgis. You introduced me to Kevin Bebout, another one of the good ones, and taught me how to mooch free Shiners from the Gibson bus, Bebout always happy to oblige. I remember the time we rode out to De Leon Springs State Park during Daytona Beach Bike Week where we sat around a hot griddle and poured pancakes at the Old Spanish Mill Grill and Griddle House. Again, there’s an intimacy to sitting in a tight knit group sharing time and space that makes for unforgettable memories.
Last time we talked I had just broken my ribs and punctured a lung and Kyle was battling a tumor in his brain. We shared a laugh about our predicaments and about how both of us couldn’t wait for the day to come when we could ride again. Even more so, we talked about the day we could ride together in Sturgis. What I took away most from our conversation was, here was a guy fighting for his life, and he had way more concern for me than his own well-being. That’s Kyle for you. Speaks volumes about the character of a person.
The moto industry is in mourning today. We lost a good one, for sure. But I’m grateful for the ray of sunshine that was the Clack Attack, how it came into my life and bathed me with its warmth and kindness. While I resent that we never got to take that ride together my friend, I have no doubt one day we’ll share that ride. Until then, love and Godspeed, Kyle Clack.