|Harlistas Lázaro Brotóns and Luis Enrique González in a garage in Cárdenas, east of Havana. González is president of Classic Motorcycles of Cuba, MOCLA by its Spanish initials.|
The Teutuls make some wicked motorcycles - the Black Widow Bike, the Fire Bike, the Statue of Liberty Bike and many others. But their show's hyper-commercialization - the merchandising tie-ins, the bobblehead dolls, the corporate bikes for Intel, Hewlett-Packard and other companies - detracted from the purity of building motorcycles, the oil and grease, the sweat and blood.
With that in mind, it was refreshing to meet some of Cuba's motorcycle aficionados. They are actors in a reality show that doesn't air anywhere, but has more true grit and emotion, courage and sacrifice, than just about anything you see on American TV.
|Longtime Harley mechanic Sergio Morales in the living room/workshop of his home in Havana's Luyanó neighborhood.|
I was drawn especially to the Harley-Davidson riders who rumble around on battered old Panheads, Flatheads and Knuckleheads that are all more than a half century old. I had ridden my dad's Harley, a black Road King, and loved that motorcycle.
|Mike Eaton in Spearfish, S.D., during a trip to attend the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D.|
|Adolfo Prieto, president of the Cuba chapter of the Latin American Motorcycle Association, or LAMA.|
The book is called "Cuban Thunder: Harley-Davidson in Cuba" and it is now available on the iBookstore.
The book is made for iPad. You can download a sample for free or buy it for $5.99. Apple gets 30 percent of each sale; I get the rest. I am donating 20 percent of all the proceeds I receive to Harlistas in Cuba.
|Julio Palmero, president of the Habana Harley club in Havana.|
Julio let me ride one of his Harleys along the Malecón in 2010 and it was a thrill.
|Julio told me the wet t-shirt contest we saw in Daytona Beach struck him as an authentic American experience|
|Here's Julio on my Harley-Davidson motorcycle as we return from a rally in Daytona. Notice his backpack stuffed spare parts - the exhaust pipe wouldn't fit inside, so it's bungee'd to the back of the bike.|
- María de los Ángeles Santana, a Cuban singer and actress who rode a Harley
- Ernesto Guevara, son of Che Guevara
- Raúl Corrales, son of a famous photographer
- A slew of Harley mechanics, including Sergio Morales, Eladio Castillo, José Sobrino and Armando "Cake Box" Castro (no relation to Fidel Castro)