By Richard Mundy
For Hometown News
It was snowing and 20 degrees Thursday afternoon, March 7, when the Stonecutters left Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, with their large, black crew cab truck pulling a large, black trailer filled with five custom bikes. When they arrived in Ormond Beach 1,350 miles and 21 hours later it was sunny and near 70.
The Stonecutters "are a group of guys who've known each other a long time," according to Darren Steinburg, the de-facto leader of the group. They meet on Tuesdays at Mike Cavanaugh's garage in Ottawa. Their number fluctuates week to week, but there are about 12 to 15 guys in the group and their common interest is in building custom "bagger" motorcycles.
A bagger, according to Rob Cunoiffe, "...is a bike that has it all -- cruise control, (saddle) bags for storage, stereo and modern conveniences." It is a bike built for touring (read long trips) with usually hard case saddlebags and other comfort accessories.
The group's name came from Homer's secret organization in an episode of "The Simpsons," (possibly a play on words for The Masons). Mr. Steinburg added, "Somebody's wife thought we were pathetic enough to deserve to be called Stonecutters. So it stuck."
The four guys on this trip are Fred Usher, Mr. Steinburg, Mr. Cunoiffe and Jonathon Ronald Joseph Roberts. They have all been to Bike Week a number of times. In fact, this is Mr. Robert's 13th trip.
They meet to discuss their latest build and make suggestions. In the winter, they build and repair bikes. In the summer they usually go for a ride together.
Each member brings his own set of skills to the build, Mr. Steinburg said he's a jack-of-all-trades (and chief designer); Mr. Cunoiffe owns Auto Trendz Automotive Accessories and Electronics, an auto performance and electronics shop (he's the chief electrician and wiring guru); Mr. Roberts owns two tattoo shops, Planet Ink, in Ottawa, Ontario, (to dress the guys up): and Mr. Usher, who is a long-haul driver of oversize equipment loads from Houston to the oil fields of the Alberta Oil Patch, seems to be the perfect "discussion" leader when everyone presents ideas of the best way to perform a certain building function.
Bike Week participants travel from all points in the country for this annual event, and according to the guys, "tons" are from Canada. All the Stonecutters are from the Ottawa region. Their impressions of this Bike Week, said Mr. Steinburg, are "So far, it looks like it's going to be a busy one."
As to meeting local predictions of 500,000 bikers, he said, "I doubt it; I don't think they've ever come close to that."
But he added it looked like there were a lot of bikes for so early in the week. "Toward the end of the week it gets busier," Mr. Steinburg said.
As to the makeup of the riders, Mr. Usher said, "There are as many couples as there are singles. And there's lots of girls riding their own bikes these days, not like it used to be, and not just on the back."
They plan to buy some parts, have some rides and meet up with guys they know. It's a change from the mid-winter workweek. Mr. Roberts said, "I've met a lot of people (that I've met from previous years)."
The newest bike the Stonecutters built is a radically designed one from the frame up. It boasts hard cover saddlebags with hydraulic lifters that open the hatches. It also has air suspension, which makes for a smooth ride and it uses the suspension to set the bike down instead of using a kickstand -- that is, after a servo tucks the license plate up under the back fender so it won't be bent. Fully customized bikes can be very personal, so the guys have not airbrushed the paint job, leaving that to whoever would like to own it. The bike has GPS, stereo, cruise control and a wind deflector. It's priced at $85,000 should someone wish to buy it. A stock bagger, which this is not, usually has a six-gallon tank, which will cover about 200 miles (that's more than 30 mpg).
Another bagger they brought down was featured on the front page of American Bagger Magazine recently. Bruce Rossmeyer's Destination Daytona will be hosting the first annual Baddest Bagger in Daytona competition, which will be on Friday, March 15, at Destination Daytona under the Coca-Cola Pavilion. The guys intend to "enter a couple of bike shows" while here, Mr. Steinburg said.
The guys are all native Canadians, still living within 20 miles of their respective birthplaces. Contrary to popular belief, some bikers do go in the ocean -- as Mr. Cunoiffe did a year ago, at three in the morning with his helmet.
As for their love of motorcycles, Mr. Usher said, "I raced Motocross when I was a kid."
Mr. Steinburg added, "All of us have had mini-bikes from the time that we were five," with the possible exception of Mr. Cunoiffe, who caught the "bug" and was introduced to riding by the "sink or swim" method. "I learned on my way to Laconia (a biker rally in New Hampshire)," he said.
"We forced him," Mr. Steinburg said. "We actually put him aboard a bike and made him drive 750 kilometers (over 450 miles) through the mountains to a bike rally" in one day.
Could he sit down the next day?
"I was sore but it was OK," Mr. Cunoiffe reported. He actually said he saw a picture of a bike he liked and bought the parts and pieces to build it before he even had a license or had driven a bike.
After the interview, they drove off to join the mass of other bikers populating the beachside area. And not once during the interview did any of them say "eh!"