The past week has been a whirlwind. A true test of patience and grit.
Between preparing for Daytona Bike Week, getting ready for the events we are hosting during Daytona, and now being flooded with emails, messages and comments from people who listened to the Wide Open Radio interview last week featuring Mike Axle and are concerned, upset and worried about Nashville Bike Week… we’ve had our hands full.
I felt the need to stop what I was working on tonight and update everyone on some things that unfolded today regarding Nashville Bike Week. I had a one on one phone call with Mike Axle, the man behind Nashville Bike Week, that left me feeling differently than I’ve felt since the 1st day I heard about this motorcycle rally.
First let me back up and address today’s Facebook Live broadcast on the Nashville Bike Week page. Don’t bother looking for it. It is no longer available.
Here are my Cliff’s Notes, for those who missed it:
The Negative – The video left much to be desired and made some people even angrier than before. People were expecting a live press conference from the new venue, showing the grounds and making the event ‘real’ again. That’s not what they got. They got Mike Axle, indoors at a non-disclosed location.
The Positive – Mr. Axle was relaxed and uncoiled. He came across less ready to strike. His demeanor was much more positive and he was focused on how to move forward. Most noticeably, there was almost no profanity – which was in stark contrast to earlier appearances.
I have no information on why the video was later removed. If I had to guess, I would say that it probably did not serve the purpose it was intended to serve and they felt it best to back up and start over, without the video. Regardless of their reason, the removal of the video, again, left some people even less comfortable than before.
I reached out to Mr. Axle with a few questions after the Facebook Live broadcast and it turned into a 22 minute phone call. I felt like I was talking to someone different from the Mike Axle I’ve talked to numerous times before. I was talking to someone who was admittedly overwhelmed, calm, humble and a bit vulnerable. Not the same adjectives I would have chosen to describe Mike just minutes before. We had a healthy, two-sided conversation. He listened to my point of view and explained his side to me as well. When I asked him questions, he answered directly. And guys, I asked a ton of tough, come-to-Jesus questions.
I asked why he has not released a physical address yet for the new venue. He confirmed my suspicions that, because the land is currently a ranch, NBW must file for a “911 address” in order to have an actual address to share with the public. Mike described the location and his description matches perfectly with the Google Earth image of the area. While we’re on the subject of the new venue – I’ll tell you that we also discussed the fact that there is no name for the venue because, until now, the land has always just been a ranch. Makes sense to me. Mike has told me in the past that he would love to host a ‘Name The Venue’ contest where people can submit their venue names to be voted on by the public. I think that’s a pretty cool idea. Let’s call it the Wide Open Ranch. No? Ok…
Below is a photo of the current site plan for the new venue:
Click on the photo to enlarge.
One thing that is clearly causing a halt on publicity is the wait for the Mass Ordinance Permit to officially be approved. Mr. Axle confirmed that the request has, in fact, been filed. If I’m being honest, at this point Mike seems to simply be playing it safe and trying to prevent any future accusations of false claims by following protocol and waiting for the approval before he continues to move forward with announcements. I can respect that. He admitted that they have been “beating around the bush” about the venue change, which is the main concern for most people – but after hearing his explanation and the different tone in his voice, I just got a different vibe. A better vibe.
During our conversation, Mike confided in me that he is so deflated, that at this point, he feels like if he just gave up right now that nobody would even care if Nashville Bike Week fails. I quickly disagreed with him and assured him that people were extremely excited about this event when it was announced, and deep down, I think people will be excited about this event again – IF – he can turn things around and make people feel secure again. I truly think, for most people, it’s just that simple. People need to feel warm and fuzzy about Nashville Bike Week again because right now people are feeling mislead, cheated and disappointed.
Mike went over specifics with me regarding finances. He listed entertainers, service providers and amenity providers who have been paid in full and secured with contracts. I did a little follow up on that and found nothing to make me believe he was not being truthful. He also offered to provide proof of payment to these companies.
An idea that was tossed around today that I thought you guys would find interesting. This was the idea that, once all of the necessary permits have officially been 100% signed and secured, that Nashville Bike Week should host a Press Day, on site at the new venue. The thought is to invite all forms of media outlets to come out and see things in person for themselves. I really like the idea of taking a trip to Nashville and personally seeing the local government officials shaking hands with the Nashville Bike Week representatives. I would feel good about seeing maybe a ribbon cutting, or a ground breaking. I would feel really great about having casual conversations, on air, in person, with the local government, business owners and residents, and finally hearing straight from their mouths that they are on-board and supportive of Nashville Bike Week. I don’t know if this is wishing for too much at this point since by now we all know there is one elephant in the room that is keeping Mr. Axle from being able to shake hands with any type of government official or officer of the law, but you can believe that I will keep pushing for this Press Day to happen.
At one point during the phone call, ironically, I reminded Mike of the story of Solomon, yes, from the Bible (1 Kings 3:16-28). You know, the story where, in an effort to find out who the real mother of the baby was, Solomon said he would cut the baby in half so each woman could have a piece of him – and the real mother yelled out to give the baby to the other woman so the child could live… Well I asked Mike, because Nashville Bike Week IS his baby, if he loves it enough to let someone else be the ‘face’ of NBW in order to save the rally. He is very open to the idea, but I got the feeling that he is working up the guts to make that jump. It’s a big risk. Both for himself and the person who steps in to help put out all of the fires. I understand the hesitation. But I gave him my opinion that something needs to happen – and it needs to happen soon.
I will wrap this up by saying that I do not expect this article or my opinions to make people all of a sudden change their minds about Mike Axle. A lot of my listeners know me personally, but most of the people who will read this post have never met me and may have never even heard my name. I do not expect you to trust me just because I’m writing this piece. I do however, encourage those of you who know my reputation, both as a person in general and as a professional in the motorcycle industry, and those who know my track record of being very blunt and honest, to take that into consideration moving forward. My gut tells me that things are going to change with Nashville Bike Week. I can feel a shift in demeanor and it feels promising. This is enough to motivate me to remain patient, let this man do the right thing, and straighten this mess out. It will take some work, but it is absolutely possible.
That’s all for now, folks. Until next time,
If you missed the Wide Open Radio interview with Mike Axle, you can check it out here.