“The Legend” is a story about a man, Mike Macpherson, a high level executive at one of the top media technology firms in Chicago, and the only son born to Lilly and Duncan Macpherson. Mike was quite a surprise to the couple as Mike showed up when the couple were in their mid-40s. Father and son could not have been more different from one another. Besides the generational difference between the two, Mike was gifted with high intellect and a love for scholarly things, while Duncan, a VietNam Veteran, was a man’s man who’s hands were always calloused and smelled like oil and gasoline. Mike’s passion was computers and technology, while Duncan’s passion was Harley Davidson motorcycles, especially the magnificent 1915 Silent Grey Fellow that he inherited from his father, who bought it in the 1920’s. Duncan had restored it to mint condition.
Mike rocketed through his academic years and went on to college, while Duncan wrenched away on his collection of classic Harleys surrounded by a small group of younger bike builders fascinated by Duncan’s stories of the old days of motorcycling and the golden age of motorcycle racing. The passing of Mike’s mother seemed to bring the father and son a little closer together, but Mike, now married himself with a small son and totally consumed with his job, never seemed to find time for his father. That is until one day he gets a call with some really bad news. Mike’s father is in the hospital diagnosed with terminal cancer. Mike rushes to his side. The doctors all insist on chemo and other horrifying treatments. The gritty old rugged Scotsman tells them all to go to hell.
Father and son lock horns over Duncan’s refusal of the ghastly treatment. Mike finally asks, “Then what the hell are you going to do?”
Mike flips his lid. “WHAT?”
Duncan answers, “That’s right, me and the Old Grey Fellow are going out for that ride. And you know what? When my dad asked me to go ride with him, I went. What about you Mike; you going?”
There is a silence between the two as they stare at one another. “I’ll be leaving in 3 days,” says Duncan. Mike grabs his head with both hands and stomps out of the hospital room. Three days later, his heart heavy, Mike shows up at his father’s house on his own custom Harley. Duncan is sitting on the front porch dressed in his father’s riding attire from the twenties. This ride has always been at the top of Duncan’s bucket list, this all important ride with the son he never got to really know.
Now that Mike has shown up to ride, Duncan is not only surprised, but knows the old Silent Grey Fellow he would have ridden if alone, will not be realistic on this ride now, since the old machine’s top speed might be 50 mph at best. But this is exactly what he was hoping for, because now Duncan gets to break out one of his favorite bikes from his custom collection. It’s an evil, wicked, mean and nasty ’48 pan head that looks like it was built by the Devil himself, and forged in the fires of Hell, complete with a large bottle of nitrous oxide to boot. It’s not long into the ride, however, before all the unresolved issues between father and son erupt. Each one is looking for a resolution before there’s no time to find one. Mike also gets to see a side of his father he never got to see up close, a side of his father buried away from Duncan’s day’s as a 1 percenter. Mike gets his first real look at this in a hair-raising, heart pounding ride through Monument Valley, when he and Mike are riding a little over the speed limit and a Utah State Trooper tries to pull them over. Duncan decides it’s time to show Mike what it’s like to “live a little,” and takes Mike, six state troopers and a police helicopter on a 25 mile ride at 127 mph. It makes Mike furious. But it’s just what the old man needed. There are other moments on this ride that bring deep emotion and a closeness between Mike and his Dad that they’ve both secretly wanted but never had, and they find the resolution that they were looking for.
Also, over the course of the ride, Mike finds out that his grandfather actually knew Arthur Davidson and Duncan tells Mike one of the most incredible stories Mike has ever heard. The story of how four men, William Harley, Arthur, Bill and Walter Davidson, built the most legendary motorcycle of all time, “The Harley-Davidson”. After the two return from this fantastic journey, Duncan soon passes away.
After a few months, Mike finally gets the nerve up to go and clear out his father’s house. Mike goes out to the garage where his father spent all his time wrenching on bikes and the shrine he built to the Old Grey Fellow. Mike stares at a photo on the wall of his father holding him upright on one of Duncan’s old Harleys when Mike was just four years old. The weight of the silence nearly crushing him, he falls to his knees and weeps from his core.
After some time he clears his head and walks over to the cabinet where Duncan kept his father’s riding gear. Mike opens it and stares at the old riding wear. There is an envelope attached to the old leather riding jacket. Mike opens it up and unfolds the letter inside. It simply reads, “Ride it.” Mike looks over at the old bike as it seems to glow. Mike gears up and takes the old Grey Fellow out and feels what it was like when life was not so fast. Unknowingly, Mike neglects to check the gas tank on the old machine and while out on the road runs out of gas. After being mocked by a rude passerby in a pickup truck, Mike pushes the old bike down the road a bit until he happens upon a small road leading to a house where an old man sits in a rocking chair. Macpherson, having left his cell phone behind, asks the old man if he can use his. The old man replies, “I don’t have a phone, son.” The old man asks Mike about the old bike and where he got it. Mike tells the old man a little about the great adventure with his father, but the old man wants to know more. Mike now having been told by his father all there is to know about the old machine, the men who made it, and the hundred years of history behind it says to the old man, “Well old timer, the story goes something like this…(the rest of the story).
Prepare for a ride through the 20th Century, and into the 21st. You can become part of the telling of this story, the story of women and men who became famous on their motorcycles, and inventors, thinkers, and doers of all races, ages, and circumstance. It’s more than a father and son story, more than a history of motorcycles, it’s a story about America. Join me in this exciting project.
This is the motorcycle movie I’ve always wanted to make.
Mike A. Jones