McGoo did an interview
for ChopCult a few years ago with Rob "Rouser" Galan, and the Arousing One's answer to "What would be heaven on earth?" read as follows:
"A desolate beach with a good waist- to chest-high wave, add a 9-foot longboard, a sack of the Devil's Lawn, and an ice chest stocked with sweet tea and tasty treats."
Spicolli would be proud! Unlike most of us dreamers, Rob actually managed to pull it off. I was fortunate enough to take a family surf trip to Pavones earlier in the year. We were all excited to spend some quality time with our gypsy friend with his infectious smile and amazing girl friend, RL. Between sets we caught up on chopper gossip, who's doing what, who's no longer with us, who's still sticking it out. Rob was a very influential builder in the good old days of just a couple years ago, and his style is still evident in what a lot of people are doing with Sportsters. I thought it'd be fun to pick his brain and share the results with our friends who know him and introduce this fine character to anyone who's not already aware of him.
The Gimmick 2007
Ferris Bueller 2011
A Way Out 2007
Hello Moto 2010
Meekum Pholim Breau 2011
How long did you seriously plan on checking out before you pulled the plug?
TFL 3.5 (different versions) 2005-2011
In the early 2000's I started daydreaming about living south of the border. In December of 09 I took a last minute trip to Costa Rica, spur of the moment with no plan at all. I found my self traveling around the country by bus, visiting different surf spots on the Pacific coast. I separated from my traveling buds when we reached the end of the road in the southern zone. This is where I experienced a different way of life that had my name written all over it. I remember laying in a hammock with a notepad writing down everything I needed to finish, sell, and kiss goodbye. I made a plan and stuck to it, two years later in December 2011 I hit the road. It was a bit scary not knowing how things would turn out, but that's part of what I was looking for. Uncertainty was the draw, having to figure things out was the work, and the satisfaction of pulling it off was the reward.
Has there ever been a moment where you thought "Man Rob, you should fly home, buckle down and get a job, cause this just ain't gonna work"?
No, that has never crossed my mind. Why, does Biltwell need a janitor or something?
When was the last time you put some real miles on a Shomper?
On a classic old school chopper shomper bomper you say? EDR 2011, my buddy Reg and I rolled in a few days early and met up with the Bolts crew. That run was a memorable one, one night I found myself naked in the women's restroom of Kiki's Campo puking and shitting all over the place, it was a real fucked up mess. Sorry ladies...
What's your "Daily" moto these days and how often do you ride it?
I'm on a 2003 XR400R, and I ride it everyday whether its a surf check, mercado run, or just a jaunt with the wizard. There are two things you absolutely must have in our village, a surfboard and a dirtmoto.
You have built quite a few inspiring XL's. Any tips or suggestions to share with someone new to building/modifying these bikes?
Know that your name is on everything you do, take pride in your work, do it once do it right. And remember function and reliability should always trump glam and flare.
Ever get the itch to build another one? And, why always a Sportster? Why not a shovel or über-knuckle?
No, I don't have any urge to build again. But I do have a build file stored in my brain of what I would do if the opportunity arose. Building was just a small fraction of my "career" as a Harley mechanic. I will always be a wrench whether its Armando's weed eater, RL's Land Cruiser, or my XR, turning wrenches will be part of my life to the end.
As to why it was always Sportos and not Big Twins. It goes back to going against what your elders tell you, youthful rebellion is what they call it. When I first started working for Harley Davidson my shop foreman would always tell me Sportsters aren't worth a shit, and to stop investing money in mine. That would drive me crazy and just make me bond with my XL even more. As the years past I learned that Harley's XL was the hot rod of the family, they are nimble, fast, and reliable. When building came into the picture Sportos and Buells were the perfect base for me. They were cheap donors, and they were what I knew best out of the HD family. Plus at 5'8" with a 29" inseam, Harley's girls moto is a perfect fit for the petite man.
What do you think of factory adventure bikes like the big Beemers, Triumph Tiger, etc? Any interest in something like this?
Yes is what I think! Though I would probably fit better on one of the smaller displacement engine models. Take the 2007 KTM LC4 Adventurer, jeeze now thats the ticket. I have always liked the idea and looks of adventure motos. Dirt on the street and street on the dirt, a moto for all roads paved or not, how could anybody not dig that? Can you get KTM on as a supporter of Rouser South of the Border?
Tell us a little about Pavones; how'd you settle on the place, why did it stand out as the place to stop and dig in?
Pavones is unlike any other place I have ever been to. It's an hour and a half to the nearest gas station, an hour to the closest ATM, and more than two hours to a hospital. All dirt roads, with sketchy bridges that can and will wash out. Only one way in and one way out, its literally at the end of the road in southern CR. The power goes out regularly, and sometimes the water supply dries up. Crazy birds, sloths, monkeys, iguanas, poisonous snakes, and giant insects all around. Fruits and vegetables growing right in your yard. Whales and dolphins can be seen from the beach. The temps range from the mid 60's to the mid 90's depending on the season and the water is always around 84 degrees. It's truly paradise. About 200 people live in the village and surrounding area(not including the thousands of indigenous people that live deep in the jungle). Everyone knows everyone, there is a well established tight knit community here. Then add the world's longest tropical left hand surf break. To me Pavones has it all, even though it has very little.
This is what I wanted, a life not as easy but with greater rewards, Pavones gave this to me and for that I am great full.
What's a typical day like for you right now?
Pretty simple, wake up at 6:02, brew some organic coffee for RL and I, feed Elvis, take a shit, brush my teeth, do a surf check, stretch, surf, eat lunch, maybe surf again, check in with the wizard around sunset, feed Elvis, eat dinner, shower, peruse the interweb for a bit, brush my teeth again, then hit the sack around 21:00 to do it all over again the next day.
It's not all shakas and coconuts all the time though, there are days when there is no surf, or something needs to be fixed, or we head up the mountain to work on the farm.
What do you miss from the USA in general, or Corpitos specifically?
Ben and Jerry's Coffee Heath Crunch is what I miss the most, but I also miss shooting guns from the back porch, visiting my grandma and trying to get her to toke on a joint, yelling at Slovy for using a flat blade screw driver to change a tube, riding a dirtmoto in the mountains of Colorado, and going to Schlotzsky's with my mom.
I know you have innerwebs down there, but you've been pretty much radio silent except for a cameo here and there or a new surf video posted to Vimeo once in a while. Do you cruise the chopper blogs and whatnot or have you checked out of that too? Have you seen anything inspirational in Chopperland since you split?
Yeah I still check Church of Choppers and FTWCo video of the day every night. I'll creep Biltwell's Facebook from time to time, as well as the Bolts and Deus Instagram accounts. But other than those my moto interwebing is dead.
Got any tips for the intrepid traveller who plans to bail for good someday? Anything you would have done differently now that you've experienced it firsthand?
Do it and don't look back! Make sure you have a skill set that can help you survive in your desired destination. Blend in slowly and be a part of the community especially if its a small one. Small villages like Pavones can make you or break you. Every year someone new gets chewed up and spit out, having to hit the road with their tails between their legs.
Yeah I should have brought my KTM down with me instead of selling it. Trying to find a KTM 200 is turning out to be just about impossible down here.
How's the surf this week?
The first good swell of the season finally hit, buenas olas y mucho gente. We have been skipping
on the point and heading to Sawmills lately, so fun! The swell is still on and we are expecting some crushers to thin out the crowd.
You ever coming back?
My thoughts? I'm glad to have so many truly inspirational friends in my life, and riding custom motorcycles has been a conduit for many of these friendships. Rouser Rob is at the top of that list and I really do cherish the time I get to spend with the guy. Pura Vida, mi Amigo, I'll see you again next year. -Bill