Rolling into the New Year on January 7, the low was 21 degrees. The low three days later was 60 with a high of 72. Yep, 2014 in Texas is off to its normal abnormal self. Love it or leave it. As for me, a great year is just over the horizon. In last month’s issue I mentioned that Juan Gandera Jr. with Lubbock Custom Motorcycles had won a first-place slot at the Ride-In Show at the Lone Star Rally in Galveston, but was unsure of the class. Well, Juan read my article and responded immediately. He actually won second place in Galveston in the Softail class. But not to worry; the following weekend in Dallas he scored a first-place victory for the same bike, a 2007 Deluxe that took first-place honors in the Stock Modified class at the IMS Ultimate Builder Bike Show. Back-to-back wins for the same bike competing in major shows just seven days apart attests to the spirit of a great motorcycle fabricator… While on the phone, Juan also gave us an update on this year’s Pancho Claus Bike & Car Toy Drive held in Lubbock on December 22. It was the first time for the shop to participate, but since it was so convenient (held at the Maggie Trejo Center behind his new shop) he felt compelled to be a part of the action. Born from the Chicano civil rights movement and celebrating 20 years in Lubbock, Pancho Claus is a gathering of local gearheads—two-, three- and four-wheeled—with the day offering more than 1,500 riders and low riders showing up to bring toys to the kids… Along with that mention of Gandera’s new shop (recently relocated to 2833 Clovis Road), Juan asked us to remind everyone of their 10-year anniversary coming up this spring. Yes, there will be a party; just log on to www.lubbockcustommotorcycles.com for more details… Although I wasn’t able to make it this time, the renowned San Jacinto High Rollers Toy Run was held for the 34th time on December 8. This ride has traditionally been the largest toy run in the Houston area and, despite the cold, once again hundreds of riders gathered to make the 30-mile trip from Honda of Houston to Boys & Girls Country in Hockley. An after-party was included with your donation of a toy or $15 per person with everyone assembling for drinks and lunch at the Cypress Saloon on Telge Road in northwest Houston. Boys & Girls Country was established 38 years ago, shortly before this toy drive was first launched, and is completely funded through private donations. This year’s commemorative T-shirt was designed by the kids living at Boys & Girls Country and sold out quickly… About 250 miles north of Houston on that same day, the blizzard-like conditions were simply too severe and the annual Fort Worth Bikers’ Christmas Swap Meet had to be postponed one week until the weather on December 15 gave them a break. Held at the Will Rogers Memorial Center and presented by Texas Scooter Times, the event played to a packed house of two-wheel-minded shoppers eager for some holiday bargains. Organizer Red Roberts also wanted to remind all my readers that the 2014 schedule of drag races and swap meets has been posted on the company website, www.texasscooter.com. The next swap meet will be held March 23 at the Coyote Drive-In in Fort Worth, and the first racing will be the All Bike Drags on April 13 at Little River Dragway in Temple… I wanted to give a shout to a loyal friend of the magazine and my editor’s old high school running buddy, Fernando “Indian Fred” Loya. Fred passed away on December 27, 2009 in a tragic motorcycle accident in the D/FW area. We miss ya every time we straddle a bike, amigo… Strokers Dallas presented a free New Year’s Eve Party with live music by local band Stone Age that included party favors and champagne at midnight. The next day, the shop held their semi-famous New Year’s Day Chili Cook Off. And from what I hear, it was recently that—chilly! I didn’t brave the great white north on January 1, but decided instead to take the invite we received from Kent and Holly Weeks, proprietors of Lucky Devil Metal Works (Twisted Steel with Sex Appeal) in northwest Harris County. Traditionally Kent and Holly have cooked up a big pot of gumbo and stirred up a batch of Bloody Marys to welcome the New Year. It’s a private party for customers and friends and one that we at THUNDER PRESS highly appreciate—spicy food, stout drinks and open friendship; no better way to start 2014… And we received word from Terri Sheets, media relations with the Republic of Texas Biker Rally (June 13–15), that preregistration is now open. It may seem early but those RV reservations go really fast. Spring in Texas will be here before you know it and that horizon is already calling. Best gear up.