Welcome to the first installment of “Let’s Have a Motorcycle Conversation.” I am going to be talking with members of the North Carolina motorcycle community, and putting those interviews on my Blog. My first guest is Kris Weiss of Raleigh. Kris is the incoming president of the Raleigh HOG Chapter based out of Tobacco Road Harley-Davidson. His current job is the Executive Pastor of Finances at Focus Church in Raleigh. Prior to beginning that position in 2020, he had worked for 14 years as the Director of Marketing and Promotions at Ray Price Harley-Davidson (and then Tobacco Road Harley-Davidson). When Kris was at that job back in 2009, he approached me about becoming a sponsor of Capital City Bikefest. I remain very grateful to Kris for approaching me back in 2009 because since then I have sponsored Capital City Bikefest every year except 2020 (due to COVID).
Gary: Hey, Kris. How are you doing?
Kris: I’m doing great, Gary. Thanks.
Gary: Good. So, tell me Kris, what do you remember about the first time you drove a motorcycle?
Kris: The first time was probably with some friends when I was barely a teenager. I dared to get on their dirt bike in their backyard and I think I flipped one up doing a wheelie and I toppled another over on wet grass and uh … but I knew I was hooked at that point.
Gary: And why did you know you were hooked?
Kris: (Laugh) There was a certain adrenaline rush and what I did with that over my years after I got married. We would drive down to Daytona Beach not for the Daytona Bike Rally but if you go to the beach you can rent a dirt bike across the street and walk it over to the beach and ride it up and down the beach. So I started doing that for a couple years just on vacation and I thought boy this is really great. I have got to do this one day.
Gary: (Laugh) What was the first motorcycle that you could call yours?
Kris: I bought a used Yamaha V-Star 1100 in 2006. My wife and I were raising 4 kids. Our oldest child was getting ready to drive. She said you should give our daughter your car and you go get a motorcycle. I was like you bet. So, I went out and bought my first used motorcycle right away.
Gary: How long did you have that and what was your next bike? Do you remember?
Kris: Yeah. So, I bought that probably in May of ’06 and I was looking in the paper for a job and I saw an ad in the paper to work at the Harley dealer (Ray Price) as a rental manager and I started there in July and I stopped riding the Yamaha because I was able to ride the rental bikes all the time, the Harleys. And so that is when I started riding Harley-Davidson in ’06 and then I sold the Yamaha not too soon after that.
Gary: So, what do you currently ride?
Kris: I ride a 2008 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Anniversary Edition.
Gary: Now have you had that since ’08 or did you buy it over the last few years?
Kris: I bought it about 2 years ago.
Gary: And why do you like that bike?
Kris: Well I love it because my wife can ride comfortably on the back. I can put all my stuff in the various tour pack saddlebags and go long distance if I want to. I mainly commute with it almost every day, but it is very versatile and I do a lot with it and it’s got great pipes, great sound, great sound system and I love it a lot.
Gary: I know at least when you were still at Ray Price you really kept up with the number of miles that everybody or the people in the HOG Chapter would put on their bike. Do you know about how many miles you ride per year or maybe over the last year how many miles you have put on your bike?
Kris: Yeah, I do between 8,000 and 10,000 a year
Gary: I never realized that your first job at Ray Price was in the rental department.
Gary: And so did you move from there to Marketing and Promotions?
Kris: I did after about 5 or 6 months the general manager at the time said that they were having a position that need filled and he thought I would do well as the marketing director and I was excited for that move.
Gary: And so that would have been … was that ’06 – ’07 somewhere in there?
Kris: Right. Yeah. So, beginning of ’07 is when I started the marketing position.
Gary: And you … So you had that for a number of years. Right?
Kris: Yeah. All the way through 2020.
Gary: Now I know that you left that job and started working at Focus Church and I know that you are a pastor. What is your current position with Focus Church and what led you to that?
Kris: Yeah. I am the Executive Pastor of Finance so I work with all the bookkeeping and the finances and the big budget … the big picture stuff. What would help make sense about why this happened is before I even started working at Ray Price I was actually an associate pastor and before I was an associate pastor. 15 to 18 years ago, I was a rental car manager for 8 years so what happened was when I was working at the church as an associate pastor they had a budget crisis and I was the last one hired. I had to go find a job so when I went to look for a job that is where I saw the ad in the paper for the Harley rental manager. I took the rental experience I had from renting cars for 8 years and having just bought a motorcycle, it was the perfect fit and all these years I’ve still been a pastor and I’ve still been involved with the same church. I’ve never left you know that calling of being a pastor and I always did both, the Harley business and the pastoral business. As you may have known I have done a number of weddings even at the dealership and for customers and employees and hospital visits, even funerals, and you know I kind of became the dealership chaplain for all those years.
Gary: So it sounds like your pastoring throughout the years has intertwined with your motorcycling.
Kris: That’s right. It has kind of been .. My life all blends together. I don’t really segment things whether it is professional or the church life or even my personal life. When we have people over for dinner who were customers, they become friends and so you know it all ties together. I am not sure who is a customer, who is a friend, (laughter) or who goes to my church. I just hang out with everybody.
Gary: Sure. Like we tell our kids with their first part-time jobs or first full-time jobs it seems like you can always use those experiences later, or they are like building blocks.
Kris: That’s right. You don’t have to stop one or burn a bridge on another. You can just add it. You can just add those on top of it.
Gary: I know that you begin your Raleigh HOG Chapter presidency next month. What led you to want that post?
Kris: Right. Well that was interesting. I loved my job at the dealership. It is the best job I have ever had. It had really become a family and the HOG Chapter is another family that I have been actively involved in for a couple of years and I was approached by a couple of folks who thought I would make a great director or president of the HOG Club and I thought about it. I said, well, yeah, I think that would be great, so they nominated me and I think it will be a great adventure for sure. I’m looking forward to it.
Gary: I’m excited about you being the President. Have you thought about your goals or philosophy?
Kris: Yeah, I’m excited. We’ve got a good board that’s helping me coming into it. You know one of the main mottos of the HOG Club is to ride and have fun. And I just want to instill that and build upon that. There has been so many great directors and leaders of the HOG Club and I just want to continue what they’ve done and make it where it is a community for people that they can ride and have fun, and can also make friendships, build relationships and make it really a big part of their life if they want to do that. It is a wonderful community and family.
Gary: There is a number of annual rides that happen every year. Is there an annual ride that you really like participating in?
Kris: One of my favorites that the HOG Club has done for probably a dozen years is the Tail of the Dragon Ride. I think they call it Tame the Dragon. So we go out to the Western part of North Carolina. We travel up there on a Wednesday. We then ride throughout the area all day Thursday, Friday, Saturday and then ride back Sunday. It’s several nights of great comradery and fellowship and riding and telling stories and really building those relationships that last a lifetime. So, that’s been my favorite annual ride that I really love going to.
Gary: Is there a ride, not necessarily an annual ride, but just any ride that you’ve been on that you look back and say that was the most challenging?
Kris: Yeah, for the first time I did a solo ride myself to Daytona Beach. My brother lives in the area there and I did it in July 2020. So, it was long, hot and challenging but so worthwhile and good memories. I really enjoyed doing that ride. It was great.
Gary: So here is your chance to convince somebody to at least think about getting into riding a motorcycle, what would you say to then?
Kris: Follow your passion if that is what you want to do. I talk to people, and you know, they hear my story and some people say wow I really want to do that. Some people say oh I could never do that. I just don’t have the nerve or whatever and I never really encourage them to do it. You know, if you don’t have that passion or if you are afraid then don’t do it. But if you do have … if you think you have something that is telling you to do that, the first thing I tell them to do is take that riding course at the dealership … the Riding Academy because that is the safest way and the best way to really get all the skills … to begin to get the skills you need to be a safe rider, to do it a long time and have fun.
Gary: What is something about you outside of motorcycling that people might find surprising?
Kris: Some people know or don’t know I’ve got 3 grandkids … all grandsons. So, that is one of those things that I thoroughly enjoy … being a grandparent.
Gary: I’m going to finish up here with some rapid fire questions. They are just either one word or one phrase answers and let’s see where that goes.
Gary: Favorite movie?
Gary: Favorite band or singer?
Kris: Probably Chicago.
Gary: Favorite child. I’m just kidding. We won’t answer that one.
Gary: I know that you officiate many weddings. Do you have sort of a favorite go to scripture if you officiate and they let you pick it?
Kris: Corinthians I Chapter 13. A lot of people know that. Love is patient. Love is kind … And it goes on from there. But, yeah that is a good standard for sure.
Gary: Is there a motorcycle ride on your bucket list?
Kris: I have not been to Sturgis so I would like to check that off one day.
Gary: Is there a famous person or a respected person that you’ve met that you thought man, I can’t believe I just met that person or shook their hand?
Kris: Yeah. I went to a convention with Harley-Davidson and met some of the Harley-Davidson family there and that was amazing. I’ve got pictures of meeting them and that was a real inspiration.
Gary: Well last one and since this is Christmas time. Favorite Christmas song?
Kris: Silent Night.
Gary: Thanks so much Kris!