A short biography of local biker Neal Kutchins
He sits astride his blue iron steed, a warrior. Sitting straight and proud, a newcomer to the world of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and the Harley Owner’s Group, a man looking to find his place within.
His name is Neal Kutchins. Neal is quiet, but he listens and watches. He has participated in the Christmas party planning and rally talent planning committees. When he speaks, we all listen to what he has to say since he is sparing with his words, but each one counts in helping to push the groups forward to their final accomplishment.
Neal is a numbers man, owning Neal Kutchins CPA. Since 1990, he’s been spending his time doing taxes, business consulting and accounting for small businesses. Neal also worked for the State of Alaska for 15 years in the Medicaid department, auditing hospitals and charges for Medicaid services, and doing taxes on the side. Although retired from the state, he still works more than part-time, but not full-time, at his CPA business.
He’s married to Kathy, who does not wish to ride but sends him on his way to meet the group whenever he has the time. They have two kids, and a grandaughter. The daughter rides a Honda scooter, and the son in law does road racing.
So what does Neal ride? It’s an interesting story. Neal started riding in 1968 when he bought his first bike, a black 1967 Harley-Davidson Sprint, from Laidlaw’s Harley-Davidson near Los Angeles. He’s owned other bikes as well, including a Triumph 500 that he sold along with other parts and pieces of his life so he could move to Alaska.
By 2008 Neal was back on a bike, a blue Yamaha V-Star. But he’d always been drooling over and looking at Harley-Davidson’s. He looked online; he looked at bike shows, he looked everywhere at everything, but he just never took the leap into Harley ownership.
When Neal worked at the Frontier Building and was retiring, Kathy called and said she was having some car trouble and could he come out to the parking lot to talk with her. He did, and the whole family was standing next to a blue Harley sitting in the parking lot with a big bow on it. Jokingly, Neal asked, “Is that for me?” “Yes, it is,“ Kathy replied. Neal said it was a real surprise.
Neal is now part of the blue crew side of our Harley family. He did say that Kathy wanted a red bike for him, but sometimes when buying used, you have to take blue. But no matter what color he rides, he’s now a member of our Harley-Davidson and HOG family.
Neal was born in East Los Angeles, known as the cruiser area. He went to UCLA, then to Los Angeles Technical College, where he got a degree in motorcycle technology. He worked for Ed Kretz and Louie Thomas, two old-time motorcycle dealerships that carried BMWs, Triumphs, Suzukis, BSAs and Hondas, to name a few.
In 1974 Neal moved to Delta. He’d read Jack London books and wanted to come to Alaska. A friend was moving up from the Lower 48, so he asked if he could come, too.
The city boy’s first job was as a buffalo herder. He had to keep the buffalo out of the haystacks. Hay was sold to the pipeline companies as mulch. But the buffalo liked to eat it, tear it up, lay in it and poop in it. From buffalo herder, to pipeline work to construction. There was a wide range of jobs and expertise. If you ever need a buffalo herder, ask Neal for advice.
Neal built a log cabin, completely chinked and with moss on the roof. There was no indoor plumbing, meaning no running water or facilities. It was a lot of work, keeping the woodstove stoked, to keep it warm.
In 1979 he was visiting family in California and met Kathy, his wife to be. After visits and corresponding, they got married in 1980, and she and her son moved to Delta, where they all lived in the cabin that Neal built, the one heated with wood and no running water. Five years later, he built a house with indoor plumbing.
Still living in Delta, working on the slope in minus 40 degrees, Neal started to wonder if he really wanted to keep doing that work, and he decided since jobs were scarce, he had to go back to college. He went to UAF and got a degree in Accounting. Kathy was working for DMV and got a job in Anchorage, so while Neal was then working in Fairbanks, they decided Anchorage was the place to be and moved here in the early 90s.
As I got to know Neal through this interview, I found that he wasn’t the quiet guy I’d thought he was. Given a chance he is willing to share his life and experiences, and they were really interesting. Look for Neal at the next HOG event and sit down to share a drink or meal with him. You’ll find someone well-worth the effort of knowing and calling “friend.”