November '19

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NOVEMBER 2019 THE SHOP 89 A year later, Ava displayed her first bike build at The Outliers Guild Invitational Motorcycle Show, and she invited Jessi. Ava had built a custom 1984 Yamaha XT600 for the Tobacco Motorwear Co. "I wouldn't have gotten that far without Jessi," Ava explains. "She went over the welds with me, telling me where I welded too hot or too fast." The pair stayed in touch, and in April 2019 Ava even stood in for Jessi at a MIG welding demo at The Austin Speed Shop in Austin, Texas. "When I travel for the bike shows, I have to drive, as I'm usually bringing a bike or two. I do work for a professional motor- cycle builder, Dustin Kott of Kott Motor- cycles, and we were traveling to a show. Jessi asked if I could bring her demo setup out there. We loaded up all her welding equipment so she could do the demo, but her flight got canceled. So, she called me and asked, 'Would you feel confident filling in for me?' I set up the welder and did the demo. Several women stayed after the event for some hands-on instruction, which is something Jessi had done." The last event Jessi and Ava did together was a motorcycle maintenance demo in Denver, through The Real Deal Program for the Wild Gypsy Tour. "I knew her for a year-and-a-half," Ava says. "She was a friend and a mentor to me and taught me everything, from TIG welding to helping me with my motorcycle riding experi- ence to how to present the information and knowledge she's given me to other people. Her biggest passion was not only doing stuff, but passing it along. She recognized the pas- sion in me. She responded to every single text message I ever sent her. I had just turned 24 the day she died, and to have someone who believes in you, helping to guide you— without her, I wouldn't be where I am today." Jessi was so proud of her student. (Photo courtesy Ava Wolff)

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