Words by Adam Bale
Photography by Della Frederickson
In collaboration with UBCO Bikes
Director: Adam Bale | Writer: Alec Whittle | Producer: Abby June Becker | Director of Photography: Phillip Briggs | Assistant Camera: Makayla Caldwell | Drone Pilot: Jonathan Chandler | Wrangler: Derek Cuny | Talent: Katie Jarve, Matt Thompson
As you crest the eastbound hill on Wyoming Highway 22, about six miles past the Idaho-Wyoming border, a breathtaking panorama unfolds before your very eyes. Snow-capped peaks, lush cottonwoods and pines, meandering rivers, abundant wildlife and sprawling ranches converge to create a visual feast that paints the landscape with sheer beauty. Below sits the Jackson Hole valley, bursting with Western charm and cowboy folklore: Hats tipped low, boots digging into the earth, and denim that tells its own stories. As you make your way into town, don’t be surprised to come face to face with a black bear or elk, or a moose and her calves along the roadway. The sight will often stop SUVs, tires screeching and cameras clicking in an absurd frenzy, as if they have stumbled upon some biblical revelation.
Amidst this wild spectacle, there lies a neatly hidden treasure where innovation is quietly reshaping the timeless art of ranching. The Lockhart Cattle Ranch, a cherished family legacy spanning six generations, is at the forefront of this transformation. Our ragtag team of filmmakers journeyed here to the heart of the American West to document a modern-day story of progress, with quiet, electric steeds emerging as indispensable tools for ranching.
Legendary film director John Ford once said, “When in doubt, make a Western.” It seemed as though fate had orchestrated this convergence, where the allure of the moto world harmoniously blended with the ancient wisdom of the Wild West. The Lockhart Ranch, against the backdrop of meandering streams and pastures, proved an unlikely but fitting stage for this fusion of tradition and innovation.
There’s a saying in the moto world (and beyond) that goes something like, “It’s not if, but when.” With motorcycles this translates to an unsettling truth – crashes are not a matter of if, but rather, a harrowing question of when. The inevitable lurks, whether you embrace it or bury your head in the sand.
For the unyielding rider, the ticking clock of fate’s design cannot be their obsession. No, they must cast aside the shackles of apprehension, hurl caution to the raging winds, and relentlessly dance upon the precipice of their own existence. To breach the great expanse of the wild unknown is their sacred duty, for in the realm of two-wheeled revelry, complacency is a death sentence. In the grander scheme, it’s a stark reminder that survival hinges on the art of adaptation and innovation. Stagnation is a one-way ticket to obsolescence in this relentless parade of progress.
Our cameras were positioned and ready, waiting as the ranch hands gathered the horses. The sun wasn’t quite up, and as a curtain of fog rose from the pastures, the bugle of a bull elk heralded a passing herd that flowed through the mist, their mossy breath visible in the late October dawn. The aspen and cottonwood trees had already begun their enchanting transformation, painting the landscape with splendid yellows, oranges and reds. But our pilgrimage wasn’t for Mother Nature’s display: We were here to unravel the enigma of electric motorcycles on a bona fide cattle ranch – and the star of our peculiar rodeo had yet to take center stage.
Suddenly, as if conjured from thin air, a faint hum pierced the foggy silence. A sleek motorbike, gliding through the mist with the grace of an apparition, materialized before us. Riding the bike was a cowgirl named Katie Jarve clad in cowboy boots and hat, leather chaps flapping in the wind, and a wild rag tied delicately around her neck. She emerged like an ethereal specter out of the enveloping fog, perched upon her electric steed, aligning herself effortlessly with the thundering hooves of the horses. It’s a peculiar sight to witness a 150-pound electric contraption, perched a mere three feet above the ground, next to a nearly 1-ton towering mammal. Yet, against all odds, they are strangely in harmony. The near-silent hum of the noncombustion motors make them an unobtrusive companion to cattle ranching and the workhorses driving them.
Chase Lockhart, our host and torchbearer of the new generation of Wyoming ranchers, embodies the spirit of innovation while maintaining a deep-rooted connection to the land. Behind his rugged exterior, Chase’s vision extends far beyond tradition. Great-grandson of Bruce Porter, who purchased the ranch in 1938, Chase carries a legacy dating back to the early 20th century when the 120-year-old farmhouse was built. Raised in a simpler, quieter Jackson, he moved away to attend college, but returned in 2009 to take the reins at a pivotal moment in the ranch’s history.
The ranch had faced a devastating setback in 2004 when a bacterial infection swept through the herd, forcing the crushing decision to euthanize nearly 900 animals. Despite this challenging period, Chase’s vision and dedication breathed new life into the Lockhart Ranch. Together with his brother, they saw the potential to revitalize the land with a focus on sustainability and local production.
“It’s Hereford cows eating Jackson Hole grass,” Chase remarks, a nod to the same breed that Jackson’s original cattlemen introduced to the area in the 1880s. The ranch’s transformation epitomizes innovation, bridging the gap between tradition and progress, securing the legacy of ranching for future generations.
The morning clouds gracefully parted as the midday sun rose high in the sky, unveiling nature’s awe-inspiring canvas, a glorious display of vivid colors and dynamic contrasts against the majestic mountains. Our production team gathered along the riverbank, feeling the palpable excitement in the air. The cowboys arrived on horseback, exuding a quiet confidence born from their expertise. Without uttering a word, they positioned themselves strategically, ready to guide the cattle across the river for one of our signature shots. The silent coordination was a symphony of skill and precision.
The cattle began to grow uneasy and threatened to scatter, and what unfolded next was a display of ranching artistry, a timeless dance between man, horse and beast. The cattle responded to the cowboys’ gentle cues, hooves splashing through the cool waters of the river, driven by an innate understanding of their handlers. Our team watched in awe, captivated by the seamless choreography unfolding before us. The cowboys’ mastery of their craft was evident in every calculated step, each gesture speaking volumes of their deep connection to the land and the animals they tended.
As the sun dipped below the horizon, casting a warm, golden glow over the landscape, the Teton Range loomed silently in the distance, providing a breathtaking backdrop. What we had captured was truly special – a celebration of the intricate bond between humanity, nature and technology. Our journey through the rugged charms of the American West wasn’t just a commercial production; it was a pilgrimage to the heart of the human spirit. The electric motorcycles, once a foreign presence in these lands steeped in tradition, have become an integral part of the Wild West’s narrative, pushing the boundaries of what was once thought possible.
Chase stood as a beacon of hope, representing a new generation of Wyoming ranchers unafraid to explore innovation and rewrite the rules. He bridges the gap between tradition and progress, ensuring ranching will continue to thrive for generations to come. And, in the spirit of those silent cowboys, we press on. With every triumph and tribulation, we embrace the unpredictable ride ahead, fearlessly facing the unceasing and inevitable “when.” Together, we ride into the unknown, a wild caravan of dreamers and doers blazing the unpaved trail. With raised glasses, we toast the West, innovation, and the relentless pursuit of the untamed American dream.