Although most of us resist, there’s something about a motorcycle that dares you to disappear, hit the road and just see what happens. In this episode, I talk to someone who regularly takes that dare. Kendall Wright lives the freelance life, and with the freedom that gives her, points her bike toward the horizon whenever inspiration strikes. We spoke on the eve of her departure for a spontaneous lap of the continental U.S., and her cheerful sense of adventure will inspire anyone who wonders, “what would it be like to just go?”
Freedom Machine is an annual event of a kind that’s popping up all over the world. To me, it was as much or more about motorcycle culture than the bikes alone, and therefore all the more worth attending. Maybe because it’s still relatively new, or maybe because of the weather that day, I found it delightfully intimate, with a wonderfully weird edge contributed by its location. But it’s bound to grow… if you’re nearby, you should put it in your calendar for next year. (Come for the day, at least. I’ve heard things get weirder when night falls. Also, pro tip: If it’s raining, bring a kickstand pad!)
Here’s the bike that inspired my reverie about ‘just going’. The heart of this bike is a 1968 Triumph Trophy 650, and it was built by Shane Burkholder. You can find Shane on Instagram and share the pains and joys of bike building @s_burkholder.
Below is a photo Kendall Instagram’d from the road the day I published this podcast. It’s exactly what I picture when I imagine a trip like that. You can follow Kendall’s adventures on Instagram @kendallbitesback. Her feed is a bit of a gateway drug into a pretty cool network of moto-folk.
This is Bessie Stringfield. There has been less written about her than you would think, given her astonishing story, but this article from the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame is a good way to get started. What was most amazing of all about her wasn’t just what she did and the obvious obstacles she faced, but her attitude, sense of humour and unalloyed lifelong passion for riding (and Harleys). A reminder that none of us deserves to take ourselves as seriously as we sometimes do.
Here is the Jamie Elvidge article Kendall and I spoke about. I think it’s one of the finest pieces of writing about motorcycles I’ve ever read, and comes closest to what I imagine goes on inside your helmet on a long journey.
Drivin to Kalifornia was excerpted in this episode with the kind permission of Redlight King. You can purchase your own copy on iTunes, and learn more about Redlight King here. Do yourself a favour and spend some time checking out his other tracks. Old Man is a masterpiece with a great back story, and Born to Rise is not only a great fist pumping anthem, but its video features some excellent bad behavior on motorcycles… just to name two.
And finally, a cautionary tip for tech nerds: I record these podcasts on a Roland R-05, which is an excellent and versatile digital audio recorder. The only flaw I’ve found so far is that it doesn’t appear to signal you when its card fills up while recording. I got lazy about keeping it clean, and lost a few minutes of this very enjoyable interview. Lesson learned.