Is dirt riding as good for us as everyone says it is? Meet retired NHL power forward Scott Thornton, whose transition from life in professional hockey began in earnest with a ride in the woods. Unsurprisingly for an elite athlete, Thornton’s off-road riding career would draw him to the unforgiving world of hard enduro. But what he found was something more satisfying than adoring crowds and more universal than victory, and it’s there for anyone with the courage to ride where there is no road. A compelling conversation that just might leave you thinking you’ve got room for one more bike.

Show Notes

Scott Thornton at Red Bull Romaniacs, 2021

Here’s a link to a story quoting the MIC dirt bike sales numbers for 2020. It’s a huge jump, and no doubt includes a lot of new riders. But still, something happened, here, and it’s hard to imagine that it won’t have a lasting effect on motorcycling of every kind.

This interview would not have happened without the suggestion and help of Todd Topper and the folks at Mission Cycle, in Angus, Ontario. I’ve been a happy customer for years.

You can find Scott Thornton’s complete NHL record here (my summary was woefully cursory). And here, to give you a sense for his character, is a profile of Scott as a mature player. It’s where the ‘fittest player in the NHL’ comment came from.

At the beginning of our conversation, I rather randomly made reference to Scott and I sharing a home town. That town is actually London, Ontario, where Scott was born and raised, and where I grew up. Sorry for any confusion, especially if you’re a proud Londoner.

Here’s a piece about Scott’s experience with the Rallye du Maroc, in 2018.

The interview in which Scott mentions ‘the beginner mind’ and talks about searching for his ‘why’ can be found here. This story also provides a window into the Corduroy Enduro, billed as Canada’s toughest race.

During our conversation, I mentioned a film about privateer motocross racers called “Banch,” which made the motorcycle film festival circuit last year. I loved it. If you’d like to watch it some snowy evening, it’s available free here.

Here are a few links to give you a flavour for the Red Bull Romaniacs event. This one shows you the race class descriptions I mentioned in our conversation. Here is Scott’s competitor page on the Romaniacs’ site. And below is a highlight video of the event. I get what Scott was saying about how these highlight reels are produced, but still… damn.

During that part of the conversation, I mentioned Spanish enduro rider Pol Tarrés, who rode the Romaniacs event on a Yamaha Tenere 700. Below is my favourite video showcasing Tarrés’ superhuman abilities. And here’s a link to a video about the reaction to his choice of bikes for Romania.

 

I didn’t catch a few of the names that flew by in our conversation, but this one deserves calling out: Lawrence Hacking. The first Canadian to finish the legendary Dakar Rally, he is surely Canadian dirt bike royalty, and obviously remains passionately involved. Here’s a link to his book about the Dakar experience.

During our discussion about ‘Throttle Therapy,’ Scott mentioned Doc Cotton’s Motorcycle Missions. Here’s how you can find out more about that.

The Roosevelt quote – ‘The Man In The Arena’ – wasn’t maybe the most original choice, but it’s hard to beat for relevance to this episode. You can learn a bit more about its history and read the text for yourself here.

Here‘s a random example of a ‘motocross playlist’, which, as I said in my closing remarks, are a significant feature of the sport. You won’t be able to listen to the ones here unless you’re a subscriber, but the song list gives us a definite flavour of how these riders are feeling when they’re in the zone.

This turned out to be one of the most quotable interviews I’ve ever done, judging by my scribbled notes. But here’s the one I think wraps the whole thing up beautifully:

“Every time I kick a bike over and get on it, I’m winning.”

Thanks, Scott.

Many thanks to Ontarians for being so excited about sharing their music with you. You can find out more about the band at their web site, of course. I was thrilled to discover them, and partly for a reason that’s hard to convey to a global audience… they come from where I come from. Which means not just Canada, but the kind of rural and exurban Canada where I grew up, and where I eventually returned. The kind where dirt bikers are born, where kids learn life lessons by being responsible for machines, and where the most awesome parents surprise them with motocross courses in the back yard. There are lots of great places to be from in the world, but this one feels like home to me, and I hear it in Ontarians’ music. Good luck with the new album!

As always, the theme music for this episode was arranged and performed by Harry Bartlett.

Don’t forget to check out my new store for TML merch… the link is at the top of this page. And finally, a nudge to scrounge up a few bucks from the couch cushions and make a contribution to the Movember Foundation in the name of this podcast… just click on the moustache below. Especially now, they could use all the help you can give them, and you’ll be letting me know how much you value this content. Thank you!

Is progress costing motorcycles their souls? Not if we do it right. Meet Nashville recording engineer and avid rider Chris Mara. In his business, the war between the analog past and the digital future was settled a generation ago. His take? It’s all good. If the music industry can teach motorcyclists anything, it’s that yesterday and tomorrow can get along fine together, if we simply decide to let it happen. Bikes are just “stuff we use to go places,” he says… and as long as that’s what we do with them, there will always be more than enough soul to go around.

Show Notes

Chris Mara (center), in his element. Photo: Welcometo1979.com

Below is the Colville painting I referred to in my opening remarks. Painted in 1954, it stands up, if you ask me. Maybe now more than ever. You can learn a bit more about the painting’s history here.

Horse and Train, Alex Colville (1954)

If you’re as much of a music geek as I am, or even half as much, you’ll enjoy this tour of Chris Mara’s studio, Welcome to 1979. As creative spaces go, I think it’s kind of brilliant and makes me wish I’d kept up my guitar lessons a little longer. I wonder if ‘Harmony Ranch’ is still in business…

You can learn more about this and Chris’ other businesses by visiting Welcome to 1979’s web site. You’ll find that here. Welcome to 1979 is also on Instagram, if you want to say hi. They’re @welcometo1979

Chris has recorded a lot of artists you’d know, but I couldn’t resist a Pete Townshend name drop. I mean, OK boomer, but come on… PETE TOWNSHEND. After our conversation, Chris shared this link of Townshend talking about his experience recording at Welcome to 1979. It’s delightful.

Sincere thanks to Cory Chisel for sharing his music with us in this episode. These days, it can be a little reductive to put music in a genre box, but if I can be forgiven here, this kind of ‘Americana Folk Rock’ is right up my alley… and this band have mastered it with an intense and thoughtful originality. I’m thrilled that Chris introduced me to them.

The band doesn’t appear to have an active web site, but you can learn more about them here and connect on Facebook. Their music is spread across the major streaming sites, and much of it is available for purchase, if you’re old school, in the usual places. Unfortunately, “Seventeen” is hard to get hold of if you’re in Canada unless you can locate a CD. But if you’d like to hear the whole track before you commit, check out this unofficial video on YouTube. Just trust me on this: YouTube’s can’t deliver the superb production of the original. Yeah, I’m fanboying.

As always, the theme music for this episode was arranged and performed by Harry Bartlett.

Don’t forget to check out my new store for TML merch… the link is at the top of this page. And finally, a nudge to scrounge up a few bucks from the couch cushions and make a contribution to the Movember Foundation in the name of this podcast… just click on the moustache below. Especially now, they could use all the help you can give them, and you’ll be letting me know how much you value this content. Thank you!

What if one terrible moment on a motorcycle took away almost everything that mattered to you? Would you ride again? Meet Omar Petralis, who’s lived through exactly that nightmare. His answer might amaze you… or it might not amaze you at all. Either way, Omar’s story is dramatic proof of the deep hold motorcycles have on the people who ride them, and of how resilient our passion can really be. A raw and difficult conversation about facing the specter that haunts us all, every time we ride. A warning that this interview includes some graphic and emotionally intense moments.

Show Notes

Given the nature of Omar’s story, the show notes for this episode are brief. When he returns from Newfoundland, I’ll see if he has some photos to share from the trip and, if he does, update this page. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, a very important erratum: I said a couple of times that the crash occurred on the Trans Labrador Highway. That is not the case. Although Omar, Linda and Chris had just ridden that road, the accident took place on Provincial Route 430. My sincere apologies for getting this important detail wrong.

Omar turned to his community soon after the crash, seeking support and understanding and, incredibly, offering them comfort. It leaves a powerful record of ‘the worst that could happen’ that’s infinitely more real and human than any news story could be. If you’re interested in following that intimate record, here are a few places to look:

This is a discussion thread on GTA Motorcycle that begins with Omar planning that 2017 trip, and then the sudden, tragic turn it took, in what somehow feels like real time. A useful reminder, maybe, of how suddenly fate can assert itself.

In the aftermath, another thread on the same site, eventually joined by Omar himself. One of many testaments his story makes to the power of our community.

And here is the ADVRider thread discussing Omar’s breakdown during his summer, 2021 pilgrimmage to the crash site. In our discussion, Omar promised a trip report, and ADVRider seems like a good place to watch for that. Be sure to check both the Canada page and the Trip Reports forum.

If you want to say hello, Omar’s social media handle is @oomis on GTAM, ADVRider and Instagram (probably also Facebook, which I’ll confirm).

A Yamaha Niken, the bike that stole Omar’s heart. Having seen it in the flesh, I officially retract my original opinion. I now love all motorcycles.

Many, many thanks to the brilliant Fortunate Ones for being so supportive of including “The Bliss” in this episode. I sorely wish that I could have explained to them just how perfect it was, and that they would be standing in as ambassadors for Newfoundland’s generous spirit… emails, unfortunately, don’t lend themselves to long stories. Fortunate Ones are Catherine Allan and Andrew O’Brien (that’s them in the photo below), from St. John’s, Newfoundland. To my unschooled ear, they strike a fresh and wonderful balance between contemporary folk music and the deep roots of the amazing place they call home. They make me want to go back, and I’m thrilled to have their music in my library. You can learn more about them here, and you can either buy their music – as I did – or find out how to stream it by visiting this page.

Photo: Vanessa Heins

As always, the theme music for this episode was arranged and performed by Harry Bartlett.

Don’t forget to check out my new store for TML merch… the link is at the top of this page. And finally, a nudge to scrounge up a few bucks from the couch cushions and make a contribution to the Movember Foundation in the name of this podcast… just click on the moustache below. Especially now, they could use all the help you can give them, and you’ll be letting me know how much you value this content. Thank you!

Are endurance motorcyclists crazy? Iron Butt riders call themselves “the world’s toughest,” so you know there’s more going on here than long hours in the saddle collecting gas receipts. Meet Rick Muhr, an overnight convert to endurance motorcycling. Muhr, a marathon running coach, was a casual sunny day rider until the tragic events of the 2013 Boston Marathon sent him on a healing journey that changed his life forever. When the road inside is even harder than the road ahead, Rick’s story shows us how enduring both makes us stronger… and that sometimes an insanely long ride is the sanest thing you can do.

Show Notes

Rick at the start of his Four Corners ride, Madawaska, ME. His bike will finish the ride as clean as it began, but I’m less sure about that Roadcrafter…

Here’s some information about Rick Muhr, and how to reach him if you want to take him up on his generous offer of advice and encouragement. You can learn more about his marathon coaching here, and his work with runners raising money for charities here. If you’d like to say hi on Instagram, and you should, he’s @rick_muhr. And finally, his email address is rickmbmw (at) gmail.com

Although Rick won some Iron Butt credentials on his Four Corners ride, the latter is not, in fact, an IBA event. It’s sanctioned by the Southern California Motorcyclists Association. You can learn more about the challenge, or – heaven forbid – register for the ride right here.

Here‘s a piece about Rick and that 12,000 mile odyssey.

As Rick rattled off the list of gorgeous, mostly BMW motorcycles in his garage, one of them produced a “wait, what?” moment for me, and maybe for you, too: something called an Exile Bulldozer. With a name like that, how could I resist looking it up? Here’s a picture, clipped from Exile’s web site. Now I wish I’d asked him about it…

You’ll find the Iron Butt Association’s deceptively modest web site here. This year’s Iron Butt Rally was going on the very week Rick and I spoke, an amazing coincidence for which I cannot take any credit. Although it will be over by the time you read this, you might enjoy this blow-by-blow thread on ADVRider, which illustrates just how tight a community these riders are.

Rick and I spoke quite a bit about author Melissa Holbrook Pierson, whom I interviewed for Episode 20, and about her fascination with endurance riding. Here is the article I quoted about her take on it, written soon after her book on the topic, The Man Who Would Stop At Nothing was published. And from the same web site, here‘s the story of the death of its subject, John Ryan, in 2013, along with some links to more details.

I acknowledge that this episode offers a very narrow window into the world of endurance riding, and that it doesn’t offer much perspective on behalf of the legions of motorcyclists who do it purely for the challenge. If you’re such a rider, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

A track to compliment the theme of this episode had to be introspective, and Jay Nash’s heartfelt, folk-inspired storytelling was an easy fit. Many thanks to Jay for being so enthusiastic about sharing his music with you… for me, “Places You’ll Go” evoked exactly the feeling I imagine having at the moment of departure. You can learn more about Jay at his web site, which is here. You might find this interview with him interesting, and he also has an active Facebook page. I purchased this track on iTunes, but it appears to be available in all the usual places, if streaming is your preference. Thanks again, Jay!

Photo: jaynash.com

As always, the theme music for this episode was arranged and performed by Harry Bartlett.

Don’t forget to check out my new store for TML merch… the link is at the top of this page. And finally, a nudge to scrounge up a few bucks from the couch cushions and make a contribution to the Movember Foundation in the name of this podcast… just click on the moustache below. Especially now, they could use all the help you can give them, and you’ll be letting me know how much you value this content. Thank you!

If you had to do it again, how hard would you fight to have a motorcycle in your life? Meet Angie Sandow, whose mid-life return to riding faced her with every obstacle you can imagine, starting with the fact she had been born with only one hand. Angie shares the story of how a cancer diagnosis and a random gig with her AC/DC tribute band led her back to her childhood passion, and with it a newfound sense of purpose. A timely reminder that anything is possible if we want it enough… and that we can never take for granted the battles we’ve already won.

Show Notes

Angie Sandow, back on the road.

Only because I write these notes more or less in the order each subject came up, let’s start with my adventure into podcast merchandise. You can find my work-in-progress store here while I work on adding it to the web site. I’ve started off with a short list of t-shirt and coffee mug kinds of things, but I’m open to suggestions. The platform I’m using seems pretty flexible, they stand behind their product, and there’s lots to choose from. Thanks in advance for having a look, and for helping me out with my internet workaround.

The TS Eliot quote that begins “we shall not cease from exploration” is frequently used out of context and bent to a variety of purposes, which I have probably also done here. If you’re curious to read the complete poem, here it is.

I hope you didn’t mind so much Canadian ‘inside baseball’ during this episode (or maybe hockey would be a more appropriate analogy), but I especially enjoyed being able to share a homegrown story. And even more so because I could plug the good folks at Mission Cycle, who built Angie’s early bikes and just happen to work on mine. You’ll find them here… and don’t tell Todd I said he was cuddly. They’re awesome. Angie also mentioned Motorcycle Enhancements, whose web site is here.

Angie’s current bike, a Honda CTX. Honda Canada’s support and encouragement for her has been impressive.

You’ve probably noticed that I’m a fan of motorcycle films, and part of the reason is that I really believe, if they tell compelling enough stories, they can actually grow the sport. Last year, Angie put herself out there yet again with a film of her own, and while she waits for the festivals to adjudicate, you can check out the trailer by clicking on the poster below.

If you’d like to connect with Angie or just follow her as she builds her platform, start with a visit to her web site. And here are direct links to her social feeds… on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

She also asked me to share a link to an event she’ll be part of, assuming we can travel more freely in the coming months, the Rally in the Rockies.

I really wanted to feature an instrumental version of Thunderstruck so that non-guitarists and non-fans of AC/DC could appreciate how challenging it is to play… and then imagine doing it with one hand. There are countless covers of the song, including instrumental treatments in seemingly every genre. But Luca Stricagnoli’s performance is without peer, and it’s remarkable to watch. I was unsuccessful in reaching Luca or anyone at his record label, but given that it’s available on YouTube in its entirety, decided to share it with you anyway. You can purchase the track for yourself on Apple Music, where it can also be streamed – that’s where I got mine – and I’m sure it’s available on other streaming platforms.

As always, the theme music for this episode was arranged and performed by Harry Bartlett.

Finally, a nudge to scrounge up a few bucks from the couch cushions and make a contribution to the Movember Foundation in the name of this podcast… just click on the moustache below. Especially now, they could use all the help you can give them, and you’ll be letting me know how much you value this content. Thank you!

Are motorcycles beautiful? What is it about the sight of our bikes that sets our hearts on fire all over again every spring? Meet Amy Shore, an avid rider and automotive photographer who has made a career of documenting beautiful machines and the people who love them. She calls motorcycles “the most artistic form of transport.” But in a conversation by turns funny and insightful, she dispenses with any notion that we’re manipulated by design. Instead, Amy affirms what anyone who has ever been obsessed by a motorcycle already knows: stories are what make them beautiful, and they only become more so every time we thumb the starter.

Show Notes

Amy Shore (Photo: iamshore.com)

I mentioned in my introduction that this is an important season for Movember. For more information about Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, go to Movember’s web site. If you’re interested in the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride this year, your dapper journey starts here.

Everything you want to know about the Santa Cruz Motorcycle Film Festival can be found right here. I wasn’t kidding about the quality of the films… this community has some amazing storytellers, and they’re getting better every year.

Many thanks to Episode 6’s Hugh Francis Anderson for making this introduction. Time has not dimmed his eye for coolness.

I am a great fan of Amy Shore’s work. She’s a star among a generation of young photographers who are finding romance and art in old machines especially, qualities that we sometimes take for granted or don’t see clearly when a thing is new. You should definitely treat yourself to a web site visit so you can view her portfolio. But I’d also suggest following her on Instagram, where she shares much more about her process – sometimes as it’s happening – and about herself and her life as an enthusiast. She’s @amyshorephotography. And here‘s a link to the Driven Chat Podcast, of which Amy is a co-host (they’re also on Facebook). It’s mostly about cars, but it’s great listening anyway 😉  Be sure to catch their recent interview with Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride founder Mark Hawwa.

Amy’s BSA (Photo from her Instagram feed)

I thought this was awesome: During our conversation, Amy made reference to advice being “a form of nostalgia” and… something about sunscreen. Despite my knowing chuckle, I didn’t recognize the reference, so I looked it up. It turns out to be from a wonderful funny-because-it’s-true 1997 commencement address by the Australian film director Baz Luhrmann. Transcripts are littered around the internet, but it’s even better when you hear him deliver it. A YouTube link is below.

I mentioned The Art of the Motorcycle, the famous Guggenheim exhibit, early in the interview. Here‘s a bit of history, and here are the remnants of the story on the Guggenheim’s web site.

I also mentioned a video, by Canadian motorcycle gear retailer FortNine, in which Ryan attempts to deconstruct the beauty of an FTR12oo. You’ll find it below. The video is smart and maybe gives us a glimpse into the mind of the designer. But it’s a little light on romance, if you ask me, and some of the most loved bikes in the world don’t exactly follow the formula. What do you think?

We talked about two events that offer target rich environments if you’re looking for beautiful motorcycles, the Goodwood Revival and the Great Malle Rally. Follow the links to find out more.

In my closing comments, I reminisced about a bike I’d seen at a custom show a few years back. Above is that bike. It’s owned, it turns out, by a genuine character who goes by the name of @hillbillybobber on Instagram.

 

Red Molly (Photo: Annabel Braithwaite)

A sucker for roots music and a well-played dobro guitar, I was delighted to discover this incredible performance of “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” by Red Molly. I was even more delighted when I asked the band how they’d feel about being featured on this podcast, both because they were into it, and because they were so completely great about it. The fact that they’re Movember supporters made meeting them even better. Talent and heart are a rare combination. I’m their newest fan, at least until you discover them, too. You can learn more and get concert information at their web site, which is here. You might also enjoy watching them perform this track live, below.

As always, the theme music for this episode was arranged and performed by Harry Bartlett.

Finally, a nudge to scrounge up a few bucks from the couch cushions and make a contribution to the Movember Foundation in the name of this podcast… just click on the moustache below. Especially now, they could use all the help you can give them, and I’ll know you value this content. Thank you!

Where is motorcycling going? Depending on whom you listen to, the answer can be anywhere from soulless techno-utopia to outright extinction. In this episode, we’re listening to legendary racer, designer, engineer and entrepreneur Erik Buell, who thinks the sky’s the limit. In a wide-ranging conversation that takes us from his “terrifying” 1980s race bikes to the electric imperative that could secure the future of the sport for us all, Buell shares what might be the greatest lesson of his storied career so far: that the past may be prologue, but the future will always be up to us.

Show Notes

Erik Buell, Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of Fuell Motorcycles, eyes forward. Photo: Fuell

Many thanks to Marina Mann of EatSleepRIDE for helping make this interview happen. The folks there ended up interviewing Erik, too, and the resulting articles make a great companion to this episode.

Here‘s an article about the Lotus Evija, my ambivalence about which ended up motivating this inquiry. I want to stress again that I think whatever puts a smile on your face is cool, and even better if it does less harm to the world. For me, it’s more that these things force a deconstruction of something we love, demanding that we be more specific about what matters and what doesn’t. I wasn’t just being polite about Buell’s response that being beautiful and handling well are plenty to love about about a motorcycle, not to mention the instant torque of electric propulsion. I really was persuaded.

I mentioned early in this episode that I didn’t feel like I could add much to Erik Buell’s story by mining his business history. Part of the reason for this is that he recently gave an interview with Motorcycles and Misfits, a favourite podcast of mine, in which they did a great job of capturing Erik’s perspective on this and the Harley years in particular. If you’re interested in that, and I know many will be, you can find that interview on your favourite podcasting platforms or by going to Motorcycles and Misfits’ web site.

If you’re less familiar with the Erik Buell story, a great place to start is the AMA Hall of Fame profile, which nicely balances his life as a racer and builder with the entrepreneurial side of his remarkable career. Wikipedia adds some colour to the business side of the narrative.

The “terrifying” RW750. Photo: Hemmings Motor News

This article from Hemmings provides the full back story on Buell’s first sport bike design. Hearing Erik talk about this, it was clear that this bike happened perhaps more because he wanted to keep racing than because he thought there was a business in it, foreshadowing the passion that would underscore his career in the years ahead.

This is Fuell motorcycles, Buell’s current project. Check out this page for a video of Buell explaining his interest in Fuell’s mission. “I love the idea of personal freedom,” he says, “personal mobility.” Fuell’s launch got lots of attention, due in no small part, I’m sure, to the fame of the Buell name. Here are a couple of examples of the coverage, this from Hemmings, and this from Forbes.

 

The Fuell Fllow. Photo: Fuell

During our conversation, Erik mentioned a book called The Innovator’s Dilemma, by Harvard professor Clayton Christenson. This book was a must read in business circles for a long time, and citing it in this conversation was a very interesting choice. Christensen argues for disruption as essential to survival, and that being big, effective and efficient aren’t enough to guarantee eternal life for a corporation. Buell’s message to the famously conservative motorcycle industry remains, as ever, clear.

Thanks to Erik Buell for sharing his music with us for this episode. “You’re Not Alone” is an original composition, but Erik wanted to make sure that all the players were credited. It’s not “an official band,” he wrote me, but “a live recording with these guys sitting in impromptu. [Their names are] Lee Williams and Richard Crisman…aka Daddy Rich.” As an aside, I remain astonished by how many motorcyclists I know play guitars.

As always, the theme music for this episode was arranged and performed by Harry Bartlett.

Finally, a nudge to scrounge up a few bucks from the couch cushions and make a contribution to the Movember Foundation in the name of this podcast… just click on the moustache below. Direct donations do the most good, but if you’d like to get a souvenir for yourself while you donate, you can buy a TML coffee mug just like the one pictured above by shopping here. Either way, they could use all the help you can give them, and I’ll know you value this content. Thank you!

Are motorcyclists really adrenaline addicts? Meet Axe DeKruif, the ultimate edge case. After a lifetime of chasing adrenaline highs with anything on wheels, Axe decided to scratch that itch once and for all by doing something nobody had ever done… cross America from sea to sea on a motorcycle in 33 hours. In this conversation, Axe talks about the path that led him to that bonkers ride, how he did it, and the heartbreaking, inspiring aftermath. Whichever side of that razor’s edge we fall on, his story offers one lesson that’s inescapable for us all: nothing will ever go faster than life itself.

Show Notes

Axe DeKruif and his indestructible S1000RR on a shakedown ride to Colorado.

Axe’s film is called “No Limits, No Regrets,” and here’s how you can find it if you’d like to watch it yourself. Which, if motorcycle people fascinate you as much as they do me, you should. Axe is an extreme character in many ways, but this frank self-portrait is proof yet again that there is a philosopher under every helmet.

Axe partly credits his admiration of Alex Roy’s accomplishments as inspiration for his record-setting ride. If you’re not familiar with Roy, this Wikipedia profile will catch you up. This book looks like it might be a great read for understanding the world of outlaw speed records. It’s a difficult subject, because these records are rarely set without breaking some laws… and yet, to be honest, the legendary Cannonball Run fascinated me as a kid, and definitely played a role in turning me into the motorhead I am. Nolo contendere, as they say in court.

If you’d like to connect with Axe on Instagram, he’s @nolimitsnoregrets3310. You’ll also find him on Facebook and YouTube. Shortly after we spoke, Texas got pounded by a winter storm that knocked out power to millions, and Axe was not spared. If you connect, wish him well. Oh, and it turned out he did have to shovel it. Not the first, and probably not the last time I stick my foot in my mouth on this podcast.

Here’s Y Chrome Customs, Axe’s custom chopper business. Today, the site is heavily dedicated to promoting Axe’s film, and he features a couple of other podcast interviews that are definitely worth listening to. Note that certain project bike photos feature images some may find offensive.

Axe was kind enough to share some photos from his life that add colour to the story. Here are a few:

A young Axe DeKruif burning the candle at both ends, a life he believes led to open-heart surgery by the time he was in his 30s.

Axe’s custom chopper business, Y Chrome Customs. As they did for Eric Gorges in Episode 18, these bikes gave Axe an outlet for both his creative side and his perfectionism.

Axe training during a track day at COTA, on the bike that would set his transcontinental record, flames and all.

At the Texas Mile, where Axe and the S1000RR would see 187mph, a thrill that would still leave him hungry for more.

At Daytona Beach with one of his Y Chrome creations.

Axe preparing to depart from the beach in San Diego for his record setting ride, game face on. Look closely, and you’ll see the array of displays he relied on to stay out of trouble along the way.

A thousand thank-yous to the awesome Atoms to Ashes for being so enthusiastic about sharing their music on this episode. Besides the track being kind of perfect for the subject matter, this band’s story resonates, too: independent and self-made, they’ve built their following and body of work with grit, determination and talent (typical Montrealers), achieving more than a million Spotify streams at a time when the music business has never been more challenging. Expect a new EP, ‘Blackburn’, later this year. And in the meantime, you can listen to them on Spotify and Apple Music  You can also follow them on Instagram. And here‘s their YouTube channel.

And as always, the theme music for this episode was arranged and performed by Harry Bartlett.

Finally, a nudge to scrounge up a few bucks from the couch cushions and make a contribution to the Movember Foundation in the name of this podcast… just click on the moustache below. Direct donations do the most good, but if you’d like to get a souvenir for yourself while you donate, you can buy a TML coffee mug just like the one pictured above by shopping here. Either way, they could use all the help you can give them, and I’ll know you value this content. Thank you!

The most awkward dance in a motorcyclist’s life is the one we have with our perceived limits. Meet world class adventure rider Jocelin Snow, who thinks it’s often ourselves who make that dance so difficult. From the steppes of Mongolia to her own back yard, Jocelin’s life has been a call to adventure, and her work has been to empower everyone who hears it with the skills to go. By turns funny and inspiring, this conversation dares us to believe that the key to the freedom is believing in ourselves, and the only map we need is an open mind.

Show Notes

Jocelin Snow, in a rare helmet-less moment. Photo: Jacob Jun

At the top of the show, I mentioned Jon Delvecchio and his book Cornering Confidence. Jon, who is a listener, reached out to new rider Neale Koumbiadis with some coaching help after my last episode, which I thought was amazing. He wasn’t looking for any credit, but I figured I’d give him some anyway. Here‘s his web site, and if you’re looking for a way to spend a few snowy evenings, I highly recommend his online cornering course.

It’s a dangerous business quoting a well-loved poem like ‘The Road Not Taken,’ especially without the necessary education. You can read that poem here, and then follow the link to the very smart analysis from which I borrowed my conclusions.

Jocelin Snow, v.1 Photo: Jocelin Snow

Jocelin has been interviewed many times since her triumph at the GS Trophy. I first heard her name from fellow podcasters, Motorcycles & Misfits, who have had her on the show more than once. Of all the interviews I’ve read, this one is probably the best, covering much of the same history but with some great additional detail.

BMW must have had to pinch itself when it discovered a rider with Jocelin’s talent and personality already piloting its big GS. She pointed out, of course, that she’s not under contract to anyone, but it’s pretty clear from this profile – which includes more about the GS Trophy – that BMW Motorrad must be her biggest fan.

Jocelin at the turnaround point of her 30-day, life-changing blitz to Alaska. Photo: bmw-motorrad.com

Still on the GS Trophy, here‘s a bit about the event in New Zealand in early 2020, which managed to squeak in just before the doors to the world slammed shut last year.

 

Jocelin Snow, v.2 Photo: Christopher Scott, @cscott_photo

Jocelin ‘playing’ at her ranch. Photos: Christopher Scott, @cscott_photo

Also early in 2020 came the announcement that the North East Back Country Discovery Route was open, and that it had been the subject of a film in which Jocelin was featured. This is the trailer for that film. Tell me it doesn’t want to make you pack up your bike and get into some trouble…

Jocelin Snow has a web site of her own, although she told me that it was long overdue for some updating (I can’t imagine what else she’s been doing with her time). Here it is anyway, because the photos stories are awesome. And if you want to take her up on her invitation to connect on Instagram, she’s @jocelinsnow . And here‘s a shortcut to her YouTube channel.

Many thanks to Mariagrazia Canu, Fabio Zaffagnini and Rockin’ 1000 for being an enthusiastic part of this episode, and showing us nothing is impossible. You can learn more about their story and what happened since that magic day in Cesena here. “Learn to Fly” is available on iTunes, and streamed widely. But you absolutely must start by watching the video of that first track being recorded. Sorry, I think I have something in my eye…

And as always, the theme music for this episode was arranged and performed by Harry Bartlett.

Finally, a nudge to scrounge up a few bucks from the couch cushions and make a contribution to the Movember Foundation in the name of this podcast. They could use all the help you can give them, and I’ll know you value this content. Thank you!

Do you still remember your first time? The elation of that first season is a big part of what makes motorcycles so addictive, and it can become elusive as the years go by. Meet Neale Koumbiadis, whose motorcycle life is so new he doesn’t even own a bike yet. Just weeks into his journey, Neale – who also flies airplanes – described his first ride around a parking lot as “the most liberating thing I’ve ever done.” More than just a chance to relive the rush of those early days, this conversation leaves us with a question only we can answer: are we still the riders we hoped we’d be when it all began?

Show Notes

Here is the wonderful video I shared with Neale the night before our interview. I remain a sucker for this kind of motorcycle cri de couer, even if it’s sometimes a bit overcooked. I thought my guest might connect with it… especially the flying bit at the end. Great stuff.

When we spoke, I mentioned a YouTube video in which Neale and his wife surprised their kids with a trip to Disney World. Here it is. I’m sharing it here not just because it’s incredibly cute, but because I think it’s somehow appropriate to the theme of this episode: not forgetting how to experience unbridled joy. I’m pretty sure the future dirt biker is on the right.

For those interested, here’s a link to an explanation of my province’s motorcycle licensing regime. It’s a simplified version of the graduated licensing system you see in the UK and European countries. I think it’s better than a simple test, but truthfully, I wouldn’t entirely mind if our licenses were as hard to get as they are in the UK… or as hard to get as a pilot’s license.

Below are a couple of photos of Neale and his youngest daugther and riding buddy. Every once in a while, I have a good idea about two hours too late, and this episode is one of those times. Wouldn’t it have been a blast to interview them together?

After our conversation (in the spirit of mentoring, of course), I sent Neale some information on ADV star Jocelin Snow for his daughter, and a nearby adventure riding school run by BMW for him. The BMW Performance Riding Centre is on my ‘try everything’ list. This style of riding isn’t an ambition of mine in particular, but a few years ago I attended a talk by technical riding wizard Clinton Smout and was converted to the idea that some of these skills would be useful even to me.

You can find Neale Koumbiadis on Instagram, if you want to say hi, although his account is private. He’s @nealekoumbiadis

A day or two later, Neale followed up with the image below, which sums up what drives him to “try everything.” I’ve seen it before, but it’s never been quite so on the nose as it is for the subject of this episode. I wish him many happy miles.

My sincere thanks to Donovan Woods and his team for being so responsive to my request to feature “The First Time” on this episode. Sometimes, this turns out to be the most difficult production chore I have, leading to a lot of dead ends and unanswered emails. Not so here, and that makes me even happier to share his music with you. If you want to get to know him better, his web site is a great place to start. You’ll find that here. And you can follow him on Instagram… he’s @donovanwoods

Photo: paradigmagency.com

And as always, the theme music for this episode was arranged and performed by Harry Bartlett.

Finally, a nudge to scrounge up a few bucks from the couch cushions and make a contribution to the Movember Foundation in the name of this podcast. They could use all the help you can give them, and I’ll know you value this content. Thank you!