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!

Is riding a motorcycle really like meditating? Meet Ven. Kusala Bhikshu, a Buddhist monk who has spent more than 20 years navigating the mean streets of Los Angeles on two wheels. His resounding ‘yes’ could hardly come with more authority. But this fascinating conversation reveals that focus and presence are only the beginning of what a great ride can do for the spirit. With insight and understanding that could only come from a fellow motorcyclist, Reverend Kusala challenges us to see riding as like life itself, in ways even the most ardent among us might never have dared imagine.

Show Notes

Ven. Kusala Bhikshu, and Rain the cat. Photo from UrbanDharma.org

Kusala’s web site, Urban Dharma, is a good way to get to know him better, and there’s a lot to know (this linked site is also his). Two shortcuts you might appreciate: this is a summary of his career since becoming ordained as a Bhuddist monk, and this is how to find the journal from his memorable ride home to Wisconsin. Here’s some information about the place where Kusala lives and practices, the International Buddhist Meditation Center in Los Angeles. Kusala also produces an Urban Dharma podcast, which you can find on a number of platforms, including Apple Podcasts. And you can also find him on Instagram. He’s @kusala_bhikshu

Kusala’s Suzuki Volusia, which the company more recently branded the Boulevard C50. A comfortable middleweight, shaft-drive cruiser well suited to long distances. And a cheerful countenance well suited to a blues harp-playing Bhuddist monk.

Like a lot of people – and perhaps even more of us in these strange days – much of what I sort of understand to be Buddhist philosophy resonates for me, especially the comfortingly pragmatic themes of personal responsibility, the consequences of what we think, say and do, and the all-important struggle to be in the present moment. Whatever your philosophy or faith, these seem like useful spiritual tools. If you’re curious to know a bit more about the subject, Kusala has shared several wonderful talks on YouTube. This one, about his path to Buddhism, is an excellent place to start. Honest, funny, and completely free of mysticism and proselytizing, it’s wonderful storytelling. And his blues harmonica solo at the end – “because what else would a Buddhist play?” – brings down the house.

Meditation is challenge I’ve blundered into at a couple of moments in my life, the first one during a vain attempt at studying kung fu years ago (I remain depressingly safe to be around). This spring, on the same short leash as everyone else, I decided to give it another try with the help of an app called Insight Timer. And guess who I found on their web site. Another interesting talk on the subject at hand.

After we spoke, Reverend Kusala shared this thoughtful reflection on the relevance of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance today, from Smithsonian Magazine. Short, smart, and worth the read.

I’m delighted to feature the music of Kyler Morrison again on this podcast, and thanks to him for sharing this new track while it was still hot off the press. Here’s his Spotify page, and you can of course find his work on all the rest of the usual platforms. Here’s his performance of this episode’s playlist recommendation, ‘Ready Boy’, on YouTube. If you live in Phoenix, Kyler’s your new neighbour, and might even be your motorcycle mechanic. Say hi for me.

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 sport riders know something the rest of us don’t? It can be hard to tell behind all that leather and armour, but there are few motorcycle lifestyles riders pursue with more dedication. Meet Anna Rigby, an accomplished track addict who shares her journey to go faster with two hundred thousand followers on Instagram, glory and disaster alike. In a conversation that gives us a rider’s-eye view of the pursuit of speed, Anna paints a self-portrait that is equal parts relentlessness and joy, and makes an irresistible case for chasing your limits no matter where it takes you, or what you ride.

Show Notes

Anna Rigby, game on.

… and helmet off.

Thanks again to Wes Fleming for the shoutout on his podcast. If you’ve got room for another one in your feed, check out Chasing The Horizon here.

Wikipedia seems like the wrong place to get zen lessons, but here‘s a quick reference on the meaning of ‘shoshin’ anyway. Whatever name you choose to give it, I honestly think this quality is what defines the best motorcyclists of any discipline. Beware the riding buddy who thinks there is nothing left to learn.

I was far from the first to discover Anna’s unique voice in the sport riding world. A quick Google search will net you several good interviews if you’d like to get to know her story better. This one, from a few years back, is pretty good. So is this one, a more recent take from closer to home. I think she’s making a great contribution to the sport… riders at this level are focused and competitive by definition, but that can lead to a certain aloofness. That, as you know if you’ve heard this episode, is not Anna. I’d bet she’s inspired a lot of riders.

Here‘s a link to RedSpade Racing, the company Anna and her husband Steve (and friends) founded to promote the sport. The blog page is great reading, especially if you’re getting an itch to try your hand at track life.

Sportbike Track Time is the organization Anna does her track days with. You can find out more about them here. I’m not sure such an organization exists in Canada, but let me know if you’ve run across one.

RedSpade, full send…

… and me, full send. As you can see, I am full of possibilities.

If you live nearby (Quebec or Southern Ontario), and you’d like to give the track a try, you should absolutely look into Michel Mercier’s FAST Riding School. From my experience there, I would say that the chalk talk sessions were just okay, and better if you already have some basic knowledge of things like what an apex is. But on track, the experience is flawless and wall to wall fun, the gear is excellent, the people are patient and helpful, and you never, ever feel like you shouldn’t be there. And nobody is paying me to say this.

If you enjoyed meeting Anna Rigby in this episode, you should definitely follow her on Instagram. She is, of course, @redspade. You can find video of the crash we discussed in a post dated May 8. And below is the YouTube video that gave this episode it’s playlist recommendation.

CAPPA, from a recent Instagram post.

And very special thanks to CAPPA for being cool with featuring her music in this episode. The playlist recommendation feature of this podcast can sometimes be the hardest to land, because I prefer to make sure the artist is comfortable with being part of it. Sometimes, this can result in long, convoluted email exchanges and other bureaucratic silliness. CAPPA wasn’t like that, which was especially refreshing given her star is ascendant. Amazingly, she doesn’t seem to have a web site, but you can find her music on most streaming platforms, for sale on Apple Music (that’s where I got “Ride”), and on SoundCloud. You can also find her on Instagram, where she’s @cappamusic. If your taste runs to artists like Halsey, Lorde and Carly Rae Jepsen, your day just got a whole lot better.

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

Finally, one more nudge to scrounge up a few bucks from the couch cushions and make a contribution to the Movember Foundation. With this year’s Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride not the gathering we’re used to, I think they could use all the help you can give them.

 

 

For many of us, the internet is an indispensable part of motorcycle life. But have you ever wondered if the experts on your favourite forums are the real thing? Meet Tom Harley, a moderator on Reddit’s Harley Davidson subreddit. Tom learned to fix and care for old Harley Davidson motorcycles first-hand from outlaw bikers in the 80s, so he’s seen it all. But this rollicking conversation turned out to be about more than just trusting what you read online. Tom’s story reveals a tradition of apprenticeship that has kept motorcycling alive since the beginning… and if we play our part, always will.

Show Notes

Tom Harley, self-professed degenerate biker, artist, and internet mentor.

At the top of the show, I mentioned a blog called Scooter in the Sticks. Especially if Vespas are your thing, and even if they’re not, it’s worth a visit. Steve Williams’ take on characterful machines and the burdens and pleasures of age is different, but just as authentic as Tom’s.

When I introduced Tom Harley, I said that he was in his tattoo studio. Editing the episode, I realized this may not have been the case, but if you’re ever in northern California and are that way inclined, maybe you should be. His work is ambitious and beautiful, on another level from a lot of tattoo art. You can learn more about his business here. If I ever got the nerve, I’d make the trip.

Tom’s association with the outlaw biker scene in NorCal may sound colourful, but it more than rings true. He caught the end of the same scene in motorcycle’s cultural history that Hunter S. Thompson wrote about in ‘Hell’s Angels‘. Thompson’s turgid prose seems quaint, now, but it doesn’t get in the way of a ripping yarn, and a fascinating take on how it all happened. One of the most memorable themes for me: the central role the media played in creating the Angels’ mythology. Worth a read, if you’re interested.

About a year and a half ago, Common Tread published an interview with Lemmy and Tom that’s worth a read. “Always helping. Always giving good advice… I realized that unlike a lotta keyboard commandos, this guy really knew his shit.” Also worth a read.

Tom told Lemmy this ’48 Panhead was his favourite bike… to look at. And it’s easy to see why.

Not being a Harley Davidson afficionado, I couldn’t confidently choose examples of Tom’s writing to show you why he’s so trusted by that Reddit community, so he was kind enough to make some suggestions for me… here, here, here, here and here.

He’s also written a couple of pieces for GetLowered. Here‘s Tom’s missive on Harley Davidson reliability. I think he has a presence on Facebook and Twitter, too, but Instagram is a good place to get to know the very outspoken online Tom Harley better. His handle there is @tjharley762.

Tom Harley’s characterization of himself as an artist is more than fair. It’s not easy to find his work online, though you can see more of it in his Instagram feed. That’s where I screen-grabbed this image. His portrait work is riveting, and leaves you wanting to know more about the people behind the faces, about the highest praise a portrait can win.

At the end of the interview, Tom offered to share some footage of the roads around where he lives, and he was as good as his word. The only time I’ve spent in NorCal has been inside a car and, given my affection for California, this seems like a gaping hole in my experience. The roads there look amazing (I’m constantly jealous of the Motorcycles & Misfits ride reports), and it’s also – probably more, even, than LA – historically deeply important to motorcycle culture. When the world opens up again, a visit will remain firmly on my list. Maybe I’ll even get a tattoo.

The idea of ‘living by a code’ remains interesting to me, and it’s a persistent theme in motorcycle culture. I think some of this has to do with valorizing outlaw bikers, sure. But I also think there’s a deeper hunger, there. For a lot of riders, part of the appeal of motorcycling rests in the way it allows you to be alone without making you feel that way. Something shared, like a wave or like a code of behavior, helps preserve that magic, and the proof is in the many attempts people have made to formalize one. I have yet to find the definitive solution, the one that makes me nod in recognition of something that’s always felt true. I’m curious about this book, maybe less so about this faux-outlaw take. Let me know if you’ve seen something that inspires you!

Curtis Stigers, the voice behind “This Life” Photo from curtisstigers.com

Thanks to Curtis Stigers for being so quick and enthusiastic about letting me share “This Life” with you. You can learn more about him here, and this link gives you a quick path to hearing his music online. Here‘s a little more about his new album, ‘Gentleman.’ Being a jazz fan, I was delighted to discover him and amazed it had taken so long. I keep wanting to write more about why I like his sound, but it feels like a lane departure, so here‘s a real review, instead.

Theme music arranged and performed by Harry Bartlett.

And finally, one more nudge to scrounge up a few bucks from the couch cushions and make a contribution to the Movember Foundation. With this year’s Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride not the gathering we’re used to, I think they could use all the help you can give them.