What makes a road legendary? From Route 66 to the Pan-American Highway, Geoff Hill is an award winning travel writer and long distance motorcyclist who’s ridden his share of the roads the rest of us dream about. In tales that are by turns romantic and hilarious, Hill’s self-described “boy on a bike” makes these dream roads seem suddenly more accessible, and their call all the more insistent. In this delightful conversation, Geoff reveals that it’s their very ability to make excited kids of us all that gives these places their magic, and leaves us with a message: just go.

Show Notes

Above is a picture of Geoff Hill, taken around the time of the ‘Clancy’s Boots’ trip. I call your attention to the fact that he’s flat footing a GS with his knees still comfortably bent, and invite you to draw your own conclusions about his height. The photo is borrowed from this article on the The Telegraph’s web site. I hope they don’t mind.

Here’s the playlist Atlanta rapper Wyldthang wanted me to share with you. Whether or not rap is your thing, it’s always inspiring to me to see motorcycle culture expressing itself, and what a unifying force it is.

If you haven’t read any of Geoff Hill’s motorcycle adventure books, here are some links. They direct you to Amazon’s US site, just because that’s where the majority of my listeners live, but Geoff’s books are widely available throughout the Amazon world. I’m following his recommendation to read them in the sequence in which the trips took place, and it definitely adds to the experience:

Way to Go’, about the Delhi-to-Belfast and Route 66 trips.

The Road to Gobbler’s Knob’, which chronicles the Pan-American Highway adventure.

Oz: Around Australia on a Triumph’, which is self-explanatory. You can see Geoff talking about that trip on YouTube here.

And ‘In Clancy’s Boots’, about his ‘round the world tribute ride to Carl Stearns Clancy.

On the subject of books, here is a link to Chris Scott’s ‘Adventure Motorcycling Handbook’, which plays a role in the story of Geoff’s decision to tackle the Pan-American, and which he recommended during our conversation.

He also had good things to say about Horizons Unlimited, which you can find here. ADVRider also has many fans as a resource for trip planning… just avoid the general discussion forums, unless you want to participate in endlessly circular flame wars about countersteering, car tires and octane ratings, and completely lose your faith in humanity.

Geoff Hill isn’t an Instagrammer, but you can find him on Twitter if you want to say hello. He’s @ghillster.

And Hugh Francis Anderson, whom I owe my thanks for making this conversation possible, is still living our lives for us on Instagram. You should definitely follow him if you don’t already. Not everything he does is on motorbikes, but everything he does is still pretty damn cool. He’s @hughfrancisanderson

Finally, you should definitely spend some time getting to know Daring Greatly, who provided this episode’s playlist recommendation (apologies for the sub-optimal sound… the featured track is actually from a YouTube video and, as far as I know, is not for sale). You can learn more about them on their web site, sample their sound on SoundCloud, and purchase their music in all the usual places.

I’ll confess that I’m amused by little serendipities like this, but America’s “Ventura Highway” is even more appropriate to this episode than it seems. It turns out that the genesis of this song was a childhood memory of a road trip on the Pacific Coast Highway. The “alligator lizards in the air” were clouds, as remembered by the writer and his brother as children, standing by the side of the road while their father changed a tire. You can see why it was irresistible.

Do motorcycles matter? In a time when the industry worries about its survival and riders quietly wonder if we’ll one day be legislated out of existence, it’s fair to ask why the rest of the world should even care. In this conversation with motorcycling advocate and industry troublemaker Robert Pandya, we explore why it ought to. Frank and passionate, Pandya dares us to think about why we ride, what would be lost if there were no motorcycles, and how all it takes for our joy to make the world a better place is simply having the courage to share it.

Show Notes

Robert Pandya, walking the walk.

You can catch up on Robert Pandya’s Give A Shift initiative here. I first met him (electronically, at least) when I contributed an article on the Canadian perspective of motorcycling’s future. You can find that here.

I generally think that an apocalypse for motorcycling is unlikely, even in the self-driving future of North American transportation. Still, urban riders might have a different view. This piece from the New York Times on being a motorcyclist in that city was just a bit chilling. Sorry if this content is behind a paywall for you.

A major media outlet characterizes bikers in black and white, and hints at a future of irrelevance.

There are four other current initiatives Robert Pandya wanted us to know about and be a part of:

The first is Discover the Ride, which is operated under the aegis of International Motorcycle Shows. Learn more about that here.

The second is All Kids Bike. You can learn more about this here. This one is worth a read, because it goes at the issue of social good very directly.

The third, also working with Strider, is Double Down, which raises money for, among other things, the All Kids Bike program. You can learn more about this one here.

And finally, though not directly about motorcycle advocacy, there is the Suffragists Centennial Ride, about which you can learn more here.

In our conversation, I brought up a project Pandya worked on with Indian Motorcycle six years ago, “The Spirit of Munro”. Here’s the video. This promotional campaign turned out to be the opening gambit in an effort that took the brand from oblivion to heartburn for Harley Davidson impressively quickly. Fun fact… the rider in the video’s action scenes is Todd Eagan, who was my guest for the second episode of this podcast.

You may have heard Robert mention something called TROG. The acronym stands for The Race Of Gentlemen, an event taking place in New Jersey the week this podcast was published, as it happens. You can find out more about it here. TROG is one of those acts of performative nostalgia that tend to divide opinion among motorcyclists. There are some grumpy folks who think it’s simply cosplay hipsterism run amok. And then there are those, me among them, who think that this kind of thing is an essential part of the recipe for keeping motorcycling alive and relevant.

The Art of the Motorcycle has come up on this podcast more than once, and not just because I wish I’d gone. That show at the Guggenheim in 1998 has turned out to be of enduring importance to motorcycle culture, and a turning point that we probably still haven’t fully digested. If you didn’t make it either, you can learn a bit about it here. Wikipedia is also worth a visit, doing an efficient job of explaining the controversy around this show at the time.

When I was wool gathering online in preparation for this interview, I stumbled on a number of academic attempts to understand why we ride, and why that should matter. Most were too nerdy, even for me (by the way, did you know there was a Journal of Motorcycle Studies?!). But this one caught my eye, mostly because of this quote from the abstract:

“As a nonspatial community realized on the nation’s transportation infrastructure of roads and highways, motorcyclists have endured discrimination and risk of injury by cars because of the meaningful connections with people which motorcycling engenders. Such connections also enable motorcyclists to resist the social fragmentation which characterizes postindustrial urban society.”

Whatever we do, let’s not forget this is who we are. If the world became more like the motorcycling community, that would mostly be a good thing. But if we become more like the world can often be these days – judgmental, divisive, tribal – that will put motorcycling at more risk than anything it faces today.

Finally, thanks to the very talented Kyler Morrison for being so enthusiastic about having his latest single, “No Drugs,” featured on this podcast. You can follow Kyler on Instagram, of course… he’s @morrison_kyler. Learn more about his music here, and buy this episode’s playlist recommendation on iTunes, among other places.

 

Does riding motorcycles scare you? For more riders than we imagine, nagging fear is one part of motorcycling nobody talks about, and just feeling it can undermine our confidence. Meet Dr. Mark Barnes, a clinical psychologist who thinks that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and he should know: Mark also happens to be an avid rider on road and off, and a veteran motorcycle journalist. In this conversation, Dr. Barnes talks about how controlling fear is a skill we can learn, how every rider feels it, and how just the right amount might be the secret to getting the most out of your motorcycle life.

Show Notes

Here I am with William, my last horse. His calm, patient way might just have made a horseman out of me in the long run, but fate had other plans. When we lost him, I found motorcycles again. As Mark Barnes says below, “Life is funny, at least with enough distance.” Photo by Lindan Courtemanche

I must confess that I had not previously invested the time to get to know Motorcycle Consumer News, but I’m impressed. If you don’t know it, a visit to their web site would be a good place to start.

Mark Barnes has published a book, which he graciously declined to talk about in service of this episode’s theme. It’s called “Why We Ride: A Psychologist Explains The Motorcyclist’s Mind, And The Love Affair Between Rider, Bike And Road.” It’s essentially an anthology of columns from MCN, and I’m very much enjoying it. Here’s a bit more about it, and one way to buy it. 

In our conversation, Mark mentioned something called the Yerkes-Dodson Law. He was obviously paying attention in school, because it turns out that the study behind it is more than a century old. There is plenty to read online on this subject (including predictable efforts to debunk it… science can be a rough and tumble business). Wikipedia is a good start, if you’re curious. And this video also provides a pretty tidy explanation. It makes perfect sense to me, though… I can’t think of anything worthwhile I’ve ever done in my life that didn’t happen on a just-so bubble of ‘optimal anxiety’. Including this podcast.

Mark also mentioned a therapist named Brenda Bates, who treats riders suffering from PTSD after crashes. She has, indeed, written a book about this. Here it is on Amazon, along with a short bio of the accomplished Ms. Bates. A quick tour of Google suggests that this book has played an important role in a lot of riders’ lives. Perhaps most remarkable about her work is the fact that there are riders who love this so much that they’re willing to work this hard to come back. She might make an amazing podcast guest.

In an email exchange the day after our interview, Mark offered a coda to his story of being frozen with fear near the summit of Mt. Antero, and I’m sharing it below with his very kind permission. As I so often am by fellow riders, I’m humbled by his courage and honesty, here. I’d love to meet everyone I’ve interviewed for this podcast, but Mark Barnes surely has a special place on that list. Here in his own words is the rest of that story:

Mark’s bike on Mount Antera. This is the photo he was looking at as he shared that story.

“This morning I awoke with what can only be called a mild “flashback” of that harrowing trip up Mt. Antero that I should have labeled “Nightmare at 13,000 Feet” (an allusion to a famous Twilight Zone episode, if you’re too young to remember) [I’m not].  Recounting that event to you yesterday, albeit briefly, must have stirred up some PTSD within me that didn’t reach full intensity until the final feature in last night’s dream lineup.  While pondering this fleeting phantasmagoric re-visitation, I realized the terror associated with that event exerted a (mostly) unnoticed influence on our dialog: I remember feeling like I’d lost my place after summarizing the story, but I couldn’t recall the point I’d set out to make.  I had wanted to say a bit about what I ended up doing while waiting for my riding buddies to return from that final 1000-ft. leg to the top that I was unable to make, even though the remaining terrain was less difficult than what I’d already traversed – I was too locked up mentally (and therefore untrustworthy physically) from the protracted trauma of the ascent thus far.  I now realize that just telling you that tale was enough to reactivate my right amygdala sufficiently to disrupt/freeze my cognitive flow and prevent me from following through with what I’d meant to say.  This struck me as a perfect recreation of what had happened on the mountain.  And it’s the kind of abstracted parallel we psychologists are always excited to discover.

Anyway, my truncated version of the story may have left you and listeners wondering how the hell I made it back down the mountain.  If I was unable to proceed that final, relatively less treacherous, thousand feet, how could I possibly have gone back down all those many thousands of feet that had just rendered me paralyzed?  Pausing where I did helped, in that it gave me a chance to do a variety of fear-management activities.  I practiced some deliberate breathing exercises, no doubt rendered less effective by the altitude, but still useful.  I came to grips with the shame and anxiety about being “that guy” in the group who fell below everyone else’s levels of courage, ability and achievement (and I’m still at peace with my decision to hang back).  And it was soothing to simply stare out over the vastness of the surrounding landscape in that shockingly silent and isolated environment – not unlike looking out over the ocean from a deserted beach in its involuntarily calming effect on my psyche.  Of course, there was one more consideration, the one you highlighted later in our discussion: there was absolutely no other choice.  This was also true in the story from the Fearless article that you may have expected me to recount, since I think I labeled that one as the scariest experience in my motorcycling history.  In that instance, I was as angry as I was terrified, because our being lost at nightfall was something that could have easily been avoided with more attentive navigation.  That anger helped me rally and served as very powerful propulsion during my stretch of resurgent bravery and riding acumen.  It may have been more accurate to call that one my all-time zenith of despair, rather than fear, although the fear factor was just a tiny tick behind.  The Mt. Antero ordeal was definitely the most afraid I have ever been, including when I had to face highly invasive brain surgery a year prior to the Colorado trip.  Ironically, I’d planned that trip as a celebratory counterpoint to the horrors of having my head opened up!  Life is funny, at least with enough distance.”

Gary Saunders’ mesmerizing cover of “Don’t Fear The Reaper” is excerpted here with the artist’s kind permission. You can find this track on Soundcloud here. And if you want to say hello and tell him how much you liked it, here is his Facebook page.

Finally, some listeners may have noticed an annoying little crackle in their right headphone during this podcast. It wasn’t you, it was me. The audio input/output jack on my computer is wearing out and causing signal issues. I’m sorry… I’ll figure it out. Thanks for putting up with it.

Does riding ever get old? For a lot of us, Melissa Holbrook Pierson’s book “The Perfect Vehicle” is a perfect record of how we felt about motorcycles in the rush of those first few seasons. Now, 35 years after her first ride, I talk to the author about what time does to – and for – that relationship, how it feels to be “riding toward the end”, and what motorcycles can bring to your life even after they’ve saved it. Passionate and insightful as ever, Pierson’s story shines an inspiring light on the road ahead for, as one critic put it, everyone who ever “loved a motorcycle”.

Show Notes

My Ducati, the day we met. Sorry, baby… it’s not you, it’s me.

In fact, I did sell my Ducati, shortly after this episode dropped. I wrote her a farewell letter, which you might find amusing. It’s on EatSleepRide.com.

If you don’t know Melissa Holbrook Pierson’s work (and assuming you’re a motorcycle person), start with “The Perfect Vehicle: What It Is About Motorcycles”, and then read “The Man Who Would Stop At Nothing”. You can get to know her a little better at her web site, where she also shares some more of her writing on our favourite subject. Here’s the rather more formal introduction to Melissa as an author. You’ll enjoy Anthony Swofford’s description of her literary voice. I’m sure she did, and I know I would.

“This book, a polished, winding meditation on the theory and fractiousness of motorcycles, celebrates both their eccentric history and the wary pleasures of touring.”―The New Yorker

As far as I can tell – I should have asked, I guess – Melissa is not on Instagram. However, she does have a presence on Facebook. Here’s her page for “The Man Who Would Stop At Nothing.”

In our conversation, Melissa graciously avoided naming a favourite book, but was pretty clear that this one meant a lot to her: Robert Edison Fulton’s “One Man Caravan.” Here’s a nice piece on this proto-adventure rider from Revzilla. Otherwise, there doesn’t appear to be a single repository for this man’s remarkable story, so I’d suggest you simply buy the book and discover it for yourself. That’s my plan.

Finally a big thank you to the very talented Cadence. Ross Lynde was quick and generous to respond to my request to excerpt “Still Crazy After All These Years”. You can find out more about the group here, and Ross had some suggestions for new fans: Our newest album “Home” (2018) featuring all Canadian composers.  Listen on Spotify or iTunes.  Includes David Clayton Thomas singing lead on ‘Lucretia McEvil’.  Cool sand art video of our version of ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’:  click here

David Clayton Thomas? Lucretia McEvil? I’m in.

What is ‘adventure riding’? In an age when the spirit of adventure is sometimes eclipsed by horsepower, technology and fashion, it’s easy to forget that it still comes down to having the courage to take a chance, and then let ourselves be transformed by it. Meet Melanie Cowpland, who rode from her home in England to the southern tip of Africa with her autistic daughter Sofia, unsupported, on a sidecar-equipped Ural. Far from easy, comfortable or safe, this nine-month odyssey left mother and daughter changed forever, and offers us a powerful reminder that true adventure only begins when we give ourselves no choice.  

Show Notes

Here’s where you can find out more about this year’s Toronto Motorcycle Film Festival. Director Caius Tenche often talks about the amazing feeling you get from watching a film about motorcycles in a theater full of people who love them, and it’s true. If you can get to this year’s festival, or if there’s one like it near where you live, go. You’ll be supporting some people who keep this community alive and fun, and you’ll have more fun than you can imagine.

This episode’s title came up during my conversation with Melanie as a metaphor for the point of no return, or “no choice”, as Melanie put it. In case you haven’t heard the expression before, it’s a reference to historical incidents in which this was literally done so that the people on those ships would have no option but to carry on with their original mission. Wikipedia, naturally, provides a bit of a primer on this concept, which has become a staple of leadership, business strategy, and – some would argue – a well lived life.

To attempt to summarize the details of Melanie’s and Sofia’s journey to Africa would be foolish, there is so much to tell. It would also be unnecessary, since Melanie kept a detailed record of their travels on their own web site. The more you read, the more amazed you’ll be at what they’ve done together. Most important, this is also where you’ll find the information you need to contribute to their mission to raise awareness for autism. And, of course, you can follow them on good old Instagram @adventurewithautism . Below, some photos from their African adventure (all courtesy of adventurewithautism.org)

Melanie and Sofia, before and after the African odyssey. A proud mother notes, “Sofia looking relaxed and happy.” Photo from adventurewithautism.org

A bird’s eye view of a Ural, Melanie’s and Sofia’s African home for nine months. Honestly, even with all their quirks, I’d love one of these. Photo from Ural’s web site.

Johnny Clegg made his name as a musician in South Africa during the apartheid era, and surely made a cultural contribution to its eventual end. Collaborating with black musicians, Clegg and his first band – Juluka – faced censorship and legal obstacles during those years, producing a passionate and fascinating body of work, including this episode’s playlist recommendation, “Scatterlings of Africa.” You can read a little more more about his remarkable career here, and you’ll find his web site here. And you can purchase the track on iTunes, among the other usual places. Heartfelt thanks to Johnny Clegg for letting me share it.

Builders are some of the most fascinating characters in motorcycling today, with fame and influence that reaches every corner of the sport. But what makes them tick? Are they just fellow riders with more skill and ambition than the rest of us? Meet Eric Gorges, founder of Detroit’s Voodoo Choppers and host of the American Public Television series, “A Craftsman’s Legacy.” Besides creating bespoke motorcycles, Gorges has made a career out of studying people who work with their hands. In this candid conversation, he reveals that the drive to make things is an obsession all its own, even if it happens to mirror everything we love about riding motorcycles.

Show Notes

Eric Gorges of Voodoo Choppers, at home in his shop. Photo by John Roe.

Since this is a motorcycle podcast, let’s start with a bit more about Voodoo Choppers. Voodoo was founded in 1999, comfortably ahead of today’s chopper resurgence, and I think it shows in Gorges’ bikes. A lot of these machines have a kind of purity of intention that’s only possible when you’re not being blown around by the winds of fashion. Voodoo is actually located in Auburn Hills, now, but Detroit remains a convenient shorthand… for its location, and maybe for the attitude of its machines, too. Check ’em out on Instagram, @voodoochoppers

There is no ‘typical’ Voodoo bike, but this one – called Black Star – shows off both Gorges’ art and craftsmanship persuasively. Photo from Voodoo Choppers’ web site.

Gorges talks more about bike building – and how he came to do it – in this Esquire interview from 2015. Worth the read.

Eric Gorges’ new book is called ‘A Craftsman’s Legacy’, and it’s on sale May 7. You can buy a copy here.

Eric’s new book, festooned with my Batman stickies.

You can learn more about Eric’s show, ‘A Craftsman’s Legacy’, here. There is a list of stations that carry the program on his site, and you can find his YouTube channel here. And you can follow him on Instagram, where he posts as @ericgorges and @craftsmanslegacy

The builder community lost two of its own this spring: the legendary Arlen Ness, and rising star Jesse Rooke. Follow the links to learn more about both of them, and why they mattered.

The forum post I quoted in my closing comments is from ADVrider, post #92 on this page. The thread was about growing old, but rider33’s trenchant observation seemed to transcend the topic.

If you’re interested in learning more about – and following – the Women Riders World Relay, start here. The Motorcycles and Misfits podcast is providing great updates as the event unfolds, thanks to the fact that the tireless Liza Miller is a volunteer organizer. Here’s a link to the most recent one.

Tyler Childers. Photo by David McClister, from Tylerchildersmusic.com

I was thrilled to discover Tyler Childers and his Appalachian-tinged sound which, as a hack folk guitarist, I have a special affection for. Here’s the Rolling Stone article I mentioned reading. ‘Detroit’ is featured in this episode with the very kind permission of Tyler Childers. You can purchase it, and also his breakthrough 2017 album ‘Purgatory’ in the usual places, and you can get to know him better and check out his 2019 tour schedule here. Give him a follow on Instagram, too, where he posts as @timmytychilders

And finally, if you heard a weird squeaky noise from time to time during this recording, there’s nothing wrong with your device. Those are frogs. Spring has come to the farm.

Why do gatherings and gathering places matter so much to motorcyclists? In this episode, I talk with automotive journalist Kyle Cheromcha whose story “Mulholland is Burning” chronicles how California’s historic 2018 wildfire season nearly claimed the legendary Rock Store, even as it destroyed land, homes and lives on every side. With more than a half century of history as one of the world’s most beloved biker hangouts, its near-loss reminds us of how vital community is to what we do, of the sometimes unsung people who keep it alive, and of how sometimes a ride really is about the destination.

Show Notes

The Rock Store on a chilly Saturday morning, three months after the fire.

Here’s a link to Kyle Cheromcha’s “Mulholland is Burning.” I’m admittedly a sucker for this kind of reporting, but I’m pretty sure this story will have an impact on anyone who loves motorcycles and motorcycle people. It’s a killer piece of writing.

Although Kyle is a car guy – for now – TheDrive.com also covers the motorcycle beat. Here’s a shortcut to that page.

In case you thought I was kidding about “The Mouse and the Motorcycle,” here’s a link. I’m strongly tempted to add this to the library for little ones in our clan, current and future, no matter what their mommies think 😉

There is obviously a lot of media coverage of the Woolsey fire available online. For a basic sketch of what happened, though, good old Wikipedia is as good a place as any to get a sense of where and how it unfolded.

Looking east from Kanan Dume Road, three months after the fire. This is where you’ll find Mulholland Highway, the Snake and, happily, the Rock Store.

The ‘melted’ bridge in Cornell, near the Rock Store. It’s supposed to be back in service by May, restoring access to the Rock Store from Mulholland Highway.

Yours truly on Mulholland, heading home. Never mind the rider, though… look at that green. This area was in the burn zone, and on this day it seemed like a perfect metaphor for resilience.

There is also a lot of YouTube footage about the fire, not surprisingly. This isn’t the most harrowing to watch (and includes some extraneous material at the beginning), but for riders, being real time footage from a motorcyclist’s helmet cam, it does a particularly good job of taking you there as the disaster is unfolding. For similar video of the aftermath, look for “Riding Through Fire Damage” by the same person.

The Rock Store’s web site provides some good information about where to find it and what it has to offer. In the aftermath of the fire, they were apparently active on Facebook, keeping regulars up to date on the condition of things and when they would reopen. If you plan a visit, it’s probably worth following them there. I’m sure you can tell I was an instant fanboy, but don’t let that discourage you… if you’re riding in that area, it’s worth a significant detour to visit, especially on Saturday or Sunday. To give you a sense of how welcome you’ll be, consider Rich Savko’s quote at the end of the article that inspired this episode: “God must be a motorcycle fan.”

You can follow Kyle Cheromcha on Instagram at @kylecheromcha. The Drive also has an Instagram feed, and you’ll find them at @thedrive.

For fans of Redlight King – and I know several listeners who are – you can find him on Instagram at @redlightking. The new single breaks cover on 04.05.19

Indi and the Vegas’ home on the web is here. You can listen to more of their tracks free on Soundcloud and, of course, buy the ones you like in the usual places. Many thanks, Indi, for wanting to be a part of this podcast, and best wishes for the new single. We loved your beach set!

A note about the photographs on this page: for obvious reasons, they resemble a lot of photographs of this area, especially those taken recently. All of these are mine, however, except for the picture of me, which was taken by Victory Jon (@victoryjon).

Motorcyclists have complicated relationships with their comfort zones. On one hand, they’re where we feel safe and in control. But on the other, they can also make us complacent and lazy. Eventually, we take those comfort zones for granted, and maybe even avoid them. In this episode, I talk with someone who’s never had that option. Jessica Stone learned to ride on some of the world’s most difficult roads, and for all the wrong reasons. Her story reminds us all that being comfortable on a motorcycle is something we earn, and that the only judge who matters is the one in the saddle.

Show Notes

Jess, Greg and Moxie on the road, in a screen grab from their web site.

Here’s a link to Guy Arnone’s vlog, Meat & Motorcycles. Thanks for the shout-out, Guy! I am really enjoying Jon DelVecchio’s book, ‘Cornering Confidence.’ You can buy a copy of your own here, and get to know more about Jon’s school here.

If you haven’t read Hunter S. Thompson’s “Song of the Sausage Creature,” you owe it to yourself. You can find the full text here. And here is a great background story on how the piece came to be, by the Cycle World editor who commissioned it. While you’re at it, do a Google image search for the original article, and gaze in awe at Ralph Steadman’s illustration.

This is the book that sparked Jess’s epiphany. Special thanks to Jess for preserving my ‘Clean Lyrics’ iTunes rating.

There are lots of ways to connect with and follow Jess, Greg and Moxie, and they’d love it if you did. You can find them on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.

Their business is called Ruff On The Road, and it works with indigenous Guatemalan artisans to produce handmade dog apparel. You can learn more about Ruff On The Road here.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I found this article about traffic in Monrovia from roughly the time Jess first learned to ride. I don’t know about you, but this looks a lot like the deep end to me.

In our conversation, I mentioned an article Jess wrote for AdventureMotorcycle.com. It’s very much worth the read, and you can find it here.

Jess also hinted at the particular challenges women riders can face. I didn’t dwell on this theme in our interview, because I didn’t want to frame anxiety as a gendered thing. But that doesn’t mean motorcycling – and especially the motorcycle industry – doesn’t present some barriers for female motorcyclists. As it turns out, an army of female fellow riders are doing something about that. You should check out an initiative called the Women Riders World Relay, planned for 2019. You can learn more here.

The Yamaha SXR700 I rode in Vegas, moments before kickstands up. A nice bike, even if it wasn’t my day to enjoy it.

Matt Epp’s music is available on iTunes, among other places. He also maintains a great YouTube channel, which you can find here. Here’s a video of Matt performing “Learning to Lose Control” acoustically.

Finally, under the heading of shameless self-promotion, here’s a link to Guy Arnone’s vlog, where in a recent episode he endorsed both this podcast and another favourite of mine, Noco Moto.

And, coincidentally, here is a profile of yours truly that ran last fall in Colorado Rider News. My thanks to them for their interest in this podcast. I’d love to see more of my fellow podcasters get this kind of attention from the motorcycle media… the creativity and passion that goes into what they do – often expecting nothing in return – is a testament to the strength of the motorcycling community.

Since the first motorcycles took to the road, they’ve been objects of fascination for artists. The trouble is, not many of those artists were actually riders, and images of motorcycles in popular culture ended up as symbols for things that weren’t always good, and ignored what makes them amazing. In this episode, I speak with Tempus Deficit, an artist who has been part of an explosion of art about motorcycles, by motorcyclists. Things get a little nerdy, but there’s no mistaking what motorcycle art says about our community, and why we should all be fans.

Show Notes

This is ‘Copilot’, the painting Doug talked about in our conversation. It nails the goofy sense of wonder that characterizes all of his work, and for some of us, riding itself.

First things first: If you’d like to follow Tempus Deficit and maybe own some of his work for yourself, you can find him on Etsy, right here. His Instagram handle is @tempusdeficit. To learn a bit more about him, here‘s an interview Doug did with NYC Motorcyclist about a year ago, and a selection from his work featured there.

This is the homage to ‘Copilot’ Doug’s son created. Could there be higher praise?

I don’t know whether Oil & Ink was the first to formally exhibit art at custom motorcycle shows, but John Christenson has without a doubt been the most determined and professional about promoting this aspect of motorcycle culture. Whenever I see art at a bike show, I feel like the exhibitor owes a debt to Oil & Ink’s wonderful traveling pop-up galleries. You can learn more about Christenson and his work here.

Borrowed from the web, here’s an example of Lorenzo’s work with Oil & Ink. Though darker and more dangerous than Tempus Deficit’s, it shares his ability to conjure up the kind of alternate reality that characterizes a great ride.

Lorenzo Eroticolor is the artist that Doug mentioned had become a friend and supporter. Not all of his work is motorcycle-centered, but it all captures the feeling of an era that inspires a lot of what’s going on in both motorcycling and motorcycle art today. I haven’t seen his work in that context, but it’s hard to imagine that it and the bikes around it don’t amplify each other tremendously. Here’s a link to his web site.

Doug mentioned a few other artists whose work mattered to him. Among them, David Uhl,  Christopher Myott, and the late David Mann. The work of Uhl and Mann is obviously much less whimsical and more what you might expect when you think about motorcycle art, but it paved the way and, for a lot of people, remains true to its subject. Christopher Myott, to my eyes at least, is more ‘new school’ and lighthearted. It’s easy to see why Doug likes it.

We spoke briefly about El Solitario, who I discussed last fall in my interview with Hugh Francis Anderson. El Solitario’s mission seems to be to provoke, whatever it takes. I don’t love all their bikes, but I love their irreverence, which they’ve managed to maintain even as they’ve morphed into a more conventional commercial enterprise. Here is “The Impostor,” the bike Doug mentioned, and that gave the motorcycle media fits when it was unveiled a few years ago.

In my introduction, I mentioned Olivier, a listener from Belgium. It turns out that in Europe, motorcyclists are popular fodder for cartoonists. You just don’t see this kind of thing here in North America… it’s awesome and hilarious. Here’s one example, Joe Bar Team (start on Wikipedia, and Google your way from there), and another, Rag Racers.

Finally, here’s what you need to know about Across the Board, the band that performed this episode’s playlist recommendation, “Sonic Boom.” Their web site is here, and you can buy that tune for your very own listening pleasure on iTunes.

With the riding season coming to an end for many of us, this seems like a good time to take stock. But as we reflect on the places we’ve been and the memories we’ve made, are we forgetting something? In this episode, I talk with someone who thinks the answer might just be gratitude. Jay Segarra was once a Marine. Now, he’s a motorcycle mechanic. But it’s what happened in between that taught him to take nothing in life for granted. Jay talks about the machines that nearly killed him and then ultimately saved his life, about the love that gave him a second chance, and about how everything we need to be happy is right in front of us.

Show Notes

Talking to Jay Segarra made me think of this print, which hangs in my office. It’s by Douglas Thompson, who goes by the handle Tempus Deficit, and I’ve always loved it. Looking at it now, I think that balloon is all the people in my life who keep me riding. You can follow him on Instagram @tempusdeficit, and see a bit more of his work here. In a world full of aggressive and menacing motorcycle imagery, I think Tempus Deficit is one of the few artists who understands what riding really means to the people who do it.

Here, more or less (it’s missing about 10km), is the route I mentioned at the beginning of this episode . The roads in Southern Ontario are often pretty gridded, so you have to know where to look for a few curves. This loop is a lot of fun, more so than it looks on a map (there are some fun elevation changes on the southern edge), and you’ll see lots of other bikes. It’s a great starting point if you’re touring in the area.

Here’s Jay, alongside his Harley Davidson Tri Glide. You can follow Jay on Instagram, where he posts pictures of the bikes he’s working on, along with the occasional glimpse into his life and philosophy… he’s @sega702.

Early in our conversation, Jay and I enjoyed a little nostalgic reverie for the Honda 70. The Monkey (then called the Trail 50) got all the glory for being so cute, but the 70 was an object of true lust and the bike that launched the dreams of millions of riders… of a certain age, anyway. Here it is in red, the way Jay remembers it.

Thanks again to Redlight King for giving us the thumbs up to feature “Comeback” in this episode. You can buy it here, watch the video here, and learn more about Kaz and his other projects here. Redlight King was also featured in Episode 5. My wife introduced me to his music after working with him on a commercial project, and I have become a huge fan.