How do you pass on your love of motorcycles to the people who matter the most?  Sometimes, the answer is a motorcycle. Meet Larry Gibson and grandson Eric Clingenpeel, two of four generations to own and ride the same 1947 Indian Chief since its discovery in a barn in 1954. After nearly 70 years, the love and adventure invested in this machine have given its motorcycle-loving family a wealth of stories, and the Chief a vibrant life of its own. A heart-warming reminder of what a motorbike is really for, and a recipe for making a great one last forever.

Show Notes

Larry Gibson and the 1947 Indian Chief that helped inspire four generations of riders.

If you’re up for this year’s Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, you’ll find everything you need to know – including how to dress – here.

Thanks again to Eric Clingenpeel for reaching out to share this wonderful, personal story. And thanks to grandpa Larry Gibson for providing a treasure trove of photos that made our conversation even more so. Generosity seems to run in the family.

First things first: If you, like me, were not very familiar with this particular motorcycle, here’s a reference to catch you up. To my uneducated eye, the word ‘quintessential’ seems to fit, here… this is the American big twin rendered exuberantly as art.

Here’s a selection of photos and videos that document some of the stories you heard in our conversation, starting with three from that fateful trip to Sturgis circa 1992. Pictured are Larry and his wife, Dixie, as well as a close-up of “how we packed the horse”, as Larry put it.

A playful scene from the Gibson living room, sometime after the Chief’s temporary retirement. While life goes on, the bike hides behind the partition in the background on the left, waiting to cast its spell on the next generation. For me, this was one of the best parts of the story. Somehow, someone knew this machine’s job wasn’t done yet.

What is it about motorcycles and guitars? This frame did some time as what Larry called “a very expensive guitar stand.” Pictured at center is Larry’s dad’s 1930 Gibson guitar, which has been played by the same four generations that have shared the Chief.

Fast forward to 2018, and here’s Larry starting the completely rebuilt Indian for the first time. Note the confidence… I think that runs in the family, too.

Larry’s YouTube channel yielded this companion piece, a short demonstration of what it’s actually like to ride this bike. I was struck by three things: First, it looks kind of hard. Second, the rider makes it look easy. And third, once you’ve mastered it, there seems to be a languidness about this big, old horse that you’d be hard pressed to find in a modern bike. In Eric’s words, “it’s like a clock.”

This episode’s inspiration, Eric Clingenpeel, astride the resurrected Indian Chief.

Larry, Eric and brother Reece, in Wyoming. For sheer soul, there’s not an ad agency on earth that could have done a better job for this storied brand than the picture below.

There could be no better way to wrap up this story than to meet the kids who will write the next chapter, thanks to the proud grandpa who got them on film. Below, members of the family racing a hand-built facsimile of the chief in a local soapbox derby, and young member of the clan at the helm of an electric replica Larry found at a garage sale. He’s lucky I didn’t get there first.

Thanks to Mark Kasprzyk of Redlight King for once again letting me feature his music on this show, this time his brilliantly reimagined “Old Man.” The famous story about Neil Young personally approving the use of his iconic 1972 track for this project is, I’m happy to report, absolutely true, and I think Redlight King’s performance is genius. Written early in his career, Young’s original feels almost like a wistful glimpse into the future, a rising star wondering aloud where it will all go. Redlight King’s interpretation is like a coda to that, a look back in gratitude to the people who make us what we are. I love it. Redlight King has been hard at work throughout the pandemic, despite being the challenges of performing. A new album is in the works, and they’re thrilled to be booking festivals again. Follow Mark on Instagram @redlightking, and on music platforms like Spotify.

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 motorcycles really as therapeutic as we think they are? Are we just having fun when we ride, or is something more profound going on under our helmets? Meet lifelong rider Dr. Joe Leondike, a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. A psychiatric nurse practitioner who treats PTSD patients, Joe says the conditions that help a mind heal itself are a lot like the ones we experience in the saddle. His take: motorcycling can be self-care, but only if we’re willing to put the work in. A fascinating perspective, and maybe the best answer yet to why we ride.

Show Notes

Joe Leondike and his current ride, a Harley-Davidson Road Glide CVO.

Joe pauses to take in the scenery with his favourite riding companion.

This image is from the 9/11 10th anniversary ride Joe mentioned when we spoke. Here‘s a link to the organizers’ web site, if you’re curious to know more. The deep and complex connection between American military and motorcycle cultures seems underappreciated to me, respectfully speaking as a member of neither. I hope Joe writes that book.

As I mentioned in my opening comments, and as Dr. Leondike echoed, nothing we spoke about in this episode should be considered a substitute for the care of a mental health professional. If you’re feeling in distress or overwhelmed or this conversation raised difficult issues for you, please ask for help now. From the Movember web site, here is a list of local crisis resources here in Canada.

A great deal has been written about EMDR, and while science is still building the empirical case for how it works, the results are pretty compelling. I can’t identify a best single authoritative resource for explaining the process, but this seems like as good a place as any to start. Scroll down to “For Laypeople”. The personal stories you can find elsewhere online are amazing, but given the material involved I thought it best not to choose any to share here.

In our conversation, Joe cited a study on the mental state riding a motorcycle puts us into. It was funded by a grant from Harley Davidson and conducted by UCLA neuroscientist Dr. Don Vaughn, and you can read more about that study here. The last research I remember seeing on the health benefits of riding is now quite old, so it’s exciting to see some fresh learning on this.

Many thanks to Dave Gunning for letting me share “All Along The Way” with you. The track appears on the album ‘No More Pennies’, and he chose it just for us. Dave hails from Pictou County in Nova Scotia, and his rootsy East Coast sound is something I have an ancestral soft spot for. You can learn more about his music at his web site, which is here. That’s also where you can find all his social feeds (if you’re an Insta pal, he’s @dave_gunning).

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!

 

Can an epic ride really change your life? Meet Chris Donaldson, whose unplanned 39,000 mile odyssey still burns bright forty years later. Bright enough to write a vivid book from his original diary. Bright enough to keep the motorcycle he rode. Bright enough to want to finish the intended journey on that same bike at the age of 63. Interrupted then by a revolution and now by a pandemic, Chris remains undeterred. And his incredible story proves the best thing about epic rides isn’t that they grow you up, but that they guarantee the best part of you never will.

Show Notes

Those keen of ear will have noticed some strange internet noises during this interview. Sorry about that… the battle with satellite connectivity continues, though I’m promised that there might be an alternative by spring. Fingers crossed. In the meantime, thanks for putting up with it, and with my complaining.

If you’d like to hear a little more about the original trip, Chris Donaldson was interviewed on Adventure Rider Radio exactly a year ago, when the book first came out. You can find that conversation here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Chris Donaldson’s book is called ‘Going The Wrong Way’, and depending on where you live, you can purchase it on Amazon or directly through Chris’ web site, which is here. Do yourself a favour, though, and visit his site even if you buy the book elsewhere. One of the most amazing things about this story is that Chris was able to get, and keep, so many candid photographs from the original trip, so don’t miss the gallery. Meanwhile, the image of young, grinning, fearless Chris on the cover is timeless.

And so, apparently, is this Moto Guzzi. Below, Chris Donaldson today, en route once again to Australia.

At the end of ‘Going The Wrong Way,’ Chris has included a delightful easter egg for readers, a poem by C. P. Cavafy called “Ithaka”. It’s a lovely and perfect summary of the truth that this episode, his book – and perhaps Chris’ life – are really about. If you’d like to read it, you can find the full text here. I hope it inspires your own journey as much as it does mine.

If you’re not familiar with the Moto Guzzi Le Mans, Wikipedia will be happy to get your feet wet. You’ll find that article here. Besides being one of the great Guzzis of all time, it’s also one of the most important classics of its era. You can still find its styling cues on Guzzis today, along with a fiercely dedicated following. Besides being a Guzzi fan, I’m not sure why it delighted me that Chris rides one of these and not a more predictable Brit bike. I should have asked him, I guess… instead, I’ll just put it down to youthful rebellion.

What I would have paid to listen in on Chris and Ted Simon talking about their adventures, and about writing. I have to confess that I haven’t yet read Jupiter’s Travels… it’s one of those canonical motorcycling books that is so inevitable we somehow never actually get to it. Now, I will. Ted Simon helped cast the die for modern adventure motorcycle travel, and for how to write about it. A remarkable person. Here’s an interview with him.

As you heard, Chris aims to finish this trip (I’m told the riding in Australia will make it worth the effort, although he may not want to avoid the desert bits). Here he is below with his ‘young’ traveling companion on Guzzi’s V85TT.

After our conversation, Chris offered to share some notes on the adventure ahead, and here they are, complete with his darkly funny working title.

Adventure before Dementia
When the Ayatollah Khomeini took over Iran in 1979, he pissed of a lot of Americans. He also screwed up my overland ride to Australia. I had just left Belfast on my Moto Guzzi Le Mans, so I ended up going to the Middle East, Africa, and North and South America
Everywhere but Australia! So this year after the publication of my book, Going the Wrong Way, at the age of 63, I decided to take the same 44 year old bike and try again.
Together with my young 50 year old mate Liam on his new Moto Guzzi V85, we left the UK in September leaving the Overland Event in Oxford, before stopping at the Ace Cafe in London and the Brighton Burnout. After crossing to France we headed south through the Black Forest and Switzerland, before stopping in Mandello del Lario for the Moto Guzzi Centenary (that was canceled, but in typical Italian style they changed their mind the week before, and it went on anyway.) Covid can’t stop the Italians having a party.
Down to the coast to Genoa, we joined a huge motorbike demonstration to complain about the state of the roads, after the bridge collapse that killed 43 motorists in 2018. Then we followed the Italian coast south from Portofino to Rome, then on to Pompeii, where our bike boots walked where the chariots had left groves in the cobbled streets.
We had had no problems with Covid restrictions since we left the UK, but decided not to go to Albania when we discovered that due to the virus the Greeks were only letting 140 people a day to cross the border. The country is the most corrupt and dangerous in Europe so we opted for an overnight ferry from Bari to Greece, and the next day we cruised into Athens, from where a much younger but just as stupid me had left for Israel 42 years ago.
The two Guzzies performed well, with a bit of competition between my 44-year-old Le Mans and Liam’s young pretender V85. We left the bikes at a Moto Guzzi shop, and flew home to replenish our wallets and relax our brains for a couple of months before flying out again in November.
On starting the next leg, we shipped the bikes to Israel, and spent a few days seeing the sights before we rode to the Jordan border post in Eilat. Then disaster, the Israeli guards warned us that the Jordanians might no let us and we wouldn’t get back as Israel only issues Visas at the airport. We could be stuck in no-man’s-land forever! Tom Hanks, eat your heart out! The Israelis checked with the Jordanians and sent them pictures of our bikes, but the Jordanians said they didn’t like them. (Probably BMW owners!) We would be forced to take the boat out of Israel, just as I did 42 years ago.
Egypt had very bad Covid numbers. We could go out though Syria… but while the civil was over, I wasn’t as brave as I was when I rode through there in 21. That evening in the bar Liam and I had a huge argument. I wanted to leave the bikes with my cousin in the Golan Heights until we got the paperwork, Liam wanted to take them back to Greece, but I relented the next day, and we shipped back to Athens.
Then the new Covid strain appeared in S Africa and Israel, which immediately stopped flights. Our worst fears becoming reality. Liam jumped on the V85 to head back to the UK, while I parked up the Le Mans with some friends from the Hellenic Moto Guzzi club.
We would return to ride another day.
The next leg of our epic Covid beating adventure ride to Australia will be through Turkey and Iran, to Dubai, but with the Omnicrom virus in full swing, everything is on hold. But hopefully, war and pestilence allowing, we will get back on the road in March.

Photo: SimonHardemanMusic.com

Many thanks to Simon Hardeman for sharing “Ton Up” with us for this episode. Mercury Heart has not performed together since the pandemic began, but he has been hard at work on a solo project, “Nights Under The Moon.” You can give that a listen and find out more about Simon’s other work at his web site, which is here. And in case you can’t picture a Moto Guzzi California Black Eagle, behold:

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 makes a great mechanic tick? Meet Miss Emma Booton, a ‘humble wrench’ who builds, restores and fixes some of the Bay Area’s most special motorcycles. What begins as an inside look at life in the back of the shop becomes an expansive conversation about the role of machines in motorcycle culture… and a profile of someone who’s dedicated her life to keeping our love for them burning. An affectionate look at ourselves in the mirror of the people who do this work, and proof that keeping our bikes running and our hearts aflame can often be the same job.

Show Notes

First things first: Miss Emma is a principal character in one of my favourite motorcycle podcasts, Motorcycles and Misfits, without which I may never have discovered her. If you’re not already a fan, check them out on all the usual platforms or here. Besides being on the show, Miss Emma is a frequent fixture at Santa Cruz’s Recycle Motorcycle Garage, a cooperative space for motorcyclists to gather, learn and work on their own machines. I’ve never been, but I have the impression things go just a little more smoothly when Miss Emma is holding court.

In case you don’t subscribe to my newsletter, below is the video that provoked my gushing about British riders. Of course, my generalization actually makes no sense at all. But watch this, and tell me there’s not something to Emma’s assertion that constant rain breeds smoother motorcyclists.

Below is a picture of Miss Emma with ‘Tubbo’, the turbocharged Gold Wing referenced a couple of times in our discussion. Reverent, it’s not. Awesome, it is. This photo is from The One Show, and borrowed here from Women Riders Now.

Emma talked about a lot of motorcycles that mattered to her over the years, too many to list here. But this one deserves special mention, not least because it’s the bike on which she won that Birmingham-to-Germany bar bet. The photo below isn’t of her particular bike, but you get the idea… this is what trouble looked like in 1979.

Shown is a 1980 GS1000L. Photo: SuzukiCycles.org

I wasn’t sure someone with Emma’s experience would have a quick answer to the question, “who’s the best mechanic you ever knew,” but was thrilled that she did. And what an answer. Stan Stephens turns out to be a legend, and someone you can very pleasurably find out a lot more about by reading his autobiography, “The Mechanic Who Got Lucky.” More about that here. Here‘s a great read about one of his “terrifying” two-stroke builds. And below, the man himself.

Photo: StanStephens.com

After Emma opened Moto Town, it wasn’t long before word got around. This screen grab from Reddit gives you a hint of how highly she’s thought of in the community there.

Emma can be found on Instagram, where she’s @emmabooton1962. Say hi, and be sure to check out her vintage El Camino bike hauler. Style for days.

I would love to include a link to Moto Town in these notes, but there is none to share. I have a feeling business is brisk. And that if I were to show up for an oil change, I might be in for a lecture. Below is her Instagram invitation for the shop’s opening, which will tell you how to find it… and give you a pretty good idea of the vibe of the place.

Thanks, of course, to Miss Emma for doing this interview with me. But thanks also to Liza Miller of Motorcycles and Misfits, for being so quick and gracious about introducing us. I owe you one.

Many thanks to Storyhill for allowing me to share their music with you. The featured track, “Long May You Run,” comes from an interesting project called Duotones, a tribute anthology to the great singer/songwriter duos of the 70s. You can find that album right here. This or any of these tracks are also available for purchase on iTunes, if you’re more of a downloader than a streamer.  And Storyhill’s web site is here, if you’d like to learn more about them.

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 is a motorcyclist? And are we really as different as we feel under our helmets? Meet documentary photographer David Goldman, whose continuing odyssey to document our community might just be the most ambitious attempt to find out ever… even if that wasn’t the plan. Goldman’s growing collection, The Motorcycle Portraits, portrays the faces and voices of motorcycling with an authenticity that suddenly seems long overdue, and he’s not done yet. And the answer? As with so much about having motorcycles in your life, discovering who we are turns out to be far more about the journey than the destination.

Show Notes

David Goldman, the urban edition (Photo: TheMotorcyclePortraits.com)

First and foremost, you have to visit The Motorcycle Portraits. It’s here. But what I think makes this project especially interesting is that the photographer isn’t just a cultural tourist or an ‘influencer’. He’s spent his career showing us corners of the world that we can’t, or sometimes won’t, see for ourselves. Though I suspect David would wave off the compliment, it’s a set of eyes we’re very lucky to have turned our way. That’s why I think it’s also worth getting to know a bit about David Goldman’s professional background, and you can do that at his web site, here.

I mentioned that I’d first discovered The Motorcycle Portraits through his profile of Bobbee Singh. That appeared on the Vintagent, and you can find it here. Watch the film, too, if you have a few minutes. Though Bobbee Singh lives thousands of miles away from most of the people reading this, he will seem at once completely familiar to any motorcyclist. I loved his passion.

 

If The Motorcycle Portraits fascinate you the way they do me, you’ll also want to follow David Goldman on Instagram. He’s @thedavidgoldmanphoto. There are at least two reasons following him is a great idea, besides the quality of his content. First, he’s posting up photos from his trip this summer in the order in which they were apparently taken, and you’ll likely see them here before they turn up on his web site. And second, for each one, he tells a short story of his impressions of the subject and how they connected, a little extra insight that you won’t find in the final work. David is also on Facebook, and he’s made search simple with a single social hashtag that works on both platforms, #themotorcycleportraits.

Below is the route for David’s 2021 ride. I had a couple of reactions, contemplating this map: One is that it’s like a greatest hits of North American motorcycle riding, missing only some epic inland regions like the Black Hills. And the other is, imagine the stories that are still out there…

Whatever you do, if you think this project is cool or important (or both, as I do), follow and like and do all the other social things. The more of an audience The Motorcycle Portraits can win, the better the chance David Goldman can keep going.

Here‘s a link to that wonderful commencement speech by the late David Foster Wallace (it’s easily found all over the place, actually, including on YouTube). Like Ted Talks, these things became a bit of a genre after a while, but this was a good one, fresh and provocative, and with a streak of Gen X realism I think David Goldman might appreciate.

Discovering Scott McKeon (was I the last blues fan to figure this out?) was a pleasure from the first moment. This is a supremely skillful blues guitarist whose fire was lit by Stevie Ray Vaughan, and who has gone on to find his own awesome sound in a genre where that is no small feat. I lost a good hour listening to him play before I came to and emailed him. The reply came quickly and enthusiastically, something I don’t take for granted when I’m finding these playlist recommendations. Sometimes, the latter is the hardest part of getting an episode finished. This time, it was the easiest. You can learn more about Scott McKeon here. His music is on all the usual platforms, including Apple Music and Spotify , and you should follow him on Instagram, too. He’s @scottmckeon33. Thanks, Scott, and congrats on the release of ‘New Morning’!

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 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!