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.

 

They say you never see a motorcycle in front of a therapist’s office. Most of us, in fact, freely admit that there are days when we just ride to stay sane, and that sometimes the only place life makes any sense is inside our helmets. In this episode, I talk with someone who has put that to the test more than most. Cat Martin is a lifelong rider and a riding instructor who recently endured a series of painful losses in her life. She talks candidly about continuing to ride through that pain, and what your motorcycle can – and can’t – do for you when the chips are down.

Show Notes

This was the Instagram post that caught my attention last March. It was an amazing moment of vulnerability for someone whose feed was usually full of friends, bikes and rides, just like yours or mine.

 

Besides teaching, Cat Martin is an active member of Toronto’s burgeoning motorcycle community. You can follow her on Instagram at @bikercat13, and meet lots more of the cool people who ride the streets of North America’s fourth largest city. One such cool person she mentioned was @wobblycat, whose travels are also worth a follow.

When we talk about our bikes as therapists, as Cat and I did, most of us are talking about getting through tough times and bad days, but there are some riders out there who are chased by the black dog every day. Google offers up more than 8 million search returns for the query “motorcycle and depression”, so it’s impossible to suggest a definitive one. Especially interesting reading are the forums, where riders are amazingly frank about what their motorcycles mean to them as they fight their difficult and personal battles. Here’s a random example from ADVrider, and here’s one from Reddit… but there are many, and that says something all by itself.

Among motorcyclists, the most prominent advocate for mental health is arguably the Movember Foundation, though it focuses its work on men. Nonetheless, Movember and the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride have brought the difficult subject of depression into the conversation in our community, and hopefully will inspire more ways to support riders who suffer from it regardless of who they are. You can learn more about the Foundation’s work here.

An important closing thought: Your bike might help you stay sane, but if you’re in a crisis, riding it is only going to make things worse. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or showing signs of clinical depression, park your bike and get some help. You won’t be sorry, and that bike will be waiting for you when you’re ready for the road again.

If you enjoyed this episode’s playlist recommendation, you can learn more about The Weather Station here. Their music is available on iTunes, among the other usual places, and ‘Kept It All To Myself can be found here.

No motorcycle brand inspires stronger emotions, deeper loyalty, fiercer criticism and maybe more seething envy than Harley Davidson. With 115 years of history behind the bar and shield, more North Americans ride Harleys today than any other make, and the brand is so famous globally that its name alone is worth $5.7 billion dollars. Yet behind the corporate story remains a stubbornly indiosyncratic motorcycle company whose products still turn heads and haunt dreams, and whose riders are still a tribe of their own. In this episode, I talk to former Harley Davidson insider Steve Piehl about what makes the company tick, how it’s changing, and where the magic will come from to see it through its second century.

Show Notes

A screen grab of the New York Times article that inspired this episode.

 

The article accompanying the picture above appeared in the New York Times on June 22, 2018. Here’s a link, but be warned that this content may only be available to subscribers. I love the idea that within days of being “allowed” to drive anything at all on public roads, she was on a bike. Motorcycle people really are all the same.

I wasn’t making that number up about the value of the Harley Davidson brand. Interbrand, who has been tracking this stuff for years, ranks Harley as the 77th most valuable brand in the world… just ahead of Netflix (though Netflix is gaining fast. Make of this what you will). I think this is a point that a lot of pundits miss when they obsess about Harley’s recent volume declines: there is a ton of goodwill, here. Their future doesn’t hang on the next bike, but on the millions of people who adore the bar and shield.

The 77th most valuable brand in the world, worth $5.7 billion… or roughly 335,295 Fat Bobs.

If you were in a canoe somewhere, there is, I suppose, a slim chance that you missed the MoCo’s announcement this summer of some radical additions to its product line (in this episode, I said that the announcements were made in August, but in fact the date was July 30). The new products are part of a larger initiative called “More Roads to Harley Davidson”, and you can find the official corporate version of what they’re up to here.

Needless to say, the announcements fired up the pundits and trolls, so there’s plenty of commentary to read online. If you want to get your feet wet with some reasonable reporting from a motorcyclist’s perspective, I’d suggest this, from Cycle World.

Maybe this is just some kind of podcaster Stockholm Syndrome, but the more I learned about Harley Davidson as I prepared this episode, the more I affection I felt for the brand and its bikes. I’m still doubtful there will ever be one of its battle cruisers in my barn, but Harley’s new bikes seem to offer the promise of some MoCo flavour in a style that might suit me. Of the bunch, the one I keep gawking at is the Streetfighter. Even this bike writes an attitude cheque I can’t cash, but at least I’d only be pretending to be fast (versus fast and badass). I’m keen to ride one. My Monster is on notice.

Harley’s Streetfighter. The MoCo is late to the sport naked party, but what an entrance. Photo from Harley-Davidson.com

Meghan Patrick’s cover of “Unknown Legend” comes from a Warner Music Canada anthology album called “Covered in Gold 5.0”, which you can find on iTunes. The artist’s web site is here.

You know the look. The one your parent or partner gets as you gear up for a ride, the one that says, “why couldn’t you have taken up golf?” Sometimes, being a motorcyclist means being misunderstood by the people who know you best. But what if it didn’t? What if the people closest to you shared your passion? In this episode, we meet Peter and Jonathan Boulton, two motorcycle podcasters who were born into a motorcycling family. Their story might make you a little envious. And the reason why turns out to be something every motorcyclist needs, even if our riding family is simply each other.

Show Notes

You can get to know MotoGPete and Swiggy better by subscribing to Noco Moto. If you have room in your listening life for one more motorcycle podcast, you won’t regret it. Here’s a link to their iTunes page.

The forum discussion that I mentioned at the top of this episode can be found here. It actually meandered through a few themes from the original poster’s cri de couer, not just the one that caught my attention – riding as a family. It’s an interesting window into how riders deal with the conflict between responsible parenthood and their personal passion.

A lot has been written about how to engage your loved ones in motorcycling, though not so much about whether it’s a good idea. If you’re tempted, these two articles seem like good starting points for thinking about it. This one, from Cycle World, touches on Pete and Swiggy’s idea of making riding a gift. And this one is more of a how-to, from Motorcyclist.

And if you just want to get misty and feel good about the idea of sharing this with your kids, you can always count on Moto Geo’s Jamie Robinson to remind us that, in the end, this is supposed to be fun. Check out this charming video from Moto Geo.

A still from the Moto Geo video, “Family Tradition.” Even with all the product placement (the guy’s got to make a living), if you’re a parent, you can’t help but be charmed.

Hamilton, Ontario, seems to be a pretty creative town, having now provided two of my TML playlist recommendations. This time, the band is Whitehorse, and a special thanks to them for allowing me to excerpt “Downtown” for this episode. You can get to know them better at their web site, which is here. And you can by the track (or the whole album, which is much more sensible), here.

Freddie Spencer, in the zone. This photo is from freddiespencer.com

Awareness is how motorcyclists survive. And, for some, it’s also how they win. That would seem to be the story of Grand Prix legend “Fast Freddie” Spencer, an extraordinary talent whose awareness was so acute he could tell who was pursuing him on the track by which flags were waving in the stands… at 200kph. That gift would help him win multiple world championships, along with the still unequaled achievement of doing so in two classes in a single season. In this conversation, Freddie Spencer talks about his journey, and the hard-won lesson that awareness isn’t just a riding skill. It’s a way of life.

Show Notes

Be sure to join me and the rest of the motorcycling world on May 26, 2018, for SyncRide. You’ll find everything you need to know about this record-setting ride for motorcycle safety right here.

Freddie Spencer speaking at a press event organized by EatSleepRIDE in advance of the Toronto Spring Motorcycle Show.

If you aren’t already a knowledgable fan, the best place to begin getting to know Freddie Spencer’s story is at his web site. This article from the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame expands on his remarkable record as a racer.

Freddie’s career unfolded in the age of video, so there is literally too much content on YouTube for me to recommend a single definitive clip. The picture that emerges from watching a few, though, is pretty vivid: a calm, introspective and generous character off the track, and a lion when the visor goes down. This video captures the energy of the double championship win as it happened. After that, get ready to lose a rainy afternoon discovering this legendary rider, and epic era in motorcycle racing.

Freddie Spencer continues to be a fixture in the motorcycle racing scene, appearing just about everywhere that matters in the sport. If you have a chance to meet him, do it. You’ll be astonished and delighted at how much he is ‘one of us’. When I met him at the press event in Toronto, he said, “I care about motorcyclists, because I understand,” and it’s true. Me, if I had to pick one event I wish I’d attended, it would probably be this one.

“Feel: My Story” is a great read, for its window into both an amazing time in Grand Prix motorcycle racing, and the life story of someone who reached its pinnacle at the age of 24, with his whole life still ahead of him. Here’s a link to Amazon’s U.S. page for the book, which is also available on most other Amazon stores, including the U.K., Australia and Canada.

Morten Granau offers a free download of this episode’s TML Playlist track here. I was unable to reach him to let him know I would be recommending it, but I presume, because he’s sharing it with the world, that this falls comfortably under the heading of ‘Fair Use’. I’m not sure I’d trust myself to listen to it while I ride, but for me this trance classic simulates what it must feel like to be so calm at speed that you notice everything. Including the flags waving in the stands.

Thanks, Freddie.