Long Ride, Short Essay

Picture this, if you will: Half dozen plus one motorcyclists gather at a local watering hole with grand visions of coastal roads full of turns to the left and the right with the giant Pacific Ocean always starboard of the handlebars, wave after wave wishing you well travels to a destination of drinks, laughter, and warm waters full of tourists and caramel-brown skinned locals. We, the six plus one, saddled up on our mighty high-horsepower steeds and aimed them south-ish towards the impossibly far destination of Cabo San Lucas in the Baja peninsula of Mexico the unknown, Mexico the untamed, Mexico the place that is said to need a wall to protect us from its bad hombres who want all the jobs, all the money, and all of our virgins. Travel advisory bulletins and fearful non-travelers full of advice on what other places you can aim your motorcycle towards that has less brown people and more gun carrying, G-d fearing folks who know hospitality, weighed in with concern for the safety of our health, our bikes, and our bodies. Six plus 1 motorcyclists threw caution and our machines into the wind towards adventure and the promise of experiences not known to us in a land far from our daily reality, but close enough for a reasonable motorcycle ride down the western coast of the New World.


A perfect stranger landed on our lap while we took in the smell and sounds of the crashing waves, at the southern-most Oregon coast that’s so full of dramatic landscapes. The Pacific Wonderland is a well-placed uppercut to the senses of those who can see smell hear the world for the blue ball that it is and it renders the partaker euphoric. We, 6 plus one, felt the urge to celebrate the stranger’s birthday who had the thousand-yard stare of someone that’s been on a BMW F800GS for three or so weeks, and has been to Cabo and Seattle and is headed to the nearest bar that has a shot of bourbon and a dimly lit candle to blow out for the 30th trip around the sun. The stars aligned, and parents who are celebrating retirement rendezvoused at the thickly forested Jedidiah Smith State Park with hot pizzas, cold beers, and a German chocolate cake with 30 individual candles and the Perfect Stranger was a stranger no more as we shared drinks, pizza, and laughter until sleep took over and we snored loud enough to scare the idea of bears and other critters away with dreams of margaritas in another land.


And then we became six because life has a funny way of reminding you that if you’re not in it for fun, then why bother at all. One turned back to the promise of a loving partner’s bosom and a comfortable bed and we hugged him with pinky-swears of next time farther, next time together, next time just you and me so that the adventure doesn’t go on without you. Next time.

Highway 101 to 1 in California’s Redwood forest that’s full of giants, so impossibly big that the word giant took on literal meaning, and our giant steeds suddenly became small and insignificant next to these majestic trees that have seen the white man come and push out the natives to take the gold that meant more to them than lives, kind of like now but different but the same. The awe in the face of us six turned to grins as the road twisted and turned back and forth at a rollercoaster rate, heartbeats increasing with each lean of the beasts under us as we negotiated with the tires that howled under the load of metal and skin, snarling from bend to bend as we went straight towards the water with giggles of children that turned into a gasp. The water, an inexplicable shade of blue that you wouldn’t find in a box of Crayola, made us pull over and look again, and wonder if the Earth really is round because it just ends beyond the horizon and we couldn’t see the curve enough to not snicker at the disbelievers. An Englishman who we had passed beeped his horn and waved as if to say that at his slow pace, he could look and ride.  Silly Englishman, at our pace we rode and looked while our hearts sang. Neither of us wrong, the same task at different speeds proving that there’s more than one way to skin a Pirelli tire.


In San Francisco we were greeted by a great fog, a grand bay, and a red bridge that somehow framed the entire city in a picturesque postcard of “wish you were here”. I sent a text to my sweet wife to tell her I love her because that obnoxiously expensive city somehow makes us feel at home in its chaos and it felt lonely without her, even with the camaraderie of five riders at my side. Few things in this world can heal a weary traveler like the familiar sound of a friend’s voice and a sizzling hot New York Strip steak, grilled to a 129 Fahrenheit of medium rare perfection. Michael opened his house to six happy men who giggled and chattered like boys about a ride that was full of adventure, only 48 hours young. Multiple rooms yielded minimal snoring effect and we woke up early to eat a breakfast best served to giants. Corned beef and hash, thank you, with eggs over medium and sourdough toast and room temperature butter. Happiness comes in many forms, and breakfast is among the finest.

golden gate

In SoCal the traffic looks heavy from afar, but once you weave into its embrace, you learn that the school of fish on the highways will keep swimming no matter how thick or thin. Welcome to Greater Los Angeles, where getting there is just the beginning and you have to ride and stay aware for another hour until Burbank appears with family who’s been waiting to see if we six were really riding on motorcycles all the way from Portland, Oregon, to Cabo San Lucas not to save the world, but to imbibe in tequila and sour mix in large-format glasses in celebration of self-proclaimed grandeur. This kind of thing is once in a lifetime year, man. Six men, resembling a tiny League of Nations with an Iranian, a pair of Romanians, a Canadian and 2 handsome Caucasian dudes, were treated to a Persian/Armenian father’s hospitality that involved copious amounts of filet mignon kebabs, buttery Jasmine rice and ice cold beers. Hotel rooms, close to Bob Hope Airport, made the snores a thing of the past.

victors house

Viva La Mexico! Interstate 5 ends in Tijuana, Mexico, and we six were greeted by a wall that separated San Diego, CA, USA, from Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. A wall separates free people from walking back and forth to similar lands that are within feet of each other. A wall separates people from seeing family that’s not allowed to cross its borders out of fear of this or that, none of it making much sense if you hang around long enough to see the reality of it. They waved us through, quickly, so that we could be tourists instead of human rights activists and we took the bait. A big Mexican picked me up and poured tequila down my throat and I laughed heartily at the prospect of another man picking my 245 pounds up as gravity reminded him that in Mexico it’s still the law. We found fresh churros under the biggest flag that any of us had ever laid eyes on and, drunk and stumbling, and saluted the unbelievable floating sheet that signified the land upon which we stood. The kind churro maker suggested a genuine Mexican breakfast to help heal this tequila buzz and at 7am, we found ourselves sitting at the colorful dining room of El Parian with breakfast breads that looked nothing like croissants and toast, but tasted sweet and inviting with a large order of huevos con chorizo for good measure. Southward bound on Mexico’s highway 1, to find vineyards as old as 1888 had me scratch my helmet in amusement that Napa Valley isn’t all that old in the new world. Bodegas de Santo Tomas was ripe with the most succulent vines that these eyes had ever ridden past. I thought I knew what a vineyard was supposed to look like.


Long rides are good for pushing the envelope of your belief in yourself and your surroundings. It’s easy to get caught up in someone else’s narrative of what is good, bad, or otherwise, but a long ride might Alt-Ctrl-Del your head space into a new perspective which, as they say, is reality. A sudden lack of tire pressure brought perspective into our adventure in the middle of nowhere while we were mouth-breathing at the spectacle of giant boulders in the middle of a white sand desert, peppered with 40’ tall saguaro cacti. As it turns out, no matter how many puncture kits are at your disposal, nothing will fix a 2” tear in the rear tire of a Ducati like a patch, and nothing will make your heart sink deeper than the realization that no such thing was packed in our cases. Enter frame, the heroes of our story, two smiling cowboys that rode out from the middle of nowhere that was by the middle of nowhere close to the road in the middle of nowhere Baja, surrounded by boulders and saguaros. Our saviors in cowboy hats and shit-kicker boots came bearing ice cold Tecate Light cervezas and a truck with a hand-me-down air compressor and enough tools to maybe hopefully please oh please fix a badly punctured tire. A language barrier was broken with hearty laughter and a genuine “it takes a village” mentality as, two hours later, our heroes patched us up and waved us farewell toward our mission of sunny beaches and larger than life margaritas. Perspective has a way of changing when the national news about international behavior is proven wrong by a villager’s kindness and generosity. These lines that we draw are false and temporary, yet some are led to believe in the permanence of a 4 year term’s empty accusations.

flat tire

Guerrero Negro, known for sea salt and migratory grey whales, should be known for the most delicious tacos and the howling of stray dogs at night. Our post-sundown arrival was greeted by a smiling, half in the bag, local motel proprietor who spoke better English than our broken Spanish and suggested an el pastor huarache at Ploblanos. Confused, we hoofed it a few blocks along the dirt road and our noses told us we were at the right place with the sweet smell of marinated pork being roasted on an open fire.  The smiling patron didn’t skip a beat to our broken Spanish, asking for pork topped sandals. Dear Huarache, a taco longer than your size 12, may you always be so delicious and welcoming.


Well rested and fueled up, we six saddled up with visions of blue waters and beach-side tequila. The map pointed south-east, away from the west coast, towards the Gulf of California through flat desert aimed at mountain peaks that looked like a mirage. As the boredom of flat land started to settle, a small white sign got our attention: “Peligroso Curva”. When piloting a Ducati, a sign that promises dangerous curves is a flirtatious invitation to throw caution to the wind and make a grown man giggle. In our Bluetooth headsets, we were reduced to middle school levels of vulgarity and profane laughter at these high elevation twisty roads, sans any barriers to stop a mistake from plummeting to one’s end. The aforementioned curves led us past a set of tall peaks, a sight not previously seen outside of California, which belonged to Volcan Las Tres Virgenes. The Mulege Municipality of BSC is the gateway to bits of twisty asphalt which introduce your weary eyes to the blue waters of the Gulf of California, twinkling like a sea of diamonds as you descend to Santa Rosalina, the ugliest little sea-side town and ambient temperatures that may boil the water in your turtle-pack.



All was forgiven as we passed lovely Mulege and found ourselves face to face with paradise on earth: Bahia de Concepcion. Pictures do no justice and words fail to translate the beauty that greeted our sweat-stung and worn out eyes. Hastily, we turned left into Playa Los Cocos and parked the hot, ticking bikes under the shade of a beach-side hut. No time was wasted as we disrobed and ran, screaming with glee, into the clear water of the bay, surrounded by beautiful fish and shrimp. And then we became seven. A well-spoken German man, traveling from Anchorage, Alaska, towards the long country of Chile on a well-seasoned F800GS was tickled to see a group of Ducati motorcycles in Baja, Mexico. We exchanged stories and sealed the deal with a friend request on Facebook and didn’t want to leave paradise but for the promise of Bienvenidos A Cabo San Lucas. A fresh shrimp taco at the picturesque Ana’s Restaurant made these wide-eyed moto tourists promise each other a hasty return to this jewel, because you’re here on borrowed time and your death bed stories should include Playa Los Cocos, camaraderie, and shrimp tacos.


The next day, The German Tourist went his own way as we decided to explore La Paz, not as tourists, but as motorcyclists desperate for a new rear tire that would guarantee a safe return through the potholes and twisty roads on the way back. The kind hearted salesman at the local Honda Motorcycle dealership jumped to action to help us find the ultra-rare 170-60-17 rear tire of a Ducati Multistrada Enduro. Once we finally located the hoop at a random bicycle shop, we were pointed to the direction of a motorcycle repair shop capable of solving our problem. Alto means stop, we learned as an irate Policia Municipal threatened to take away a few driver’s licenses. Never give them your driver’s license. One thousand Pesos later, we were escorted to Motos Baja mechanic shop and chuckled at the 18-1 exchange rate of Pesos vs. USD.

“Do you want your bike washed, senor?” asked a skinny man with kind eyes. I jokingly told him that I was collecting the thousands of splattered butterflies as souvenirs. He didn’t understand my sarcasm and asked the next rider. Much to his surprise, one of the riders offered him money to find us food and he, very excitedly, agreed to take his money and run. Chuckles and jokes were thrown around, offering guarded commentary about how he’ll never see that money again and, 10 minutes later, the man with the kind eyes returned with bags full of tortillas, meats, veggies and sauces and we ate outside of Motos Baja while I struggled to get my foot out of my mouth. Kindness is everywhere. You just have to stop being conceited and accept it.

motos baja

A new motorcycle tire gives the rider a new perspective on speed and stability and the next 157 kilometers were spent in giddy fits of laughter, Mitch Hedberg quotes, and ultra-high rates of speed as Cabo San Lucas crawled closer and closer on the GPS display until we saw it in the distance: a city surrounded by water and high-end resorts on its southern tip. We screeched to a stop under the blue sign with big white words that read: WELCOME YOU BRAVE MOTORCYCLISTS, WELCOME YOU HOOLIGANS WHO THREW CAUTION TO THE WIND, WELCOME YOU SHENNANIGAN DOERS, WELCOME YOU TWO WHEELED MASTERS OF THE ROAD. Bienvenidos A Cabo San Lucas. After a few photos and high-fives, we crawled our way down through the city towards the water and found big comfortable beds, at the Medano Hotel, with the promise of sleep and respite to heal our road weary bodies. But first, fulfilling the promise of margaritas! Once we had showered the road off ourselves, we walked down towards the water and found a table at The Office, aptly named for being anything other than an office. Most drinks fit in a proper tumbler, but a margarita at The Office is served in a miniature swimming pool, and you should swim with caution in these tequila-spiked waters. Throughout the blurry celebration, we reminisced the 2,430 miles which took us from the cool weather of the beautiful Pacific Northwest to the hot and dry Baja California Sur and this thought came to us: when you fly to Cabo, get picked up in a private car and then chauffeured to a shiny beach-front resort you see the Baja that they want you to see. When you ride through the peninsula on a motorcycle, with your comrades through thick and thin, you see the Baja that you need to see. It is beautiful, through and through, and is resided upon by folks who are kinder than you and me.

Get on your bike and head out to a destination not common to you or your fellow partners. It will force growth of character and a forged bond that’s not easily cracked in these times of political turmoil and disagreeable online vitriol. Get out and ride.

Hello Scrambler

arun-hello-scrambler***Note*** Sean MacDonald of Cycle World, formerly of Jalopnik, asked me to write an article for the MotoCorsa (Portland, OR) custom Ducati Scrambler build.  He published it as a Q&A to showcase the shop’s sense of humor and it went over very well with his readership!

Here is the original published page: http://lanesplitter.jalopnik.com/youve-never-seen-a-custom-bike-like-this-hello-kitty-th-1756050313


First thing first: Why?

Because motorcycling is inherently a spirited lifestyle which tends to draw in the outlaw, color-out-of-the-borders, free spirit side of those of us who pay our dues by riding in the hectic world of day-to-day commuting. Yes, it’s a choice for most of us but no part of it dictates that it ought to be a boring one.  While we understand the innately attractive draw of the shiny black paint atop mounds of chrome powered by super-turbo-nitro shot fire breathing engines, we also completely get the desire to stand the fuck out.

That’s our specialty: standing out.

Why pink? Because fuck you; that’s why.  Have you seen the visceral reactions the bike gets from everyone, both good and bad?  It’s mouth-watering.  We’ve seen people give it the thumbs up and seen people flip it the bird.  Good! We like it that way! Your matching Klim gear mounted on top of the latest ADV-SUV asphalt guzzler gets lost in a sea of knobby tires while our beloved Hello Scrambler stands out like a pink beacon of hope that there’s still a chance you can be a rebel on a motorcycle.

Arun Sharma, the leader of this motley crew at MotoCorsa had the idea of a pink bike, first.  It got shit-canned as soon as it was suggested, too.  That’s how neck-deep most of us were in the shiny/carbon fiber/titanium/black paint mindset.

“Let’s do plaid surfaces with organic sustainable paints and rubber made out of reused rubbers that were once recycled” or so the suggestion polls went in the initial meetings.  The idea of making a bike look as Pacific Northwestern as possible was tossed around for a week or two.  Then it seemed boring.

“Let’s do a hill climber! That’ll do it!” “Let’s do a side-car rig!” and so it went on and on, in circles. Arun stood by, watching the hurricane of brainstorms clash and smash our heads back and forth until it came full circle back to the pink bike.  There was a bit of worry about the motorcycling community pulling a full on Frankenstein story, regaled with pitchforks and fires ready to burn us down the ground for defacing the very dream of motorcycling, by painting a Ducati pink!

There were many late night after work hours which were contributed by the boys and girls of the parts and service department along with their better half partners who contributed to every single detail.  Ultimately, we wanted the Scrambler to look like it was designed by a committee board of a major toy manufacturer that wanted it to be sales-ready at the local Toys R Us and we hit that nail right on the head.  A customer walked in with his 2 year old little girl and she lit up and ran to it and just HAD to climb up on the thing.  She loved the loud squeeze horn on the handlebar and the training wheels on the back and everything she came into contact with on the bike.

I think there’s a long line of CorsaCrew who want to ride the thing.  We all have aspirations of grandeur on the bike.  One wants to do a rolling burnout.  One wants to wheelie it up and down the fashionable NW 23rd St in Portland’s shopping district.  One wants to ship it out to Florida, this coming March, and take it to Daytona Bike Week.

Mostly, we all want to be around it because it gets such strong reactions from every single pair of eyes that lay on it. It’s an ice and mold breaker and, in typical MotoCorsa and Arun fashion, it blew everyone’s idea of what a motorcycle ought to look and behave like out of the water and that’s exactly what we were trying to achieve.  So, while everyone else touts high-power, low weight machines that dazzles the wanna-be cool guys out there, we are making the true believers giggle and the non-believers shake their heads in ridicule – and isn’t that exactly what motorcycling has always been about?  Nonconformity!

We Fly 4 Tammy

***Note*** I wrote this, last year, in mourning of the loss of our dearest friend, Tammy Townsend, and wanted to publish it on my own blog as I thought of her. 


This is a story about hope and the power of the human spirit.  It may not end the way you want it so, if you’re into idyllic, fairy-tale endings, you may want to skip this. 

It’s another day at the shop. We work at a motorcycle dealership and it’s one of the best in the business. The music is bumping and people are buzzing around, looking at the shiny pretty things that they want to ride/photograph/dream about. We barely notice the collectible Desmosedici RR that we walk past, ad nauseam.

This is jaded.

Her head is bald but you can’t tell if it’s a fashion choice or the side effect of chemotherapy.  You can’t tell because she has more energy than you, and you are half her age.  It’s got to be a fashion choice.  Portland, man.

This is presumptuous.

The handsome fella who’s holding her hand has a  heavy look in his eyes.  He’s smiling but you can see the weight of the world on his shoulders even though he saunters around like he owns the joint. His eyes sparkle every time they look at her cute bald head.  It’s not a fashion choice, you realize. Fucking cancer, man.

This is an awakening.

Her name is Tammy. She wants to go fast.  I mean, really fast. Not like just down-the-street-doing-wheelies-fast, but “hey who’s the fastest cat on a motorcycle around here” kind of fast.  She wants to set a world speed record kind of fast.  She wants to leave tire-skid marks on the tarmac kind of fast. She wants to give cancer the big middle finger while hollering at the top of her lungs kind of fast. She wants to be on a sexy shiny Ducati on a world-renowned track kind of fast.

This is humbling.

There’s a resident fast-guy, Christian, at the shop.  Every shop has one that claims to be good but this guy, with his perfectly trimmed and shaped handlebar mustache, is legit. He’s shaking with excitement at the prospect of showing Tammy around our local playground, Portland International Raceway. I volunteered my motorcycle (a Ducati Multistrada 1200S) for the job, because who doesn’t want to be a part of someone’s soul? Who doesn’t want to don a shiny armor suit and be the knight that rescues a fair damsel in distress? Fucking cancer, man.

This is anticipation.

Tammy conquered the track with the help of our fast-guy knight-in-worn-leather-suit and the shiny loud braaptastic Multistrada and, you know what, she conquered the cancer, too. All while laughing and smiling and being this sister we all wish we had. Patrick, her handsome other half, surprised her with a new shiny Ducati and grabbed one for himself too, and they showered the world with their presence and miraculous spirits and the world rejoiced. Tammy was a flight attendant in another life, so we all flew for Tammy. That’s the motto which was adopted by her adoring fans. “I fly for Tammy”. Flight Steward humor.

This is rejoice.

This is the part that hurts. This is the part that makes you ball up your fists, tightly, and curse at life. Fuck you for being unfair. The part that makes this author clench his jaws at the travesty of the whole thing. Through the social network of Facebook, the message was conveyed that the cancer has come back in force and she’s back in the hospital and it’s not looking good. The word hospice was thrown in the mix. The words “transition to God” were read with teary eyes that are trying to reconcile and not lose hope.

This is not fair.

How do you move on? In my humble opinion, you mourn and cry and lean on each other. You say things like “life is short so hug a stranger and love one another”. You see her and hear her in every corner of the shop that came to life whenever she came in, laughing and spreading her excitement and you get teary eyed. You try to be the person that she saw in you, kind and giving and human. You honor her by embodying the very essence that she made you feel you have, because you did a simple and kind thing for a simply kind person.

This is life.

May you rest in peace, sweet Tammy. We love you and wish to never forget you, through travel and exploration of life on this little blue planet.

This is the truth.

Star Gazing

The truck, a Nissan Patrol, was cruising through the Iranian night at a casual pace and the world was filled with stars, clouds, and tree tops rushing past my eyes.  My 8 year old eyes hadn’t seen the world just yet, but the sky was always the limit and it was clearly visible that night.  An unbroken gaze with it would reveal more stars with the lack of light pollution in my periphery.

The motorcycle, a Ducati Multistrada packed with camping gear, was cruising through the mist laden narrow road, cutting through the Cascades.  My 37 year old eyes had seen the world, and in the wet road ahead things cleared up, one mile at a time.  Miles, a Navy vet who I work with, led the way at a safely brisk pace on his Multistrada.  There is something soothing about the symphonic melody of the Italian built L-twin motor and, if you’re not careful, it can put you into a trance. 

Miles, not afraid of the rain!

Miles, not afraid of the rain!

The Nissan Patrol hummed along the highway and my father would, from time to time, look back into the truck bed to see me blissfully star gazing.  Creedence Clearwater Revival was barely audible over the noise of the inline-6 work truck engine.  There were no bills to be paid, or deadlines to be met.  There were fleeting thoughts of what the future might bring, easily distracted by the Milky Way’s appearance across the night sky.  I bundled up, more, in my make-shift bed of comforters and pillows that my dad had arranged in the back of the Patrol.

The rain wouldn’t let up nor be agitating enough to complain about and our rain proof gear was doing a good job keeping us warm and dry in the cool early June Oregon morning.  The freedom of coming to peace with a situation is empowering.  Miles pushed along and missed the turn-off for Rte 242, McKenzie Pass.  I laughed in my helmet because I knew just the sort of zone he was in, looking forward and through the trees that lined the very green Cascades.  Two gears down and I passed him and motioned for a U-turn.  He let me lead us through the pass, but I had to stop.  The Douglas Firs were like green and brown giants, towering over these two small and seemingly insignificant mortals.  Miles understood the zone I was in, in full admiration of what’s above.

The bottom, west entry, of McKenzie Pass. 

The bottom, west entry, of McKenzie Pass. 

The ghost of my past isn’t an angry apparition brimmed with war filled rage, as it should be.  It’s a wraith, warm with memories of blankets and pillows in the back of pickup trucks, classic rock’n’roll and the crisp voice of my dad, telling me stories of riding motorcycles in the open roads of pre-Khomeini era Iran with a pretty girl on the back.  The pretty girl who I dreamt about, nightly, as a distant memory of a mother’s embrace. 

At the top of McKenzie Pass, the scenery shocked our senses and took the shape of what I imagine the moon would look like, if I somehow managed to ride Archie, the Multistrada, through its rocky terrain.  Miles and I, tried desperately, to communicate through wild gesticulations and gestures that there’s a sight to behold ahead.  The Dee Wright Observatory, a seemingly medieval guard tower on top of the moon, stuck out above the fog and mist and we had to dismount to discover.  The waterproof motorcycle gear proved a sanctuary of warmth while the wind and fog blew around us, undeterred and impervious to its nagging.

The cab of the truck cut through the wind and kept me oblivious to the highway wind.  Snuggled, as a kid shamelessly does, in my fort of pillows and blankets I wondered about my dream girl, angel of American toys, and motherly beauty.  I worried about atomic bombs and schools that were ruled by stick and ruler wielding nuns, who’d hit you if you didn’t eat your meat and veggies.  How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?  Pink Floyd wasn’t a name to me.  Just a sound that felt good in my ears.

Down McKenzie Pass we went, the pace picking up as the tight switch-backs gave way to lazy turns, best enjoyed in accelerated motions, and the fog and rain slowly gave way to warmth and sunshine.  Welcome to Sisters, Oregon, full of trinket laden store fronts being browsed by trailer dragging, SUV driving retirees.  The sensation of dryness, and the lazy comfort it brought, led us to an instantaneous desire for sustenance.  Pizza and soda is a great way to celebrate sunshine and tourists.  On the other side of my phone was the sweet voice of my Valentine, Ann.  She was glad that we were safely eating pizza in a town she’s never been to, but promised to see it all with me.  That’s the sort of promise I can get behind.

The Nissan Patrol came to a squeaky-brake stop and I woke up to the sound of my dad.  The trip was over and it was time to go to bed.  The sweet warmth of my truck bed camp-out was so good that I remember not wanting to leave, but got up and went to bed.  Or I was carried.  The next day, I woke up and immediately missed being on the road.  The stars are so much brighter on a dark road in the middle of nowhere. 

Miles and I worked our way through the sunshine of central Oregon high desert, looking to pitch a tent near a body of water.  The destination was Cove Palisades State Park.  On the map, it looked like two bodies of water that converged together making it look like someone drew an upside down peace sign hand gesture.  In the middle of the desert, any shaped water feature seems like a good idea.  Greeted by the sight of the grandly carved canyon filled with the green-turquoise waters made us audibly laugh in our helmets.  My old friend, the Milky Way, showed its face that night and I forgot about my bills, my deadlines or responsibilities for a few hours.

Cove Palisades State Park.

Cove Palisades State Park.

Wanderlust – noun: A strong desire to travel.  And maybe see more stars, in the sky, than I possibly could in crowded cities of lights, horns and loud music.  Thanks for the truck rides, dad.  They fill my dreams with memories of the wind, the hum of an engine and miles of stars.  

Archie the Multistrada, my favorite form of transportation, and stars as far as the eye could see in the Oregon high desert. 

Archie the Multistrada, my favorite form of transportation, and stars as far as the eye could see in the Oregon high desert. 

Iron Butt “Bun Burner 1500”

Ode to my motorcycle: A collection of plastic, metal, carbon fiber and liquids, combustible and lubricating, all mixed together in an Italian factory by men and women who drink wine and eat prosciutto. These are my kind of people, building my kind of motorcycle, and it is perfect.  Its perfection lies not in its design and appeal but in that when I turn it on, it turns me on and gets the little synapses in my head all fired up at the thought of the next adventure to work play explore race and camaraderie. 

            Sweet Wife Ann is, as she would say, a “good sport” about most of these shenanigans.  I wouldn’t dummy it down like that, but she once uttered a magical sentence in a time of doubt and questioning: “If you win, I win.”  She might shake her head or roll her eyes at my constant braaping jargon about this bike that bike this ride that ride, but she’s right there pushing me out to do these things because if you win, then I win.  In came the idea of an obnoxiously long and fast ride just to prove that it can be done, pushed by a group of egomaniacal motorcyclists that love to wear patches of been there done that on their leather outfits., The Iron Butt Association. They have cute little names for the challenges like “Saddle Sore” and “Bun Burner” but, you know, you have to label bits and pieces of life so that they are easier to tell apart.  As most motorcyclists will knowingly joke about this kind of thing, every big ride starts out with 10 willing participants who whittle down to 6 maybes which break down to 5 for-sures and ends up with 3 dudes who are ready to go.  But first, you need a witness for the IBA(Iron Butt Association) Bun Burner ride, who will attest to your insanity and wish you well travels and kiss you on the lips with wishes of your timely return.  Ok, maybe only I got kissed on the lips as our witness was Sweet Wife Ann. 

            The heroes of this tale are PJ, Dave, and yours truly.  After a quick interview, plastered on Facebook, by dear friend and MotoCorsa hype-man/Grand Master/General Manager Arun Sharma, we took off only to stop for fuel.  Three of the same bike with three totally different men set for the same destination of miles and fuel stops and burned buns with hopes of doing it all under 36 hours while blasting past Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Idaho and back to sweet beautiful welcoming Oregon. We climbed towards the still white with snow Mount Hood, as we headed southeast and the chill of the mid-June Sunday morning grew more intense by the minute as the air temperature steadily dropped until the thought of sliding off the road became all too seemingly possible.  Damn the water pack, which I wore, for getting colder and colder and setting in a chill through my back. Once over the mountain, the terrain changed dramatically from a sea of Douglas Firs to the high desert of Central Oregon.  As I stood up on my perfect motorcycle and swiveled my head from left to right, I saw more white and tall mountain peaks, in that moment, than ever in one place in this one life.  Recognize this beauty and this day.  The Universe does not disappoint.

Route 26, just west of Madras, OR

Route 26, just west of Madras, OR

The three steeds, all Ducatis, from left to right: 2013 Multistrada 1200GT, 2013 Multistrada 1200 Pike's Peak and 2015 Multistrada 1200 ST

The three steeds, all Ducatis, from left to right: 2013 Multistrada 1200GT, 2013 Multistrada 1200 Pike’s Peak and 2015 Multistrada 1200 ST

Central Pastime is a hole in the wall place in a hole in the wall town in the middle of nowhere Oregon.  The Chevron gas station attendant overheard we 3 groaning about being hungry and thirsty and suggested we bypass the chain store national undercooked bread sub joint for a ma’n’pa restaurant.  Who am I to say no to this sort of invitation, so we obliged and after a few wrong turns, walked into a relic that echoed with country music and folks who know who everyone is, except for these three strangers in strange outfits, dragging their sorry asses through their watering hole.  As I’ve traveled, I’ve come to find that a club sandwich is a safe bet in nearly any dining establishment, at nearly any hour of the day.  I will happily report that the iced tea was cold and fresh and the club sandwich left me with the desire to go back to Burns, OR, just so I can have another serving of Central Pastime’s deliciously friendly meal. 

And then we became 2. PJ was not fairing well.  As it turns out, 3 hours of sleep prior to an IBA ride is not the prescription for success.  This here is a marathon not a sprint, so no wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am.  We jokingly prodded at him to see if a bit of peer pressure would wake him up and relight the fire in his heart, but my dear friend was spent and toast.  Ego is a deadly thing if unchecked but PJ had no qualms with saying “I’m done, boys.  I am sorry.”  He stayed behind to catch some mid-day ZZZ’s andhead back home, his pride a little bruised but his body saved for another adventure on another day. 

Dave and I connected our helmet Bluetooth devices, like aliens chattering about their next planetary domination, as we blasted through southeastern Oregon’s desert, towards our next gas stop.  You don’t know fear and loathing until the destination, in the middle of nowhere McDermitt, NV, arrives with promises of fuel and water falsely plastered on a digital map.  We might have panicked a bit but ego is a hell of a thing and we calmly walked around and pretended to not be THAT worried until a car pulled into the abandoned gas station we were coolly trotting in and the driver said “hey, guys, there’s an open gas station around the corner!” Rejoice, Texaco! It’s time to invest in a fuel canister if I’m going to keep having these adventures.

Winnemucca, NV, came after the desert turned into mountains that were rocky and grand.  No evergreens here – just rocks and sand.  We could see for miles ahead and would wave at the random set of motorcycles, going the opposite direction.  It seemed like Dave and I were the only two wheelers going into the desert while everyone else was going north towards green lands of rivers, waterfalls and lakes.  Before we hopped on the big slab of superhighway, our souls needed ice cream.  Oh, strawberry shortcake, how I love thee. The kind gas station attendant popped open a fresh bag of ice so that we could fill our water packs with the cold respite of icy water to take away the dry heat of northern Nevada.  We were happy.  The speed limit was 75MPH but our bikes didn’t see the south side of 90 until a road construction site slowed us down to a paltry 70.  It’s funny how when you come out of the big city and trot around the desert, road construction crews don’t go out of their way to make your exit and entry to the highway a luxuriously seamless affair.  At Battle Mountain, NV, we took a bumpy and off road vehicle worthy exit only to bounce our way back to the highway after a Formula 1 fast pit stop to fill the tanks and empty our bladders.

The question of “why do folks live in this area?” often creeps into my head as I ride past an area that doesn’t agree with my sensibilities.  Between Battle Mountain and West Wendover, along I-80, the living seemed grim and dry but then I remembered that Nevada is nick named “the Silver State” and this area, in particular, is home to a heavy and shiny metal that has its mention in every facet of world economics: Gold.  We climbed Pequop Summit as the sun gave one of its most dramatic shows of graceful settings through the high definition viewing portals of our rear view mirrors.  Thankfully the behemoth Ford Explorer in front of us had selectedan acceptable speed through its electronic cruise control, so we could revel in the golden light peaking through the mountains west of us. It lit everything to and fro in the most brilliant of colors that it nearly made me a believer in the power of gold and its draw to this desolate place. And then everything turned white as we coasted downhill towards West Wendover, NV.  Bugs covered the front of each machine, rider and helmet in a thick sheet of high speed insect killing spree.  I dialed Sweet Wife Ann, hoping to hear her voice before it was too late as we entered Utah.  She wanted to hear about everything but I just wanted to listen to her.  It’s my nightly routine, taking in her sing-song tales of office politics, water fountain gossip and her genuine worries over government politics.  Those little shoulders bear much weight and if she can talk about things, they get diluted.  If she talks about things, I get to listen.  If I get to listen, then she’s mine and I am forever grateful and serene. 

West Wendover, NV/UT, just before the Bonneville Salt Flats International Raceway

West Wendover, NV/UT, just before the Bonneville Salt Flats International Raceway

Everything was white because the land, east of Wendover, UT, is covered in salt.  It’s the sort of place that the gods of speed and world records use as their church so that mortals can come and pray.  I’ve only seen it in fantasies on television and magazines and dreams.  The Universe never disappoints.  Thank you for putting me there, next to the Bonneville Salt Flats.  I wanted so bad to touch it and steal a scoop to bring home so I could be reminded that I was there, having an adventure with a perfect stranger in front of me, cutting a hole through the pitch black of the night with our LED high intensity headlights.  I stood on my pegs and howled at the 90mph wind as we cut through it, westbound towards Salt Lake City.  Time was of the essence, so I bowed to the Universe and promised my return as the air took on the scent of freshly sprinkled water and salt and the horizon took on the hue of light pollution from a large city.  Utah is beautiful, whether by moon light or sun. 

In Ogden, UT, we stopped to eat a meal and decide where we would end the day’s adventure so that we could rest up to finish what we started the next day.  It was nearly 1AM and 3 cups of coffee later, the town of Rupert, ID, became our next target.  Delirium hadn’t taken hold of us, yet, but fear of the dark, so full of elk and deer, kept us from going 100MPH through the nothingness that’s between northern SLC and Rupert, ID.  Was I tired or was the wind getting stronger?  Was I exhausted or was an indicated 55 degrees, Fahrenheit, really chilling me to the bone?  

7AM pajama clad hydraulic clutch lever bleeding action!

7AM pajama clad hydraulic clutch lever bleeding action!

Rupert, ID, greeted us with a gas stop and a Tops Motel, managed by a sleepy 3AM motel manager who kindly checked us into a very comfortable room with two clean beds and the best 4 hour nap a man could pay $64 for, during an adventure like this.  In 18 hours, we achieved Dave’s hope of 1000+ miles in less than 24 hours – The IBA Saddle Sore 1000.  We updated our social media and woke with a slight panic of time having gotten away from us.  Once my clutch lever fluid was flushed, we saddled up and took off towards Boise, ID, where I found a surprise of Southern proportions: A Cracker Barrel.  Southern style cooking, slightly out of place in the North West was such a welcoming sight.  A few glasses of very sweet iced tea and some eggs, grits, cheesy potato hash casserole, and chicken fried steak were not the best idea. The body wants rest and calm while it digests that sort of maniacal feast, not to be bounced around the highway winds at near triple digit speeds.

In Oregon, we decided to slow down a bit so as not to get a speeding ticket and potentially disqualify ourselves from this nutty riding bet.  I don’t know if it’s really enforced by the IBA, but it kept us behaving, mostly.  There’s something intoxicating about riding a finely tuned Ducati that blasts the mountain sides with the singsong of its engine note, especially when the roads get curvy.  Any idiot can go fast in a straight line.  It takes dedication and trust to go fast through the curves of life, roads and highways.  Pick a line, dedicate to it, and follow through.  Life is a motorcycle ride through a curvy road and you cannot question your decision whilst mid-way through it.  Hold on and go – don’t be brash and you’ll be fine.  At Deadman’s Pass Lookout, we stopped to look at what lay beneath us and were greeted by a friendly man named Mark, whose first love was a 1963 250cc Ducati Diana in Southern California.  He’s got more miles under him than Dave and I combined, and we fancy ourselves long distance riders.  After much story sharing, Mark left us with this thought about how to keep a marriage with guys like us a successful affair:

“You should let your man do the things he wants to do with his motorcycle, from time to time, so that he comes back home to you rejuvenated and refreshed.” 

The wisdom of Mark, who lit up at the sight of two modern Ducati land rockets.

The wisdom of Mark, who lit up at the sight of two modern Ducati land rockets.

As we met with the mighty Columbia, the highway became increasingly beautiful as the Columbia Gorge formed around us and became the beautiful piece of interstate highway that people in the Pacific Northwest do not take for granted.  Things came to a sudden halt at The Dalles, OR, because of road construction and Dave and I were suddenly fearful of failure.  We had 3 hours left to finish our 1500 miles, and had already completed it but needed to stop somewhere and have a receipt printed for proof that we came, we saw, we conquered our challenge.  Once the reality that traffic had zero intent do move set in, we did the only thing which would allow us to finish: cheat.  The right shoulder of the highway became our personal lane to salvation and completion of this arduous task.  Slowly we crept past miles and miles of cars, trucks and weary 18wheelers and quickly took exit 44 to Cascade Locks, OR, where I know a place full of willing participants in “who wants to be a witness to my shenanigans?”

Tired and ready for the ride to end, but still happy not to be sitting at a desk.

Tired and ready for the ride to end, but still happy not to be sitting at a desk.

Thunder Island Brewing, in Cascade Locks, is one of the most picturesque places to sit down and have a pint of craft brewed deliciousness.  We, the tired, dismounted our steeds and disrobed our riding jackets, gloves and helmets.  It seemed as if all eyes were on us as we stumbled into the beer hall and heard an angel sing a verse: “would you like a beer?”  Why, yes, I would.

Nothing like a cold and extremely delicious beer to help finish an incredible motorcycle run. Cheers!

Nothing like a cold and extremely delicious beer to help finish an incredible motorcycle run. Cheers!

1599.7 miles, through Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Idaho and back to Oregon for bragging rights and a patch.  Our spirits needed this like our bodies need rest and water and the loving touch of our partners.  We shook hands, smiled at each other and fared one another well and went home to see our wives, who let us do things with our bikes from time to time, so that we come home to them with clear heads, ready to be filled with plans of future adventures with the machines that are acollection of plastic, metal, carbon fiber and liquids, combustible and lubricating, all mixed together in an Italian factory by men and women who drink wine and eat prosciutto.

My kind of people.

Biker Wave

How do you explain the inexplicable to people who want so badly to understand but lack the simple rite of passage to listen out of fear of learning something that may take them beyond the boundaries of their self afflicted box? Do you put on blinders like a horse set on his destination of forward motion, led by a horseman with a gentle whip, galloping along without need to see, or know, who sees what on the sidelines or do you open your eyes and mind and mouth and try, as a calm kindergarten teacher might to tell her children that drawing outside the lines is not a broken law and don’t fear the pencil and paper and draw, my child, draw the world as you see it; with pink clouds and turquoise skies and blue grass and sheep that are colored like the rainbow and you will not feel the hatred of the world for seeing things with an open mind. That black is beautiful and white is peaceful and brown can make you feel warm and red will bring you passion and yellow will help you see the way. That one day you’ll wake up, a man, and hop on your two wheeled machine and feel, for once, what the wind really is trying to tell you as it passes your ears and you smile because you understand humility and mortality and camaraderie as you wave at another fellow and not care about his beliefs and systems and thoughts because for one split second all you two know is that there is something holding you as friends, for one heartbeat, and you wave at one another, left hands outstretched as if to touch one another in this blistering speed.  You know in your heart of hearts that you felt a spark of electricity flow through the air and connect the pair of you and it’s gone from the air as you boom past one another, hearts beating as the motorcycle pulls you to a destination of fun and facts and opinions and love and laughter. And it doesn’t matter that your body hurts from the long haul because your heart feels refreshed enough to turn on the TV and see and hear and deal with the hate and misunderstandings and the pleading look on your favorite news anchor’s eyes, wishing she could choke the idiots who still think that debating about human health and well being is acceptable while your heart beats for the day that we’ll all get along and you won’t have to explain to the blind stares of a million pairs of eyes why you think color and creed and belief aren’t ways to dictate who’s just and who’s not.   

Quad Lock phone mount.


18 pt
18 pt


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It’s fair to say that most of us, by now, have moved on from the once fashionable flip phones to the world of the do-it-all smart devices.  This has had many pros (and a few cons, but we aren’t here to talk about that, dear “I have to check my Facebook while driving” drivers).  One of the obvious advantages of having these large, crystal clear, high resolution screens is the very useful GPS add-on feature, whether it be through Google Maps, Waze, or which ever newest software is available.  It sure as heck beats having to pre-plan your ride, using a map and written directions.  (As a note, I would always suggest taking a map because sometimes you end up in the middle-of-nowhere Kansas where the phone is about as useful as a rock)


The irony of having an electronic leash attached to the one piece of freedom hasn’t escaped me but, still, reality is that every single one of us has a phone nowadays.  I’ll just stick to the idea that it’s for location services, only, and move right along.


There are a myriad of options on how to mount your favorite phone to your favorite steed and they range from articulated arms to flimsy nylon and plastic pieces.  While browsing through the Interwebz I came across a once little company by the name of Quad Lock Mounting Systems (www.quadlockcase.com).  They specialize in the active lifestyles, which might need use of their modern phones.  What drew my attention was the sheer simplicity of the Quad Lock design. It’s a four-sided slide-mount with a spring lock, which allows for quick on/off mounting operation.  Simplicity may mean a lack of tendency for failure.  I didn’t find anything specific to motorcycling – are you reading, QD? – but, they do have an adhesive option, which would allow you to post their nifty mount to just about any surface.  If your motorcycle’s handlebar is the round one-piece type, then the bicycle option would easily work for you, as it has for us.  The phone attaches to the locking system via a hard and protective case which the phone sits in, with an optional waterproof top cover just in case your phone isn’t already a waterproof unit.

The mount is small with a simple design, for bicycles, but applicable for those of us with handlebars. 

The mount is small with a simple design, for bicycles, but applicable for those of us with handlebars. 

The phone will sit either horizontally or vertically, depending on your preference. 

The phone will sit either horizontally or vertically, depending on your preference. 

Convenience in a small and useable package. 

Convenience in a small and useable package. 

Although made for bicycle applications, once properly mounted on your motorcycle, the design is pretty fantastic for GPS application usage of your smartphone device. 

Although made for bicycle applications, once properly mounted on your motorcycle, the design is pretty fantastic for GPS application usage of your smartphone device. 


There is even a car mount, which uses a large lever type suction cup to mount the device to the windshield of your car, so it’s pretty easy to transition from motorcycle to car to belt buckle, as their options list is pretty great.  Overall, it’s a nifty device for a very reasonable price and it works, well.