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Advancing Is Perfection

Advancing Is Perfection“, was originally published in RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel.

2-14-Zen-Motorcyclist-772x515What’s Your Dakar? –

Advance, and never halt, for advancing is perfection. Advance and do not fear the thorns in the path, for they draw only corrupt blood.” – Khalil Gibran

I once saw Kevin Muggleton, founder and president of Redverz Gear and Dakar Rally competitor, give a talk at RoadRUNNER‘s Touring Weekend. Kevin spoke about the challenges of not only applying for permission to take part in the Dakar Rally, but also the financial and logistical challenges of preparing a bike to ride and the intense physical training involved. He described what it’s like to compete in the toughest race in the world and how he ultimately crashed from atop a 100-foot sand dune, broke his back, and endured months of recovery and rehabilitation, which included learning to walk again.

I had a feeling that Kevin’s talk would end with him telling us that he had applied to race the Dakar again the following year, and that’s exactly what he said. As I write this, Kevin is training for the next Dakar. By the time this column makes it to print, the Dakar will have been completed. For me, riding 300 miles on smooth pavement can make me feel physically battered, so it’s beyond my ability to comprehend the sort of mental and physical toughness it must require to ride up to 500 miles a day in sand, dirt, and water in blistering heat and freezing cold for two straight weeks. It got me to thinking about what makes us want to take up riding in the first place, and what makes something like the Dakar so appealing despite the inherent danger and barriers to entry. I wait for the race to air on television every year; I devour the coverage of each day’s stages.

It’s not dissimilar to those of us who simply, at some point or another, decided to take up riding motorcycles—although the Dakar is obviously at a much higher risk level. It can’t be explained in any rational way to anyone who doesn’t understand it. There’s a voice you start hearing inside that taps you on the shoulder from time to time and whispers in your ear, “You have to try this.” If you don’t listen, it keeps calling; and life starts to feel a bit un-lived until you finally decide to take action. No one would blame you if you didn’t; no one would even know about the urge unless you told them. But deep down, where the heart wants what it wants, you would feel something has been left un-done, un-attempted, and not yet dealt with. I’ve run marathons and mud runs, raced biathlons, and climbed rocks, but lately the voice I hear tells me only to ride and to write about riding.

In the documentary Man On Wire, high-wire artist Philippe Petit explains sitting in a dentist’s office and seeing a picture in a magazine of the proposed World Trade Center towers years before they were built. He said he knew in an instant that once they were built, he would walk between them on a tight rope, which he did in 1974. The man spent six years planning the walk, spent the night prior hiding under a tarp in the unfinished upper floors to elude security, strung the wire, and then made his dream come true by making eight crossings between the towers in 45 minutes.

Whether you are Kevin Muggleton racing the Dakar, Philippe Petit walking on a wire, someone who dreams of taking that first ride (or a long, solo ride to reconnect with lost loved ones), or someone trying to recharge themselves and breathe the wild air, the voice is the same. We all have that slow burning flame inside us in varying degrees that has to be tended to. The dominant emotion is never fear; the dominant emotion is always love—that and a yearning to be moved and to reach, to return to the bliss of youth despite the voices of those who would rather you didn’t take risks or pursue your joy. That’s the corrupt blood Kahlil Gibran was talking about—all the voices that would have you avoid doing what you are called to do and who would say it’s dangerous and irresponsible.

Petit said in a recent talk, “Remember, when you see mountains, mountains can be moved,” and that when we inspire ourselves, we inspire others. It’s one of the great joys embodied in the spirits of Kevin Muggleton and Philippe Petit who, when you hear them speak, seem only to have inhaled inspiration and cannot help but inspire others as a result.

You Can Go Home Again

Feb-16You Can Go Home Again“, Zen Motorcyclist’s latest column can be read in the February 2016 issue of RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel. Available now.

The issue is available here in both print and digital versions. RoadRUNNER can also be purchased for Nook   Apple and Android devices and at Barnes & Noble and other bookstores. As always my Zen Motorcyclist blog for RoadRUNNER can be read here.home_again

Beautiful and Broken

The article “Beautiful and Broken” by Bud Miller/Zen Motorcyclist was originally published on the “RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel” magazine website on 11/01/2015.

Broken-ZenIn the Aftermath of a Crash –

Kintsukuroi (or kintsugi) may sound like the name of the latest model from one of the big four Japanese motorcycle companies. Actually, it is the Japanese art of repairing the cracks in broken pottery with gold or silver—literally “golden repair.” The belief is that an object is more beautiful for having been broken. One of the historical accounts of the origins of kintsukuroi is that a hot-headed military leader was given a specially crafted bowl for a tea ceremony. The bowl was dropped by another person and broken. To avoid the wrath of the leader, a guest ad-libbed a poem equating each of the five pieces to one of the other guests. The true life of the bowl began the moment it was broken. In kintsukuroi, it is the belief that the vulnerability of the object is what makes it beautiful.

When I read about it, I thought about motorcycles in general and mine in particular. I ride a 2005 Suzuki V-Strom adorned with scars and scratches. If I were to walk a stranger around the bike I call Big Red, I could tell them the story of the motorcycle from those marks. New motorcycles are beautiful, but they have no past; and it is history that brands anything and gives it life. A motorcycle’s life begins the moment it is ridden.

After calling several dealers in my area looking specifically for a red V-Strom, I finally found one; but the dealer informed me that vandals had thrown bricks through the dealership window that bounced across the motorcycle. The romantic in me knows that great tales have interesting beginnings, so I drove up to take a look. I found it in the back, under a tarp, and covered with dust and bits of glass. A week later, after haggling about repairs and negotiating a great price, my brother Dave and his wife, Michelle, accompanied me on their ’94 Nighthawk to pick it up.

Fast forward three years to 2008. On my morning commute, I was broadsided by a Pennsylvania white-tailed deer at 45 miles an hour. His head hit Big Red’s gas tank directly in front of my left knee and destroyed nearly everything from that point forward: headlights (in a thousand splinters), front fender (split), turn signal, mirror and bar end weights (destroyed), and left side cowling (split in two). Plastic shards were everywhere, and I was in a ditch with a broken collarbone and severe bruising (but otherwise fine).

In his book, Into the Wild, author Jon Krakauer wrote, “The fragility of crystal is not a weakness but a fineness.” Modern motorcycles are miracles of engineering and can withstand a tremendous amount of punishment; but crashing in that way, at that speed, their fragility becomes evident, and the destruction can be complete. I thought Big Red was done-for, and that I’d merely be telling anecdotes about a bike with an interesting beginning and tragic end that I had once owned but is now in a scrap heap.

One call to my brother and he was in a flatbed on the way to pick up the wreckage. A neighbor near the crash allowed me to push Big Red into his driveway and another stacked the fragments into a neat pile that resembled a memorial cairn. How fitting, I thought. One look at it and Dave told me how lucky I was. By that point, I knew I was fine, and my only concern was to resurrect my bike so I could ride again. I knew I would do so as soon as I was physically able, but I wanted to use this one again, my bike, the one I found broken and forgotten under a tarp and covered in dust and glass. I suspect that Dave knew exactly how I felt.

In the months that followed, we ordered parts, tore Big Red down to the frame, and rebuilt it. Or rather, my sibling did while I watched with one arm in a sling. As I healed, so Big Red was healed. The pieces of a broken work of art mended and were made more beautiful for having been broken. Each time I remove the left side cowling and see the skull shaped dent in the gas tank, I am reminded of that time in Dave’s garage (and my brief stint in the air that day).
I like to see the visible signs of wear on things, especially motorcycles. They mean that its purpose has been fulfilled. Each imperfection is a chapter in a chronicle that, often, only the owner knows. Kintsukuroi dictates that repairs are to be made with precious metals like gold and silver, but some repairs are made with things even more valuable, like a brother’s love and skill. Five years and 40,000 miles later, I still ride Big Red—the bike I found broken and that I will always find more beautiful for having been.

When My Ship Comes In

rr15When My Ship Comes In“, Zen Motorcyclist’s latest column can be read in the November/December 2015 issue of RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel.

It can also be read through my RoadRUNNER Blog.

The issue is available here in both print and digital versions. RoadRUNNER can also be purchased for Nook   Apple and Android devices and at Barnes & Noble and other bookstores. As always my Zen Motorcyclist blog for RoadRUNNER can be read here.


Halfway to Somewhere

Sept-OctHalfway to Somewhere“, Zen Motorcyclist’s latest column can be read in the September/October 2015 issue of RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel.

The issue is available here in both print and digital versions. RoadRUNNER can also be purchased for Nook   Apple and Android devices and at Barnes & Noble and other bookstores. As always my Zen Motorcyclist blog for RoadRUNNER can be read here.

Vikingcycle Skeid Brown Leather Jacket for Men

DSC_3653The folks at Viking Cycle sent over their Skeid Brown Leather Jacket for me to try. I have to say for the price this is a nice jacket. I’m about 6 feet tall and 180 pounds and the large size fits me perfectly. I have long arms and there is ample material to keep my wrists covered while riding. The material is sturdy and thick and gives me confidence in the event of a fall. The styling will appeal to cruiser enthusiasts. Constructed of Buffalo hide this jacket has everything a 3 season rider might need including:

  • Antique brass zips.xray
  • An outstanding feature of this jacket is multiple pockets that allow you carry all your accessories in organized manner such as phone, sunglasses, I pad, knife, cell phone, keys, wallet and documents. 
  • 2 layers of lining, quick zip out liner backed with mesh lining. 
  • Approved protection at shoulder and elbow , adjusted and fitted to hold the desired places . 
  • Elasticized panels at front ,back and bottom to provide the movement and comfort you need. 
  • Full ventilation, Air vents in each arm to provide ventilation Two front chest dual zipper compartments; button down flap. 
  • Ergonomic design to provide the compactness , now comes in lighter weight not bulky as some conventional jackets feel. safety
  • Zippered sleeves for gloves
  • Mandarin collar airtight collar and zippered cuff for adjustability

With regard to fit the jacket fits like a motorcycle jacket should, snug and comfortable. The color is an extremely dark brown, which I like. The price is hard to beat listed at just $99.99. You would have a hard time finding similar quality for the price.

Ride safe.


Britain’s Best Routes

A Guide to 11 of Britain’s Best Motorcycle Routes

Britain has some great roads for biking and to help you discover some of the best, J&S Accessories have created a guide to 11 of Britain’s best motorcycle routes for you to enjoy. 

Offering riding opportunities up and down Britain, this guide provides more than just simple routes though as you can click directly through to Google Maps for specific details as well as utilise a fuel calculator for each route to see how much you’re likely to spend.

Why not take a look at the guide by clicking here and choose a route for a ride-out next weekend? No matter where you are, there’s a route for riding not far from you.

britains roads