Tag Archive: lessons

Company Along the Way

The article “Company Along the Way” by Bud Miller/Zen Motorcyclist was originally published on the “RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel” magazine website on 09/15/17.

“There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.” —William Butler Yeats

I’m currently suffering from jet lag after a busy few days that included taking an Uber 50 miles to purchase and ride home a Triumph Street Triple, then packing, dropping my boy Spud at the farm, and catching a flight to Las Vegas. My hastily thrown together plan was to fly to Las Vegas, rent another Street Triple, and ride to Hoover Dam and the 300 miles or so to the Grand Canyon; one man-made and one natural wonder, both of which I’ve always wanted to see.

I picked up my Triple in Vegas and, with help from Dyllan, attached a charging port under the seat to charge my cell phone … which, a few hundred miles later, I realized was lying somewhere along Route 66 between Kingman and Seligman, AZ, due to a combination of speed, wind, and lack of a rubber strap on my RAM mount.

Along Route 66 East of Kingman, Arizona

The South Rim of the canyon on Saturday evening was very crowded. I made a plan to wake before dawn Sunday, ride the two miles back to the rim, and enjoy it in silence before heading west toward Vegas. I took a few quick photos but then put the camera away. I was more interested in being there than in recording having been.

Sunday morning was a cold ride, but the sight that greeted me was well worth the early wake-up call. There was no wind, no noise but the random bird chirp, just me and the colors of the canyon. I’ve always loved sitting near the ocean for the same reason I loved standing there that morning. As out of control and random as life can seem, it’s calming to be in the presence of something so ageless and unalterable.

My ride back took me through Kingman, where I met Chris, who helped me replace my lost cell phone, and in the process mentioned that he wanted to get his first bike but was afraid his youth and need for speed might be a problem. The best advice I could offer him was to get good gear and wear it, develop a skill set, and gain confidence in his riding before trying to go fast.

Hoover Dam

Returning my bike, I met Michael, in town on business, who had rented a BMW F 800 GS for the weekend. We shared a ride, after which he showed me photos of his home in Austria and talked about hiking, riding, and traveling in Europe. After returning the Triple, I took another Uber downtown, driven by a friendly woman named Victoria. In our 15-minute ride, we covered such topics as our work histories, our thoughts on how employees should be treated, and what I should see on the strip on my last day. I also stopped to commemorate the trip with a small tattoo added to my sleeve by V-Rod, who, while inking me, told me stories about a friend of his who owns a Hayabusa.

What struck me during this trip was how often in our day we have the opportunity to ask someone’s name, where they are from, find out a little bit about them, let them tell their story. People want to tell their stories, and if you show the slightest, honest interest, they will. Everyone wants to matter, to be noticed—not for having done something necessarily, just for who they are. We all like connections, though I think we often forget they are possible in our everyday comings and goings, as we hurriedly pass each other by, anxious to get somewhere else.

Unlike the Grand Canyon, we won’t be here for eons; we have but a handful of years to figure out why we are here and to help others figure it out too. This trip taught me that even in a place as fast-paced as Las Vegas, there are opportunities to connect in meaningful ways with complete strangers and to make the world a bit smaller in the process. I’ll never forget riding in solitude for hours and finally seeing the Grand Canyon. But in recalling this trip in the future, I’ll also remember the few minutes I spent with those mentioned here as well as the dozen or so others I met but didn’t mention, who made it even more memorable; people who could’ve simply just done their jobs, but instead offered more, exchanging small pieces of themselves in the process.

In recounting my stories of lost items to my friend Grace, she said, “You left a lot out there.” “Yeah,” I said, “but I brought more back.” No one ever really travels alone—you may leave alone and return alone, but there’s always company along the way.

Old is New Again

The article “Old is New Again” by Bud Miller/Zen Motorcyclist was originally published on the “RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel” magazine website on 5/23/17.

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

—Henry David Thoreau

It’s early February and I haven’t ridden much in weeks due to weather, but I have kept myself busy with other motorcycle-related projects. I find myself at a crossroads physically, dealing with the still lingering side effects of Lyme disease and nerve pain associated with a spinal stenosis flare-up. This while I watch my mother undergo chemo treatments without complaint. Compared to her trials, mine seem miniscule, but when you’ve self-identified as an athlete for most of your life and then are no longer able to, it’s a difficult transition.

I wasn’t raised to complain, but pain is pain and causes limitations that you can’t ignore forever. Once you’ve raised a child and buried a parent, however, life loses some of its ability to knock you off your stride. I do find myself having to adjust course, redefine myself, and accept some new physical restrictions, though. Thankfully riding isn’t one of them; but the time I would normally have spent working out has been replaced by remodeling my home and, of course, tinkering with and upgrading my motorcycle. This year’s additions included LED headlights, engine guards, grip pads, tank pads, and a peg lowering kit.

Zen MotorcyclistLast summer I replaced a worn-out chain and sprockets and, rather than throw the old parts out, hung them on a pegboard in my garage in a pattern that resembled a sort of misshapen face: the draped chain formed a wide smile beneath two dirty, mismatched sprocket eyes. I started thinking it’d be a pleasant diversion, and a nice addition to the home I’m decorating, to make something from the parts. A clock seemed like an obvious choice.

I’ve never considered myself particularly crafty, and if you’ve read any of my old blog posts you know that my history with tools is at best a humorous one. I found the clock-making process, however, to be cathartic and motivating. I figured I’d either end up with something original to hang in my home, or a mess of a conversation piece to hide in the garage and laugh about over a beer and to remind me of a pleasant distraction during a particularly stressful winter.

I’m happy with the way the piece eventually turned out. I’m glad to have had a few hours every other day over the weeks it took to finish it to focus on creating something unique, rather than dwelling on mom’s impending treatments and my own nagging pains. The welcome distraction of cleaning and painting, finding the right clock movement and perfect curved glass to cover it and the materials to hold it all together, served as a metaphor for me. Though the parts may be worn-out and past being useful in the manner intended, they needn’t be discarded and can, with a change of focus and intent, be put to another use: to start over and live a second, previously un-imagined life.

The clock I made now hangs in my sunroom. The chain and sprockets it is made from propelled me some 15,000 miles over the better part of two years. I’m sure each link represents a dozen memories from that time. Several people have told me I could make them to sell, but the value to me isn’t in what it might be worth but rather in what it represents. By craftsman standards I’m sure it would be considered amateurish at best. Just like motorcycle riding though, the lasting value is never in the arriving, in the completion. The lasting value is in the process; in how much you change, reflect, and grow along the way and in what memories the effort leaves you with. In the words of Henry Miller, “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”

Regarding my recycled timepiece, I will always see far more in it than there is to look at. This may even become a winter ritual. When the weather warms, I’ll get started on the next recycling project, maybe a pendulum clock this time, or a lamp of some sort. I can’t decide; but I’m in no hurry. It’ll take another 15,000 miles or so to get the parts ready …

BigPantha Motorcycle Grip Lock

Motorcycle Grip Locks are a Premium Mid-Level Security Device for Motorbikes, Scooters and ATV’s!

What is a Grip Lock Anyway?

If the device seems unfamiliar to you, it’s the new type of motorcycle security device that everyone’s raving about—a motorcycle grip lock such as the BigPantha device. This device clamps onto the handlebar grips of your motorcycle, ATV, quad bike or even scooter, and immobilizes the vehicle by securing the throttle /or front brake.

It is often called a brake lock (because it can also lock the front brake), handle bar lock (considering it grips the handlebar), motorcycle clutch lock (when you use it on the left hand grip) and a throttle lock (since it secures the throttle and the front brake simultaneously).

With the significant increase in motorcycle theft each year (each costing roughly $15,000), securing your motorcycle against enthusiastic thieves is not really something to ponder over, but should ideally be on your checklist before even taking your motorbike on its maiden voyage. But the harsh truth is that most motorcycles are stolen because they are a cinch to get away with!

Here’s why the Grip Lock is a preferred choice for Motorcycle Owners looking for an Easy & Elegant Anti-Motorbike Theft Solution

One of the key features that makes a grip lock a hit in the motorcycle security space is that is a simple yet highly effective solution that won’t burn a hole in your pocket. In fact, the price of a high-end grip lock is less than $70—a truly small price to pay, where the BigPantha Grip Lock at the time of writing this piece rang in with a price tag of $38.95, and roughly $55 for its nearest rival—the – Green Motorcycle and Security lock by Grip-Lock.

And if you do your homework, you could most likely buy a grip lock at a discounted price or much less with a coupon. Either way, it is a negligible price to pay for a superior anti-theft solution.

What to Expect from a Grip Lock?

In all honesty, there is no single device that can offer full-proof protection for your motorcycle since a determined thief properly equipped (and with a bit of privacy) can probably do the unthinkable! So the big question you’re probably faced with is—what is the best level of security for your motorbike all things considered?

Just like Disc Locks, they are perhaps the best medium level motorcycle security devices you can get your hands on.

It goes without saying that if a couple of thieves pull up with a Hertz Van, your motorcycle – unless strapped with a very heavy chain & lock to an immovable object – is at risk. That’s a fact of life! However, installing a grip lock will at least prevent the motorbike from being rolled away or driven away until the grip lock has been removed. That’s going to require time, equipment and privacy!

Grip Lock – regardless of the type of vehicle be it a motorcycle, ATV or scooter, this device when properly fitted works the same across the spectrum. Just a quick note that, at present, it’ll fit on grips to 1.5 inches in diameter.

Side Note on Grip Locks for Mopeds and Scooters

Given that the rear brake is attached to the left handlebar some mopeds and scooters (and the front brake to the right grip), the grip lock in this case will either immobilize the rear brake or both the front brake and throttle.

Motorcycle Grip Locks available to you

Grip lock systems are a fairly household anti-theft accessory when it comes to protecting your prized possession (s), and for several good reasons, most notably affordability and efficiency. The benefits of employing the BigPantha motorcycle grip lock system are twofold—security and ability to efficiently secure your 2-wheeler in under 5 seconds flat.

Light and Compact Footprint

Introduced a few years ago, BigPantha has evolved as one of the most reputed names in the motorbike safety space, and their latest offering retains the same DNA. For starters, it boasts a solid design yet is surprisingly lightweight at just under 1lbs ad 5.5 x 2.4 x 1.1 inches, making it easy to haul around.

What’s there to Love about the BigPantha Grip Lock?

  • Tips the scales at a modest 1lbs
  • Made from lightweight yet robust aluminum
  • Measure the size of an average cell phone (excluding the Note 8 of course )
  • Can be purchased in either of two colors (more to come)—black and red
  • Tough, durable and tamper-proof
  • Package includes two laser cut keys
  • Universal design that fits all models of scooters, sports bikes and ATV’s, so there’s no guesswork on which model is the best fit
  • Heat, dust, water and rust resistant
  • Backed by a lifetime guarantee

Whether you own a small or big 2-wheeler, rest assured that the BigPantha motorcycle grip locking system is a fitting choice. This includes models from the Triumph, Harley, Suzuki, Ducati, BMW, Kawasaki and Yamaha stable.

Grip lock reviews testify that the key feature that sets the BigPantha grip lock apart from its competition is its sheer ability to secure your motorbike in just a few easy steps.

Using Your Grip Lock

  1. Start off by unlocking the grip lock with the included key. When done, the lock will open outwards similar to a crab claw.
  2. First thing you will notice with the lock in open position is that its claw is fitted with two grips—one smaller than the other.
  3. Place the open grip lock over the handle bar of your motorbike in a way that the first grip clamps onto the front brake or the clutch lever, and the second grip fits clings securely onto the handle or the throttle.
  4. Finally, lock the device using the included laser cut key.

How does it Stack up against the Competition?

The Green or Yellow Motorcycle and Security lock by Grip-Lock is another big name in this space as it is easy to use just like the BigPantha grip lock. But on the downside, it is made from plastic compared to the all-metal design of the BigPantha grip lock, so you can just imagine how easy it will be for thieves to snap it or cut it loose.

Is a Grip Lock Worth the Investment?

Before answering that question—ask yourself “what’s stopping you from buying a grip lock”? Just look at the bigger picture, where you’ve splurged on your motorcycle, so it only makes sense to add an essential layer of security for less than $100! Wouldn’t you agree?

This and myriad other grip lock reviews make it quite evident that the BigPantha grip lock sets the gold standard when it comes to buying the perfect grip lock owing to its universal design that fits pretty much any motorbike, ATV and even scooter. All in all, if you’re looking to save yourself the heartache of having your bike stolen and add to that the daunting task of filing insurance claims, the BigPantha grip lock is the accessory you need.

Check out the BigPantha Motorcycle Helmet Lock at Amazon and if you are interested then you can get a 20% discount using this Amazon Coupon Code (MCHLCK20).

The Road Not Yet Traveled

The article “The Road Not Yet Traveled” by Bud Miller/Zen Motorcyclist was originally published on the “RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel” magazine website on 7/31/17.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”  -The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

 

When I started blogging for RoadRUNNER five years ago or so, I used the title “The Road Often Traveled” for my first few posts. Commuting by motorcycle was what I thought I knew something about, so I borrowed and butchered a line from Robert Frost’s 100-year-old poem. I often heard it referred to as “The Road Less Traveled,” but the title is actually “The Road Not Taken.”

I recently had a phone conversation with the head of marketing for a sports eyewear manufacturer. It turned out to be an unexpectedly in-depth conversation not only about how I started riding but also writing, as well as my professional career path. It got me thinking about the Frost poem and about how decision leads to decision and one path leads to another. After a bit of research, however, the poem has come to mean something new to me.

You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “the road less traveled” used to sell everything from cars to vacations, to self-help books. You’ve seen it inscribed on mugs and on inspirational posters. While Frost’s poem is easily one of the most searched pieces of literature ever written, it is also one that is almost always misinterpreted.

The poem speaks of a traveler coming upon two roads diverging in a yellow wood. In most cases (car commercials, for instance), the words are used as a celebration of rugged individualism and people boldly choosing the path that not many do; but the poem isn’t about that at all. Rather, it’s about reconciling our decisions later in life, looking back and coming to terms with our choices long after they’ve been made. As the poem says, both roads are equally worn and there is no difference between them—a fact many eager to push product always miss.

Frost initially wrote the poem to poke fun at his friend, English critic Edward Thomas, who had the habit of regretting whatever path the two happened to take during their walks in the countryside. After coming across this fact about the poem, I felt better about it. I had always thought the poem somewhat sad, since the narrator says he would speak of his choice of direction many years later with a sigh. I’d always thought that sigh meant that he’d lament having not chosen the other road, that, given the chance, he’d want to go back to see how things might have turned out had he chosen otherwise.

As a motorcyclist, I can point to the specific events that prompted me to start riding, of choosing that “road.” I’ve written about them often in the last few years. In the broader sense though, I’ve given thought to the other “roads” I’ve taken in life. Recently my friend and coworker Brian asked if I’d ever thought about what career path I might have chosen if I hadn’t pursued computer-aided design. As is the case with my decision to start riding, I couldn’t help but smile and say, “No, actually, I am where I’m supposed to be.”

The decision to begin riding motorcycles was the most natural I’ve ever made. I needed my brother’s company after our father’s death. To look back with a sigh and imagine having not decided to ride isn’t a question at all—never was, never will be. Truth be told, I can’t think of a path I’ve been down that I’ve regretted or would choose not to go down again. You are the sum total of the roads you’ve traveled, and if you love yourself (and you must) then you must love those roads, those choices that made you who you are. Rather than an arbitrary choice to be re-examined with a sigh years hence, I’ll look back on riding, as I do now, as a liberating decision that expanded my circle of friends and created a vehicle of expression for feelings that might otherwise have gone unexpressed.

Riding itself can be seen metaphorically as “the path less traveled,” and, my friends, it certainly has made all the difference. When I hear advertisers get Frost’s poem wrong, I have to laugh. More than 100 years later he’s still having fun with us while at the same time making us think.

Wherever you find yourself on your road, I hope that you are looking ahead to your next choices and content with those already made. After all, that road, your road, really is the road not yet traveled.

The Means To Notice It All

The article “The Means To Notice It All” by Bud Miller/Zen Motorcyclist was originally published on the “RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel” magazine website on 9/22/2016.

This past Mother’s Day, my girlfriend Erica and I rode to a farm not far from my home that she had lived on for a time. We were visiting the owner, Sally, who Erica had grown close to during the time she spent there and who she’s remained friends with ever since. As I approached on the cycle down a long, narrow, winding gravel driveway and under an idyllic train trestle, I spotted horses and donkeys in the fields, chicken coops and tractor barns, all the stuff of a working farm. The sky wasn’t looking so good, but it was a May day, I’ve ridden in the rain before, and besides, the dark clouds and winds created the kind of weather I’ve always loved riding in.

the-meansSally, a strong, no-nonsense woman, appeared to be close to my mother Mary’s age. She actually reminded me a bit of my mom. A bird had made a nest in a broken light fixture on her porch and laid eggs. Sally saw to it that the switch to the light was disabled and a sign was posted warning visitors to use the side door lest they suffer the wrath of a mother protecting her young.

I sat on the floor as we spoke, petting Sally’s huge, fleshy-faced English Mastiff. We covered a lot of topics. Sally is sharp, up-front, an avid reader, and direct, the sort of person I love talking to. I got the feeling that with her there are no games or fear of offending, just smart conversation. Eventually the talk turned to motorcycles, and (more…)

Ride Through the Twisties and Bhagavad Gita

DSC_0571As I twisted the throttle rounding a particularly exhilarating curve along my favorite twisty road and heard the satisfying exhaust burble of my Teutonic sport tourer, I thought of the first chapter of Bhagavad Gita.  Bhagavad Gita is one of the most sacred Hindu texts and a literary masterpiece that served as the source of inspiration for among others, Einstein, Thoreau and Emerson.  The epic poem traces the dialog between Arjuna, a decorated warrior, and Lord Krishna, the Divine who presents Itself to Arjuna as his charioteer.  The topic of the dialog between Arjuna and Lord Krishna is the life in Yoga.  As I strengthened my bike I saw the smiling face of my Guru.  A profound truth was about to be revealed to me.

I took no hallucinogens before my ride and have not been diagnosed with any condition of the body or mind associated with randomly appearing visions.  It is just when I am on a motorcycle alone with the wind and fully present in the experience, things, important, often deep things, come to me.

Nearly three months ago I got back from India after spending three-and-a-half weeks studying yoga and meditation and absorbing the wisdom of the Himalayas with my youthful Master, extraordinary Yogi, and a fellow motorcyclist, Anand Mehrotra.    My experience in Rishikesh, a small Indian town on the banks of the Ganges River, at the foothills of the Himalayas was beyond powerful.

Yet, upon returning I had no idea what happened to me.  Sure, I felt uplifted and inspired and to anyone who would DSC_0515listen I would tell how trans-formative my journey was.  Inside though I felt more dissatisfied than ever with nearly every aspect of my life.  As the pressures of everyday routines began to mount, I quickly fell into the same destructive patterns I thought I had left behind long before.  Even though I maintained a daily yoga and meditation practice and even taught these powerful disciplines to others, the disconnect within seemed as deep as ever.  I often wondered if I felt into the trap Anand warned so much about – acquiring a new vocabulary and a few ideas, but no depth beneath.

Then, on that motorcycle ride I thought of the first chapter of Bhagavad Gita.  In it, as Arjuna surveys the two armies about to engage in a bloody battle with each other, he tells the Great Lord that he does not want to fight; that he finds the bloody battle he is about to engage in utterly pointless; and that he likes the great men on both sides of the battlefield and feels sorry that they will lay their lives down in a useless feat.   Krishna, the Almighty Presence, the God of Yoga, tells Arjuna to fight indeed and do so fully without caring the slightest bit about the results.  And only then, Krishna begins to tell Arjuna about life in Yoga.

You see, what I got on that ride is that true change begins with awareness which then turns into presence with whatever is.  It is only after awareness and then presence that we can even begin the teachings of Yoga.

As my iron stead settled into the rhythm of a serpentine road – I understood.  After three and a half weeks in the Himalayas I simply began experiencing awareness, not yet presence.  But, I was transformed indeed, as I took the first tiny step towards life in Yoga.

The Highest Pass – TV

HighestPass_PosterIf you’ve been following us lately you’ve no doubt seen our review of the film The Highest Pass and our interview with the film’s writer and producer Adam Schomer.

Zen Motorcyclist is pleased to announce that the film will be shown on LinkTV on the following dates:

  • Thursday December 5th 4 PM PT/7PM ET
  • Sunday December 8th 5 PM PT/8PM ET
  • Monday December 10th 6 PM PT/9 PM ET
  • Wednesday, Dec. 11th – 11 AM PT/2PM ET.

LinkTV is available on Dish Network and DirecTV. Please see the LinkTV availability map for carriers in your area.

Those who are unable to view the film on television can rent it from the Zen Motorcyclist affiliate link or from the Zen Motorcyclist Facebook page.

Yoga, Death and Motorcycles

DCIM100GOPRORecently I attended a very special yoga class.  It was inspiring and uplifting.  The entire class was dedicated to dying and death. This was no ordinary asana practice, but a Kundalini Yoga workshop, taught by a world-renown Master Teacher, Hari Nam Singh Khalsa. Kundalini yoga is perhaps the most metaphysical branch of the ancient practice, and Hari Nam is one of its more prolific teachers.

Hari Nam’s powerful message was that death (more…)