Tag Archive: wild

A Story Worth Living

A Story Worth LivingA Story Worth Living just isn’t worth seeing (and certainly not worth paying to see). I considered deleting this post but instead thought it a better use of my time to advise readers to avoid it.

Eight day camping trips do not equate to “Epic adventures”. Talking about story might be fine for a podcast but this movie was billed to the motorcycle community (including flyers I received in recent purchases from motorcycle parts distributors) as an adventure film (including enticing lines like “…can we get off this mountain…?”). What it amounts to is a disjointed, wordy mess that tells no story at all. I’m insulted as a motorcyclist that I was duped into paying $14 to see what I can see better versions of on youtube for free. The incessant talking about (rather than showing) the adventure had me squirming in my seat and wanting it to end. What little actual riding footage there is in the film seems to be the same repeated shots and totaling very little of the actual film, although if you like awkward cigar smoking shots there are plenty of those. Near what seemed like the end there is an interminable bull session in which the “actors” talk about the “adventure”, this went on so long I actually turned to a friend and said aloud “they have to stop talking now”.

I’m all for adventure but why do admittedly inexperienced beginner riders need heavy BMW800’s with fully loaded panniers if they have support vehicles following them for most of the trip? 1,000 miles in eight days (a lot of which was on pavement) just doesn’t qualify as epic. I’m at a loss to understand how this film was green-lighted for wide theatrical release by sponsors once they’d seen the final cut. This film felt forced, contrived, badly scripted and the religious overtones were uncomfortable and out of place; although it’s been admitted the deception was a deliberate attempt to dupe the riding community into hearing “the gospel”. I’ve never walked out on any film, let alone one about motorcycling; but this was very nearly my first.

In response to the growing criticism the producers are offering refunds here. (Note: I’ve received my $42 refund).

ADVrider or Long Way Round (the claimed inspiration for this film), Dream Racer or World On Wheels are better places to go for examples of motorcycle adventure.

 

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Into Africa – Just Listen to the Voice

Into Africa Front Cover JPG 237kbRecently, I went on a harrowing train ride across the Sahara;   rode through the dusty back roads of Ethiopia; experienced unconditional generosity of a Zulu man and even got to spend some quality time in a Tanzanian jail.  I also felt the breathtaking majesty of Victoria Falls; bargained for papaya at a Kenyan roadside market and drove through South African villages, still reeling from the effects of the years of Apartheid.  My guides were adventurer, Sam Manicom, and his trusty companion, Libby, a BMW R80GS motorcycle which took Manicom on a year-long journey across Africa.

Actually, I experienced Africa while never leaving Philadelphia which went through a blustery and snowy winter of historical proportions.  But, for about ten days, as I drove my car to work over pothole, gravel and ice-covered roads, I was almost expecting to encounter the searing desert oasis of flowering shrubs, palm trees and green grass.  During my commute I was listening to Sam Manicom’s Into Africa, read by the author.   

I have read Into Africa before and really enjoyed it.  However, listening to Manicom tell the story of his journey was an experience unlike any other.

Into Africa is an extraordinary adventure by a relatively ordinary bloke who one-day, almost on a whim, decides to learn to ride motorcycles, and then quits his job as a shoe store manager, and takes a year to ride Libby, the motorcycle, through Africa.  As we learn from the book, aside from riding a motorcycle, painting is one of Manicom’s favorite pastimes.  And, the man can paint a museum-worthy piece with just a few words.  The image that emerges from Into Africa is that of a diverse, complex and awe-inspiring continent with many colors, shades and shadows, whose people face every-day adversity with grace, ingenuity, unconditional kindness and a great sense of humor.

Yet, it is not just Manicom’s ability to paint a picture with words that make this book so moving.  Rather, it is Sam Manicom’s voice.  It is a voice of zen-like acceptance, compassion and gratitude that deeply permeates his narrative.  Thus, Manicom manages to treat even the worst moments of his trip and tackle some of Africa’s well-known ills with humility, humor and even a sense of appreciation.  Manicom’s voice makes it clear that he takes to heart the key lesson that Africa and its people have taught him – “remember your yesterdays and dream of your tomorrows, but live the day!”

It is in the audio version of the book that the true voice of the author who relieves his adventure in every chapter comes alive.  It is this voice that makes reading Into Africa a great experience and listening to it a truly special one.   It is listening to Sam Manicom read his book that could transport you into Africa.Zambezi-Sunset

Changing Face of Harley Davidson

Harley-davidsonThe changing face of the Harley Davidson – from rebellion to museums

The Harley Davidson has been living a bit of an odd period in its life lately, with the brand’s 110th anniversary recently seeing it blessed by the Pope at a special celebration in Rome. It’s an interesting turn for a company once seen as being synonymous with rebellion and shifting attitudes.

It was once the case that (more…)

Staying Alert On Familiar Ground

Staying-Alert2-400x400The article “The Road Often Traveled: Staying Alert on Familiar Ground” by Bud Miller was originally published on the “RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel” magazine website on 4/01/2012.

My commute is 40-45 miles one way, which is about an hour on a good day. I’m fortunate in that the ride is varied in terms of terrain and traffic, with a mix of country roads, highways, and some city riding. I’ve ridden it so many times that I’ve taken to naming different parts of the ride to help me focus and stay alert when the conditions require it.

The first part I call “Deer Park.” It’s ten miles of twisty two-lane country road with no shoulder and few homes – and it’s crawling with deer. I was hit by one a few years back, which in and of itself is enough to keep me focused. Over the years, I’ve learned where the deer cross each day, and to be extra careful during the rut (mating season).

I refer to the second section as “Indy” (after the race). It’s a ten-mile stretch of four-lane highway bypass with tons of merging traffic. It starts with two lanes and then splits into four. A few miles later the four lanes merge back into two and the speed limit drops from 65 to 45, ending at a stoplight. So it’s a bit of drag strip during the morning commute.

“Bagel Alley” is a two-lane road with strip malls, gas stations and convenience stores on both sides. In the morning it’s a blur of merging and left turning traffic. Everyone is trying to gas up and get their morning coffee and still make it to work on time. I believe one of the doughnut shops is the morning meeting place for P.A.T.S. (Pennsylvanians for the Abolition of Turn Signals) because I almost never see them used. Apparently they all call or text each other as they arrive too, because it seems like every car on the road is driven by someone operating a cell phone, which is still legal here in Pennsylvania.

It might seem silly, but naming the parts of the ride reminds me that certain sections of my commute have particular concerns. This helps focus my attention as I approach each one, and I think that has kept me safer, and somewhat entertained over the years. If you ride the same route enough times your focus tends to slip. This is just one way I try to prevent that from happening.

Learning As You Go

Learning-as-you-GoThe article “Learning As You Go” by Bud Miller was originally published on the “RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel” magazine website on 7/07/2013.

Honestly, I’m not sure what to write sometimes. When that happens, I remember what Ernest Hemingway said to get started—write one true sentence. Well, here goes: Life is a lot like motorcycling. I know, I know, I’ve never started a post that way before… but bear with me. Remember your first days? You start out full of excitement and trepidation, eager to take on the world, too naive to see the pitfalls in the road ahead; carrying too much speed all the time, and trying to lean, muscle, and brake your way through every situation to compensate for your lack of skill and knowledge.

You gain experience as you go, scooping handfuls of memories from the roadside as fast you can before reaching out for more. You swallow sunshine along with gulps of wind, breathe fire, and sometimes when you stop to look back years later, you can’t imagine how you had time enough to squeeze it all in.

I’ve experienced a lot over the last 2 years, 4 months, and 24 days. I can flip through the memories of that period in every intoxicating detail at a moments notice (and often do). If you do the math backwards the starting date is significant to only one other person on the planet; but I mark that period as the most deep, joyous, and spiritual time of my entire life.

Remembering the well-spring of your joy goes a long way toward ensuring its growth but that alone isn’t enough, you have to keep expanding your skill set and growing. Experience builds like a relationship does, through care, repetition, attention to detail, applying what you’ve learned, becoming better for it and progressing forward, and wanting, always, to do it well even if you are learning as you go.

Sometimes though, you stumble; you forget the lessons your time on the road taught you; forget to look far enough ahead and to know what to look out for; forget to plan the next move and through either lack of foresight or indecision you might pay, and pay dearly. Some lessons you learn the first time; but some mistakes you never make because you’re careful and hold what really matters clutched close to your heart like a secret you’d die to protect.

I encourage everyone to continue learning, growing, progressing, correcting for inexperience, youth, or simply not having been down certain paths before. Admit your mistakes and always keep the prize in sight. What’s the prize? The prize, in motorcycling and in life, is the joy of the ride and having gone from there and arrived here, with something worth celebrating and remembering.

Birds of a Feather

Birds-of-a-Feather-772x514The article “Birds of a Feather” by Bud Miller was originally published on the “RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel” magazine website on 6/09/2013.

Let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit – Khalil Gibran. Cori and I recently returned from a four day tour which will be featured in a future article in RoadRUNNER magazine. During our trip we encountered three different groups of riders that we spent a few minutes getting to know. It got me thinking about how much I enjoy interacting with other motorcyclists on the road.

We stopped at a cafe for a cold drink and to get out of the sun and met a couple having lunch. One turned out to be a photographer who had a lot of questions about the GoPro we had mounted on Cori’s helmet. Later at another stop we came across two riders, Steve from New Jersey and Eddie from New Orleans, who told us all about their travels, the bikes they own, and recommended a spot we should be sure to see on our ride.

On another occasion we happened to be loading the bike and getting ready to leave when we noticed another couple, Troy and Tammy, on a large, comfortable looking Harley. As we were sitting in the shade on the front porch of the motel sipping our coffee, Troy strolled by and we said our good mornings. As we started to pack the bike, we talked about where we were from, where we were headed, about our bikes, and the weather. Each couple posed for photos and we wished each other safe travels home and went our separate ways (after exchanging info and a promise to look each other up on Facebook).

As we rode through traffic-free, idyllic scenery I started to think about what other circumstance could occur in which total strangers would wander across a parking lot, strike up a conversation, and become instant friends. I couldn’t really come up with any outside of motorcycling, at least not in my experience. By and large people mostly keep to themselves, maybe out of respect for others privacy, or maybe just due to a lack of a recognizable common interest. Motorcycles somehow slice through that seeming social taboo, and I think the world is a better place for it. You go out for a long ride and come home with six new friends—how cool is that? It’s yet another of the many reasons I love to ride.

The Great Bully

The-Great-Bully-772x579The article The Great Bully by Bud Miller was originally published on the “RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel” magazine website on 7/23/2013.

When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers”. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

My girlfriend Cori sent me that quote in an email last week and, as always with things she sends, it resonated with me. To be honest our lives are in flux at the moment, with houses we’re trying to sell and careers we’re trying to change. We have our marks to make on the world, and that takes bravery and an adventurous spirit.

When I was young, I was always amazed when I saw motorcycles riding by. I wondered how they worked—it all seemed like magic to me. But as you learn, mysteries fade slowly away.

Ever since I began motorcycling, people who don’t ride seem compelled to explain why they choose not to. I never really react because I simply don’t care. I’m not a judging sort, I’ve always accepted people as they are—it’s just the way I was raised. I do, however, sometimes feel a pang of regret for those who I think would love riding if they tried it. You know, the ones held back by fear or outside pressure, or those with a glint in their eye that contradicts their words.

I like to think I alter the course of my life every time I mount up. I thumb my nose at what most people call “safe, responsible, normal, mature” and embrace individuality, choice, free will, and the refusal to pursue someone else’s version of security. Too many people take far too much comfort in where they rank in the status quo.

I frequently get asked “don’t you get scared?” Sure I do. I’ve also been startled, surprised, pissed, amazed, and furious; but to that list, I can add that I’ve been moved to tears, inspired, joyous, felt lighter than air, tasted spring on my tongue, paid homage to lost loved ones, planned a future, charted a course, gotten away, and buried a grudge. I prefer to think of the things that have elevated me personally, rather than what some may consider a risk.

Riding has always been a conduit of change and growth for me. It’s not difficult to change your life; it’s just hard to decide to. The rest is just a process of believing in yourself, working your butt off, and to paraphrase Mr. Emerson: boldly tugging at the beard of the great bully, the world.