Who am I and why the hell should you care about reading my blog?

Avid motorcyclist & freelance writer, specializing in motorcycles & motorcycle related topics, with a healthy dose of good humor, good vibes & general advice on simply being a good person.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

What was your first motorcycle?

Do you remember your first motorcycle?

I'm afraid that I might be a little too analytical to answer my own question in a simple way, as I tend to overthink things way too much. For example, the first motorcycle that I actually owned, as in- the bike was legally registered in my name- was a 1990 Kawasaki EX500. My very first motorbike, however, was a very used Otasco mini-bike. It had no suspension, a horizontal shaft, pull start Tecumseh engine with a whopping 3.5 horsepower, an extremely worn out centrifugal clutch and a completely exposed chain. Ah yes, by today's standards it was a veritable death trap! My dad bought it for me from my big brother's junior high friend and I tore up the streets and trails on that little bike. In all honesty, I was probably a little too big for it, but I didn't care- I was having the time of my life. 

Motorcycles just make everything better. 

Terminator was a cool movie... but it got even cooler when the cybernetic killer from the future threw his leg over that Honda 750 Four and started chasing down the heroes while wielding a machine gun. When Beatrix Kiddo (aka Uma Thurman) donned that skin tight yellow riding suit and straddled that Kawasaki ZZR250, it certainly didn't hurt ticket sales... although that one may have had more to do with who was riding, rather than what she was riding. Regardless though... she wouldn't have been wearing that motorcycle suit if she wasn't riding a motorcycle in the movie. 

I'd be willing to bet that you know, or have known someone that you were never really interested in talking to until you found out they rode a motorcycle, then they suddenly became more interesting. Funeral escorts seem more dignified when they are being escorted by police motorcycles, Mardi Gras parades are often kicked off by police motorcycles rolling through the parade route first. Kids of all ages love seeing them riding and most people who cringe at the sight of a police officer will be the first to run up and take a picture with a Motor cop. I think the reason is because almost everyone can relate, in some way, to a person on a motorcycle. Motorcycles make people cooler and more approachable.

What bike inspired you, or your passion for riding?

The bike that did it for me was a 1980 Suzuki GN400X that my brother got from a friend of his. The bike was brought over to our house in boxes and I was immediately enthralled by it. I asked my brother what he was going to do with it and when he said that he wasn't going to do anything with it, I jumped on the opportunity to put the puzzle back together. I was maybe 13 or 14, had no knowledge of motorcycles, no service manuals to guide me and no Google to ask because the internet didn't even exist yet. But with a lot of determination, a little patience, a lot of trial and error and a fair share of blind luck, I was able to piece and part that thing back together. 

I still remember the feeling I got when I kicked that bike over and it actually fired up, and I'll never forget my very first ride on it. I loved riding dirt bikes, but there was just something different about the feeling I got when I twisted the throttle on that old Suzuki for the first time. Something just clicked and it was as if a piece of my own puzzle had just popped into place. At that very moment, a seed was planted that would take several years to sprout. When it finally broke through to the light though, what started as a tiny little seed would later grow into a towering passion that would come to define so many aspects of my life. I don't think I could have ever imagined that while I was sitting in our driveway on that old Suzuki, with it's single cylinder 400cc engine thumping for the first time in years, that the memory of that moment would become so influential in my life.

Why we ride.

Every person has their own reason, or reasons, why they choose to brave the dangers and ignore the warnings from their mothers, friends and co-workers about the dangers of motorcycle riding. If you've never seen it, I highly recommend the documentary film, Why We Ride. Even if you  don't ride... actually, specifically if you don't ride...  you should watch it. It might give you some insight about those people in your life that do ride motorcycles and why riding is so important to us. 

Riding my motorcycle is therapeutic. It gives me an opportunity to clear my mind and compartmentalize all of those things that are rattling around inside my head so that I can prioritize what's important and dump what's not. My wife has told me that she can see a difference in my overall mood when I've been off the bike for too long. There are so many times in my life that I've been able to find solace behind a set of handlebars and inner peace in the steady rumble of a motorcycle engine. I've also had a lot of fun on a motorcycle. I've enjoyed the camaraderie of riding with groups of friends, the dignity of riding in escorts and the exhilaration of riding through the mountains with my bike leaning so far over that sparks were flying. I've had adventures, explored new places and yes, I've even had a few close calls.

Your story.

What's your life story going to look like? If someone were to make a Hollywood movie about your life, with your favorite actor playing you, what would it be about and how interesting would it be? I'm not suggesting that any of us live our lives like a Tinseltown flick, but when you are drawing your last breaths and looking back over your life, will your life have been an action-adventure, a comedy, a drama or a tragedy?

I'm not sure that my life story would be a blockbuster- instead, I imagine it being a low-budget, over produced, action film with cheesy dad jokes, bad wardrobes and a completely random soundtrack. But I think it would be a fun movie to watch, with a lot of love, a little tragedy and a whole lot of great supporting characters to carry it through to the end credits. 

Fill your life with memories that you fondly remember and give your family and friends a good story to tell after your gone. You don't have to have a lot, to live a lot. After all, you never can tell, sometimes those low-budget, B-rated, movies become cult classics that end up being loved and remembered for generations. 

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Brand Loyalty- how far is too far?

Brand loyalty... how far is too far?

OK, I'll admit... I may not be the "best" brand ambassador for Harley-Davidson. But in my defense, I'm honest, hardworking and I don't make a lot of dough, so I need to actually get what I'm paying for. I would consider myself to be more of a spokesman of the working class for Harley-Davidson. I love my Harley-Davidson motorcycles but I'm not a blind follower of them, or of any brand for that matter. If they do something right, I'll sing their praises to everyone I meet, if they shit the bed on something, I'll do my best to try to point it out so they can improve. Think of it like getting constructive criticism from your best friend. 

Take my boots

A year ago, I picked up a pair of TCX riding boots from Union Garage in Brooklyn, NY. I paid $199 and got free shipping... so I got a sweet pair of boots and still had enough left over for a Snicker bar. I bought them without ever even trying them on. Why? Because I read a ton of honest reviews from fellow riders who, like me, refuse to blindly follow a brand name. I believe in the tried and true method of evaluation and review from people who understand that sometimes companies get it right, and sometimes they don't. I did a six month review of my boots back in May (and I'll be doing a one year review soon) so that anyone on a budget that is looking for a new pair of riding boots can read it and, hopefully, get a little insight on them. I got some good feedback on my review and even had some guy claiming to be a rep of the company reach out to me and ask if it was okay if he posted it to the company website (I told him yes, but I don't know if it ever got added). I look at it this way- there might be somebody out there who, like me, has just enough extra scratch at the end of the month to be able to ride motorcycles. Chances are, they probably don't have thousands of dollars a year that they can spend to experiment with gear, so just like reading Yelp reviews on the local greasy spoons- we can get a better idea of where to, or not to, spend our hard-earned money. I don't believe in being a rude, over-critical ass; I just believe in the effectiveness of constructive criticism. 

Die-hard loyalists

I get a kick out of these die-hard loyalists who take the brand loyalty thing way too far. I have a friend, who will remain nameless, that is that guy. His bike is the best- it is the fastest, makes the most horsepower, the most torque, has the best paint, the highest quality finishes and is the most nimble, as well as the most comfortable, motorcycle that has ever been built in the United States and abroad. Of course, that is strictly his, not-at-all humble, opinion. I also get a kick out of these Indian riders who claim that Harley-Davidson is now suddenly going to file for bankruptcy because Polaris has recently breathed life back into the long-dead Indian name. I seem to remember all those same comments being made by the Victory Motorcycle guys a few years back and we can all see how that turned out.

You might be saying, "now hold on just a dag-gummed minute Mr. MotoWriter... you can't compare Victory to Indian!" No? Why not? Because Indian has been around "Since 1901" or because it was "America's FIRST motorcycle company"? Well... I wrote a little nugget about that, too. You can read the brief history of Indian Motorcycles here if you'd like. Look, I like Indians and I think that they have a LOT of potential and if the executives over at Polaris want to give me a loaner bike for a year, and some of that sweet Indian swag to go with it, I'll do a fair, honest long-term review and evaluation of their bike and products. Hell, if I like their products enough, I might even buy 'em. 

Harley guys aren't the worst, but they're close

Harley-Davidson is an iconic brand. It has somehow survived over a century, through good and prosperous times and through countless recessions; not to mention, surviving the Great Depression which befell the country a mere 26 years after the company first rolled out their first production motorcycle. They've managed to keep a consistent customer base over the decades, have seen years of profits and years of losses, but yet they remain. The guys and gals that stand behind the Motor Company are, no doubt, a big part of the reason that the Milwaukee based company is still churning out new bikes after all these years. With that said, they can be a bit ridiculous. I've heard people say things like "I'd rather push my Harley than ride a Honda." Really? I'll call bullshit on that one. "Harley's don't leak oil, they mark their territory." Yep- bullshit. If I buy a brand new motorcycle (or any vehicle for that matter) and it leaks oil- somebody's gonna hear about it. I think that one of the reasons Harleys catch such a bad rap from other brand enthusiasts is because of those die-hard loyalists who defend the company even when it's failed or failing it's customers. 

Warning- this next part might offend you.

We may not all agree on this- but defending a company when it produces a crappy product is akin to giving out participation trophies. You're doing them a disservice. You're telling them that putting in a half-assed effort is good enough and that losing is still winning. By blindly defending Harley-Davidson, you are basically telling the MoCo that it's okay that they made a crappy product. In my long term review of my 2017 Road King Special, I beat the MoCo up a little. I wouldn't say that I picked the bike apart, but I did point out some deficiencies in the quality. Maybe, if we are all lucky enough, somebody over at H-D HQ will watch that video and say "damn, we need to correct those issues." If you go to a restaurant and the food is awful, are you going to tell your friends how great it was? I would certainly hope not.

Let's help them survive

Look, I don't know about you, but I want ALL of these companies to improve and survive and the best way to do that, is to hold them each accountable when they screw something up and not be so blindly loyal that we refuse to offer them any sort of criticism, or even recognize what their deficiencies are. I'm not saying let's boycott Harley-Davidson because they put a shitty finish on a few parts and I'm not suggesting that we force Polaris to kill off Indian because they have had some electrical issues. I am, however, suggesting that we, the customers, give them good, honest and constructive criticism so that they can improve their products for us. After all, we will all benefit from those improvements- we (the customers) will get a better product and the companies will make more money in return sales and be able to stay afloat going into the future. 

I truly love the diversity in the motorcycle market. I don't just love Harley-Davidson motorcycles- I love ALL motorcycles. I want Polaris-Indian to put pressure on Harley-Davidson and I want Harley-Davidson to continue making motorcycles that set the standard for overall style, comfort and performance (some people will roll their eyes at this, but history proves this statement to be true). I really hated to see Polaris shut the doors on Victory and it was such a disappointment to see Yamaha dump the Star line of cruisers. Honda is still going strong, introducing an all new Rebel 1100 for 2021 and Suzuki's Boulevard line and Kawasaki's Vulcan line both seem strong. BMW's new R-18 is an exciting addition to the cruiser world and Triumph's line of "Modern Classics" offer even more styles for us to choose from. To be completely honest, I'd love to see the resurrection and success of some of the old motorcycle companies that have fallen to the wayside. Can you imagine if BSA, Brough Superior, Vincent, Victory, Excelsior-Henderson, Pierce-Arrow, Ace, Crocker or Acme were still pushing out new products? Think of the innovation and the options that we might have! I get giddy just thinking about it! 

Competition is a good thing 

Competition drives advancement and each one of these companies should be in a head to head competition with each other, not to destroy the other guys, but to earn our money instead. If we do our part as the end-user and tell them what we want, what we don't want, what we like and yes, even what we don't like, we can give them a clear path to the future to build products for us that we can enjoy for years to come. They might even earn the business of our kids and grandkids and if things work out- maybe every motorcycle company can eventually brag about being in business for over a hundred years.

As for me- I'll just be down here in South Mississippi riding my Harley-Davidson along our beautiful coastline, and writing a few things to entertain you good folks, while I'm waiting patiently for one of these companies to reach out to me to do a long-term review of their products. 

Stay tuned for more reviews coming up, and in the meantime, ride safe and make good choices!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

An Open Letter To Harley-Davidson Executives

An Open Letter To Harley-Davidson CEO Jochen Zeitz And The Rest Of The Milwaukee, USA Executives

As a blue collar, working class customer that has spent well over $100,000 on your motorcycles and products... I humbly request your attention for a moment.

Dearest CEO Zeitz and all of your fellow purveyors of Milwaukee's finest Steel Horses,

I hope this letter finds you well- happy, healthy, stress and COVID free. I am writing this "open letter" to you on my blog because, well... simply put, I'm sure that you get more mail and letters than you can possibly keep up with and I have no doubt that you likely don't have enough time in your busy days to read any of them. I also have a few readers of this blog and I'd like to think that I can speak for them, when I say that we need to talk. I'm writing this letter "openly" so that I can share it with my readers, as well. 

Now, I don't honestly expect my simple little blog, being written down here in South Mississippi, to be read by any of the powerful executives in the ivory towers of the Motor Company of Milwaukee, but as I've said before- nothing will happen if nothing is done, or in this case- if nothing is said, so I have to at least try.

First of all, let me begin by saying that this is NOT a letter of dispute or animosity, but rather, an honest, working class evaluation of your products, marketing and business practices. 

Motorcycles are a major part of our lives. We ride them, some of us race them, many of us wrench on them and some of us even customize and build them. Some of us can afford to buy new ones, others can only afford to buy used ones, but we all find our own ways to get out on two wheels. For many of us, our ultimate goal in motorcycle ownership is becoming the proud owner of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. 

A little over ten years ago, I bought my first Harley-Davidson motorcycle- a brand new 2009 Road King Classic. I traded in my 2006 Yamaha Stratoliner "Midnight" in January of '09 and rode home on what seemed like one of the coldest nights of the year. The Stratoliner was the first brand-new motorcycle that I had ever bought- the Road King was the second. As the years went by, I began to have some minor electrical gremlins in my Road King- the speedometer and cruise control would sometimes stop working and the "check engine" light would randomly come on. I brought it to the dealer a couple of times, but they could never seem to find the issue. It didn't matter, not really. I racked up around 35k miles on it in over the next few years until I happened to walk into the dealership one day in 2013 and found myself ogling the new bikes. You can probably imagine where the story goes from there. I ended up trading in one bike for another over the next 4 years, starting with a brand new, 2013 Road Glide Custom. I moved on to a 2012 Wide Glide, then finally settled in on a 2011 Road King Classic. I truly believed that I would keep the '11 Road King until the wheels fell off. Unfortunately, I got on my trusty Road King one morning and noticed that the rear brake pedal was locked in place. As it turns out, the ABS system was failing, apparently due to moisture in the system. The year was 2017 and the month was July. I had already seen the new Milwaukee 8 and test ridden a new Road King Special, so when I got the brake diagnosis... it was a pretty easy decision to make- trade in the '11 and ride home on the '17. 

Needless to say, I've spent quite a lot of money on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, as well as parts, accessories, clothing and other products, in the past 11-ish years. Even though I've dealt with some mechanical issues, I've stayed loyal to the brand. Not because I have some unhealthy or unreasonable obsession, but because I like your motorcycles and I want to support an American company that has been able to stay afloat since the early 1900's. That being said, I think it's extremely important for you all to remember that, much like many of your customers, I am a blue collar, working class American. I don't make a lot of money, so I prioritize my spending on the things that I enjoy the most- one of those being riding my motorcycles.  

An honest review

When I bought my 2017 Road King Special, I had come to terms with my motorcycle addiction and settled in on the, very real, possibility that I could end up trading it in on another bike within a year or three. I came close a couple of times, but the sheer beauty of the bike (and power from the 107 M-8) has kept it safely parked in my garage for the past three years. If any of you are actually reading this, then I would encourage you to click here and check out the video review that I did on my beloved 2017 FLHRXS. I wont get into all the details in this post, but I will just tell you that I have some complaints about some of the quality and craftsmanship issues with this bike.

Make no mistake about it, I'm not about to run down to the Indian Dealership to trade it in (although those Dark Horse Springfields do look pretty badass and that new Challenger is quite intriguing), but I paid a premium price for, what I thought was supposed to be, a premium product and that's where you guys failed me. Harley-Davidson motorcycles have long been known for their quality fits and finishes (at least since the buyback) and every one that I've had before this one hasn't let me down. In my relatively short time riding this gorgeous scooter, I've seen trim parts fall off, painted parts rust through the finish and other parts oxidizing or rusting. I know what you're thinking- I keep it outside, right? Wrong. This bike (along with all of my other ones) rests safely in an enclosed garage every night. While I'm not a fair weather rider, I do try my best to avoid riding in the rain and I do a better than average job of keeping it clean. The bottom line is, somewhere along the way, someone in the MoCo started authorizing corners being cut and the people that suffer the consequences are blue-collar working folks like me. 

Seize the opportunity to improve

You have a unique opportunity at your feet right now. With the global pandemic threatening the very way Americans (as well as bikers from across the world) ride our motorcycles, you have a chance to set things right. Want to know what riders want? Just ask us, I promise we'll tell you and we won't hold back. Fly me to Wisconsin for a week and I'll give you some ideas that will increase sales, reach more customers and improve customer satisfaction... and I'll even let you take all the credit for them... more or less. 

One thing we'd like to see- better quality and more attainable bikes. I know what you're thinking- "we can offer 84 month financing to make the $25k motorcycle more attainable", but I'll stop you right there. You're not going to be able to sell too many people on the idea of financing a toy for the same amount of time it takes for their kid to go from kindergarten to junior high- it's just not reasonable. Why does a Road Glide Special cost nearly $30,000? Why does an 883 Sportster need to cost almost 10 grand? I know why... because somewhere along the line, somebody heard the term "diversify" and went nuts, making tons of T-shirts, jackets, pants, belts, wallets, watches, hats, etc, etc, etc... and that's just the apparel side of the house. The diversification of the company's products extended into motorcycles and motorcycle parts, too. I mean seriously... how much sense does it make to kill off the entire Dyna line, a line of bikes that had (and still has) a cult following, to save money... just to replace it with a whole new line of bikes that were an absolute failure (I'm looking squarely at the Street line of bikes). I would love to see a Milwaukee 8 powered Wide Glide or Super Glide, but no... someone in a corner office in Milwaukee made the failed assumption that H-D fans are too stupid to realize that the new Softail Standard and the Softail Street Bob are the same bike.

Let's look at this reasonably- Harley-Davidson motorcycles has the largest aftermarket of any brand... do you really need to have your hands in the pockets of the aftermarket companies? You sell the bikes, those companies make them better. If I want to replace the shitty stock grips on my Road King (and I do), I can spend around $60 for a nice set of premium Avon grips, or I can spend $150 for a set of similar grips that say "Harley-Davidson" on them. You guys spend more money trying to flood the market with your own parts, just trying to steal a few extra bucks away from companies like Kuryakyn, Avon, K&N, Vance & Hines, etc, when you could have spent that money maintaining the quality of your bikes, or even lowering the price a bit, instead. 

Instead of screen printing a half a million T-shirts every year that you are just going to stuff in your dealerships with $30 price tags, or re-branding $180 HJC helmets with the H-D logo and trying to sell them for $350 (yeah, we know you guys don't make your own helmets), why not save that dough, reinvest it back into the company and drop the prices on these bikes by a few thousand bucks, instead? I may be a simple nobody from South Mississippi here, but I can tell you that it makes a helluva lot more sense to sell 100 motorcycles for $20k each, than it does to sell 50 at $25k each. Not only would you make more money, but you'd also get your product out there to more people, thereby increasing (and improving) your brand recognition which would increase customer demand for your bikes. More bikes on the road means an increase in maintenance services and more sales of maintenance parts. Hell, you'd probably even sell significantly more motorcycles when folks realize that they can more easily justify the cost of them. If you think that keeping prices extra high to promote the "premium brand idea" is the wisest choice to make- let me remind you of how that worked out for the Stellican Ltd. Indians. They were beautiful, expensive failures because only the uber rich could afford to buy them. 

Look, I could go on and on, but then we might not have much to talk about in the Harley-Davidson Headquarters' board room after we negotiate the terms of my consulting fee (I'm more affordable than you might think). The bottom line is that I, along with millions of other avid motorcyclists, love the Milwaukee Motor Company and we love our bikes. We just want to see future generations be able to buy and ride them, too. 

It would be a damned shame to see the legacy of William Harley and Arthur, Walter and William Davidson, wither and die because of a few too many bad decisions made by those men and women who were entrusted to keep the company alive. 

I'll be waiting to hear back from you on when to expect my flight and hotel reservations to come through, but in the meantime- be safe, make good choices and enjoy the holidays.

J.D. aka, the MotoWriter 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Life Lessons

Appreciate the gifts you are given

In life, we are promised nothing from this world. For those of us that are blessed enough to actually make it out of the womb and into this world, we are entitled to nothing more than the breath in our lungs. Everything else is a gift. Everything else, from mother's milk to clothes, toys, education, a home to live in and everything in between, is given to us by someone else. These things, these... blessings, are gifts that we should never take for granted.

Life isn't fragile

We've all heard it before- "life is fragile." No it isn't. Life is tough. Life is resilient. Life is robust and life is long, relatively speaking that is. A baby's life is more fragile than say, a 30 year old's... that's true, I suppose. But one could argue that a 30 year old will not heal as quickly from a broken leg as a rambunctious five year old. Fragility is relative and to label "life" as being something that is somehow so precarious that even the slightest fall or lowest fever, could suddenly spiral it into the cold grip of death, is simply absurd. 

We, being the sentient creatures that we are, love to analyze our own existence. We can't help ourselves- from the time we are born, we measure our age, our growth, our success and even our lifespan. As a child, we want to grow up. As grown-ups, we wish we could be kids again. We count our birthdays; as kids- anticipating the next one; as adults- dreading it. 

We also worry. We love to worry about things that are outside of our control. So much so, that we take for granted many, or all, of the blessings that we have. 

The Serenity Prayer

I'm not what some might call "overly religious." I don't attend church regularly, in fact, I'm not proud to admit that it has been quite a long time since I've actually crossed the threshold of our little country church. It's not because I don't believe, nor is it because I've lost my way. Instead, as a child growing up, I was taught that God doesn't require an altar, nor does He require a special building for His children to seek and find Him in. Every home, is a church and a place of worship can be found at every blade of grass or grain of sand. We should seek Him out everywhere we go and in everything we do. Churches are nice places to find fellowship, but they are not the only houses of God... or at least they shouldn't be. But I digress.

As a young boy, my dad taught me a simple prayer that I would later learn was inspired by the Book of Isaiah, chapter 41, verse 10. While my dad didn't cite the location of this prayer's inspiration in the Good book, he perfectly recited the prayer, as follows:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

This prayer, written (as best we know) by Reinhold Niebuhr in the early 1930's, was believed to be inspired by God's message to Isaiah: 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 

What a great message of hope and strength... that we as "intellectual beings" often ignore and, as a result, erode our own lives with self-induced stress and worry.

Not a bible lesson, but a life lesson

You're probably wondering, if you're still reading this, what my point is. You might even be wondering why a father would teach his adolescent son a prayer that would become the mantra of recovering addicts and you might even be wondering what the heck any of this has to do with motorcycles. Well folks, this isn't a bible lesson, but it is a life lesson. You see, my dad taught me that prayer because, at the time, I was worried about something, so insignificant, that I don't even remember what it was now. At that moment, when he sat me down and said, "son, listen to me for a minute", then taught me those simple yet comforting words, my life changed. I recited it, took a deep breath and let all that stress and worry go. Growing up, I've recited that prayer hundreds, if not thousands, of times. As a father, I've taught it to my sons and as a good Christian man, I've shared it with anyone that I've seen struggling.

I wish...

We spend so much time worrying about what might happen, that we often forget what could happen. We also waste our lives making wishes. What is a wish, anyway? It's an empty, hollow, meaningless hope that some one or some thing will somehow take control over our lives and make them better without us having to do anything, take any risks or put in any efforts. We've all done it... we've wished to be taller, shorter, slimmer, more fit, better looking, smarter, more successful, etc, etc, etc. Whatever you're wishing for, ask yourself these two questions- "can I do anything about it?" and "what am I doing about it?" If you wish you were taller, well, you may not be able to do anything about that... but if you wish you were more fit, then get your butt in gear and start exercising. Either way, you need to accept that there are some things you can't change, and some things you can... you just need to be smart enough to know which is which. When you do, that's when you can find some peace. That's what Isaiah is asking God for in the Serenity Prayer.

What if...

What and if. These are two, otherwise harmless, words in the English language that when put together, often stop us from achieving greatness or experiencing something amazing. For example, you might say, "what if... I am riding a motorcycle and I crash and get paralyzed or even die?" To which, I might reply- "what if... you go out and experience something on the back of that bike that you would have completely missed if not for taking the risk of riding, and afterwards, you ride back home, safe and sound, at the end of the day with a wonderful memory that you will cherish for the rest of your life?" I could go on with the "what if" scenarios... but I don't need to and honestly, I don't want to. You know what you've been "what-iffing" and I don't need to point out to you, what you've missed as a result of being too afraid to take those leaps of faith.

Life isn't precarious, but it is precious. Life isn't short, but it is fleeting. We are blessed with an intellect that is advanced beyond the creatures in nature, but we are the ones that worry about what tomorrow will bring, or fear what will happen if we take any kind of risk. I would imagine that if dogs could talk, we'd hear them laughing about how they jumped, blindly, into the pond (or pool for you folks that live in suburbia) after their ball, without giving the temperature or the depth of the water a second thought, and if bears had opposable thumbs, we might very well see a grizzly riding a motorcycle.

Gentle or not, we all go into that good, dark night

Whether you favor the words of Rohini Sunderam's, 'Let Me Go Gentle into That Dark Night' or Dylan Thomas', 'Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night'... one thing is certain, we will all go into that metaphorical night that they both speak of. Once we close our eyes and return to that darkness one final time, we won't have another opportunity to take that chance, face that fear or experience that moment.

So live your life while you still can. Be responsible, make good choices, assess what risks are worth taking and plan your life like your going to live forever, but live like it's your last day. Appreciate all of the blessings that you have been given and don't waste your time on wishes. Don't stress out over things that you can't change. Make the changes that you can to make your life, and this world, a little better and don't "what if" yourself out of experiencing all of the happiness that you have the potential to achieve. 

***Edit, January 23, 2021: When I wrote this post back in October, I mistakenly cited the location of the Serenity Prayer to be scripture in the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 41, verse 10. I don't know how I came up with that, perhaps it was too much trust in a popular search engine or maybe I wasn't properly caffeinated. Either way, I have edited the above content to reflect the correct-ish information.

Friday, October 16, 2020



How often do you hear someone ask "why"? Of all of the inquisitives, "why" has to be the most frustrating. Let me explain...

Who, what, when, where and how are all pretty basic. These words often seek facts or some other, relative and tangible answer. For example:
  • "What was my first Harley-Davidson? Another easy one- a 2009 Road King Classic. 
  • "When did I learn that I had a knack for writing?" A little tougher, but somewhere around 1999-2000.
  • "Where do I ride, most often?" Most of my riding is done on the backroads of the tri-state area of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.
  • "How do I come up with new ideas? I draw my inspiration from the world around me- my family, my friends... even my socafriends
But the "why" questions- WHY do I write? WHY do I ride? WHY do I write about motorcycle stuff? WHY do I make these silly videos?- all of the "why" questions seek the more abstract answers and, as any parent of a toddler knows, the series of "why" questions are never ending.

Why ask why?

WHY do you even bother asking WHY in the first place? What is it you hope to learn from it? If you're a cop or a psychologist, I get the reasoning for asking why someone did something... after all, learning what their motive is could potentially help explain, at least in part, their actions and maybe even reveal some justification for it. I suppose that could be the case for anyone really, but let's face it, we mostly just ask why because we love to torture ourselves with the absence of a justifiable motive or any sense of reasoning for what happened. For example, "why didn't I listen to the advice that person gave me", "why did my dog run away", "why did I let that person take advantage of my kindness" or this big one- "why did that person have to die?" None of these questions have any reasonable, tangible answer... none that we want to hear, anyway. So, WHY even bother asking the question in the first place?

Have some faith

At some point, we have to trust in God and realize that we are only in control of our own actions. The world is not here to serve our whims, but rather, it is a place that we have been given an opportunity to explore, to live in, to build our lives and our families in, to ride our motorcycles through, and yes, even die in. At best, we have 75 good years on this earth. I can't tell you how long I have left, but I can tell you that I sure as hell don't want to know. I'd rather have death sneak up on me (preferably a lot later in life) and take me into the darkness suddenly and without warning, than to know that I have a certain amount of time left. Having faith can be difficult, keeping it can be even more so, especially when you question things that are out of your control.

What if...

This is another one that is frustrating when asked negatively, but that will be for another day and another post. Sometimes though, we can "what if" a situation for a more positive outlook. For example, "what if the reason why my buddy's bike broke down when it did, was so that we could avoid a serious crash, just up the road?" Asking "what if" could actually be a lot more comforting than asking "why" if it's asked the right way.

So, I'll ask you guys this- what if you stopped asking why something, that was out of your control, happened? What if you just accepted that life is unpredictable and unscripted? What if we all started accepting each other for who we are and what we believe and stopped trying to force each other to conform to our beliefs? What if we start living our lives like we give a damn about what we are doing to the future generations? What if we all start taking personal responsibility for our mistakes and start learning from them, instead of casting aspersions on everyone else, as if our failures are somehow someone else's fault? 

What if we all learned to just start being nicer to each other? I don't know about you guys, but that would be pretty damned great to me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Cruisin' The Coast, 2020!

The 24th Anniversary 

2020 marks the 24th anniversary of the event dubbed "America's Largest Block Party." Cruisin' The Coast is a week-long event that draws thousands of antique and classic cars, motorcycles, rat rods, street rods and one-off customs from all over the country and abroad. Car enthusiasts come to the Mississippi Coast in droves, just to enjoy cruising their prized possessions along US Highway 90 from Ocean Springs to Bay St. Louis during the first week of October. Every city along the coastline has special events to host the cruisers, all starting with Gulfport's "View The Cruise" kickoff block party. The City of Gulfport blocks off the entire downtown central business district so that the cruisers can bring their cars in and show them off. The event is free to the public and it does not disappoint. This year, me and the missus rode the MotoWriter Road King Special down to the event, grabbed a cup of delicious coffee from Coast Roast Coffee & Tea and set out walking to check it out.

Fueled by Caffeine

Armed with my trusty GoPro Hero 6, inspired by the lovely Mrs. MotoWriter, and fueled by a deliciously caffeinated beverage from my favorite roaster, we took to the streets to check out this years' offerings- and we were not disappointed. I ended up getting some great video shots from the event and we even ran into several friends while we were out kicking the bricks. Check out my latest YouTube video for that footage.

Hurricanes Delta and Gamma

Apparently, while Gulfport was busy setting up for View The Cruise and the rest of the Coast cities were getting their venues ready, the Tropics were churning up a little lagniappe for 2020- two more hurricanes. We've had so many storms this year, that we've used up all the names and are now 7 deep into the Greek alphabet... 2020 has definitely given us plenty to talk about. Fortunately, Gamma ran its course and fizzled out down around the Yucatan Peninsula. Unfortunately, however, Delta strengthened and started heading toward us. By mid-week, we had a legitimate concern that we were going to take a direct hit, so a lot of the cruisers had packed up and headed out of town. We got lucky again, though, and the hurricane weakened a bit before making landfall to the West of us, in a small town West of New Orleans. As I mentioned in my last post, "Hurricanes", living on the Gulf Coast is awesome... with the exception of the occasional life-threatening, property-destroying, home-ravaging hurricanes. But, for the steadfast cruisers and spectators, their fortitude paid off and they were able to enjoy the entire week of Cruisin' The Coast events with nothing more than a brief and occasional rainshower.

Cruisin' and Riding

As for me and my missus, we were able to enjoy the City of Gulfport's event on the first Sunday, then after a week of grinding away at my regular job, I was able to get on the MotoWriter Street Bob and shoot some more video for y'all on the Saturday before it all wrapped up. All in all, it was a good week. Even with all the craziness of 2020, there were still over 6,700 cars registered for the event. 

Even though I no longer have my classic car, I still get giddy at the thought of Cruisin' The Coast. There's just something special about seeing your cities and towns over run by these beautiful old relics of the past, thundering down the highway in their former, and current, glories. The live music, the crowds of families and friends, and the smell of too-rich carburetors, burned rubber and bar-be-ques, wafting in the salty Southern air just takes me back to a better time in life. If you ever have the opportunity to do it, I highly recommend visiting South Mississippi for Cruisin' The Coast. In the meantime, check out the video I made, by clicking here. While you're there, don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel so that you don't miss out on any of your favorite MotoWriter content.

Sunday, September 20, 2020


Living on the Gulf Coast is awesome    

Along America's Southern Coastal border we have around 10 months of great riding weather complimented by coastal breezes, beautiful scenery, friendly people and some of the best food that will ever cross your taste buds. In one day, you can ride next to beautiful white sand beaches, cross over bays, bayous and marshes and, just a few minutes later, be cruising past cattle pastures, old homesteads and rolling hills. Want a piece of big city action? No problem- to the West we have New Orleans and to the East we have Mobile, Gulf Shores, Pensacola and Destin. The roads are pretty decent, there are plenty of gas stations and restaurants to stop at and there is no shortage of motorcycle shops to keep you rolling. But, as is the case with any area that has so many benefits, there is the occasional drawback that is there to keep you humble. In our case, it's the Tropics.

Tropical storms and hurricanes 

Every year, beginning around the month of June, Southerners start tuning in to weather channels, begin checking their generators and re-stocking their supplies of canned goods and bottled water. The reason? June marks the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season. While the tropics don't always deliver storms to our estuary coastline, we always keep a watchful eye on anything that spins too close to the Leeward Islands. For those that are unaware, a Tropical Storm gets it's name when it reaches a wind speed of 39 miles per hour. At 74 mph, it becomes a full-fledged, "category one" hurricane. While a cat-1 storm is more of an annoyance to most of us, a cat-5 storm, with sustained winds over 157 mph, is a bonafide killer. The most recent cat-5 to hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast was Hurricane Camille in 1969. In 2005, we got hit by Katrina, a very powerful, well defined storm that had grown in intensity to a category 5 storm, but according to the weather experts, had dropped to a strong category 3 by the time it made landfall over New Orleans, unleashing it's most powerful and most damaging winds across the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. If you were alive, or at least awake in history class, you will know that Hurricane Katrina was a killer on it's own merit- claiming over 1,800 souls and causing over $125 billion in property damage. That's a billion, with a "B." Our coastline was, quite literally, leveled. If Katrina was a Category 3 when it caused that kind of death and destruction, just try to imagine what a category 5 would do. 

Scary stuff, to be certain.

This year has been a busy one

2020 has maintained it's consistent level of overall SUCK and, only three months into this season, it has given us over 25 named storms. We still have three more months of "in-season" tropical storms to contend with. With that said, we've been pretty fortunate thus far, in that all we've really had to deal with so far has been a few rain-making tropical storms and an annoying category 1, Sally, that finally decided to make landfall to the east of us. We still have to make it until the end of November and, God willing, we will make it to December 1st unscathed.

I'll ride in the rain if I have to, but I don't ever want to

Riding in the rain sucks, that's all there is to it. But sometimes, you can't help it. On a road trip for example, you just can't avoid running in to an occasional rain shower. It's not ideal, but with proper gear, it's manageable. You'll rarely ever see me leave the house in the rain, unless there are some kind of extenuating circumstances. Some people may call me a "fair-weather rider" because I'd prefer to wait it out than assume the extra risks of riding in the rain, with limited visibility on slick roads, but those that know me, know that I've been soaked to the bone while riding through torrential downpours. I simply choose to ride smarter, whenever I can.

The problem with hurricane season 

The biggest problem with hurricane season is the seemingly constant deluge of rain. As I said, I don't exactly mind if I get caught in the rain while I'm out riding, but I definitely don't want to leave the house in a torrent and it seems like that's been every day lately. I said previously that in the South, we have around 10 months of good riding weather, and that is completely true... just not 10 consecutive months. 

Choose your poison, so to speak

We don't always get to pick where we grow up, but we get to pick where we live when we do. As a kid, my family moved to the Coast from the Midwest. When I was just an innocent little freckle faced ginger kid, I remember riding in the back seat of our mid '70's Chevrolet coupe and watching the landscape slowly changing the further we got away from the home I knew, to the home I would later come to know and love. I watched as the trees grew taller and lost their lower branches and saw their leaves turn into needles. The rolling landscape of dirt and rocks, slowly flattened out, the black dirt turning into orange clay and the rocks turning into sand. When we finally stopped, I stood on the edge of the continent as the waves splashed across my 8 year old feet and I smelled the hot salty air. I watched as shrimp boats slowly trawled along the horizon in front of me and seagulls squawked at the setting sun. In this new home, I would later meet the girl that would become my wife and a few years later, she would bless me with the gift of fatherhood. I rode my first motorcycle in this balmy, humid Southern air and I have survived more than 30 hurricane seasons. My wife and I tried to move away once, but we just couldn't resist the beckoning symphony of summertime cicadas buzzing in concert with crickets, tree frogs and owls, or the smell of the salty ocean breeze blowing in off the Gulf of Mexico under a spectacular sunset. 

We chose to make this place our home and even though the, seemingly constant, deluge of rain during hurricane season puts a damper on my motorcycle riding, the rain always breaks, the clouds always clear and the sun always comes back out.

Ride safe and make good choices, y'all.

-The MotoWriter

Saturday, August 29, 2020


God doesn't call you on the phone or send you a text... but he does talk to you and answer your prayers. Just not the way you expect, sometimes.

Look, you don't have to believe in God, that is your choice and I'm not going to try to force my beliefs on you in this blog or on my YouTube channel- that's not what The MotoWriter  is all about. With that said, however, I do believe in God and I believe that, while we don't always hear or see His work, He is always protecting us and keeping us safe.

Broken cables, dead batteries and flat tires- DANG IT!!

How many times have you been out riding, stopped for gas and, when you hit that start button, the only sound you hear is the clicking of the starter solenoid? Have you ever gone out to the garage, fully intent on racking up some miles on an absolutely beautiful day, only to see one of the tires is flattened against the concrete? Or what about, when you're out riding with a couple of your buddies to celebrate a birthday, only to get about a third of the way before the throttle cable on your buddy's antique motorcycle breaks? 

When things like that happen, it's easy to get caught up in the moment, get mad, shake your fist to the sky and ask why you've been forsaken, but have you ever thought that the breakdown might have been God's way of keeping you from harm somewhere further down the road? What if that throttle cable snapping was the answer to your loved one's prayer, asking God to keep you safe? What if that flat tire or dead battery was God's way of stalling you, just long enough to let the truck that was going to run a red light and smash into you, get through the intersection without incident?

It's all about perspective.

I don't pretend to know everything, nor should any of us. I can't say that I've never been annoyed, thrown a tool across the garage or cursed the rain clouds when I wanted to ride and I definitely won't sit here and tell you that I've always had the best attitude about things. What I can say, however, is that the older I get the more I realize just exactly what is, and what isn't, in our control. I can also tell you that with adversity there comes opportunity- I've seen proof of that more times in my life than I can count. 

We should embrace that adversity and learn from it; become better versions of ourselves every time we are faced with a challenge. Life caters to no one and time rolls on, whether we are having a good time riding our motorcycles or if we are broken down in the parking lot of a casino with a couple of our best friends. We should be thankful that the trip didn't end tragically and be grateful for the laughs we shared and the camaraderie we had. 

Good friends, good times and the blessings of the day.

By now you've probably figured out that this piece is directly related to my latest video that I uploaded to my YouTube channel last week. If you haven't seen it, I made it simple for you to find, by linking to it in second paragraph of this post (and I just snuck it in again, here). My plan that day was to bring my two best pals down the coastline, through a few backroads, across the state line and end up at a restaurant & brewhouse for lunch, before making our way back to our respective homes, via some scenic and somewhat winding backroads. 

While we didn't end up at our pre-planned destination, we did end up spending some good quality time riding, laughing and helping each other out. We proved that day, that good times with good friends don't always have to go as planned. With a little faith, a good attitude about our predicament and a little bit of bailing wire and some roadside ingenuity... we still managed to have a great day on our motorcycles and isn't that what it's all about anyway?

Writer's note- 
As I wrote this post, the fact that today marks the 15th anniversary of the day that Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama coastline, was not lost on me. Nor was the fact that the people of western Louisiana and eastern Texas are now suffering through similar devastation from Hurricane Laura. Adversity has a way of bringing out the best in people, when you have enough faith to see it, that is. 15 years ago I, along with so many others, saw our coastal home devastated so badly, that I wasn't  sure that we could ever recover from it. But we did. We pulled together, helped each other out and supported each other as Americans, Southerners and most of all, children of God. While our communities still bare the scars that mark that tragic day, we have rebuilt our homes, our cities and our neighborhoods... even better than what they were before that fateful day 15 years ago. 

This message is for all those who are suffering- have faith, help each other, trust in God to give you strength and He will. Don't lose hope- you will recover from this; you will because you must. 

From the MotoWriter, and all of your friends and neighbors to the east, we are praying for your strength and speedy recovery. 

Friday, August 21, 2020


Why are motorcyclists so infatuated with riding?

The very idea of riding a motorcycle can be terrifying for some, but for others, it's as essential to life as breathing. Why is it then, that such a stark contrast of emotions can be derived from such a simple machine?

What is a motorcycle?

Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines a motorcycle as: an automotive vehicle with two in-line wheels. Well, there you have it- how very technically accurate of them. It's not an incorrect definition; after all, motorcycles do have a motor and two wheels that are in-line with each other, but for so many of us, motorcycles are much, much more than this simple, and somewhat, diminutive definition would suggest.

Stress reliever and therapist

As I've previously mentioned in my blog and in my videos, my motorcycle is my stress relief- my therapist, if you will. After a long, stressful day at work, I look forward to getting on my motorcycle for what I like to call my "mototherapy." There's just something relaxing about coming home from work after a long, crappy day at the office and getting in the saddle. There are few things more relaxing than feeling the wind on my face, seeing the sun setting behind the tall, lanky southern pines and ancient oak trees and hearing the cicadas, crickets and tree frogs chirping and buzzing the final moments of daylight away. Just being on the bike while the sun slowly melts into the horizon, turning the trees into black silhouettes starkly contrasted by the fading orange, pink and blue sky, creating a hauntingly beautiful skyline, makes it feel like you're on the canvas of a masterpiece while it's being created. I know that may sound silly to some, but my fellow motorcycle riders know exactly what I'm talking about. 

The answer is in the question

Riding a motorcycle isn't something that you just do, it's something that you are a part of. You drive a car, but you ride a motorcycle. In a car, you are surrounded by layers of metal, fabric, foam and glass... much of which is completely unused on a daily basis. On a motorcycle though, you are on it- you are a part of it. You are the component that keeps it from falling over on it's side while at a stop. You must use both hands and both feet to operate it. The speed of the machine is directly proportional to the amount of movement you put in your wrist and the steering and control of the bike is directly and immediately influenced by even the slightest shift of your body. Riding a motorcycle isn't something that you simply do, but rather, it is a completely immersive activity. Being a motorcyclist isn't something that you do, it is something that you become. 

An emotional response

Motorcycles evoke emotions from, almost, everyone. Whether its excitement, anxiety, fear or elation, when someone sees a motorcycle ride by, they feel it. Small kids sitting in the rear seats of their mom and dad's beige SUV's and baby blue minivans, will sit and stare at a biker stopped for traffic. Kids and grown-ups alike tend to have an uncontrollable urge to wave at motorcycles as they ride by. Many of us can even remember a time in our childhood, when we saw (or heard) a motorcycle cruise past our house, or pass up the family truckster while we were taking a road trip to see grandma and grandpa. Even those among us that don't ride have some kind of motorcycle story to tell. 

Speaking of motorcycles

Every rider has his or her own story of how they learned to ride and, if you give them enough time, they'll be more than happy to tell you what got them into it. We can't help it, we love to share our passion for riding with other people. When someone gets inspired to try it out for themselves... we can barely contain our excitement for them. We want to share our successes and failures, tips and riding advice with them. We genuinely want them to be good, safe riders. When someone crashes their bike, we rally around them, supporting them and helping them heal... many times not even knowing them personally. We help them fix their motorcycle, or find a new one if it can't be repaired.

In the motorcycling community, we believe in helping each other out. It's common knowledge that if you see a fellow biker on the side of the road, you stop and check on him or her. Lending a hand and offering help isn't something that we have to be told to do, it's just something that we do, because we know it's the right thing to do.

Leather clad angels on two wheels

Motorcyclists are some of the most gracious, charitable and genuinely helpful people in our communities. The motorcycling community as a whole is responsible for donating millions of dollars a year to some of the most honorable and worthy causes in our communities. From raising money and collecting clothing for the local family that lost their house in a fire, to donating toys for underprivileged kids, to giving hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to the American Cancer Society or Saint Jude's Children's Hospital, it's easy to see that not all angels have wings and a halo, some of them wear leather vests and helmets. 

When a police officer, firefighter or service member dies, there is usually some kind of procession of motorcyclists there to honor and respect the fallen hero. Often, you will see a mix of both police motor officers and civilian riders, slowly rolling together to honor the dead. Sometimes, the riders will park their bikes along the roadway, heads bowed and hands over their hearts, or arms stiffly raised to their brow in respectful salute, to show grace and pay their respect to the family of the fallen. 

One bad apple

Many people associate all motorcyclists with the "gangs" they see on television shows and news reports. There are, literally, millions of dollars to be made on selling these stories to the masses. Shows like Sons of Anarchy and America Undercover are proof of that. The ironic part is that most of these storied clubs refer to themselves as "one percenters", meaning that they, themselves, acknowledge that they only make up about one percent of the motorcycling community. That means that out of 100 motorcycle riders you come across, only one of them will potentially be a self-admitted "outlaw." That means that the other 99 are good, honest, law abiding citizens that just happen to ride motorcycles. Another ironic detail that many folks don't want to admit, is that even the guys wearing those ominous looking patches on their backs, will often stop to offer assistance to a fellow motorcycle rider that's broken down or crashed. We rarely see that kind of camaraderie among other groups of people, with old car enthusiasts being one of the very few exceptions. 

As kids, we are taught (or at least we should be) not to judge an entire group of people based on the actions of a few, so why do we allow all motorcyclists to be judged and condemned because of the actions of a few bad apples? Why do we propagate the fear of horrible crashes, bloody highways and instant death as a result of riding motorcycles to our kids? How many times have you heard "motorcycles are dangerous, I know a guy that knew a guy, whose best friend was killed in a horrible motorcycle crash"? That seems to be such a common comment. Of course, a little research into the story might often implicate the operator of said motorcycle of some poor decision making and reckless operation of his machine... both of which would have more than likely led that poor schmuck to the same fate had he been behind the wheel of a Buick, instead of being perched atop a Kawasaki.

Teach the kids to respect the ride

Instead of teaching the, inevitable, next generation of riders to be afraid of their machines, why not teach them to embrace them? I refer to them as the "inevitable next generation of riders" simply because most kids (and many adults who refuse to grow old) will always seek to quench their thirst for excitement with the satisfying libation that is riding. 

Instead of teaching the next generation to fear the power of the machine, we should teach them how to harness it. Instead of telling them they will die, we should be teaching them how not to. Proper gear, good techniques and plenty of practice are all great points to cover. Many people may not realize this, but a little known fact is that good, well practiced and experienced motorcycle riders are actually much better car drivers, too. They tend to look further down the road, anticipate the actions of other drivers faster and are generally more alert to adverse driving conditions. We never hear about them though, because we only track statistics of bad drivers- not good ones.

The final answer and my final thought

So, why are motorcyclists so infatuated with riding their bikes? Because motorcycles are more personal to each individual rider- the fitment, the power and the overall ride of every motorcycle is uniquely specific, and finely tuned to each rider and his or her preferences. We do this on purpose. We customize our bikes to make them fit us and our needs. We want to express our individuality and our personality in the bikes that we ride because we form a bond with the machine- we trust it, we take care of it, and in return, it will take care of us- both physically and mentally.

I suppose that Merriam-Webster's definition probably is the best, though. After all, if we tried to actually define our beloved motorcycles by what they actually are and what they mean for us, the definition would probably be 7 pages long and non-riders probably still wouldn't understand. 

Thursday, August 6, 2020

WRIDING is my stress relief

Writing + Riding = Wriding?

OK, maybe coming up with new words should be left up to the scholars.

I'll admit that I often think I'm more clever than I actually am. For example, when I came up with the word "socafriend", I thought that I would be hearing it everywhere. Well... that might be a stretch, but I did think that I might, at the very least, have someone ask me about it. But I digress, this isn't a piece about making new words, despite what the title might imply. That part was just a cheap ploy to get your attention and, if you're still reading this, hopefully it worked!

I like my regular job. It can be pretty interesting, heck it can even be a bit challenging, at times. If you know me at all by now, you know that I also have a passion for riding motorcycles and at the ole 9 to 5 grind, I even get paid to ride one every once in a while. Overall, it's a pretty good job, but more than anything, I'm privileged enough to work with some really great people who make the task of going to my office every day a little bit easier. Moreover, the full time gig is what actually pays the bills. Even with good coworkers, a few friends and a decent work schedule though, the job can still be pretty stressful at times. 

Along with my passion for riding motorcycles, I also love to write. I'm not saying I'm any good at it mind you- I'm just saying that I like to do it. If I were a better writer, maybe I'd be able to make enough dough that I didn't have to consider selling off one of my scooters every so often, just to support my coffee addiction. 

Stress is a bitch

It is often an unseen, unheard, odorless, apparition that strips us of our livelihood and our happiness before we can even realize it's happening. Sometimes, we can see the embodiment of it in the form of a red envelope in the mailbox that says "PAST DUE" across the front, other times it appears as a flat tire on our car or a bright orange "check engine" light, glowing brightly on our dashboard as our car slowly rolls to a stop in rush hour traffic. The worst kind of stress, though... by far... is the stuff that creeps up on us while we are busy living our lives in our most routine and mundane ways. It often manifests itself as a headache that lasts for a few days, maybe a stiff neck or a sore back. Sleeplessness and nightmares, stomach problems and an unsettling anxiety that just doesn't seem to go away are all good indicators of it, too. When someone suggests that we seem stressed, we reply with "I'm not stressed", knowing full well that we just let a lie slip past our lips.

As a parent, it's extremely easy to get caught up in this kind of stress, so much so, that there are simply too many ways to even bother mentioning them here. If you're a parent, you already know what I'm talking about. Even if you don't have kids though, the daily grind can still get you feeling the crushing pressure of that invisible demon. Going to work every day, trying to beat deadlines, meet sales quotas, achieve goals, prepare for that big presentation or trying to get promoted, can all cause you to feel that listlessness, exhaustion and neck and back pain that will eventually cause your blood pressure to escalate and your heart to flutter. It can all sneak up on you before you even know it and there are a million and three different ways for it to happen. 

Stress relief is near

We all find relief in our own ways. Some of those remedies are, admittedly, less healthy than others. Some people deal with their stress through their daily (or hourly) cigarette breaks, others deal with it by making a point to try to look through the bottom of as many whiskey tumblers as they can. I don't recommend those particular ways to alleviate stress, as I've seen a lot of bad things come from them. I'm not preaching at you not to drink- after all, the occasional adult beverage can be nice after a relaxing motorcycle ride. I'll leave my opinion on smoking out of this, except to say that it does a helluva lot of damage to your insides. Personally, I never could stand the burning feeling of intentionally pulling that hot, dry smoke into my lungs, but that's just me. 

Instead, I find my peace and stress relief in the saddle of my trusty two wheeler. When the weather is crappy, if I'm a little too tired from my day at the office or if I'm just inspired with a new idea, then I write. Looking back, I suppose that I've always been drawn to the written (or in this case- typed) word, even before I had a motorcycle in my garage. Lots of people might argue that smoking cigs are safer than riding motorcycles and, in their minds, I suppose they might be right. For me though, along with the fresh air in my lungs and the cool wind and warm sun on my skin, there is a certain therapeutic affect that usually starts with a deep breath and ends up in a big shiver as the stress gets purged out at 60 mph. The soothing drone of a V-twin engine is like a symphony to me when I'm having a bad week and seeing the sunlight shimmer through the leaves of the passing trees in the early morning light is a visual experience like nothing else I've seen.

Writing requires passion 

Reading something that was written with no passion, absent of any genuine interest by the author, is immediately discernible to even the most indifferent of readers. Those are the articles that read like a press release- "just the facts, ma'am... just the facts." It's akin to reading an instruction manual for a new toothbrush. When the writer loves his subject matter though, when he is excited about what he's telling you, the creativity starts to flow and the reader starts to feel the enthusiasm in those written words. Again, I'm not suggesting that I have that ability, after all, that's for you to decide. I just enjoy riding my motorcycle and then trying my best to describe the feeling of riding to those of you who can't get out and ride because you are stuck in COVID quarantine, for those that don't know how to ride, for those with nothing better to do than read my blog or, for you folks that are laying in bed trying to just read something boring to put you to sleep. If you're one of the latter, sleep well.

If you're still awake and still with me, then hang in there, I'm almost done with this one

I find a certain level of contentment in letting my passion for motorcycling live outside of the rattletrap that is my own, stress filled, head. As a writer, if I can bring you, even a few, moments of laughter, joy or shared excitement for riding motorcycles, then I've accomplished my goal. 

I can usually find, at the very least, a half hour or so to ride my motorcycle, but if for some reason I can't, I try to at least write something that conveys the euphoria of motorcycle riding to anyone who happens to stumble upon this blog. By choosing the right words to describe the feeling, the sights and the smells that I experience while cruising down some random, two-lane back road in the middle of nowhere, I am hoping to give you the opportunity to experience, if only vicariously and for a few moments, the thrill of riding whenever you find yourself unable to do so.

I hope you enjoy reading my occasional bit of wordsmithing and I truly hope that I can inspire you to turn off your computer, or put down your phone, and go get on your motorcycle instead. If you don't have a bike, well maybe you'll be inspired to get one, and learn how to ride it. Either way, ride safe and make good choices, and maybe I'll see you out on the road. Maybe, we'll even give each other a wave as we go by.