Out in a burnt up, open field just above Tumalo Resevoir, I pull my bike off the single track I am exploring and stop Lorraine next to what I can only assume was once, or many times, a makeshift firepit. With the engine off, I put the kickstand down, dismount, and take off my helmet, gloves, and jacket, laying them all across the seat of the bike. It’s a stunning bluebird day, not a cloud in the sky, and the smell of the Douglas Fir’s fills my nostrils on the gentle breeze. I walk about 20 yards away from Lorraine in my squeaky Tech 7 boots, take a seat down in the dry grass, and stare out at the beautiful Oregon high desert and mountains, alone for miles and happy to escape town.
Still, I did come out here for a reason. And after taking a few deep breaths, I finally feel it coming. My throat tightens, tears well up in my eyes and then start to fall down my cheeks, and I sob, for maybe a few seconds, before that sob surprisingly becomes something else.
Laughter. Laughter that doesn’t stop as I reflect on the madness of what my life has become. Laughter, at how in the hell I managed to get myself here. Laughter, at the mystery of human existence, and though the tears keep falling, I realize this was the actual release I needed. Because regardless of the struggle I find myself in, or the sadness, or the frustration, or the hurt, I am happier than I’ve ever been – an incredible irony, and an incredible way to look at this new chapter unfolding as I type this little story.
So let’s get to it…how it all began.
My fascination with motorcycles was born at a very young age – most of my heroes were badass women like Lara Croft and Lisbeth Salander, though like so many adolescents, I was forbidden from ever riding, and out of respect to my parents, I obeyed their wishes until I finished college.
No more than a day after graduation, I signed up for a motorcycle training course, and thus commenced the love affair which has entirely consumed my life. I never smile bigger than when I am behind the handlebars, chasing down sunsets on an endless horizon, burning rubber against the pavement, and for the first ten years of my two-wheeled existence, I was a road warrior.
However, this last year, my eleventh year of riding, has changed absolutely everything, including me.
The story of this epic year begins the way a lot of other stories do. What was the catalyst for one of the greatest shifts in my life? What was the push which got me into adv riding at this capacity? What finally caused me to say fuck it all, here we go, let’s see what happens?
Well, I fell in love. With adventure riding, and with a person who pulled me down a rabbit hole to wonderland.
By happenstance, a stranger walked into my life and blew up my whole world in the best possible way, because their presence inspired me to push myself, unlike I had in years, and as a result I am about to embark on one of the greatest journeys I could ever have anticipated. From that connection I received a gift – I began to believe in myself, readily testing my capabilities, and through much consistent trial and error, I continue to learn each day how to become a better adv rider. And while my passion and drive with motorcycles is stronger today than it’s ever been, that stranger who encouraged me to dream so big and impacted me so deeply, is once again a stranger.
A gentle reminder – most of the human beings who come into our lives are not meant to stay; they serve their purpose, big or small, and for a variety of reasons, move on, just as we do. It’s not always easy, and I will be honest and admit I miss him more often than I should, but rather than dwell on what is past, my heart is now filled with a different devotion, one which has been calling to me for years.
But – let’s cut back to the end of last summer, when I took my then BMW GS F700 out on my first adv ride. This route wouldn’t be much to the average off road rider, yet to me, that afternoon was an ass kicker. I had never learned how to stand on a bike, never been on dirt, hell, I’d barely been off pavement in the last decade, and then proceeded to spend the day chasing two guys I barely knew around on dirt and gravel roads for seven hours. By the time I got to beers around six that night, I could barely stand up, hardly lift my arms, and don’t even get me started on the weird hip flexor ache and twitches; still, none of that mattered whatsoever, because the minute that Sunday was over, I knew I was going to become an adv rider. And so, I dove into the deep end, headfirst, with a shit-eating grin on my face.
I bought a dirt bike, and got out at least one day a week to learn. I fell into a YouTube binging spree, educating myself on just what this sport was I couldn’t stop obsessing over. And I kept making myself do things that scared the hell out of me – the amount of CBD I went through during those days was quite high, the cost perhaps of being a 33 year old and taking hard and sometimes terrifying falls as I learned a new skill. Then, through a new job working in motorcycle adventure tours, I was sent down to Baja to ride from San Diego to San Jose del Cabo, and consequently, put my mental and physical limitations to the test.
Without going into too many details, I will say this – I survived that trip by sheer force of will and came home a different person. At the end of the tour, any lingering anxiety or fear I had about adv riding was long gone, and instead, I found myself driven to simply get better. This propelled simultaneously by the fact that after that trip, I came home with the best friend I’ve ever had, sold my GS and bought a Honda CB500X, and proceeded to build the new bike out thanks to Outback Motortek (click here to see what I used and why!). All I wanted to do, and still want to do, is ride, and so I did, through winter and early spring. This went on, until it was time to head back down to Baja in April and sweep guide a tour on my new beauty, who I properly named Lorraine after Charlize Theron’s character in Atomic Blonde.
Yet at the end of April, this new world I’d created for myself went entirely up in flames.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, after an entire month on traveling on tour and attending events for work, promptly on May 1, I had to walk away from my job, and for a short period of time, I was at a loss wondering what in the fuck I would do next, though thankfully that period of feeling misplaced did not last long. The narrative in my head evolved within a matter of days – I hadn’t lost everything…
I had nothing to lose.
I broke my lease. I made a plan to move home and build a ‘base camp’ and garage on my family’s 80 acre ranch. I began selling my possessions. And I started riding like a motherfucker. Why? Because this was it. Since my mid 20s I wanted to live on the road, and I am fortunate enough and well-traveled enough to have an idea of making that feasible; yet consistently in the past, I’d allowed certain anchors of commitment to hold me back. None of that existed anymore – it was just me, and the only loyalty I owed was to myself, and to my dream of pursuing a life I’d always wanted.
In another life I’d proudly called myself an author. Now? A storyteller, a renegade who chases adventure and sees the world with open eyes. Lorraine and I have quite the ride ahead of us, and I cannot wait to take all of you on this journey with me, and share both stories of life on the road and pieces of myself as we wander in wonder.
Live wild. Ride free.