Baja - A Tribute to Carlin Dunne

Directed by Dana Brown

Words by the director of photography, Kevin Ward


I originally met Carlin Dunne at the Zaca Station motocross track in Los Olivos, CA sometime in the late 90s. We became fast friends, even though I was 20 years his senior. He took the time to tow the "old guy" over a couple tricky step-ups I was having a hard time with, and my frustrating day became a fantastic day. There were many more fantastic days of riding and racing to follow, far south of the border in Baja, up in the Piute Mtn. range in California, the hills above Santa Barbara, and even off the coast of California for a one-off event, the Catalina Grand Prix. I pointed my camera at Carlin in a lot of those same locales, most memorably filming for Ducati at the Pikes Peak Hill climb in Colorado. Several years ago my friend Dana Brown, an incredibly talented filmmaker, approached Carlin and I with an idea for a branded entertainment piece for YETI that we would film down in Baja, one of my favorite stomping grounds. I feel the 8 minute piece above captures Carlin at his best, doing what he loved most, riding and hanging out with his closest buddies. One of the best descriptions of Carlin comes from his friend Sean Eberz.

"His understanding for the mechanics on his bike were very similar to him understanding the mechanics of life. Watching him grow up, he only got better at everything and really blew us all away with who he became as a person.”

Born into motorcycling, Dunne’s father, a South African road racer and former Isle of Man competitor, made sure there was a small bike waiting for Carlin when he was born. Living above his family’s 1,000 sq. ft. motorcycle repair shop until the age of seven, it’s no surprise that his toys growing up consisted of old engine parts.

For Dunne, a life dedicated to two and four wheeled motorsports was almost inevitable. Being a professional motorcycle racer himself, Dunne's father understood the hardships that came along with the profession and thus never forced the same life upon his son. As a result, Carlin dabbled in all different discipline's during his youth. Competing out of desire and not out of necessity allowed for Dunne to develop a lifelong obsession for perfecting his craft.

A few of Carlin’s accomplishments include 2 Baja wins, 3 Pikes Peak wins, 6 feature films, 3 world records, and much much more. Racing motorcycle is a dangerous endeavor, and Carlin was aware of this. His death was a devastating loss for the motorcycle industry and the hundreds of lives he affected throughout his career, but at least we can find some comfort knowing that he passed doing what he loved most.

The Good Old Days Are Now

Taking it Back to Simpler Times

Words by Ben Giese | Photos by Aaron Brimhall


Growing up in a motocross family was a childhood unlike any other. We spent our weekends sitting in the dirt and launching our bodies through the air to see if we could get around the racetrack faster than our friends. It’s kind of weird when you think about it like that. Sure, there was the occasional blood and broken bones, but most of the time those weekends were filled with nothing but laughs and smiles. Saturday night’s pre-race campfires were a gathering of friends old and new. I think of them as our chosen family — a group of crazy humans who found pleasure living the same strange life as we did. We lived off Gatorade and brown-bag sandwiches, and would come home from the races caked in sweat and dirt — sunburnt and exhausted in the best way. Those endless and unforgettable weekends brought us all closer together, and I feel fortunate that we all got to share that period of life doing something we love.

Eventually, though, we all grew older, and the passage of time led us all on our individual journeys to adulthood. Some of us moved away for school or work, and some of us don’t even ride anymore. Reality set in for all of us, and the responsibilities of adulthood transformed those gasoline-fueled weekends with friends and family into nothing but a fond memory.

Since those glory days have passed, I’ve spent a decade pursuing my career, chasing the dream of paying rent by capitalizing on my love for motorcycles. It’s been great to stay involved in the motorcycle industry after my racing years were over and to see things come full circle like they have. But as each year passes and META continues to grow, I’ve found that I’m spending less and less time behind a set of handlebars, and more and more time behind a computer screen. Lately it has gotten to a point of frustration, and I’m realizing that chasing this “dream” means nothing if I don’t have time to stop and enjoy it once in a while. 

With that realization, I called up my dad and brother to plan out a much-needed weekend getaway in the Utah desert. My dad also works a demanding and stressful job, and my brother Mike was in the midst of a job change and planning his move to Washington. I think we each needed this trip in our own way, and it might be our last chance to get together and do something like this for a while. I was really looking forward to getting off-grid, with no cell service and no distractions to relive those good old days.

Dad and I woke up at 5 a.m., loaded the Husqvarna FX 350 and FC 450 into our Toyota Tundra, brewed some coffee and hit the road well before the sun came up.  The drive from Denver to our destination is about 7 hours, so we had plenty of time to catch up and tell stories. Road trips are always fun, but this one was extra special. It reminded me of the dozens of trips we took as a family driving back and forth across the country to one motocross race or another. I think those experiences as kids really instilled a love for travel and a sense of wanderlust in Mike and me. 

Mike lived in Park City, Utah, at the time, so he would just meet up with us at a roadside destination in the middle of nowhere, and we would caravan out to the riding spot. My dad jumped in the car with Mike for the remainder of the drive, and I would occasionally look in the rearview mirror to see him hanging out the window with his camera snapping photos. Ever since I can remember, he’s had a camera in his hand documenting our adventures. I chuckled to myself and thought “some things never change.” 

As we pulled into our destination just outside of Hanksville, Utah, the stoke was at an all-time high.  No matter how many times I’ve been here, the size and beauty of this landscape always takes my breath away. “Swingarm City” — more commonly referred to as “Caineville” by old-school riders — is a legendary riding spot. I first came here in 2003 on a YZ85, and have been watching VHS tapes of the pros riding out here since the ’90s. Towering rock faces and canyons surround miles of steep ridgelines and valleys. This place is humbling and has a way of making you feel small. The massive moto-playground features endless jumps, berms, hill climbs and everything in between. The only limit to possibilities out here is your imagination.

Mike and I each individually hadn’t ridden dirt bikes in over a year, and we hadn’t ridden together in several years. It’s a shame, really, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured we would be a bit rusty, and it might take some time to get back into the flow of riding together. But as soon as we geared up and started the bikes, it was like we never had skipped a beat. We followed each other up massive hills, balancing across steep ridgelines and floating side by side over jumps. The decades we’ve spent riding together quickly became obvious. 

We spent the next 8 hours or so ripping around and having as much fun as ever, stopping only occasionally to fill up on gas and drink some water. The afternoon flew by as Mike and I blasted berms into the sunset. We returned to camp to find my dad with a fire blazing and a cast-iron skillet cooking up some jambalaya. Mike and I took off our gear, and we all sat around the fire eating and telling stories, reflecting on a day we will never forget.

My blistered hands are the trademarks of a day well spent. And much like our childhood weekends at the races, the memories made here this weekend will live within each of us forever. This trip has been a reminder to slow down and enjoy the little things. It makes me smile to know those days are not gone. The good old days are now.

Baltic Dreams

From Moscow to the Baltic Sea

A film by Daniel Kushnarevich


While most people dream of riding the infinite tropical beaches of Bali, Alexey Kalabin always was a "nothern boy" who prefers wind and cold instead of the heat. Inspired by some of META’s dreamy films riding on various beaches around the world he took his Honda Baja all way from Moscow to the frigid Baltic Sea to shred the shoreline and enjoy some evening waves. Ride on, Alexey - this one put a smile on our face.

James Crowe

The Reality of Freedom

Words by Jann Eberharter | Photo by Paris Gore


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Two years ago, James Crowe settled into a little slice of paradise. It’s maybe a quarter of an acre and had two small structures on it at the time. One was a derelict prefabricated house that he wasted no time in tearing down. The second was a garage with a small apartment above that needed a lot of work. Naturally, he rebuilt the garage first, turning it into a full-on machine shop, complete with a lathe, mill, CNC machine, frame jig and welding table. 

His priorities are as visible in his remodeling choices as they are out of his upstairs living room window, which offers a stunning view of Mount Currie, the pride of Pemberton, British Columbia. He’s only half an hour away from Whistler, the resort town where he grew up and the path that got him here has been one of figuring out what he wanted to prioritize in life, and doing just that. 

Crowe is a mellow dude. He carries his lanky stature with confidence and speaks softly with thought. He usually has a bit of leftover grease on his hands, still rocks a flip phone, and, at 32 years old, has a few gray hairs beginning to make an appearance in his light-brown hair.

First and foremost, he’s a craftsman. His skill, style and creativity are visible in the custom motorcycles he’s built over the years, the parts he machines and even the tools that hang on the wall. Scribbled on one of his tool boxes is an Ed Roth quote:

“Imagination is the limit and speed is the need. Everything else is irrelevant.” 

Making ends meet solely as an artist can prove challenging though. One pervading trend throughout Crowe’s career has been his ability and willingness to put his head down and grind, focusing on his end goal. He did that for two years in Portland, Oregon, working two full-time jobs. He worked on the oil rigs in Saskatchewan for a summer before embarking on a 10-month journey to South America and back on a custom-built bike. And a job as a welder for the Municipality of Whistler brought him home to British Columbia, somewhere he could settle down and enjoy the surrounding mountains—and the ability to clock out at the end of a long day.

Growing up in Whistler, Crowe naturally took to the mountains. His father groomed the municipality’s cross-country ski trails in the winter, while his mother landscaped in the summers, and between the two, he had plenty of opportunities to chase the seasons. He raced cross-county mountain bikes during high school and skied in the winters. But nothing compared to when he first dug into a combustion engine. His parents gave him a 1990 Mazda pickup two years before he could even legally drive and the truck introduced him to a whole new world.

“I loved all the outdoors things growing up,” he says. “But when I discovered fabrication and welding, that was kind of what I discovered for myself and there wasn’t any of that happening here. I realized really early that making things from scratch with metal, whatever it might be, was where my passion was.”

Once out of high school, he continued chasing that passion. Crowe found a small trade school in Laramie, Wyoming that had a one-year concentrated program for sheet-metal shaping and chassis fabrication. It was exactly what he was looking for. He learned to weld and committed himself wholeheartedly to getting everything out of the experience he could. 

“All of a sudden I was in this new scene with all the tools and everything that I ever dreamed of, and the shops and the cars and the instructors,” Crowe says. “I was loving life.”

His ultimate project at school was a 1958 GMC pickup that he rebuilt. It wasn’t quite done by the time he graduated, so he lived out of a storage unit while making the final modifications. From there, he drove straight to Portland, where he’d received a job offer at a high-end restoration shop. It was there, at Steve’s Auto Restoration, that Crowe began tinkering with motorcycles.

As most mechanics do, he’d accumulated a lot of stuff, including an old Ford Model T. To make ends meet, he moved out of his apartment and into his Volkswagen Bus, renting a garage that soon became too packed to even work on anything. He sold it all and bought three XS 650s, which together would, he hoped, make one working bike.

“Once I got the bike running and once I actually started riding motorcycles, it was on,” Crowe says. “Nothing else really mattered at that point; it was just that feeling of what a bike gives you—it’s amazing.”

This was perhaps the first chapter of Crowe’s all-out working binge. He’d grind at Steve’s during the day and then commute across the Columbia River to Vancouver, Washington for a night job at another fabrication shop. Who knows when—or if—he slept. He took his vacation time to ride to Bonneville Speed Week, where he was in full company of fellow motorheads and got a taste of the open road and sleeping under the stars.

Soon after, Crowe and his best friend Jordan Hufnagel rented warehouse space in Portland where they began to assemble their own shop and a space where they could create whatever they wanted. This was after the Great Recession hit in 2008, and Crowe was able to buy various heavy duty machinery (thanks to his two jobs) that came up for sale. Much of the collection now occupies his shop in Pemberton.

“The motorcycle scene was really taking off at that time and I got really lucky to just meet the right people at an early time,” he says. “There was all this momentum growing to where all the sudden everybody wanted motorcycles.”

It was at this time that he started machining parts and operating under the moniker Crowe Metal Co. He designed and produced custom handlebars, levers, lights and even reinforced frames. He built up a custom BMW R series camper cruiser and CB 750 that caught the eye of enthusiasts all over. The bikes are works of art that also happen to cruise at 70 miles per hour, a visible extension of Crowe’s style and interpretation of what a motorcycle should be.

Being pent up in a workshop results in some impressive productivity, but it also leads to some wild ideas. Sometime during this phase, perhaps in the early hours of the morning, or over a few beers (probably both), Crowe and Hufnagel dreamed up the idea of heading south. Both feeling a little burnt out on working all the time and still being broke — and with a couple of XR 600s in the garage — they decided they needed to hit the road. Logically, in 2011, they set their sights on South America, perhaps the longest possible continual ride from Portland. 

“Often, it’s more about building the bikes than actually riding them,” Crowe says. “But the trips test the build.” 

And test them they did. Crowe took a year to finish up his businesses in Portland before heading to Saskatchewan, where he spent the summer working on an oil rig. He returned with relentless determination and plenty of time to prepare their bikes for the journey, reinforcing the sub frames, expanding the gas tanks, increasing gear capacity and minimizing breakability. Then, they spent the better part of a year riding dirt roads and mountain passes to the southern tip of Patagonia.

“You go where the road takes you,” Crowe says. “You’re kind of heading south, but you’re trying to ride as much dirt as possible, so you’re trying to follow routes you don’t know much about. At the end of the day, all the amazing memories I have are from the little tiny towns when we were lost and the places we got to go that had no significance [on the map].”

An experience like that—seeing the world firsthand—is enough to make anyone think about what really matters.

For Crowe, it was definitely motorcycles, but also the luxuries of the mountains and a place where he could craft and create with metal. 

During the trip, he and Hufnagel established West America, a brand of sorts that embodied their lifestyle and travels. They sold gear to offset their travel costs, connecting with a following who lived vicariously through their photos and frequent updates. When he returned to Portland after the trip, Crowe tried to keep the West America dream alive through travel opportunities and commissioned fabrications.

He went on a two week bike-packing trip to Bolivia and built custom bikes for brands, but all the while felt the lack of authenticity that they had when documenting their riding in South America. He doesn’t mind admitting that he overcommitted himself, and the stress of trying to follow through on everything took a toll.

“It was a huge learning experience of what I actually cared about, which is making things with my hands,” Crowe says. “I love photography and I love storytelling, but not for other people. When I came back, I thought that I could live this fairytale life of building motorcycles and traveling and balancing those two things. The reality is, to do something genuine takes genuine time and if you spread yourself too thin, then pretty soon everything sucks—something’s getting sacrificed.”

For Crowe, one of those sacrifices was his marriage. It was a tempestuous few years, and in 2015 he headed home to Whistler, where he was offered a full-time heavy duty welding job for the municipality. In many ways, the move was contrary to so much in his life up to this point in time—fixed hours and upper management had never been his style. Not long after, he migrated north to Pemberton, where he plans to be indefinitely.

On a different level though, accepting the job was what Crowe needed to do at the time, a resolution that he’s equally familiar with. Just like working around the clock in Portland, or on the oil rigs of Saskatchewan, the motive of this job was in how it would set him up for the future. He figured out his priorities and put them first. 

“It was something I avoided my whole life,” Crowe says. “Getting a nine-to-five, that was like, ‘The world’s going to end if I have to get a real job.’ But the reality is, the last two years, I’ve never had more freedom.” 

His machine shop hadn’t been assembled since the Portland days, but now it’s fully complete and meticulously clean (although that might change), ready to churn raw steel into whatever beautiful piece of art Crowe decides. Orders continue to trickle in for the pieces he designed to take those BMW R series bikes to the next level and he’s happy to indulge in some architectural fabrication for contractors in the Pemberton Valley.

A short ride north of his spot delivers unreal opportunities for backcountry missions on his XR, while a few minutes’ pedal brings Crowe to the base of Pemberton’s venerated mountain bike trails, which he rides regularly on his Chromag hardtail. In the winter, he’s a short sled mission away from multiple backcountry skiing stashes.

Here, Crowe has found a balance in his priorities, one that clocks 40 hours a week and is far from the backroads of South America, but still delivers genuine time. It’s a place where he’s got his machines and his mountains, and together they provide the good life.

A Journey of Discovery

Denver to Sturgis and Back with Tucker

Words by Dale Spangler | Photos by Jacob Vaughan | Film by Carter York


There are few better ways we can think of to kick-off a new partnership than by riding motorcycles together. The open road beckons to bring those that ride together closer together through ritualistic moments of shared experience on the journey along the way. Emails are ignored, phones muted, camaraderie ensues, and the mind begins to relax as one starts to live in the moment.

After recently putting together a partnership with META to support some of their future projects, the idea came to us: meet at the META headquarters in downtown Denver’s trendy RiNo neighborhood, spend a day gathering content, put together a route plan, and then hit the road to Sturgis for a few days of riding and living the biker life. In addition to a leading motorcycle lifestyle publication and website, we admire META’s inclusive approach to motorcycling. Their motto, “A life well ridden,” celebrates riding and racing no matter what type of rider you happen to be, or what type of motorcycle you happen to ride. So, to kick off our new partnership, we went on a motorcycle adventure together.

Tucker Creative Director Jacob Vaughan, Videographer Carter York, and Content Manager Dale Spangler each made their way to Denver to meet up with META Founding Partner and Publisher Andrew Campo. The crew arrived in Denver on Thursday, August 1st and headed straight to the META headquarters. After a brief meet-and-greet, we organized an apparel photo and video shoot in the neighborhood surrounding META that featured some of the new 2020 apparel from Roland Sands DesignFirstGear, and Speed and Strength. With such a diverse group of bikes (2019 Harley Street Bob, 2004 Triumph T100, 2019 KTM 790 Adventure R, and a 2016 Triumph T120 Black) we had apparel to match each of the bike’s target audiences. Andrew was even kind enough to lend us a Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 that matched the 2020 Speed and Strength gear so well it looked as if it was meant for the bike.

After a successful photo and video content mission (while dodging a few rain showers along the way), we headed back to META headquarters to organize our gear and make final plans for the next day’s departure. The big question for each of us was how much gear to bring, and how to strap it to our bikes, which we accomplished with help from Tucker brands Giant Loop, FirstGear, Burly Brand, and Zulz Bag Co. After a little experimentation, and some trial and error, each of us settled on what we thought was the appropriate setup to carry everything we needed for four days of life on the road.

Friday we awoke to clear skies and a sense of excitement for the adventure that lay ahead. Our first section consisted of a short stint north from Denver to Boulder for a lunch meet-up at Sidney’s Moto Club. Sidney’s is a haven for motorcyclists, with riders stopping in to hang out at the clubhouse. Members of the club can also take advantage of the onsite community repair shop to wrench on their bike, order parts, or hang out and bench race with fellow riders. Sidney’s is on to something with its community-building club atmosphere and refreshing spin on what a modern motorcycle shop experience should be. The crew couldn’t have been more kind, and they provided us with some tasty empanadas for lunch and a sweet t-shirt as a parting gift. A big thanks to Sidney’s Moto Club owner Elton Randall for the hospitality.

After Sidney’s, we pinned it north toward Cheyenne and made a pit stop at The Historic Plains Hotel downtown. The western-style hotel located near the Wyoming State Capitol building was the spot for bikers headed north to Sturgis. The streets were packed with bikes parked around The Plains, including a group of twenty or so Australians on their way to Sturgis. After topping off with fuel, we were back on the road towards our next stop in Torrington, Wyoming, some 84 miles north. From Torrington, we continued north towards the day’s final destination Lusk, with a brief stop in Jay Em to explore the town’s old wooden structures. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Jay Em was eerily clean and quiet, as if a ghost town with a year-round population of 14 residents. With the sun about to set, we pinned it the last 22 miles from Jay Em to Lusk and the Covered Wagon Motel.

The next day, as we prepared to hit the road for Sturgis, Andrew noticed he had a flat rear tire on his T100. As much as we thought we’d prepared for life on the road, we hadn’t prepared enough, and after a trip to the local auto parts store for a can of fix-a-flat, we were on our way. A few hours and 125 miles up the road, we arrived at our rental property near Lead, dropped our excess gear, and headed for Deadwood and Sturgis to explore and take in the sights. After a quick visit to Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood to see the burial sites of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, we made our way to Rally Point in downtown Sturgis between Lazelle and Main Streets. Despite it being only the third day of the Rally, the streets were packed with bikers from across the globe. Harleys were everywhere, and those of us riding anything other than a Harley stood out like a waffle on a plate full of pancakes. However, the people-watching was off the charts, and we had a good time taking it all in.

Sunday we chose to explore the surrounding Black Hills National Forest and left the house around 9:00 am and headed south toward Mount Rushmore and the Iron Mountain Road. A sign we saw described the Iron Mountain Road as 17 miles long with 314 curves, 14 switchbacks, three pigtails, three tunnels, two splits, and four Presidents. The scenery was stunning and the road spectacular; and despite having to navigate 10 miles of thunderstorm-soaked pavement (without our rain gear), we enjoyed the beauty of this national treasure. Mount Rushmore, the CC Gideon Tunnel, and the Norbeck Overlook to name only a few stops along the route were all remarkable.

If there’s one lesson a rider quickly learns about life on the road, it’s that it takes much longer than it would seem to get somewhere, and the day goes by faster than one would imagine. Despite the Iron Mountain Road loop only being 135 miles total, the low speeds, large crowds, frequent stops, and unanticipated weather made for a six-hour plus day in the saddle. As we wound our way through the last few miles toward Custer, the rain disappeared, and the sun returned to make our trip back north the perfect end to our ride.


After a brief stop at the house, Jacob and Carter made their way back to Sturgis to meet up with the crew from Cardo Systems for a quick video interview and content capture. It was already Sunday night, and the next day, we were scheduled to make our way back to Denver and the META headquarters. Did we mention that time flies when you’re on the road?

Our Sturgis experience was coming to close, and though we only spent a few days in the area, Sturgis was our excuse for a road trip. It wasn’t so much about the destination. It was about the journey, getting to know one another through shared experience, meals together and engaging conversation, and riding long stretches of desolate highway with one another. A motorcycle road trip was indeed the perfect way to kick-off our new partnership with META.

On Monday, as we retraced our route south to Denver, we found ourselves stopping often. None of us wanted the journey to end, and if we could delay the inevitable, we could keep riding and not have to return to reality. Riding a motorcycle allows one to escape reality, even if only for a few days—or a few hours. As we raced our way south from Cheyenne on the last leg to Denver, under threatening skies, luck would be on our side. Instead of a violent thunderstorm, we experienced a serene sunset with the Rocky Mountains as its backdrop. We rolled into Denver in the dark, tired yet happy, proud of our achievement, and with a new level of appreciation for riding motorcycles.

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We want to thank Cardo Systems for supplying our team with communication systems for our trip. The Cardo communication systems made life on the road that much more comfortable by eliminating miscommunication and keeping our group together and on the same page while riding. A big thanks also goes out to Roland Sands Design, FirstGear, and Speed and Strength for their support with apparel. We also want to thank Andrew Campo from META for his hospitality and for being the inspiration behind this road trip. (Editor’s Note: Andrew made the entire trip with the fix-a-flat in his tire, and it never went flat again!) And an extra special thanks to Jimbo Darville for loaning us his Triumph 2016 T120. Check out his music, Jimbo Darville & the Truckadours, on iTunes and Spotify.

A Drifting Up

Find Your Purpose & Follow Your Passion

A Film by Dylan Wineland | Starring Aaron McClintock


“You go out there and you experience that environment on your bike in a way only you can ever experience it, no one will ever know where you went internally. I think you feel like, in a way, you’re your own super hero when you realize that you have created situations where you can experience those moments.”

Going into creating this film, we weren’t entirely sure what we were looking for. As the journey began though, the pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place. Aaron and I sat down one night and went down a rabbit hole. Why do we love riding our motorcycles so much? What is it that keeps us going time and time again? Questions that have fascinated the two of us for quite sometime. It became clear to us that through riding, we were able to tap into something that otherwise couldn’t be tapped into. A door seems to open for Aaron whenever he is on his motorcycle. The world becomes a blank canvas and his bike becomes a medium for which he can express his true authentic self. When you do the things you love to do, your truest self comes to life.

Having had this realization, we knew what we wanted the film to say. Our hope is that when viewers see this, they can resonate, become inspired, and chase after whatever makes them feel their most authentic self. A Drifting Up is an introspective look into what passion can bring out of someone and how important it can be to becoming your highest self. 

The Mint 400

Return of the Bikes

Words by Bill Bryant | Photos courtesy Mint 400


“There he goes. One of god’s own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Desert racing is a wildly enigmatic sport generally associated with Fast Guys, Rich Guys and Dumb Guys. If you’re going to try it, you just gotta figure out which one you are gonna be. The endurance required is the long-format sort. It’s not the skills that win a Supercross, or that get one through the harsh terrain encountered in this kind of racing; it’s the thousands of micro-decisions that happen over hours and hours of riding that make the difference. 

Part of the charm is this — the only qualifications required are that your machine and helmet pass tech, and that you can afford the entry fee. Prep your bike or buggy properly; have your logistics, fuel and navigation wired tightly; and you’ve got a chance of success. This sport was built on the backs of hearty individuals who did their best work hundreds of miles away from other humans. You’ve got to love it unconditionally, because it does not love you back. The desert can smell arrogance miles away and takes crafty pride in humbling the richest and most talented riders, no matter their previous successes or accomplishments in other arenas. 

The origins of desert racing can be traced back to 1962, with Dave Ekins (Bud’s brother) and Billy Robertson Jr. These two legendary pioneers traversed the then-unpaved Mexican Federal Highway 1 for 950 miles, from Tijuana to La Paz, on Honda CL72 Scramblers as a publicity stunt for American Honda. Thirty-nine hours, 56 minutes after they started, a new form of racing had been born, and it was a filthy little underdog of a baby with mischief in its bloodshot eyes. Dune buggies and modified 4x4s soon followed, and a culture of desert rats speeding through the deep ruts and rocky traverses of the Southwest U.S. and Mexico has been constantly evolving ever since. 

The Mint 400, also known as “The Great American Off-Road Race,” first ran in 1968 and was shuttered after a twenty-year run, when the hotel it was named after was sold. Resurrected in 2008, it came back with a festive bang, and has truly grown into its nickname. A mind-blowing parade of race cars down the Las Vegas strip and two days of partying with racers, vendors and spectators on Freemont Street has only grown the festive atmosphere, while designated pits, restricted viewing areas and heavy-handed involvement from the BLM has morphed the event into a modern-day spectacle of off-road racing, all while making it safer for everyone involved. 

2019 was the first time motorcycles had been invited since 1976. The scariest aspect of racing on two wheels is the thought of a Trophy truck barreling through the choking dust directly behind you. It is a very real threat — and not one to be taken lightly. The Mint 400 organizers fixed this by putting the bikes on the course Saturday morning, followed by the vintage cars and side-by-side classes later that afternoon. Modern bikes did three 85-mile laps, and the vintage bikes (including a sick XR500 side-hack), along with the half-dozen interlopers on Harleys, were required to finish just two. Once the cars got on the course, any bike still moving was pulled off at the next checkpoint and considered a DNF. The big boys in Trophy Trucks and unlimited buggies didn’t race until the following day. Not mixing two-wheelers with cages was an upgrade in safety that no one complained about. 

The Gnarlys on Harleys were a race inside a race. Inappropriate as they were, their performance shocked not only spectators and fellow racers, but the riders themselves. Arnie Wells from Idaho was one of the only guys who had ever been to an actual desert race. A pillow freshly strapped to the seat of his mostly stock Sportster on lap two spoke legions about his experience that day. The team of combat veterans known as Warrior Built Racing has some race experience in Baja on bikes and in their Class 11 Volkswagen. They had the audacity to attempt the Mint 400 on an Ironhead Sportster. Ironheads are notorious for not making it home from the bar, let alone finishing a grueling race like this. Fueled by tenacity and passion, it still wasn’t quite enough to get them across the finish line. 

Another outsider, Doug Karlson, had ridden a dirt bike only a few times, and had never even tried his Harley in the dirt. What he lacked in experience, he made up for with an infectiously positive attitude and a sense of humor that didn’t quit, even when his body wanted to. Mark “The Rusty Butcher” Atkins and teammate Mikey “Virus” Hill, along with BMX Pro Barry Nobles, have serious skills on two wheels, no matter the bike or conditions. Mark was plagued with mechanical issues and rode about half a lap while missing the foot peg on one side of his bike, after it ripped out of the stock mounts. 

Improvised mechanical fixes, long the staple of off-roading, got him back on the course several times, but it made his first lap time slow enough that he was pulled at a check point somewhere on lap two and sent packing. Barry and Virus swore to stick together and “just finish” but couldn’t stifle their competitive instincts. What was supposed to be a fun, let’s-just-make-it-the-whole-way vibe turned into a real battle for first place as lap two progressed. Both riders hammered their 500-pound-plus machines all the way to the podium with no real mechanical difficulties, short of losing gear and quite a few get-offs. In the end, Barry made it to the finish line and quickly exclaimed “I’m the first Harley, right?!” Not long after that, Mikey pulled in, number plate and headlight dangling by a zip tie and mumbled something like, “I thought I had the fucker!” 

That’s racing. No matter how you start out, you still want to win. 

After the champagne was popped, interviews were given and the guys regrouped, the day’s battle was relived a few times, and the toxic seed that is desert racing took root in these six riders. If Harleys can battle it out in the Hooligan flat-track courses across the country, why can’t they start competing in desert races, too? The days are brutally long and the rewards are few, but the smiles per gallon are impossible to quantify. 

Knowing the competitive nature of this crew, the bikes will get prepped better, training and testing will ensue and another generation of reckless weirdos will do their best to hurtle themselves across a desert on bikes that were never intended for it. Dave, Billy — and even old H.S. Thompson — would be proud. 

Routeless 395

Connecting the Dots from Past to Present

A Film by Ian Beaudoux | Words & Photos by Heidi Zumbrun


Ever since 2014, Heath Pinter (X Games athlete and professional car/motorcycle builder) and Ian Beaudoux (filmmaker) have been documenting their travels together, creating a film project called ROUTELESS.

Go left instead of right … always the long route.  For years Pinter and Beaudoux have been riding motorcycles, vintage roadsters, drag racing, meeting up with friends and doing cool shit, always with a destination but taking the road less traveled. As they see it, the idea is very basic, “grab your buddy, ride your motorcycle and check shit out — it’s what people should do, and we’re just doing what we wanna do.”  And what they want to do now is revisit the route that ties all of their history together: a well-known Highway 395.

To Ian and Heath, this project is a slightly different take on their past journeys. Instead of aiming toward an event or people to interview, this was an opportunity to revisit the road that links it all together for them, connecting Southern California to their roots in South Lake Tahoe, where they met snowboarding at the age of 18. Over the years, Ian and Heath have probably traveled Highway 395 more than a hundred times going from sea level to 10,000 feet, connecting the dots of the past to the present. Highway 395 is the lifeline to how it all began for these two, and for six days, I followed them riding up the backroads, revisiting a road that has a rich history for California, combining two of their favorite passions: motorcycles and snowboarding in the Sierra Nevadas.

As with most of their trips, this one begins in the garage. Two freshly built dual-sport Harley-Davidsons with side-mounted snowboards — one 2010 scrambler built out by the talented Aki Sakomoto from Hog Killers, and one 2003 street tracker customized by Heath, both rigged with snowboard racks built and designed by Heath — rolling out for their first rides from Long Beach to Mammoth Mountain via the most off-the-beaten-track dirt roads as possible and filming along the way. 

Here is my photo diary following these two guys out riding on the open road, signifying 20 years of adventures and projects together.

Ode to the Midnight Sun

The Last of Summer in Norway

Presented by Taylor Stitch


On the winter solstice, Norway’s capital of Oslo receives a scant five hours and thirty minutes of daylight. The days immediately preceding and following really aren’t much better. During these miserable winter months, it’s not the snow or cold that breaks you down. (Roads can be plowed, layers can be worn.) It’s the darkness, that cruelest reality of life this close to the Arctic Circle.

So after a gorgeous and — above all else — well-lit summer spent taking in Norway’s natural splendors and Oslo’s bustling cityscape, or simply appreciating the sudden absence of Seasonal Affective Disorder, fall can be a daunting prospect. For many, October’s arrival marks the beginning of the end. Shadows lengthen as that familiar and unwelcome chill returns to the air, and that’s enough for much of the populace to pack it in, pour a stiff drink, and slog into the dreary abyss of the year’s dimmest quarter.

Fortunately for all of us, there is another way to face the impending gloom. Friends Joel Hyppönen, Samuel Taipale, Aaron Brimhall, and Dallin Jolley were kind enough to demonstrate, and took some incredible photos along the way.

Rather than bemoan the dwindling daylight, these dudes took it upon themselves to squeeze out every last drop of it, in the form of a 700+ mile, minimalist moto-trip to the northern reaches of fjord country. Armed with just what their bikes could carry, they set out from Oslo with a loose itinerary and high hopes. They returned eight days later having explored some of the country’s most unreal offerings: its highest peaks, its bluest lakes, and some of its steepest makeshift skateboard ramps.

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Journal No.1

Auspicious Beginnings

Words & photos by Aaron Brimhall

 
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Journal No.2

Peer Pressure

Words & photos by Joel Hyppönen

 
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Journal No.3

Just Sheepin’ It

Words & photos by Samuel Taipale

 
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South of the Wall

El Mexico Real

Words and photos by Stephen Smith | Film by Sinuhe Xavier


I was in the city of Oaxaca working on a film shoot about the magical powers of mezcal when I met Miguel Lerdo, the owner of Concept Racer, a boutique motorcycle shop in the La Roma neighborhood of Mexico City. Our film had a scene where this gringo is riding a motorcycle through the valleys of Oaxaca looking for something real, something to wake him up from his midlife lethargy. Miguel brought down a beautiful Triumph Scrambler for our film hero to ride. If you know about working on set, you know there is a tremendous amount of downtime, be it waiting for the sun to set or the cameras to get set up. There is no better way to kill time than putting the hurt on an off-road motorcycle. Miguel and I flew down the dirt roads of rural Oaxaca, putting just the right amount of grit on the bike to make it look legit. 

We also had lots of time to talk. Miguel Lerdo is a lawyer. He has traveled around the globe via motorcycle and greets every situation with a smile and positive attitude. We later discovered that we must have missed each other by hours in some South American towns while we were both traveling on solo rides around the continent in 2010. During our first day hanging out in Oaxaca, he told me of some very special places northeast of Mexico City where the desert meets the jungle, leading to a surrealist castle built in the 1940s by the largest collector of Salvador Dalí at the time. He enthusiastically described waterfalls, colorful vegetation, delicious food, and kind people deep in the canyons dropping from Mexico’s central plateau toward the Gulf of Mexico. Shifting gears, he suggested we make it to the altiplano of the state of San Luis Potosí, to a mountain village by the name of Real de Catorce, where the streets are covered in cobblestone and the nearby desert is the home of the infamous peyote cactus buttons. I was sold. 

In a time of social, cultural, and political polarity, there is always common ground. I feel that we have more in common than we do not, and one of the great equalizers in my life is motorcycle travel. Getting lost, meeting new people, overcoming an obstacle, trying exotic foods, and sharing a laugh with a stranger in a foreign country disarms any constructed barriers to authentic human connection and builds a deeper bond than most other superfluous experiences. 

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We scored some sweet bikes from Concept Racer and BMW and began to assemble our little crew. My pal Sinuhe Xavier—a world-renowned director and photographer—is a great friend, never shy about heckling the crew and building team morale. Along with Sinuhe came his buddy, the talented videographer Andrew Laboy. We linked up in Mexico City a day before departing and enjoyed some of the amazing food that this culturally vibrant city has to offer before blasting the highway north. We set our alarms for a 4:30 a.m. pre-traffic start. Upon meeting at the Concept Racer shop, we realized that someone had left the keys to the padlocks inside. (Um, sorry, Miguel.) I figure every really amazing trip has to start with a ridiculously annoying obstacle, just to get the bad vibes out of the way. There we were, fully kitted up, in the dark, waiting for a 70-year-old locksmith to make his way to the shop. About an hour, three broken tools, and four padlocks later, we got into the shop to retrieve our gear and motos. 

Navigating Mexico City as a foreigner, or even as a local, requires every ounce of focus and acute reaction time. Potholes the size of pools, broken-down tractor trailers, and children running across freeways are part of the daily driving experience. After the video-game exit of Mexico City, the endless buildings gave way to cactus and desert hills. As we traded the highway for two-lane roads, we carved our way down off the central Mexican plateau, and with each turn came more green, more humidity. The stark, dry earth above gave way to the warm, wet, welcoming jungle below. The thick floral smells met the enticing aroma of fresh tortillas and grilled meats as we arrived in the town of Xilitla after eight hours of beautiful, nonstop narrow curves.

Xilitla is situated in the jungle canyons of the state of San Luis Potosí and is the home of Las Pozas (The Pools), created by Edward James between 1949 and 1984. These 80 acres are filled with cascading waterfalls and surrealist structures and sculptures made of concrete, slowing being swallowed by the surrounding jungle flora. Walking through this creation offers a visceral immersion into what feels like a marriage of Dalí and M.C. Escher. We explored the staircases climbing illogically into the sky, the columns supporting air and the winding pathways leading to a dead end. We enjoyed a good mezcal or three while floating in natural pools, surrounded by waterfalls in a place from a dream. If we were not together on this crazy adventure, it seems highly unlikely that we ever would have discovered such a gem of a place, and after just a day and a half, four total strangers were enjoying all this as if we were lifelong friends. 

We rode deeper until we settled into the jungle plain just above sea level. We continued to Ciudad Valles and rode to Cascadas de Micos, an aqua-blue travertine waterfall coming out of the altiplano above. As we sat in awe of the flowing blue water, we noticed the sky growing darker. Weather was moving in fast, and the clap of thunder inspired a hike back toward the bikes in an attempt to outrun the ominous storm above. We made it no more than a mile before this humbling gulf storm unleashed on us. These are the moments when you remember why you ride motorcycles. Being completely immersed in your environment and at the mercy of the natural world really offers perspective. Sets you straight, humbles you. My leather jacket, soaked completely, started to stick to my skin; I could feel my boots filling with water, and my visor was fogged. I could make out the small red taillight on Sinuhe’s motorcycle in front of me as I picked lines between deep puddles and patches of gravel, hoping for no surprises in the extremely limited visibility. It was that point when you consider seeking shelter from blinding lightning and deafening thunder—and then you realize the best way out is through. We reconnected where this country road met the highway, all intact and smiling from ear to ear. After some high-fives, we found the hotel and didn’t even change our clothes. Instead we stayed soaked, telling stories, drinking mezcal, and sharing laughs. We were having a blast.

The next day, we rapidly ascended from the dense jungle basin through canyons and sweeping mountains. With each mile the terrain changed dramatically as the humidity stayed below. Atop the central Mexican altiplano again, we pinned it north, ultimately arriving at the turn from pavement to cobblestone toward the old mining village of Real de Catorce. This mountain town rests just under 9,000 feet and was named for the 14 Spanish soldiers killed here in an ambush by Chichimeca warriors. The only way to get into town is by a one-lane mile-long mining tunnel. Exploring the winding dirt roads leading out of town, we watched the sun set over the expansive western desert, making way for a full moon. The cobblestones had a subtle glow to them as we rode back into town for dinner and beers in a stone building from the late 18th century. 

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The final day was a haul from Real de Catorce back toward Mexico City. Through the rain, traffic, dodging trucks, and potholes, we made it to the heart of the city knowing that everyone was safe, feeling inspired and more connected. Mexico never disappoints, and with each adventure in this rich, diverse land our minds are filled with stunning, rarely seen landscapes and our bellies with delicious food made with love, all alongside new amigos that you feel like you’ve known your entire life. It’s always a good sign when you’re having those drinks after a successful trip and already making plans for the next one. 

This is why we ride. 

Make It Better

Introducing Our Latest Apparel Collection

Printed in Denver, Colorado at Superior Ink on sustainable garments made from recycled plastic, produced by Allmade


Printing just 300 garments we save:


12,000

gallons of water

420

oz of chemicals

120

lbs of crude oil

1,800

plastic bottles


And most importantly we are helping to provide living wage jobs where they are needed most. Its not about the product, its about the purpose.

Together, we can make it better.

 
 

Scram Africa

Presented by Fuel Motorcycles

Words by Karles Vives | Photos by Gotz Gopper


For the first time, the Scram Africa has had two rounds, the first from 4th to 11th May and the second round from 11th to 18th May. In total, there were 35 riders from all over the world, (Europe, Canada, USA, Costa Rica, Republica Dominicana, etc.. with all kind of motorcycles. Triumphs, Royal Enfields, Ducatis, BMWs, Harleys, and even a Ural. All performed great and thanks to our mechanic and the medical team almost all of the bikes and riders arrived at the finish line.

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The trip started in Marrakech and the first stage ended at Zagora the Gateway of the Sahara desert. From there the next 3 days we crossed the Sahara desert riding near the Argelia border and passing by the smalls villages of Tafraroute, Merzouga, and Alnif at the edge of the Erg Chebbi dunes. An incredible landscape and tracks where the sand rivers and the high temperatures make this stage the most difficult part of the trip.

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We left the desert behind and headed through several mountain passes at more than 3.000 meters high. The contrast in temperature and landscapes is shocking but that’s what makes this country so attractive. The tracks were difficult for the heavy bikes like Triumph, Ducati or Harley but that’s all part of the challenge of the Scram Africa. A unique adventure where the point is to ride off-road tracks with non-proper bikes.

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Each day we started the stage early morning after a short briefing. We give every rider a bag with enough food and water for the day so they can go at their own rhythm and stop to have lunch whenever they want. Thanks to a digital roadbook they always know the route and the direction to take, and in case they got lost they could easily find the right direction. The staff followed behind by 4x4 vehicles in case anyone needed medical or mechanical help, followed by a truck with all the luggage.

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After a few days the riders and bikes began to fatigue due to the heat and rough terrain. Broken shocks, footpegs, tanks, wheels, electrical cables and broken clutches. Most of them could continue riding thanks to the skills of the mechanics and help of the locals. In addition to those difficulties, the Scram Africa offers unforgettable moments like drinking a cold beer in the middle of the desert under a starry sky, or sleeping into a "Haima", a tent used by the nomads of the desert, with only the sound of the camels outside. 

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So, Scram Africa is a unique motorcycle experience with unforgettable memories that will remain in your heart and soul ... In fact, as most of the riders finished the final stage they were already planning for the Scram Africa 2020!

Born Free 11

Presented by Tucker

Film by Carter York | Photos by Jacob Vaughan


The Tucker Field Marketing team recently headed to the Born Free Motorcycle Show at Oak Canyon Ranch in Silverado, CA. The diversity and level of creativity of the bikes on display at Born Free is astounding, to say the least. Then there are the bikes ridden to the show by everyday riders and the A+ people watching. Fans and bike builders mingle to bench race and share stories with one another of late nights in the garage after putting in 10-hour days at their “real job.” Born Free is an excellent example of what makes motorcycle culture so appealing—cool bikes and fascinating people in an idyllic setting. Here's a look at Born Free 11.

Desierto

Magic in the Spanish Desert

Words by Ben Giese | Film & photos by Sebastien Zanella

With quotes from John C. Van Dyke | The Desert, 1901


“Nature never designed more fascinating country to ride over than these plains and mesas lying up and back from the desert basin. You may be alone without necessarily being lonesome. And everyone rides here with the feeling that he is the first one that ever broke into this unknown land, that he is the original discoverer; and that this new world belongs to him by right of original exploration and conquest.” 

The desert is a strange paradox of terror and beauty.  An arid wasteland that has been scorched and forsaken, riddled with death and decay.  The haunting silence and desolation found in the desert provides a right of passage for the troubled mind and a refuge for the wandering spirit to get lost with no intent on being found. In the early days, venturing out into these merciless badlands was surely a death wish.  Skeletons buried in the sand are a ghostly reminder of the desperation seen by nomadic desert travellers who have traversed this forbidden terrain on horseback for hundreds of years.  If migrants weren’t killed by natives, outlaws, bandits, gunslingers or one of the many venomous creatures lurking on the desert floor, they would likely succumb to the suffering of dehydration, starvation, delirium, heat exhaustion, or even freeze to death beneath a cold and merciless moon.  It’s a grim environment, deprived of water and lavish with danger; but amongst all the unrelenting cruelties that define the desert, there is a great deal of majesty and solitude to be found here, and no better way to experience its ominous enchantment than from the seat of a motorcycle.

“The desert is our troubled state. It is the dwelling place of our demons. This is a land of illusions and thin air, the vision is so cleared at times that the truth itself is deceptive.”

Craving an escape with a magnitude of desolation, I linked up with my friend Nathon Verdugo from Ducati USA, and we decided to make our way across the globe to visit the driest region in all of Europe.  Located about 100 miles north of the Moroccan coastline, our destination would be the southeastern province of Almería, Spain.  Greeted by a surprisingly cold wind blowing up from the sea and passing through the white-stucco buildings of Almería, we spent the first evening of this trip planning and preparing our pair of Scramblers for the beating they were about to endure in the coming days.  The hot skies and torn valleys of the Spanish desert show mercy to no one, so being prepared and knowing that we had machines capable of handling the conditions was crucial. 

The following morning we emerged well before the sun and fired up our Scramblers to depart the city and head inland toward the wild desert basin.  As we left Almería, the crumbling pavement roads quickly transitioned to dirt, eventually leading us into a deep, rocky sand-wash snaking through a narrow canyon.  Naturally, you would think a 450lb street bike would quickly meet its maker when faced with miles of sandy riverbed, but I guess there’s no better way to put these motorcycles to the test than throwing them straight into the fire.  I knew these Scramblers would be off-road-capable machines, but I was very surprised at how effortlessly we were able to glide through the deep sand and over all the rocks and boulders.  It quickly became apparent why they named this bike the “Desert Sled.” 

Half an hour after departing downtown Almería we found ourselves passing through an Old West-style town called Fort Bravo.  Clapboard buildings featuring a saloon, a blacksmith, a jail and gallows rested alongside a Spanish pueblo and cathedral.  Two Spanish cowboys were patrolling the dirt roads on horseback, and at the edge of town we could see a group of Native American tipis resting in the valley.  Like a real-life cowboys-and-Indians scene, it was funny to be halfway across the world and feel like we were riding motorcycles in a Clint Eastwood film based in the American Old West.  In fact, we learned that Fort Bravo is often used as a movie set and has been the backdrop for many famous spaghetti-western films dating back to the Sixties.  Quite a sight to behold, this would mark the last sign of civilization before entering the devil’s playground, a country of madness known as the Tabernas Desert.

“The waste places of the earth, the barren deserts, the tracts of forsaken men given over to loneliness, have a peculiar attraction of their own. The weird solitude, the great silence, the grim desolation, are the very things with which every desert wanderer eventually falls in love.” 

Lying ahead in the desert basin sat miles upon miles of splintered peaks scorched dry by the hungry sun.  This was the Wild West at its finest, and it felt like we were the original explorers, pioneers about to concur a great new land full of illusion and mystery. Inspired by the colossal majesty our eyes were absorbing in that moment, my mind couldn’t help but visualize an endless blank canvas – a desolate sanctuary beckoning our motorcycles to create their masterpiece.  

Nathon and I spent the next two days dancing with the devil, wandering back and forth across the eternal wasteland of Tabernas.  Climbing the jagged ridgelines, riding wheelies through the open plains, and roaming in circles with no plan or sense of direction was the essence of why we came here, but what we found during our displacement was something entirely different.  the sense of oneness, clarity and solitude that we experienced in the Spanish desert is something one could only feel by immersing themselves in the sublime silence of these lonely hills.   There’s an unexplainable magic to be found getting lost here, chasing your demons and finding what’s hidden deep within.  The daily stresses and worries of the outside world are quickly forgotten, and the sad state of humanity begins to fade away like a mirage hidden within the purity of this landscape.

At home in their natural habitat, our Scramblers were at peace, and so were our hearts.  I will forever have a special place within for the desert, and those of you who have experienced a motorcycle escape like this know exactly what I’m talking about.  Riding motorcycles in this desolate paradise is very cleansing, but unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.  Sadly, the ghost of reality came knocking yet again, and it was time to go home.  It’s never easy coming down from such a high, but at least we can find comfort in knowing that the desert will always be there, waiting for our return.  For now, we’ll keep it in our dreams, patiently waiting for the next great escape.

“Mystery – that haunting sense of the unknown – is all that remains. It is time that we should say good-night – perhaps a long good-night – to the desert.”

El Solitario

Motorized Creativity

Words by David Borras | Photos courtesy El solitario


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El Solitario is not a company; It's a way of life.

From the depths of the Galician forests, El Solitario has been challenging the status quo since its birth in 2010. We are best known for our wild and unadulterated storytelling, the emotional power and raw energy of our motorcycles, and the romantic but determinedly contemporary nature of our collections. El Solitario breathes Galicia, but we are not Spanish. We are a global entity. Our roots are in Spain, but we are English, French, Japanese, Korean, Mexican, American, German—you name it! Our lack of nationality has been crucial in our growth and allows us a greater deal of freedom of thought and speed in our decision processes. 

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Fundamental to our culture is the juxtaposition of contrasting elements: fragility and strength, tradition and modernity. We are neither a fashion brand nor a motorcycle company. El Solitario is just the helmet under which we develop our creative ethos. The only constant is change. We step outside our front door to find nothing but mountains, medieval towns and farmhouses, and the overall sensation is one of timelessness. This is exactly who we are.

Almost 10 years have passed since we quit our planned lives and jumped into the unknown in pursuit of our dreams. Within that 10 years, we have experienced all kinds of feelings—highs and lows. However, as someone I admire once told me, 

“Feelings are overrated and they just tend to get in the way of what's really important in the end.”

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People will tell you that you should never work with friends, and we couldn’t disagree more. Friends are exactly with whom you should surround yourself, especially in the most important aspects of your life. I am chaos, Val is common sense, and Pico is order. We have been friends for over 20 years, and we have succeeded at creating a system to solve matters that we care about. Our doors are always open, and our kitchen is a gathering point where we find inspiration and synergy. We’ve always been convinced that by surrounding ourselves with creative and talented people, and having the faith to follow our own path, we could come up with a more dynamic and imaginative line of products. Above all, we wanted El Solitario to be a leader—a company that takes chances—and we focus our energy into producing goods that accurately reflect who we are. 

Riding motorcycles is the epitome of speed, a genuine modern revelation. Innumerable great men and women have succumbed to the allure, and felt the fire in their bellies, propelling through adversity on nothing more than a skinny-motored artifact. Shredding any semblance of mundanity from their lives, El Solitario connects riders with the sense of awareness and strength that develops with the inherent risk, fragility and outsider spirit that defines our way of life. 

And with that, we’d like to showcase a few of the bikes that have defined our journey.


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The Winning Loser

It was 2010, and the Winning Loser marked the beginning of El Solitario. We had the need to communicate to the world our vision for a bike and its culture, as well as all the paraphernalia, clothes and accessories that make it a way of life more than a hobby. It took us three wonderful months to complete, and we did it under the influence of Megadeth. Working directly on the metal without sketches or templates, it was child’s play. These were times of innocence and illusion. Little or nothing existed outside of the transformation of the American bikes, and we moved with the impetus and courage of those adventurers who tread unknown ground. The bike itself, a crossbreed between a mini dragster and a tetanus shot, marked its teeth, and without our even noticing it, set the ideological and stylistic path of the brand.

When remembering these years, I still reminisce on the clarity of thought that guided us in the beginning. We were a holy tribe under a divine mission. There were no doubts, just forward motion. We learned that as you mature an idea, the original fundamentalism vanishes, and you inevitably walk into a sea of uncertainty. The Orwellian idea around the residence of fortress in ignorance would become stronger every day.


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Baula

With practice and time, we began to understand that every revolution takes its toll. The hater phenomenon took off. In the meantime, in our studio, imagination was empowered, and along came Baula. Almost 20 months of hitting blind spots paid off. By that time, we had discovered that coincidence does not exist and is nothing more than the result of preparation meeting opportunity. For the first time, these neophytes from the far Spanish West had managed to give life to an inert piece of iron in their garage. It was our Prometheus!

In Baula, there is no definitive line. The chaos is total, although the cohesion of its ensemble gives off a celestial harmony. The great turtle is as extreme as it is useful, and it excites tenderness and delicacy in the attentive observer. Of course, this endearing two-wheeled creature awoke the wrath and fury of the guardians of motorcycling chastity, or whatever the fuck we might want to call the hordes of uneducated and intransigent people that populate the bike world. For the first time, we had broken a taboo, or secret rule, with our longing for real communication, and tested the fire of the angry public. Stupefied, we took some time to recover, but we knew there was no turning back.


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Petardo

The next irreversible step toward our revolution was in 2012 with the construction of Petardo. ESMC’s 10th bike, it reflected our vision at this stage: Destroy the prevailing trend that dictated a minimalist approach to electronics and other components in a custom motorcycle. We believed that hiding all of the necessary equipment that makes a motorcycle fast is a cowardish, hideous, pointless job—all organs such as the gas tank, switches, pumps, coils, regulator, cables and hoses are on the outside and linked in Dadaist disharmony. We wanted to embrace and empower the veins and arteries that move the body! We approached the instrumentation and lightning equipment in the same way. Lambda sensors that calculate the air/fuel ratio on each cylinder, fuel pressure, oil pressure and temperature, voltmeter, exhaust gas temperature … Petardo is wild, overpowered, over-informed, over-blacked, oversized. In sum, it is EXCESSIVE.


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Imposter

Under the name Impostor and anticipating the reaction of the public for such collaboration with corporate giant BMW, the next El Solitario creature was destined to reign even if this was in the realms of evil. References covered the studio walls, including stories about old pirates, photos of the wind tunnel and numerous complex metal structures threatening to become true. It is wonderful to work when the idea is clear. Impostor was a path in solitude during which we lost any link to reality. A metal Beast was brewing in our dark garage, oblivious to the controversy it was going to unleash.

We had created an icon for good or bad, and the hangover was immediate.


Big Bad Wolf

Almost two years had passed since the Impostor phenomenon, and the desire to get involved in a new exercise with the face of a beast had returned. Under the acronym BBW (Big Bad Wolf), we started the transformation of an XJR1300. Its immense four cylinders made our jaws creak and didn’t give us a clue. It was not easy, and after months of frustration, the monster bike asked us the right question: What do we fear most? This would be the key to the development of BBW. Power and technology were the answer. Embracing the Achilles heel of this company turned out to be more rewarding than we thought. Hiring Mauro Abbadini of Classic Co. as technical director of the project turned out to be providential. We wanted a motorcycle that would win races. Mauro’s experience ensured the viability of the project and fulfilled our wildest dreams. BBW was presented at the famous Glemseck races in Leonberg, Germany, and returned with the trophy and a big grin.


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Desert Wolves

At El Sol, we have an authority problem, and we can’t deny it—the intensification of controls and idiot laws concerning the use and modification of motorcycles have made us desire to be turned on by football or table tennis. Unfortunately, we breathe and love motorcycles, and so turning toward off-road felt good. Freedom and self-reliance instead of traffic lights and parking laws. Deal!

Our friend Paul D’Orleans, after encountering the Desert Wolves, defined it as Gesamtkunstwerk, and after we became familiar with the term, we think he nailed it. Gesamtkunstwerk, translated as “a total work of art,” was a term used by some architectural writers to signify circumstances where an architect was responsible for the design and/or overseeing of a building’s totality: shell, accessories, furnishings and landscape. In a world like this, the quality of your final output will be that of the worst of your components. 

Grenade

Featuring Dax Bennick

A Film by Open Fire Media + Visual SZN


Production Company: Open Fire Media + Visual SZN

Director: Parker Foster

DP: Levi Arnold

Aerial + Chase Unit: Ascending Works

Black Arm Op: Keaton Bowlby

1st AC: Zach Youngberg

Grip: Zach Bishop

Editing: Levi Arnold + Parker Foster

Sound Design + Grade: Open Fire Media

Camera System: RED Gemini + Scarlet-W

Glass: KOWA Anamorphics from LensWorks

Chase Unit: Black Arm + MoVI Pro

Aerial Unit: Inspire 2

Score: Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken

The King Killer

A Custom Indian Springfield by Carey Hart


Former freestyle motocross legend, turned custom bike builder, Carey Hart got his hands on a 2018 Indian Springfield and created a custom bike that can flash on the road and on the track –The King Killer Indian Motorcycle. Hart brought together a team of professionals and friends to reimagine a modern Indian motorcycle back to its original race track roots. 

Built for the One Moto Show in Portland, Hart’s team emphasized the simplistic feel of the old school race bikes. Sporting classic red, white and black race colors and a sleek, slimmed down trim, the King Killer took home the Red, White & Blue award for “Best American Build.” 

Vicarious

From Tragedy Comes Love: A Real-Life Motorcycle Fairy Tale

Words by Eric Hendrikx | Photos by Jeff Stockwell


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On August 3, 2017, I was riding a motorcycle in the magnificent Swiss Alps with a newfound friend when suddenly my back tire bottomed out on the cold asphalt. With little time to react, I tried to put the bike down on the road and save myself from going off the edge of the mountain. Instead, I high-sided and went into a horrific tumble with the bike before I was hurled like a ragdoll through a wooden guardrail and 75 feet off the mountainside. Helicopter rescue hoisted me off the mountain and brought me to Kantonsspital Graubünden, where I was placed in a medically induced coma. Days later, I woke up in the intensive care unit, where X-rays and MRI scans revealed a dozen fractures in my spine, a broken hand, a smashed hip, broken ribs, a snapped collar bone and a shattered scapula. Within an instant, my life had changed forever. But, as time would reveal, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.   

I’m a journalist by profession and a motorcycle rider by enthusiasm. And while my journalistic endeavors for Rolling Stone, Playboy and Revolver Magazine have taken me to the far reaches of the planet, this particular trip to Switzerland was not an assignment. Each summer, my son, Stone, and I take a trip to visit our Swiss family and explore new places. For the summer of 2017, we rented a chalet in the alpine village of Arosa to enjoy the celebration of Switzerland’s independence day while lighting up the sky with fireworks and eating as much cheese as humanly possible.

Just a few weeks before our trip, I matched with a beautiful girl named Nikki on Raya — a private, membership-based dating app. She was a lovely brunette with great taste in music, an eclectic vibe, and an evident affinity for cooking — beautiful, talented and could run circles around me at the barbecue? Sold! It wasn’t more than a few messages about common interests later that we switched to chatting on the phone. Nikki explained how she was a private chef living in Los Angeles and, along with participating on Food Network cooking shows, had worked as private chef for Robert Downey Jr., P. Diddy, Jared Leto, and Kim Kardashian. More importantly, she was lovely to speak with, confident but not self-absorbed, and gave off a creative and positive vibe that I instantly connected with. I wanted to meet her right away, but as luck would have it, I had several publishing deadlines that kept me busy until Stone and I left for our trip to Europe. I promised that I would take her to dinner upon my return in a couple of weeks. 

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There is something magical about the fairy-tale Swiss Alps. Once you arrive, it grabs you, captivates you and, chances are, holds you forever. And there is no other way to experience the meandering roads of the Swiss Alps than on a motorcycle. To do otherwise might be to miss it entirely. Fortuitously, on this trip, I would have such an opportunity.

One afternoon, I landed my ass in a seat on the deck of Provisorium13, Arosa’s most charming lakefront hotel and restaurant. Over a toasted käse-schnitzel washed down with a few crisp German pilsners, I met the proprietors of the establishment — Sascha Buchser and his lovely girlfriend, Iva Pilipova. In short time, I learned that Sascha and I share an enthusiasm for motorcycles. And Sascha happened to have two customized bikes parked next to the restaurant: a 2006 Harley-Davidson Street Glide and a 2004 chopped Dyna. We swapped stories about the places around the world we had both ridden and, despite our just having met, Sascha and I became fast friends — kindred spirits. 

Not long into our conversation, Sascha invited me to come back the next morning for a ride down Arosa’s celebrated “road to Chur” — a serpentine road featuring 360-degree hairpin turns that cut through the scenic Walser region of the Swiss Alps. Filled with excitement and anticipation, I accepted his generous offer and looked forward to our ride the next day.

Nikki and I stayed in touch during my trip, sending text messages and photos to each other. I’d send her a selfie with the majestic Swiss Alps behind me, and she’d send me a stunning selfie from the beaches in Malibu. On the early morning of August 3, I sent Nikki a text message before my ride with Sascha — “Hi lovely girl... I’m off for a motorcycle ride in the Swiss Alps. Have a nice day and will text you when I get back.” I gathered my things and hiked down from our chalet to Provisorium13.

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Sascha had laid out a spread of protective gear for me to choose from. I kept it simple — Rokker riding jacket, gloves, and an open-faced helmet. After all, it was supposed to be a mellow ride. I climbed onto the Dyna and fired it up. Just before we took off, a drifting thought swayed me to quickly go back into the hotel to put on a spine protector — something I’ve never worn before. Moments later, we tore off down the sinuous mountain. 

Corner after corner, I felt like a titan, a centurion of the Alps. Sascha and I rode through the twisted roads, past timeworn residences, flanked by vibrantly green farms. I wore a smile on my face that joy couldn’t match. The landscapes were breathtaking and left deep impressions — Claude Monet comes to mind. 

An hour later, we made it to the bottom of the mountain, arriving at a small café, where we stopped for coffee. Sascha and I spoke about our shared attraction to motorcycles of all kinds; in my optimism, I couldn’t help but share my excitement about meeting Nikki on my return to the United States. “That’s it, Eric! Find a good woman and keep her,” he said. I agreed.

Before ascending back to Arosa, Sascha offered to swap bikes so that I could experience each of his bikes on the mountain. I snagged the keys to the Street Glide, suited up and off we went, riding back from the city into the alpine bliss — a beautiful contradiction between society and nature. Sascha led the way, while I just thrived in the moment, passing through dozens of S-turns on the centuries-old road. I recall peering over the edge at one point and seeing the sheer rocky cliffs seemingly hundreds of feet to the bottom. A dozen more turns — our speed was moderate; my spirit was high. 

About halfway up the mountain, I cornered into a shaded left curve when my back tire bottomed out. In a mad panic, I tried to throttle through, but the mountain’s wry sense of humor bested me — my bike slid toward the edge of the road. I laid the bike down on the road, willing to take my chances with a nasty tumble, but instead, the left exhaust pipe hit the ground and caused both tires to come up off the ground, sending me into a chaotic spin and tumble with the bike. I slammed into the asphalt and was dragged toward the cliff’s edge. In a split second, I was launched through a wood-beamed guardrail and pitched over the mountainside. 

I experienced my flight over the edge in slow motion, with plenty of time to think. One thing was certain — I was going to die. I had seen over-the-edge-of-the-cliff moments before, and knew that survival was impossible. And just in that moment, while preparing myself to greet the unknown, I was overcome with a warm and loving sensation. Suddenly, everything was okay — I felt ready. I had time to think about Stone and of my family. I had recognized and accepted that part of my journey was at its end. I relaxed and yielded to the final moments of my story. The last thing that I remembered was wondering what it was going to feel like when I hit the ground — would it hurt or would I just black out? 

Sascha never saw the accident. He didn’t see me tumble across the road while his Street Glide turned into scrap metal. He didn’t see me roll with the scrap metal like some kind of science fiction meatball. And he didn’t see me get pitched over the edge of the mountain. A witness in a car stopped him and told him what had happened. He raced back to the wreckage, jumped off his bike and climbed down the mountainside to find me lying on my back in a small patch of dirt and grass, unconscious and convulsing like a fish out of water. 

Eric, the helicopter is coming,” Sascha said as I slowly woke. “I want you to answer some questions for me, okay? Can you move your legs?” His concern was obvious — whether or not I was paralyzed. I couldn’t speak yet, but was able to move both of my feet a little. “Eric! That’s really good!” he exclaimed.

But I couldn’t really move at all, and my right side felt dead. I just lay there, trying to answer Sascha as best I could; trying to recall what had gone wrong just moments before. I attempted to respond, but couldn’t breathe. I gave a heavy cough and spewed blood all over my chest. A broken rib had punctured my lung, and I was starting to drown in my own fluids. Sascha’s expression changed from confident to something drastically otherwise. 

The medics rappelled down from the H145 helicopter and started working on me. They carried me to an area clear from beneath the trees, strapped me into a basket stretcher, and hoisted me up into the sky. The last thing I remember was Sascha’s voice: “Eric, I’m going to meet you at the hospital. Stay strong and don’t give up.” Swiss Air-Rescue Rega brought me to the Kantonsspital Graubünden in Chur, where I was placed in a medically induced coma and on life support. Surgeons worked tirelessly to stop my internal bleeding. Pint after pint, I was losing blood faster than I could hang on to it. The outlook was grim, and my survival was doubtful. 

Back in Arosa, Sascha tracked down my family. They rushed to the hospital, where I would remain in a coma for days. Stone sat near, nauseous and pale with the ominous possibility that I might die in front of him. At the same time, he handled all communications between the hospital and my friends and family back in the United States. And luckily, my mom took over as liaison between my insurance company and the hospital; a critical task, since my hospital bills quickly surpassed six figures — clearly, alpine helicopter rescues and Swiss critical care accommodations don’t come cheap. Word spread rapidly back home. “Please pray for Eric. He’s on life support and hanging on by a strand,” my family posted on social media. My dear friends, Kelly Tribolet and Ben Harper, and my brother Brandon got on a plane from Los Angeles to Zurich. 

Meanwhile, Nikki hadn’t heard from me in days, since the morning that I had chosen to go for a ride. Ghosting her seemed out of character, so she looked me up on social media, only to find the Facebook post about my accident. In spite of only having recently become acquainted, Nikki felt very connected to me — she burst into tears. 

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Three nights later, after so many bags of blood that I could probably claim Swiss nationality, my condition took a turn for the better. My blood pressure stabilized, and I woke up. I was covered with tubes and wire — my hips and wrists, a drain tube coming out of my ribcage, EKG wires all over my chest, a feeding tube up my nose, and a ventilator supporting my breathing. I was totally fucked up — bruised, smashed, and broken-boned. The nurse saw me stir and came to me with a smile. I pointed to a small dry erase board at the edge of my bed, since the ventilator and tubes down my throat prevented me from speaking. In my best left-hand writing, I wrote, “Am I going to die?” 

No!” she responded. 

You were in bad shape but now it’s looking better.

Can I have a beer?” I smirked from behind my ventilator.

I think you’re going to be okay,” she laughed. 

If you can joke, you can heal.”

Where is Stone?” I asked.

An hour later, Stone and my brother Thomas walked into the intensive care unit. With my left hand, I pointed at my dick and gave the Okay sign. “Asshole!” Thomas exclaimed with a concerned, but also relieved, grin. Sure, it was crude, and maybe wishful thinking, but my nurse did say that humor was healing.

A few days later, Stone and Thomas brought me my iPhone. I sent Nikki a text. “So sorry I haven’t responded, I’ve been in a coma.” Of course, she already knew. “Are you okay? I’m so sorry. I feel helpless so far away,” she replied.

The following morning, a team of specialists, including my shoulder surgeon, Dr. Sommer, surrounded me in the intensive care unit and explained my situation. The fractures up and down my spine were negligible enough to let them heal on their own — I took this as a gift for putting on that Dainese spine protector before our ride. In fact, Dr. Sommer said that without it, I would most likely be paralyzed or dead. My broken hand and the cuts, scrapes and bruises would all heal without surgery. But I would require a titanium collarbone plate and several titanium plates on my scapula. They would do their best to reassemble the puzzle pieces of my shoulder blade. 

“Okay, so, when can I go home?” I asked Dr. Sommer. 

“You cannot fly for at least two months because of the hole in your lung,” he explained. “We have to make sure that you are fully healed after we remove the drain tube.” I devised a plan with my family where I could be away from home and work for the next few months. Nikki was disappointed. So was I. It seemed our momentous meeting would be postponed for the foreseeable future.

My surgery was a success. I woke up in the post-operating room with new titanium hardware. “Eric 2.0,” as my friends started calling me, was rebuilt and ready for recovery. But my return came with a new set of challenges: sitting, standing, walking, and taking a shit by myself. There’s nothing more humbling than having someone else wipe your ass. Let’s just say that the medical assistants at Kantonsspital Graubünden are doing God’s work.  

Ketamine is an interesting drug. It’s used as an alternative to opioids for post-operative pain, but comes with heavy hallucinations. One night, I became convinced that Switzerland’s Federal Intelligence Agency had intentionally caused my accident in order to install a surgical implant by which they would control my thoughts and central nervous system. In some kind of Jason Bourne conspiracy, Dr. Sommer had installed micro-hardware into my back that would soon make me their agent. Fortunately, I was one step ahead of the Swiss Intelligence — I had a solution. 

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I sent a text to my dear friend Rodney Mullen, known for his genius thinking and computer-hacking enthusiasm. If anyone could get me out of this situation, it would be Rodney. I asked him to hack into the Kantonsspital computer network mainframe and slide in a virus that would release me from their monitoring system. I knew that Rodney could quickly develop a super-neurotransmitter that would free me from the clutches of my conspirators. Once installed, my escape from the Kantonsspital Graubünden would be easy. Rodney entertained my conspiracy theory, but was less optimistic about my plans for escape. “Eric, this is PERFECT. Best freakin’ text I have gotten since I don’t know when. And something tells me you are their favorite patient. But please don’t escape the hospital. In the meantime, I’ll get to work on a psycho-digital porthole.” 

Despite these sporadic hallucinations, my conversations with Nikki were more temperate. Our early-morning and late-night talks had become the embodiment of hope, an urgency to stay positive and strive to recover. I really wanted to meet this woman, and I knew I had to put the pieces back together for that to happen. Nikki must have felt the same sense of urgency that I did. One night, she asked me, “How would you feel if I got onto a plane and came to see you?” 

Was it too soon? Was this a bad idea to invite someone to circle the globe and meet me in my most vulnerable state? I had a shoulder full of staples, a right arm that didn’t work, and I was barely capable of making it to the bathroom on my own. But my hesitations didn’t last.

I’d love to meet you here. Come in September, once I’m out of the hospital and back in Arosa,” I suggested. 

Sascha and Iva had graciously welcomed Stone and me to stay at Provisorium13 to rehabilitate as long as I needed. I suggested Nikki meet me there, high up in the Alps. At the very least, I thought, after making the long trek to Switzerland, she should visit one of God’s most beautiful creations. 

September came quickly. For weeks, Stone looked after me, getting my prescriptions filled, bringing food to our room, and helping me get out of bed and around the small village. Fortunately for him, I was back to wiping my own ass. I went to a physical therapist twice a day, rode a stationary bicycle to increase my healing time, and walked along the small lake a little farther each time. And then the day finally came when I would meet her. 

It was cold and rainy in Arosa. Nikki had flown a dozen hours from Los Angeles to New York to Zurich, and then took a three-hour train ride up to Arosa’s small train station. It was an incredible leap of faith — to fly around the world to meet someone who had just been through a horrific accident. A few glasses of wine on the flight and train were paramount in keeping her nerves at ease. I walked in my pajamas from Provisorium13 to the train station and sat on a bench to wait for her. When the train arrived, I got butterflies. 

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Nikki exited the train with her luggage and walked right up to me with a smile that expressed joy, nervousness and fatigue all in one gesture. I greeted her with a bright smile and a big bear hug. My first impression was that she was more beautiful in person than in her photos — her eyes captivated me, filled with sincerity and compassion. In that moment, after all of our conversations, late-night texts, early-morning FaceTime conversations, and hopeful thoughts, I knew that her long journey wasn’t for naught — it was the right place, and the right time. I offered to carry Nikki’s bags. She looked at my slinged arm, giggled, and produced a shirt that she had brought from Roland Sands’ shop. On the front of the shirt were two words — “CRASHING SUCKS”. We laughed and walked together through the light rain back to Provisorium13. 

We spent the next several days going for walks, sitting on benches along the Obersee, and getting to know one another. For my birthday, Nikki treated Stone and me to Lamm & Leu (Lamb and Lion), a top restaurant in Arosa. What I loved was how well they got along. Nikki and Stone joked, spoke candidly, and despite just meeting under highly unusual circumstances, seemed to hit it off very well. 

After a week in Arosa, and a side trip to Lugano and Lake Como, it was time to leave the Alps. Thomas drove up to Arosa to bring us back down to Hettlingen, where we would stay with family until it was time for Stone and me to fly home. We said our goodbyes to Sascha, Iva, and the staff at Provisorium13 who were so good to us. To this day, I’m humbled by and grateful for the generosity and warm welcome during one of the most vulnerable times of my life. Without Sascha’s quick reactions that day on the mountain, I certainly would have died — an act that I can never repay, but I will always be grateful for. 

My Swiss family loved Nikki, and she was wonderful with them. Nikki and Gabi cooked together, and the twins — Loris and Sven — included Nikki in their games, and Thomas gave me his approval. We visited for a week before Nikki had to fly back to Los Angeles for an event. She cried at the Zurich airport. I held my tears back until after she left. It had been an emotional trip for me and would be two long weeks before Nikki and I could see each other again.  

Nearly three months after we had first arrived in Europe, the hospital cleared me to fly home. It was time — a bittersweet departure. I had become very attached to my Swiss family, but I also knew it was time to return home. Nikki picked Stone and me up at LAX and drove us back to my house in Trabuco Canyon. Fortunately, she didn’t have any pressing work that would take her back to Beverly Hills, and so she stayed with me. 

I spent the first few weeks of October reacclimating to being home, visiting doctors, and getting physical therapy. I had lost 40 pounds from the accident, surgery and hospital stay. My running joke was that this was my new “crash diet” — the only stipulation was that you had to ride your motorcycle off a cliff. We can laugh about it now. 

Nikki and I became inseparable. I never wanted to be without her. Half-jokingly, I started calling her my security blanket. In October, I took my first Rolling Stone assignment since the accident — a trip to the Riviera Maya with Tony Hawk. Nikki came with me. After my assignment was complete, we made our way to Tulum, where we borrowed some bicycles to ride beneath the rainforest canopy. Still trying to gain control of my right arm, I crashed into a parked car. Luckily, I dusted off a few scratches and we could laugh this one off.

On Halloween, Nikki and I flew to London. I had been invited by Royal Enfield for the launch of their new twin-engine motorcycles. We arrived a few days early to visit London and Paris. We visited Jim Morrison’s grave at the Père Lachaise Cemetery. I brought a bottle of wine to share with Jim, spilling a bit onto his grave before we dusted the bottle in his honor. When the guards came around to clear the cemetery for the night, Nikki and I hid in a mausoleum built in the 1800s. It was spooky and cobwebbed, but didn’t stop us from having sex inside the creepy enclosure. We giggled like kids in high school. We thought it was spontaneous and hysterical — until we ended up locked inside the cemetery for hours in the dark before finding a security guard to let us out. 

For the remainder of the year, Nikki and I hosted holiday parties at my house — Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. After my near-fatal experience in the Alps, it became even more important to be surrounded by family as much as possible. On New Year’s Day, I fired up my Harley-Davidson Road King to take my first ride since my crash. Nikki insisted on going with me, so she suited up, hopped on the back, and we went for a ride through Silverado Canyon.

In February, we found out that Nikki was pregnant. I couldn’t have been more excited — elated actually. Everything happened very quickly, but in a perfect way. We started looking for a new place to live, to move in together and start planning for our family. We eventually found a beautiful Montauk–style home in Newport Beach, California. We gave our landlords notice and packed up our respective homes, making way for our new beach-city lifestyle.

In May, Nikki and I visited the Big Island of Hawaii, staying in Hapuna on the Kohala Coast. One afternoon, we hiked down the Waipio Valley to the black sand beaches. I set up a couple of cameras, telling Nikki that we were going to take a selfie in the river that flowed into the Central Pacific Ocean. I set the camera timers and walked to Nikki in the shallow riverbed, where I took a knee, pulled a ring out of my pocket and proposed to her. I had found my soul mate and after a whirlwind of traveling, sharing, loving and good living, I was certain it was for keeps.

We married on July 15 in front of family and friends who had embraced our story and been supportive throughout my accident. Stone was my best man. Sven flew in from Sweden. Thomas, Gabi and the boys joined us from Switzerland. And Rodney Mullen became an ordained minister and delivered a wondrous and compelling wedding ceremony. Smiling at Rodney, I had a quick epiphany that my previous ketamine-infused plot to escape the Kantonsspital hospital may not have turned as well as things had. Then I steered my attention down the aisle. Standing proud and enchanted in front of my friends and family, I watched my beautiful Nikki, adorned in silk and lace like a fairy tale princess, walk down the aisle to Ben Harper’s “Forever”. Minutes later, we sealed our union with a kiss. I honestly thought that at this point in my life, I’d never find someone I loved enough to marry, much less have children with, but that evening, we returned home as Mr. and Mrs. Hendrikx, looking forward to a new adventure ahead.

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On October 24, after nearly two days of labor, Nikki and I welcomed our beautiful daughter, Isabella Moon Hendrikx, into the world. The past year had been about new experiences, and this would be no different. No one can prepare you for childbirth. There are books, classes, and information online, but once you’re in that moment when a baby takes that first breath — it’s a miracle. And as I held our tiny daughter in my hands that night, and she had the faculties to stare back at me, I knew that all I had been through — the accident, the surgeries, rehabilitation, moving homes, getting married — all came with a deep recognition of purpose, and a renewed appreciation of family. 

When I tell people the circumstances under which Nikki and I met — the accident, the train station in Switzerland, our Parisian romance, proposing in a Hawaiian riverbed, our fast-track marriage and beautiful baby girl — they often say our story sounds like a real-life fairy tale. And while it’s true, we do have an amazing story with magical beginnings, relationships aren’t always like a fairy tale. In fact, they almost never are. The reality is, Nikki and I will face the same struggles as any other married couple raising a child. But as I sit here typing these final words in our Newport Beach home, while baby Isabella gently coos in her bassinette and my beautiful wife, scantily clad in lace-edged lingerie, comes to me with a platter filled with sizzling Niman Ranch bacon, I just have to wonder — maybe I did end up in a fairy tale

The Armega

Unparalleled Dominance for the Modern Racer

A groundbreaking new goggle by 100%


The ARMEGA offers unparalleled dominance for the modern racer: bringing ULTRA HD lens clarity to motocross.  Experience definition and subtlety never before viewed through the lens of a goggle.  Add to that our proprietary HiPER contrast-enhancing lens technology and you’ll feel the depth of terrain as you’re commanding past it.

This premium technology is injection-molded into a shatterproof lens that boasts an enhanced field of vision and impact protection.  The 6-point locking-tab integration secures the lens and works in unison with a quick-change system enabling you to switch between lenses with a couple of simple clicks.

A bonded, dual-injected frame incorporates a next generation sweat management system that collects sweat as your ride intensifies and forces it away from the lens and out of the goggle through an integrated channel in the frame.  Force air intakes in the frame promote increased airflow to ensure fog-free vision, despite heated efforts overcoming sub-par competition.

Want a goggle designed to give it 100% deep in the battlegrounds of motocross? Look no further than the ARMEGA