Painted in Dust


Forrest Minchinton Shapes Surfboards in the Desert, and the Desert Shapes Him

Words by Nathan Myers

Photos by Harry Mark, Aaron Brimhall & Drew Martin


 

“At first I was just shaping surfboards to pay for motorcycles,” explains Forrest Minchinton.  He elaborates, “Way out in the desert, somehow that made perfect sense.”

 

The road to Johnson Valley high desert passes through a few small towns. Smaller and smaller, until there’s just one store. And it’s closed. There are a few homes outside of town… then a few abandoned trailers… then nothing at all. Beyond that, there’s the place Forrest calls home.

 

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The Compound resembles a scene from Mad Max: a ramshackle outpost of scattered structures and curated debris. Forrest and his dad call it the “what-you-got construction” style, inspired by the scavenger aesthetic of Baja, California. Everything on this high-desert property has a story. Some from previous lifetimes when the property was an illegal grow operation. Others salvaged from back alleys of Huntington Beach or yard sales between here and nowhere.

Back in the “real world” of Huntington Beach, Forrest’s dad Mike is a respected surfboard shaper. A humble priest of the sport, underpaid and wholly devoted. In an age of foreign pop-outs and Walmart foamies, Mike builds his boards entirely by hand, even doing his own glasswork. 

 

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Despite his longstanding reputation, it’s a hard way to make a living. So their tumbledown shaping operation in the desert offers respite from the distractions, inflations and restrictions of the city. This is the Wild West. They come here between swells, to wait out the tides of life and disappear into the dust. Out here, hours from the ocean, he taught young Forrest to shape surfboards. And he bought him a bike. The rest was up to the desert.

 

“We didn’t have any internet or phones out there,” says Forrest. “Just this one VHS copy of On Any Sunday that Bruce Brown gave my dad. That movie pretty much became my bible. 

 

“The adults would be out drinking beer and shooting guns by the fire, and I’d be in the trailer reciting the narration word-for-word for the ten-thousandth time. I still watch it every time I come out here, at least once.”

By day, he’d ride. First, endless circles around the camp. Then, way, way out on his own. Earning it the hard way. Breaking down or getting lost, then pushing home across miles of sand to start again. 

 

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“The desert teaches you things,” says Forrest. “Real life lessons that they don’t teach in school. And I embraced it. I loved it.”

 

Once, on a remote dune, he went over the bars and broke his arm and leg. With his little YZ80 too mangled to ride, all he could do was lie there helpless in the sand. In the sun. Eventually (miraculously), a random dune buggy came along and saved his life. 

“My leg hurt so bad I didn’t even realize my arm was broken,” says Forrest. “But I had these new Alpine Star boots that I didn’t want them to cut off, so I had the dune buggy guy pull them off me, even though he said I shouldn’t. He took me back to camp, and Dad drove me three hours to the hospital back in Huntington.”

From a young age, he spent half his year in Costa Rica surfing and the rest in California riding. But over time, his two-wheel obsession consumed him. He rode, mostly alone. He rode a lot. Pushing his limits across the empty wastelands. Progressing for no one to notice.

 

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His talent never added up on paper. He qualified for the Loretta Lynn’s at an early age, but couldn’t afford to attend. Sometimes he’d ride on his own out to compete in the local Hare & Hound events. It was a 5-mile ride from the compound across the desert just to reach the start line.

 

“I’d arrive dusty and rough to the start line,” he says, “while everyone else was clean and fresh from their box-truck. Then my dad would show up with a tank of gas for me, and off we’d go.”

 

He did well in those events, but what did it mean? Forrest was better off pushing his luck alone. His solitary communion with the dust. He rode everything. Different bikes for different feelings. Dad’s vintage bikes on the turn track around the compound; a TT Flat Tracker for the dry lake bed; his beloved custom 2005 Honda CRF 450 that he bought for $800 and built specifically for the desert; or his modern-day 450 for the MX Track. Like his long-gone heroes from On Any Sunday, Forrest’s riding transcends genre. Different tools for different jobs. 

 

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In 2015, he competed in the Baja 500 as part of an all-Mexican racing team. Dad was his crew. No rig. No chase car. No radio. No GPS. They camped out for the pre-race training weeks and survived until the main event. “That’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” says Forrest. “We were going pretty good until the bike blew up.” Just another day in the desert. 

he surfing caught up to him again. Eventually. All those boards. All that shaping. All that dust. They’d stay in the desert just to wait out the swells. Dry their gills. Then back to the beach to deliver the boards, score some waves and reconnect with humanity. 

 

“Most people struggle to see the comparison between surfing and motorbikes,” says Forrest, “but for me it’s all about reading shadows, drawing lines and connecting with the flow.”

 

Forrest shapes like he rides, defying the genres that cuckold the sport. He’ll shape a high-performance shortboard one day and a down-rail log the next. A classic fish or a hybrid single fin. Different tools for different jobs. It’s all about chasing a feeling.

 

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These days, the surfboards spend more time than ever underfoot. Aside from his yearly sojourns to Central America, Deus Ex Machina has been taking him surfing around Indonesia, Australia and Japan, while his moto skills help lead their surfer/riders deeper into the jungles and uncharted coasts. He’s expanding his horizons. Discovering new dreams. Evolving.

But the desert remains unchanged. Unevolved. Timeless. And it’s here that Forrest always returns. The trips get longer. The leaving gets harder. He wonders sometimes whether he shouldn’t just stay there full-time. 

No, not yet. That’s not his line. The shadows are leading him elsewhere. More flat track racing. The Baja 1000, perhaps. More Indonesian treks, for certain. Japan. Europe. Australia. The desert travels within him. A frame of mind. An answer to any question. A tool for a job. 

 

“Some people look at this place and see a wasteland,” he says. “They might wonder why anyone would want to live out here. But I look out there and all I see is fun.”

 

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Featured in Volume 010


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The Turtle and the Fox


See See x Fox

A collaboration between See See Motorcycles and Fox Racing


 

Fox Racing and See See Motorcycles bring the two worlds of performance motocross and mxculture together with a limited-edition product collaboration. This partnership was cultivated through the creative engine of Fox Moto-X Lab.

"Putting two unlikely things together has always been our favorite thing. It’s taking something we all know and understand, flipping it on its head, and making something new. That is when the fun starts, that’s what we want to be known for."

- THOR DRAKE FOUNDER/CO-OWNER SEE SEE MOTORCYCLES

 

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Travis Pastrana


Grounded

Words by Andy Bell


Photo by Matty McFerran

Photo by Matty McFerran

“My life is 100 percent about competition,”

says Travis Pastrana, sort of yelling above the sounds of the raucous Nitro Circus Live crew partying around him deep in some bar in Nagano, Japan. It’s 5 a.m. my time and something like 11 p.m. his time. I’m sober as can be driving up the 405 freeway, headed to LAX to catch an early-morning flight, and his scene—at least for the people he’s surrounded by—is for sure on the exact opposite end of the spectrum right now. I can hear in his voice that it’s been a long couple weeks’ worth of partying—something that happens a lot for the riders with the Circus, a nightly celebration after succeeding in not killing yourself while trying to one-up the top athletes and gnarliest kids on the tour. I’m not sure if “meat hucking” is a real term or not, but if it isn’t, I’m coining it now as the explanation for what happens every day of the Pastrana-led freak show that is the travelling Nitro Circus Live tour. 

 

Los Angeles,CA | May , 2009 | Photo by Garth Milan

Los Angeles,CA | May , 2009 | Photo by Garth Milan

“You know me better than probably anyone on the face of the Earth,” he says to me when I ask him for some insight into his life lately and what keeps him ticking even after just having his second daughter. “Besides my wife,” he quickly adds. He is so damn competitive that he probably had to have another daughter because I had one, and he wanted to beat me at that as well.

 

“When I’m around Bilko, all I want to do is compete with him at go-carts; when I’m around Kenny Bartram, all I want to do is beat him at foosball; and when I’m around you, all I want to do is try to drink more beer than you,”

 

he says—his reasoning behind what pushes him in his life. Adding daughter Bristol to his already girl-filled family of wife/skateboard phenom Lyn-z and almost 2-year-old first baby Addy has actually fueled his drive to live and act more passionately—no, not the 50 Shades of Grey kind of passion, but the passion to live life to the fullest, to push the sports that he is involved in to the absolute and total limit (and beyond, most of the time). 

 

Photo by Matty McFerran

Photo by Matty McFerran

Outsiders usually see this kind of behavior as a death wish, or as coming from someone who is playing with fire—a practice many would say is reckless or not conducive to being a father. But Pastrana sees it as the opposite: He sees it as a way to teach his girls passion and competitiveness, two traits that he values more than anything else. He brings up Shane McConkey as we discuss this—a top skier, BASE jumper, and Red Bull teammate who was a huge inspiration to Pastrana (and myself), tragically killed living his passion for ski BASE jumping. Many people can find fault with McConkey for risking his life and paying the ultimate price for following his passion while having a wife and young daughter at home, but not Pastrana; for him, McConkey was the kind of man and father that Pastrana wants to be (and is). Holding back and not following what you believe in is more detrimental to your family than the slight possibility of paying the ultimate price.

To Pastrana, there is no better feeling than being on the Nitro tour and having his daughters on his lap as they watch Mommy huck a 65-foot backflip on a skateboard off the Giganta Ramp. That is passion, and it’s empowering for his girls to see what a family sport any of our “action sports” can be. As Pastrana talks about his drive to share this with Bristol and Addy, he starts to wonder out loud what will happen if the girls end up being more into museums and libraries than ollies and backflips. He worries that his competitive nature will compel him to learn more about history and art, to know more about these subjects than the parents of the other kids in their classes. Knowing him, I already know that the girls’ science-fair projects are going to be so far over the top that I would hate to have to compete with what he helps them build.

But back to the original task of this article: to write the story about how Pastrana has remained grounded to his friends and family even after the almost 20 years of superstardom that this “kid” (as I still think of him) has enjoyed (endured?).

 

I first met TP in 1997—or ’98, I don’t really remember; it was a lot of beers/concussions ago—filming Terrafirma 6 up in Canada when he was 14 years old. That kid I met 17 years ago is still almost identical to the dorky, overly nice and polite, absolutely useless at mechanic-ing, big-grinning and pretty sure prepubescent from the late ’90s who begged me to show him some of the big jumps and free riding territory we had up there. I knew who he was, of course, from his sections in the original Crusty and Terrafirma videos, but when he asked if I could show him how to change his air filter and fix his broken clutch lever, I laughed out loud. Talk about FRS (Factory Rider Syndrome): Here was this superstar racer kid who didn’t even know how to do the most basic of all moto maintenance. 

 

Photo by Garth Milan

Photo by Garth Milan

 

As anyone with parents knows (and that is all of us, just FYI), our folks are the single biggest influencers on how we will grow as kids, then young adults, and then again as adults. Seeing from the outside Pastrana’s relationship with his parents and how they brought him up, there is no doubt in my mind that he will forever remain grounded. Has anyone ever seen a video of Robert “The Drill Sergeant” Pastrana? He would have no qualms about kicking Travis’ ass if he didn’t show respect to everyone in his life at all times. And then there is Debby, his mom. If you think Pastrana (or I, for that matter) is scared of Robert, you do not want to mess with Debby. Her fierce commitment to her family and son is second to none and right there with a momma bear. I love Debby, and it is not hard to see where Pastrana’s sense of values comes from once you spend a little time with her. When she found out that Pastrana had asked me to be the minister at his wedding—yes, I am qualified by the almighty Internet, if you are wondering, and Pastrana actually married my wife and I as well—she walked right up to me on rehearsal day and very straightforwardly asked if I had a piece of my “sermon” dedicated to God. I, of course, said, “You know I do, Debby,” and then scrambled like a madman to look up some good, pertinent psalms to read during the ceremony as soon as she turned her back to me.

 

The Pastranas come from a small town and a big family where the focus was always put on family coming before anything, period, and I think this shows in the way that Travis lives his life.

 

I find that people always have massive misconceptions about famous people—why they do certain things and how they live their lives. Pastrana is for sure no different when it comes to being on the receiving end of these misperceptions. My favorite is when people tell me how nice it must be for him to fly private jets all across the world. This is always the best one, as Pastrana is way more likely to be stuffed at the rear of a Southwest plane in a crappy middle seat beside the bathroom, crammed between two 450-pound farmers, than to be living the high life on a private jet. The best part about it is he really doesn’t give a shit. At all. He doesn’t care about the comforts or the cool-guy-ness or anything else that people in his position could and probably would care about. For him, the motivation is where that crappy middle seat is taking him and what random bets/contests he can make up and try to change the rules of until he wins. That, for sure, has always been a Pastrana specialty. If he starts losing a bet or contest, he somehow convinces people that the rules need to change to make the game more “competitive” (read: in his favor). No one has more house rules on their beer-pong table, and each and every one of them has been added mid-game to make sure that he has a better chance of winning. Pastrana will try to convince anyone who will listen that he is trying to make everything “more competitive for everyone,” but by “everyone” he always means himself. 

Photo by Matty McFerran

Photo by Matty McFerran

As Pastrana creeps up in age, I keep waiting to see signs of maturity showing through in the way that he attacks the progression that he can bring to his chosen sports—and by “maturity” I mean being like myself and most other failed professional motorcycle racers, finally realizing that being hurt sucks and that it starts not to be worth the pain at some point. But then he drops a video on the Interweb of himself attempting a triple backflip. So much for that thought… But Pastrana is still only 31 years old, so if I am comparing him to myself (and I always figured I was way smarter than TP), he’s got a few more years left of pushing the boundaries at the level that he does. I really have no idea how far he can push not only himself, but also the people around him, in the coming years, but I do know that he is finally seeming so much more at peace with where he is in life. His daughters in his arms, watching his wife shred on a skateboard: This is the life that he has always wanted, one that has brought more happiness and fulfillment to him than I think even he had ever imagined it would.


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Read the story in Volume 003


2.8 Seconds to Legend


The Day Doug Henry Fell From the Sky

Words by Brett Smith


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Everybody reacted differently. Some of the sunbaked spectators were slow to process what had just happened. Others were quick to respond, but clearly unsure what exactly they were supposed to do; one shirtless man, holding an aluminum can wrapped in a koozie in his right hand, ran from out of the camera’s view, hurdled the fence like a horse in a steeplechase, and stood near the rider’s feet. Some spectators just stood there, slumped over the fence, motionless; others slowly raised their disposable cameras to their eyes and snapped a photo. Many pointed back up the hill as if they were still trying to convince themselves of what they just saw and where it came from. 

Stacey Henry saw it happen from the back of a Honda box van. She was watching the race and evading the oppressive Father’s Day sun and humidity that always blanketed southern Maryland in mid-June. Her angle was head-on and far enough away that she said to herself, “What kind of line was that?” A couple of seconds passed and she wondered why her husband hadn’t gotten up yet. Henry always bounced right back up. Then John Dowd’s wife, Trish, came over and told her to get down to the track.

 

 

Jeremy McGrath didn’t understand why he was hearing Doug Henry’s engine accelerating through the braking bumps. McGrath had moved slightly to his right to avoid the uphill chatters and thought if he ran it in deep on his teammate he could gain a few tenths of a second. He looked to his left and saw Henry hanging off the back of his bike and then floating away like a Nordic ski jumper. McGrath let up. Henry was still gaining velocity and height by the time McGrath started descending from his own jump. “I thought he was dead,” McGrath says.

Davey Coombs turned around just in time to see something fall out of the sky and hear what he called a “sickening thud, the sound of metal breaking and a bomb hitting but not going off.” He was shooting photos and writing for Cycle News. He and Motocross Action’s Chris Hultner were loading film in their cameras. They looked at each other and then raced toward the fence. 

Jonathan Beasley had been awake for two days preparing his racetrack for this day, the fourth round of what is now called the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. He faced the course but was engaged in a conversation with someone his own height: 6’4”. Chatter from his two-way radio filled the other ear. Suddenly, the chatter died; he saw the whole thing and today calls it one of the scariest moments of his life. He was 80 yards away and jumped on his ATV. “He was probably 70 feet in the air at the height of his jump,” he says. “It was just sad seeing how he fell like a rock.”

 

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Brian Austin knew he was being lapped. The leader, Mike LaRocco, had just passed and he knew that second and third would soon follow. Then he heard something that wasn’t quite normal and he looked over his right shoulder. Nothing. Then he looked up—way up—and saw another rider in the air at an obscenely abnormal height. He didn’t know who it was until impact. He was 10 to 15 feet away from where Doug Henry landed, and Austin’s most vivid and disturbing memory was that he actually felt the ground shake. “I could feel it, hear it, and taste how much compressive force happened,” he says.

Shelton Hines, a lanky construction worker from Columbia, Maryland, was the first person to reach Henry’s side, within 10 seconds of him landing. Hines jumped the fence and in long strides walked to Henry and picked up the purple Scott goggles that had been discarded. “It looked like his eyes were rolling into the back of his head,” Hines says. “It was pretty bad.” He remembers being asked for water and then dropping the goggles and attempting to remove Henry’s helmet. Within seconds, an EMT shooed Hines away. He and three other random spectators, who all ran in from different directions, scattered. 

An obvious statement: Doug Henry’s June 18, 1995, crash at Budds Creek Motocross Park in Mechanicsville, Maryland, is one of the most infamous and bizarre motorcycle wrecks of all time. But to merely describe it as a crash is a gross misrepresentation of what actually happened. It was more like a flight, then a plummet. In trying to learn why this incident will be just as memorable another 20 years from now, understand that Henry did something that had no possibility of yielding a benefit. “If he had landed it…” was not an option. He didn’t crash attempting a unique jump combination or endo or high side or swap out of control; he sent himself into the atmosphere seemingly on purpose. For everyone who witnessed the crash, it was completely nonsensical. For most of the spectators, Henry had come from completely out of view to suddenly five to seven stories in the air. People were forced to make their own conclusions. In 1995 there was no live TV at motocross races, or even a TV truck from where team and race officials could get answers. ESPN aired the footage in a tape-delayed telecast. 

 

In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, a book that examines the factors that lead to high levels of success, there is a chapter that makes the argument that plane crashes do not happen as the result of a single catastrophic cause. Instead, Gladwell says, plane crashes are a subtle process that begin slowly and gradually overtake the pilots until the plane ends up in an unredeemable crisis. Doug Henry, the only person who truly knows what led to his own crash from flight in 1995, would agree. From small mistakes to fatigue, pride, determination, a wardrobe issue, and even bike setup, a series of factors led him to be dropped from the sky that day.

Henry was battling McGrath for second place. They were halfway through the second-to-last lap and the defending series champion, LaRocco, was less than two seconds ahead of them. In a rutted left-hand corner, on a secluded area of the course, Henry took the inside, McGrath the outside. McGrath saw Henry make a mistake in the corner and he gained a little time. Then Henry, on a No. 4–emblazoned Honda HRC 250, cased the downhill double out of the corner and nearly landed on a car tire that served as a crude track barrier. McGrath cleanly landed on the downside and closed more distance on his Honda teammate. Riders then raced into the bottom of a valley before climbing another steep hill. After hitting the midpoint between the hills, Henry started to climb and then hit a bump with a square edge; the suspension compressed and his whole body position shifted. While McGrath was in a smoother line and in attack mode, elbows out, head over handlebars, Henry’s butt patch was rubbing the stickers off his rear fender. His feet were also hanging off the backs of the foot pegs.

 

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It was late in the moto and Henry was understandably fatiguing; arm pump had affected his grip and the temperature that day was 88.9 degrees. He couldn’t relent; he was in a battle with not only his teammate, but with the championship points leader. Henry had won the previous round at High Point Raceway a few weeks earlier, his first career win in the premier class of AMA motocross. Beating McGrath meant taking over the points lead. Hanging off the back of the bike while simultaneously on the throttle with his fingertips, Henry’s last resort was to get his foot on the rear brake to slow himself down. 

If only he hadn’t been wearing John Dowd’s right boot that day. Henry tweaked his ankle in practice days prior and it hurt so badly that he borrowed a size 11 boot, one size too big, and asked Honda tech Cliff White to fit a steel plate to the insole. It was flex that caused him the most pain, and the plate eliminated the flexing—including when he really needed it. 

The last thing working against Henry was his own bike setup. In normal conditions his Honda 250 was perfect for his riding style: a shorter front end with more weight bias and a looser rear shock. Henry was tall and lean and didn’t like too much rebound in the shock. According to Dave Arnold, Honda’s team manager in the ’80s and early to mid-’90s, the looser damping, lesser rebound, and amount of speed and torque a factory Honda could produce was lethal in that specific moment on that specific track obstacle. A different bike setup wouldn’t have saved Henry from flight, but he may not have flown as high or as far. 

“Everything happened in reverse for Doug at that moment,” Arnold says. “Everything happened that you didn’t want to happen.” 

The one thing that did go correctly for Henry was his decision to stay on the bike. He debated letting go upon takeoff. Once the decision to stay on the bike was made, he then thought maybe he could make it to the retention pond that was in the infield. 

 

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“[I thought] that [would] be a soft landing, not realizing I was only a quarter of the way there,” Henry says. “I decided to get control of the bike and just land it and see what happens. I remember going off that jump in the air and it was like one of those dreams. It wasn’t real. I’ve always had dreams where I’m riding and I land and I wake up. It really felt like that. It was really just a dream.”

It wasn’t. Once airborne, he was able to pull his body weight forward. With the front end high, he looked like Evel Knievel jumping the fountains at Caesar’s Palace. After 2.8 seconds of airtime, Henry’s rear wheel touched down first, about 20 feet shy of reaching the corner at the bottom of the hill. To this day, LaRocco claims that he saw Henry’s shadow and thought to himself, “What is he doing?” The sprinklers at Budds Creek are spaced 60 feet apart and Henry came down next to the third one from the top. He traveled more than 120 feet downhill, nearly to the flatbottom. Beasley has since had the land surveyed and discovered that the vertical height of that track obstacle is 112 feet. 

When the front wheel slapped to the ground, Henry’s body was violently slammed into the seat; his torso folded completely in half and his head was drilled into the front end. His right arm was blown from the handlebar and tossed out and behind him as if winding up for a pitch. The force of the impact was so great on the bike that the load was transferred from the suspension into the bolts that held the shock into the frame. Cliff White remembers that the bolts were bent and had to be beaten loose from the frame. Surprisingly, the wheels were intact. 

 

When the suspension rebounded, Henry was sprung over the front end and he did a forward somersault with the motorcycle. It was like he was wrestling his bike to the ground. His hands were tangled in the flailing bike and he was knocked in the head. When he finally stopped rolling, he immediately took off his goggles with his left hand, paused, evaluated himself, realized that he could move his legs and feet, and then tried to roll onto his back. A sharp pain sent him back to his side. 

His spine was bent so far on impact that his L1 vertebra burst, causing spinal-cord compression. Doctors said it was miraculous that he retained full movement in his legs. At the hospital, when Stacey Henry asked one doctor to explain the surgery they were going to perform, he said, “You wouldn’t understand.” She handed him a piece of paper and a pen and asked him to draw it. He drew a crude stick figure that didn’t explain much.

“‘He’s young, he can find another job,’ Stacey remembers a second doctor telling her. “How he dismissed all the hours and heart this guy had, I thought, ‘He has no clue what this guy’s been through,’” she says. “‘He thinks it’s just a backyard accident.’ So I knew immediately that I had to get him out of there.”

 

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Stacey moved her husband to George Washington University, where a young neurosurgeon named Charles Riedel teamed up with an orthopedic surgeon to clean up the bone fragments that were still dangerously close to the spinal column and to rebuild Henry’s L1, a procedure that, at the time, was still new. “In place of that vertebra, we then placed a titanium mesh cage, which we filled with grafted bone so it would grow and replace what used to be there,” Dr. Riedel says. Had the two doctors at the first hospital been more compassionate and empathetic, Stacey Henry today believes that she would have allowed them to perform a more traditional and safer operation with rods that would have fused six to seven vertebrae together. Henry’s career as a professional motocross racer would have been over with. 

As emergency responders knelt near Henry’s head in the Budds Creek dirt, trying to ascertain the location of his pain, the rider struggled to remove his gloves. He pulled his left Fox Pawtector off, which revealed a gold wedding band. Henry didn’t remove it even while racing. Exhausted, he stopped moving and rested in the fetal position while the EMTs and Honda staff worked to stabilize him. 

 

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When a transport vehicle wasn’t able to get into the valley to drive Henry up to the ambulance, four EMTs and two Honda team members picked up the stretcher. With his legs and torso taped down, his neck in a brace, his jersey cut off, and his mouth smothered with an oxygen mask, he was carried right back up the very hill that dropped him from the atmosphere—now called Henry Hill. Maybe it was at his request, maybe he wrestled them loose, but Doug Henry’s arms were free. When he raised his two bare arms into the air and held a double thumbs-up, the crowd at the fence, which had swelled, knew a legend had been created, and the reaction was unanimous: euphoria.

 


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Read the story in Volume 003


Snowquake


Last Minute Trip to the Italian Alps with Harley-Davidson

Words & photos by Forrest Minchenton


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There are perhaps, serendipitous moments in ones life where your desires align with opportunities that arise.  It is in those moments that a feeling of deja vú, an almost precognition comes over you.  This feeling, those moments, have happened to me more than this once and in those instants I know that I am indeed on the path that I am meant to be. That the peaks and valleys of life that have led me to this trailhead, in fact had a purpose. Although, research and scientific approach reject this explanation of déjà vu being a prophecy. In science, déjà vu is seen as an anomaly of memory, but life is in fact full of unexplainable anomalies and I therefore, continue to embrace and trust in this mystical sensation. It is this approach to life that has led me along a unique path and one that is sometimes difficult to put into words exactly what it is that I do. When people ask, I usually answer with something along the lines of, “I make surfboards or ride motorcycles” or? Well truth be told I’m not exactly sure what my “career” is in the traditional sense of the word. Maybe I don't have one per say… I suppose I made a life out of what I liked to do for fun. Neither my family or myself are wealthy; it is quite the contrary really. They did, however instill in me a mindset to be creative, not just artistically, but in the design of life.  A life that needs no vacation.  A life that has a certain freedom. Like when META calls you just three days before this very trip and asks, “Want to go race Harley-Davidsons on Ice in the Italian Alps?”  and you answer, Hell Yes! It is that type of freedom!

 

 

 So how do I pack or prepare for a trip to race Harley-Davidsons outfitted with metal studded tires on ice in the Italian Alps, (something I have never done before mind you), with just three days notice? Well, like every other trip I go on, I fucking wing it! Stuff a Bell Helmet, some Alpinestars Tech 10 boots, and every damn Deus jacket in my closet into my gear bag.  Passport in one hand, ice cold beer in the other, my camera and some 35mm film dangling behind my back. Because after all life is a vacation. Right?

 

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Planes, trains, automobiles, twenty hours and four bottles of red wine later, I arrived to a hazy Italian morning.  At least I think it was morning? Jet lag had me spinning, or maybe it was the vino? Either way, there I was in Italy albeit a bit cold. But I was here for the free wine, I mean the racing.. and straight ahead lay the Ice circuit, situated in a deep valley framed in with the steepest mountains I have ever seen, nearly sheer cliffs by the looks of them, which made my local mountains in California look like mere bunny hills in comparison.  As I descended down into the venue and upon the scene that would be the day one of the two day ice racing extravaganza, it was through a cloud of smoke that I saw it all. Not marijuana smoke people, no we aren't in California anymore, this was of the two-stroke variety. Vintage Husqvarna, CZ, Bultaco, Yamaha, Honda, Beta, 8 brand new Harley-Davidsons and a Jalopy? Yes, Yes and Yes. From comedic sidecars to a drool worthy period correct Bultaco in ice racer spec, to Steve McQueen’s personal Husky Cross 400 now in the loving hands of an ice racer.  Still being used, still being raced, on any Sunday. Mcqueen would be proud. Did I mention it was cold outside? Yet, still there were over 50 racers on the track, undeterred by the frozen feet and hands after half a lap. 50 racers, that means 100 buzzsaws in the form of studded motorcycle tires chasing each other down. One wash out while leading the race out front and your buddy running second place is running you over, tenderizing your backside, but that’s what motorcycle racers do. They lay their lives on the line and risk it all for…. well absolutely no prize money! Nope. They actually paid their own hard earned money to be here! They paid to be here to rub elbows, bang bars, yell and laugh at their buddies and fight tooth and nail like their life depended on it for a second to last place finisher spot. Because hell, its fun! 

 

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Day one was the Deus Swank Rally on Ice.  Having won the Deus Swank Rally Bali beach edition at Deus Indonesia over the Italian boys back in October I was familiar with the format, and seeing that I had arrived after signups and practice was underway I got to beer drinking and bullshitin’ and catching up with the crew. Meanwhile I lost all feeling in my toes as they turned to ice blocks. The Deus Swank Rally Is about a 1.5 mile course set through ice and snow in a timed format and the fastest time wins. A few of the lads were really hauling the mail, getting unbelievable traction on the ice with those studded tires.  I obviously got excited and next thing I knew the Deus crew had me suited up in a set of their leathers and aboard their 2wd Yamaha Wr450f ice racer. Having not signed up, I had no racing number or paperwork, but hell no one cared! Pin it, they said! So with 1 glory lap I was one and done and ended up 5th place on the timed leader board. Satisfied, I headed back to the hotel to defrost and come back ready the following day to race.

 

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The morning came around quick, but this was the day I had traveled so far to experience. Eight 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Rod 750s all identically built in Ice racer spec. Ohlins piggy back shocks graced the rear, Continental studded Ice tires, A flat track style seat and tail section, Twin Air air cleaners and Renthal grips were the first things that caught my eye. Orange and Black color scheme on the tank paying homage to the XR1200 race bikes of yesteryear. The bikes were unique and a stark contrast to the rest of the DIY race bike builds in the pits and on the track.  The Harleys growled to life and easily drowned out the rest of the two smokers that were within earshot.

 

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The rag tag crew of motorcycle journalist, professional road racers, and a surfboard shaper (me), all lined up and politely jockeyed our way into position to be the first to ride these bad boys.  I ended up in the third wave and once out on the track was blown away at how responsive the 750 motor was. It felt like flat tracking, but on ice.  I hole shot my first heat race and held the lead for a few laps before Pro road racer Corey Alexander blew by me on the last lap, crushing my short lived glory.  A few heats later and a couple terrible starts and I was relegated to watch the main event from the sidelines, but I wasn't complaining. The fire pit was warm, the beverages were cold and the boys were racing! 


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Fun in the Sun at Deus Bali

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Jeremy Lacy


Downshift Studio

Words & photos by Ben Giese


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As I circle around the block of a charming suburban neighborhood in Broomfield, Colorado, I pull up to a house with an open garage full of motorcycles. I grab my camera and shut the door of my car as I am greeted with an enthusiastic smile and friendly handshake from my pal, Jeremy Lacy. Jeremy is an exceptionally talented industrial designer and artist who eats, sleeps and breathes all things moto. I’ve known Jeremy for a few years now, and although I have always been a fan of his work, we have never had the opportunity to hang out one-on-one. He welcomed me into his home with open arms and gave me a tour of his studio.  Perusing through the garage amongst a variety of dirt bikes, street bikes and custom builds in different stages, my eyes fixate on a desk plastered with sketches and inspiration hanging on the walls.

 

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This is Jeremy’s happy place. He tells me this is where he finds his Zen. Where he can get lost in his head in the midst of his motorcycles and his artwork as he sketches out his next creation. 

 

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Jeremy works a day job at an industrial design firm to pay the bills, but it’s clear that the relationship between his artwork and these two-wheeled machines is more than just a hobby; this is a passion that runs deep.  On top of being an amazing artist, he might be the nicest, most down-to-earth person you will ever meet.  In the current world of Instagram “influencers” and trendy motorcycle wannabes, it seems increasingly harder to find genuinely talented and passionate people like this. The world could use more people like Jeremy Lacy.


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Featured in Volume 010


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When we first came across the work of Ukrainian artist, Bohdan Burenko we were intrigued by a certain discomfort that radiates from the disfigured portraits he paints.  When commissioning him for some work...

 

Airforce


An Aviation Inspired Custom Motorcycle

Presented by Death Machines London | Photos by Ivo Ivanov


 

They say convenient is the enemy of right. Mr. Giovanni Ravelli, a co-founder of Moto Guzzi, was not a man to take the convenient path. WW1 fighter pilot, aviator and motorcycle racer, he was so fast he became known as ‘The Italian Devil’. We hope he would have appreciated the fact that our Moto Guzzi Airforce, built in his memory and released on his birthday, was the most inconvenient thing we’ve ever made.

 

For Giovanni Ravelli. 14 January 1887 - 11 august 1919

 

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From the hand-formed bodywork, to the aviation-inspired chassis and wheels, Ravelli’s influence has shaped Airforce. In fact, pretty much every design decision began with ‘what would Giovanni do?’.

The donor motorcycle, a 1982 Moto Guzzi LeMans Mk2, was discovered in a yard in southern Italy, having been involved in an argument with a truck. Left outside, it was quietly corroding away in the sun and salty air.

Despite its condition the potential was obvious and upon delivery back to our works in London, the strip down began. The engine was found to be in remarkable condition, with no major problems discovered. A full forensic inspection, vapour cleaning & reassembly, along with replacement bearings, seals gaskets completed the main engine work. The cylinder heads were subjected to a total refresh, along with our signature gas flowing. Carburation is through a pair of modified 36mm pumper Dell’Orto carburettors. The package is completed with our in-house velocity stacks and open slash cut headers.

 

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Guzzi’s legendary ‘Tonti’ frame works. That is a fact.

They handle well, you pick a line and they follow it, so any modification had to be limited. Our ‘what would Giovanni do?’ version of ‘limited’ was to radically modify, in the spirit of those pioneering times of course. Giovanni would have approved. As well as the obligatory de-lugging and subframe modifications, a custom in-house head stock was manufactured, to increase the rake by 3 degrees to 30. The original swing arm was swapped out for a heavily modified Moto Guzzi California swinging arm which was braced and coupled to a mono shock cantilevered system. Not something we’ve seen done before.

The frame and front wheel were then coated in our custom ‘Airforce Grey’, mixed specifically for this project. The wheels are modified California Hubs, laced to 21x3.00 aluminium rims, the rear utilising hand spun aluminium disc covers. Tyres are period Firestone items. The front end is a highly customised Aprillia RS250 arrangement, re-valved and refinished, while the rear suspension unit is an aviation-inspired bespoke item courtesy of Hagon.

Braking is taken care of by a pair of billet four pot Brembo calipers, operated remotely via cable to a Brembo RCS master cylinder. Designed and built in house, the 300mm rotors are one off DMOL designed steel items.

 

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Engineering that has more in common with watchmaking, than with motorcycle building.

All the controls on Airforce are custom-made: clip-on tubes, grips, and internal throttle have all been fabricated in-house with pegs and controls working on modified Stucchi gear change linkage. Airforce also features our first set of completely custom levers: the inverse Lever Type IN01. Precision machined from aviation grade aluminium, the IN01’s will soon be available to buy as a part.

An M-Unit and custom loom controls the machines electric functions, with a single Xenon projector light working both hi and low beam and an LED rear light housed in our custom cluster. The speedometer has been redesigned and precision etched in nickel silver and brass, with dimmable radial illumination through a dedicated controller. Now, we know they didn’t have electric guitars and amps back in Giovanni’s day, but we like to think he’d be into his Foo Fighters, so ignition comes courtesy of a ¼ inch guitar jack with a built in immobiliser proximity sensor. Because hell yeah.

 

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Hand-beaten aluminium bodywork that says one thing: Speed.

And finally to that bodywork. Beaten and welded by the hand of DMOL’s master craftsman, all the panelling has been built using the classic buck technique, where a wood skeleton is wrapped in aluminium - something Giovanni would’ve appreciated. This process, for obvious reasons, leaves imperfections - tiny hammer dents, small weld holes and the like. These are usually covered with filler and paintwork, but instead we chose to leave the metal raw and simply brush it - reminiscent of the WW1 fighter that was our inspiration for the project.

The front fairing slots into the side of the fuel tank, creating uninterrupted flowing lines. The lower concave curve of the fuel tank is mirror polished to reflect the high-gloss paint finish on the inside of the front fairing - the only part of the bodywork that is given this treatment. The belly-pan is double-skinned, enclosing the exhaust pipes. Finally, the Italian leather seat features a hand-stitched pattern based on air-flow to enhance the impression of movement.

Airforce was built in 112 days (just in time for BikeShed 2017). So why did we wait so long to tell anyone about it? Because it needed to be better. There were parts we could’ve left alone without anyone noticing, except we noticed. It would’ve been far easier to not remake the belly pan or re-engineer entirely new levers. That would’ve been the convenient thing to do. But as Mr. Giovanni Ravelli knew: the meek are seldom remembered.

 

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The Art of Albert #004

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Dirt Wolves


An El Solitario Story

Produced by El Solitario MC


 

The original idea for this film was just to show the world how bored and tired we were of road and traffic regulations, as well as all conventionalism propagated by selfish politicians that the only thing they really care about, is to leave their seat with deep pockets and a big grin. Also we wanted to show some love & respect to the awesome people that have helped us jump into the world of off road riding and showed us how its done.

But later with the deliberate burn of all the forests surrounding our schools, bars, houses and our studio, we realized it was time to rise the volume and join the fight to preserve our lives. Motorcycles have a horrible image around the world because we don’t obey, but we are among the most sustainable communities I know. We suffer the elements in our face though love and respect them. We don’t take them for granted! Of course most idiots will think that it is us, off roaders and other people that pursue their freedom in the wildlife, that are responsible for the loss of our ecosystems. Now, policymakers will try to ban motorcycles, bicycles or people walking their dog in our forests so that they can continue making money with the future of our children, unwatched.

At El Solitario we understand the need to evolve to keep it real, but human evolution has become a path of destruction. Our world is being looted and vandalized by greed and a ferocious excess of human population. Our immediate answer was to scape civilization and blend into one of the most remote and least populated areas of the country. Still human stupidity caught up with us and brought its destructive ethos along, burning our habitat. No we know that we shall do what we can to stop this. And if we need to get political and radicalize our activism on the way, so be it. This vital journey we embarked 8 years ago was intended to leave a positive imprint in our world and so we it will be!

 

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Project Dirt Wolves, is a logical consequence of a change of paradigm for El Solitario, that kicked off with E.S. Desert Wolves. Once we got a taste of the off road life, in the African Sahara, we understood there was no way back. We still love our vintage and one-off machines, but with the escalation of road & traffic regulations they’ve become outlawed and the hassles of riding them in the open roads makes it not fun. Motorcycles have no future amigos…

So how to age recklessly, remain emotionally immature and have fun without getting arrested? Ride dirt bikes! As the letters KTM stand for, you will Keep Throwing Money every year to hurt yourself, then come home smelly, dirty, exhausted, and miserable because as usual you failed in your ongoing battle with gravity on a motorbike.

The E.S. Dirt Wolves started life as a pair of 2017 KTM EXC350/F which we modified to make overnight rides in the safest possible way. Off road riding at your 40s is a risky endeavour, so protection and functionality are the top priorities when you are set to design the perfect ride. Unlike we used to do, when designing custom bikes, when you leave the conforts of asphalt, form must follow function 100%. Even the subtlest change can make a huge difference on your performance so you need to be cautious and follow a strict plan.

As Adventure Oz says, there is no evidence of motorcycles in the after life, so we’ve decided to ride every day like if it was the last! With this clear in mind, we grabbed paper and pencil and jotted the following wishes: We want to get so lost that even the GPS quits in a puff of smoke. We want to jump into rivers, so cold, that your balls disappear for months. Also want to drink whisky around the fire, while camping under the stars. These were our plans and these are the motorcycles we designed for the task.

 

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Just Go


From the Colorado Rockies to the California Coast

Words & Photos by Bree, Trevor & Tyler Monks


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Beginnings: There is something about that first time. After that, it’s never the same, and the chase for that first high will never escape you. 

The idea? Ride the entire western U.S. coastline from our homes in Colorado, routing as many dirt roads and trails as we could find along the way. Some of us had spent our entire lives on motorcycles, but for no longer than a single moto. With 5,000 miles ahead of us, and our girlfriends, wives, and tents on the back, we didn’t even know if our idea was possible. That was the beauty of it. 

 

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As a group of current and former athletes (but, more specifically, “moto lifers”), the search to fill the void is constant for us. Finding a passion as rewarding is nearly impossible, and a new self-identity even more challenging. It seems to be a common thread in our moto community that we willingly place ourselves in dangerous situations if for no other reason than a little adrenaline and to say we did it. 

So, as a group, our goals were similar: push ourselves, be open to anything, and see what happens. What we found on the road was much more than that, yet not any more complex. We picked our bikes up off the ground in the Utah canyon backcountry, struggled along the Salton Sea at 113 degrees, and even T-boned a deer in the mountains of Idaho. But we also cast our eyes on beautiful ocean headlands, hiked waterfalls with family and friends, and had our own spiritual experience with the redwoods at the end of our journey on Highway 1. All these things brought us closer to ourselves and helped us to see the reality: Life is only about moments, and opening yourself up to them is key. 

 

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As you grow up, it seems that fear grows with you. Your childlike wonder fades into a commitment to responsibility, bravery turns into self doubt, and the thoughts of what could have been begin to creep in. 

So what sets you apart from the fearful? Forget the future, forget the past. Forget your fear; force yourself to take a chance that has an unknown ending or a blurry outcome. Embrace that inner kid again. Let yourself be scared and just go.


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Read the story in Volume 003


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The Kid


Ryan Stewart: Forever Young

Words by Ryan Stewart | Photos by Ben Giese


I had only known him for an hour or so before realizing that I wanted to share his story with our readers, to introduce this person, and to celebrate his desire to live a life that embodies everything we stand for at META. I have met many impressive humans along this road called life, but once in a blue moon I stumble upon a person who truly inspires me. Somebody who helps me to seek more, to wake up and smell the roses, and to long for a fulfilled life by way his of example. It is with honor that I introduce you to Ryan Stewart. –Andrew Campo

 

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Stockton, Kansas, was a great place for a kid to grow up in the ’60s and early ’70s. It was probably like growing up in any other part of the country in the ’40s and ’50s. My parents were both from farming families. I spent a lot of time working in the country, although we lived in Stockton itself. My dad seemed to know how to build and do nearly everything. When he wanted a fishing boat, he built a fishing boat. He had tools, and he knew how to use them. He was also quite literate. He wrote a weekly column for a newspaper. Didn’t matter what needed to be done, he knew how to do it or figured it out on his own. He came down with multiple sclerosis when I was young, and he became unable to do the things he liked to do. Many times I became his hands and feet, doing the work while he explained what needed to be done. He expected me to pay enough attention to what he was doing to be able to anticipate his next move without having to tell me what to do next. He didn’t like it if I wasn’t following closely or if I couldn’t anticipate where to hold the light next or what tool to place in his hand without him asking. It was a good way to learn how to do things. 

My dad didn’t teach me how to do everything I know how to do today, but he taught me that I could learn to do anything I wanted to do. That is a fine thing. And he rode motorcycles. One of the last times I saw him ride his motorcycle, he had to use a cane to walk to where it was parked. After getting on, he strapped the cane to the handlebars with a piece of leather and took off. Good lesson there: Don’t stop doing the things you like doing just because life has made it a little more difficult. He started me on a mini-bike when I was around 6 or 7 years old. I’ve not been without a two-wheeled machine since.

 

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Stockton, Kansas, also happens to be the home of the longest continuously running motorcycle race on the planet. The Stockton Half Mile dirt track race has been going on at the Rooks County Fair in August since 1906. I’ve been to close to half of them, either watching or racing a motorcycle myself. As a kid, I watched top riders from all over the country slide through the corners of that famed half-mile, and I wanted to do it myself. There was a man in a neighboring town by the name of John Bird who had a small motorcycle shop. John helped many youngsters either build a flat track bike or get started racing. He helped me build mine. It was a Bultaco that we put together from leftover parts from other bikes. He did the same thing my dad would do; he would sit on a stool and tell you what to do while he supervised your work. It’s a great way to learn. He also played the guitar and still does. He’s in his 90s now and lives in the same house as he did when I was young. When I am in Kansas, I’ll stop by and visit with John about motorcycles or flying and maybe play him a song that I’ve written on my guitar.

 

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The South Solomon River ran through the southside of Stockton just south of the half-mile race track. Many of my best memories are from the time that I spent on the river or that track. We’d sneak onto the racetrack in our cars at night, after hanging out and drinking beer down on the river, turning laps until we would hear the sirens coming. I wrote a song a few years ago called “The South Solomon River.” It came to me while working on the lathe in my shop. While running the lathe with one hand, I wrote the lyrics on the back of a brown paper grocery bag with the other. One of the verses goes like this:

 

“I’d ride my motorcycle over the banks and miles along the sand. Ducking under those barbed wire fences not caring who owned the land. Chased off more than once by a farmer in a four-wheel drive, then I’d hide down on that river man, it’d make me feel alive...

 

...On the South Solomon River on the south side of town, it was usually just a little stream a’running along the ground. Until they opened the Webster gate and the water came tumbling down, the South Solomon River on the south side of town.” I still have the brown bag with the lyrics and still play the song. Never stop doing what you like to do. 

 

 

Fast cars and fast motorcycles during my childhood made me realize that I wanted to go faster than I could go on the ground. I used to look at the sky while driving a tractor, and I dreamed of being up there. When I was three or four years of age, I would sit in a box on the floor of my grandmother’s house in the country and place an old electric fan in front of the box. The box was my cockpit, and I’d turn the knob on the fan to the highest setting for my imaginary takeoff, then dial it back to medium for cruise. Low setting for landing. How I knew to do that, at that age, is beyond me. Possibly it was innate, because I didn’t get a ride in an airplane until I was in high school. Just always knew I’d fly one day. I read every book on flying I could find in both the school library and the town library. Actually, I read nearly every book in both libraries anyway, sometimes reading a book a day. I loved to read, and I still do. Never stop doing the things you love to do. I started flying the summer after high school. I’d worked part-time that summer, when I wasn’t on the tractor, for a local crop-duster. I loaded chemical, flagged and cleaned the airplane. I couldn’t wait to get started flying. Oddly enough, I didn’t really study flying in college; I did that on the side. I studied English, literature, philosophy and theology instead. By the time I was a senior in college, I had accumulated all of my pilot ratings and was working nights hauling freight in an old twin-engine airplane. I went to classes, flight-instructed and taught two classes as a professor in the physics department during the day. During my freshman year of college, I kept my Bultaco Astro race bike in my dorm room. I overhauled it in there several times between races. My roommate was a very patient and understanding guy. I was a little wacked. There’s been a dirt bike or flat track bike in my garage or shop ready to go riding or racing, when I am not in the air, for over 40 years.

 

I’ve been a pilot for a major airline for over 30 years. At one point they sent me to the company psychiatrist. I had gone through a period where I had missed quite a bit of work from racing injuries – 147 broken bones and a number of serious surgeries over the years. They tried to convince me to quit racing. It never would really take. 

 

Mark Twain said, “Giving up smoking is easy… I’ve done it hundreds of times.” That sort of on-again, off-again racing behavior led me to rewrite (with his permission) Owen Temple’s rodeo song called “Swear it Off Again.” Verse two of my rewrite goes like this: “Well, I’ve gotten off hard and been left in the dirt, cheered by fans through a lot of years of hurt. Going to hang up my number and walk away, but that’s never a place that I’m able to stay.” Then into the chorus, “So I still ride in a race a few times a year. I get tossed and broken and then I ride enough I get dirty and bloody and I swear it off again.”

On May 22, 2010, two months shy of my 54th birthday, I was racing in north Denver when I went down in the middle of turns one and two. Low side. No big deal, I thought. I had the clutch in and was going to stand it back up and get back to racing when I got hit in the middle of the back with a front tire. Three riders hit me while I was down. My back was broken in two places, along with six broken ribs, a cracked sternum and two broken fingers on my left hand. I got a decent third verse for the song out of the deal though: “One summer in Denver going round and round, it was halfway through the race when I hit the ground. While sliding through the corner and across the track, I got hit from behind and it broke my back.”

 

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I built a banked half-mile oval racetrack in my backyard around 15 years ago. It’s a pretty decent track. Straightaway speeds are around 80-90 mph depending how well you’re ridingit. I have had a lot of riders, including several Grand National riders, come practice on it. I host six to eight track days every year, usually on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. I live in a valley in the country. I’m very fortunate to be able to come home after a flying trip to a place that has all the things I like to do in one spot. I built an airstrip and a hangar across the creek from the racetrack, and that allows me to keep my airplanes close and fly them often. My hangar has one room that is pretty near and dear to me. I call it the “machine room.” It’s where I build my motorcycles, and it houses my welding machines, lathe, milling machine and some of my favorite items. If I’m not flying or riding, I’m probably in that room working on something. 

Life is short, and this isn’t the dress rehearsal. Life goes by quickly. If there is something that you think you would like to do, then I would suggest that there is no time like right now to start. Mandatory retirement age for an airline pilot is 65. I’ve been asked if I’ll keep at it five more years. My response to that question is exactly the same as it would have been back when I started the career: I’ll keep doing it as long as I’m still enjoying it. The first day that comes along that I’m not still enjoying it will be my last day. I don’t see that happening anytime soon, though. I have a part-time tow pilot gig at the Air Force Academy that doesn’t have a mandatory retirement age, and neither does my racetrack or my shop.

I feel very fortunate to have the life that I have. I’m enjoying life more and feeling better at 60 than anyone has a right to, especially after having busted myself up so badly so many times. I feel like a kid in a candy shop when I look at all the choices that life presents. Keep doing the things you like to do as long as you can do them and enjoy them. I was working on a song ten years ago about Frank Buckles. Frank was the last living American military veteran from World War I. He was quoted as saying “When you think you’re going to die, DON’T.” That’s great advice. There might come a day when I have to use a cane to get to my motorcycle. Once I get there, I’m going get on it and strap the cane to the handlebars and take off. I learned that as a kid.


Read the story in Volume 010


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Vanguard


Marc Blanchard: Keeping it 100

Words by Eli Moore | Photos by Chelsea Stratso


Downtown San Diego: the Gas Lamp district, some Navy aircraft carriers, and that bar from Top Gun. And homeless people. Legions of derelicts  of all shapes and sizes line the street just a few blocks outside of San Diego’s most bustling tourist areas. I am navigating around men and women either sitting or lying on the sidewalk, all talking to themselves, and hitting the “lock” button on my truck keys for what has to be the 10th time. I reach the door to the 100% offices with relief, thanking the universe that I scheduled this meeting during daylight hours.  As I enter, the scene around me immediately changes, for the better. Cool colors, clean walls, and mannequins donning the race gear of Justin Bogle and Marvin Musquin greet me as I step in. Walking through the space, I’m markedly impressed. Since the brand’s revival is still in its infancy relative to most of its competitors, I was expecting a small-time operation—a few desks, a lot of product clutter, some posters, and maybe a shitty coffeemaker. 

I was only partly correct: Their coffeemaker is awesome. The same can be said for the offices. A small hallway leads to conference rooms and desks, ultimately guiding visitors to the bullpen, a wide-open converted garage loaded with couches, posters, old-school motorcycles, and the man I came to see: Marc Blanchard.

 

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Blanchard happily greets me. He is a character more recognizable for his work than his face. His is a personality content to sit behind the scenes. But his art has graced some of the biggest names and brands in the sport, with a style all its own. He is the design guru behind One Industries, having worked prior to that with JT Racing before its doors shut and reopened, and now focuses on his latest project, the revitalized 100% brand. Blanchard’s days at One Industries molded him, as a designer and as a businessman in America . “With One, it was about putting food on the table. We were making money—off motocross! We thought it was awesome,” he explains, reminiscing about the early days of One as he graciously brings me on a tour around the office and warehouse, which is stacked with the usual maze of boxes but also houses some more epic old-school bikes, including Sebastian Tortelli’s works 1998 Kawasaki KX250. As he speaks, he unwittingly scatters life lessons, and I feel compelled to make mental notes. As the old adage goes, love what you do and you will never work a day in your life.

 

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However, it is an unfortunate consequence of today’s working culture that as one’s work sees more success, it loses chunks of the appeal that drew the individual to it in the first place. Blanchard explains the beauty of One Industries in its infancy, a wonderful amalgam of chaos and uncertainty, as it was: “Having a small brand was awesome; we could do what we wanted, be experimental, and figure out what worked without the consequences.” But as success came, so did the consequences. As the company excelled in the motocross world, even introducing new product lines with their helmets as they worked in brands like Tag Metals and SixSixOne, Blanchard experienced restrictions on his own designs—in the company that he created. Playing the political game—appealing to one associate or customer because their check was bigger than the rest—was not where Blanchard saw himself, no matter how proud he was of his company’s triumphant exploits. Here is where most men might simply reverb  Notorious B.I.G.’s “Mo Money Mo Problems” as they sat counting dollars, but Marc Blanchard is a different breed of man, inspired by the journey as much as by the end goal, be it in business or elsewhere. As the company grew, Blanchard began to explore options in his head: Where could he land that would reinvigorate his own creative spark? One was successful in the motocross and mountain bike scenes, enough so that bigger fish took notice. It was not long before the company was receiving buyout offers and was ultimately sold in 2007 for a reported $22 million to a private equity firm. With a sum like that, most would be happy to pack their bags and head straight to a remote island and a five-star hotel. Not Marc Blanchard.

 

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Blanchard’s partner at One, Ludo Boinnard, decided to take his earnings and try his hand at another individualist sport, one that also values unique perspective and creativity: skiing. Boinnard, an avid skier, created the KLINT ski brand, but soon realized that KLINT would not see the same cushy fate as One. At around the same time, Blanchard was itching to get back into the business of motocross, and he took Boinnard with him. “We’re motocross guys; that’s what we do,” he explains. His is a refreshing outlook; Blanchard understands that the route to success, in business and in life in general, is to stick to what you know. The get-rich-quick schemes being constantly hurled at desperate eyes seeking a fast-track ticket to Easy Street go unnoticed by Marc Blanchard; he is moto, and he will stick to it. As it happened, 100%—then by all means defunct—was available to Blanchard and Boinnard, and with the help of industry vet Bevo Forti, the group took over the brand. Finally, Blanchard had a canvas on which to lay his level of artistic integrity, one where he was free to design and conduct himself in whatever manner he saw fit. “With 100%, it is about getting back to the feel of One before it got big, just us and our friends doing what we like,” he says.

This is not the only time that the motocross world has seen a brand recuperated by members of the old MX guard; consequently enough, as Blanchard was taking over 100%, the company that brought him to America, JT Racing, was undergoing a similar revival. As Blanchard notes, there is an inherent challenge in taking a brand from the early ’90s and tossing it into the lion’s den that is the 2014 market. Today’s youth want everything fast and loud, and then they want something different. But as Blanchard and the team at 100% found out, the feedback from young customers reflected the work and artistic prowess that they put into the products. “The response from the kids has been great. It’s cool with 100% to have the pull with the older guys, but also get such a positive response from the kids,” says Blanchard.

 

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As we exit the building and Blanchard closes up the office for the evening, he suggests a quick drink before we go our separate ways. Never one to refuse a potentially free beverage, I am pleased to acquiesce to his request. He exclaims  that he will drive, and just as I am about to play the polite card and offer up my driving abilities, I catch a glimpse of his car: an Audi RS5, laced to the moon with racing goodies that I am almost positive had me salivating at a Pavlovian level. Blanchard grins at my reaction to his vehicle, probably knowing full well that his is a story very exceptional to others in his position. We live in an era where brands come and go, and everyone with access to a computer and a screen printer fancies himself “a designer.” But Marc Blanchard has turned his passion into a series of successful businesses, and, even more impressively, he has kept his soul while doing so. 

As we drive, we continue to discuss 100% and where he wants to take it. “Sometimes you can’t do what you want to,” he says with a hint of disappointment lining his tone, describing again the political issues that come with growing a business. Blanchard’s world is one where creativity and originality are of the utmost importance, no matter what. Perhaps the rest of the world should heed his example.


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Read the story in Volume 002


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Andrew Short


Racing Through Retirement

Words by Dale Spangler

Photos by Ben Giese | Portraits courtesy Fly Racing


One of the hardest decisions a racer has to make during his or her career is to decide when to retire. In the ideal scenario, the rider walks away at the top of their game—as a champion—on their own terms, as a racer who could have continued on with their career, but instead walked away on top and moved on to the next chapter of their lives. The reality (for the majority) is nowhere near that ideal. Some riders exit because of injury; others are unable to secure a factory ride or the proper equipment they need to race at the highest level—while others simply burn out. Regardless of how they do go out, most don’t want to leave the lifestyle behind.

 

 

For Andrew Short, that moment came at the final round of the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship at Ironman Raceway in Indiana. In the twilight of a long and successful career, during which he’d ridden as a factory rider for the American Honda and BTO Sports KTM squads, the Colorado native-turned-Texas transplant knew in his heart it was time to move on. “When you get older in a sport where you see people retire on top at the age of 26, you let outside influences creep into your head and begin thinking it may be time to stop,” Andrew recalls. 

 

 

“The problem was, I still loved racing and was addicted to everything surrounding racing dirt bikes. It’s hard to comprehend when you hear guys say they aren’t having fun racing, riding or preparing to go race anymore. To me that’s different than a racer who has fear sitting on the starting line and can’t focus or get in the zone anymore because of past injuries. I respect Trey Canard because he had the heart of a lion and fought demons to come back and race at an incredible level. No racer wants to stop racing, let alone has the luxury to choose when to stop, especially on your own terms. Typically you stop getting paid or lose your ride. I was very blessed that I knew the window was closing and could choose to call it a career with no regrets.”

 

 

Upon retirement, some racers disappear into a life of normalcy – choosing to live the married life and raise kids, or perhaps even step into a “regular” 9-5 job. Some avoid travel like the plague unless it’s for a personal vacation. Still others choose to stay involved in the industry and work as a team manager or a riding coach—even a salesman. At 34 years old, Andrew Short could just have retired to his sprawling Smithville, Texas, ranch with wife Jacki, daughter Emma and son Hudson and lived the simple life. But that’s not Andrew Short: Idle time is not part of his makeup. For the most part, he knew what his new life after racing would be even before he retired.

Ever the consummate professional, Andrew Short is known as one of the best test riders in the sport, having helped develop bikes for Honda and KTM. He’s also known as one of the nicest, most approachable riders in the professional paddock—always with time for his fans in a sincere manner. In other words, even before he began to consider retirement, he was heavily sought after in the motorcycle industry.

 

 

Since his retirement, Andrew has crisscrossed the country for events such as the Honda Africa Twin launch, the CRF250R intro at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch, an ADV bike ride in Baja, and the Sonoma Rally in Mexico. More recently, he participated in a trail ride with longtime sponsor FLY Racing at the brand’s summer camp event, where members of the media were treated to an epic ride in the mountains of Idaho and introduced to the 2018 product line. There is no doubt that Andrew Short is enjoying his retirement. He’s getting back to the basics of why we all start riding: for the pure joy it creates, which is evident when you are around him. His enthusiasm and curiosity for all things moto is infectious and inspiring.

 

“I was never the best in moto or supercross, but I was close for a few years,” recalls Andrew. “I’m thankful I love riding more than ever."

 

"The best part of retirement for me is I’ve ridden a ton of supercross, tested motocross all year for the American Honda guys, and raced Rally in Mexico, to just a few weeks ago riding enduro in Colorado. I go explore and trail ride all the time. I’ve been able to trail ride numerous places like Moab, Utah, this year for the first time and met amazing people who have a like-minded passion for two wheels. It’s awesome because I’ve ridden ADV bikes in Mexico with old dudes and legends, and the following week I’ll be testing supercross with Ken [Roczen] and Cole [Seely] at the test track in Corona. I look forward to going to the Colorado 600 to see what the Trails Preservation Alliance is doing for the sport as well each year. Another event I really enjoyed was the GRINduro that benefits the Kurt Caselli foundation.”

 

 

Hang out and talk with Andrew for just a few minutes, and you quickly realize how lucky you are to be able to ride a motorcycle. Whether it’s motocross, off-road, dual-sport or rally, Andrew Short is the epitome of the “like a kid in a candy store” idiom when it comes to motorcycles—he’s a true enthusiast. Not only has he become an ambassador for the Honda brand, but in some ways he’s an ambassador for the enjoyment of riding motorcycles as a whole.

 

“When I observe those [racers] that are burned out, it bums me out,” Andrew says. “I would love to take those guys in the mountains of Colorado with plated bikes and just ride for the fun and adventure; it’s like being a kid on your own exploring on your bicycle for the first time, with freedom, growing up back in the day.”

 

He adds, “Most racers are so one-dimensional and have specialized in racing the same tracks year in and year out. As they should, because that’s what they get paid to do and have sacrificed so much to get there, but the passion gets lost from maximizing their ability and sacrificing in other areas. The balance in life is lost, and fun somewhere along the way, as well.”

 

 

"I love waking up in the morning stoked on bikes and thinking of ways to be productive and improve. "I can’t wait for the next adventure and hopefully giving back.”

 

If we are lucky, we may even see Andrew Short participate in some rally racing in the near future. “What I love most is riding off-road and exploring. Rally is rad because you have to go fast, be fit, and most of all smart. I want to race Dakar one day. To me it’s the Everest of dirt bikes,” he explains. “That’s the goal I want to accomplish someday. To me, I think the crossover would be great exposure and also shine more light on Dakar. I hope to have the opportunity one day. It’s a massive race in terms of media exposure worldwide, but in America it doesn’t have as big of a following.”

 

 

 

Only time will tell exactly where Andrew Short ends up and what he’ll be doing five or ten years down the road, but one thing’s for certain: Whatever it is, he’ll have a smile on his face and an abundance of enthusiasm. Adds Andrew,

 

“Life is too short, and if you lose that passion or love, go find something else to replace it."

 

"Whether that’s art, golf—who knows?—it’s endless nowadays! I ride more than ever now and enjoy knowing I don’t have to peak on race day, and just enjoy the moment each day for what it is.” Seems like sound advice from a rider racing through retirement at his own pace—enjoying life to the fullest.

 

 

To be continued...

Since publishing this feature Andrew has signed with the Husqvarna Motorcycles pro rally team.  Congrats on the amazing opportunity to continue chasing your dreams.  The team at META wishes both you and the team at Husqvarna the best in this exciting new chapter of your career!

 

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Read the story in Volume 010


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The Electric


Alta's Future of Fast

Words by Brett Smith | Photos & video by Dean Bradshaw

Featuring Jimmy Hill


 

There’s something about going riding with your friends, a feeling of joy that really can’t be put into words. It can only be shared by someone who’s done it. 

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Those are the final two sentences of narration from the 1971 Academy Award-nominated documentary On Any Sunday. The voiceover accompanies video of Malcolm Smith, Mert Lawwill and Steve McQueen as they rip across a grassy field and lock their tires onto a cow trail, riding three abreast in a magnificent display of synchronicity. It’s a moment from motorcycling’s halcyon days when riders worried about nothing more than riding. Well, and maybe oil leaks. 

When the three men reconvened at their pickup truck at the end of the day, did they talk about engines and parts? Probably not. Did they debate brands, fret about tire choices or the fitment of their riding gear? No. Riding gear? They wore department store pants and generic long-sleeve sweatshirts. They talked about how much fun they’d had.

 

 

Nearly a half-century after the revered movie left theaters, motorcycling is both better and worse, depending on your level of optimism. It’s much easier to be a better rider on a 21st-century dirt bike than an early ’70s Husqvarna 400 Cross. Yet, modern distractions, coupled with a growing population and shrinking land access, make it more difficult to even find time or places to ride. Add in the never-ending discussions and unwinnable debates – two-stroke versus four-stroke, 250 versus 350 versus 450, supercross versus motocross, air fork versus spring fork – and we seem to be doing a lot of talking and typing and much less riding. 

What if the conversation was no longer about the bikes and equipment? What if we only talked about the experience and remember what it was like when we all wanted to copy whatever Malcolm Smith was doing? 

What if I told you the most unlikely of companies is already subtly trying to get that message to you? Would you listen? 

 

Read the story in Volume 010

Live Big, Ride Happy


From Huntington Beach to Bali

Flying Machine Stories Episode 004 presented by FMF


 

Pack your boots, boards and band-aids. Trip into the life fantastic with the Humphrey and Minchinton families. From shaping surfboards in Bali, to building an off-road oasis in the California desert, to handcrafting performance exhausts, all of our stories originate in Huntington Beach, California – creating a bond that ties us together. Cheers to chasing dreams and the never ending pursuit of a life less ordinary.

 


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Featured in Volume 010


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Under Open Air


Getting Lost in America

Produced by Joe Stevens | Words by Steve Ebert | Photos by Grant Puckett


 

We’re all on a lot of different roads.

Physically, metaphorically, theoretically. GPS routes, Google Maps, career path, even retirement plans: It’s all up to your personal interpretation and confidence in the route you’ve chosen.

What really matters is where you’re going, what you experience, and what you take away from it.

America is far from an undiscovered land. If you hashtagged your way across the states via Instagram, location tag to location tag, you’d be well on your way to internet fame. You’d also undoubtedly see a lot of cool shit. But for all the viewpoints, historical monuments and parks, there’s still gold to be found off the beaten path.

We set out on this trip not as MX riders who grew up around the track, but as a group of friends with a love of two wheels and the sense of freedom they enable. All four of us have a different story. When we flew to Atlanta to start this trip, back home we had Harleys, old Yamahas and Triumphs all in our personal quivers and varying experience riding them on dirt.

What united us all was a desire to do something new and challenging, and to document a relatively known route in a way we had never seen before. And, if we did it right, maybe inspire some equally reckless souls to follow in our tracks.

 

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The Trans-America Trail is a (marathon) ride where you can get loose. You can rip. You can practice your lefts, rights, and long, long straights. You can think you’re past a gnarly section and run into miles more just around the corner (looking at you, Utah). It takes you up and down, through tight shit and bullshit. You can do pieces, long stretches or get creative and go coast-to-coast. You can stay with friends and family, find hotels, or sleep on the ground under the stars.

You’ll meet a lot of interesting people. You’ll see the country in a way that few have. You’ll discover the unexpected, and you’ll unexpectedly discover things about yourself. 

 

From Tennessee to Oklahoma to Oregon, you’re sure to find your fair share of surprising vistas, prime campsites and curveballs from Mother Nature. But the trail is just that. An interconnected series of roads to take you from one place to the next. The route is just the path that you took. The experience is another thing entirely.

 

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On a trip like this, you slowly come to the realization of how much time you are physically spending on your bike. We knew that coming in but could never really fully prepare for it. It happens from both the gradual flattening of your ass and the hours each day you spend locked inside your helmet and, subsequently, your own head. The TAT is simultaneously a group effort and a test of your own personal will. The bike becomes your home in the sense that it offers the solitude to get away, to think, and to feel. To focus on the stretch before you, the earth underneath your tires, and to experience the freedom the machine beneath you offers. Yet you’re all in it together. One bike issue is a roadblock for the collective, and individual priorities take a backseat to the goals of the group.

As the miles ticked into the thousands, we slowly became less cognizant of rules and boundaries. Gas station parking lots became our go-to watering holes – warm beer starts to get pretty old after a few days. We usually had to drink at least one while they were still cold. Speed limits all but faded from our consciousness. Our friends, day jobs and responsibilities became somewhat distant recollections, no less real and meaningful – but oddly detached from our day-to-day. We spent so much time with ourselves and each other that interactions with outside people began to feel a little foreign. Encountering a car or two started to feel like a traffic jam, and other riders on the trail felt like some kind of strange brotherhood of crazy people.

We became more aware of life and death. Each flattened armadillo and rotting skunk reminded us of how alive we truly felt and how lucky we were to have made this happen. The pre-trip early morning phone calls, lunch meetings and late-night proposals became more and more worth it the more we encountered what we’d promised to see and capture. The theoretical blending of work and play we were searching for stopped being an idea and became our day-to-day. Conversations transitioned from how sick things would be to simply trying to remember as much as we could from what had happened just that day.

 

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A trip like this changes you in the best way. Your motorcycle becomes more of a gateway to an experience than a machine. You become more confident in its solace and freedom, more capable in your ability to control and sense the movements of its system of components, and more aware of your own inner drive and feelings as each hour passes by. 

 

The hills flatten and rise again, water crossings come and go, and you move from campsite to campsite. But the wonder and excitement about what’s around the next bend constantly sticks with you. From the forests of the deep South to the cold waters of the Pacific, we put our bikes and ourselves through it all.

Looking back on 6,000 miles is a tremendous feeling. Certainly there’s the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing the route relatively unscathed; but the real reward was the feeling of taking an idea – a dream, really – and turning it into a reality. To have this experience and to be lucky enough to share the views, thoughts and range of emotions that came with it. To have minds full of moments we hope we never forget. And to have another bike in the quiver to bring back those experiences again and again. Honestly, we can’t wait for what’s next.

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Read the story in Volume 010


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A Life Well Ridden


Volume Ten: The Journey Continues

Words by Ben Giese


 

There are moments that can define your life.  Moments when everything you are and everything you may possibly become balance on the thread of a single experience.  You follow your intuition, make a decision, and eventually realize that for better or worse nothing will ever be the same.  For some of us, that defining moment can happen the first time we throw our leg over the seat of a motorcycle.  Awakened by the brief escape from life’s eternal pull – gravity that anchors our bodies, fear that anchors our minds.  It’s an experience that can change your life forever.

Several decades into this obsession and we’ve seen dozens of motorcycles filter through our lives, each one marking a different chapter in our story.  The endless days spent on two wheels, the countless hours of maintenance in the garage, even the injuries and suffering that have come along with it all hold valuable lessons of their own.  But the most profound lesson that riding a motorcycle has given us is to open up our minds to the true beauty, fragility and brevity of life.  With this, we’ve come to realize that only in those brief moments, riding the fringes between life and death, can you truly experience the difference between living, and feeling alive.

Riding motorcycles has not only given us an identity, they have provided us with purpose.  They have introduced us to a beautiful community of like-minded souls that share our same passion for living. They have taken us across the globe and back as we tirelessly work to preserve those moments that define us. We have risen from the shadows and cemented our place in the world.  Opened our hearts to live and think creatively as we work to inspire others to follow in our tracks.  None of this would have been possible without our bikes.

There are a million ways you could choose to spend your numbered days here on Earth, but believe us when we tell you that motorcycles can make your life an extraordinary one.  This issue is dedicated to all the hopelessly addicted dreamers out there serving the same life sentence we are.  To the bold individuals fearlessly chasing that thrill of feeling alive.

 

Here’s to a life well ridden.


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Volume Ten Available Now!


 
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The META Collection


Tag your Photos #ALifeWellRidden

 

Time is Yours to Kill


Kill it in Style: META Apparel & Accessories

Video by Voca Films


 

"Only great minds can afford a simple style."

 

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The Operative Coaches Jacket

 

This Nylon Coaches Jacket is screen print friendly, and has waterproof nylon fabric with snap front closure. *The nylon fabric is 100% waterproof... However, we call this Jacket Water Resistant because the seams are not waterproof, and features a snap front closure. If you stand in the rain for hours, some water may eventually get in through the seams or the snap front closure.

 
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Jacket Features

 

100% nylon 330D with waterproof coating

Nylon Outer Shell: Waterproof Coating = Level 3

Inner PU Coating: Breath-ability/Permeability = 5,000

Water Pressure Resistance = 10,000

Self neck tape

Antique brass eyelets

Antique brass 6 snap front closure

Elastic cuffs

Underarm grommets

Drawcord closure at bottom opening

Standard fit

 

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The META + 100% Barstow Goggle

 

It doesn't matter whether you're in the dirt or on the street, we've got you covered with the new META Barstow by 100%.  Fusing vintage moto design with modern styling and technology resulting in a timeless look with next level performance. 

 
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Barstow Features

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1 – Frame
Minimal frame design works with distinct lens shape to increase visibility.

2 – Strap
Premium strap trim elevates performance and adds rich detail.

3 – Foam
Triple-layer face foam provides excellent moisture management.

4 – Lens
Anti-fog Lexan lens with integrated pins for seamless tear off application.

5 – Vents
Upper vents force air in and channel out moisture to reduce fogging.

 

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Vitae


Featured Artist: Bohdan Burenko

Words & Artwork by Bohdan Burenko


When we first came across the work of Ukrainian artist, Bohdan Burenko we were intrigued by a certain discomfort that radiates from the disfigured portraits he paints.  When commissioning him for some work featured in Volume 002, we asked him to give us a little insight into the inspiration that fuels his work.

 

Untitled Rider | A special project for META, 2014

Untitled Rider | A special project for META, 2014

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"One day I came across pictures of the soldiers injured during the First and Second World Wars; their faces were completely mutilated by wounds. Some parts of their faces were just absent. The surgeon took every possible step to restore the faces of the soldiers; they were patched with tissue and skin from other parts of the body and were given terrible wooden dentures to replace teeth. I had never seen more grotesque and disturbing images. My stomach was filled with fear, and my heart was hanging in the terrible emptiness. I felt horrible discomfort. The image of these poor fellows was burned in my brain for a long time. Later I realized what a powerful catalyst of emotion the destruction of the form is. I merged the idea of creating destructive portraits with my style, and eventually a cycle called ‘Gentlemen’ appeared."

 

Portrait of Jason Anderson for META Volume 002

Portrait of Jason Anderson for META Volume 002

"Visual imagery plays a major role in my creative work. I am trying to achieve the maximum emotional impact on the viewer through that mode. For me, the person is the main theme and the main subject of art, so I depict portraits of people and human figures. I explore the nature of human existence, the relationship of people, and human drama. In order for the portrait to be as expressive as possible, I spend a lot of time searching for the ideal shape, and later I spend lots of time on its destruction. Correct forms or accurate representation of reality is a boring and uninteresting occupation of my time. There is a special appeal in ugly and wrong objects. It’s hard for me to look away from a person with disabilities. I feel dreary, even uncomfortable, but I cannot stop looking at such a person. In my opinion, the ugliness and destruction trigger incredibly strong feelings, and they are also serious instruments to influence the viewer. Art should act as the causative agent, a kind of a kick, and it does not matter what kind of emotions the viewer really experiences. The most important thing is that he does not remain indifferent, and all means are good in this respect."

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More work by Bohdan Burenko

 

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Artwork Featured in Volume 002


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West America


5 Months, 25,000 Miles

Words by Jordan Hufnagel | Photos by Jordan Hufnagel & James Crowe


 

In the fall of 2013, after an intense couple of years working toward this dream, James Crowe and I took off on a motorcycle journey that would see us from Whistler, British Columbia, to Ushuaia, Argentina, to the southern tip of South America and beyond. What followed was a beautiful shit-show, two friends constantly throwing themselves in over their heads and making it all work out.

 

 

On our way down, we rode a large portion of the Baja 1000 course, fully loaded with all of our gear. This happened a week after the race had run and immediately after some large storms had swept through. It was the most challenging riding I could conceive of, and consequently I became a hundred times the motorcycle rider I was before. Early in the journey, we realized that our dumb asses didn’t get the paperwork we needed for the ferry to  mainland of Mexico, so we found ourselves backtracking 1,000 miles to the Mexican border. After that life lesson, we were sufficiently prepared for every border crossing and qualified experts on the ins and outs of border paperwork. 

 

 

We dove off cliffs and bridges in Guatemala just a day after I broke two ribs on the ride, because I was decidedly against allowing any non-life-threatening injury to quell this once-in-a-lifetime trip. We tried sailing for a couple of days on open seas on our way to Colombia, with mixed results; suffice it to say that seasickness is no joke. We took off on a renegade six-day backpacking trip by ourselves, hardly a week’s worth of backpacking experience between the two of us, and were welcomed by some of the most beautiful and remote mountains either of us had ever seen. Luckily we hooked up with an incredible and experienced couple while riding the rural milk truck to the beginning of the trek and got schooled in more ways than one by our new friends as we shared the journey together. An hour into a hike bound for one of South America’s most badass waterfalls, James found out that he is extremely allergic to ant bites, which resulted in a frantic rush back to our bikes to get him stabbed with an EpiPen. After that we never left on a hike without the EpiPen, and we also developed some new relaxation methods to help fight off serious allergic reactions—yet another life lesson for the mental folder. We changed countless flat tires in the middle of nowhere and now have a dialed quick-fix kit and method. We rode through snow at 14,000 feet several times with every layer we could possibly dig up, and while we were physically miserable and possibly delirious from incredibly long days in the saddle, I am challenged to recall landscapes as beautiful as the ones up there. 

 

 

We logged more than 25,000 miles in five months on our way to the southern tip of the Americas, taking every step we could to spend the majority of the trip off pavement and in the most remote areas. Help, directions, a place to stay: They were all just a simple interaction away due to the amazing kindness of all the people we met. 

 

 

When I reminisce about this trip, it’s all the harebrained ideas, struggles, and lessons that I remember most fondly. I feel lucky to have a friend who is constantly willing to push limits and learn as we go. And the best part is, there is so much more to come.


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Read the Story in Volume 002


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