Equilibrium

Precisely Enough

A film by VOCA Films | Words by Ben Giese | Photos by Aaron Brimhall


 

"Only great minds can afford a simple style."

–Stendhal

 

This has been one of my favorite quotes for many years now, and it not only inspires my work as a designer, but it’s also a concept I try to apply to my daily life. I am a fan of minimalism and believe that good design is a form of intelligence. My personal interpretation of minimalism is not necessarily an effort to have as little as possible, but more an effort to strip away the unnecessary. To silence the noise and let quality do the talking. Simplicity can be a beautiful thing if done correctly, and minimalism can be a powerful source of freedom. And I think these are two very mportant characteristics of a well-designed motorcycle. Even the great Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” 

Motorcycles should be simple. They should be exposed and unobstructed, much like the experience of riding them. I believe that good design appears in the lines, stripping away all the unnecessary gimmicks to present the machine in its purest form. But great design … Great design appears in all the things you don’t notice. It’s not in the things you can see or touch; the magic of a great motorcycle should be something you can feel. 

 

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“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

–Leonardo da Vinci

 

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In the fall of 2015, Swedish motorcycle manufacturer Husqvarna invited us to the annual EICMA Show in Milan, Italy, to witness the unveiling of their new Vitpilen 701 concept bike. Swedish design has always been synonymous with quality and minimalism, and true to its DNA, the Vitpilen revealed absolute excellence in its simplicity. I could feel that magic “something” immediately as I gazed upon the masterful work in design. 

With today’s popular trend of retro-inspired motorcycles and motorcycle culture, the Vitpilen 701 is a breath of fresh air. The progressive and forward-thinking design breaks boundaries with a nice reminder to stop looking to the past and start dreaming about the future. I’m a sucker for nostalgia just like the next guy, but from a design standpoint, the seamless aesthetic and unique lines of the Vitpilen stand alone and offer a new perspective on motorcycle design. Reduced down to the bare essentials of what a bike should be, the Vitpilen is a jaw-dropping statement for Husqvarna’s bold return to street.

 

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Two and a half years have passed since I first laid eyes on the Vitpilen 701 concept, and the anticipation to ride it was finally coming to an end. The first production models recently landed in the States, and I would be lucky enough to journey out to beautiful Palm Springs, California, to be one of the first to swing a leg over it on American soil.

Palm Springs is a cultural desert oasis, hosting the world’s largest concentration of mid-century modern architecture. Since the 1920s, visionary modernist architects have designed sleek homes to embrace the desert environment. The dramatic geographic surroundings of the Coachella Valley inspired a design aesthetic that became known as Desert Modernism, where the simplicity of the desert landscape is reflected in the minimal design of the architecture.

 

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"Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean and make it simple.”

–Steve Jobs

 

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Notable for its use of glass, clean lines and sophisticated design, Desert Modernism evoked a lifestyle of simplicity and elegance. Palm Springs became the place – as journalist Joan Didion once wrote – for dreaming the golden dream. Influenced by the intensities of living in a desert climate, this style of architecture aimed to be the perfect combination between form and function that challenged the current idea of what a home should look like. Thoughtful design became part of daily life, with ideals to not only look stunning, but also improve the experience. These principles very much remind me of the design philosophy behind Husqvarna’s Vitpilen 701, and the more thought I put into this connection, the more I realized that there could not be a more appropriate location to ride this motorcycle.

The Vitpilen 701 and Palm Springs’ Desert Modernist architecture have a lot in common. Both dance between the balance of form and function and the relationships of materials in an effort to create a seamless transition through space. They both feature a minimal design aesthetic that has been purposefully built to complement the experience. And when combining the elements of this modernist architecture, the minimal desert landscape and the progressive design of this motorcycle, it begs the question: Does innovation really need to be complex?

 

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"If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

–Albert Einstein

 

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Husqvarna has answered this question clearly with a motorcycle culminating in 115 years of progression, innovation and a never-ending quest to pioneer new territory.  I found that magic “something” in the honest and thrilling riding experience enabled by its simple and progressive design. As the sun sets over Palm Springs and I reflect on the day’s ride, this motorcycle has made an obvious statement: Perfection is not about more or less, but the balance of precisely enough. It’s about finding equilibrium. There is a fine line between too much and too little, and with the new Vitpilen 701, you can finally ride that line.


Read the story in Volume 012

Immunity


A Film by Dylan Wineland

Starring Aaron McClintock


 

Director's Statement

 

"Aaron and I had been brainstorming the concept to this video for quite sometime. A few years back we had done a film together called MIND WIDE OPEN, along with Connor Barnes, which received positive feedback and we knew that we would want to create something again. We have shared a similar perspective on riding motorcycles and have felt our vision hadn't been expressed in the motocross industry. So, we set out to share our unique perspective in hopes that people would be able to relate to it and appreciate it.

Our goal was to define riding dirtbikes outside of just big hits and half naked Monster girls. More than entertainment, we wanted to make this video an experience for the viewer. The term “I do what I love to escape” is something that Aaron and myself disagree with. We believe it is quite opposite of that. Our belief being that when you are doing what you love, you are completely tuned in and as close to reality as you can humanly be. It’s like a form of meditation. When Aaron is at the bar, he is tuned out. He is having troubles facing reality but knows exactly what he has to do in order to heal himself. That is where we coined the term Immunity. It is an act of healing. So Aaron leaves his demons behind in order to find himself through riding his motorcycle."

 

 

Film Credits

 

  • Director/DP: Dylan Wineland
  • Produced By: Dylan Wineland, Aaron McClintock, Connor Barnes
  • Cinematography/Aerial Cinematography: Connor Barnes
  • AC/Grip: Connor Barnes, Jon Riley
  • Color: Aiden Ulrich
  • Music: “Carved In Mayhem” by Luke Antonio & “Life (Remastered)” by Solar Fields 
  • Supported: WZRD Media, Sheets Studios
  • Rider: Aaron McClintock
  • Thumbnail Photo: Alex Stohl

 

Way-Out


Tyler Bereman

Words by Brett Smith | Photos & Video by Sebastien Zanella


 

They were thinking exactly what he thought they might be thinking: “Who the f#ck is this guy?” It was the fall of 2010, and a group of freestyle riders were at Ocotillo Wells, a popular Southern California riding spot filled with cliffs, hips and ledges. The group was led by Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg, who is now a 16-time X Games medalist. He was shooting for 420%: All Natural, a movie composed entirely of riding natural terrain. 

Tyler Bereman, a blond-headed teenager, showed up with Andy Bakken, then a representative for Answer Racing. Bereman had #653 on his number plates and was still riding the high from a college boy title at the Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn’s that summer. Although he’d grown up as the son of a flat-track racer and didn’t race motocross until he was 10, all he’d ever wanted to do was jump. He’d never, however, ridden anything like this, and that became painfully obvious when he took his first crack at an 85-foot gap known as the Pole Line Step Up.

“He came up so short,” Twitch says. “He cased the step up so hard, and I remember thinking, ‘This kid is going to kill himself!’”

Shortly after, the crew migrated to a different, more technical gap jump. While they were scoping it out, Bereman rolled up and claimed he was going to hit it backwards. “I don’t even want to watch this go down,” Twitch says he said to himself. There was no safety deck around the landing, and if he came up short this time, a price would be paid. After a half dozen runs at it to gauge speed, he committed and landed perfectly.  

“He absolutely greased it. I was a fan of the kid from then on,” Twitch says. Bereman made the film, and subsequently, many more. Still, the question lingers for most people: Who the f#ck is Tyler Bereman?


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Read the story in Volume 011


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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Magic in the Spanish Desert

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

 

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

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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An unforgettable adventure through the heart of Mexico with newfound friends, Stephen Smith, Miguel Lerdo of Concept Racer and director, Sinuhe Xavier aboard a collection of BMW R nineT Scramblers...

 

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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Tag your Photos #ALifeWellRidden

 

TERRA INCOGNITA


Into the Unknown

Words by Maggie Gulasey | Photos by Aaron Brimhall


 

PRELUDE

Whether it is dreaming of the mystifying heavenly bodies looming above, experiencing otherworldly terrain here on Earth, or revealing the inner demons hiding deep within oneself, seeking the undiscovered is not for the faint of heart. Delving into those varying degrees of the unexplored, a lone traveler embarks on a quest accompanied only by her motorcycle and imagination. This terrestrial rocketeer will look, listen, and touch in order to obtain a more profound perspective on her place in the universe as she embarks on a personal adventure into the unknown.

 

 

CHAPTER 01 - OPTUEOR

Carving through the utter darkness aboard my earthbound craft, I detect only the glittering freckles populating the black canvas above and the rolling pavement streaking below.  No city lights or headlights impede my perception of the world as it rapidly flashes by.  Though more of a soul ship, my motorcycle is a rocket granting me freedom to navigate through the mysterious landscapes, becoming one with the elements as they whoosh past me.  My eyes focus their gaze on the path ahead as my mind ponders the uncharted far beyond the planet’s gravitational embrace.  A theoretical physicist born precisely 300 years after Galileo’s death and about 75 years before my terrestrial exploration advised, “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.”  I will take Stephen Hawking’s guidance and look up.  

However, what if someone was looking down on Earth on July 16th, 1945?  If anything happened to be meandering through the Milky Way on that day, there is a chance it might have witnessed a deadly mushroom cloud emanating from the world’s first atomic bomb detonation, a sort of calling card to the rest of the Universe announcing our presence unlike anything prior had.  As I ride past the White Sands Missile Range, where the initial A-bomb reared its ugly head, I question how this event impacted the space far beyond our current scope of cosmic knowledge and the unforeseen consequences it had or still has.  While we are looking up and pondering, maybe someone or something is looking down and cautiously observing.

   

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After several hours on the road with my head getting lost in space-dweller dreams, I finally dock my motorcycle in the midst of soaring sand drifts glistening so brilliantly I am nearly blinded by the radiant fragments.  I can see endless dunes luring me with the seduction of isolation; for miles upon miles, Iam the lone explorer. My footsteps are the only thing disrupting the blank white canvas ahead of me as I venture outward to investigate what other terrestrial life forms this sandy region might host.  

Aside from a scurrying beetle and an erratic lizard making its way up the rippled slope, I am alone.  Whether on the motorcycle or secluded in solidarity amongst a blizzard of sand, I am confronted with what I see and what I think; there is no running from my environment or myself. I am forced to look.  Or maybe it is those things we simply cannot view that should secure a greater portion of our attention.  The unobservable corners of our universe, black holes, dark matter, gravity, parallel universes, and our deeply buried thoughts are all just waiting to be observed; our eyes are not the only apparatus with which to see.  

It is time to board my motorcycle before these dunes and my thoughts swallow me whole.

 

 

CHAPTER 02 - AUSCULTO

Have you ever experienced a silence so potent that it is nearly deafening?  I am adrift somewhere in the New Mexico desert feeling overwhelmed by the eerily quiet backdrop as the sun begins its breathtaking farewell dance over the horizon.  Helmet and bike off, I listen for any signs of life other than my own biological pulses that quicken the more I acknowledge my desolation.  Back on my motorcycle, the only heartbeat I discern other than my own emanates from the four-stroke flat twin engine rhythmically animating my energetic vessel; her gentle roar provides comfort and grants the illusion that I am not entirely alone.    

I admit that it would be challenging to feel true confinement in the broader extension, even as a solo seeker in an empty desert, when there are more than 7.5 billion Homo sapiens swarming planet Earth.  However, imagining we are the only intelligent life form in an endless universe can be somewhat of a disconcerting contemplation.  Unwilling to accept such a lonely thought, our species continually searches for any possible signs of life hiding among the myriad nameless stars.  One way we theorize to accomplish this is to listen.

 

 

Disrupting the constant form of the vast San Agustin landscape is the impressive sight of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Very Large Array (VLA), our ginormous ear to the cosmos.  I feel infinitely small as I ride up to the spread of 27 radio antennas, each reaching 82 feet in diameter. Utilized by astronomers worldwide for varying objectives, the VLA’s massive structures work together to simulate the resolution of a single antenna stretching 22 miles across.  This satellite array acts as one of our most powerful tools for listening to the songs of our solar system.     

I circle around the observatory on my motorcycle to take in the full breadth of the incredible arrangement.  The antennae are aligned identically and periodically shifting in unison; I speculate about which point they are fixated on in the universe. They could be observing remnants from a supernova, mapping out a potential black hole, or monitoring gamma ray bursts.  Maybe the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is taking over this evening in hopes of identifying radio waves sent from intelligent life forms located billions of light years away; whether they are or not, I am certainly glad someone is listening.

 

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CHAPTER 03 - TACTUS

With spring is still in its infancy, the stubborn winter cold has not yet surrendered its icy grip.  I feel the cold air viciously biting at any exposed skin it can sink its teeth into.  I am grateful for the ATWYLD Voyager Suit accompanying me on this adventure, triumphantly shielding me from this harsh environment.  Though I am riding on the edge of my comfort zone, the morning’s icy touch cannot thwart my personal voyage into the unknown.  

Although I was born nearly three decades after the launch of Sputnik, I am still touched by the era that kidnapped the world’s imagination and dared people to dream about the mysteries that lurk beyond our own skies.  Saturated in danger and uncertainty but also optimism and pride, almost a half-century ago we launched ourselves into the great Space Age.   I often fantasize about time traveling back to July 20, 1969, and eagerly watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin proudly sporting their cumbersome spacesuits ­— a thin veil cushioning them from the severe conditions in space – as Apollo 11 approaches the patient moon awaiting human contact.  These courageous astronauts were fully aware of the risks and were willing to give their lives to pursue going where no human had gone before.   

Arguably one of the most compelling moments of the 20th century, our connection with the moon was not only significant for having physically touched the lunar surface, but also for the way it touched the hearts and souls of the millions breathlessly watching as Armstrong took his first steps across the cosmically scarred surface.  If we can sail humans to our closest celestial body, it is not so farfetched to envision landing a person on the Red Planet in the not-too-distant future.     

 

 

I feel a distinct flutter of excitement as I approach a hidden gem.  The Paint Mines Interpretive Park is what I imagine the surface of Mars might look like ­— dry, barren, rocky and undeniably beautiful.  As I lightly graze the chalky clay, I pretend I am an astronaut exploring our neighboring planet for the first time.  Searching for signs of alien life, I could almost envision strange Martians hiding in the endless cracks and crevices weaving through the rocks.  

Though we currently have robots collecting data on the surface of the Red Planet, we are expecting to send humans to Mars around 2030.  Maybe I do not have to yearn for a time machine to transport me back to the golden era of the Space Age, when I can just patiently wait for the next chapter of groundbreaking space exploration.  As we continue to expand our boundaries into the unknown, I wonder what sorts of mysteries we will solve or conceive.   

As I take off from these Mars-like grounds, I am in awe of the distance brave humans have traveled and will travel to make physical contact with far-off celestial bodies.  I am equally impressed with the enthusiasm we have exhibited in support of such lofty endeavors – a testament to the innate desire most of us have to explore and understand more about the great mystery that is the Universe.

 


 
 

Featured in Volume 009

South of the Wall


El Mexico Real

For Volume 008 Stephen Smith went south of the border for an unforgettable adventure through the heart of Mexico with newfound friends, Miguel Lerdo of Concept Racer and director, Sinuhe Xavier aboard a collection of BMW R nineT Scramblers.


 

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

– Mark Twain

 

 

Words & photography by Stephen Smith featured in Volume 008

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

We also had lots of time to talk. Miguel Lerdo is a lawyer. He has traveled around the globe via motorcycle and greets every situation with a smile and positive attitude. We later discovered that we must have missed each other by hours in some South American towns while we were both traveling on solo rides around the continent in 2010. During our first day hanging out in Oaxaca, he told me of some very special places northeast of Mexico City where the desert meets the jungle, leading to a surrealist castle built in the 1940s by the largest collector of Salvador Dalí at the time. He enthusiastically described waterfalls, colorful vegetation, delicious food, and kind people deep in the canyons dropping from Mexico’s central plateau toward the Gulf of Mexico. 

Shifting gears, he suggested we make it to the altiplano of the state of San Luis Potosí, to a mountain village by the name of Real de Catorce, where the streets are covered in cobblestone and the nearby desert is the home of the infamous peyote cactus buttons. I was sold." 

 

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Read the Story in Volume 008

 

INDIGO CHILD

JETT REYNOLDS

Filmed & edited by Tom Journet | Still photography by Eric Shirk

 

 

In the late ’60s, researcher Nancy Ann Tappe began seeing certain gifted youth with an indigo-colored aura following her Synesthesia diagnosis. She believed that these “Indigo Children” were a bridge to the future, wise beyond their years, born with remarkable creativity and unexplainable gifts that would change the world as we know it. I’m sure if Nancy were to meet thirteen-year-old Jett Reynolds she would see his indigo aura from a mile away, the motorcycle as his muse.

 

READ THE STORY IN VOLUME 008

 

MEMBAH


Salt & Sand in Indonesia

META visits the Deus Temple


 

After quietly admiring the work of Deus Temple in Bali, Indonesia, we ventured out to explore their homeland on the other side of the globe. Two weeks, two islands, two volcanos, some custom dirtbikes, surfboards and a RED camera. The trip of a lifetime.

 

Directed by Dustin Humphrey

Filmed and edited by Andrew Gough

Featuring Forrest Minchenton, Zye Norris, Ben Giese & Ferdika Ferry

Soundtrack: "If There's A Light On" by City Calm Down

 

Presented by

 

Read the Story in Volume 007