V011

The Making of Lotawana


 Behind the Scenes with Trevor Hawkins & Todd Blubaugh

Interview by Ben Giese


 

In our idealistic concept of the American Dream, life should be better, richer and fuller for everyone. Our modern Land of Opportunity provides more access to information and greater tools for creativity than ever before, but somehow it has become increasingly more challenging to live outside the box and carve your own path through life. Society has created a strict set of rules to live by and structured guidelines to follow. But does it have to be this way? Do we have to live by this formula and fall into this trap, or can we rewrite our own rules of modern existence?

 

 

Filmmaker Trevor Hawkins explores these ideas in his beautiful new cinematic masterpiece, Lotawana.  In the feature film starring our friend Todd Blubaugh, empty materialism and the constraints of modern culture have pushed an unfulfilled young man on a voyage of discovery. Escaping to nature by living aboard a sailboat on a rural Missouri lake, he is seeking something more, something beautiful, something real. After setting sail on this journey, he promptly catches wind of a rebellious and free-spirited young woman, and their idealistic dreams align. As they let go, they fall head-first into the ambitious, yet unprepared, idea of leaving their old world far behind. 

This is a very relevant conversation for our generation, and Trevor has poured his heart and soul into producing an inspirational film. He has risked everything to follow his intuition, feed his creativity and bring this movie to life. 

Complete trust in the path you’ve chosen and confidence in your vision is an admirable thing. Our pal Todd is very much the same – a talented photographer, writer, motorcycle builder, creative thinker and ramblin’ spirit who has even published his own book.  I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for these two and the lives they have chosen, and these admirable traits become self-evident when watching Lotawana.

For Volume 011, I interviewed Trevor and Todd to learn more about the inspiration behind this story, the challenges of independent filmmaking, and how youth, love, rebellion, nostalgia, freedom and wanderlust are woven throughout.

 

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Trevor, what inspired you to want to produce a full-length movie? That’s quite an ambitious undertaking. Is Lotawana your first project of this scale?

 

Trevor: Movies had never been a big part of my life growing up at the lake, aside from casual passing entertainment. Then one week in high school, my buddy Brian Freeborn showed me Donnie Darko, Requiem for a Dream and A Clockwork Orange down in his parents’ basement, and it changed my life. I remember sitting in the dark after each film ended and thinking to myself, “Movies can do that?” They made me feel things I’d never felt before, and I instantly became obsessed with filmmaking and trying to create emotions for other people through film. From then on, I dreamed of making my own full-length movie and being in production of my first by the time I was 30. Then one day when I was 27, I lackadaisically asked my wife, “How long does it take to make a movie?” To which she replied, “You’d better get started now!” So we met up with our friend and producer Nathan Kincaid, who informed me that we couldn’t start without a script. I went home and Googled “how to write a script,” and immediately started writing what became Lotawana.

 

Trevor Hawkins | Photo by Tucker Adams

Trevor Hawkins | Photo by Tucker Adams

 

Without spoiling the movie, can you guys tell me a little bit about the story, the concept, the location, the characters, and the inspiration behind all of it?

 

Lotawana slate | Photo by Nicola Collie

Lotawana slate | Photo by Nicola Collie

Trevor: Lotawana is based on the real-life Lake Lotawana, Missouri, where I’ve lived my entire life. It made sense to set my first movie here because we could easily shoot for free, and one of the two main characters, Forrest (played by Todd), is loosely based on a younger version of myself. I used to make great efforts abandoning what I perceived as an artificial materialistic culture in favor of a more natural and adventurous lifestyle – much the way Thoureau and [Christopher] McCandless did. I had a dream to sail around the world with a couple of buddies, but as I got older, I started to realize that my passion for creating art and filmmaking began to outweigh my drive for this idealistic pursuit. Perhaps I’d gotten these adventurous ideals out of my system, but soon it became apparent that if I left everything in my life to sail for a few years, I’d have to greatly postpone my dearest goal: making a movie. My reluctant decision to withdraw from the massive sailing trip was further persuaded by falling in love with the girl of my dreams right before our scheduled bon voyage. As I started to realize my pursuit of art and love made more sense to who I’d now become, it dawned on me: Perhaps there’s a way to do both? Could I live a more genuine, fulfilled life without abandoning everything I know and love for splendid isolation? Lotawana explores this idea. I like to think of this film as a sort of thought experiment and question to the viewer: Can we rewrite our own rules of modern existence or does society operate its way for a reason? And I ended up marrying the girl!

 

Todd: How shall we proceed when society’s playbook has nothing to offer? And what will we become when society attacks our idealism? 

Every generation has a different response to the story, but they all seem to be cheering for these two characters to make their way… A twentysomething couple with no money and no faith in the established system… it’s a very relevant conversation for millennials, who now face an even more polarized society with even less security. 

 

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How Long Did It Take You Guys To Film Everything? 

 

Trevor: We filmed for a frigid week in early February of 2015, and then for over a month in the following late summer and fall.

 

In the movie, Forrest rides a motorcycle and there are several captivating riding segments throughout.  Is the motorcycle element intended to have any greater significance or meaning in the story, or is it simply just part of Forrest’s character?  In my opinion there could definitely be a connection to the overall concept.

 

Todd: The bike and the boat have set Forrest free from the constraints of modern society. This is where he lives and how he moves. When we see him on these vehicles, it feels like he is getting somewhere, or his plan is somehow working… You just want him to keep going. 

 

The XT500 | Photo by Todd Blubaugh

The XT500 | Photo by Todd Blubaugh

Trevor: Exactly. Many people don’t realize that the sailing and motorcycle culture parallels, and they are perfect analogs for each other. They’re both about freedom and exploration of one’s world and oneself – the main difference being one path perpetually hides grease and oil under the fingernails, while perpetually hides grease and oil under the fingernails, while the other hides salt in the hair. So naturally the motorcycle segments truly completed the free-spirited nature of the movie and fit perfectly with who the character of Forrest is: a person living an alternative lifestyle in search of a more meaningful existence. I just couldn’t imagine him driving a car. When Todd agreed to do the film, it all came together beautifully. We were able to flesh out the motorcycle scenes much more than I originally imagined because he’s such a great rider. The dude shreds! Both Todd and Nic [Nicola Collie] did all of their own riding and stunts.

 

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Did you guys have any financial backing or support?

 

Trevor Hawkins filming Todd Blubaugh | Photo by Tucker Adams

Trevor Hawkins filming Todd Blubaugh | Photo by Tucker Adams

Todd: Trevor mortgaged his house …  It is actually on the real Lake Lotawana … Isn’t this how all movies get made?

 

Trevor: Ha! We financed half the film with the savings from commercial work through my company, Mammoth, and half with a loan against our house (which we’re still paying on). We had a couple of opportunities for financing, but the film would’ve suffered creative sacrifices. So after considering other options, we decided to do it on our own. 

 

Doing it on your own is very respectable.  What are some of the biggest challenges or hurdles that you have faced as an independent filmmaker?

 

Trevor: So far the biggest hurdle has been finding distribution for the film. We admittedly fit the stereotype of the hopeless romantic creatives that neglected the importance of a proper distribution strategy. We believed that we should focus on making the best movie possible, and that the rest would take care of itself. We’ll see!  

 

Todd: For me – doubt. Doubt is the biggest hurdle. Investing in these long-term, artistic projects really makes me question my vision and purpose. There is no security or guarantee that the work will pay off, but eventually, I do it just to free myself … because until I start working on an idea, it is all you can think about. And that is even harder to live with … when inspiration tells me to do something important, but I choose to listen to the doubt. But it does get easier once I get started. Trevor and I talked about shooting a feature film for 10 years now. I guess we finally got to the point where we couldn’t put it off anymore.

 

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I’m sure there is great freedom and liberation found in doing it yourself.  What were some of the positive aspects of being independent on this project?

 

Trevor: Definitely. This was a very personal story for me, and I couldn’t imagine creating the whole movie with a bean counter armed with focus group reports looking over my shoulder the entire time. But then again, this may be the very reason we don’t have distribution lined up yet. So, who knows? At the end of the day, I’ll always be happy that I made my first film entirely the way I wanted. And honestly, with the help of a great team and some serendipitous luck, it turned out better than I thought it would.  

 

Todd: That’s hard to answer for me because that is all I know. I’ve never had financial support or backing from anyone … just passion and dedicated people. But I will tell you that whether this movie is a success or not, it feels pretty damn good to follow through with something you have been thinking about for over a decade.

 

Trevor Hawkins prepping camera on car rig | Photo by Tucker Adams

Trevor Hawkins prepping camera on car rig | Photo by Tucker Adams

 

Cheers to that.  I have to say, one thing that stood out to me is the cinematography. It is absolutely beautiful.  The framing of your shots, the light, the color, everything.  What is your background, trevor?  You obviously have an artistic eye.

 

Trevor Hawkins reviewing underwater footage | Photo by Tucker Adams

Trevor Hawkins reviewing underwater footage | Photo by Tucker Adams

Trevor: Well, thanks so much, man! I first picked up a camera and began filming my friends skateboarding and wakeboarding in high school around the same time I watched those three movies that fateful week with Freeborn. Then I started a media company called Mammoth (MammothMedia.tv) and have been working as a filmmaker and photographer ever since. Shooting, coloring and editing have always been some of my favorite parts of filmmaking, and I guess all my years behind the lens prepped me to shoot and edit my first feature. I did want to hire a cinematographer for Lotawana, though, but couldn’t afford a good one, so I just shot and colored it myself. And I will say, shooting and directing simultaneously can get tough at times. Your director/performance brain needs to separate from your photographer brain, but you need to do both at the same time. Half the time I’d be concentrated on the performance, and the other half I’d be concentrated on the way the light is hitting them. And honestly, it made editing a bit difficult at times, trying to balance the two worlds, because the best performance wasn’t always the take with the best photography. And if there was ever a question, I always chose for performance – ultimately no one in the audience cares about my light as much as the characters. Hopefully, next movie I’ll be able to hire a DP [director of photography] that’s much more talented than I am and be able to focus much more on directing the performances.

 

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How did this cast come together?  Did you all know each other prior or did you become friends through this project?

 

 

Trevor: I’ve known Todd for about a decade and knew he’d be absolutely perfect to play the lead role. He’s originally from here in the Midwest, and ever since I’ve known him, he’s been in pursuit of genuine life experiences, putting lots of effort into living that alternative lifestyle himself. Funnily enough, when I first called and asked him to play the lead in my first movie, he said no. He wanted to be behind the lens where he’s comfortable. Disappointed, the whole Lotawana team held multiple rounds of casting calls, and after failing to find the perfect Forrest, I called him back and told him he was going to do it whether he wanted to or not. He begrudgingly agreed, and it all evolved beautifully from there.  

Trevor Hawkins | Photo by Todd Blubaugh

Trevor Hawkins | Photo by Todd Blubaugh

Todd: Nicola stepped in and saved us after we lost two different lead actresses. It was rough, because we had already shot all the winter scenes. We were forced to mount a full-scale casting assault, and I actually found Nicola on Instagram … I sent her a DM after she commented on one of our behind-the-scenes updates. She auditioned and was better then anyone … She had not done any acting, either, but that didn’t bother Trevor. Finding her saved the production.

 

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So, neither todd nor nicola have done any professional acting before?

 

Trevor: Ha, nope! But if you’ve seen the film, then you probably agree that they were incredible. I’m beyond happy with both of them, and I’m so happy I pressed Todd to say yes. They were both perfect.

 

Trevor Hawkins & Ryan Pinkston filming Nicola Collie |   Photo by Nathan Kincaid

Trevor Hawkins & Ryan Pinkston filming Nicola Collie | Photo by Nathan Kincaid

So what’s next?  What is your plan for the release, and when and where can people watch your film?

 

Trevor: Right now we’re currently seeking distribution. We’ve had our local cast and crew premieres and have entered into a few of the top-tier film festivals, but haven’t had any doors really open up for us yet. Honestly, we don’t really know how to answer this question until we get it in front of the right set of eyeballs. So if anyone is interested in helping us in any way, we’d really appreciate it, and we can be contacted through our website, LotawanaMovie.com. We’re also hoping once Lotawana gets picked up, it’ll open up an opportunity to make a second movie, which I’ve already begun writing, The Velvet Elk

 

Todd: Wouldn’t it be poetic if someone sees this interview and wants to distribute it?  That would be one hell of a story.


Featured in Volume 011

Aperture


Photography by Drew Martin

Featured in Volume 011


 
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Our pal, Drew Martin is a freelance photographer based in southern California with a love for adventure and the great outdoors.  Back in January Drew joined us on a ride up the central coast of California to enjoy the endless beauty that Big Sur has to offer.  As we all became better friends and saw more of his work I thought it would be cool to curate some of his favorite moto-related images from the past few years for our “Aperture” feature in Volume 011.  

Feast your eyes on some of our favorites from the issue!

 

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Featured in Volume 011

Homeless Honeymoon


Living Within and Living Without

Words by Bree Monks | Photos by Trevor & Bree Monks


 

My husband yanked the key out of the ignition, and the bike continued to vibrate and sputter. His groans grew into sharply pronounced curse words as the keys dangled from his hand, and the starter continued to whiz. I squatted in the dirt and squinted in his direction, hoping that my willingness to be present would somehow cancel out my complete lack of knowledge and inability to help. 

We had spent the last several days riding south through Laos on our Thai-bought Honda CRF 250, and Cambodia was just beyond the imaginary line in front of us. After enough wires were pulled and screws unscrewed, the engine shut off, and we made our way toward the dusty building that would admit us into the country. Moments later, we were back at the bike, frustrated and hot-tempered with the repetitive echo of “No!” in our heads. We were not getting into Cambodia on our motorcycle, setting this leg of the journey into rewind…

 

 

These defeated days happened more often than we had advertised. Once we got married, we decided to set out on a yearlong “honeymoon” committed to filling each day with countless unique experiences that would inspire ourselves and others along the way. But, after the first six months spent driving through the continent of South America and sleeping in our ’99 Nissan Frontier, followed by five months touring Southeast Asia by motorcycle, we discovered that long-term travel does not elude monotony, routine and failure. 

Along with the typical aim to travel and fulfill unclear desires, we sought to chronicle our epic moments and publish them on social media. We wanted to prove to ourselves and to our family and friends back home that a life like this was not only possible, but also successful. It did not take long before the truth yielded an impression of dishonesty on our side of the WiFi, and we found ourselves particularly annoyed with what we were portraying. Not all days were total bliss, and our highlight reel felt misleading as we attempted to create and recreate an ideal picture of what we thought traveling should be. We were force-feeding ourselves to believe the hype, gagging on all of the omitted details, and then we were not able to stomach the truth.

 

Really, the insane mountain rides and magical jungle roads were only the crumbs of the loaf, and getting to those destinations involved hardships that we thought a honeymoon should be immune to. 

 

The physical and logistical struggles we endured were easy to adjust to, as they occurred daily and often, and that is why we wrote them off as unnecessary stories to be told. The woes and (sometimes unwanted) surprises that a traveler adapts to are expected, but we had quickly decided that noting the painful monkey-butt and ant-infested bungalows could damper the dreams that we were creating for others, and possibly taint our own concepts as to what traveling should be. With those details left behind on the side of the road, we had only our helmets and our brains within them to question what was truly conflicting us internally. Were we looking to satisfy some stereotypical urge to travel, or was it more complicated than that? Our purpose, however silly it was, to ride around the world by our own transportation had become as unapparent as fumes diluted in air.

 

 

Together, we began to wonder why anyone even travels in the first place. There was not a single traveler that we had met who could give us an answer that did not sound like an annoying Instagram hashtag (#wanderlust, #newperspective, #soblessed), and eventually we began to question ourselves and our own intentions. For some reason, we thought that we were unique in the way in which we were exploring, which filled us with a small sense of superiority, as if our experiences would be even more authentic than the average nomad. We labeled ourselves as the “anti-backpackers,” because we had somehow pulled off purchasing a Thai registered bike without a real residence or any kind of more permanent visa. This, we had proclaimed, was above and beyond what other travelers were willing to do, making us genuine culture-seekers. As cool as we had convinced ourselves that we were, we were not the first to do what we were doing, and we could not stake any claim on originality. It became more likely that we would harden into the mold of a pretentious traveler. 

 

 

One time, as we had buzzed by a group of starry-eyed tourists in bicycle helmets lining up to board a giant mammal, my husband turned to me and said, “Riding an elephant is not going to change a person.” His words were probably true, but we could have been wrong to think that we were any different from the anxious folks behind us. Of course, ultimately we wanted to end our adventure changed for the better, but we soon realized that our entire approach could have been misguided from the beginning.

 

Marriage is complicated, and we were boastful enough to think that simplifying our lives to one motorbike and two backpacks would somehow result in a partnership that was unwavering.

 

The first part of our year was a revolving door of conflict, partly because of our rocky past and partly because of the strains of travel, and it was frightening to think that we would pop out of the same door that we had entered. Once we had realized that our journey’s destination could be the entrance to a loop road, and the past could become more rutted and corroded with every lap, we knew that we would have to change the course of our outlooks and quit looking back. 

 

 

Ultimately, I credit the motorcycle for changing the course of our intent. Traveling forces a person to think, and, in the beginning of the year, we sat together in our truck with zero obstructions on voicing our opinions, daily concerns and fears to each other. Slowly, our complicated living situation had transformed the cab into a metal battleground of clashing concepts and undeveloped ideas. There was no escape and no white flags of surrender, as we questioned each other without questioning ourselves first. On the other hand, the motorcycle had a magical way of binding us together physically, but silencing the confused and thoughtless dialogue that had hurt us earlier in the year. Our thoughts were given the time to marinate and evolve with only the sweet background music of a purring motor and the blur of rice fields and blue skies. 

The bike had somehow revealed to us the Buddhist concept of “living within and living without,” which had mystified us in the beginning of our ride. Our relationship glided through foreign places as we were able to be together yet be isolated at the same time, a contradiction that allowed our brains to choose what was important to hold onto, within ourselves, and what to let go of. We began to recognize that change really is a slow process that can elude any human despite how long and tough a journey can be. It was never necessary for us to travel, but, after being bound to the seat of the bike for miles on end, we realized that travel was the implement that yielded the greatest gift: Time. 

 

 

Yes, traveling is an easy way to connect to new perspectives. Without a doubt, moving within and among another culture is effective in humbling and altering the mind of any person who is open to it, but the willingness to take time and be susceptible to change is key. We had spent the majority of our year searching for a single moment that would shift us into new and better individuals, only to reach the end and realize that it was the collection of moments that equated to growth.

What we were eager for was change, but what we truly needed was time. Change does not require a culture shock, a new experience or a grand adventure. It cannot be projected, or faked, or forced. It must be self-provoked. Wherever in the world we were or whatever strange situation we were in, we arrived with the clarity given to us by the motorcycle.

 

As we drove the long, winding roads through adversity and change, it is the bike that can be credited with our new and ever-evolving purity of mind.

 


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Read the story in Volume 011

The Blue Ocean


Staring Down the Rear-View

Words by Andrew Campo | Photos by Drew Martin


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“We see the world through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future.”

 

These words by Canadian professor, philosopher and public intellectual Marshall McLuhan danced around inside my helmet as I departed Carmel by the Sea, a small, picturesque beach community on California’s Monterey Peninsula. In 1964 McLuhan published a book to challenge our assumptions on how and what we communicate, titled Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Through his writings he proposes that a medium itself, not the content it carries, should be the focus of study. He said that a medium affects the society in which it plays a role, not only by the content delivered, but also by the characteristics of the medium. I had brought McLuhan’s genius along for this ride in hopes of finding influence and greater vision for our future with META.

 

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"Here I will find peace. Here I shall find the strength to do the work I was made to do."

–Henry Miller

 

This journey to Carmel and beyond was a celebration of the platform we have built as an independent publisher over the past four years. It was time for us to slam on the brakes and stare down that rear-view mirror as we wash our souls in preparation for finding a sustained sanctuary in the elusive “blue ocean.” The blue ocean strategy is a business theory that suggests companies are better off gaining uncontested market space than competing with similar companies in a shark-infested red ocean. This luxury time in an incredibly inspiring environment, void of outside communication, helped move our minds into a visionary state.

 

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Heading north from Los Angeles and into the winding Central Coast back roads, we counted off mile after beautiful mile, earnest in anticipation of the beaconing coastal offerings found west of the Santa Lucia Mountains. Mythic in reputation, Big Sur seemed to be the ideal destination for our retreat. Recognized as one of the most beautiful coastlines anywhere in the world, simply put, this place is a motorcyclist’s dream come true. 

Ancient redwoods gently swing above the jagged coastline, casting shadows of enormous stature along the rocks and beaches below. With each twist and turn, the picturesque views never seemed to end. I could spend days going on about how special this region is, and with every stop we made, I could not stop talking about how incredibly grateful I was to be here. Enthusiasm was at an all-time high, and the incredible riding will be remembered in my dreams for years to come. 

 

"It was here in Big Sur that I first learned to say 'Amen'"

–Henry Miller

 

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Influence was abundant along the journey, and our core values surfaced many times throughout the trip. We believe in pursuing a life well ridden, and we stand by our beliefs. Our job is to inspire, relate and connect with our community through documented stories that come to life through our medium. Purpose, meaning and freedom are influences we hope to instill in others by way of example. This is how we measure success. Doing what we love and being able to share this life we have chosen is what fuels our efforts. 

 

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"One's destination is not a place, but a new way of seeing things."

–Henry Miller

 

There is something pure about drawing inspiration and putting it to work. That process is what allows us to keep drifting towards that blue ocean. And it’s something that we hope inspires others along the way.

 


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Read the story in Volume 011


Dauntless Violet


Anya Violet: A Fearless Pioneer for Women Who Ride

Words by Maggie Gulasey


Photo by Colin Nearman

Photo by Colin Nearman

Within a lifetime, there are limitless paths laid before us, and we often choose (or avoid) the ones we believe to be the most rational, responsible, or admirable.  However, there are some roads we simply cannot resist, and even if we wish to ignore them, it is a guaranteed uphill battle to deny what flows through our veins.  

 

Whether it is the hardware with which we are made, the environment in which we are raised, or maybe a mixture of both, there are some things we are simply born to do, and then there are other talents we develop along the way.  It is how we use those innate abilities and acquired skills in conjunction with one another that chisel us into the individuals we are today.  Anya Violet cannot refute that motorcycles run in her blood – that and a love of adrenaline rushes, a general optimism toward human beings, and an overall appreciation for life.  However, it is what Violet has done with her predispositions that have set her apart from the rest. She has become an entrepreneur in the motorcycle industry, an ambassador for women who ride and an inspiration for carving your own path in life.  Whether she wishes to be or not, Violet is a pioneer for women who ride.  

 

Photo by Jeff Stockwell

Photo by Jeff Stockwell

 

The environment in which we are born and raised has a way of laying the foundation for who are to become. For Violet, growing up in the small town of Atascadero, California, nurtured her love of the outdoors and optimism in human beings.  She explains,

 

“I think that growing up on the Central Coast played a huge role in making me who I am today.

 

Being a small-town kid, to me, meant spending a lot of time outside. There were no arcades, concert halls or amusement parks near my town, so we spent our time enjoying the natural environment on the Central Coast. My love for the outdoors and my creativity were born in my hometown for sure. There is always this really great atmosphere where everyone kind of knows each other and grows up together. It was a very happy and welcoming environment all together. I am a ‘yes’ person before I am a ‘no’ person, and I consider everyone to have good intentions until they prove otherwise to me. These are two specific characteristics that I think I adopted from where I grew up that I don’t always see outside of small towns.”

 

Photo by Michael Beck

Photo by Michael Beck

 

If growing up in a small town laid the groundwork for Violet’s desire for being active outside, then it was her family who acted as the catalyst for her motorcycle passion and racing dirt bikes at a young age. She was born into a household that not only embodied an undeniable love for the two wheels, but also an everlasting support system, always encouraging Violet to go after whatever it was that excited her. The fact that Violet was a young girl participating in a traditionally male-dominated sport was insignificant to her supportive family and community – it only mattered that she was pursuing something she loved: “I do think, in general, that women tend to be more careful with themselves than men and not participate in dangerous activities as much. This probably does have biological links that could be traced back, but I am no scientist.

 

There have definitely been adventurous, adrenaline-fueled women since the dawn of time, but they didn’t always get their chance to leave their mark on history.

 

For me, it was never really a big deal that I was a girl that raced motocross. No one ever made a big fuss about it at all. There was a solid group of girls and women that rode and raced in my community. I never gave it much thought as a kid; all I knew was that I loved the feeling of racing and pushing myself as a rider. I am a really competitive person and I do my best when I am on the edge of my comfort zone, so I think I just tried to get to that point as often as I could, and racing was a great outlet for that. 

 

 

Another big factor for me was how supportive my family was. My dad didn’t ride dirt bikes, but he would come to all my races and was super proud of me in all the activities I did. The fact that my mom rode and raced too only further instilled in me that it was just not that rare or special that I was a girl that liked to ride. My parents never pushed me into traditionally feminine or masculine activities.”

Fueled by a mother who raced motocross, Violet could not overlook the fact that motorcycles lit the fire within.  She recalls, “My mom rode dirt bikes as a young kid, and it was her that got me in to it. After not riding for many years, my mom got back into riding dirt bikes with her then-husband. We would all go camping and riding together; my sisters and I all shared this 1980s Z50 and took turns ripping it around the campsites. Neither of my sisters were really that interested, but I instantly fell in love with it. For me, it was the feeling of independence and adventure. My mom and I started racing motocross in a local circuit, and I just really enjoyed the adrenaline that comes with racing a dirt bike. I quickly graduated from the 50cc to a 1989 Honda CR80, then a 125cc.”

 

Photo by Colin Nearman

Photo by Colin Nearman

 

Growing up racing dirt bikes instilled an unwavering passion for motorcycles, and despite an intermission in her riding, Violet eventually took to the streets. She explains, “I sold my 125cc dirt bike when I moved away to college and did not ride a motorcycle again until I was 25 years old. Those years of going through college and trying to start a career don’t really leave a lot of room for expensive hobbies. I have always wanted a street bike. I will never forget the first time I saw a Triumph Bonneville when I was, like, 16 years old visiting San Francisco. I was in love. By the time I was 25 years old, I was pretty well into my career and was able to afford to buy my first bike: a 1978 Yamaha XS 350. His name was Jimmy, and I outgrew him very fast. But it was buying that first bike that reignited my love of riding. I also had met a great group of people that rode, including my boyfriend, Evan.

 

For me, having a community to ride with was important and played a big role in me getting back on two wheels.” 

 

 

Whether it was the dirt or street, Violet was immersed in a community of riders that cultivated a welcoming and encouraging environment for her.  It is not surprising that she would then return the favor and create a similar space for other women who ride.  Though it may have started as a fluke, Violet took her deep-seated admiration for motorcycles and became the co-creator of what is now one of the most popular women-only motorcycle gatherings, Babes Ride Out.         

“Babes Ride Out started accidentally in October 2013. Ashmore Ellis and I planned a camping trip and thought we would invite the handful of other women we knew rode. One shitty Instagram flyer later, we found ourselves reaching out to a bunch more women and featuring them on a WordPress blog that we made as way of getting to know some of the riders who were coming to the campout. The day of the event, originally called ‘Babes in Borrego,’ we thought maybe 10-15 women would show up, and there ended up being 50 from all over. We were shocked and kind of nervous because the camp spot was a few miles down a dirt road on a dry lake bed in the middle of nowhere, with no bathrooms. Needless to say, we had an absolutely amazing time! It was such a mixed group of amazing women, and they all encouraged us to keep it going. We moved the event to Joshua Tree, and five years later we are looking at nearly 2,000 women. 

 

Photo by Heidi Zumbrun

Photo by Heidi Zumbrun

 

The idea behind the event has stayed the same. It’s really simple: good times, good friends, two wheels! It’s just about having fun adventures and meeting more riders.

 

As the event and community has grown, we have taken on a lot more responsibility, some we are prepared for and some we are not. It is a learning experience like nothing I could have imagined. It has definitely taken on a life of its own, and Ashmore and I are just here to help it on its way. My goals are to provide a really fun experience for women who love to ride motorcycles, encourage people to become more skilled riders, and for it to be as commonplace to see a woman on a bike as it is to see a man. We are getting there!”

Since its creation, thousands of women have participated in this desert gathering.  Packed full of women who thrive in the community Violet and Ellis have fostered, the event’s success makes it obvious that the founders have tapped into something meaningful for women who ride. Because their event has struck a chord among women all over the world who share a passion for motorcycles, the ladies have been able to expand their meet-up to include an annual East Coast event, as well as a dirtbike faction called Babes in the Dirt.      

 

Photo by Geneveive Davis

Photo by Geneveive Davis

 

Along with her fondness for motorcycles, Violet was born and raised with the knack for creativity. She says,

 

“At this point I am inspired by the utility and by the versatility of self-expression. I have always been a creator of sorts, and I have always liked to work with my hands. I started sewing when I was a kid and have always loved the idea of being able to wear my creations. I think that what a person wears can be a very important form of expression for people, and I like contributing to that outlet.”  

 

Violet observed there was an area sorely lacking for women who ride: safe, functional and fashionable motorcycle gear. With her creative inclinations driving her and a strong desire to resolve this dilemma, Violet, along with two of her fellow lady riders, created ATWYLD.  

 

Photo by Michael Beck

Photo by Michael Beck

 

Inspired by the void and built for the voyage, ATWYLD is made for the modern woman who rides. Violet explains,

 

“The inspiration for ATWYLD came from the community of women that we ride with. There were so many riders that simply did not wear gear or protective apparel because there was nothing that they had found that fit them or reflected their personal style in any way.

 

Why should someone be stripped of their personality when they put riding gear on? Myself, Corinne Lan Franco and Jamie Dempsey were on a ride up Angeles Crest, and we had stopped for lunch and got to talking about this issue. We were all three wearing fashion leather jackets and regular jeans with zero protective qualities. There was a clear void in the market, which is why we decided to fill it. There are great options on the top tier of protection but there wasn’t anything that looked and felt like regular streetwear but had Kevlar, armor or leather for protection, especially not for women. And so, ATWYLD was born!”

 

Violet, Lan Franco and Dempsey were not only astute enough to recognize the void that existed for female riders, but ambitious enough to do something about it.  The ATWYLD team is setting a precedent for the way we perceive form and function for women’s riding gear.  

 

Photo by Colin Nearman

Photo by Colin Nearman

 

On any given day, you might find Violet riding her beautiful Triumph Bonneville T100 or exploring the California trails on her Husqvarna FE 250. Or, she might be working away on planning the next Babes Ride Out event or an ATWLYD project. No matter what she is doing, though, Violet has definitely carved her own path in life.  The way she was raised may have encouraged her devotion to motorcycles, community and creativity.  However, what makes Violet a leader for women who ride is what she has done with her predispositions. With a strong work ethic and positive attitude, she has assembled her passions into inventive avenues that benefit and support the community she loves – qualities of a true pioneer.

 


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Read the story in Volume 011


Lotawana


Independent Filmmaking, Living Creativley & Letting Go with Trevor Hawkins & Todd Blubaugh

Words by Ben Giese


 

In our idealistic concept of the American Dream, life should be better, richer and fuller for everyone. Our modern Land of Opportunity provides more access to information and greater tools for creativity than ever before, but somehow it has become increasingly more challenging to live outside the box and carve your own path through life. Society has created a strict set of rules to live by and structured guidelines to follow. But does it have to be this way? Do we have to live by this formula and fall into this trap, or can we rewrite our own rules of modern existence?

Filmmaker Trevor Hawkins explores these ideas in his beautiful new cinematic masterpiece, Lotawana.  In the feature film starring our friend Todd Blubaugh, empty materialism and the constraints of modern culture have pushed an unfulfilled young man on a voyage of discovery. Escaping to nature by living aboard a sailboat on a rural Missouri lake, he is seeking something more, something beautiful, something real. After setting sail on this journey, he promptly catches wind of a rebellious and free-spirited young woman, and their idealistic dreams align. As they let go, they fall head-first into the ambitious, yet unprepared, idea of leaving their old world far behind. 

This is a very relevant conversation for our generation, and Trevor has poured his heart and soul into producing an inspirational film. He has risked everything to follow his intuition, feed his creativity and bring this movie to life. 

Complete trust in the path you’ve chosen and confidence in your vision is an admirable thing. Our pal Todd is very much the same – a talented photographer, writer, motorcycle builder, creative thinker and ramblin’ spirit who has even published his own book.  I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for these two and the lives they have chosen, and these admirable traits become self-evident when watching Lotawana.

For Volume 011, I interviewed Trevor and Todd to learn more about the inspiration behind this story, the challenges of independent filmmaking, and how youth, love, rebellion, nostalgia, freedom and wanderlust are woven throughout.


Read the story in Volume 011


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


Accidental Legend


Long Haul Paul: Riding a Million Miles for the Cure

Words by Paul Pelland | Photos by Matt Kiedaisch


 

As I slid down a lonely Arkansas highway just as the sun’s warmth was cresting the horizon, I couldn’t help but think this may not have been one of my better ideas. If I managed to live through the next few seconds, not only would the entire world know I was an idiot, I would have one hell of a long walk home.

I slid on my chest in slow motion, my motorcycle just a few feet ahead of me shedding pounds by the foot, marring the pavement while creating a fantastic light show. Bright, colorful sparks, the likes of which no Japanese bike could ever create.

The bike was veering toward the right shoulder like an obedient pigeon, and I dragged my right boot like a rudder to follow it to its familiar home, the breakdown lane. 

Every believing biker knows tractor-trailers would never be allowed to drive past the pearly gates, so inhaling the mingled stench of burnt asbestos-flavored dust and decade-old recycled tread was a welcome relief I savored as if it were a fresh-baked blueberry pie. The 18-wheeler was the only other vehicle on the highway, and the out-of-tune screeching of brittle rubber composed the string section that accompanied the light show. 

 

The year was 2001, and although I had yet to show any of the progressive disabling symptoms of having multiple sclerosis, I was riding a motorcycle that most certainly did. 

 

 

It wasn’t the first time I shouted, “You Commie bastard!” But this time it was forceful enough to fog my face shield. I realized for the first time in almost two years of planning that my attempt to ride a Russian Ural in the Iron Butt Rally was insane, absurd and appeared to be grinding itself to an embarrassing finale. As the Earth beneath me stopped rotating, the sparks fizzled out, and the music died. 

The show was over. Nothing to see here. My attempt at finishing the World’s Toughest Motorcycle Competition was ending in the gutter. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. 

Within hours of the starting pistol, I had experienced a seized motor and the joy of a 150-mile tow in the wrong direction. A stranger with matching DNA transplanted his personal bike’s engine into my frame to help get me back on the road. Not bothering to do a proper test run on the older engine, I rode all night with a rough running motor and electrical issues, including no taillights. After a half hour’s rest in a dingy truck stop, I wasted four hours just trying to start the bike, alternating kicking and swearing with resting and praying before it haphazardly coughed to life. And now, a series of dips in the road caused the front end of my overloaded combative camel to oscillate into a crunchy wobble that intensified into a tank slapper and spit me off.

 

“If life were easy, everyone would get one.” 

 

 

Although the asphalt-polished motor, now spewing oil from a ripped-open valve cover, had been salvaged from the good Samaritan, I had started the event on a very special, completely redesigned Ural Solo. It was one of only two specimens in the country and the very first 750cc model registered in the United States. It had electric start and electronic ignition. I was a sponsored rider – albeit reluctantly, as my request for support was originally responded to by the head of Ural America with, “We’re sorry, Paul, but no one in our office thinks our bike could actually finish the Iron Butt Rally.”  

I’m not sure why I didn’t see that as a red flag. 

It was my first time riding in the World’s Toughest Motorcycle Competition, and I was able to secure a coveted entry spot only after offering to do so on quite possibly the world’s most unreliable motorcycle. At the time my offer was accepted, I did not own a Ural motorcycle and, in fact, I had never even seen one in person!

The Iron Butt Rally is a scavenger hunt on steroids. It runs for eleven days, and the average rider will log over 11,000 miles criss-crossing the country in search of obscure roadside attractions for bonus points. It is not a race, and winning is never about speed. It is about proper planning, routing, fuel management, and proper receipt and recordkeeping, as well as constantly being able to adjust the plan on the fly. It’s about sleep management, and proper diet. It is a thinking game, with unforeseen choices, challenges and obstacles. Most riders choose the latest high-tech touring bikes and outfit them with all the latest gadgets and electronic goodies to prepare for such a grueling test of man and machine. 

Exactly 100 of us left the starting line with hopes and dreams – a few to win the event, some to place in the top ten, and the rest just hoping to make it to the finish. The grueling event runs every other year and draws hardcore long-distance riders from all over the world. More humans have travelled in space than have finished an Iron Butt Rally.

 

At this particular moment, the finish line might just as well have been on mars.

 

Getting up and dusting myself off, I conceded that my ride, my adventure, my attempt at finishing the Iron Butt Rally was indeed over. With the exception of cigarettes and chronic masturbation, I’ve never been successful at quitting anything. Although I was the butt of every other rider’s joke and even scorned for taking away a coveted spot a real rider could have occupied, I was seriously trying to put forth an honorable effort. I was the only one on the planet who thought I had a shot at finishing, not to mention even making the first checkpoint. Creating a contingency plan was like accepting failure was a possibile outcome, so I had none. I scanned the terrain for a remote area where one could drag a motorcycle, scrape off its serial numbers and leave it to die.

As I checked myself over for missing limbs, I could have sworn on a Bible it had been a week since I left the starting line. The face of my watch joined in the global mockery, as I shook it violently in disbelief. Are you f-ing kidding me?

 

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Just 24 hours had passed since the eleven-day rally had begun. 

 

My esophagus hardened as I swallowed a burlap sackful of cinder blocks. My heart was racing; I felt a wave of anger penetrate every muscle from my ankles up. For my own protection, I don’t carry a pistol. I did, however, have my Russian persuasion instrument in hand and was about to hammer intercontinental bodily harm when I saw the flashing blue lights of the Arkansas State Police. 

The trooper looked at me leaning over my borrowed motorcycle steaming in a pool of oil and asked me what had happened. He listened patiently to my story. Without even asking for identification or papers, he offered a simple suggestion.

 “Why don’t you see if you can fix it, and continue your ride to California.” 

The idea that the heap of mangled metal was rideable never crossed my mind, and certainly the thought of being able to stay in the rally would not have occurred to me on my own. I was doubtful, time was running out, reality was settling in and fear was growing. Fear of what an additional ten more days struggling aboard this antiquated piece of recycled tank turret might do to my body, my mind and my soul. I agreed to give it a try.

My uniformed enabler stayed with me while I picked up the pieces of my motorcycle, duct-taped the windshield and JB Welded the side of the motor. I straightened the handlebars as best I could, and eventually tried to kickstart the bike. It started. I was worried that all the oil had escaped from the hole in the motor and asked the officer if he could radio a tow truck to bring me some oil. I clearly explained I didn’t care what it might cost. 

He took a few moments, but when he returned from his patrol car, I inquired about the oil. He shook his head. “The service station wanted too much money.” I started to argue, but he quickly added, “Oh, don’t worry, I called my wife at home, she’s going to the store right now to get two quarts of 20-50 weight oil and will meet us up here on the highway.” 

I love a man in uniform.

 

 

Just two hours after the crash and an all-but-certain DNF, the Angels of Arkansas had me moving down the road, back in the rally, heading to the West Coast with renewed hope and determination to prove everybody wrong. My progression and digression was relayed to the event organizers a couple of times a day or every breakdown, whichever occurred first. Only after the rally did I understand how my brutally painful experiences were sucking up a multiplying audience, anxiously waiting for my next train wreck. I was the funny pages of the Iron Butt press and the headlines of day two’s official rally report read, “Team Lazarus rides again.” 

The unwilling Ural and I continued to wrestle over the next 24 hours with a second tow off the freeway in California, a stripped rocker arm shaft, a charging system failure, intermittent electrical shorts and loose wires. We were sucker-punching each other, bloody and fighting like brothers, when we limped into the Washington checkpoint. All harsh words were quickly forgiven, as Ural America was meeting me and would be repairing the damaged bike. The only other 750cc motor in the country, the one used for EPA testing, became the third engine bolted into my bike. 

It was day seven, and only the checkpoint in Maine stood between me and the Alabama finish line. With a fresh motor, steering head bearings (which apparently had fallen out, causing my crash) and other repairs completed, I felt I was in great shape and wanted to attempt a few of the bigger bonuses, particularly the ones in Alaska. 

Both my Russian pit crew and the rally staff strongly urged me to head directly to Maine. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. I was informed more people were interested in reading about my misadventures on the Ural than the riders who were actually winning the rally.

 

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“You have to finish, Paul, because some of us are secretly betting you just might.” 

 

It was sound advice. Twelve hours later, my new high-tech, redesigned Russian weapon and I were having words in a pull-off area as I disassembled the left cylinder head for the 56th time in the dirt. I had already lost the luxury of electric start, as it now required removing and banging the pinion gear back into its resting position every time I accidentally used the pretty little button. 

Unfortunately, this unplanned rest break was more serious. A poke at the pushrods explained the jingling noises and loss of power. One of the rods spun in an oblong orbit. Bent rod. The cell signal was weak, but the advice from the Russian head mechanic to remove the rod and bang it straight on a rock with a hammer seemed clearly logical. After removing the rod, I discovered the hardened tip had actually snapped off the aluminum shaft. The intake pushrod was broken in two impossible pieces. I quickly called back Ural’s “Golden Hands” Alex on my cellphone. Again, the factory-recommended procedure for my predicament seemed legit. “No problem,” he said, pausing his stout Russian accent,

 

“Just find metal, make pushrod.”

 

Knowing the odds of finding a pushrod for the new 750CC Russian motorcycle engine on the side of the road in Wyoming were unfavorable, I gave up looking and knelt beside my enemy praying for vodka rain. I was quite a long way from anywhere.  Looking through my 200 pounds of spare parts, tools and prayer beads, I got an idea. I knew duct tape would probably not hold the broken pushrod together, but JB Weld just might. Inhaling the aroma of brilliance as I stirred the two parts of epoxy with a coat hanger, I painstakingly glued together the inner workings of my valve train, crafting my way out of yet another sure-bet DNF. 

 

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The pasted-together pushrod lasted 50 miles before the left jug ceased working again. I was limping along at a top speed of 20 miles an hour, this time praying to be hit by a semi. The drone of the one working cylinder began to take on a very curious verse.

 “GU-HUM, GU-HUM, GO-HUM, GO-HUM, GO-HOME, GO-HOME, GO-HOME!”

Depression, anger, anxiety, fear, spitefulness, a bit of hunger and a serious rash on my ass created a perfect storm that could have resulted in any number of felonious outcomes. Fortunately, it did not. Instead, this rally, this day, this particular moment in my life helped shaped who I am, and continues to give me strength to believe in myself at the most difficult and trying times. It was one of those moments.

I stood up on my foot pegs, raised my face shield, and screamed louder than humanly possible, “I WILL NOT GIVE UP, AND I WILL NOT GO HOME, YOU COMMIE BASTARD!” With a grease pencil, I scribed I WILL NOT GIVE UP across my windshield and vowed that no matter what, I was going to make it across the finish line of the World’s Toughest Motorcycle Competition. I just needed a new plan.

Limping into Rawlings, Wyoming, I devised a plan that didn’t include giving up. Look where you want to go and lean (as hard as possible at 20 mph) into the turns. I charged up and down the aisles of a True Value hardware store with Black Friday vigor. I purchased a couple of long, hardened drill bits, and with the unauthorized use of a grinder I spotted in the back room, I fabricated two brand new Ural pushrods. 

 

“Find metal, make pushrod”  

 

Who says I never follow the factory maintenance recommendations?

 

 

Despite a fistful of additional breakdowns, I made it to Maine on time and eventually across the finish line in Alabama, placing 86th in the incredible Iron Butt Rally. I truly had no idea my finishing such an event on such an unreliable antiquated machine would become such folklore, nor did I realize at the time how valuable the lesson was for me. I now travel the country using the story to explain what it is like to go through life with a chronic disease or disability. It is never the bike or one’s body, but the rider, or inner strength and passion, that will get us through all of life’s potholes. I also use the adventure to inspire people with challenges to never give up and to continue to charge toward their goals, no matter what obstacles get in their way. Disease, illness or challenges in life should never confine or define who we are. 

 

 “You don't have to come in first to be a winner.”

 

Two years later, I found myself in first place in the points pulling into the Lake City Florida checkpoint. It was day four of the 2003 Iron Butt Rally, and I was piloting a dependable BMW R1100RT. I should have felt nothing but victory. Instead, I was scared and confused, was having trouble speaking and my hands were numb, and I couldn’t recall where I had been the day before. The rally staff was a bit alarmed at my condition and ordered me to skip the mandatory rider’s meeting and get some sleep. The next morning didn’t change anything. I was in a fog so deep, I couldn’t locate my motorcycle. I couldn’t write because both hands were still numb, and I had lost all dexterity in my right hand. I was unable to plan a good route for the next leg, so I just took off for a known sucker’s bonus in Key West. It was worth a lot of points, but because of traffic, was hard to make good time. I had no other choice. I hoped time in the saddle would help clear my head. 

I’m still waiting. 

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Despite finishing the rally in the top ten a week later, I retired from competing and withdrew from the long-distance community immediately following the event. I kept telling myself it was the harsh riding and stress of pushing myself that were causing my problems, but eventually I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. My experiences during the 2003 Iron Butt Rally had been my very first major attack. With physical and memory issues that were not going away, I sold my bikes and gave up riding motorcycles altogether. I sold my business, gave up on my hopes and dreams for the future and prepared for the absolute worst. 

Multiple sclerosis is a progressive autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the central nervous system. Damage to the coating surrounding the nerves in the brain and spinal cord interfere with the transmission of signals to the rest of the body, causing a wide range of symptoms.

(Imagine if you will, a Cold War-era motorcycle wiring harness made by a 5-year-old child in a sweatshop and then stored for decades in a mesh bag in the Dead Sea expecting to work properly in the frame of a new post-Soviet Union bike while engaged in an endurance competition. I’m truly not bitter.)

Multiple sclerosis targets more women than men, and is usually diagnosed between the ages of twenty and forty. Symptoms, severity and progression will differ for each person. Relapsing forms of the disease are most common where symptoms flare, then subside. Common symptoms can include fatigue, walking difficulties, numbness, spasticity, weakness, vision problems, bladder and bowel problems, pain, cognitive issues, depression and emotional changes. Although we have developed over a dozen disease-modifying medications that can slow the progression, to date we do not know what causes MS, and we do not have a cure.

 

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When passion and purpose collide

 

Seven years went by, and with medication that is slowing my disease progression, healthy living and a positive attitude, I started to realize I might be one of the lucky ones. My symptoms were manageable and I had learned how to compensate for the cognitive deficits with technology and quick wit. I struggled with finding a way I could help those who were suffering from more severe symptoms and progressing disability from this incurable disease. I heard a doctor tell a group of patients at an educational event that he thought a cure for MS was a million miles away. In my best Jim Carrey imitation, I quipped,  “So, what you are saying is, that a cure is possible?”

The idea struck me like a bug splattering my forehead, and five years ago my mission statement and purpose in life became crystal clear:

 

“I once was told a cure for MS was a million miles away, so I figured I would just go get it and bring it back”

 

Although I was unable to compete in rallies again because of the cognitive requirements, I realized I could still ride the hell out of a motorcycle and decided to make my diagnosis public by documenting a million-mile journey chasing the cure for multiple sclerosis. Convincing my wonderful wife that quitting my job, buying a motorcycle and some assless chaps and traveling the country sharing my story to people living with MS while drinking beers, shooting the shit and attempting dangerous feats on a motorcycle without any visible source of income was a smart idea, well, that took some time. 

By the end of 2013, I was speaking and challenging MS patients across the country to recalculate their own road by continuing to follow their passions and dreams no matter what they may be. I have since delivered over 250 presentations, written for various health and motorsport magazines, have set two world records and raised over $100K for MS research, all while logging 300,000 miles as an advocate across the country. 

My first Yamaha Super Tenere was retired with 172,000 miles on the clock and is on display at Barber Motorsports Museum. Last year, I logged 80,000 miles, quickly wearing out bikes, tires, riding gear and accessories at an accelerated pace. Motorcycle seminars, keynote presentations and fundraisers take up the rest of my time; I hold on to the belief that speaking fees will eventually offset my travel expenses. To keep my journey rolling, I am increasing my social media presence on Facebook, YouTube, and my own website. Stories from the road, meet-and-greets and seminars are all posted online. Like, subscribe, follow or get out of my way, because I am on a mission, a million-mile journey, riding every day possible and raising funds, awareness and a bit of hell along the way as I continue chasing the cure.


Read the story in Volume 011