Tom DeLonge

The Suburban Kid Who Traveled to the Stars

Words by Maggie Gulasey | Photos by Jeff Stockwell


Tom DeLonge is best known as the guitarist and vocalist in the legendary band Blink-182. For nearly 20 years, he wrote popular Blink songs while amusing the fans and disturbing parents with his often X-rated stage antics.  Never one to settle and always seeking the next creative challenge, he formed more experimental bands like Boxcar Racer and eventually his present-day art project, Angels & Airwaves.

It is obvious DeLonge is a talented musician, but less visible is his long history as a successful entrepreneur. He has founded several companies, including his current and most extraordinary undertaking, To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science, an aerospace company with a multi-faceted entertainment division. 

Building his company and playing in a band have offered no shortage of stress. To combat the daily pressures, DeLonge has found riding his motorcycle provides the perfect therapeutic escape. His enthusiasm for the two wheels has translated into a hobby that is both functional and enjoyable, and grants a temporary escape from his busy life. 

At this point in DeLonge’s life, it is hard to keep track of everything he has going on. It would seem as though everything he has done up to now has been preparing him for his most recent ventures. To anyone else, his ambitions may seem crazy and far-fetched. But to DeLonge, he is just a kid from the suburbs who dreamed of going to the stars.

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“When I started Angels & Airwaves, I was thinking about creating an art project, not just a band.”

“The idea of coming out of Blink-182 was insurmountable. There was no way in my mind that I was going to be able to create another rock band that could ever compete or be anything close to what Blink was. Blink was such a cultural phenomenon, and I didn’t want to try and repeat that.”

As the formation of Angels & Airwaves was in its early stages, DeLonge started noticing where the art and music industries were going. As a result, he created Modlife, a business that would benefit the artists and fans alike. At a time when file-sharing companies like Napster were popular, Modlife created new revenue streams for artists such as Pearl Jam, The White Stripes, Nine Inch Nails, and Kanye West. 

It was through this experience that DeLonge gained a comprehensive understanding of how to monetize music and applied those lessons to his new band—and eventually his aerospace company.

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“With Angels & Airwaves, I thought it was great because, if you look where music is going and understand the economics, it was not just about music; it was more about transmedia. Unlike multimedia, transmedia is more one theme across different types of media, but they all work together; they’re all saying the same thing. 

“For Angels & Airwaves, it was, how do we take a theme about the human race and communicate those in a motion picture and on an album and in a book? It became an art project. The band was simply one branch of the tree.”

While utilizing music, film and literature for his creative endeavors, it was—and still is—important to DeLonge that they all effectively communicate his ultimate objective: to have a positive impact on the world.

“It is super-important to stay true to the message and the ethos of what Angels & Airwaves was doing. I remember when I left Blink, we were always like, ‘Fuck you, fuck you, rebellious this, we’re kids that don’t care about anything.’ 

“And then I did Angels & Airwaves, and it was like all of a sudden we are naming records ‘Love’ and writing songs about changing the way you see yourself and changing the way you see the world. 

“Some people thought it was pretentious, and I am sure it was misunderstood, but I knew I was not the first artist to sing about love. I knew that’s where society needed to go. I know that’s who I really am. It was really interesting to me, especially because we got into a lot of stuff with consciousness when we created Angels & Airwaves.”

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Fueled by his passion for music, writing, film and Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)—combined with his diverse background from prior business efforts—it was only a natural evolution for DeLonge to start his most arduous company to date.

 “It seems like I created Angels & Airwaves as a way to set up building an aerospace company. That would be absurd probably for any other musician, because why would anyone ever want to do something with the amount of work, the amount of resources, and the amount of stress involved? But leave it to me to want to do something that wild. 

“I think we have to stick true to doing all the things we are doing at my aerospace company—to be an extension of what I want to do with the band, which includes how we interact with our environment, with the people around us, our intentions, and how we can come from a place of compassion and love versus ego, and just normal human desire to conquer and become famous or rich or want control. 

“We really wanted to be a band that stood for something more than just hating where we came from, hating politics, and wanting to rebel. This was more like, okay, let’s actually change the world. That’s the goal.”

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In 2017, DeLonge captivated the world when he revealed his latest and most demanding project to date, To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science (TTSAAS).

With science, aerospace and entertainment (To The Stars, Inc.) divisions, TTSAAS was created to explore the outer edges of science and generate meaningful discoveries through its research. 

As president and CEO, DeLonge has teamed up with an impressive roster of accomplished individuals who have worked in or with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Department of Defense (DoD), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), just to name a few. 

No longer working under a veil of secrecy, the team at TTSAAS works with and for the public to promote education, transparency, sustainability and community. Unconstrained by government motivations, this privately owned company believes in responsible public disclosure when it comes to UAP. 

In collaboration with their entertainment division, TTSAAS takes the science and aerospace division’s discoveries and employs them across an array of media to make the controversial topics engaging and easier to digest.   

“The name ‘To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science’ is great because of what it represents. ‘To The Stars’ was chosen because it is aspirational. When you’re looking up and wonder, how far can you go? To the stars! Which star, the nearest star? Or the ones we can’t see? It’s kind of infinite. ‘Arts & Science’ is another way of saying science fiction, and turning science fiction into reality.  

“Having an entertainment division and an aerospace and science division works wonderfully well because, for example, we have a set of stories called Sekret Machines. We take real facts about the UAP, and we are making movies and write books like Sekret Machines based on that. 

“We also take the observed technology from the classified videos and U.S. government documents with the DoD or the CIA, and my co-founder Dr. [Hal] Puthoff then works his way back into the physics of how the UAPs are operating. 

“Now we can start dabbling in and building that stuff and make science fiction become a reality. It is bringing about a technology that can transform mankind, and then continuing to study the phenomena that has been interacting with mankind for millennia.”

Depending on the person receiving the information, the topic of UAPs can be met with a gigantic eye-roll, absolute fear, or an enthusiastic hunger to learn more. In any case, to the believers and skeptics alike, the subject matter is notoriously saturated with disinformation and falsified videos. Standing out as an authentic source can be a difficult task.

To combat this, TTSAAS strives to work with information that has been verified under the scrutiny of science. Ideally, only substantiated data is disclosed to the public.  

“My partner Jim Semivan, from the CIA and one of the co-founders of the company, says we are only going to stick to real, certified, verifiable science. Just real stuff.

“That’s why the declassified videos that TTSAAS brought out were so important. We know who the pilots are, the systems that captured it, and the type of plane that they were flying. It is completely verifiable, which goes a lot further when you stick to things that there is no argument about. I didn’t think there was going to be a lot of that stuff out there, but there really is. 

“We have already provided evidence that the UAP is real. That’s part of what we did when we released the declassified videos and when one of our partners, Lou Elizondo, came out about the Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program [AATIP] last year.”

Elizondo’s secret program was first made public in December of 2017. With over $22 million dollars in government funding, the AATIP studied UAP from 2007 until 2012, when the program was officially dissolved. It was Elizondo who was responsible for releasing the compelling video footage of a United States fighter jet capturing a UAP performing incomprehensible maneuvers. 

Though the footage captures a UAP, the unidentified aspect of it means that it has not been verified as extraterrestrial. It could very well be something manufactured by humans, as its origin is still unknown. 

“We have already brought the evidence forth, and there is more that’s coming. There’s some big stuff that we have planned that’s really going to take this conversation straight into everybody’s living room. How will people react to it, and how will they absorb it, and how are they going to deal with it?” 

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So, how does a person go from playing punk music in front of thousands of people for decades to speaking in top-secret facilities with high-ranking government officials? two seem to be on different ends of the spectrum, DeLonge explains that he has been groomed for this his entire career. 

“When I started To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science, I was literally just a musician.”

“A lot of people ask me how I go from performing on stage to speaking with people from the CIA, the DoD, or the world’s biggest aerospace companies. It is crazy. But the thing that really prepared me was I already felt like anything was possible. 

“When Blink exploded, to being a part of that ride, you’re already thinking that anything can happen—because I was living in my parents’ garage. So, when you go from living in the garage to something like that, you kind of already open the door to believing anything is possible. With that experience, I realized that there aren’t barriers on really ambitious, big ideas. 

“The next thing that prepared me was already being an entrepreneur.  I have already been in thousands of meetings with people that knew a lot more than me, that were a lot more professional, and a lot smarter.  I have already embarrassed myself thousands of times when pitching my company and not knowing any of my shit—I had a lot of failures, but through those experiences, I learned how to hold myself. 

“The third thing I learned that helped prepare me was that you absolutely must execute what you say you are going to do. If you say you are going to do something, don’t let months pass, and don’t forget about it. You follow up when you say you’re going to follow up, and you show them progress, listen and take their advice when necessary. 

“Those types of things are what helped me earn the trust of people and then eventually create a giant mechanism to do something that has never been done. To this day I remain very much out of my league. 

“More than anything, though, my team, they’re the guys that really do that stuff. They’re the ones that their whole lives and careers have been in those kinds of environments, so I really lean on them to do most of the heavy lifting.”

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Taking a hard look at DeLonge’s resume, it would be tough to challenge his credibility as an entrepreneur. As the founder of several successful bands and businesses throughout his life, it’s obvious he does not lack motivation or the desire to challenge himself. 

But as a public figure, it can be easy to pigeonhole him. Absorbing only superficial snapshots of his life, it would be no stretch (and not completely inaccurate) to stereotype him as merely a punk musician who tells raunchy jokes and chases aliens like a crazy person.

Digging beneath the surface, however, it becomes apparent that DeLonge and his team are anything but crazy. Doing their best to utilize substantial evidence and apply a scientific approach to their work, it seems as though TTSAAS could generate significant research. But that does not mean it won’t be an uphill battle for people to take DeLonge seriously. 

“I do get all these headlines that I am ‘chasing aliens’ or left my band to chase Unidentified Flying Objects or has a tinfoil hat on my head and I’m crazy. I look at those comments and think, if you only knew what I knew, if you’d only been in the meetings I have been in, if you’d only had the discussions that I’ve had, if you’d only seen the shit that I have seen. Not only would those comments stop, but their hair would turn white, and they would lose sleep the way I have lost sleep. 

“That’s not something you can just tell everybody. Most people go, ‘We want to hear those songs where you ran around naked and told dick jokes.’ That’s still a big part of me; it really is. My humor, friends, and the music that I like hasn’t changed—I still listen to punk rock almost daily. 

“But as far as what I need to do for the planet and what I feel like I have been chosen to do, I have to see it through.”

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Starting an aerospace company, recording music with Angels & Airwaves, writing novels, producing and directing films, and so much more, is a large undertaking for just one company.

To say a lot rides on DeLonge’s shoulders is an understatement.

“There is a lot of pressure. We are kind of like five entertainment companies in one—the way Disney is, but we are tiny. Then on top of that, we are building technology that is extremely revolutionary and difficult and takes years to bring to fruition. So, yeah, there is pressure.  It is super-ambitious, ridiculously difficult, but so insanely rewarding.”

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In order to combat the considerable amount of pressure, DeLonge has found something functional and fun to ease the daily stressors. Reminiscent of an obsession that began in his childhood, his newfound passion takes him away (literally and metaphorically) from the daily burdens. 

“You know, I had a really difficult year. A lot of things came into my life this past year, like starting a company, and it has been really stressful. When I got into riding bikes in a big way this past year and half or so—I toyed with it in my 20s—with everything going on, it reminded me of when I was a kid in a broken family; my parents hated each other, and I hated my parents. 

“I had just started Blink as a punk rock band, and skateboarding was my life. Every time I got on the skateboard, I felt the vibration of the street through the board, and I felt the wind, and I felt the motion. The faster I went, the farther away from home I got, with everything disappearing behind me. 

“The motorcycle is the first thing that reminds me of learning how to skateboard. It is the first thing that reminds me of that freedom, of feeling that motion, of feeling like you’re flying.”


“It has been an absolutely wonderful way for me to get on and go up the coast and get away from some of the things that I am dealing with. 

“I’ve always wanted to get into it in a big way, but I never thought I would like it this much. It’s like anything else that people get into; once you get into it and understand it, then you realize what people have been talking about.” 

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DeLonge has three motorcycles: a Ducati Monster, a BMW R nineT, and a BMW R 1200 GS Adventure. Because the Monster has been at the shop for almost a year, the R nineT and GS Adventure have become his main bikes. 

“While the Ducati was away, I was pissed because I really wanted a bike. So, I went and I bought the BMW R nineT. I got a limited-edition one; it’s got the big 21 number on there, representing when BMW first started making motorcycles in 1921. 

“It has all these intricately carved aluminum and titanium pieces. We changed the seat, exhaust, headers, and the wheels. I mean the whole thing looks steampunk. It’s funny; I wanted to make it much more industrial looking, and now it’s so shiny and showy. I was like, whoa, I didn’t really plan that part out. I thought it was going to look a little rougher around the edges. 

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“The R nineT is the most incredible thing, and I ride it every day around town. That’s what I ride to work and what I ride up and down the coast highway and along the ocean. It’s just my everyday bike. 

“But I noticed that the traffic has been getting so bad to get to Los Angeles. We are only a couple of hours from there, but it can take five hours sometimes! It can be ridiculous, so I needed a bike that was safer, bigger and more comfortable for the trip.

“So, I bought the huge R1200 GS Adventure. I remember at the time I had a Ford Raptor, this big, off-road truck, and this was the same thing as the Raptor, but as a bike. 

“It can go anywhere and do anything. You can pack it up for long trips; you can ride it up to Alaska if you want. It doesn’t matter if you have to go over a mountain and through a river or all along dirt roads, this bike can do anything. 

“It’s just as comfortable on the freeway with cruise control and heated grips as it is riding off-road. I got the GS for those trips, and it now keeps my commute to LA around 90 minutes both ways, just cutting through traffic and splitting lanes. 

“Until I get my Ducati back, my two bikes are the R nineT and GS Adventure. I really want to buy a bunch of R nineTs right now. That’s really what I want. I do like all of the Triumphs and Nortons and all that—they’re so stylish—but something about these BMWs and the way they do the boxer engine just looks cool. I am kind of into German engineering. They’re mad scientists over there.”

Motorcycles are a well-deserved reprieve from the slew of never-ending projects he takes on. Though it can be overwhelming at times, DeLonge would not have it any other way. 

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“Outside of having my family, the only two giant things I have cared about were music and the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. Music was the dream, and the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena was this unattainable, fascinating hobby of mine. But the fact that I am playing such a big part in both is like, oh my god, how did that happen? 

“I can say at this point in my life, TTSAAS is tremendously more satisfying than being in a band. But that’s only because I have been in a band for so long. Being in a band is the best job in the world, but you are still playing the same 15 songs every night, and you’re still exhausted waking up in a parking lot, and you’re still waiting around for 24 hours of the day to have one hour of a lot of adrenaline.

“Things become very monotonous for me. But this kind of a company at this stage in my life is a blend of all the things I love: producing films, directing films, writing novels, working in aerospace, working in science, working with the government, and still playing music. 

“Angels & Airwaves is recording right now. We have big plans for that band next year. So, I still get to do all the things I love, but I have broken into other areas that really keep me satisfied at this point in my life.

“If you look at what I’ve done and who I am, I honestly feel like I have been molded to do this. That doesn’t mean it’s not the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It feels harder than breaking a giant rock band. I just know that I am supposed to be here.

“I just know it with every ounce of my being that I am doing exactly what I was meant to do.” 

Membah

Salt & Sand in Indonesia

Words by Ben Giese | Photos by Tom Hawkins


As the sun sets over the Indian Ocean and pastel skies fade to black, the humid tropical air comes to life with a swarm of bats and the sound of insects. A salty ocean breeze billows up the Indonesian coastline onto the pristine motocross track that we just spent the evening riding. Sitting here on this peaceful beach in Southeast Asia, I am stuck in a daze trying to comprehend the heavenly beauty that surrounds us.

Bali is an esoteric land, riddled with ancient spirits and a haunting sense of magic you can feel coursing through your veins. It’s a celestial region of the world where man, machine, and surfboard exist as one, amongst the gods, and flow together in perfect harmony with Mother Nature.

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Dustin Humphrey—world-class photographer, filmmaker, and the driving force behind the Deus Temple—welcomed us with open arms. He graciously hosted us in a charming villa nestled in the heart of Canggu, a small village located at the southern tip of Bali and composed of an eclectic mix of surfers, expats, and Balinese locals. The humid air in Canggu is rich with the smell of incense and a smoky haze that lingers from the various religious burnings. With an estimated 20,000 temples and shrines located on this small island, Bali is sometimes referred to as “Land of the Gods.” It’s been said that when you fall asleep here, you’ll often experience strange and vivid dreams due to an uncanny spiritual presence. While lying in bed that first night amongst the barking dogs and chickens, I listened to the looming sound of prayer as it radiated from the neighboring temples, echoing through our alleyway and dissipating into the darkness.

Anticipation built for what crazy images my imagination might conjure up once I fell asleep, but I soon discovered that the most profound dreams would take place in real life over the next 10 days.

The first 48 hours of this dream were a bit of a culture shock. The human connection to two wheels is vastly different here in Bali, and our first glimpse into Indonesian life gave me a completely different perspective on what the motorcycle can mean to different cultures across the world. As I witnessed daily life unfold, I saw bikes packed heavily with massive loads of miscellaneous objects ranging from crates full of chickens to large bags, bundles of leaves and brush, giant blocks of ice, and boxes stacked high and strapped to the fenders. There were full families of four or five riding on a single scooter, sometimes even carrying the family dog. I would even see parents driving to school in the morning as the kids lay dead asleep on the handlebars. It was apparent that motorcycles are by far the most efficient means of transportation and quite possibly the most important tool for everyday life in Indonesia—a far cry from what the motorcycle represents to our culture in America.

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Back at our villa in Canggu, we were lucky enough to stay with newfound friends and Deus Ex Machina ambassadors Zye Norris and Forrest Minchinton. Norris is a talented and well-rounded surfer from Queensland, Australia, and Minchinton is a surfboard shaper and motocross rider from Huntington Beach, California. “The boys,” as they refer to themselves, are regulars at the Temple, spending several months out of the year in Bali utilizing it as a home base to do what they do best: Surf and ride.  From the moment I met and felt the positive energy radiating off these two, I knew we would soon become great friends.

Each morning, the boys would wake up before the sun, strap a collection of boards onto the surf racks mounted on their bikes, and journey out to the coastline for a sunrise session. Joining Minchinton and Norris on this morning ritual would help open my eyes to the fact that motorcycles are not only a vital tool for the local Balinese people, but equally useful for the surfers. It’s how they get to the surf spots, and when they’re not surfing, riding motorcycles is what they enjoy doing for fun. Surf and moto just kind of exist as one here; there is no disconnect. It’s like a flashback to a time during the late ’60s and ’70s in Southern California, when most surfers rode motorbikes and the moto guys were also surfers.

It seems as if the boys are reliving that era, their lives like a snapshot from the iconic Bruce Brown surf and moto films of the time, The Endless Summer and On Any Sunday

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Our first few days in Canggu had come to a close, and although I had enjoyed the dreamy evenings spent ripping wheelies down the beach, there was a calling for something greater—an itch to expand outward in search of a solitude that could be found only in landscapes more remote and majestic. After tossing around some ideas with the Deus crew, we decided to head north toward the Ring of Fire to get lost in time on an ancient sprawl like nothing we’d seen before. Legend has it there is a hidden paradise, born from a violent volcanic eruption almost 29,000 years ago, beckoning to be ridden. A three-hour trek across the island found us cresting a massive caldera overlooking the sacred volcano, Mount Batur, resting peacefully below. Toward the base of the volcano, nestled between a vibrant lake and a field of lava rock, we could see the tiny village where we would stay the night.

A soft formation of clouds lingered toward the top of the volcano just above the vast expanse of black volcanic sand that would act as our ultimate moto playground for the next 24 hours. We had found what we were looking for. 

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That following morning, we woke up at 4 a.m. like bright-eyed children on Christmas morning, dying with anticipation to explore this magical place. We geared up and ventured out under the stars riding up a rugged trail, bouncing off rocks and branches, guided by nothing but a faint light cast by the moon. Darkness gave way to sunrise as the sky burned red, igniting a fiery luminance that would slowly begin to reveal the field of jagged lava rock we were riding through. Such a foreign terrain, it almost felt as if we had traveled back in time millions of years to a period when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. As the fog lifted and we approached Mount Batur, the landscape quickly transformed from large formations of lava rock into steep, rolling hills of gritty volcanic sand.

It was like a gigantic skate park built for our motorcycles, perfectly crafted over thousands of years for our enjoyment. 

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We spent the day wandering back and forth across the mountainside and it didn’t seem to matter whether we were hitting jumps, berms, hill climbs, or riding high atop the ridgelines; the fun factor was at an all-time high and this unique landscape provided limitless potential for creativity and expression. As the midday sun baked down on us, I found some shade and took a quick break to drink some water and watch Minchinton ride. His style is so smooth and effortless, I couldn’t help but notice how strikingly reminiscent it was to watching Norris surf. Poetically flowing, like a choreographed dance carving perfect lines, they seem to be completely in tune with themselves and the terrain—another  demonstration that although surf and moto might seem vastly different, they are very much connected. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on a board in the water or on a bike in the sand; the essence of flow (membah, in Balinese), and the intimate connection with the landscape and Mother Nature, is virtually the same. 

The dust had settled on an epic day of riding, and as the golden light faded and the sun began to set over the caldera, we made our way back down the mountainside. We arrived back at the truck just before the dying light of dusk, and much like our early-morning trek up the hillside we were left loading up the bikes and equipment in the dark, under the light of the moon. I was worn out and dehydrated; my blistered hands and sunburnt neck were the trademarks of a day well spent. A few local children from a nearby hut curiously watched us take our helmets off, staring at us as if we were aliens from another planet. I guess that to them, that’s exactly what we were.

As I peeled the layers of crusty gear off my salty skin, I sat there quietly in content, my dirty teeth smiling with the knowledge that this was an experience I will never forget.

And although the day had come to a close, I found peace knowing that this journey was far from over and we would only be expanding farther outward in search of landscapes more isolated and alluring.

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The next morning welcomed a much-needed day of relaxation and recovery. As we sat around the pool cleansing our battered bodies and exchanging stories from the previous day’s adventure, Norris was packing his bags before heading to the airport later than evening. Unfortunately, real-world obligations summoned him back home to the Sunshine Coast. We were going to miss him, but our sights were set on the next destination and it was time to venture back out into the unknown, beyond the coastal boundaries of Bali.

Our bikes were ferried across the ocean onto the larger, neighboring island of Java. Upon arrival, we quickly escaped the chaotic streets and traveled deep into the rural Indonesian countryside. After another four-hour drive, climbing almost 7,600 feet in elevation, we crested the top of the mountain well after dark, arriving in the quiet little village of Bromo. A breath of cold, crisp air was a refreshing change that felt like home as we stepped out of the car to stretch our legs and unload our luggage. We were quickly welcomed with a large plate of nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice with chicken and a fried egg) served to us by an old lady in the neighboring house. As we sat around enjoying dinner, sipping on some Indonesian whiskey, Minchinton and the crew from Deus shared legendary tales of past trips to Bromo. The excitement was building for the final two days of this adventure and I went to bed early in anticipation of the morning ahead.

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Another 4 a.m. wakeup call came quickly as we geared up and rode out to the edge of the Tennger Massif—a large valley in the planet’s crust containing an active volcanic complex—to watch the sun rise. The stars began to fade as the sky turned a deep purple, revealing an endless, majestic landscape below. A vast and barren desert referred to as the Segara Wedi (Sea of Sands) surrounds the fire-breathing mouth of Mount Bromo, one of the region’s most active volcanoes. Mount Bromo billows ominous clouds of dark ash that ascend from the Earth’s core up into the atmosphere, composing a perplexing backdrop both haunting and beautiful. A group of locals on horseback pointed us in the right direction, and as the sun began to peek over the ridgeline and the thin layer of fog that covered the valley below began to fade, Minchinton and I made our way down the hillside to begin our exploration. The dream continued.

As we entered the valley floor, the colossal landscape seemed to multiply in scale. We rode across the long, desolate stretch of sand that makes up the Segara Wedi and my eyes were in disbelief of the contrasting surroundings. Encompassed by a luscious green cliffside to our left, the billowing volcano of Mount Bromo to our right, and a lingering fog above us, these contradictory backdrops painted a unique panorama like nothing I’d experienced before.

This endless, untamed landscape placed at our fingertips resonated as the single most awe-inspiring location a motorcycle ever has taken me (and probably ever will).

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Clouds of ash fell over a large expanse of dunes that encircle the base of Mount Bromo, and the beauty of this environment only increased as we began to see all the potential this terrain had to offer. The fun began as these natural formations started to appear more like an endless array of perfectly formed jumps, berms, and trails. It’s crazy what the planet can offer your motorcycle when you open up your imagination to its possibilities. Minchinton and I followed each other for hours, back and forth across the caldera, testing ourselves on an array of natural obstacles. Launching off rocks, snaking through the dry riverbeds, and balancing our way up the steep and narrow ridgelines in the dunes, we were smiling from ear to ear. 

We took a break to discuss and contemplate a large jump connecting the gap between two massive dunes, and with a gulp of confidence Minchinton decided to go for it. I watched him fearlessly launch off the face of the jump, flying through the air with perfect form, and it appeared as if he was going to make it. I was wrong. He came up a few feet short and his tires sank into the soft landing, almost sending him over the bars, where he would likely land face first at the base 20 feet below. With Minchinton’s experience comes a level of composure, and luckily he was able to save it, completely unfazed. But with this near-catastrophe a heavy sense of reality sank into my gut. In the midst of a place so remote and massive, the risk associated with the smallest mistake multiplies significantly. Mount Bromo is a magnificent sight for those lucky enough to behold it, but riding here will quickly put you in your place if your actions are anything less than perfect.

Much like big-wave surfing, this is a landscape of heavy consequence that demands an immense level of respect. 

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Unfortunately, all good dreams must eventually come to an end. It was time for us to ride back up the massif, pack up our luggage, and begin the 48-hour, 10,700-mile journey back home. It’s obvious that Humphrey and the crew at Deus Temple have something special happening in this sacred corner of the globe. This magical region of the world is a unique place where flow is the tie that binds man, machine, and surfboard with Mother Nature. This trip had been a spiritual journey of bliss and self-discovery with the strong realization that everything truly is connected—a once-in-a-lifetime experience composed of the pure and honest happiness that can be found only by pushing outside the lines and pursuing new boundaries. As Humphrey and the boys like to say each time they say their goodbyes,

“It’s just the end of an episode. It’s been good, and we can’t wait for the next one!”

The Catalyst

A Message from ATWYLD

Words by Anya Violet


People find their way to a life on two wheels for many different reasons. For some of us, it is not a choice, but an absolute necessity that is deeply engrained in our DNA. It takes a certain genetic makeup to find joy atop a machine propelling you through space at a high velocity. 

It’s easy to wonder why someone would do something that is considered to be so dangerous. Why do people climb mountains, jump out of airplanes or go to the moon? The answer most certainly is: Because we can. The thrill of the ride outweighs the fear of death. What is life without challenge and risk? Within everyone there is a drive to explore and experience, but it is up to the individual to feed that drive or not. Some of us need a little motivation and inspiration.

Think about the first time you saw someone on a motorcycle. Something clicked in your brain. The aerodynamic curves of the bike shaping perfectly around the human body. The power of the machine placed right in the palm of your hand. The motor growling and beckoning to be pushed further and further. The allure of the bike draws you in, and if you allow it, that can introduce you to a new world.

As motorcyclists, the love for the sport resides in our very souls — an almost primal instinct to reach far beyond our comfort zones to the edge. The machine is the catalyst, forever an inspiration to pursue the unreachable and explore the boundaries of what is possible with human and machine.

You can feel the adrenaline build with the twist of the throttle. The day blows off you in the wind as your mind becomes clear and focused. The person that you are away from your bike is gone, and the ride has taken you to a new level. A version of yourself that you did not know was there emerges as you become one with your machine. 

A motorcycle can ignite a drive and passion within you that may otherwise lay dormant for an entire lifetime. Giving in, and letting the thrill wash over you, provides an entirely new way to see life. All of the senses are heightened atop this perfectly built machine as you escape the norm.  A bond grows with every mile and every turn. Whomever you are in the world can be enhanced with a motorcycle. 

The Alaskan

Built for the Last Frontier

Words by Alex Earle | Video by Chris Thoms | Photos by Boyd Jaynes


Exploration. What does that even mean in a time when everything has been Google-mapped? Maybe it’s as simple as getting out of your own headspace and challenging yourself in some less familiar game, eschewing the comforts of the routine. And so you enter the Wilderness. And what a place! Powerfully flowing rivers, vast mountains, glaciers, large animals, bush planes: Alaska. Dramatic weather changes favor the well prepared. The endless summertime daylight encourages movement.

An inspirational landscape matched by the lore of the many rugged individuals who have gone before. An opportunity to get off the grid and truly stretch your legs.

A year prior, I came to this place with Michael Vienne on a scouting trip. Seeking routes and identifying what is required to comfortably disappear for a time. We encountered mid-August temperatures as low as 39 degrees and six straight days of driving rain that turned every track into a slimy river of mud. We never saw McKinley, as its 29,000-foot summit was constantly hidden by the clouds. It was a grueling rental bike marathon, but plans were laid and the course was set.  

Returning to my temporary shop space in California, I began to strip down the Ducati Desert Sled that would be transformed into the “Alaskan.” A very simple and robust machine that proved a worthy foundation for the concept. The great distances between fuel stops demanded increased range, so I set about hand-forming larger tanks. The broken terrain demanded taller, super-aggressive tires. The anticipated rock strikes and inevitable get-offs required skid plate and crash bars, and so on. Months of late-night flogging followed by ridiculously limited testing, and the thing was done. Shipped, unproven, to Anchorage.

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Dan Trotti, Chris Thoms, Boyd Jaynes, Nathon Verdugo, Robie Michelin and I converged and collected our bikes. Not one of us has a great deal of experience off-road with fully loaded bikes. And my bike has never before been completely outfitted. It’s all strapped down. New waterproof riding gear zippered up, and we are off. It’s not until an hour of riding has passed that I start to shed the normalcy and thrill at what is to come. 

A few hours later we are on a glacier. The beautifully marbled, glowing ice is compelling, and I am euphoric like a dog let off the leash, hopping across floating ice blocks. The team scatters across the flow. 

Chris expertly pilots a drone above the team as we cross a deep gorge. Quietly capturing the expanse and just how small we are within it. This new tool reveals weather beyond our earthbound line of sight.  

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Unlike the previous year, the weather is ideal. Never any real sense of menace. Raining only long enough to produce a spirit-lifting rainbow. Combined with the endless daylight, you quickly lose all sense of time. You ride longer, eat later and drink a lot of beer. It doesn’t take long to revert to being a limitless, feral animal. Sitting cross-legged in the dirt, well provisioned and happy — grateful for the wall of campfire smoke that is keeping the mosquitos at bay. 

Day Two, and Nathon is wheelying my fully loaded Alaskan through a massive puddle for the camera.  Looks fantastic splashing past at speed.

The bike is resplendent covered in mud and finally has some trail cred. I am elated! It’s holding up to some serious abuse and sounds great. Very comfortable, but still raw enough. I don’t wish to be isolated from the elements — I want to master them.  

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As luck would have it, Nathon’s mom, Kathie, was spending the summer in a camp near Denali National Park.  Kathie is an accomplished rider herself who could certainly still outride any one of us. I’ll never forget how disappointed she looked while inspecting the tracks we left in the mud leading to our camp. “I don’t see any roost!?”   She hooked us up with cabins, hot showers and a chance to make some required repairs to the bikes. My bike was suffering from a split fuel line. Replaced and rerouted, we carried on.  

The next destination was Manley Hot Springs to the north. Of course, we already had been experiencing mosquitos, but in this place they were truly outstanding. So many mosquitos. We beat a hasty retreat into the surreal tropical greenhouse enclosing Japanese-style tubs of naturally heated water. Amazing.  Refreshed, we spent the night drinking at the bar, while helicopter flight crews kept watch on a nearby forest fire, before returning to our tents. We arrived just in time to watch an immense moose and her three calves swim across a slough and clamber up the bank on the far side. 

It was at about this point that I lost all track of time.  

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We headed south towards Talkeetna and Petersville Mining Road. Dan was occasionally trying his luck with the fishing reel. Robie was on a mission to ride every singletrack bypass, and Boyd tirelessly captured images of everything. We established camp on a hilltop surrounded by low, vibrant green shrubs with Mount McKinley looming high in its own atmosphere to our north. This place was heaven. No deadlines or reception. We were in the middle of a network of mine access roads, river crossings, mud and snow. This is where I fully realized the capabilities of the bike I had conceived and assembled for this very purpose. We spent days just exploring various tracks, and I grew to appreciate the machine. Not merely as a motorcycle, but as a conveyance that affords us an experience such as this. It does not shield us from the elements, but rather plunges us more deeply into them. 

Cruzadores Del Sur

Tacos & Treasure in Mexico

Words by Forrest Minchinton | Video by Cameron Goold


Lace up your boots the same way every time. Laces tight, jeans over the boot. Much like how you saddle your horse. She’s made of steel; her tires got air and the chain seems tight. Grab a jacket to keep you warm and the sun off your back and a helmet to catch your brains in case you crash and don’t end up right. Pack some gloves, a pair of shades, and a bedroll for when the sun goes down. Surfboards strapped to the side of your horse and a bar of wax that’s gotta last ya’ ’til you turn home, if or when you decide it’s right. You’re not the first, nor will you be the last. And as soon as the dust settles across the valley, there comes another rider with the same plight. We’re off in search of gold, diamonds, tequila and maybe a nice woman to rub our feet if she will. You might become distracted as the wind blows you to sea, from the shore and into the ocean. Here everything is real. Try it yourself and see how you feel. The waves will make you dance if you do it right. Swell, wind, the land, everything must be just so. It takes a man a lifetime of searching and waiting to really know. Eventually you will forget why you have started south, but then you paddle back out. Washing away the dirt, the dust, the bugs, and if you’re lucky maybe catch a buzz.  It may just stick around and that’s all right.

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You forge on because nary an idle man has ever found what he was after. The next town south.  It faces the great Pacific. She has weathered many a storm and not much is there except a watering hole. From the distance you’ll hear laughter, fishermen, and ranchers. They’ll give you a long, hard stare as you enter…Who the hell are you? And what is it you’re after? De donde eres? Y porque estan aqui? A motorcycle, a surfboard, and not much else to offer. With that you will become friends when they learn it’s just good times thereafter. Neither the fisherman nor the rancher have any interest in the waves you are searching for. It is not a commodity to them. They cannot box it, they cannot sell it, and their children, these men won’t let go hungry. And so the waves, they can be yours forever after. 

For 1,200 miles the Pacific Ocean kisses this rugged peninsula. The wind is relentless, the desert harsh and unforgiving. Fresh water is scarce, and the farther south you go the worse it becomes. That is, until it doesn’t. Eventually it gets better, the ocean begins to warm and worries of home fade with every sunset and every mile. Tacos get cheaper and your appetite grows stronger. You learn and you adapt. Your motorcycle is made of steel, but not even she will last. So you take it easy and only give her as much as she can handle. The road is rough and long, and you can’t afford to be stranded. You ride long enough until the next bay, the next swell, and when the wind hits just right, take off your boots, and paddle out. You’re headed south and there’s something you’re after. I think it was gold or maybe it was diamonds or tequila?  Once you get there you might realize it’s really just freedom that you have come to master.

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Walt Siegl

Enigma

Video by Outsider Media | Words by Andrew Campo


Upon first sight, I stopped and stood back a few feet. I was nervous to get too close, and admittedly was overwhelmed in its presence. It was an instinctive reaction that could be compared to an encounter with something rare and exquisite in stature. As if I were in a museum eyeing down an eminent piece of art. I needed the space in an effort to begin taking it in; there was a lot to pore over. As my eyes wandered, and I soaked in the color system, the chassis and the bodywork, I hastily fell in love.

Standing before me was a Walt Siegl Motorcycles Leggero that belongs to a close friend of mine. After spending a few minutes in a trancelike state, I began to ponder putting together this story. I wanted to learn more about this enigma of a man and the intellect behind the remarkable design and execution unique to his brand. I wanted to share my findings with our readers and dress our pages with images of machines worthy of revisiting time and time again. Walt is a craftsman and an engineer, and his bikes are a tangible expression of both passion and artistry.

Photo by Daniela Maria

Photo by Daniela Maria

At age 19, Walt left art school in his native Austria to join a road racing team. He later worked in France as a shunter in a train yard and as a toolmaker and welder throughout Germany, Austria and Italy. A job with an Austrian steel company took him to Moscow, where he eventually joined the Austrian Foreign Service.

In 1985 he transferred to New York City for a position promoting contemporary Austrian art and culture for the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Walt spent his free time building motorcycles for himself and friends out of a basement across the river in Long Island City.

In 2007 he moved his workshop and his family to an old mill town in southern New Hampshire to build motorcycles full time—and the rest is history in the making.

Success can often be attributed to the people with whom you choose to surround yourself. We turned to one of Walt’s close friends, Paulo Rosas, to help pull together insight from Walt’s cadre, peers, family and esteemed clients, all in an effort to take an outside look into the life of one of the most respected and intriguing people in motorcycling.


Photo by David Goldman

Photo by David Goldman

Laura Carden - Walt’s Wife

My husband, Walt, is a true artist and craftsman of motorcycles. His vision, and then the precision of his implementation of that vision, knocks me out every time. 

I love the sketching phase of a new model design. To see what has arrived in his brain, like magic, fully formed. I like it also because he’s home for that part. He’s at the kitchen table, with our son’s colored pencils spread around him. 

If I could use only one word to describe Walt’s work, I think it would be “pure.” 

Walt takes profile pictures of projects at every stage and then pores over the images at home. He says looking in two dimensions is the only way for him to get the lines right. 

Typical conversation over morning coffee:

Me: “What are you thinking about?”

Walt: “Boxed swingarms.”

At the workshop, Walt will call me from my bookkeeping desk to stand with him at a certain spot, to look at a motorcycle, to get my opinion on the line made by an exhaust pipe held a half inch up or down, for example, or for my opinion of an overall profile. Or at completion, he will ask if there is absolutely anything at all that my eye is tripping on. I love that he really wants to know. These days it’s rare I find anything. Final completion is always breathtaking. 

I love working with Walt and Aran and Brian at the shop—being around these guys who love what they are doing, who have lived and breathed motorcycles their entire lives. I think it’s a dream for all of us!

Chris Hunter - Founder, Bike EXIF

If there’s a phrase that springs to my mind whenever I think of Walt, it’s “class act.” He’s a gentleman with an unerring sense of taste and style: an elegant Paul Newman, rather than a loutish Steve McQueen.  

It shows in his work. There are maybe five builders in the world who consistently hit the mark with every new creation, and Walt is one of them. Generally, when a builder gets in touch with us to say, “I’ve finished a new bike,” we’ll say, “Send us the details and we’ll take a look.”  But when Walt drops us a line, we say “Yes” automatically. You just know it’s going to be well designed, beautifully finished, and carefully photographed.

I suspect Walt’s success comes from the rich experiences he’s had in life. He’s lived in France, Italy and the Soviet Union. His family has a history of artistry. He’s raced bikes. He’s what you might call a well-rounded man.

Last year, I judged the best custom show in Australia: the Machine Show in Braidwood. There were some stunning bikes on display, from vintage British cafe racers to old-school choppers. I noticed a group of people milling around a bike parked just outside the showgrounds, away from the official show area. After squeezing my way through, I realized that it was a WSM Leggero. It was exquisite—as good as any of the machines in the official display.

I’ve seen a lot of custom builds in my time, but since that moment, I’ve wanted a Leggero in my garage more than any other machine.

Photo by David Goldman

Photo by David Goldman

Nicholas Harrison - Customer and friend

In 2012 I realized that I wanted a more personalized motorcycle experience. I started researching builders and saving images of builds that appealed to me. After two years, I noticed a common recurrence. Many of my saves were Walt Siegl-built bikes. 

Walt and I connected in 2014, and our first conversation lasted more than half an hour. We had actually briefly met at a track day in Canada two years earlier and had more in common than I expected. We agreed to move forward with a Leggero build, and my wife and I flew to NH to discuss the details. 

Walt met us at The General Store before taking us on a tour of the shop. We immediately felt comfortable and were happy with our choice of builder. What we didn’t know then was how special our friendship with Walt and Laura would become. 

Our Leggero build took a detour as we met the first WSM MV Agusta Bol d’Or at the inaugural dinner hosted at the shop in 2015. I agreed to buy one. This made it the first WSM bike I would take delivery of. Simplicity, form and balance at its best. This truly was a work of art. 

The experience of the build was flawless. Having the opportunity to design the livery with Walt that paid homage to Agostini was a dream come true. What I didn’t anticipate was the riding experience being as visceral as it was. This bike made every other motorcycle in my garage expendable. 

My donor bike for the Leggero build had already been delivered to the shop the same weekend as the inaugural dinner. On one of my visits to finalize details for the Bol d’Or, Walt mentioned that he was developing an idea for a new build that would be different from his Leggero builds. I decided to wait, and the Superbike that was just unveiled at the Classic Car Club in Manhattan turned out to be breathtakingly beautiful. 

The way Walt sees shapes and is able to put them together, keeping them simple yet beautiful and functional, is magical. There are too many special features on this build to list. I am very excited to ride this bike in anger at the track. 

Just recently, I was lucky enough to also add a Leggero to my collection. This bike is truly a combination of all of the best bikes I own and then some. The weight and handling are incredible. The sound, the clutch, the transmission—all perfection. Wow, just wow!!! I cherish every moment I have riding these incredible, functional pieces of art. 

Walt’s desire to always stay true to the process and still please his clients adds tremendously to the overall experience. His patience and gentle demeanor bring added class, and these experiences are indelibly etched into my memory.

Paulo Rosas - Pagnol

I met Walt and his right-hand man Aran Johnson at the Austin GP in 2015; they were both super easygoing, and we just hit it off. It was such a pleasure to meet one of my design-inspired heroes, but it was also great to see that Walt was equally nice to fans throughout the weekend. He proved to be a genuine and very approachable person who carried a sense of mystic unique to his character.

At the end of the weekend, I asked him if he would like to be a part of the Pagnol creative riders features, and he said that it would be his honor. A friendship was built, and in time Walt introduced me to one of his best friends and customer Nicholas Harrison, and a circle of friends had come to life.

I was always eager to do livery design work in “the new customs scene,” and better yet, with a WSM bike! The opportunity finally came when Walt asked me to do this for one of his MV Agusta Bol d’Or series bikes built for competition at the Barber Vintage festival.

His persona is that of an elegant and tasteful guy, but this might come across as somewhat “serious”—but he has  a great sense of humor and often is very funny.

WSM’s latest series is the stunning SBK bike, for which Nicholas ordered the very first one, and my pleasure of working a livery for a WSM bike was repeated when collaborating with Nicholas—with Walt’s eye alongside on the process for his blessing. 

Photo by David Goldman

Photo by David Goldman

Bruce Meyers - Meyers Perfomance

Part of why I do this is to keep my mind focused on continued learning and to keep exploring new things. I feel very lucky in having worked with some very talented people and advanced companies over the years. Walt is right up there with the best of them!

Back in the ’90s, Walt became a customer of my shop. The good old Ducati 916 brought us together. We became close friends over the years. When he set up shop here in New Hampshire, Susie and I got involved with his new venture. We really want Laura and Walt to be successful.

WSM engines have evolved quite a bit over the years. He has a good eye for colors. The new coatings are very nice, but until a few heat cycles, they are easy to damage, so the process is a delicate one.

I don’t think the guys who bought the early bikes likely understand what a great buy they got.

The new Superbike has made the specs higher again. Now there are some advanced, very high-end builds going on. Especially with the first air-cooled bike.

It’s going to get fun!

Photo by Matt Kiedaisch

Photo by Matt Kiedaisch

Aran Johnson - WSM Lead Technician 

When I first started working with Walt in the spring of 2014, he almost seemed nervous and cautious of my ability to produce the final product he was looking for. He had a way he had done things for a long time that had worked to that point. It was an interesting beginning, but it didn’t take long for us to get into a groove and work seamlessly with each other. 

Over the last four years, our relationship has become very symbiotic; on a daily basis we will bounce ideas off each other, and try to always innovate and improve the bikes with things other builders aren’t doing. Walt has a great imagination when it comes to designing bikes, and I try to always take his ideas and make them a reality, or at least come to some kind of compromise. My background is much more technical when it comes to motorcycles; I love advanced mechanical and electronic features and have been able to incorporate a lot of these types of things into our bikes.

I consider Walt a friend first and a boss second; we have a relationship that allows us to speak freely about design and functionality, sometimes disagreeing, but always respecting each other.  We are not a reality show; we actually like one another and are both focused on the same goals. Anytime I find a new way to improve performance or the process, Walt is on board. He is very enthusiastic about trying something different; even if it doesn’t work out, we’ll give it a try. 

One of the things that sets us apart from some other builders is the fact that Walt genuinely cares about the clients and their input. We always strive to go above and beyond with the vibe they are looking for. That being said, we don’t build things just for a “theme”; it has to function. We talk a lot about how things function at the highest level and inherently look good. Sometimes simpler is better. Clean-looking bikes with the highest level of detail are our priority.

Photo by Matt Kiedaisch

Photo by Matt Kiedaisch

Jamie Waters - REV‘IT!

Walt’s Leggero series bikes are modern-day Fabergé eggs: Each one shares major common design elements, but the results are still somehow wholly unique and special. 

It was obvious from the first few I laid eyes on that he’d essentially perfected the frame/tank/seat/fairing aesthetic, while also allowing enough personalization potential to still achieve machines of differing character. Walt’s experience as a fabricator and racer, in combination with his sculptor’s hand, yields bike of incomparable overall capability and beauty. 

Working with Walt on my bikes was an absolute pleasure. The final product distilled my core wants into a cohesive package, while keeping me from pushing for design elements that would have ultimately hurt the overall design. 

Every time I look at one of Walt’s bikes, I am reminded of the old adage “price is what you pay, value is what you get” ... and then I smile.

In This Wilderness

National Parks: Wyoming

Words by Derek Mayberry | Photos by Jimmy Bowron


Countless unread corporate emails, an obsessive boss, my loving family, and the Denver skyline — all slowly disappeared in my rearview.  Ahead of me, six riders from different walks of life, all with a common focus; the Wyoming National Parks; and the miles ahead of us on a collection of Triumphs.  It wasn’t long after breakfast in Fort Collins that we diverged from the original plan of taking a beeline route to Thermopolis for the first leg of the journey. No one muttered the words, but we all shared the same opinion: Damn the timeline; let the road guide us as it may.  Avoiding the mundane miles I-25 had in store for us, we opted for an indirect route to the Wyoming border by way of a winding ribbon of asphalt that snaked its way through the river valley of Poudre Canyon.

With a timetable as the least of our concerns, we stopped often to soak in colorful characters across sparse Wyoming towns. Split Rock Bar and Café in Rawlins, Wyoming, was an unexpected time warp back to a place before free Wi-Fi and a trendy latte selection were pretentious expectations.  A bar lined with dusty whiskey bottles that have probably been around since Evel landed his first jump back in 1965, and a pool table that had more miles on it than the rusty pickup truck out front. We could hardly pull ourselves away from this timeless Wyoming watering hole.  Across the street at Monk King Bird pottery, a disheveled Byron Seeley eagerly showcased his peculiar handcrafted clay creations.  His skin had a terracotta patina only decades of UV exposure and pottery dust could replicate.  Seeley embodied an authentic connection with the Earth that only Mother Nature could fully grasp.  After a brief stop in the welcoming town of Lander to sync up with a couple of old friends, we carved our way through Wind River Canyon as the sun set, and wrapped up Day One in the novel town of Thermopolis, known simply as the Gateway to Yellowstone Country.

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As we crested the Continental Divide on the second day, catching our first glimpse of the jagged Grand Teton, the rider ahead of me raised his arms as if to give praise to the glory of these natural wonders.  Although tucked away inside a helmet of my own, which meant having no way to communicate with him, I knew what he was feeling at that exact moment: reverence.  With our odometers clicking off the miles, we eventually traded steel skyscrapers for metamorphic crag towers.

Arriving at what would be our home for the next few days at the Pacific Creek campground just outside of Moran, Wyoming, we scouted the river bank, constructed our tents, and lit the obligatory campfire.  Stories of past adventures flowed as effortlessly as the whiskey, and when the laughter eventually dwindled with the last few burning embers, we were left with sounds of nature and an abyss of stars overhead.  

Photo by Ansel Adams

Photo by Ansel Adams

I found myself alone, staring immensely into the majestic star-filled sky. I had anticipated this moment for some time now, but was hardly prepared for the grand display overhead. My thoughts drifted roughly ten miles upstream, as the crow flies, and 76 years back in time as I recalled a photograph Ansel Adams had taken back in 1942, known simply as “The Tetons and the Snake River.” The photograph is one of 115 image files located on the Golden Records aboard the Voyager 1 and 2 interstellar spacecrafts launched in 1977. 

The phonographic records containing image and audio information were made as a message in the hope that any intelligent extraterrestrial life forms might be affected by humanity and its position in the universe, even if the likelihood of this is extremely low, and humanity may no longer exist by the time it is discovered. With an estimated lifetime of 500 million years, the records should at least bear witness to the fact that we existed on a planet that I find incredibly beautiful.

These records are somewhere out there deep in the universe, and as I lie in the valley cradled by the Tetons, I remind myself of a quote by General Omar Bradley that truly hit home: “...we steered by the stars, not by the lights of each passing ship.” The meaning is simple: It is meant as a reminder to set goals according to things that remain constant and that we can for sure rely on. If we set a course based on moving targets, we’ll never reach our intended destination. 

I let this sink in and say a prayer or two in hopes of warding off a bear attack before closing my eyes in anticipation of tomorrow’s ride. At that moment, I was unequivocally connected with the Universe. 

“Wherever we go in the mountains… we find more than we seek”

—John Muir

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As dawn broke against the Tetons the following morning, and we shook off spirits from the night before, we hustled to get our bikes pointed toward the Yellowstone South Entrance. We had a full day of riding ahead of us, and the sense of exemption that a motorcycle can provide had never been stronger. Throughout our tour of the Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, it was as if I had clicked down through the gears of time and slowed to appreciate what has always been here, this grand landscape and the way our national parks system has framed it so well.

Struck by the sheer vastness of the nearly 4,000 square miles these national parks encompass, I was reminded of an Eckhart Tolle piece in which he analyzed how we identify with an object through the illusion of ownership: “The absurdity of owning something becomes even more apparent in the case of land. In the days of the white settlement, the natives of North America found ownership of land an incomprehensible concept…They felt they belonged to the land, but the land did not belong to them.”  This resonates even more so after experiencing these parks in person.  Studying the route on a two-dimensional map filled with borders and boundary lines provided a very limited perspective.  But standing there, at the foot of the Tetons, I quickly realized the absurdity behind the concept of owning such a boundless creation.  In awe, I willingly surrendered myself to the mountains’ omnipotence.

Human history of the Grand Teton region dates back at least 11,000 years, when the first nomadic hunter-gatherers began migrating into the region during warmer months pursuing food and supplies. Grand Teton National Park is an almost pristine ecosystem and the same species of flora and fauna that have existed since prehistoric times can still be found here.  Having this knowledge helped me to see this landscape from a unforgettable point of view. Out here, life is neither long nor short. This place is freedom, and this grand show is eternal.

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“I declare this world is so beautiful that I can hardly believe it exists.” 

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Experiencing it all behind the bars of my Bonneville couldn’t have been more gratifying.  From the caustic aroma of sulfur pools to the crosswinds sweeping into Hayden Valley, the sensations came at nature’s will, unfettered and pure. Witnessing the connection between this wilderness and humanity was even more apparent through the expressions of wonderment on the faces of both young and old as the crowd’s collective attention focused on Old Faithful erupting yet again, right on time. 

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This was the first journey of its kind for me, and it presented an interesting dichotomy.  On one hand, there’s an undeniable sense of individuality when you’re on a motorcycle, a solo pilot in full control of your own personal destiny.  At the same time, there’s that common thread among fellow riders, stitching together a unique tapestry of the visceral experience shared across each and every person in the group.  At times, the pack would stretch out, seven riders in tandem equally spaced over a quarter mile; the gap between us was physically apparent as the road would sweep and bend around the Wyoming landscape. However, I knew we were all there in the same space, ever present in the moment. 

Today’s civilization continues to migrate to these places, but to get our souls fed, instead. Many who have come before us have so eloquently captured the grandeur, whether through the lens of Ansel Adams or the words of John Muir. We are reminded of our connection with what’s existed for millions of years and will remain long after we’re gone.

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A few days into the excursion, it was time to begin our return trip back to Denver. Back to life as we know it. The road home provided ample time to reflect on the national park experience, with a renewed sense of gratitude and appreciation we headed out through Wyoming’s southern plains and into the Colorado night.  

Seven of us had come together to venture out with our sights set on a temporary reprieve. We all know that we have a finite time here, yet we have a difficult time living that way, struggling with the transitory nature of our lives. This was an opportunity to put those difficulties aside and to focus on the now, to remind ourselves of how grateful we are to live in this land and in this moment.

Because in this wilderness lies the hope of the world.

Little Monster

A Story About Kelana Humphrey

Video by Cameron Goold | Words by Nathan Myers



The bike was just there. Whenever he was ready for it. 

No pressure.

By four years old, Kelana Humphrey had already been around motorcycles a lot. Two years earlier his dad, Dustin – better known by his surf photography credit “D. Hump” – had opened the Bali division of a new surf and moto brand called Deus ex Machina. 

The shop was a monument to all of Dustin’s passions: custom motorcycles, hand-shaped surfboards, live music, photo studio, full bar, and even a barber shop. Surrounded by rice paddies and waves, the shop became a lightning rod for the town of Canggu, transforming the once-quiet village into one of Bali’s hottest travel destinations. They called it the Temple of Enthusiasm.

Photo by Rudolf Bekker

Photo by Keli Bow

Kelana grew up in The Temple, surfing his skateboard between the clothes racks and eavesdropping on the pro surfers, moto-riders, musicians and other adult children perpetually passing through on one journey or another. The placed buzzed with adventure. And Kelana was enmeshed. Raised on enthusiasm.

But the bike just sat there. 

No pressure.

Photo by Giang

“One day when he was about 6,” says Dustin, “me and some friends were going for a ride on the beach and Kelana says, ‘Can I come?’ After that, he never got off the bike.”

A few miles outside Canggu, there was this overgrown little motocross track by the beach. The Deus crew cleaned it up, and before long it was their daily spot. They’d surf in the morning, moto in the afternoon, then jump into the ocean for a sunset bodysurf and ride back home along the sand. 

Within the year, Kelana – now 7 years old – began competing on the fledgling Indonesian racing circuit. His mother is Indonesian, but dad was born in Huntington Beach, California. Dustin moved to Indo two decades earlier where the exotic waves and vibrant culture became the hallmark of his photography. Traveling around the islands came naturally to him, so they made a run at the national racing circuit. 

“I’m no stranger to hard travel,” says Dustin, “but spending 24 hours on the road just to reach some tiny village with a really bad track was not much fun. Especially when there’s no ocean to jump into at the end of the road. Just dirt. And not even good dirt.”

But their efforts paid off. After his first year of competing, Kelana was the 50cc Indonesian National Motocross Champion.

Sorry. That’s not true. 

Kelana finished Second. But the kid who won was too old for the division, and Dustin always resents the kid’s cheater parents. Kelana shoulda won. Whatever.

The following year, Dustin took Kelana to California to train with professional coach Sean Lipanovich. It was intended to be a father-son experience, but just before the trip Dustin broke both of his legs on an overly ambitious jump, so it turned into a one-on-one training session for Kelana. 

“He’s a smart kid,” says Lipanovich, who’s still coaching Kelana three years later. “He remembers everything. I like how he acts mature when he’s around adults, but still acts like a kid around other kids.”

During this period, Dustin connected with Huntington Beach moto-surfer Forrest Minchinton. Forrest’s dad Mike used to shape Dustin’s surfboards back in the day. Now his son was evolving into a talented shaper/rider … which Deus was looking for. Soon enough, the Minchinton father-son duo was on their way to Bali. 

“It’s funny thinking back to when I first met Kelana,” says Forrest, now a Deus team-rider. “He was shy and quiet. I mean, he was only 7 years old. But then he took me to his track by the beach, and that’s where I really got to know him. He reminded me of myself at that age.”

Before he left Bali, Forrest told Kelana he’d show him his secret spot when they made it back to America. Kelana had no idea what that meant.

As Kelana grew, so did Deus. The brand expanded to America, Japan and Europe. And Dustin — always more focused on creating imagery than stocking clothing racks — took on the roll of Global Media Director. These days he directs films, runs photo shoots and dreams up wild events. And Kelana — child of the Temple — is along for the ride. 

It’s a unique opportunity. He’s been raised by pro-surfers like Harrison Roach and Zye Norris. Mentored by motocross guys like Forrest and Sean. He’s camped, paddled out, fixed bikes, designed boards and absorbed the strange rhythm of getting the shot. And while he’s focused on motocross, he’s had equal experience riding enduro, flat-tracking, vintage bikes, and just riding the beach at low tide. 

And then he found the desert. 

Painted in Dust was a Deus film about Forrest and his survivalist compound deep in the Mojave Desert. Dustin’s team spent a few weeks filming Forrest’s spot, where he was shaping surfboards and riding dunes whenever the waves are flat in Huntington. Kelana, of course, came along. 

But the desert is no day care center.

Photos by Harry Mark

Photos by Harry Mark

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“If you wanna ride with the big boys,” says Forrest, “you better be able to keep up. If you can’t start your bike, you can’t ride it. When you fall out here, your daddy ain’t gonna be there to pick you up.”

Forrest isn’t being mean. He’s teaching Kelana the only way he knows how. The hard way. The desert way. “If you can’t take care of yourself out here,” he says, “you’re going to be in real trouble when something goes wrong.”

Keeping up with Forrest is no small task. This desert is his second home. His ultimate playground. Kelana spends the week with his little 65cc pinned across the shifting sands, climbing hills like mountains, and hopping boulders bigger than his bike. 

Eventually, he goes down. Over the bars and into the rocks. Splits his face wide open. Then stumbles around. Knocked silly. 

Four hours later, Kelana knocks on the door of Forrest’s cabin and asks him if he’s ready to ride again.

“That right there is what it takes to be a champion,” says Forrest. “You gotta fall down and get back up. And each time you get back on the bike, you’re a better rider for it.”

At night, when the adult-children gather ’round the fire drinking beer and shooting guns at the stars, Kelana hangs in the cabin watching a weathered VHS of On Any Sunday for the 327th time. It’s no accident that the only cassette out here happens to be his favorite. It’s Forrest’s, Dustin’s and Mike’s as well. The machines may change, but the heart of moto remains the same. On Any Sunday knows this best. 

Photos by Harry Mark

Back in Bali, Deus throws these parties. They’re technically “races” or “festivals,” but anyone who’s attended will tell you it’s a party. There’s the annual “Dress-Up Drag Races,” “The 9-Foot & Single Surf Festival” and, topping the list, “Slidetober Surf-n-Moto Fest,” which includes a beach-n-jungle enduro race, Indonesia’s first flat-track course, and a motocross event at Kelana’s home track. While the racing is competitive, the vibe is all about shenanigans and laughter. 

Kelana grew up around these events. Even before he could ride, he sat on his dad’s gas tank. He’s become like a mascot. The only kid there. The only kid competing. Cute and well-mannered. Hanging with the adults. He learned to love an audience. After winning this year’s moto-event, Kelana one-hand claims the final jump, then victory dances in the straightaway. The crowd eats it up.

“That’s just where I grew up,” he says. “Everyone there is like my uncles and aunties. It’s a family reunion.”

But Bali is Never-Never Land. To the outside world, the lost boys of Deus ex Machina are more fairy tale than real racers. So when Kelana shows up at “real” competitions, it’s always a bit unsettling. Where’s the music? Where’s the foul-mouthed commentary? Where’s the joy? 

Dustin feels it, too. The last thing he wants to become is another motocross soccer mom. He does not want results to determine our overall experience at the races. He says “it’s a balancing act; I want him to win and at times I will push him to be his best, but I don’t want his race results to determine our overall experience at the races. We all know the percentage of kids who actually make it, so we have to enjoy this time.”

“You see a lot of these young kids burn out after years of living out of a motorhome,” says Donny Elmer, marketing director of FMF racing.

“It’s cool how Dustin and Kelana are approaching it, because they’re taking it seriously, with coaches, training and all the racing … but at the end of the day, their focus is still on having fun and being a kid. Kelana’s got the skill and the speed to take it to the next level; the trick is just sustaining that high level of motivation.”

“We founded Deus around the idea that motorcycles are for fun,” says Dustin. “That’s how we feel about ’em. You ride alone, but you ride together. It’s a community.”

But the racing is in Kelana’s blood. When he puts on his helmet and goggles, the sweet little boy is gone. Out on the track, Kelana throws a block pass, wheelies through the braking bumps, then hits an 80-footer. “When I’m racing,” he says, “everything else just disappears. It’s just me and my bike. And I love that feeling.” 

As much as Kelana is gunning for the big leagues, Dustin’s wary of holeshoting his childhood. “We raced motocross when I was a kid, too,” he says, “but then my parents had to sell our bikes to pay the rent. This sport isn’t cheap. We’re not rich, but I can afford to give Kelana the opportunities I never had. And, yeah, maybe parents live our dreams through their kids … but that’s not necessarily a negative thing. I had my time, and this is his. I can enjoy watching the journey and being a part of it.”

Photos by Harry Mark

So they move back to Huntington Beach. Dustin never imagined he’d be back, but now it makes sense. Life moves in circles. Here, he’s closer to coaches, sponsors and real competition. Kelana puts in four days a week on the track, as well as gym and cardio training. Posters of Roczen, Bereman and Dungy decorate his walls. Rows of trophies line the dresser. He’s been winning local races and cracking the Top 10 of the nationals, but equally important are the bicycle rides to the beach and sunset skate sessions. Homework and tutors. Just being a kid. 

“It’s a lot of commitment for a 10 year old,” says Dustin. “So, I let him decide if he wants it or not. At the end of the year he gets to choose if we continue or not. If he makes that commitment and he’s in 100 percent, then I’ll be there 200 percent. But it’s his choice. And we also make sure to keep it in balance. Keep it fun.” 

Recently, they put the bikes away and spent a couple of months in Dustin’s favorite little Indonesian surf town. Off the grid. Long, gentle pointbreaks out front and a skate park up the road. Here Kelana goes surfing, skimboarding and skating. To be just a normal kid. 

Because that’s what he is.

And because maybe there’s more to life than riding motorcycles. And if not, the bike will be right there for him. 


No pressure.

Gratitude

A Special Thank You From the Team at META

Video produced by Superbird Studios


A little over five years ago we took a massive leap of faith when we introduced the idea of a specialty motorcycle magazine with Volume 001 of META. At the time, print publications were in a transitional state and the big question was: “What do the magazines of tomorrow look like?” Our answer to this question was an outlet for creativity and a platform to preserve our adventures and the stories that inspire us in a high quality print collection unique to our ethos. 

This Thanksgiving we have a lot to be thankful for, but most of all we want to give thanks to all of our readers, supporters, fans, followers and brand partners for joining us on the ride so far. Your support is what has made this journey so special. 

Five years into this amazing dream we felt that it was necessary to take the time to look back and reflect on the journey so far. We have so much gratitude for the opportunity to ride motorcycles across the globe and work with a network of amazingly talented creatives while documenting stories of the incredible people and places that inspire us. We are proud of all the milestones we’ve reached within the first five years, and we are so excited about the infinite possibilities for META’s future.

META came to life through YOUR support and when all is said and done YOU have helped define an amazing chapter of our lives that has been one hell of ride. So thank you. Here’s to next five years and beyond.

 

Happy Holidays from the team at META

Shrimp

An Indian Scout Sixty Tribute by Anvil Motociclette

Words, photos & video by Anvil Motociclette


The project with Indian Motorcycle became real right before Christmas 2017 when we read the email sent by Melanie Dubois, Indian EMEA marketing manager, saying that the project was accepted by Grant Bester, Indian EMEA director. Soon after we received the Scout Sixty to customize.

Like all good Christmas stories, that email was like a gift. In that moment we were still unaware of what we were facing: not only was it a unique project, but also the chance to work with an incredible brand, precise and innovative. We soon learned that Indian is like a big family, where everybody works to improve the brand everyday. It is not easy to find this kind of commitment.  

 

 

Let’s take a step back... 

This project started a long time before that email.  It started when we were doing some research on the story of Albert Burns, a motorcycle racing pioneer that lived in early 1900s.

Not many people know of him, and before this project he was unknown to us inside an old dusty book, forgotten in the library.

But his story deserves to be remembered.

“Albert Shrimp Burns” was born in Oakdale, California and since he was a child he was been enchanted by motorcycles. The first time he rode a bike was in his fathers dealership. He started racing when at 15 on a bike he built himself against adults. He frequently won and eventually they decided to ban him from entering the racetrack because he was too young.


Related content

Against the Grain

When Motorcycles Raced on Wood

 

They saw it coming. They must have. With six motorcycles racing together at more than 90 miles per hour on wooden circle tracks with steep banks, the consequences of board-track racing could not have been a surprise.

 

But this didn’t stop young Burns from racing. He simulated alternative starts from the side of the track and then he jumped onto the course and finishing first, even thought it was illegal.

In 1915 Shrimp won three of the most prestigious races in Pleasanton, but would get injured in a pile up at a race in Marysville. None of the other injured riders would race again, but Shrimp attended and won the following race with a broken shoulder and collarbone.

 

 

His strong personality made him stand out and in 1910 he was hired by Harley-Davidson as official pilot. He raced with the brand only one season and then he became an official Indian pilot until the end of his short career. In 1921 he died during a race, only 2 days after his 23rd birthday.

Albert "Shrimp" Burns was born in August 12th 1898, and this year is the 120th anniversary of his birth. It might just be a coincidence, but we deeply believe that he wanted to be discovered by us. Shrimp would have been a friend of ours.

Indian liked the idea to pay a tribute to this great pilot of their own historical heritage. The project of Indian Shrimp Mille has been made on a Scout Sixty base and took us six months to build. The bike still has the original engine, part of the electrical system and the throttle housing.

All the other parts have been redesigned and reprojected specifically to develop a flat track special to use in major European events.


Build Details

 

FRAME: The frame has been reprojected thanks to engineering studies to make it more competitive. We have been inspired by the old Ron Wood flat track frames, keeping the headstock inclination 25 degrees. 

 

STEERING PLATES:  They are made in aluminium, with a specific offset for flat track. 

 

FORKS: we chose Ohlins, the same forks they use in the USA AMA, as well as the two rear shock absorbers. We replaced the mono to give a vintage touch. 

 

THROTTLE HOUSING: it has been moved externally thanks to a steel collector and it is connected to a K&R filter.

 

TANK, FENDER AND PLATES: they are handmade and they have been projected as unique pieces in wrought-aluminium.

 

GEARBOX: we transformed the classic belt drive into the chain drive and we reprojected the sprocket.

 SEAT: it has been made by an Italian craftman following our design. We got inspired by the flat track seats from the 40s and the made a contemporary modelWe used black and white cow leather, giving the typical striped pattern of our racing team.

BRAKES: the rear brakes have been substituted with a Brembo one, with pads and disc made by Newfren.

 

RIMS AND HUBS: they are 19’’ with Tubeless technology by Alpina Raggi.

 

RADIATOR: the original one has been substituted with two off road radiators.

 

LIQUIDS: engine oil is specific for races and it has been provided by Pakelo

 

WORKING TEAM:

Further than our usual working team, we have integrated: one engineer to study the frame geometries, a framebuilder, a sheet-metal workers that made the tank and plates, an upholsterer for the seat.

 

In the beginning the bike weight was 248 kgs, now it is 180 kgs and 90 kgs are only for the engine.

 

PARTNERS OF THE PROJECT:

  • ALPINA

  • NEWFREN

  • OHLINS

  • PAKELO

  • ZARD

  • RIZOMA

  • ARIETE

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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El Mexico Real

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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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