Category Archives: sportbike diaries


The Snake, Mulholland

Meaning. There is so much meaning in it that I cannot begin to write what it means to me. Countless times I try, and countless times I fail. It is a motorbike- plastic on the outside; aluminum, steel, titanium and composites thereof on the inside. She is it. “She,” because she is a she; She is my she. She is a motorbike, any attempt to write about her is mostly in vain.
And, after being away from her for nearly five months, we are together again. She & I. Today was spent tinkering in the front yard and riding to the ocean. The air snowing with poplar cotton, and warm with ocean breeze.


And so, in my attempts to write to you about the meaning I find in her, my motorcycle, I’m lost, and cannot convey much. So I leave you with the words of Ted Simon on his 1973 Triumph Tiger :

The movement has a complex rhythm with many pulses beating simultaneously. Underlying it is the engine with its subtle blend of sounds, eighty explosions a second, cams on push rods, push rods on tappets, rockers on valve stems, valves on seats, ball bearings revolving and racing, cogs meshing and thrashing in oil, oil pumps throbbing, gases hissing, chains whipping over sprockets, all this frenzy of metal in motion, amazing that it can last for even a minute, yet it will have to function for thousands of hours to take me round and home again.

Through all these pulses blending and blurring I seem to hear a slow and steady beat, moving up and down, up and down, three semi-tones apart, a second up, a second down; as I listen it grows clearer, unmistakable. Is it there, or am I inventing it? Is it the pulse of my own body intercepting the sound, modifying it with my bloodstream? Try as I will, I hear no other pulse, no other pitch.

Ted Simon, Jupiter’s Travels (1979)

Like Bombing Down Kanan at Sunset (There is Nothing Like It)

Often I remember how it was. Evening came and when the heat died down and the cottontails came out I knew it was time. From there I would spin tires down the dirt road and create dust and from there I would ride through the mountains and to the Ocean. To the Ocean! How one could always feel the Ocean before it was seen- the hearty buoyancy of salted air. And with sand in my jeans and my sneakers without socks I would go back to the place from where I came, swooping namelessly to the sound of a dream from which there was no waking.





On California

“The sun in California is like white wine and pine sap. It may be a temperate sun, but it has an ardent nature. If lifted my heart with a heady buoyancy and spiced the air with a resinous tan. It shone down on me loyally up the coast road from Los Angeles, beating at me from the concrete freeways, beckoning me from Pacific breakers, winking from wind stirred leaves and grasses. It followed me through San Francisco, bouncing off windowpanes and shining on long golden hair. It warmed the terracotta ironwork of the Golden Gate Bridge, flashed off the teeth of a toll collector, hurried me over he rain grooves and up the highway until, one hundred miles farther on, it came into its own among the forests and hills of Northern California. Where the hot cement gave way to cooler asphalt and the highway began to rise and fall and curve against the hillsides, the bike transformed itself from a running animal into a bird and leaned over to swoop and curl with the contours. Somewhere there, where the highway meets the river, I wound off to the right and flew in among the mountains, looping high up towards the sun and down again into a bowl of fertile land and golden sunshine.”

Ted Simon, Jupiters Travels (1979)


I will never forget my first time in California. It was June 21st, summer solstice, and I had left  Oregon at 0530h, heading south on the I-5. And the I-5 was glorious that morning, with the soft green mountains bound in fog and haze and smoke, and, bombing down the I-5 that morning became ethereal, timeless. I watched the landscape change, the way landscapes will change when one covers vast distances at fast speeds.  How many landscapes can one cover in a day? The answer seemed infinite, endless. And it was here that I first stopped for gas, and it was here that the sun really came-to. Everything was shimmery, that morning, and I was in bliss, pure bliss, knowing that I was on my way to someone I loved, still one-whole-state-of-California-away, but one-whole-state-of-California-away did not seem so far away, anymore. And everything did remain shimmery that day, and it began to get hot, and the pines were waving hello, and it reminded me of the interior of home, and Mount Shasta waved hello, and I was in California. 

Tucked into the tent in Hopland that night, on the summer solstice of my 21st year, I fell asleep in a new land, one of which I never thought I could love. But in that moment, I did.