Day 1 - Start in Southern California

We headed up north, with our first test getting the fuck out of LA.  Figuring out a new bike, splitting lanes and cutting through traffic was a fun baptism by fire.  Once we got on the PCH and tore through Malibu, the vibe shifted.  We hit the mountains in the Central Valley on the way to Ojai, CA for a quick bite. 

3 hrs in and the confidence is starting to build.  I’m starting to feel how this machine operates.  It was about this time that I stopped thinking of me and the bike as two separate things.  We finally bonded a bit.  Brakes, throttle, and turning is all feeling intuitive, but there are still levels to this.  I’m still on our first date.  But, it’s been a good one. I’m glad all the awkward getting to know you is out of the way. 

The brakes aren’t touchy feeing,  the throttle and clutch are smooth and responsive.  It’s always nice to make a new friend. 
As the 5 of us, Mat, Stefi, Hayden, Sean (our guide and rad human), and  I hit the road for the day, cutting through the desert as the temperature quickly began to rise. The temp peaked at 109 °F a couple of times, so we all ditched our jackets, rolled up our sleeves, and powered on. Eventually, we stopped for waters, Monsters, and fuel.

These Indian Challengers are a beast of a bike.  Fast, stable, comfortable, and so much fun. 
I felt myself getting carried away by the curves of the road, wanting to chase that dragon of perfect turns. When you nail it…. (Angels sing). 

However, to truly stick it and get that rush, it takes high risk.
Once I realized I was doing this, I backed off and decided to be smart.  I'd rather enjoy the trip at 5% slower speed and take in the incredible drive.

I'm was stoked and grateful for that shift in mindset, as I had started thinking about long term goals. None of those would be accomplished easier with me seriously injured from an avoidable motorcycle accident. Because once I'm home and reflecting on the trip, hitting that turn perfectly wasn't going to be the highlight of the experience.

We made it into SLO at about 8 pm, grabbed a beer, pizza, and some gyros.  After we refueled, I stretched my stiff body while Stefi trained for her upcoming boxing match. I have a ton of thoughts on this incredible, little, firecracker of a human, but I'll dive into that later.

Another thought for anyone reading this that would love to ride a motorcycle but won’t due to any of the following reasons:

It’s scary.
It’s dangerous.
People get hurt.
I’ll die.
My wife/husband/SO/mom/dad/kids won’t let me. 
I don’t know how.

It’s dangerous and scary because you haven’t ever done it, and you’re letting fear dictate your life. Competency and repetition eliminate fear.  Learn how to ride.  Find a friend.  Rent one. If you want to learn, then you can figure it out. I  bought my first bike, a Yamaha R600, when I was 22. I never had a close call. I rode fast but never like an asshole (other than finding a top speed of 167mph).

With bikes, there is a controlled risk.  I had never ridden before, like ever. I had never even thrown a leg on one. I did figure out a few things, though: I'm not a moron, and I learn quick. I'm glad it all workout, and it's a skill I'm very proud to have.

Most people can’t drive a standard automobile anymore, much less a motorcycle.  I don’t want to fit in.  I want to be able to say yes to all the rad shit possible  till my time is up. 
Do things that scare you. Do things that make you uncomfortable.

Now, time to hit the road. 
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Well, it started off easy enough with some breakfast burritos and coffee.  Then in a typical world-class cluster fuck fashion, we quickly made things complicated.

As soon as we hit the US-101, Stefi’s phone fell off her mount.  Hayden swings in like a hero and pulls over to grab it off the hwy.  He gets it back to Stefi; however, when he was grabbing the phone from his pocket, his bikes keys falls out and lands on the road , only to be immediately run over. Luckily for us, the bike will still run without the key fob, just as long as we don't turn it off. This still gave us a few hours to figure the situation out.

This would've been fine especially since Hayden has been the only one to not have his bike dump over.  At least not until that damn downhill turn stop sign. We're now stuck with a bike that won’t start.  And we don’t have cell service.  And still, no key.

As one of our last options, our heroic leader SEAN MACDONALD blasts away into the distance to find service.  He makes some phone calls and now, a tow truck is en route. Things are a bit sorted but now we are down a rig.  Stefi, being the smallest, was the easiest to ride two up on. She hops on with Sean and we rip ahead. 

The next few hours were amazing roads and views. I got two hours on a beautiful machine riding though the Central Valley of California with no shirt on.  Not to mention, I was sharing the experience with some rad people. 

We hit a wrong turn that changed our route, so we made the call and headed to the Indian Dealership in Hollister, hoping this was where Hayden’s bike can get sorted out.  We got there a bit too late. They were closed by the time we arrived. A bit SOL.

So off to Monterey and down the coast. That feeling of coming around a bend or over a hill, smelling the sea, and feeling the temperature change is one of the best experiences I know.  I'm just coasting, and soaking all this in. It leads me to more reflective moments. I can’t believe I get to do any of this

Road trips will always hold a special place in my soul.  From the very first one with my best friend Dant (or Dan Not), to every trip with Bonnie and my mom.  I love it all.  I love exploring America via vehicle.  Small towns and bullshit gas stations.  Seeing this country laid out right before you. 

This experience on the road has been great for me from the start.  Now I know I need it.  I'm scheduling it in every year. I’m very grateful for the clusterfuck, the problem solving, and of course, the rad fun memories. 

Do more rad shit.

If this thing went as planned, then that’s a Disney world trip. 
I want adventure and unique experiences. 


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Day 3 and Conclusion

After retrieving our bike from the Indian dealership in Hollister, we got on the road for a long day back to Orange County.  This day was going to be a full 12 hr day. We hit the 1 and got on the coast. It’s easy to talk about the scenery here, which is overwhelmingly beautiful. The weather is perfect for cruising in a hoodie, paired with nice winding roads and spectacular views.

Here is what happened I didn’t expect. This long ride was one of the strongest emotional and therapeutic days I can think of.  It's by far the most I have experienced without the help of psychedelics.  I would rank it up in my top three therapeutic days. I spent a long stretch of the ride crying. 

The view was part of it.  But it was also an overwhelming gratitude for the universe and my body for bouncing back with me.  I thought about my Aya journey and  the message it gave me at New Years 2020. About my knee and hip and how I needed to be nicer to them, and  to treat them with respect if I wanted them to get back to work. They have indeed given back. I listened and it worked.  I can run. I can train. I can ride. All pain free. 

So I'm trying to figure out exactly why the ride hit like it did. I thought about my dad.  I thought about how he never got to meet this version of me.  I know that he would've been proud of what he saw, and he would've been excited about the things I’m doing. 

The one regret I have with him was about a road trip to DC he wanted to do. We talked about before he got sick, but nothing ever happened. I fucked up not making that a priority.  I’ll never fuck that up again. 

The view of the PCH and the sheer cliffs that mark the edge of our country are incredible.  Feeling the ocean air and seeing the waves crash beneath you is transformative.  You can’t help but feel it

You also inherently know all the people in cars don’t get what you’re getting on a motorcycle.  It will never be the same for me. Not in a convertible or any vehicle. The best way is if I'm strapped to a 900lb rocket. 

Listening to your favorite music.
The cool air.
The hot sunlight.

This all creates a mix that’s almost constant goose bumps. Every inch of skin is sending info back to the brain. 

You are 100% alive in that moment. 

I wasn’t riding hard or fast.  I had no desire to push the pace or get better at faster turns.  I just stayed in a flow state, cruising and letting the bike do its job.  It feels like we are one unit now.  I think and it goes. There's no way I can do this at faster speed, but there was a sweet spot. 

Once we got back on highway, we just set things on cruise control.  This stretch was hot, flat, and straight.  Feeling major temperature changes in short distances forces you to feel like part of the environment.  During this stretch, I had a few 15 min sections where I didn't need to touch the handle bars. 

Just chilling and listening to music, flying down the coast four feet off the ground like rocket man. 

I hope you get to experience that sensation. I have dreamt about this type of a trip since I learned about what the Pacific Coast Highway was.  My brother and I have long discussed a motorcycle trip down the coast.  I now know.  This is a non-negotiable experience I needed to share with him.  I don’t care when that happens, but I need him to feel it. 

Another peculiar part of the experience is riding with the group. We're more like a pack of animals than cars.  Our movements seem coordinated and in sync without us sharing a word. Your senses are overloaded. The wind noise is loud The wind is blowing on your skin. The bike is rumbling.

While you’re sharing the experience, it is very individual.  You’re in your helmet, behind goggles, and alone.  There's a lot of time behind the ears. 
I could feel a small part of this sensation sneaking up during my Bryce Canyon run.  But with the motorcycle ride at double the time what the run was, it changes how in tune you are with yourself.  There aren't great ways to distract yourself from your own thoughts. 

You are still ON. 
You’re very aware. 

But it’s not requiring accurate attention to detail unless you’re driving for increased performance. 
After this trip, I wanted to share it with everyone.  I want everyone to feel it.  It’s one of those situations where I know everyone would just enjoy if they tried it.

If you could get in my head, it would be clear.  You’d realize following a great life isn’t a risk.  It’s always worth a shot.  You’d understand. This is why I have to leave on trips.  This is why I have to find new experiences.  I need the fuel to propel me forward with ideas and more dreams. 

I don’t sit around waiting to be inspired to do rad shit and create.  I go and find it.  I actively pursue doing the coolest shit possible. 

Stefi Cohen and I spoke at length about other things we need to figure out.  We are both uncomfortable swimming in open water.  This is a common fear we both believe is due to the unknown and lack of experience.  If we learn to scuba dive, I wonder if this goes away.  So that may be in the plans.  We could easily get to Miami and go to the keys or Bahamas.  Scuba is as close as I’ll ever get to space (I hope I’m wrong) . 

I need to see as much cool shit here on earth as I can. 
I’m interested in doing hard things that scare me, not in an adrenaline rush type of way, but to get more skills and to be more capable as a human. 

There is an endless number do things you can choose to get better at everyday. 

All of which offer value. 
Progress is simply committing to reps consistently to make improvements.  I want to see the best version of me. I’m not sitting waiting talking about living my best life like some bullshit meme.  I’m out getting dirty, getting sun burnt, being scared, doing new things. 

I’m about that fucking life.  I want to live a great life.  The things I’m going to do will require me to be fit, healthy, and capable. 

What are you doing right now that makes you uncomfortable? 

Seek out what scares you and figure out how to conquer or control it.  

Spread HVIII & Always Party
June 15, 2021