October 1, 2013
I was born in Philadelphia and spent the early part of my career working in downtown Seattle. I quickly realized that I wanted to live closer to where I play, so I moved to a small town on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, just outside Hood River, Oregon. This area is well-known for windsurfing, mountain biking, camping, fishing, and kayaking. It’s also a great place for riding. There are hundreds of miles of single-track trails, plus thousands of miles of forest service roads and jeep tracks for dualsport camping adventures. Plus Hood River itself is a cool little town with lots going on and a committed, adventurous group of local riders.
Professionally, I spent the last 10 years working in a consumer product design and manufacturing business developing a wide variety of novelty products for major US retailers. We worked in almost every imaginable substrate — plastic, metal, fabric, wood, etc — designing hundreds of new items every year. The huge variety of materials and rapid rate of change made it an interesting place to work, but it always bothered me that I didn’t have more of a personal connection to our products. I wasn’t in the “target market,” so we were always designing for someone else.
Every year we experienced a seasonal slowdown in the winter. During this period I was able to take some time off to travel. Every chance I got I would head off to some distant part of the globe, searching for a bike to ride and getting as far off the beaten track as I possibly could. Over the course of ten years I completed moto trips in countries like Vietnam, Mexico, Uganda/Rwanda, Columbia, Bolivia, Argentina, India, Honduras, and more. Sometimes I went alone and sometimes with a friend, but either way the trips were always un-guided and un-supported, and I rarely made any plans or commitments before boarding the plane.
For me there is something totally addictive about exploring a place by motorcycle. It’s my favorite way to travel. There are no schedules, no windows, no doors, and no established routes. I feel the temperature, see the sights, and smell the smells in a way that I wouldn’t in a car, bus, or train. When it rains, I get wet. When it’s hot, I sweat. And it’s a great way to meet people. When I pull into a new town people walk right up and introduce themselves. The passion for motorcycles crosses cultures, borders, religions, and race… even language. Those initial conversations then lead to all kinds of interesting and wacky invitations, which often become my favorite experiences of the trip. In my opinion, there’s just no better way to experience a place than on a bike.
Bikes, for me, are about getting deep into the backcountry to find epic campsites, or border-hopping through the remotest corners of the world. They’re about seeing places that aren’t seeable any other way. They’re about getting off the pavement and out of my comfort zone: climbing mountains, crossing rivers, and traversing deserts. They’re about scratches, dents, and scars, and the stories behind them. They’re about taking a machine to places I didn’t know I could go. They’re about pushing boundaries.
La Moskitia (Honduras)
Starting this new business is about pushing boundaries too. As a consumer I have some strong opinions about motorcycle luggage, but the truth is that I don’t know the first thing about designing or making bags. So there’s a steep learning curve ahead, which is both motivating and a bit scary. Fortunately my partner, Andrew, is a talented industrial designer, plus he’s been the senior bag designer for a major US action-sports brand for the last 8 years. So I know we’ll create something really cool, and something that’s better than anything that’s out there now. But it’s still a big leap for both of us, setting out to create a new business.
Just one more way that motorcycles have changed my life.