BY: ROB HOFFMAN
The romance of a road-trip on two wheels has long inspired the bold, adventurous and freedom-loving, including iconic thinkers like Che Guevara, Hunter S. Thompson and Bob Dylan. After all these years the appeal of a motorcycle remains the same—open air, cheap gas, and the chance to feel like you’re James Dean.
Writer, blogger and vagabond-extraordinaire, Justin Alexander, is currently exploring America’s legendary west coast on a slim green cafe racer named Battle Cat. His life is a collage of illegal camping, roadside dinners, unparalleled mountain top views and iconic national parks, cities and scenery.
Alexander has recently explored American treasures like Joshua Tree, Big Sur, Yosemite Valley, Slab City, Death Valley and Mt.Whitney.
Alexander’s machine of choice is a Royal Enfield Bullet 500.
Alexander recalls a time when he was rear-ended by a car in Los Angeles. The chance of dying on a motorcycle is approximately 26 times higher than that of a car. For Alexander, the sobering possibility of death means a heightened intoxication with life. The constant danger of riding in the open air over the highway means you have no choice but to show constant appreciation and attention to the present.
Exploring the country on a bike means complete vulnerability. Unlike a van which allows you the luxury of shelter and a makeshift bed, travelling by motorcycle means that if it storms you find shelter, when it’s time to sleep you scrounge the city outskirts for a viable spot to tent, if you need storage space too bad, and if you crash then you might be losing more than a few days of road time.
The exceptional freedom and romanticism of road-life makes it all worth it. “Sleeping under the stars. Climbing the biggest mountains. Washing my clothes in the rivers where I drink and bathe. This is how the western frontier should be experienced,” says Alexander.
The solidarity of a motorcycle affords a traveller time to fully explore their surroundings as well as their own mind. Your time on the road is meditative; you follow a compass of intuition.
On the other hand, travelling alone gives you an excuse to forge new friendships. Alexander has befriended countless similar-minded friends with motorcycles and a purpose of their own.
You can spot potential companions by the breadth of grime caked on their skin. Not only are they the only ones capable of tolerating your stench, but they likely share an itinerary of mountain climbing, ocean baths and makeshift fireside meals.
If you’re not creating memories, you’re wasting time. Alexander makes decisions and arranges his priorities based on their potential to leave an imprint.
“So, what’s life like as a motorcycle nomad? Sometimes it’s hard. In fact, it’s never easy. It’s raw and romantic, but it is raw. A feral existence,” claims Alexander.
Road-life can be a challenge. Then again, so is sitting at a desk five days a week crunching numbers and trying not to kill yourself.
Alexander plans to follow the road north to Idaho, to track wolves in the Sawtooth Mountains.
“In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it, you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame. On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.” – Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.