Passion: What a biker can teach you


“The Greeks didn’t write obituaries. They only asked one thing when a person died. Did he have passion?”

That’s a line from the John Cusack movie “Serendipity.” It’s likely not true, but it should be. It should be the only question we ask during life let alone after it.

In our crib-to-cubicle world we give status to those who pursue and achieve wealth, instead of passion, happiness and health. We tend to question those who would do foolish things for the sake of a moment of joy. It was 17 degrees Fahrenheit in New York City yesterday. Most people would think it stupid to leave the house to take their daughter to piano practice and utterly insane to go look at motorcycles you can’t even take for a ride.

Smiling ear to ear off U.S. 1 in California last year.

But these are bikers. Motorcycle riders. Whatever you want to call us, you can’t call us passionless. We’ll talk your ears off about our bikes and the adventures we had on them. (Remind me to tell you about the time a hawk landed on my leg when I was riding a rented Harley.) People who don’t ride scratch themselves bloody wondering why anyone would risk life and limb to do 65 miles per hour with five gallons of fuel between their knees and a battery two inches under their ass. I will never run in the house with a knife, but damn it will I ride.

I ride because there’s something Zen in finding calmness from the raw and visceral experience of going fast through the landscape that taking a walk or a ride on a mountain bike can’t give you. Nothing synchronizes the heart, mind and breath like the potential of being maimed. It’s that sense of danger that makes me focus and find peace in that tiny little space behind the handle bars. I can get to that calm and joy with the twist of the throttle – air space usually reserved for only the highest order monks and yoga master.

In that space, it doesn’t matter that I’m not rich and still spend most of my days in a cubicle.  Because, under my helmet you’d see I am happy.

Jose Mallabo

Carbon version of the Diavel is $20,000 of hotness.

Best in show from the New York IMS in descending order:

  1. Ducati Diavel. Nothing on the floor looked like it. But why would you stick this in the corner of the booth?
  2. Harley Davidson V-Rod Muscle. American brute force.
  3. BMW R1200R. Hottest do-everything sport standard anywhere.
  4. Kawasaki Ninja 1000. Even the 50-year-old cruiser guys thought it was cool.
  5. Victory High Ball. Spokes, white walls and Victory style may make this the only true cruiser I would buy.

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  1. #1 by Aaron on January 26, 2011 - 8:06 pm

    I get it. Won’t give it up. And will evangelize the hell out of it until I can’t anymore! Nicely written.

  2. #2 by Jose Mallabo on January 27, 2011 - 10:27 am

    I watched SuperSize Me last night. In a word: Shocking. I think the underlying part of the problem with obesity in this country is that people eat for the sake of eating versus finding something to do with their time and energy that makes them happy or gives them calm. Something productive. Not destructive. That said, I think I may have eaten my last McDonald’s meal. That guy looked like death warmed over after 30 days on McDonalds food. He almost had liver failure. So, what’s more dangerous? 30 days of living like a typical American eating junk food or riding?

  3. #3 by Jeff B on January 28, 2011 - 11:47 am

    I need the “Dogs for hogs” story…I had a bike before I was married..now according to my wife…it is off the table…

    PS: She does nopt read your blog

  4. #4 by Jose Mallabo on January 28, 2011 - 11:55 am

    The man to talk to about the dogs for hogs story is Aaron at comment #1. I dubbed the program. He executed on it. Hence the photo of him sitting on his hog. And he has a pretty cool dog, now!

  5. #5 by Jose Mallabo on January 28, 2011 - 11:56 am

    @ Jeff B – And why doesn’t your wife read my blog? It’s so enlightening! 🙂

  6. #6 by Jeff B on January 31, 2011 - 4:20 pm

    Jose: I did send her to your blog…as it is SO enlightening…unfortunately she tuned in the day you wrote about Eddie Munster…we lost her forever after that..Keep it coming!

  7. #7 by Jose Mallabo on January 31, 2011 - 9:10 pm

    I totally forgot about Eddie Munster. I think I was unemployed at the time. I get a hall pass for that. Send her to Socks on a Plane. That was one of my life epiphanies that I feel compelled to share. I’m getting more people to guest blog here, too. So she can get a break my voice.

  8. #8 by Aaron Heinrich on February 1, 2011 - 2:12 pm

    Here’s how the “dogs for hogs” program worked. I’d been bugging my wife about getting a motorcycle again since the day I sold mine before we got married. I waited patiently as my daughter grew up – she even made me a “bike piggy bank” (aka hog bank) when she was about 8. So 22 years later and despite the fact some family members thought this was a mid-life crisis (the crisis would have been not getting a bike!), I pulled a Nike and just did it– while also agreeing to let my wife buy a dog. (We’d had them before but it had been about a year since we had to have our last one put down.) So my wife buys a small black and white dog with more personality than poundage and names it Schmeckles (little penis in Yiddish in case you wanted to know).

    Last April, I bought a second bike – pulled that one off with no second dog in the bargain. Still scratching whatever to figure how I pulled that one off. Lesson here is life’s short and so are a lot of other things if you think about it. But as they tell grunts in the Marines – your not paid to think, your paid to do. So just do it!

  9. #9 by Jeff B on February 4, 2011 - 1:58 pm

    Do I have to wait until my kids are older? That is a long time (ages 5 & 2)…damn…and we have a dog that my wife can’t stand…this is getting tougher…but I GET THE CONCEPT…look for something she really wants and barter…maybe I can start watching GREYS ANATOMY with her…

  10. #10 by Jose Mallabo on February 12, 2011 - 12:27 pm

    Watch what you need to. Just no “Real Housewives of…”

  11. #11 by Aaron Heinrich on February 17, 2011 - 5:29 pm

    Barter’s the word…or get a different dog that she likes. Get a bike in a color she likes. The key words are — she likes…!

  12. #12 by Wallace Whitt on October 23, 2011 - 12:45 am

    Happiness is within. Happiness is more important than material things. Happiness is on the motorcycles.

  13. #13 by Ryan on November 6, 2011 - 6:37 am

    it’s pretty wild. The word exactly which are feeling while you’re riding, which is something I’ve been unable to explain to anybody over the years. people are constantly asking me why I would ride in organ donor mobile and my only answer has been I love the until you try it you’ll never understand. I’ve been trying to get my wife to ride motorcycles for the past 16 years and absolutely nothing I say gets the point across. I will not give up and hope that at one point she gives in. Anyway, keep riding and riding safely.

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