Posts Tagged New York

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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When 31 MPG is boring

If you’ve ever borrowed someone’s shoes (particularly sneakers), you know what I’m getting at. You think, “great, they’re the right size and it beats walking barefoot through the gravel.”  But then your big toe hits the groove where their big toe has spent the better part of the last year getting cozy — it’s just kissing-your-cousin wrong.

You’re in someone else’s house and it’s going to take a minute to reconcile that with the downside of walking through that gravel. Kiss the cousin and walk on.

Imagine my feeling when I flipped open my phone (probably the one thing I never leave home without) and started sorting through pictures in it and found this front and center:

I thought I drove a Honda?

I thought I drove a Honda?

Two beat pause.

12-14 Bob Newhart-like blinks to hyperbolize my befuddlement.  Was my toe in someone else’s Nike? This isn’t my phone. I thought I drove a Honda?

For a moment, I was in a slight panic that I grabbed someone’s phone or had lost mine.  If you know me, you know losing stuff is my worst nightmare. Death has nothing over a misplaced wallet. That moment of annoyed dread passes and I realize this is the rental car I took from Philadelphia to New York last week. It’s my 3,000 lb. borrowed shoe and for some reason I took a picture of it.

It wasn’t the Ultimate Driving Machine or a Picasso, but it got me, my golf clubs and the cheese steak in my gut 31 MPG up the Jersey Turnpike up through to the Meadowbrook Parkway to visit my nieces and nephew.

This steak made it from Passyunk to Salisbury Park Drive via the Rondo

This steak made it from South Philly to New York via the Kia Rondo

After dropping off two of my sister’s brood at school, her youngest bombarded me with questions that I know now are framed by the wonderfully straightforward thinking  of a 5-year old — questions that a middle-aged non-parent like me is woefully ill-equipped to handle.

“Why are you hear?” To visit you.

“Why are you driving us and not mom?” She’s running other errands and probably needs the break from all these questions.

“Is this your car?” No. It’s a rental.

“What’s a rental?” It’s like borrowing something, only you pay for using it.

“Where’s the TV?” Blink, blink. Huh?

I really had no clue what she was getting at until she pointed at the roof above me. Her mom’s car has a DVD player in it. So I said to her, “we don’t need a TV, we can just talk.”

“No. That’s boring.”

I may not be a parent, but I remember being 5. No mortal without candy can win the boring argument with a child. I was unarmed.

It turns out the Rondo not only gets 31 MPG on the highway, it can get to 75 MPH on a side road right quick when you apply the right amount of pressure with your big toe.

– Jose Mallabo

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