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You have to ride to really understand.
Motorcycles are a great piece of technology, history, and art. They are also dangerous of course with very little space for errors. If you fall, it most likely hurts a lot. And who really with a sane mind would put an explosive engine that produces as much horsepower as a car between one’s legs?
In this article, I will present why we ride.
I will write about what most people don’t understand: the passion for motorcycles. I will cover what personally fascinates me so much about motorcycle riding, I will introduce my bike – the Ducati Monster, some of her history, and why this bike is very much aligned with my life philosophy. I am also very excited to present my new challenge for 2024: a motorcycle offroad trip in Namibia, how I prepare for that, and some incredible collaboration opportunities arising from it.
Riding a motorcycle is not about the bike.
It’s really about the feelings connected to riding the bike. This is what fascinates me. It’s the sense of freedom, speed, adventure, sometimes risk, and experiencing boundaries. It is often also a stress relief and almost meditative because on the bike you have to be fully concentrated and often think ahead for others. On the bike, you are the weaker, and even if a crash may not be your fault, the consequences can be severe. This single-mindedness helps to disconnect from all sorts of other troubles or problems you may have in your life. One more thing I like is the brotherhood. All people who ride understand what I mean. You are instantly connected because you share that passion and knowledge. There are lots of clubs and groups and many ride for good causes.
When I was 16 years old (so not too long ago), I fell in love. That was the first time I saw her. It was literally love at first sight. She stood in front of me. Naked. Her distinctive frame together with her goosebumps creating sound, made me totally fall for her. I could not think of any other bike. In 2016 (20 years later), we finally found each other: My Ducati Monster 695 (2006 model). So, yes, at the time of writing this, my lady is 17 years old.
This bike is really so much fun to ride. Maybe a little more hard work than newer bikes. Everything is a little harsher (older tech). She is full of passion and accelerates well. She is short and agile, which makes it a lot of fun on curvy mountain or coastal roads. We have been doing really fine. We had only one larger accident, which was purely due to my stupidity (you really should not overtake on the hard shoulder on the right…). She is also extremely reliable and never let me down. Of course, I treat her really well and do all required maintenance diligently. All in all, I enjoy this bike extremely. Every time we ride, it’s like the first time. It’s fun, enjoyable, relaxing and you can leave all other shit behind.
So, what’s so special about this bike? Next comes a little bit of history.
The Ducati Monster is probably the most distinctive naked bike in the world. It was designed by visionary Miguel Angel Galluzzi and first presented to the world in 1992. The principles of the Ducati Monster design were born on the Los Angeles highways in 1984 when Miguel used to ride to school in Pasadena on motorbikes with his friends. Miguel said in an interview that his focus was simply on enjoying his ride. No fancy stuff needed, only “one engine, two wheels, a gas tank and a handlebar, and some metal to join them together.” The Ducati Monster proved that that’s really all you need.
Below is a short summary of that very insightful interview with Miguel Angel Galluzzi. You can read all the details over at BikeReview.com.au:
Before Miguel created the Monster he worked for Honda in Milan but did already ride a Ducati. One day he showed it to his Japanese boss and even he said “These bikes have a heart.” I fully agree with that.
Photo Credit: BikeReview.com.au (a sketch of the Ducati Monster by Miguel Angel Galluzzi)
At the end of the 80s, Miguel was fed up with internal politics at Honda that limited his creativity and he got hired at Cagiva who owned Ducati at that time. But still, even at Ducati, Miguel had a somewhat difficult time. His idea of a naked bike was too new and unthinkable during that period. In the early 90s bikes were fully covered in plastic, which was useless but that’s what was on the market.
So, really, the Monster was a bike that Miguel desperately wanted, but not Ducati. Miguel then designed and built her Guerrilla style in his free time using some of the company’s spare parts. When she was ready the Ducati bosses were actually against bringing her to market. Even the name “Monster” was controversial. They preferred a combination of letters and numbers, which I always found stupid. A proper word gives a bike a lot more character in my view.
The real breakthrough came because one French importer insisted on buying the first lot of Monsters and promoting them into the French market. Then a little later at the Cologne Bike Show 1992, it completely took off and since then it’s the most successful naked bike in the world, which in fact financially saved Ducati.
The main reason why I like the Ducati Monster so much is her simplicity, yet powerfulness. That’s what makes it such a beautiful bike. Another of Miguel’s quotes states that the Monster has “the form of what a bike should be—just enough to enjoy the ride.” We don’t need all this fancy stuff around. So, in a way, the Monster represents characteristics that reflect my own philosophy. I like the minimalistic way of living a life without most of the clutter. The Ducati Monster is very much aligned with that.
Now on to my new challenge.
This ad got me:
That really got me interested in reading more about the Freshline Motorcycle Adventure Club. I got hooked in the first second. I love what this club does. Their motorcycle expeditions are something completely new to me and will push me far outside of my comfort zone. Lots of opportunities to grow. I passed their pretty strict application process and I am now one of the max 300 brothers in this club.
In July 2024, I will go motorcycle offroad riding with this club in Namibia.
The Freshline Motorcycle Adventure Club is more than your conventional club.
It’s a brotherhood of 300 like-minded, carefully vetted, modern-day adventurers. The core of what we do is creating “fresh lines” – motorcycle expeditions that have not been done before. These are typically very unpredictable and test all our physical, mental, and emotional abilities. In addition, we have regular video calls, a discussion forum, and a mechanism to set individual goals that other members hold you accountable for.
Freshline is more than a motorcycle club. It is a
Photo credit: Tijo Maliakal
There are several key areas I will work on in order to prepare for this Namibia challenge. I will cover the most important area – where I need to acquire significant new skills – last because interestingly a couple of new collaboration opportunities arose from this. It always amazes me again and again, how one can find totally unforeseeable opportunities simply by doing stuff.
The first area of my preparation is to continue working on a solid general health and fitness level. I have been doing this all my life anyway. This is often referred to as the Principle of Generality. I created my own model – the Four Legs of Fitness, which I also published as a best-selling book – that balances the essential elements of good fitness: strength, endurance, nutrition, and recovery. Obviously, I live my own model.
I also want to mentally prepare. This will be an adventure very much into the unknown. So, mental toughness, resilience, calmness, and the ability to not freak out when stuff does not go according to plan will be essential. It will be necessary to find creative solutions with whatever resources we have available. Also, the ability to cope with difficult weather conditions and little sleep. I address this by reading – one recommendation was “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin – and practicing. A lot of this is similar to my Matterhorn climb project.
Next, I want to learn a lot more about Namibia by reading and watching a ton of Youtube videos. I am keen on getting a better cultural understanding and learning more about the history and geography.
I will have to get myself a completely new range of equipment. Offroad motorcycling is quite different from onroad. Helmets, for instance, are significantly different. There is a lot of safety equipment needed like upper body armour, boots, and knee/shin protectors.
Photo credit: Freshline
The last and essential key area I need to improve on is my offroad riding skills. I have been riding motorcycles for many years now but apart from some little exceptions that was all onroad. Offroad is a completely different ball game.
So, back to school. I have about half a year to prepare for the first excursion. I am taking a mixed approach of personal training, guided offroad tours, and self-guided trips. I am especially excited about the latter. I will start with small day trips around Barcelona. In Spring, I aim to do the Transpirenaica, which is a multi-day offroad route traversing the Pyrenees.
During my research and planning for this, I discovered two extremely interesting opportunities, that I couldn't possibly have imagined would I not have embarked on this whole offroad motorcycle adventure.
I do not own an offroad motorcycle and also do not plan to purchase one any time soon. I was looking for a cost-efficient way to rent one. I met Pau Vidal who is a motorcycle adventurer, entrepreneur, and founder of PauTravelMoto. This is a great place for renting offroad motorcycles. Not only do they have a wide range of different bikes but really live motorbiking. You notice their passion as soon as you enter the shop. They have a little cafe/beer area and a library where you can hang out. They organize regular events with motorcyclist speakers. But what actually made me go nuts, is the possibility to invest in PauTravelMoto. They offer an attractive interest rate, baked up by their bikes as assets, discounts on rentals, and the option to buy bikes second-hand when they renew their fleet. All of this made it a perfect package for me.
In addition to the bikes, I was also looking for personal offroad training and found the La Clau Offroad Moto School. The owner of the school is the Ex-Superenduro World Championship rider Alex Grau. Alex is a very skilled and driven rider and teacher. He has lots of entrepreneurial ideas and big plans with his moto school and motocross track. We are currently discussing several investment and collaboration opportunities. I feel that some very exciting things are possible there.
I love riding a motorcycle not because of the thing it is but because of what it gives me: freedom, brothers, challenges, adventures, and growth. Most people don’t understand the passion for motorcycles. Most people do after they rode one.
I am particularly excited about my new challenge for 2024 of riding offroad in Namibia and all the preparation work that will go into this. I expect to push my comfort zone boundaries quite a bit. I expect to grow in several areas obviously including biking skills but also general outdoor/survival skills, and cultural awareness. And I expect to build strong and long-lasting connections with my brothers from the Freshline club.
If you want to know more details about the Freshline Motorcycle Adventure Club, PauTravelMoto, La Clau Offroad Moto School, or any other topics I covered here, feel free to reach out.
Being able to embark on challenges like this is an essential ingredient to my happiness and it does require health and freedom (see the Happiness Formula). If you want to learn more about this philosophy, I broke that down into the 18 Rails to Help You Maximize Your Happiness guide.