Monday, July 20, 2015

This is a story I wrote back at the beginning of the year in anticipation of his return to the UK....well he's back now, the story wasn't picked up, but it's a great story never the less!

2morrorider – Rhys Lawrey rides the world.

"Live what you want to do now, rather than keep dreaming of it for the future. Just jump in and watch it all unfold."

These are not the words of a  wise sage who has benefited from years of knowledge and experience. Rather they came from a 23-year-old Brit out of Huntingdon, UK, by the name of Rhys Lawrey, and jump in he has!

Rhys’s dream was to ride around the world on a motorcycle, and he is currently in the midst of what may be the biggest adventure of his life. I was fortunate to run into the man at the end of November and ride with him up the California Coast to San Francisco along arguably one of the most scenic stretches of road in the state—Highway 1 from Morro Bay to Big Sur.

Rhys had planned a quick side trip up the coast to meet with one of his sponsors in the Bay Area and was appreciative of a little company. We met at a little gas station just off Highway 1 in Morro Bay. He had been riding for a little over three hours from Los Angeles, so after a quick refuel we headed down to the harbor for some coffee and a light breakfast. Immediately the Triumph Tiger with luggage and UK plates had locals stopping to ask questions.

The story began on May 2, 2014, when Rhys picked up a new Triumph Tiger 800 XC at the factory in Hinckley, UK. The next day the trip officially started at the Ace Café in London; from there he turned east and travelled through Europe, Turkey, Central Asia, China and Thailand before shipping the bike to Australia and riding from Perth to Sydney by way of Townsville on the northern part of the east coast. Then it was on to New Zealand where, after riding the islands, the bike was packed up again and shipped to Los Angeles. 

From the harbor in Morro Bay, Rhys and I headed north along the coast, stopping briefly to view the elephant seals at Piedras Blancas, a small beach just north of Hearst Castle at San Simeon. The elephant seals are always a must-see, especially when you have a guest from out of town. After strolling along the walkway for a few pictures, we prepared to saddle back up and continue our ride. To our utter amazement, while we were gearing up we both turned to see a red Triumph Tiger 800XC with UK plates heading south on Highway 1 in front of us. 

The couple riding the bike apparently had the same idea and also also pulled into the parking lot to see the seals. Coincidence has always been fascinating to me; two or three minutes more and we would have been on the road, giving them “the wave” as we passed each other going different directions. It turns out that on this particular day we had run into Steve and Janette Douglas of Goring on Thames in South Oxfordshire, UK, heading south down the coast from Anchorage, Alaska, where their trip had started. They too were also on the adventure of a lifetime, travelling the world in their own time and leisure, with no particular plan.

Before they set out on their adventure, the Douglas' posted the following message on their travel blog, “We have no idea how long this will take us. We plan to travel slowly and take in as much as possible along the way. We’ll only be forced to move on due to impending inclement winter weather, expiring visas, famine, flood, war or because we simply don’t like the place. It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out.”

Rhys, and Steve and Janette are from different demographics and are doing the trip for different reasons. Ewan McGregor’s Long Way Around inspired Steve and Janette. Steve quit his job of 18 years, and Janette hers of 30, to make this trip a reality. Rhys found inspiration from his father, Kevin Saunders, who holds two Guinness world records—the fastest circumnavigation of the world by motorcycle and the fastest trans-Americas trip by motorcycle. He is also riding for The Prince’s Trust charity to benefit youth in the UK and inspire up-and-coming riders. Along the way, Rhys is also targeting two new world records—the youngest to ever complete such a trip and the Guinness consecutive capital city record. There seems to be a trend in his family. 

“I wanted to do more to get young riders into the sport and inspire people to get out and do what they want to do,” Rhys explained.

So in the parking lot of Piedras Blancas, I listened intently to the conversation among these world travelers as they swapped stories, shared gear tips and gave each other suggestions on places to go and the best way to get there. Since I was also riding a Triumph Tiger 800, I was intrigued by the gear they each carried to make their respective trips and also slightly embarrassed when I realized that I had packed almost as much for my two-day trip as they had for their international travels. Here’s a list of what both riders packed for their respective trips:

"Unbeleivable" Rhys remarked about this chance encounter with Steve and Janette.

“To travel the amount of time they have and to have done just Alaska, Canada and the western US makes you realize, there are different ways to go about the same goal, you can very easily keep on traveling and not stop

Rhys and I continued up the coast, stopping along the way at various scenic overlooks for photo ops and to take in the breathtaking views that seem to be around every corner for the better part of 100 miles, before finally parting ways close to San Francisco.

Rhys continued on from the trip to the Bay Area, ending his short stay in the U.S. in Arizona before heading south to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador and Columbia.
His South America trip will end in Argentina before the bike is shipped to South Africa for the northward leg back to Europe, with a projected arrival back in the UK in June of this year.

Before we parted, I asked Rhys a few questions about his choice of bike, what he’s learned from this experience, and what he has planned once he reaches his final destination.

“I am British, so I wanted to keep it British. I also love the Triumph brand; it’s a very iconic brand that I think is cool, not mention the reliability of their engines”.

What has Rhys learned from this trip? 

“So many things, it’s hard to list them all. At 22/23 years old, I have learnt things I would never have learnt if I had gone down the university path. I have learnt proper life and people skills, survival and navigation. I have learnt things I never knew you had to learn. The best moments are meeting local people, spending time with them, riding and going out with them. Meeting people on the road is the best part!”

Does he have any regrets?

“No, I don’t regret anything. Perhaps the only thing would be not spending more time in some of the places I’ve visited, but I have a list of countries I will revisit.”

And what is in store for him when the trip finally concludes?

“Many things. I want to keep pushing the younger riders and working along side The Prince’s Trust charity. The trip has also created so many contacts and opportunities for a bright future. I’d like to keep working with Triumph and doing more with them. What that is, you’ll have to find out when it happens ☺.”

“As a young person I WANT to share with other young people that if they have a strong desire to do something, then they should, not to follow what’s expected of us in Western Society today, but follow your heart, and do what you want to do!”

You can follow along with Rhys’s journey on Facebook 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Island

My second year at the TT is underway, just arrived in the UK yesterday via Dublin, yes it was cold and wet. rained here in Birmingham yesterday as well. Got the bags out of the car and headed to the local pub, Tumble down farms where I had a gorgeous "carvery" meal of roast pork (with crackling, had to request that), the pork was a "roll" with stuffing in it. along with the meat came pork sausages and balls of stuffing, roast spuds, yorkshire pudding and fresh veggies! Just awesome and I washed it down with a pint of Speckled Hen ale.......and a wee dram of scotch to head off to bed with.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Brick Yard

Sitting at the airport waiting  to board...and thinking about this trip to Indy. Never been before and frankly not sure what to expect. I know Indy as the place of Indycar Legends, I've seen Formula one greats attack the oval and some have done well. The MotoGP year has been made more exciting by the addition this year of Marc Marquez, Stephan Bradl last and the return of Valentino Rossi to competitiveness aboard the Factory Yamaha. Injuries of late to Ben Spies, Jorge Lorenzo and Danni Pedrossa have served to add a little extra drama in to the mix.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Continued Haphazardly as I find the time.....

But over 3 years?, yep. In that time Dale the subject of the previous post passed from the leukemia that afflicted him. This year I lost my wife to Pneumonia as a result of a stroke she suffered last September. They say you must go on and that things get better, I'm sure they are right, but it's easier said then done. Grief is the dog that yaps at your heals and bites when you  least expect, but always seems to be there.

My resolve has been tested as I near yet another year out on the Salt Flats. It was just days after I returned last year that the stroke hit and changed my life forever. It made me ponder the way we hold on fast to life, its normal, it's expected generally......and yet. As I reflect on what has passed recently in the way of motorcycle events it occurs that there are those that lay our lives on the line in the pursuit of speed, the be the best, whatever the consequence.

Cliff Gullett succumbed to his injuries in 2008, when he lost control of his streamliner as his passed the timing lights on the Salt Flats, the course was closed for the rest of the day. Next morning a few tears were shed at the morning meeting with some kind words,  then racing commenced. Perhaps a few glasses were raised in his name...... This year during my first trip to the Isle of Man, Japanese rider Yoshinari Matsushita died during qualifying on the day I arrived, again the race goes on as do we all. This is no ordinary undertaking that these modern day warriors embark upon, as "safe" as MotoGP is with its inflatable barriers and precautions, Marco Simoncelli is no longer with us. Showa Tomizawa, Peter Lenz, Lee Vernon, Mark Buckly, Victor Gilmore, Lee Richardson, Sandor Pohl, Andrea Antonelli, Luis Carrieria and most recently Italian rider Andrea Antolelli in a supersport crash in Moscow, once again a moment of silence at Laguna Seca this year and then start your motors. I am sure there are more that I have not mentioned and those that as I write this are still rehabbing from injuries on the track.

We do go on, and we do honor those that have fallen, and we do respect the skill, the nerve and the resolve of these men and women that undertake this sport at all costs to go fast and in some cases faster then anyone has gone before, to set new records, to make history. As Dennis Manning said in an interview several years ago about Bonneville, "We are not racing here, we are making history".

Moment of silence is over, start your motors.........

Monday, April 26, 2010

Has it been that long.

If there is anyone following this blog, i expect i lost them or "you" along time ago, so I'll assume I'm talking to myself again. But I'm motivated at the moment to update it. I never finished the Marty Dickerson Story out at the flats this last year, I've got some terrific video from my point and shoot i wanted to incorporate into a slide show, so at some point I'll get working on that.
The most recent Photo Shoot happened this last weekend. A good friend of mine, Mike Guthrie was over for dinner some weeks back and was talking about his close friend and neighbor Dale. Dale has served his country in Viet Nam (all of the details I'm not aware of), he's a father and a good friend that never is short of time to help others. A couple years back I was working on my son's car in Mikes Driveway in Rohnert Park, we needed something critical at the time, what it was escapes me, but Dale jumped into his car and drove to Petaluma to get it for me. Was never able to repay him for that. Mike indicated that he would like to have some pictures of Dale on motorcycle.......well hell that's just round the bend and down my alley.
The end of this last year found Dale in the hospital battling Leukemia, i lost a very dear friend to the disease back in 06, so now Dale is involved in a different kind of battle. I hope these pictures do justice to the man.

I shot some pictures on the back deck late in the evening using duel radio controlled remote SB-26 flashes set up in front and to the left side. The left flash was shooting into a David Honl 8" silver/gold speed snoot and 1/2 power and the one in front was defused at 1/4 power.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Quest for Speed on the Salt


The Bonneville Salt Flats Gives and it takes away.

This is true in all things really, but here it takes on a different connotation, men are drawn to the legend that is "the salt", this is the place where he comes from all over the world to see just how fast his machine can go, to test its limits and his nerve to pilot it to it's fullest potential, it is a mixture of design, mechanical innovation, skill and guts to go as fast as one can, in some cases faster then any other, to make and break records and have ones name written next to a long list of the great, the men that for over a hundred years have made the pilgrimage and vetted their souls on the salt and satisfy their need for speed.

As easily as the salt gives these records it will take them away, if you are lucky you come back and try to rest it back in your name, for some the supreme quest for speed ends as quickly as it began with the salt extracting the ultimate pay, the salt absorbs life. A mistake here at speed is not often rewarded with a mere education, it comes with a price, one that each and every participant is aware of in the back of his head. Those thoughts are pushed to the nether regions of your mind as you sit on a raw spitting machine, eyes forward awaiting the red flag to signal it is "your time". The distance moves in the heat, the whiteness of the salt, stark and barren save for an orange cone or a gently waving flag, positioned at irregular intervals to remind you that some salt is better then other. Somewhere in between lies the goal, it's not marked but you know you must find it, it's out there waiting for you.

Monday the 1st of September was the beginning of the event, I got up early thinking I might catch a sunrise on the salt worth shooting, what I found was it was more cold and damp as i rode the 10 odd miles to the beginning of the Salt. When I got to the end of the road about 6:30 I found that the rain from overnight had created a small lake that sat on top of the salt in places creating a soupy salty mixture that we were warned to stay clear off. I was the only one of the 4-5 vehicles there that had two wheels. The rest were folks that had driven in with trailers and pickups carry the methods to the madness. As I stood there with the wind howling, and the rain still making an appearance or two I was asked by more then one or two of the guys to come and warm up in the truck out of the rain. This was as I found out later to be the beginning of what was truly a spectacular example of the camaraderie that prevailed at the event, those guys that I met on the first day, called my by name and asked how I was doing every time we crossed paths.

After a truly non spectacular sun rise, I rode back to the hotel, warmed up and grabbed some coffee. About 9:30 or so I met up Cyril, Bill, Dick and Lee, my Brit friends who showed me a tee shirt they had made to commemorate their trip. The front of the shirt showed 5 bikes side by side with the faces of these guys strategically placed on the riders, the title of the shirt was the "Mild Hogs", I told lee if I had the opportunity to shot that pose I'd love to do......well needless to say the opportunity came up shortly there after.

From left to right: Cyril, Lee, Bill and Dick

continued haphazardly as I find the time.....

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bonneville Salt Flats

The Road to Bonneville

This trip to the Salt Flats was not one that was planned months in advance, it WAS visualized, it wasn't charted, detailed or mapped out, it was a pilgrimage of sorts, not just for the motorcyclist in me but sustenance for the soul as well. It was something that had to be done. In 1958 Triumph launched the Bonneville Motorcycle at the Earls Court motorcycle show, this would be the 50th anniversary of the Bonneville at Bonneville, so named after Johnny Allens records on a Triumph in 1950.

The Bub Speed Trials took place at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, this year between Monday Sept. 1st and Saturday the 6th.

The trip for me began on the Saturday prior, I gave myself a leisurely 2 days to make the 655 mile trip, leaving the San Francisco north bay area towards Sth. Lake Tahoe on highway 50. Hi way 50 is like any other till you exit the back side of Carson City, Nevada and start to traverse the historic route of the pony express and you enter into what is known as the loneliest road in America. It's called this for good reason, the road strikes out into the vast wasteland that is central Nevada with authority and an introspective that waits for you, as it has for many that have passed before, on four wheels, two wheels or a sweating panting horse galloping across the plain with a riders hat tipped back in the wind as his heels coax his mount on. It seems that upon leaving Carson City and entering into this previously unknown world my heels coaxed my steed into a conversation with the local Nevada Hi way Patrol, I tried to explain that I had seen the movie "The World's Fastest Indian" and according to it there was no speed limit in Nevada, officer Crisp was polite but obviously not humored, not to mention that conversation took place under this road sign, the first I had seen until I dropped the kickstand beneath it. Could Hollywood have really gotten it wrong, if old Burt could get his Indian Scout into the mid triple digits why was my quest being interrupted by this well meaning public servant.

The solitude of the road makes itself evident in no uncertain terms, there is little traffic to take your attention from endless miles of straight blacktop that seems to unfold in 10 mile lengths, only to end in a quiet little dogleg right or left and then continue on into another mind wandering span of road disappearing off in the distance to the edge of the horizon. The speed of my bike seemed to edge up again till it was resting peacefully in the 90-100 range, the lack of any buildings or passing traffic belay the quickness at which you are actually eating up the miles, only the glance down at the odometer gives any idea how far you have travelled and to remind you that your attention can not wander less you find yourself being launched into the brush that seems to relish this part of the world.

There is not much in the way of visual entertainment, anticipation of the next fuel stop and a cool drink to quench your thirst is what the immediate quest is about. The town of Austin lies approximately mid state, 172 miles east of Carson City, about that time it was getting to be late afternoon and I was looking for a soft spot to lay my head, after chowing down on a tasty burger and a MGD ( imported beer in that part of the country) at the Toiyable Cafe I proceeded through town and 5 files or so I pitched my tent in a small state park (the name escapes me), found my stash of tequila and basked in the dwindling light of the sunset as the agave worked it's magic and the day dissipated behind the shadows of the hillsides.

Daylight or my prostate woke me about 6:00 or so and after admiring the front half of the sun, I packed up and anxiously headed off to Eureka, about 90 miles east, for a cup of coffee or three and some breakfast. Eureka is best known as a mining town that peaked in about 1878, I'm sure I'm wrong but it seemed like from one end of town to the other there were about 25 buildings in all, never the less I found the Owl Club Casino and breakfast joint, coffee, eggs over easy, hash browns and homemade sausage started off that yet was to be another memorable day. With a much satisfied stomach, I put my jacket on and swung my helmet over the back of my head, out of the corner of my eye I caught a small group walking down the boardwalk and before I could button her up heard "Now, that's a proper British Bike", not exactly the first time I've heard that, but this was different, and as I pulled the helmet back off and turned I found four Brits hanging over the railing like a bunch extras from an Italian Western. Turns out the lads have flown into the San Jose, rented a small flock of Harley's and were on their way to the Bonneville Salt Flats. We spend about 5-10 mins. discussing the merits of Milwaukee Motorcycles and a couple of different routes before i pulled out of town on my way to my next destination, Ely. Ely will be the final stop before Wendover.

The anticipation out of Ely builds and again the speed just seems to role on faster and faster as the bike is starting to act like a magnet is drawing it home with a greater urgency as each mile rolls under the Pirelli's.

No change in the road, long empty and desolate, however there is a change in the air, it's cooling some and getting ever thicker, the light is fading and the ominous dark clouds start to move across the sky before the first crack of thunder flashes from the heavens to the deck of the desert. This is followed in short order by a strong wind coming out of the north and a moderate rain. So after all this with just 25 miles to go, nature is throwing a bit of nasty at me, so much so that I'm holding onto the handlebars for dear life, I can't see my knuckles, but under my gloves I'm certain they are a lily white.

The thing about a strong crosswind, especially on a wet road is the indecision that comes with it, do I slow down to 40mph and prolong the beating or speed up to 80 and make it go away as fast as possible, then the right side of the brain kicks in and says "when you launch yourself off the road do you want to be going 40 or 80", the sensible part of me decided a compromise of 60 was best suited for the situation and I rolled into Wendover wet but unscathed and just a little worse for wear.

I didn't anticipate the search for a room would be very fruitful based on conversations with friends that had attended previously and so i was quite happy to see the Motel 6 had vacancies and for only $29.95. A warm shower was more then welcome. After a quick "kip" I was up and out to see what Wendover had in store, based on the run through town it looked like it was mostly all about Casino's, being as the stateline of Utah and Nevada intersected the town about midships, this was the playground for the gamblers in Utah. Well low and behold in passing the office I didn't notice four Harley's parked outside, yep my four Refugee friends from old blighty were checking in and eventually ended up just a couple rooms away.

Before dinner I had to go to the place that had brought on this trip, I needed to see the "Flats", there was still enough daylight and the rain and slowed considerably. I headed out of town and followed the signs to the Bonneville Salt Flats Speedway, I was here many years ago as a lad travelling from Canada to California, but now I was mounted on my 2002 Triumph Bonneville heading towards my bikes namesake on the 50th anniversary of it's introduction.

The exit off of hiway 80, swoops around and crosses over the freeway, and about a mile on turns nrth east about 3 miles where it ends at the salt. there is a small sign that announces your arrival and discusses in brief the history of the salt flats, the fact that the Donner party got hung up here and well the rest is history. On this evening it's cold, the clouds hang ominously over the great white expanse of grayish salt and a small lake that has formed at the bottom of what is to be known as the boat ramp in the coming day.

Feeling good despite the cold and wet, I head back to town where Cyril, Bill, Dick and Lee, the refugees from the UK ask me to join them for Dinner. Walking down the sidewalk towards the casino's I notice that Cyril, Dick and Bill are a few years my senior and Lee a few my junior, somehow out of the conversation Cyril mentions he has Leukemia . Not sure quite what to say I could only ask him how he felt, "I feel like shit"....... but having said that he goes on to say had it not been for a new drug he was on, he have been dead several years back. All I could think of was "Bucket List", I had just seen the film recently and now somehow I was in a sequel. Waiting in line at the restaurant, I made some small talk about motorcycles, Cyril had on his Vincent Jacket and the conversation naturally tilted in that direction. Egli Vincents come up in conversation and Cyril declares that he is one of 3 or so people in the world that make the frames for them! Ok.........somewhere through dinner Cyril also professes that he made formula one frames for Emerson Fittipaldi and the Coopersucar Team in the 70's.......quite a gent it turns out. Subsequently I find out that there is a lot more to Cyril then this and during the next 3-4 days he introduces me to all of the Vincent "heavy hitters" present at the Flats. Quite the end to a terrific day.

to be continued.......