I’ve never given much thought to naked motorcycles. At first I thought RD was pulling my leg. He does that to me on occasion. Like when we were dating, he told me Oklahoma had only one tree with a fence around it, and if I came home with him, he’d take me to see the tree. Twenty-six years later, I can’t believe I fell for that one.
I fell equally hard for Ducati motorcycles. I love our BMW 1100 RT. I do. We’ve had a total blast on “The Mistress” and I’m not ready to give her up yet. But if we could add to the family, it would be a Ducati.
According to their website they pride themselves on creating iconic naked motorcycles. I loved the look of the Monster the first time I saw it. And its suspension was low enough to boost my confidence level. Then BMW/Ducati in OKC held its “Streetfighter” premier party over Memorial Day weekend. I was having fun chatting with people and taking pictures. When the Streetfighter was unveiled, I almost missed my photo opportunity. I’ve got to do something about my “shock and awe” phase when I’m supposed to be taking pictures.
The Streetfighter has an upright riding position, minimalist controls and a mean looking front. On the “S” version standard equipment includes a Ducati Traction Control system that is equivalent to having another brain on board and Ohlin’s suspension. Two things I’m thinking you would need on a bike this light with this much horsepower. Ducati describes it as having the “Soul of a superbike – attitude of a fighter.” I like that.
The crowd of over 250 seemed to approve. As did over 40,000 readers of the top Italian motorcycle magazine, Motociclismo, when they made the Streetfighter the 2009 Bike of the Year and gave it top prize in the naked bike category.
The Streetfighter coming out party brought out CMRA Champion, Van Blaylock. Van’s day job has him flying planes for the US Air Force, but on the weekends he’s flying around tracks. My father was a paramedic in the Air Force, which kept me surrounded by some pretty interesting adrenalin junkies. I’ve become curious about men/women whose jobs are dangerous and what they do to have fun. What takes the edge off risking your life and surviving? Some drink. But some play tennis. I met one who taped a rubber duck on his chest to shoot a video while skydiving and broke every rib when he landed. But it wasn’t Van. He currently rides a 2007 1098S Ducati while road racing in Texas. Find out more at www.ducatipilot.com
I asked why he rode. “Motorcycles are the perfect instrument of sport,” he said, “They can provide relief, test your courage, your ability to think and act, all while completely occupying your consciousness.” Bravo. Living in the moment isn’t as easy as people think, but Van gets it. And most passionate riders feel the same.
Another guest was Mary Fallin, who also won a pair of motorcycle sunglasses. Who knew she rode?
Top the party off with food from Ned’s catering, excellent servers, music from DJ Connections and a parking lot full of visiting bikers and you have nothing but fun.
Speaking of fun, check out this promo site from Ducati for their newest baby here.
When was the last time you met a real life adventurer? No, not your crazy Uncle Bill, who smashes beer cans against his forehead for fun. I mean someone who throws caution to the wind and embarks on a journey because the desire and the idea created the opportunity. The adventurer doesn’t care about fame. He’s motivated by challenge. The adventurer isn’t worried what other people think. He has his hands full with what he thinks. I recently met an individual, who fits all of the above, at the BMW/Ducati/Vespa dealership in Oklahoma City. Let me clarify one thing. Helge Pedersen does not smash beer cans against his forehead.
He does, however, tape cameras to his photographer’s motorcycle helmet if it’s needed for a good picture. He also wrote a coffee table book titled, “10 Years on 2 Wheels” after he traveled more than 250,000 miles to 77 countries. His book is currently out of print, but Helge promises a re-print of the 208-page journal of his travels complete with over 200 photographs. His motorcycle of choice? A BMW R80 G/S, which currently resides in the BMW Museum in Munich, Germany.
Helge’s passion for travel ignited in 1973. He left his home and family in Norway to study as a foreign exchange student in Los Angeles, California. When he returned home he studied technical photography. In 1981, he sold everything he owned, altered the BMW for long distance travel and went to Africa. Helge lived in a small tent, cooked on a gas stove and had 2 meals. Rice with sardines and sardines with rice. He said that traveling alone allowed him a tremendous freedom.
He did not want to be a normal 9 to 5 guy. For one thing, he didn’t know what he wanted to do yet. He was young. Life was open for options. He was game for any challenge. He realized he could sell photography and write article to help pay expenses. Helge’s work in the 80’s may have started in outdoor magazines, but today it can be found in National Geographic, Time magazine, and The New York Times. He tells stories about people and places through the eyes of a gentle philosopher. But with an authority that comes from decades of experience coupled with a joy in doing what he loves.
In 1998 Helge founded GlobeRiders L.L.C. and began offering his unique traveling style to the public. GlobeRiders specialize in “long-duration, adventure motorcycle travel throughout parts of the world neither easily accessible nor commonly visited” according to his website. It is the perfect place to start planning. The site provides itineraries, FAQ’s, photos, videos, live journals and criteria for joining a tour. I found several very good videos on YouTube from past rides. My favorite is the following:
But to get the best feel for Helge, the modern adventurer, I would recommend catching one of his seminars. The photography and video presentation made me nostalgic for my own traveling roots. There is something very liberating about meeting different people in their own back yards. And Helge has a knack for presenting them as they are. During his lecture he also includes safety tips and maintenance tricks. Like duct tape can be used to tape not only one but two digital cameras to anyone’s helmet.
The worst thing he did for me, however, was to show me how to find new roads using Google Earth. I can’t get the idea out of my head. I keep thinking of all the places I want to see. Like Norway, Scotland, Finland, Iceland, Canada, Alaska would be nice, The Black Hills and Europe. And RD did just finish an off road training. Of course, I’d have to step up my wildlife surveillance. But I may have solved the “too freaked out to get the shot” problem I’m having. I’ll just duct tape my camera to my hand.
See you on the road,