Sunday, May 14, 2017
Southeastern New Mexico | This Place Is Weird
Clif and I traipse around Southeastern New Mexico on our Yamaha FZ-07 and FJR1300 in search of the little-known ghost town of Bennett. We end the day in the small oil town of Jal and contemplate what the Permian Basin would be like without petroleum.
Tuesday, May 09, 2017
On metaphysical quality, motorcycles, the late Robert Pirsig, and me
The passing last month of iconic writer and philosopher Robert Pirsig, author of 1974's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, is currently resonating throughout both the motorcycling and academic worlds. As you may know if you've followed this blog with any frequency over the past 13 years, I have often fancied myself a bit of a thinker and lay philosopher, one who has repeatedly used motorcycling as metaphor, both in my writings and videos. With that in mind, I feel compelled to compose a bit about how the book has affected me in different ways over the years, and to explore motorcycling as metaphysical quality in a way that Pirsig would've hopefully not completely hated.
I first became aware of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in college during the '90s. My speech professor, with whom I had developed a personal acquaintance, recommended the book to me after learning I was a rider. "You should check it out," he said. "I think it would really speak to you."
But it didn't. Not at first, anyway. Honestly, I struggled to get through Zen the first time around, abandoning the book a couple of times and then eventually dragging back to it. It was tedious to me, often meandering conceptually in ways that left me mostly frustrated. As a young man, I simply wanted the book to teach me how to increase my experiencing of beauty through motorcycles. And while Pirsig did write very profoundly about motorcycles and motorcycling at times, that payoff only existed to a certain extent. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was about something else, too, but I just couldn't fully grasp it at the time.
For one thing, I didn't get all the deep talk about what is quality and why Pirsig maintained that it could never really be defined. Seemed to me he was defining it over and over again in many different ways throughout the book, via subterfuge and – more importantly – example. Example, after all, is the root of definition in many cases. Secondly, in addition to using the story of a cross-country motorcycle tour with his young son Chris as a figurative vehicle for these philosophical excursions, he also employed the concept of his own alter ego in the form of Pheadrus, named after Plato's dialog. I took from the book what I could back then. But aside from the parts I liked that where directly tied to motorcycles and the beauty of riding, I ruled it a brilliant mess. Pirsig was clearly a genius in his own way, but not enough of a genius to employ the necessary language, conciseness, and brevity needed to keep the attention (or move the soul) of a young non-intellectual such as me. I walked away from the book nodding in approval but shrugging my shoulders, and didn't think of it again for another decade.
Fast-forward to the mid-2000s, a period of my life when I had suddenly and inexplicably begun to suffer from near-debilitating episodes of panic. Note that I did not use the term "panic attacks". While classic panic attacks and anxiety were an occasional part of the equation, I was most often plunging into extended periods of full throttle fight-or-flight, both mentally and physically. These periods of intense panic might last minutes or days, but most often lasted for hours at a stretch. Imagine the fear and adrenaline of fighting off a bear attack for hours at a time. That's what it was like. When the episodes would finally subside, they left me exhausted and depressed. So naturally, I was trying anything and everything to figure them out and make them stop. Doctors had no idea what I was talking about when I would try to explain what was happening. Stupidly and invariably, they would always blow me off, usually suggesting strong anti-depression/anti-anxiety medication. The answer was always to write me a prescription and send me on my way. Of course, the meds never worked because they weren't formulated for what I was going through. I've never liked drugs of any kind and stopped taking the stuff pretty quickly. I also stopped going to doctors.
Several things did provide me limited relief, though, and one of them was riding motorcycles. It was during that time, with my mind racked by always being in survival mode, that I began to experience motorcycling (and being around motorcycles) in more the sense I now think Pirsig did. But perhaps oddly, I only began to truly connect the dots after noticing a copy of Walden by Henry David Thoreau on the shelf in a book store. I remembered Walden having been referenced several times in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and it got me thinking about Pirsig. So I went home, dug through a few old boxes for my copy of Zen, and then spent some time online reading about Pirsig. What I found was the key to better understanding the book, Pirsig, and even myself.
I discovered how Pirsig had been the textbook definition of a tortured soul throughout his entire life. In my lack of comprehension during the first reading of Zen, I hadn't truly arrived at that knowledge of him. He had really been in and out of mental institutions as a young man, had been diagnosed with Schizophrenia, had been subjected to violent shock therapy treatments, and had lost jobs and a marriage over it. As I read more and more about Robert Pirsig the person, I began to grasp his philosophies a little better. I could make more sense of his alter ego character, his torturous attempts at experiencing but not defining quality, at viewing himself as his own enemy at times, and at making sense of everything while simultaneously making sense of nothing. My own struggles with panic had helped open that door; not only toward Pirsig, but toward others who suffer inside themselves for whatever reason. Before, I'd had little empathy for such things and often viewed them as pathetic weakness. I was a jerk, essentially, with no relatable experience or sympathetic emotional circuit to close for them. So with those new revelations freshly a part of me, I read over the book again. I still didn't understand certain parts of it, and still other parts I found I disagreed with, but there's no doubt that I came much closer to "getting it" than I did the first time.
Fast forward to today and another decade has passed. Either I figured out how to control the episodes of fight-or-flight along the way or that part of my brain wore out from overuse. In any case they are rarer now, and thank God for that. To this day, I still do not know their exact cause. There is still a mild chronic anxiety humming in the background much of the time, but I've learned to live with it. I guess it is my cross to bear. I would be dishonest if I said it hasn't changed me. But I accept it and am otherwise happy and healthy. The quality, beauty, and spiritual peace provided by motorcycles, being a musician, and being a freemason have most definitely helped along the way. Much more so has the love of family and friends, along with my faith in God.
Best of all, my experiences thus far – still touched often, I believe, by the Pirsig-esque concept of quality – continue to expand. For that I am thankful. It would be interesting to read Zen once again now and see if it speaks to me differently still. Life is quite good, and though I stand at its halfway point having made no fortune, having attained no influence, having acquired no power (having accomplished nothing really), I continue onward with a strange contentment I cannot fully explain. Perhaps that comes from actively seeking, constantly finding, and recognizing with appreciation some of those indefinable qualities over time. Time is a funny thing, after all. It's job is to eventually kill you, but along the way it offers wisdom, perspective, acceptance, and a certain serenity. That too is quality, in both the practical and metaphysical senses.
Thursday, April 27, 2017
The Best Motorcycle Ride In Texas : Three Sisters & Hill Country
A four day motorcycle ride to the Texas Hill Country proves enjoyable and hilarious as Clif, Matt, and I tackle the Three Sisters and other roads in the area. Along the way, we are delayed by several hundred Polaris Slingshots on parade, make a jaunt to the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum, and have lunch at the famous Apple Store in Medina, Texas. It's three days of motorcycles and buffoonery in 20 minutes. Tune in and enjoy.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Best Soft Motorcycle Saddlebags : Viking AXE Review
Full review of the Viking AXE soft saddlebags for sportbikes.
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Featured Guest Tim Kreitz : Red One Radio
It was an honor to be featured by Red One, one of my favorites in the online motorcycle community. Press play and enjoy the show.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Triumph Bonneville Ride to a Secret Indy Car Test Track
I take a ride to a little known private track that was once the site where Indy and Can-Am race cars were built and tested. I also talk about my dad's weird connection to Mr. Dazed and Confused himself, Matthew McConaughey, and how it all fits together in one small rural area of West Texas.
Monday, March 20, 2017
Let's Ride to the Studio • Tim Kreitz Band Performs
I ride my 2013 Triumph Bonneville to rehearsal, where we film and record a little ditty for you. In case you didn't know, Britt Parker and Matt Vann aren't just my motorcycle riding buddies, they are my band. Enjoy!
Monday, March 06, 2017
The Haunted Baker Hotel
Matt, Clif, and I visit the ruins of the abandoned Baker Hotel in West Texas, which has long been purported to be haunted.
Wednesday, March 01, 2017
Near the Real Midnight, Texas | Yamaha FJR1300 & FZ-07 Ride | Sweet Berry Wine
Clif and I have our most random adventure yet when a motorcycle day ride lands us in the small West Texas town of Fort Stockton amidst it's unusual surroundings. I bet the real Midnight, Texas is somewhere close by.
Sunday, February 12, 2017
FZ-07 & FJR1300 Ride: Dan Blocker Museum | Ghost Town of Soash
Join Clif and I as we explore the town of O'Donnell, Texas and visit its museum partly dedicated to Dan Blocker, best known as Hoss Cartwright on the legendary TV show Bonanza. From there, search through spooky ruins with us in the nearby ghost town of Soash. Let's ride!
ADDITIONAL NOTES ON THIS EPISODE
One of the unfortunate aspects of the motovlogging genre is that there is an unspoken time limit for each installment. At eleven and a half minutes, this one will be considered long by many in the audience demographic. The optimal length for viewer retention is about seven to eight minutes according to my analytics. Beyond that, the percentage of those willing to watch from beginning to end begins to drop. So for me to edit this video at the finished length presented tells you what a good time I was having on this ride. In fact, I left out a lot of really cool footage for the sake of brevity, as the video could've easily been twice as long. Still, I'm proud of this episode because, like so many others, I find it to be an enthralling documentation of my riding life, interests, and friendships. I hope you feel the same.
Part of the appeal of this episode for me is that I love little towns like O'Donnell. When I am in such places, I feel at home, and a piece of me longs to live in some similarly quiet little spot; a place with a main street still cluttered with turn-of-the-twentieth-century buildings and where the traditional charms of small-town life survive. It is a way of life that is dying at the hands of urbanization and modernization, and I often wonder if every small town in West Texas will someday be dead and abandoned as the population centers claim their denizens.
In the meantime, I'll continue to preserve these places on video when I can. They are, after all, Americana. Cheers and best wishes until next time.
Sunday, February 05, 2017
Do Loud Pipes Really Save Lives? Facts, Myths, and the In Between
It's been a hot-button issue for over 50 years: loud exhausts on motorcycles. Do they really make the rider safer, or is it just an excuse to be loud? Or is it a little of both? Just as importantly, do the opponents of aftermarket exhausts have their own unfair social and political axes to grind? Are the laws governing exhaust noise just? Do some people simply hate it when they see other people having fun? Let's talk about it. Here's how I see the issue.
ADDITIONAL NOTES ON THIS EPISODE:
My opinion of Rick Holtsclaw is that he is not a bad person, just misguided, apparently to the point of being self-destructive in his zeal. I discovered that in early 2016, Holtsclaw filed a motorcycle-noise-related federal lawsuit against Fort Smith, Arkansas Mayor Sandy Sanders and Fort Smith Police Chief Kevin Lindsey, along with Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan and Fayetteville Police Chief Greg Tabor. It alleged that the defendants failed to regulate loud motorcycles attending the Steel Horse Rally and BBQ. Predictably, the suit was dismissed, but it certainly made me wonder more curiously about his motivations.
That curiosity led me to research his record as an officer, where I found multiple references to this story. According to various sources, Holtsclaw was put on administrative leave in 2010 and investigated internally by his department for allegedly harassing motorcyclists in the Houston area, writing a mountain of noise citations in the process. According to the same sources, he was eventually returned to patrol, but continued the same behavior. This reportedly led to community outrage, and by Holtsclaw's own admission, he was forced into retirement by his superiors. Let me tell you something; when a person is so fanatically dedicated to a frivolous cause that he or she is will sacrifice a career over it, you have to wonder about things like Martyr Complex.
And that's often the most frustrating thing to me about the people I consider anti-noise jihadists. In my opinion, they use the motorcycle exhaust issue as a persecution tool against the motorcycling lifestyle in general, a lifestyle they'd actually love to see done away with. The tactic seems eerily similar to other attempts at legalistic coercion here in the US, such as when anti-Christian groups go after public displays of the ten commandments and so forth. For them, it's not really about the so-called separation of church and state; it's more often about doing everything they can within the letter of the law to stamp out a religion. In the end, it's little more than intolerance and aggression toward a lot of good people.
The worst part is that politicians, government agencies, and corporations happily work together to take advantage of these social dynamics. For example, when the EPA smells blood in these situations, it quickly and invariably issues a mandate to "fix the problem", thereby giving itself more power and influence than it had before. In turn, corporations will rarely oppose the mandates if viable for implementation, because they can then profit more greatly from them. Adjusted for 2016 inflation, a new car in 1950 costed its buyer about $11,000. I ask you, how many brand new cars can you buy for that price today? There are several reasons for the massive jump in new-vehicle prices over the past generation, and one is definitely over-regulation of the industries through EPA and safety mandates. This over-regulation always comes at a cost, and both the government and the manufacturers profit from it. Until Americans decide to get serious about ending corporate cronyism and returning the federal government to the anemic entity it was intended to be, things will most assuredly get worse through bad lawmaking.
It's a loud, interesting, colorful world out there, folks. Complaining about bike noise is what shallow, pampered snowflakes do when they don't have any real problems to deal with. Welcome to the lap of luxury and the ever accelerating wussification of America. The bottom line is that there will always be hot-rodders. They are as American as apple pie and they will always modify their cars and motorcycles to be a little louder, a little faster, and handle a little better. The question we have to ask ourselves is, while some of them will go too far, what is the greater societal cost in regulating the whole of them into oblivion with things like nebulous 80dB sound pressure maximums and other draconian laws? To me, that's not an America where people would ultimately be freer and happier.
There is obviously no place for outright criminals in a free society. But there is a place for rebels and there is certainly a place for outlaws. This country was founded by outlaws who revolted over much less tyranny than we live under today. The outlaw mentality is part of what makes us who we are, and if we ever lose that free-spirited nature, we will lose America. Some would argue that it's happening already. Moreover, if dangerous-minded people and their oppressive ideas of social order are left to their druthers, it can quickly become a frightening, miserable place.
SHADETREE'S TAKE (WHICH IS AWESOME)
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
FZ-07 (MT-07) Ride : What Is Tex-Mex Cuisine? Plus, Exploring A 140-Year-Old House!
I go on a lunch errand for Suburban Delinquent, who asked me to explain the difference between Tex-Mex food and traditional Mexican cuisine. After that, I show you a 140-year-old house that is reported to be one of the oldest surviving structures in the area. Come ride along with me and enjoy the beautiful sounds of my Yamaha FZ-07 on a perfect winter day in West Texas.
Monday, January 02, 2017
The Abandoned Airfield
Happy New Year! In the first episode of 2017, I find the abandoned runways and observation tower of the now defunct Howard County Airport. The field was once used for initial Air Force pilot training until the 1970s, but like the former Webb Air Force Base nearby, it was closed down. Enjoy plenty of cinematics, including drone footage from my DJI Phantom.
Tuesday, December 06, 2016
Tim Kreitz Adventures : 2016 Year-In-Review Special
As is my usual custom, I take a brief look back at some of my favorite Tim Kreitz Adventures moments from 2016 as the year draws to a close. Enjoy this short retrospective on an excellent year and a look ahead at what to expect in 2017. Thank you for being a part of the Tim Kreitz Adventures family.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Making Good On An Old Promise : Kawasaki ZRX1200R Ride
I finally make good on my two-year-old promise to return to the newly renovated Petroleum Museum to show you a bit more of the inside. It's a short but sweet Episode 100. Thanks for watching two and a half years of Tim Kreitz Adventures. Here's to the next 100 adventures.
Monday, November 14, 2016
The Cradle And The Grave
I discover a vista in the farm sector between Stanton, Texas and Big Spring, Texas. Along the way, I show you the West Texas cotton cradle, and visit the grave of a friend who died too soon. Join me for a contemplative and cinematic adventure.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Epic West Texas Ride : The Davis Mountains
If you are a longtime follower of this blog, you know I love making this particular ride every possible October. Clif and I head for the scenic Davis Mountains of West Texas. Along the way, we visit historic Fort Davis, McDonald Observatory, and the tiny town of Saragosa, which was the site of one of the worst tornado disasters in modern US history. Join is for a special ride on a perfect autumn day.
Monday, October 10, 2016
2016 FJR1300 vs. 2006 FJR1300 : Which is Really Better?
Clif replaces his 2006 Yamaha FJR1300 with the redesigned 2016 model, and we compare the two in a head-to-head review. After a decade of ownership with the 2006, is he happy with his decision to replace a faithful but aging sport-tourer with its latest and greatest iteration? Let's find out.
Sunday, October 02, 2016
Yamaha FZ-07 (MT 07) Chinese Flyscreen : Tested at over 100 MPH
An inexpensive Chinese flyscreen for the FZ-07 (MT-07) and FZ-09 (MT-09) is tested at over 100 miles per hour. The results were both pleasant and surprising.
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Infiltrating A Military Radar Station
While riding our Yamahas (FZ-07 and FJR1300), we find an air defense radar station in the middle of the West Texas plains and Clif uses the occasion to entertain.