Saturday, January 10, 2009

Every Now and Zen

I'll be the first to admit that I've never read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in it's entirety. I've picked it up several times and worked my way into it's pages only to pull away when my admittedly short attention span became entranced by something requiring a little less work to enjoy. Thanks to Mark Richardson's book, Zen and Now: On the Trail of Robert Pirsig and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I know I'm no longer alone in that sentiment. In his book, the author makes reference to having begun Zen and the Art several times before cultivating the discipline to complete the read and then returns to Pirsig's book a second time in order to develop an enjoyment of the work.

It is following this second passage, completed on the author's 41st birthday, that Mr. Richardson begins to plan his own motorcycle journey. He will retrace the Zen route, planning to remain as true to the original work as possible. The author has done his research through referencing several guidebooks and by communicating via letter with the Pirsig family. Just prior to his 42nd birthday, Mr. Richardson sets off on his Suzuki DR600 to follow Pirsig's narrator west from Minneapolis to San Francisco. The author transforms into what his book refers to as a Pirsig Pilgrim or Zen Pilgrim. In his travels west, the author stops at locations mentioned in Zen and the Art and contacts persons depicted in the original work.

As Mr. Richardson will tell you, Zen and the Art isn't really about motorcycles at all. Robert Pirsig used the journey by motorcycle of son and father as a metaphore for investigations philosophical. Zen and Now isn't really concerned with motorcycles either. Following the original route, Mr. Richardson examines how the Zen and the Art philosophy impacted his own life. The author reflects on his relationships with the people closest to him, mainly his wife and children, and contemplates the Quality of his life. The meaningfullness of the writer's life parallels the autobiographical text in Zen and Now on the Pirsig family. In the end, it's not so much redemption offered up by Mr. Richardson as the opportunity for enlightenment, both for himself and the reader's view of the Pirsig family.

While the book contains no photos of the journey, for it doesn't truly require any, pictures from the author's journey can be found at the companion website, Zen and Now.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Indian Reborn

Indian Motorcycle has announced the opening of it's first seven dealerships. The 2009 Indian Chief will be produced as a limited production model. A grand total of 750 motorcycles will roll off the line this year. The company promises the expansion of it's dealership network in it's press release by July 2009. The company will also produce a line of apparel to include jackets, pants and jeans, footwear, and a line of accessories.

The new Chief will be powered by a 105 cubic inch air-cooled engine, the Power Plus, complete with fuel-injection. The drive train will consist of a six-speed gear box and a belt final drive. The bike weighs in at just under 800 pounds. The Chief line includes four variations, the Standard, Deluxe, Roadmaster, and Vintage. I'm partial to the Vintage. With it's sloping, classic fenders, chrome guards and grab rails, leather fringed seat, and white-wall tires, undoubtably, it is a rolling work of art. An expensive work of art, the bike cashes in at a little over $35,000 according to the brochure on the company's website. While I admire the machine's lines and timeless detail, I'm afraid with a price tag like the one listed above, I'll only be admiring from afar.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Video with a Twist

Looking for something to chase away the winter doldrums? Discovery Turbo Channel offers motorcyclists the opportunity to view several series of videos taken from popular television programs aired on the Discovery Channel, including the American Chopper and Biker Build-Off series. While I do enjoy watching the production of a chopper, there's only so much dysfunctional family drama centered around American iron I can take.

Of particular interest to this rider was the Twist the Throttle series. Twist focuses on the manufacturers from around the world, including a few Japanese, Italian, and British companies. The episodes provide a brief overview of each company's history, such as Kawasaki's start as a shipping company or Bimota's beginning as a heating and air conditioning business. Each episode progresses through how and where that particular brand of motorcycle is manufactured to an enticing exploration of a brand's iconic models, such as Honda's CBR1000RR.

With limited riding time through the colder months, I'm always looking for methods of keeping my wanderlust in check. A few good books and a series like Twist keep me dreaming of open highway, dry pavement, and the sun on my back.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Here's the video of Robbie Maddison's New Year's Eve jump in Vegas. Yup, gravity still works.