You know, it has been a long while since I wrote a good rant. Okay, well maybe this isn’t quite a rant, more a lampoon or something. It is of a situation that has occurred a couple of times. But the most recent was so obvious, so blatant, that I can’t help wag my tongue about it.
I am partly to blame, or perhaps we are all partly to blame. We used to get our stories from magazines. We all waited anxiously for the mailman to bring them. One subscription wasn’t enough because it would be 30 days before the next one came. For the most part the beloved magazine is slipping further into obscurity every day. I am partly to blame, everyone is somehow.
With that magazine came an immense barrier to entry. Those took big companies and capital and investment and assets and such to produce. And for every precious job opening as an editor, there were piles of applicants.
Today that barrier of entry is gone. Anyone with a smart phone can be a writer, photographer and (drum roll as we get to the good part) the hero of the story. Website, blog, forum, social media, all have become mediums for each of us to write our own story, be the hero of our own melodrama.
It is all pretty narcissistic and I am not sure where it is leading us. But for today it gives me a story to write so here we go.
Now I openly admit to being guilty to some of the above. I live in a pretty small world. Yet in my little realm of dirt bikes and travel and desert and Baja, I am sort of a somebody. I do some writing and photography and glorify my travels.
I have done a few things on a motorcycle that very few have ever done. Seen things and been places few have ventured to. So when the talk comes to Baja and motorcycles, nothing is more than a degree or two of separation. I know a guy who knows a guy….
Guiding tours, I tend to spend evenings around a campfire or on a bar stool and we all tell each other lies and such, good harmless fun. More than once it has transpired that someone starts to relate parts of a story they heard somewhere and I realize they are talking of me. But they haven’t quite put the two together. Typically I clue them in and we have a good laugh, another round and I fill in the blanks.
At times, as the wine flows, the stories get larger, the boasting bigger. I will chip in with “oh, I know that guy” or “I have been to that place”, typically the teller will recognize that he has an experienced audience and will back down on the taller parts of the tale. But it is actually much more entertaining when they don’t and continue educating me on Baja. Of course I am sure there was a time or two when “I” was that guy too.
Now we get to the adventure riders. They are just the worst. Again, I am one of them, so some part of the blame falls to my shoulders I guess. How do I explain these guys? Think of the campfire I mentioned. Take any random group of dirt bike guys, give them a campfire and a beer and they are instant best friends. PBR’s for everybody.
Now do the same experiment with a group of ADV riders and you will likely get something like “Oh no, that is fine, I brought my own small batch cold filtered growler and well there isn’t really enough to share either.”
But now I get to the heart of the thing. Take ADV riders and mix with millennials. Here is an entire generation whose sense of history extends way back to when telephones weren’t smart and you actually used them to make calls to other people. You get the picture, it is almost a match made in heaven. They are the modern day hippie nomads with $25k of farkles rolling on two wheels.
My recent encounter with one left me scratching my head. A self-described traveler, adventurer, journalist, photographer he was. Seemingly someone I would have more than a few things in common with I imagined. Our traveler began to describe himself and his exploits, all documented on a highly followed blog. All was going well as long as he was doing the talking.
But without fail, I couldn’t help but interject “Oh, you know my friend so and so”, “yes, I have worked with Joe, he is very talented”, “and yes I do some writing too”. Once these commonalities reached the magic number of 3, people and places we each know, by the laws of dirt biking we would be instant friends.
But quite the opposite was the reaction. At each common junction, the conversation became slower. You see, our hero is supposed to be the sole protagonist of his own story. It is he who is discovering the new world, a modern day Columbus. It is he who is inventing travel to exotic locales via motorcycle. The campfire crowd must sit quietly and hang on his every word of danger and adventure.
I will be the first to admit that I am often too critical of others. I was thinking just this thought when my buddy spoke up “Dude, what is up with that guy, when you told him that you respected someone he worked with, acted like he didn’t even hear it, completed ignored the compliment”? I guess I wasn’t the only one to sense it.
And the worst part is that it is probably my own fault. At some greasy spoon diner 25 years ago I probably told someone about how much I loved my big airhead twin and all the places it could take me. For all I know it may have been the father of such a millennial as this. Yet for good fortune, this is the exception for most I meet on the road. In the words of Baja pioneer Mama Espinoza “Bad roads bring good people”.
Exactly one week prior to the above mentioned encounter. In the exact same place I encountered a woman from the East. She had set out to spend part of her life in Baja, just her and a motorcycle. The motorcycle didn’t much matter, as long as it was a good one and could take her to new horizons. To that end she had flown to San Diego, purchased a DRZ400 off Craigslist and was now riding solo, riding south towards her new life. To her the journey was new, exciting, thrilling. She was just anxious to share the experience with anyone like minded.
I guess you meet all kinds on the road. Perhaps we are fortunate that most are ones you are glad to share a campfire with. Perhaps that is why the others seem to stand out so much, because they are the exception, not the rule.