We preface this documentary with a reader beware: if you are married, if you have a job – those things are at risk in reading this. It is likely you’ll drop what you’re doing and head into the American West.
John Monastero had the high aspiration of making the infamous trek from coast to coast on his motorcycle. This dream of riders, is often left unanswered and in the tired eyes of those who have ridden for decades we see at times a glaze of regret. John was dead set on this trip – so much so that heading West stag was no deterrent. In fact, we think he may have looked forward to it. We’ve all been the lone rider cruising down that long stretch of pavement fading into the heat waves searing off the asphalt. This to most of us – is peace.
We had the opportunity to sit down with him in New York to hear about his trials and tribulations, his feats. His photo documentation tells a story words cannot. It brings us back to those happy times. (more photos below)
We begin in Brooklyn, in a common use garage for those passionate about doing their own work on their bikes. A co-op of sorts for mechanics and riders alike. If you live in this city, finding a safe and convenient spot for your bike to lay its head is challenging. The concept rocks.
John didn’t kid himself, he knew to make it across America he’d need to pack light yet in order to be self-sustaining “light” is a relative term, especially considering he wasn’t on a 900 lb. touring bike. But, hey a small fairing and some bags should do the trick. The luggage – courtesy of Go Ruck, a NY-based company created by former Green Berets who have become widely known for their events which they pitch as a small slice of Special Operations training. Oddly enough, I was class 057 which took place in New York on the 10th anniversary of Sept 11. We carried many, many bricks and effects from The Towers in our rucksacks through the night for a marathon distance. Point being – these bags are tough as nails. A solid choice for such a ride. We were stoked to hear he’d taken some advice we’d lent in a past article about what to pack for a long ride. These were his essentials:
It’d be no fancy hotels for this guy. Woods, tent, sleeping bag. Just as it was done when my uncles would cross the country in the 60’s solo (though back then that took months). One of the memorable stories that stuck out was his reliving a night in the tent when he heard loud grunting coming from outside. While his life’s memories and aspirations flashed before him with white knuckles gripping bear spray in one hand and a blade in the other he was relieved in the morning to find a strange (very strange) vagabond sleeping next to his tent – on the dirt. It was snoring that woke him. That man, whomever he is – is lucky. A should-be obvious word to the wise: if you’re going to encroach on a man and his motorcycle in the middle of the night don’t make bear sounds. You may die.
The journey – 4,000 miles through the mid-west, across the northern plains, into the mountains, to the coast is the trip of a lifetime. If you haven’t done it – do it. There’s a lot to be seen as you’ll see documented below. What was surprising to us, was all of the photos were taken using an iPhone and a couple filters. When I take photos with my phone, they don’t come out like this. Clearly, you’ve got to have an eye for this sort of thing.
No motorcycle trip is without bike problems and John’s ride was no exception. Without naming names, he’d had it gone through with the preface he was taking it cross-country, alone. Turns out you can’t have your battery’s wires exposed and crossing one another…go figure.
We’ve been in this situation numerous times and during some of those have been fortunate as he in having a HD shop close by during times of trouble. Whether you’re on a Harley or not, you’ve got to appreciate the fact that they are an icon i.e. they are everywhere. Is there anything sweeter than seeing the infamous orange sign lit up when you’re several thousand miles from comfort and facing the reality your trip could be over?
Luckily, this was just a four hour bump in the road. The opportunity to meet fellow motorcyclists and talk shop. It never ceases to amaze us how hospitable the folks in Service can be across the country. From upstate NY to Orange, VA and west there have been unplanned pit stops that ended up being our saving grace.
Moving on – it is surprising still, that snow and ice can come in droves mid-August. Such was the case on this trip. John remembers trekking through deep mud taking him hours to get just a couple measly miles and having weather force a Bear Tooth Pass shut down. He even saw tornados – plural! These events challenge your resolve. They test your soul as you’ve come this far – you want to ride that legendary pass. Thoughts must lean towards what is yet to come.
We could spend all day talking more about this trip. Take some time to browse through the photo book. They are amongst the best we’ve seen:
Here is the link to John’s Flickr album with more photos: click here
“We do need a return to individual integrity, self-reliance and old-fashioned gumption. We really do.” Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Thank you, John for sharing.
Brilliant images! Makes my throttle hand itchy. Looking at your “essentials” I am reminded of the saying “we pack our fears”. I’d really be interested to find out how much of it was used and what just went for a ride with him.