Motorhead Coffee

vagabond blog: thoughts from the saddle

A Good Cup of Joe

I’m sitting on my patio on this crisp Fall morning, sipping a hot cup of coffee in my favorite mug. It’s about 58 degrees right now, the sun is starting to shine through the clouds and I’ve got my mind on bikes: which one will get ridden today? It’s all about the mood…and sometimes the weather. I could relax in the competent comfort of the Vstrom, or cruise along the colorful countryside on the Scrambler. Or, I could fasten my seat belt and take the pulse pounding, piston pumping Duke out for a ride that would rival the brisk morning air. Get my blood flowing properly…good for the heart.

But somewhere along this beautiful Sunday I’ve got to roast some coffee. As you may remember, I stopped roasting Motorhead Coffee commercially early this year. There were just too many obstacles in the way, many of which still keep me from dedicating my time behind a roaster. One of the drawbacks to this decision, however, is that I am now occasionally at the mercy of others for my coffee fix.

Without trying to sound snobbish, elitist or like any other type of obnoxious individual who thinks their opinions stand at the center of the universe, there is a lot of really bad coffee out there waiting to be consumed. The thing is, though, if you haven’t had the opportunity to spend some time drinking really good coffee, you don’t know the difference. Let someone provide you with a high quality, well roasted batch of beans for a few weeks and when you return to canned coffee from the grocer’s shelf, you will begin to wonder how or why you ever bothered to drink it. Just catching a whiff of the aroma coming off a co-workers cup is enough to remind me of just how awful some coffee can be. If I was forced to drink that stuff again on a daily basis, I’d switch to tea!

At the same time, I don’t like people who make too big a deal out of coffee. I can’t take “world championship” competitions seriously when it comes to coffee or the people who make it. Sorry, that’s just me. I’m not interested in some of the overly pretentious descriptions either. Sure, I’ve had and roasted plenty of coffees that have a hint of fruit or chocolate or nut in them, but let’s not get all carried away to the point we give people the impression when they drink your lightly roasted Natural Ethiopian coffee that it’s somehow going to taste like a Strawberry Mocha Latte’…and thank God for that!

I guess I’m fussing about coffee this morning because I really enjoy a good cup and I’m about to come into the time of year where I may have to stop roasting and start buying. Since I’m not roasting commercially right now, I roast at home to get my fix. However, I don’t have a heated garage and soon it’s going to be too cold outside to roast.

Over the years, I have ordered and purchased coffee from most of the major specialty roasters. I’ve had some really good coffee…and it cost a lot. At $18 for a 12 oz bag, plus shipping, I end up paying $25 -30 for one bag of coffee! And you thought mine was expensive! I love coffee, but even I have my limits. Truth be told, of all the roasters I have ordered coffee from, only 2 came through consistently with what I felt was an exceptional cup of coffee. Stumptown and Klatch have never let me down and if I have to buy coffee this winter, they will get my business. To be perfectly fair, however, when I was roasting commercially there was always one or two coffees I was particularly proud of, and most of the rest were in my opinion “just good coffee.” That’s a challenge every roaster faces. 

So, today I ride…and today I roast. I’m a simple man and all I’m really looking for on this beautiful Sunday morning are a few simple pleasures; a few hours to smell the aroma of fall leaves while riding through the Kentucky backroads…and a good cup of Joe.




Only Teardrops Fall

I didn’t sleep last night. I tossed, turned and was tormented by my thoughts. I thought of all the places we have been together. All the thrills we experienced and the good times we shared. I thought of how well she treated me and how hard I pushed her…and now she is gone. Just talking about her makes my eyes moisten. I miss her, even if I did not pay her much attention lately. Just knowing she was there. Just seeing her felt good. There is now an empty space…in my garage.

Yesterday I sold my beloved Triumph Street Triple R. I have owned this bike since it was brand new, over 5 years now. It was a gift from my wife when I turned 50. Of the dozens and dozens of motorcycles that I have owned in my lifetime (maybe as many as 50…I’ve lost count), no bike ever meant more to me or felt better in my hands than my Street Triple. I loved it not only because it fit me so well and that it’s wonderful three cylinder engine was music to my ears, but also because it reminded me of just how wonderful my lovely wife is and how fortunate I am to have such a great life partner.

You are likely asking, “Why did you sell it?” Well, it wasn’t because I had to. I chose to. I did so for two reasons. The first one is simple: it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to ride this bike without experiencing severe pain. I spent 26 years of my factory career plugging wires, driving screws, lifting, bending, pushing, pulling and generally abusing the joints in my body, over and over again and these days my body is is reminding me of the abuse.

The Street Triple is a small bike, even for a small guy like me. And I’m not the kind of guy who is content to ride around the block or down to the local Starbucks. I want to go places. I travelled on the Street Triple many times, logging lots of 500+ mile days on it. But lately, anything over 150 miles and I couldn’t wait to get off. As much as it pained me to accept, I realized I had come to a place where I could no longer enjoy riding this bike.

The second reason I chose to sell it is because of who I am. I am a rider. I am not a collector. I don’t buy bikes to polish. I don’t buy bikes to look at; I buy bikes to ride. I ride them all. I ride them far. I don’t worry about what they were built for or what the target audience is; I ride them the way I want, which is usually fast and far.

Over the 5 years I have owned this bike there has never been another person take it for a ride. It was not an easy task for me to hand off the Triple to a new owner yesterday. I told him what the bike had meant to me. I told him I hoped he would enjoy it as much as I have. I took it for one last ride…then I let it go. You can say its just a machine if you want to. Just some cold, hard steel. But you’d be wrong. You are obviously not a rider if you feel that way; not the kind of rider I am. Riding is everything to me. It defines my life and as I approach retirement age, God willing, it will define the rest of my life even more than it has up to now.

My bikes are my family. They are my companions. They set me free. They take me to places I’ve never been. Experience things I’ve never experienced. Make me the person I always dreamed of being. They transport me out of my daily rut into a world with no responsibilities other than to my own desires. I meet new people, step out of my cocoon and become one of those sojourners who is “experiencing life.”

So, today, I’m grieving just a little bit. I said goodbye to an old friend. I’m not the least bit embarrassed to admit I shed a tear or two. And now…well, now I’ve got a void to fill.IMG_0923



Beans, Beer & the Blue Ridge

I’m writing this morning from an overlook somewhere on the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville. I’m supposed to be in Maine. Yeah, I know, it’s the other direction. And, no, I didn’t look at the map upside down. Let’s just say my life has grown somewhat complicated this year. Or, maybe I’m just cursed when it comes to a trip to New England. Every time I head that way something seems to go wrong.

So, I decided to make the best of it and head south for a few days or winding roads, craft beer and camaraderie. I’ve been tryinig to get down here all summer to meet a coffee roaster that I recently became acquainted with. We’d never met in person and I was anxious to see their shop and hear about their endeavors. I spent a good hour at Bean Werks in Asheville last night, bending the owner’s ear with stories of coffee success, failure and dreams yet dreamed.

I had no more than walked outside to my bike when I met another new friend. Gary was busy packing away his riding jacket into the saddlebag of his new BMW R1200GS Water Boxer…low suspension model…my kind of guy! We struck up a conversation, found out we had a friend or two in common and spent a good twenty minutes talking bikes, family and life in general. 

From there I headed out to my favorite local bar, The Thirsty Monk, for some fine craft beer. So, no, I’m not sitting on an oceanside dock, eating Lobster Rolls, nor am I meandering my way through quaint villages in Vermont like I had imagined I would be doing right now. Sometimes you just have to take what you can get…and sometimes it ain’t half bad.



A Short Story

I would never want to go as far as to say my mother lied to me, so let’s just say she was overly optimistic. My grandfather on my Dad’s side was well over 6 feet tall. He died when I was 6 or 7 so I don’t remember a lot about him except that he reminded me of Abraham Llincoln; tall, trim, with similar facial features. And he liked to play cards with me.

He and my grandmother lived in the “little house,” which was behind our home on our small farm. It was a two-room house with no bathroom. There was an outhouse next door. My grandparents never had an indoor bathroom their entire lives so I guess when Dad moved them out to our place, they figured, “why start now.” I can clearly remember my mother giving me a spoonful of Vick’s Forumula 44 and sending me off to the Little House to play cards with Poppy Shep. Good times.

Oh yeah, about the lie. Mom told me…no, she promised me, that I would grow up to be as tall as Pop Shep, 6 feet tall, she said. Well, she was wrong…by about 7 inches. Now, before you get the wrong idea, that I’m just another short guy with a Napoleon complex, I’ve never reallly cared or given a second thought to the fact that I’m not tall, dark and handsome. It has made absolutely no difference to me in my life except for one little detail; most motorcycles have a seat height well beyond my 29″ inseam. I tiptoe a lot!

I couldn’t even tell you when the last time was that I owned a motorcycle that I could flatfoot. Probably 1980. I’ve been dabbing the ground, sliding to one side of the seat, and just plain grasping for ground all my life. You learn to live with it. Some people insist on being flatfoot on a bike. If I did that, then the only thing I could buy is a Harley and that’s just not my bag. I like tall bikes. 

My sporting bikes are tall. I barely touch on my Duke, but since it only weighs about 330 lbs, who cares? My Vstrom is shorter than most adventure bikes I’ve owned, so that I can actually get the balls of both feet on the ground at the same time. That’s about as good as it ever gets. Like many people today, I am drawn to the Adventure bikes; big machines with a comfortable upright seating postion, a rough and tumble appearance and at least the pretence of some offroad prowess. Sort of the SUV of motorcycles. I’ve owned a couple and I”m wanting another. In fact, I put a refundable deposit down on the new 2016 African Twin, just in case I like it. Turns out I’m first in line. What’s that you ask? Is it tall? Uh, yeah. Low setting on the stock seat is 33.5″. And yes, I know my inseam is 29″. Wise guy.

I will admit that this issue has prevented me from owning or keeping a few bikes that I really want to spend some time with. I’ve owned 2 BMW GS bikes, the 1200 being taller than the 1150. I tumbled on the 1200 a time or two when I couldn’t reach the ground. Same for the 1100 Multistrada I used to own. I didin’t buy a 1200 Multi for the simple fact that I could only tiptoe one foot at a time on it, and it just seemed a shame to damage all that beautiful, red, Italian paint by dropping it now and then. If it had just been a little uglier I might have takent he chance. And yes, I do know what the seat height is on the Multistrada… about 35.5″…same as the African Twin.

KTM is a brand I have always desired to own. I have the Duke now, but I really wanted (still do) to own a 990 Adventure, but a 34+” seat height just seemed like a bit too much. I told my friend Ed, who owns the local KTM shop that I’d love to have a 690 Enduro. He kindly let me down by saying , “No one uder 6′ need apply.”

Dang it Mom! What happened? Of course, I should have known I’d never make 6′. I doubt if Dad was over 5’9″ and Mom? Well, she was every bit of 4’11”. I didn’t stand a chance.



The Hunt for Great Octoberfest

We are rapidly approaching one of my favorite times of the year. Summer is on it’s last leg and Fall has not taken hold. September may very well be the best month, and for good reason.

Not only are the days more temperate and the nights carrying just the slightest hint of refreshing chill, but it’s also the month that I like to pack up my bike and head out…somewhere…anywhere…no agenda, changing my mind and direction as my mood and the weather dictates. No rules. No one to tell me where to go (well, I may have overstated that one!) or what to do. This year is no exception; I will be hitting the road soon.

But there is another reason I enjoy this time of year: Octoberfest beer. Yes, I’m a fan. Not too many craft beer styles I don’t enjoy, but this is one that I particularly look forward to. A couple years ago I struck gold by scoring these two favorite things at once; my bike trip took me to Asheville right when the many microbreweries released their Octoberfest offerings. I showed up at the Thirsty Monk only to discover brats on the grill and a sample of all the Octoberfests I could hold…and safely ride back to my hotel!

This year I went on a search for as many different Octoberfest beers as I could find. So far I have brought home beers from about 10 different breweries to compare. I have sampled about half and have not found a dud in the bunch. I enjoyed every one. Here are some of the brews that have parted my lips in my search for the Great Octoberfest:FullSizeRender (7)FullSizeRender (13)

Highland Brewing is the only Asheville brewery that distributes in my neck of the woods. Their Clawhammer got me in the moto vagabond mood. FullSizeRender (9)

If you are a fan of Octoberfest beers, I’d love to hear from you. Let me know what your favorite is or what one I’ve missed that I should try. And if you work at, own or just know of a microbrewery within a day or two’s ride from Kentucky, let me know…maybe I will just ride there and give yours a sample!





I had not gone 200 yards before I felt it; a familiar tickle in my right ear. I’ve gotten pretty good over the years at zoning this annoyance out, but for some reason this time it was particularly distracting. I pulled over to the side of the road, removed my helmet…and set whatever creepy crawler (or in this case, flyer), that had buzzed it’s way through the open shield of my helmet and into my ear, free.

Bugs. A constant companion to a motorcycle rider. We ride through hordes of bugs every time we hit the road or trail. We decorate of windscreens, headlights, helmets and jackets with their dead carcasses. And if you are like me, and like to ride with the shield of your full face helmet open, you get a few on your glasses and face as well.

not my helmet...thankfully!

not my helmet…thankfully!

And those who survive this impromptu meeting? Well, they end up crawling around in your helmet, tickling, nipping, biting and stinging, like some secret CIA torture. Normally I just ignore it and ride on, but sometimes it can be maddening. “I give! I will tell you everything you want to know! Just stop crawling in my ear!”

The worst are bees. I don’t think I have to explain why. I have been stung many times. Sometimes they get in my riding jacket. One particularly agitated bee or bees, stung me multiple times in the side before I could get him killed. Miraculously I did not crash. I’ve been stung in the head at least a half dozen times, never much fun either. As I’m being stabbed by some angry Yellow Jacket I can’t help but wonder, “Why the Hell did you fly in here if you didn’t want to stay?” Guess it was more of a home invasion than a social visit.

I can only imagine what my wife or daughters would do if they encountered a similar situation. My youngest daughter is especially afraid of bugs. I have gotten up at 4:00 am for work before, only to find her sitting on the edge of her bed waiting for me to get up to kill a bug crawling on the floor. Not waiting for a few minutes…sometimes hours…and she is 23! It’s not all that unusual for her to hunt me down to kill a crawling “monster” that has made it’s way into her room or bathroom. Pretty sure if a bug was crawling in her ear while riding down the road on a bike, she would turn the highway into a 10 car pileup trying to get it out! I guess that explains why none of the women in my house have any interest in riding.



Disappearing Act

I wrote a blog this morning entitled “Does Anyone Know a Good Yoga Instructor” or something like that. At least one person read it because they commented on it…then it disappeared. I wrote it on my iPad using the WordPress app and now it has vaporized into the unknown.

I would like to say that I spent hours slaving away on that post and that it was a masterpiece of literary architecture unparalleled by any modern day blogger. I could say that it made Hemingway look like a greeting card writer…but none of those things are true. So, you didn’t miss much. 

This post is mostly just an experiment. I ditched the WordPress app and am using a different app to see if I get better results. Well, I’m pretty sure that no app is going to improve my writing! If you get alerts when I post, well, sorry to interrupt you day with such a trivial post, but I want to make sure things are functioning properly for the next moment when I am struck with a flash of genius inspiration and gushing with poetic prose. Yeah, sickening isn’t’ it? 

Well, I’m about ready to hit the “publish” button. Wish me luck.




i have escaped the asylum! On the road in the gloom and rain, somewhere near the Tennessee line. It’s all bright sunshine in my helmet though! Don’t know where I’m going or if I will sleep in my bed tonight or somewhere else. Doesn’t really matter right now…I’m just riding and giving the Vstrom and my new helmet a shakedown before an upcoming road trip. More to come.  



Runs in the Family

You would think that as much of a motorcycle enthusiast as I am that my family would be into riding also. It surprises people to find out that I have 4 bikes in the garage and yet my wife does not ride with me. My children shared a Honda 50 for a while but none of them really took to it. Not the way I did. Later on we I picked up a Yamaha TTR 125 and my son spent a little time riding it, but no one really caught the moto fever.

Some days I am thankful because I don’t have to worry about them getting hurt on a bike. Other days I wish my family were my riding companions. Generally speaking, riding alone is a great experience for me because I’m a loner at heart. I can travel around the countryside, stopping when I want, where I want, and never feel lonely. It works for me. Yet there are so many times I wish I could climb off the bike and look over at my wife or one of my kids and say, “Was that not a fantastic mountain climb?” “Look at that view!” When you love something so much you just want to share the joy with others.

However, things may be changing in the future. My son recently picked up his first street bike and l look forward to taking a few trips with him. But even if that doesn’t work out, the next generation is looking mighty promising. My grandsons have already caught the spirit of adventure.IMG_0390

Not only are my boys on board, it looks like my granddaughter has been infected with the biker bug too! IMG_1578Let’s see, by the time the youngest one is 18, I will be 72. I’m thinking “road trip!”



A Good Pair of Boots

I’m a boot guy. Some people like tennis shoes, some like loafers. Me, I like boots. I’ve been wearing boots as my shoe of choice since I was a little kid. I don’t know if it was because I lived on a small farm or if it was driven from spending all my time riding motorcycles. Nothing like a good pair of well worn boots to make you feel right at home.

I’ve owned several pairs of motorcycle boots over the years. I’ve tried a few brands, but there is one boot in particular that stands above the rest. Sometime back in the late 90s or early 2000s I bought a pair of BMW Kilimanjaro boots. They looked more like motocross boots than street boots, and maybe that was part of the appeal. This was before everyone started using the term “Adventure bikes.” Those boots were the most comfortable riding shoes I ever owned. I wore them until just about a year or two ago, when I discovered I had worn the toe completely out. It was a sad day indeed.

I began searching for a replacement and ended up picking up a couple different pairs. Neither one compared to my old worn out boots. Frankly, I didn’t much care for them at all, so when I go the chance I picked up a pair of boots that reminded me of my old friends. I read somewhere that at one time Forma made some of the BMW boots. I have no idea if they made my old Kilimanjaro or not, but I’ve got to say I love these new Adventure boots! They are all day comfortable…good thing, as that is how they will be worn. When I go on bike trips my riding boots go hiking on mountain trails, walking around quaint downtowns and take me out to dinner and drinks. FullSizeRender (5)

These new boots feel like home and they remind me of my aging Triumph Street Triple R. I decided a few days ago that it was finally time to let my 5 year old Street Triple go. I have owned the bike since new. It was actually a gift from my wife for my 50th birthday. I have loved that bike since the day I rode it home. I didn’t put all that many miles on it (pushing 15k right now) because I have owned other bikes at the same time, however, none of them ever stuck with me like the Triple.

It’s not just that it was a gift that makes me wax poetic about this machine; it just fits me. I love the sound of that three cylinder engine as it winds out. I love looking over the bars and realizing there is nothing between me and what lies ahead. I love the minimalist nature of the bike, the raw power, the ease with which it can be handled. I don’t even think about steering it; my body just knows how it will respond and, together, we navigate the asphalt serpent.DSC_0050

This bike has taken me many places, figuratively and literally. It has spent many weeks in Asheville, running from one end of the Blue Ridge Parkway to the other. It’s been all over Virginia, West Virginia and the Midwest. Together we have created many memories.

So, I tried to put it up for sale, just like I’ve threatened to do many times before. I went as far as to create an ad. As I wrote out the post I found myself getting a bit teary-eyed and realized I couldn’t let this bike go to just anyone. I have loved this machine and someday, its new owner must love it the way I did. But for today, the Street Triple stays in the garage, at home where it belongs…just like those old worn out boots.IMG_0923



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