I was always fascinated by self-propelled vehicles of all sorts, including cars, trucks, motorcycles, airplanes, power boats, and even trains. After several years of begging, when I was nine my father finally gave in and let me drive his car. I had learned how to clutch and shift by watching drivers and knew how to do it without instruction. Since then I’ve also become a pilot, driven race cars, and operated locomotives, but that’s another story.
Eventually I noticed that relative to cars, motorcycles had great acceleration and performance, yet were fuel thrifty and took up little space. That was an epiphany —and this is my 45th year of riding motorcycles. I also rode mini bikes and drove go-karts for several years before I started riding motorcycles (and those years don’t count toward my 45 though). I first rode a friend’s dirt bike at age 14. When I was 15, I bought a used 50cc Batavus moped in Rotterdam, which I rode all around Holland. That same year, I got to ride my boss’s 1937 Harley 80-inch flathead, which was a pretty big transition!
After that, there was a succession of about 35 motorcycles right up to the present. I’ve owned bikes from the USA, England, Europe, and Japan, and I’ve loved them all. Although I’ve ridden extensively in Africa, I always enjoy riding in mountainous terrain and some of my favorite roads are in the Rockies, Himalayas, Alps, and Dolomites. Bhutan and Passo di Stelvio are very memorable, and I love the Col de Turini. It’s a mountain pass in the Alps that is famous as a stage of the Monte Carlo Rally, which is held on this tight road with its many hairpin turns.
My parent’s advice was “Ken, why don’t you stop playing with those cars and motorcycles, and do something you can make a living at?” I’ve made my living off these vehicles my entire life and don’t expect to change. Sometimes it’s best not to listen to what people say.