Winter in the Northeast is not ideal for one obsessed with the mental and physical health benefits of motorcycling.
I get out and ride as much as possible during the frigid Pennsylvania months. But snow, ice, and roads consumed by slippery salt from plow trucks prevent me from riding most winter days—especially in January.
To remain sane, I switch focus during the cold season. I retain some of the health benefits of motorcycling by wrenching on my machines. This January, though, I took things a bit further with two new lifestyle choices.
First, I basically “dried out” and only had four glasses of wine through January 28. That was the day I headed to Malaga, Spain, for the new Suzuki V-Strom 1050 test. For a man who loves wine, and admits dinner tastes horrible without it, not having wine while in Spain is sacrilegious. Rioja is everywhere and must be embraced.
The reason for the lack of booze in January had nothing to do with a New Year’s resolution, which I don’t believe in. Rather, minimal alcohol is an extension of my six-month sleep study, and it has helped, though at the downside of less-tasty food.
Better sleep translates to enhanced focus and sharper skills. The benefits are something everyone —especially those who put their lives on the line while riding—can use.
Minimizing alcohol has been the most effective sleep hack behind remaining on consistent sleep/wake times, dicing electronic screens two hours before sleep, and cutting caffeine at noon.
Second is the “workercise” factor.
I’ve always worked out at least three times a week—weight training mostly. I don’t work out for muscles or looks; I do it to remain energetic to get more quality work done faster, so I have times to do the things I love, like hanging out with my family and, of course, riding motorcycles.
As my biohacking studies advance, life continues to get weirder. Just ask my wife—from elevating the top of the bed to ice-cold showers to lion’s mane mushroom extract, she sees it all. I embrace this weirdness due to my productivity output. This January, I wanted to take another step after realizing how sedentary a 10-hour workday is.
I began researching and discovered walking treadmills for under my standup desk. I’ve been using a standup desk with a grounding mat for nearly two years, and it was a major game-changer for focus and posture struggles.
I was about to invest in a walking treadmill, but while putting the race fairings on my Honda RC51 SP1, I saw my stationary bicycle. I took some rough measurements (high as my hip) and realized I can take the top bars off and fit it under my standup desk.
Within three days, I cycled over 45 miles while working, from writing to research to conference calls. It’s nothing strenuous, by any measure, but I keep the energy levels high. I call these two-hour daily sessions “workercise.”
Again, this helps with energy and focus, leaving more time for two wheels and family.
The third life-changing factor of January arrived from the post office. After a six-year search, I received an eBay alert about a pristine 1997 Fender Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Stratocaster.
I wasted zero time and bought it. There are two models of Voodoo Strats from that year, a standard right-handed Stratocaster with an upside-down neck and a backward bridge pickup (Hendrix was left-handed and had to restring the only models available at the time, guitars for right-handed players), and the one I finally found—a left-handed guitar strung for right-handers.
The reverse setup, most notably the reverse polarity of the pickups on different strings (too much to write about here), was one of many essential elements to Jimi’s immediately identifiable sound.
I’ve been playing more than ever, and always forget how playing transcends my mind quickly, especially when writing new music. Playing guitar balances my mind, something I need, especially during the winter months when I can’t ride. And noodling on this Hendrix Strat that I’ve wanted since I was 17 helps amplify those mental health benefits.
I learned much during January 2020, and expect to learn even more in February. I am sure the lifestyle hacks will get weirder, and my life healthier and happier. As for guitars, I don’t think another one will come into my life anytime soon, though I am waiting for a 1992 Fender Stevie Ray Vaughn Stratocaster to surface.