Nuts About Bikes

These Okies are the Real Deal

Every few years or so, you run into a young person that really has his act together. Recently Nuts About Bikes had the privilege of meeting two of them, Rachel Manchester and Lindsay Saunders.

m109rWhen we caught up with them, atop an electric blue 1986 Honda 450 Rebel, Rachel, 23 and Lindsay, 25, were on an adventure most riders only dream about. Calling themselves "Las Murcielagas" (the girl bats), they had left their home state of Oklahoma in early August 2008 to meander around the country.

What better way to discover the true character of the United States?

Six months before, neither had owned or operated a motorcycle. They got licensed, practiced on a little 250, picked up the old Rebel cheap and went on their way. They switch positions when one gets tired, either of driving or dealing with the postage-stamp pillion.

They stay with friends and family. Or throw down a bedroll. They only carry what they need, a few changes of clothes, tools, a tarp to throw over the bike when it rains (they don’t ride in the wet) and souvenirs from the road – like the ears of corn they bungeed to the fork bag, somewhere in Ohio.

George Patton said that a good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow. These young Okies have a lot to teach us about getting the job done. Rather than sitting home, waiting for life happen, they made a plan and put it into action.

Their plan is certainly imperfect. A 20 year old Honda may not be the best motorcycle to carry two people across a continent. The pillion seat is scarcely larger than a paperback book and probably about as comfortable. Parts availability will be an issue. There are places out there where the local wrench won’t work on a bike of that vintage.

Who cares? They’re doing it, that’s the important thing. Instead of reading about the experience of others, this intrepid duo is biting life in the ass and writing their own narrative; rolling Blue Highways, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and the Motorcycle Diaries into one excellent adventure. Meeting people like them makes you glad to be alive.

They’re documenting the voyage with a video camera, cleverly hidden inside a modest black handbag. (These kids are da bomb.) And it’s cool that, like Zen’s author Robert Pirsig, they’re making their odyssey on an old Honda. That’s probably no accident.

They’ve been through Nebraska, Ohio, the Ozarks, the Great Lakes. When we caught up to them on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, they were headed to Nova Scotia and the Jersey Shore. After that, who knows? The plan is pretty loose, as the step-stone their way across the country, planning to return to Oklahoma sometime before Thanksgiving.

They are taking the road as it comes. Crazy? Maybe. Once-in-a-lifetime, out-of-the world incredible? Definitely.

We asked what inspired them. Celebrating a milestone? Just doing something amazing? Lindsay replied, “Our lives are kind of amazing, all the time.”

-Sal Emma, Editor
September 2008

Postscript, summer 2009: The duo ended up making it all the way to Maine. They finished the movie and a Zine to go with it. Here's an interview they did before the movie debuted in Tulsa. For more information, write to Las Murcielagas, PO Box 1525, Tulsa, OK 74101.