The story of a journey is not always just about the journey.
Sometimes what prompts a ride is part of the story. These two journeys were responses to a black wall of stress and depression that threatened to overwhelm the author. The first ride (Northeast) became a journey that reawakened faith in humanity and restored a balanced view of the world that had been slipping away, and the second (Northwest) was a preventative measure to fend off a return to that darkness and retain the progress made by the first.
This ride across the North American continent revealed the overwhelming beauty of the natural world and the goodness of people along the way. Stress may return, but the great wide world is always out there, waiting to restore and reaffirm the value of life in it for anyone who takes up the challenge of experiencing it.
Mike Fitterling was born in 1957 in northern Indiana and grew up across the state line in Niles, Michigan, graduating from Brandywine High School in 1975. Mike did a two year stint at Anderson College, in Indiana, before dropping out in 1978. In 1989, he returned to school at the University of South Florida, where he graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor in Fine Arts.
Throughout Mike’s youth, family trips hinted at the world awaiting him if he just got on the road. Starting at an early age his family made camping trips to over twenty states.
After his first stab at college, Mike tagged along with his brother on a biology and archeology excursion Anderson College had organized to Central America. Those five weeks of camping in the remotest areas of Mexico and Guatemala added the twist of adventure to his love of travelling.
As time went on, Mike was drawn to the sea, bought a small sailboat, and took off along the southeast US coast and through the Bahamas and Caribbean. He captained an excursion sailboat in the Cayman Islands for three summers and earned his US captain’s license in 1993.
Returning to the States from the Caribbean, Mike settled in central Florida, where he worked as a graphic designer. Later, he became interested in woodworking and worked semi-professionally at that craft for a period while working for Lost Classics Book Company.
When he married in 1997, Mike was working as cover designer and illustrator for Lost Classics Book Company, and later became Managing Editor. He acquired the company in 2010. Finding himself owner of a publishing company, his natural inclination was to turn to publishing books on motorcycling, and so in 2011, the Road Dog Publications imprint was started.
In 2013, Mike became Editor of Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Magazine, the official publication of the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club of North America, where he also currently serves on the board of directors.
Motorcycles had been a distant dream for Mike since his childhood, but bike ownership escaped him until he was in his fifties, when he discovered a 1968 Honda tucked away in a dusty corner of a relative’s shop. He extracted the motorcycle and applied himself to learning about fixing and riding them, starting a new episode in his life, which provided him a new means of adventuring. He later acquired a Suzuki Savage, then a modern Triumph Bonneville, and has since added a 200cc Honda Scrambler and a Suzuki GS550e to his garage. Everything but the Triumph have been project bikes, the GS being still largely in boxes at the time this book was published.
Mike loves long-distance riding and tries to get at least one long ride in a year. Between 2009 and the end of 2016 he has put close to 150,000 miles behind him riding in the US and Canada.