Ready to Ride

Riding a motorcycle can be one of the most freeing experiences you can have on the literal journey of life. But when you find yourself sprawled out in the dirt of a Mexican desert, unconscious after an accident, it can change your perspective on things.

In April 2014, that’s exactly the situation Scott Pargett found himself in, waking up in a hospital wondering why he wasn’t on top of his bike. It might surprise you to hear that not six months later, he was powering through the Mojave desert in a demanding off-road dual-sport motorcycle race. This isn’t the story of a professional motorcyclist. Scott is an art director here at D&G.

“Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.”

From building and riding motorcycles to carpentry and interior design at his warehouse, this is a man who likes to get his hands dirty. On his blog, Lights Out, Knives Out, you can begin to get a sense of his visual aesthetic through his photography work. And in the craft and artistry he employs every day at work, you can see his unique take on things. He isn’t resistant to anything and seems to be at peace, flowing with the stream of life rather than against it. That, and he’s fun to be around. As he mentioned in his introduction to the agency, one of the following three things is true about him:

1. He is related to Leonardo DiCaprio.

2. He has toured the world in a rock band.

3. He made and lost a million dollars before his 21st birthday.

But that’s a tale for a different blog. This is about Scott’s Goliath and the story behind that accident in Mexico and the LA/Barstow to Vegas Dual Sport, motorcycle race. As Scott likes to say, “Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone,” a statement that both informs his work and his life. And one that catapulted his passion for biking from that accident in Mexico to the uncut path of off-roading across hostile terrain. The below interview is a glimpse into Scott’s world and an understanding of the Goliath he set out to conquer.

What exactly was your Goliath?

LA/Barstow to Vegas, a two-day, off-road race. The longest, distance wise, of its kind in the United States. The name stands for the journey. It starts in northern Mojave just outside of Barstow and ends on the outskirts of Vegas. It’s unmapped. It’s dangerous. And you don’t know what the course is until the morning of the race.

Why was this a Goliath?

In April 2014, I had a motorcycle crash in Mexico. I was found under my bike knocked out, had a dislocated arm for three days until I got back to the states, and fractured a vertebrae in my back. It was a Goliath just to recover from that.

When something traumatic like that happens, it’s an opportunity to quit. I’ve been there before and recognized it. This race was the pinnacle of overcoming my accident and the fear associated with it.

Why this particular race?

It has an incredibly high failure rate because it’s so difficult. I’d have to push myself, really push myself. It felt right. Felt like a big-enough endeavor that if I completed it, I’d be well past any thought of quitting the new, off-roading aspect of my motorcycle life I had after the accident.

When did you decide you were going to conquer this Goliath?

A friend told me about it and the seed got planted. It started simply like, “Oh, that’d be cool.” Then about three months before the race, I decided I was going to do it. From that moment on, every waking moment was dedicated to that goal—eating, exercising, research, and building the bike I’d be using. Every second was used.

I tightened the last bolt moments before the race. I didn’t even get a chance to test it—that was really risky; you don’t do that. But that was all part of it for me. The whole thing was a risk.

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Did you have any doubts?

Yeah, the day before, I had just come back from a long weekend. My partner canceled with a back injury while training just before the race. I was tired, unsure I could do it, and everything came down on me. I sat outside my house for a good 45 minutes before and really thought about not doing this. But I knew everyone would be asking me about it. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do it or if I didn’t finish. I was able to link up with some Australian adventurers a friend put me in touch with. And that was it. No more doubts controlling my decision.

Tell me about the race.

Race day, you’re up at 4 a.m. It’s freezing winter in the desert, dark, dusty. Hundreds of bikes out there, headlights blazing, people getting race numbers and roll charts, engines revving. It’s almost how you’d imagine troops before an invasion—the calm before the storm. You’re still just a bundle of nerves; the unknown is out there, waiting for you.

Before we started the race, I had to choose between two courses: hard and easy. I took the hard way. My bike was a little big for that. But, if I came this far, I couldn’t not take the hard course, even though the “easy” is far from easy.

“You recognize what you need to do, who you need to be—for yourself and the team.”

I powered up my bike. Luckily it worked. Like I said, I hadn’t tested it. And just like that, we were off. Twelve hours of open desert, deep, sandy silk beds, zero visibility, and lunar-like rocky conditions, climbing steep hills and cliff slides every day. Then a few hours of sleep. You have a plan, but nothing goes according to plan.

My team and I were all there for each other. Everyone had different strengths, and they come through at different times. You recognize what you need to do, who you need to be—for yourself and the team.

But despite the hardships, you have moments where everything’s perfect. The terrain opens up, maybe the sun is in the right spot, an eagle is in the sky, you’re there, you’re present. You realize the majesty of where you are and what you’re doing. It’s rare that you’re hundreds of miles from anything, especially in California.

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What sort of things were going through your head when you finally finished?

It felt amazing. It’s funny how quickly you can go from “This is miserable; I’m never doing this again” to “This is awesome” the second it’s over.

There were opportunities to quit all along the way. At times I was beyond exhausted, stuck in a sand trap, crashing every 5 feet. But finishing was really the only option. Out there, 10 miles may as well be 10,000. But you look back and it’s 10,000 miles behind you, the only way forward is forward. Keep going. If you’re going through hell, keep going.

What was your biggest personal takeaway?

When you experience something that difficult, it teaches you what you’re made of. It puts everything else into perspective. All your other problems, everything that feels hard, all those things seem trivial and conquerable compared to what you went through.

“Challenges and experiences like this bring you closer to knowing how far you can push yourself.”

We always wonder what internal strength we have. Always asking, “Could I do that?” Challenges and experiences like this bring you closer to knowing how far you can push yourself. It reminds me of the quote I believe was by General Patton, I’ve done it with less.

Any advice to people trying to conquer their Goliaths?

Just do it. Take action. It’s that simple. You got to start somewhere.

There are a lot of things I tried and failed at. But the biggest failure is not trying.

Written by: Adam Mieuli