As the world crept into 2018, I spent my New Years Eve with friends in a crowd of over 22,500 people in a sea of lights and collective joy, my happy place. Though I was weening off of the worse stomach flu I’d ever experienced, the dancing sweat out the last of the toxins into my thermal layers. A few days later, relaxing at the hotel and wandering the back streets through a city I haven’t lived in since 2010, I ran into old friends and made some new ones. I was thankful that I’d reached out to someone I’ve been following for quite a while and have always wanted the pleasure of meeting and hearing snippets of their story in person.
LOBO. Lone wolf. This man exudes the spark that only solo travel and the true hunger for adventure brings you, one of my favorite methods of person growth. Miguel Oldenburg is true inspiration of mine. Momentarily setting aside the incredible things he’s done on a motorcycle, living in Queens, he’s worked in NYC for over 25 years excelling as a Creative Director with clients like ESPN, HBO, Showtime, Major League Baseball, NBC, CBS, ABC Network, NFL, NBA, Madison Square Garden Network, Disney Channel, just to name a few.
He’s won three Emmys for his work and has a total of 15 nominations. Miguel studied at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in his native city of Caracas, Venezuela; receiving a Communications degree and trained in Illustration and Graphic Design. He owns and runs his own company, MOTORWOLF, designs riding gear, writes and photographs his incredible travels, paints and makes music in his spare time, if any.
Miguel has ridden his motorcycle, often solo, on 34 countries and almost every state in the United States and ten of thirteen provinces in Canada. A few days after the world’s hangover wore off, Miguel met me for drinks in the lobby bar of the Ace Hotel. Once I started hearing the stories and sharing a few of mine, with the aid of many a Juan Daniele and many a hearty laugh, I was not only inspired beyond belief, I was over joyed that he’d taken the time to document and share these wonderful experiences with me and the rest of the world. That meeting made me a new friend and hopefully one day a riding buddy on some far away landscape, if not just a quick ride in our home state. Meet Miguel Oldenburg.
MM: Let’s start with the bare basics. How long have you been riding for?
MO: I started riding in my early 20’s, I’ll say on and off for a good half of my life.
MM: How did you start riding? What got you into it? What was the appeal?
MO: Back home I had the case of the Italian friends who were very passionate about motorcycles. One time he let me ride his Honda XR, and that little ride around the parking lot became transformative. The feeling of being in control, and exposed, was unparalleled to anything that I had experienced before.
MM: You currently ride a Harley Davidson Dyna, correct? What is your favorite bike?
MO: I have a FXDB which has been with me pretty much in every US state besides Hawaii, and also through ten out of the thirteen Canadian provinces and territories. “La Loba” as I affectionately call her, is without a doubt my dearest bike.
But I also have a taste for medium size ADV bikes. The type of riding I do includes long distance and transcontinental touring, so for me the adventure segment is very attractive. Among other bikes, I’ve toured with the F800GS and the new Africa Twin and both are now on my list of top favorite motorcycles.
MM: Do you feel comfortable on most types of bikes? What’s most comfortable for long travel?
MO: I love all motorcycles, but naturally I’m not comfortable in all of them. I’m a tall guy and not all bikes fit my ergonomic needs, neither serve my riding interests. I prefer slimmer, and simpler bikes than the heavy types. Heavy, and bulky is neither fun or attractive for me. For example, I’m more comfortable riding a Dyna with no saddle bags and no windshield, than a big Electra Glide, I rather ride a F800GS than a R1200GSA, rather jump on a XR650 than a flashy CBR1000RR
MM: What is your favorite trip to date? Somewhere related to your family name?
MO: My favorite and most challenging ride so far was from two years ago, when I went on my Harley from Queens, New York to the Arctic Circle.
Last year I did a “Heritage Ride” in Europe, traveling through all the regions where my DNA comes from, plus visiting the towns where both of my parents last names came from. This was in Germany, and then in Spain.
So far I’ve ridden on 34 countries, and must say that by far, from the motorcycle rider point of view, my favorite is Spain, close followed by Croatia, Canada, and the Alps region.
MM: What struggles did you come across riding where you had to think on the spot to get out of a jam?
MO: One too many situations to put on paper. One particular story comes to mind though, I was riding in Russia, on a FatBoy. I left Moscow and started heading towards Myshkin, with absolutely no knowledge of the alphabet, and no way to communicate. Had to do a crash course on the road signs so I could learn the basics, “stop”, “intersection right of way” and so on… then started to rain heavily, and soon the winds got to insane levels, I’m talking branches and cows flying… I rode through the countryside where roads quickly deteriorate, and the draining system in non existent. The puddles hid all the potholes and the rain hitting my visor warped my vision. I came to a wide turn in the middle of nowhere and the FatBoy hit a shallow puddle that increased in depth and there I went hydroplaning in mother Russia! I went pale, and my soul split like a Matryoshka. I luckily came to a stop before the ditch, and rode extremely slow to a little opening on the side of the road. I decided to stop there, in the open, to wait for the storm to pass. It took hours, but it was the smartest thing I did. I learned the next day that I rode through the worst storm that had hit Moscow in the last 90 years! Some people died and hundred of families were displaced by this crazy natural event… yet there I was, soaked, riding a Harley..
MM: What has riding given you that nothing else can?
MO: Riding long distance on motorcycles, has given me the gift of understanding.
The chance to understand and reflect on my inner voice, and the opportunity to also understand, and open myself to many different cultures and people. Traveling by motorcycle has given me an intimate view of the beauties and calamities of our world.
MM: Do you look forward to you children riding or are you apprehensive?
MO: I believe and respect individuality. If they develop an interest on motorcycles or perhaps find inspiration in what I’ve done in two wheels, it would be sweet… and I’ll definitely support their initiatives, but if they don’t care, it’s fine by me as well.
MM: Do you like city riding? What do you enjoy about it?
MO: I commute often on the bike. I live in Queens and is certainly challenging to maneuver around the road conditions in New York City, the thousand cab drivers diving three lanes to catch the next customer on the opposite sidewalk, the purposely confusing signs made to deter people from driving and parking in the city, the unexpected jaywalkers jumping on the narrow cobblestoned streets, the jealous dude stuck in traffic that don’t let you split lanes, the random bike specific police roadblocks, and now the zombie crowds walking everywhere, and crossing the streets not paying attention, with their faces in their cellphones.
Commuting is not much fun, but there are a few things that never gets old, and makes it all worth it. The view of the skyline of Manhattan when I get up the Queens bridge, A slow roll through Central Park, a ride down the FDR going under the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridge, thundering the bike under the lights of Time Square at night, among other little city pleasures…
MM: Did traveling solo inspire you to make high grade riding gear? Do you plan on expanding the line?
MO: Yes, the idea of making a functional riding vest that also looked decent, was the result of many frustrations on the road, trying to fit my needs for long distance comfort.
Besides the LOBO vest, I’m currently expanding my production with a second line named the DIABLO vest, for the urban and MC riders. I’m also producing the LOBA, which is the women’s version of our long distance riding vest.
Our production is small, and we want to keep it that way for now, providing exclusivity for the ones who wear our products. Below is the link for your readers.
MM: Which is your favorite bike event to date? Is there one you look forward to annually?
MO: I’ve attended many events in my years riding, and sure they are a lot of fun. But I’m more interested in going on my own, and taking a motorcycle to far places.
Though I’d say, I love to go to the Indian Larry Block Party every year. Always fun and I get to see and hang with good people.
MM: How has your work as Creative Director added to your designs, riding life or otherwise?
MO: My career as Creative Director is not just my job, art and design is part of my lifestyle. So I’m inclined to see everything through that optic.
A good example of this symbiosis of my art and my rides is photography. I’ve learned that capturing images as I ride makes me connect with the place I’m visiting. Many people had asked me if I rather feel disconnected and not present doing this, on the contrary, documenting my rides, makes me more aware of details and cultural angles that as a common tourist I’d miss. Through my lens I become one with my surroundings, and I love that.
MM: Do you still find time to paint?
MO: For now, painting and music are present in my life in cyclical form. Is not often I find the time, or the conceptual inspiration to hit the canvas, even though is one of my deepest passions.
Perhaps I’ll find myself dedicating long hours to glaze layers of oil paint in my elder years, burning a bowl of Cherry Cavendish in a Vauer pipe, painting motorcycle memories…
For Motorwolf Clothing, and Motorwolf Long Distance Riding Club : www.motorwolf.club
For Creative Direction and Art: www.migueloldenburg.com