18th of September 2015. Seating in the van. We had just killed the Lucky Cat in its own reign. (READ MORE HERE) The Glemseck Sprint Races, just a few miles East of Stuttgart. Big Bad Wolf was tied on the cargo part of the van with a few mosquitoes between its teeth and a big grin. She had won! Far from being happy, we were exhausted. The two days ahead, bound to the highway gave a lot of time to think. Pico at the passenger seat with Lalo at the wheel, flat out, traversing the good German Autobahns. Trying to summarize the news, analyzing the downs and highs. We had accomplished an amazing feat, still I felt empty and couldn’t care less. Pico usually frightened by my tendency to always escalate our racing stakes, suddenly saw a weak spot and took an aim. My lack of filters betrayed me once again. Now what? He asked. Are we doubling the bet or will you come to reason my dear? Ayayay… The amount of work and intellectual wizardry that made BBW the beast she is, was just not justifiable by any company metric or standard. I was ready to quit that trip. What the hell! Racing had never been the centerpiece of our DNA.
So what next? It didn’t become clear in a brisk, but it wasn’t long until, in an effort to reconcile all the team’s vital fears and desires with El Solitario’s best gifts, that the answer should arise. Every company, and specially multidisciplinary ones, every now and then should question themselves: What are we the best at? Pulling this trigger helps keeping it real. At El Solitario we love building bikes but we are not high skilled engineers. We also love racing but we are unfit and slow. So what have we always been good at? We are storytellers and that has never faded an inch. Motorcycle poets we defined ourselves in 2010, to the rage of the guardians of the good old BikeExif gates. We understand the time we live in and the vicisitudes and insecurities of the motorcycle brain and we embrace them as our creed. We believe that the world needs a change of paradigm. That nothing is what you have been told and with our influence in our small world, our tiny but loud 2 wheeled militia, we confront and question all axioms and truths, always caring for our imprint. Its been 9 years since our first deeds and this hasn’t changed a bit.
Back to the point of discussion. Storytellers we said… We had always dreamt about a motorcycle expedition, but a full Solitario one, in which we would design all the gear, (Helmets, boots, goggles, protective wear… Even our tents!), complete motorcycles and even our own Support Vehicle! As soon as this idea started growing into our fantasies, wilder and wilder it went. We already knew all the best people to make it excel, so we only needed the dough. The plan was on wheels, but before it could ignite, it needed a name! It wasn’t until a few months later that inspiration got hold of our breath. One of those long nights, our buddy Rodrigo, whisky in hand, compared us with the Angel Metatron. I was petrified! Among other killer things, Metatron was the archangel God needed to use to communicate his word to humans on earth. As his sole voice would be so huge and deafening that it would kill us all. He was the filter! The perfect identity we were looking for. Now we had a dream, and this dream was called Metatron. A story about forging friendships. Not just between riders, but between designers, builders and manufacturers, collaborating freely on one common goal – Adventure!
Now we needed bikes. Everybody knows that we admired how the Sportster started its life as a “do it all” motorcycle. Race it on Saturday, ride it to work on Monday. Off-road and on road, it was the real deal bike! What would it have been like, if H-D would have stayed with the program it started in the 50’s? We were to try to reimagine this concept and take it into the 21st century. What about our gear? We knew we had the guys of SHOEI, RIDE100% and Alpinestars backing us but we needed something more daring. Then the magic happened! The guys from Dyneema called us out of the blue. They wanted to collaborate with us and give us a chance to play with their incredibly advanced fabrics. The toughest textiles on planet earth they said.
El Solitario is known for it ́s capability of getting the best out of the very varied people or brands we collaborate with, and we found this adventure provided the perfect ground for an exciting range of collaborations. Using Dyneema we designed clothes, bags and even our tents! All with the common denominator of the extensive use of color Black. The task was enormous and took a lot of energy but finally we survived. Mixing monsters like; Mercedes- Benz, Harley Davidson; SHOEI or Tudor (Rolex GMBH), with one man bands like Yama Mountain Gear or ourselves was not an easy task but fuck we did succeed at it. Unfortunately, as with everything in life, we had a price to pay. The only missing link was how to cover this story. Who would film this endeavor? We’ve always done our own movies, but this time, with so many big interests involved, we needed a giant quality leap seeming different and harder to accomplish by ourselves. It is not the first time I talk on these pages about our good fortune and how we’ve settled before with the definition of luck as nothing more than the results when preparation meets opportunity. One way or another we were prepared and opportunity knocked on our door.
His name was Gareth Roberts and he was filming a long documentary film about the new custom scene and wanted to feature El Solitario & its next big thing whatever that could be. BINGO! The movie was called Oil in the Blood and its project outline seemed totally on point. He wanted to explore the future possibilities of the new custom scene to perpetuate itself in time or if otherwise it would vanish in a brisk like so many other movements have done before this. I told him that if he wanted to film us we needed absolute control and final cut and he agreed to this. Doesn’t it sound awesome? We congratulated ourselves thinking we surely must have done something in our previous lives to deserve this. It was delirious to see all the stars align. Together we planned carefully the African trip. Meanwhile, at our studio, we were all immerse in a turmoil of designs, samples, trials and errors phase that we will never forget. Exciting was not even close to describe this frenzy. Every day Fedex brought something new and exhilarating to our door. A kid’s wildest dream. But the time to cross the Gibraltar Strait and get deep into the Sahara was getting closer and closer and we hadn’t had time to plan how were we going to tell the story of Metatron. We already knew that it would be called El Solitario Desert Wolves, and we knew our discourse was solid, but that’s one thing, and communicate it to a broader audience is a very different one. Pico was worried that I was too immersed in the creative process and was neglecting the movie’s outline. He was right.
48 hours before leaving for Africa, the bikes arrived from Classic Co. in Madrid and so did Gareth with a crew of 4. Later in Morocco we would be joined by another 14!@# We were running around like mad men. The bikes were not finished, the helmets hadn’t arrived, the van was not ready… Tense could be the word to define the reigning vibe. In the meantime dear Gareth was there to make a movie. The problem was that the wolves were not going to let him film us this way. We didn’t want a reality show! This was not our style. The confrontation didn’t take long to arrive. But the real problem was, that with all the planning & design that this project needed, I had forgotten about the most essential part! How were we going to tell this story! And I didn’t have an stratagem. All I knew is what I didn’t want, but that is not always enough to get you out of trouble. The following weeks were going to be tough. Many believe we are camera whores but we are right the opposite. We’ve always been surrounded by media attention, yes, but act so evasively, we’ve almost never seated in front of the red light unmasked. Improvisation had always been our best allied, to tackle these situations so far. But we were just about to learn that when you raise the stakes and there is a lot on the game, Murphy’s Law will seat and play. With project Metatron (Later known as E.S. Desert Wolves) we had a lot to say but didn’t have a plan to say it well. Handing its outcome, its destiny, to a third party’s hand, no matter how competent he could be, was going to untie our biggest nightmare up to date.
We wanted to go on an adventure and found a struggle instead. Having to cope with a movie crew of 18 people just eliminated from the equation any luck or chance. Something we’ve had immensely relied on in our projects and our lives. We were slow and the communication between Gareth and myself on the 2nd day in Africa came to an end. Under the risk of the Desert Wolves leaving the movie crew behind to continue the trip on our own, Gareth and I agreed to resolve the conflict like fair men and listen to my input but it was already to late. My reaction: Was it justified or plain bad? We’ll never know, but was of self defense. I refused to show any open faces on camera, as at the time thought this was the only solution to avoid the butchering of our DNA.
In the end the footage we shot in the desert is visually appealing, because our staging was impecable and the film tech was right, but there is no story & its irrelevant and boring. Boring should be the 8th capital sin!@#$ and it ain’t Solitario. The breach became so big that it even shattered the union between Pico and myself putting our survival as a team at risk. A situation that lasted for months after we returned from the Sahara sands. Meanwhile Gonzalo, always unstirred, with his 3 photographic cameras hanging from his neck was documenting a milestone in motorcycle history, not minding how miserable we could feel at the time. Cameras like tragedy they say, and there is a very fine line between tragedy and comedy I must admit. His photographs were to travel the world pushing our adventures to the covers of the most important motorcycle magazines. While at our headquarters the Desert Wolves were still a taboo, abroad, our ideas were traveling faster than light. It wasn’t until 10 months after, coinciding the preparation of Wheels and Waves that we decided to bury the war axe and call Gareth again. It was our responsibility to fix this and make a good movie out of it. We hugged it out and set a new date to shoot again in Galicia. This time I promised I would let him approach us with no filters, something I had never done before. I hope that the outcome will not show I was wrong but one way or another the Desert Wolves have already become part of Motorcycle’s iconography so there is not much left to do.
Thank you Gareth and Lucy for the blood, sweat and tears you’ve had with us and congratulations for having made an honest film and for having fought like animals, flying solo, to get it released against all odds. Now I get it! Ten years ago this would not have been impossible, but in 2010, young, creative riders regained control of motorcycle culture. We flicked their middle finger at the motorcycle establishment, and guess what? We won!
This October all our readers will be able to watch Gareth’s movie and judge for themselves if we did a good job. Oil in the Blood will premiere on Amazon and iTunes next October 14th
Alea iacta est
“The Desert Wolves is a Gesamtkunstwerk—a total work of art, in which the riders, their gear, their machines, their backup, the photography, and the film made of their adventure, were shaped to one vision, El Solitario’s! I predict the sheer grandiosity of the Desert Wolves concept will shift the axis of the industry a few degrees, and magnetic North will move a little closer to Spain.”
Paul D’Orleans wrote in Cycle World,
Photography by Gonzalo Arroyo
SPECIAL THANKS TO ALL THE FOLKS THAT MADE THIS DREAM POSSIBLE AND EVEN MORE SPECIALLY TO DSM DYNEEMA, TUDOR, HARLEY DAVIDSON, MERCEDES-BENZ, SHOEI, ALPINESTARS, DUNLOP & KRIEGA YOU’RE RAD!