Thursday, December 23, 2010

Preparation for the trip

I first read Zen in my capstone business management class at the University of Missouri - KC in 1992.  Although I say 'read', it was more like a skim.  A few years later, I took up the book again and read it cover to cover.  And it had quite a profound impact on the way I thought about quality. 

I've started and stopped reading it several times since and I've also read a bit of Lila.  I would like to read Zen again before the trip, but with all the planning and my priority of reading the guide books (see below), I'm not sure there will be enough time.  Since first reading Zen, I have always thought about one day travelling the route Robert Pirsig took in the book but assumed I would never have a 15 day window in which to do so.  Thankfully, I am employed by the American Academy of Family Physicians which offers a 30-day sabbatical after working there for ten years. After submitting my application this year, I was extremely pleased to have been selected by our VP group to take my sabbatical.  It was a theoretical up until now, but I guess this is the time when the rubber finally will meet the road!

As I'm beginning to plan, I've come across a couple of great resources for anyone contemplating the trip.  The first is a terrific blog by Henry Gurr ( and the other is a detailed route map at . 

Regarding motorcycles, although I grew up on dirt bikes and have ridden a small street bike before, I've never ridden a bike as big as I'll be taking on this trip.  I'm currently looking for a cruiser-type bike (BMW 1200LT/RT or Honda Goldwing).  While I could drive the trip in a car, I believe the experience could never be as rich and rewarding as it will by being out in the open air on a bike.

There are also two books, which were recommended, that I have purchased and have begun reading for additional insight: Zen and Now: On the Trail of Robert Pirsig and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Mark Richardson and Guidebook to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Ron Di Santo and Tom Steele. 

Our office is closed until January 4th, so I'll be taking the time over Christmas break to finalize the trip logistics and hopefully get into the two reference books.