A life defined by motorcycles
Mark Weiss embraces art, fine dining, Jungian philosophy, and the open road on his customized motorcycles.
Photo by Rana Faure
If you were to encounter lanky and affable Mark Weiss at his Bedford home, you’d probably be struck by his intellect and philosophical bent (Jungian); his modernist tastes, and sly sense of humor. What you might not realize, at least until you stepped into his garage, is that Mark Weiss also happens to be passionate about and possibly obsessed with motorcycles. He loves buying them, fixing them up, and attending motorcycle races around the globe. But most of all he loves riding them. Fast. Very fast.
Weiss’s evolution on two wheels began years ago, cycling in Colorado, where he used to live with his wife Naomi and their three children before relocating to Bedford. He trained with serious cyclists who were addicted to velocity and racing. It was challenging and also exhilarating, but after a time, hardcore cycling began to take a physical toll.
“My whole life is: what can I do now that I can’t do that anymore,” says Weiss.
Playing basketball, running, and riding bikes all were retired in succession. Fifteen years ago, Weiss revisited riding on two wheels, but this time he opted for motorization and, on a whim, bought a white Vespa. Very soon after, he graduated to riding a Moto Guzzi (750 cc V7)—a classic motorcycle manufactured by the legendary Italian company of the same name.
Weiss was hooked. Never content with the status quo, he bought another bike, a Stelvio, also manufactured by Moto Guzzi, and named after the circuitous Stelvio Pass in the Italian Alps. But it wasn’t a love match. “I got bored with the Stelvio. It felt like a tractor.” His next conquest was a BMW adventure bike. “It’s large but very maneuverable. You can ride it on dirt; you can ride it on anything.” To sharpen his driving skills, he attended the RawHyde BMW dual sport school near the desert in Castaic, California.
He and Naomi, a talented ceramicist and artist, enjoy taking far-flung motorcycle road trips together. “I like to spend four to six months planning—it’s really a big part of the trip. We ride hard, eat well, and go to really nice hotels,” he says with a smile. Their children haven’t always been on board with their father’s plans. “When Naomi and I went to South Africa the kids told me, ‘If you hurt Mom, don’t bother coming back.’ But my wife is very adventurous,” says Weiss with obvious admiration. “I get scared before she does.”
After years of mototouring around the world and closer to home, Weiss began to feel restless. “I found myself wanting to go faster. I didn’t want to just sit on the bike.”
One day he wandered into a Ducati shop and bought a Multistrada on the spot, his first Ducati. “It was the worst experience I’ve ever had with a bike. It was a new model and wasn’t ready for prime time. I rode it for a month and then sold it at great financial loss. But what I did get from the experience was meeting a bunch of Ducati riders. In motorcycle culture, there are the go-fast boys and the no-fast boys, and I realized that I was secretly a go-fast boy.”
Weiss joined a group of riders and though he was the lone BMW S 1000 XR rider, no one judged. Today, the group ages range from 45 to 64. Even though Weiss is the oldest—thanks to a rigorous physical fitness regime—he says doesn’t feel like it. “Core strength is important,” he says. “I do a lot of resistance muscle training and isometric exercises. I have to work out all winter in order to be able to ride all summer. It’s a demanding sport—like being a jockey and riding a horse.”
He believes in riding aggressively but also safely, so this motorcycle enthusiast fine-tunes his technical skills by attending bike schools across the country. “I’m a thinker,” he says. “I read a lot. I study the books and the manuals. I visualize myself on the track and imagine what I’m going to do. When you’re going 27 meters per second, there’s not a lot of time for thinking. You have where the bike is right now, but it’s barely relevant. It’s where the bike is going to be. It forces you to fully focus and anticipate. There’s a kind of magic to it, and it’s captivating.”
Weiss admits that none of his children are interested in motorcycles. “They just think it’s ‘Dad’s thing.’ But riding motorcycles is not a mid-life crisis. I do it to live. It makes me feel alive. And I use all of my physical and mental resources to do it well.”