As Dmitry Khazhinov lay on his back gazing up at a sky full of millions of the brightest stars he’d ever seen, he knew riding a motorcycle had given his life a new dimension.
The Russian, who had never been on a long trip since arriving in LA six years earlier, used to be an avid hobby photographer until experiencing what he describes as ‘a pause in my art’ when the creative juices stopped flowing. The purchase of a 2015 Bonneville SE and his maiden journey to Joshua Tree National Park put an end to that hiatus as the joy of the road and camping beneath the clearest firmament he’d ever seen took hold.
Iconic, mysterious and magical
“I took loads of pictures for around 10 years and then for some reason I didn’t feel inspired and just stopped. It was only when I got out on my bike that it all came back to me,” he says.
It took just one night beneath the stars and a round trip of 400km to rekindle his old passion and spark a new one: “The ride there was amazing but the landscapes at the Park are iconic, mysterious and magical. There’s also no air pollution, so it’s just as nature intended. Absolutely stunning, especially with time lapse photography.
“The rock formations look like something from an alien environment and make perfect silhouettes between the star-splashed sky and horizon, for pictures.”
Cruising with the hum of the twin
For 28-year-old Dmitry, who moved to the States to work as a software engineer, the feeling of freedom the second he set off was palpable: “Just cruising on my Bonnie with the hum of the twin was incredible, even if I did soon wish I’d fitted a fly screen.
“The ride there was deliberately slow and steady, allowing me to feel the breeze and views of the coast slowly disappearing to be replaced by the heat of the desert and its fine dust brought to life by the sun. The Bonnie had no problem with the heat and was the perfect companion.”
Escape the obnoxious and complicated
Camp grounds full because of the impromptu nature of the trip, he found total isolation elsewhere: “Silence makes the contrast from the busy, obnoxious and complicated life of the city all the greater. I woke at 3.30am to shoot the Milky Way. It was a blissful experience to witness the vastness of our galaxy, the sunrise and sunsets, all of which revitalised me.
“I’d always been keen on photography but in recent years that had fallen away. The experience of being a tiny presence beneath a vast sky full of stars encouraged me to pick up my camera again.”
He adds: “When I moved to the States from Russia it was all very new and different, but my love of riding helped me massively. I fell in love with the Bonneville and met my girlfriend through riding circles, so motorcycling has changed my life.”
“I am lucky to live near such an inspirational place, but every rider has an adventure destination on his or her doorstep. Sometimes, it’s just a case of looking for it.”