The Motorcycle Portraits is a project by photographer/filmmaker David Goldman, who travels the world making documentaries, and takes time out to interview interesting people in the motorcycle scene, wherever he might be.  The result is a single exemplary photo, a geolocation of his subject, and a transcribed interview.  The audio of his interviews can be found on The Motorcycle Portraits website.

The following Motorcycle Portraits session is with Robb Talbott, owner of the Moto Talbott Collection in Carmel Valley, CA.  If you’ve been to the Quail Motorcycle Gathering or the Las Vegas motorcycle auctions, you’ve seen Robb and some of his amazing collection of motorcycles, and if you’re lucky, you’ve had a chance to talk with him and experience first hand the joy and enthusiasm he brings to the motorcycle scene.

A Great Memory

One of my great memories and greatest stories happened in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in the winter of 1971. I was drinking beer with my buddies at this pizza parlor in Colorado Springs: later on in the week was a pretty momentous motorcycle race. So after three or four beers (or I think maybe more), my good buddies talked me into doing the Snow Run, which was a race up Pikes Peak on January 1.  And I thought, wow, I’ve never done that, and it sounds like a pretty exciting race. So they talked me into it. I prepared to get up at five o’clock that morning, and we drove up Pikes Peak to Glen Ellyn (which is somewhere around 8000 feet): the race started there, and it was 25 degrees out. And I was sitting there freezing, I thought ‘this is pretty cold’. But I was in my black leather racing suit, and I was really excited to start as number 220!  Then we started, all at once. The adrenaline was pumping. We raced all the way to the top of Pikes Peak, which is 14,110 feet high. I did fairly well out of 225 bikes, I rode to sixth place!

Robb Talbott taken at his Moto Talbott Collection in Carmel Valley CA. [David Goldman]

Sitting up on top though, we understood. We understood how cold it was. There was a thermometer on the warming house Warming House door that said it was minus 32 degrees! And the warming house door was locked! All of us sat there at the top of Pikes Peak, on that barren mountain, freezing to death. The race was run on ice and snow, and of course it wasn’t paved in those days. Going down was the coldest! It was a lot colder than racing up because I didn’t have adrenaline. People were covering themselves with anything they could find, and one poor fella put duct tape on his face to act as a windshield, but when he pulled the duct tape off, his skin pulled off too. We were back at Recife’s that night where the whole thing started – drinking beer. I wouldn’t have missed that race for anything in the world. It injected me with enough adrenaline to get me into motorcycles and now I’m almost 73 years old. I’m still into going fast on motorcycles. so I’m really glad I ran that race at speed.

Riding keeps me young

To me riding a motorcycle is one of the most complex, thrilling adventures that I can do for myself.  It can change how I’m thinking for the day, for the week, for the month.  The term ‘freedom’ is always used, and yes, you’re free to a point, but you have to focus so you don’t kill yourself. We have cell phone drivers, we have deer, we have animals. We were taught never to hit any animal bigger than what you could eat that night on a plate. Where I live, the fears and worries of hitting deer are incredible. But what does it mean when I get on a bike? I I focus on riding. I focus on the area. I love turns. I love mountains. I just went to Colorado and put almost 4000 miles on my Ducati driving over passes and enjoying the scenery. But that focus is important to keeping young for me: riding keeps you young because you’re not in a car surrounded by a heater, or Bluetooth or air conditioning, with rolled up windows. You’re smelling roadkill, you’re smelling the sage, and when you cross Nevada. you’re smelling the fires that have run through. For example, up in Wyoming there were 17 fires in the summer of 2012 that I rode through: you are involved with the world that you’re riding through, you’re involved with nature, you’re involved with temperatures, from the animals to the sun, it evokes danger, it helps your adrenaline stay up.  It’s exciting for me going fast on a bike out in the West, that’s my favorite place to ride. It wouldn’t be the same on the 95 going to Boston from Florida, which I’ve done.  Riding keeps me young, and I look forward to it, and when I get off that bike, hopefully I’m sore and a little bit cold. I’ve had a good ride. My day has been made. And then I started planning my next ride. I don’t know how I could live without riding, it’s definitely in my blood. It’s certainly part of my character, and I meet the best people on bikes too. All of us seem to have a common ground. That is amazing. So stay young, stay safe, and ride a bike. I love them. That’s so cool.



David Goldman is photographer and filmmaker who has traveled the world on projects documenting human trafficking, maternal health and marginalized people. He also interviews and photographs motorcyclists in this travels for his series The Motorcycle Portraits. You can follow his website here, his IG here, and his FB here. Explore all his stories for The Vintagent here.