Dave Zien, former senator, now million mile motorcycle man
MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- One Harley-Davidson rider stands above all others -- at least in terms of the miles he's put on his bike!
63-year-old Dave Zien says if it is true that life is a journey and not a destination, he is thankful for every whisker-whipping mile!
"Incredibly content, euphorically fulfilled," Zien said.
Zien was born and raised at a farm near Eau Claire.
"I was born and raised on the back end of a dead end road. I had a horse and it couldn't go fast enough, so I got on a motorcycle," Zien said.
Zien later served in a Marine unit in Vietnam, and eventually became a state legislator, serving at the state Capitol for 18 years.
"Everything that happens affects politics. Politics affects everything that happens," Zien said.
Zien is now retired, but his journey continues, mostly on the open road. In fact, no one has logged more miles than Zien.
"The million mile motorcycle man. The only person to have put a million miles on one motorcycle with the documentation to prove it. It not like some of these guys at a tavern on Saturday morning claiming they got a million miles," Zien said.
Zien's bike is now in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Sturgis, South Dakota.
It is no surprise that he almost never travels in cars. He says they are too confining for a free spirit.
"In a car, you're caged in. We call 'em cages, but on a motorcycle, you're sensitive to the environment. You can see, hear, smell -- you're sensitive to the environment -- you can feel the vibrations of semis, you can smell," Zien said.
Zien has felt those vibrations for two-and-a-half million motorcycle miles, and almost as many stops along the way.
"My wife and I came back from Glacier National Park, Custer Battlefield, the Big Horn Mountains, the little horn mountains, Sturgis. We went to Sturgis twice. I can't go to Sturgis just once. When I went to Reno to speak, Harrisburg Pennsylvania, Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Florida, Dallas, Phoenix, Wichita, Kansas, this year. I went from Key West in the South to Pruto Bay and back to key west twice. I did the four corners of the United States. I spoke in Washington D.C. for the National Rifle Association, in Harrisburg Pennsylvania, I spoke in Jacksonville Florida, and Daytona Beach and Wichita Kansas, Phoenix Arizona, Reno Nevada, Columbus, Ohio," Zien said.
All of that distance is more remarkable when you consider the fact that the last leg of his journey has been traveled on one leg -- quite literally!
Zien almost found his final stop on a highway in Florida.
"An SUV went across both lanes, went into the ditch, into the median, come back out, flipped on its side. The woman in front of me jerked. I don't think she even hit her breaks. I hit 'em and I went 342 feet and I lost my leg seven inches above the knee," Zien said.
Zien now has a prosthetic leg -- after six major surgeries.
Since the accident, Zien is fueled by a certain type of spirituality.
"God's Holy Spirit can change any place -- can change anyone. It's given me a new appreciation. God speaks to us through others, God speaks to others through us, God speaks to us through wind nature and freedom, God speaks to wind nature and freedom through us," Zien said.
It is a quest for holiness on a Harley.
"Angels in the sky are everywhere. Some among us, others within us," Zien said.
Zien, the formerly clean-shaven senator has now put down the razor for good.
"It took me a couple years, but the wind is just kind of, it's constant therapeutic. It's like healing touch. It's like massage therapy. It just tufts. It just feels so good in the wind when you have your whiskers," Zien said.
Because it is now harder for him to hop on, Zien has added a third wheel to steady the ride.
"God wanted me to be here. Wanted me to be on that motorcycle," Zien said.
Zien is in search of something on his personal odyssey. Maybe it's enlightenment. Maybe it's happiness, or maybe it's not a place you can actually arrive.
After all, life is a journey, not a destination.
"I want to give to people and to share. God has been extremely generous in allowing me to live. I believe everybody should be so. Everybody has a story to tell," Zien said.
All of Zien's travel, including gas, food and hotels, costs a lot of money, and 2.5 million miles adds up to a lot of money.
One natural question is how does Zien afford it?
Most of the time he travels, Zien is heading out to speaking engagements where he talks about issues like motorcycle safety, and the groups hosting him usually fund his travel.