By Bobby Burk
Imagine sitting on a motorcycle, stopped at a light perhaps, when a man named Andreas Georgeades pulls up on a bike that makes your eyes bug out.
It's like nothing you've ever seen. You first notice the external wheels and belts on the side, then the exposed ignition plugs and the fierce size of the bike, bigger and wilder than what seems aerodynamically possible. Lastly, you notice the small symbol towards the rear of the bike that looks distinctly like ... Ferrari.
"Ferrari doesn't make bikes," you tell yourself.
Try to take Georgeades off the line and you will be beaten. He's running a supercharged Ferrari car engine in a motorcycle he built from scratch. It's untouchable. The only option is to sit and admire.
It's doubtful that many in La Jolla know what Georgeades does or that in another lifetime he was called George the Greek, a name he earned on the motorcycle raceways of Europe. Nowadays, he calls himself a retired Grand Prix racer, a prestigious title for a prestigious town.
Georgeades was born in South Africa in 1941. He learned to race motorcycles while growing up and eventually represented South Africa in the 1964 World Motorcycle Championships at 23 years old. After a few years racing in Europe, he moved to Canada. He won the Canadian Grand Prix in 1966. He raced again in the World Championships that year placing 10th, then raced for a few more years before he ended up in La Jolla.
"Racing in the states ... I got to know the states more and decided to come live down here. And of course, La Jolla has a beautiful Ferrari shop, one of the greatest. And, of course, I started building my own machines," said Georgeades. "When I started living in La Jolla, I stopped racing and started building bikes."
The master motorcycle craftsman has been a La Jolla resident since the 1970s and has built three Ferrari motorcycles since. Georgeades estimates each bike would fetch $250,000 or more. That's if they were for sale, which they are not.
"These are the only Ferrari powered motorcycles in the world, ever, to our knowledge," said Georgeades' friend Russ Caldwell, a motorcyle mechanic and journalist. "Some people have claimed they were in the process of building a Ferrari powered motorcycle ... but it was never finished. These are phenomenal, one-of-a- kind bikes ... and he owns and rides all three."
The bike is like the body of a shark: big, wide in the front tapering towards the rear . It looks like it might destroy you, like something from the "Terminator" films.
"I think it's too far advanced for bikers," said Georgeades. "They really don't know what it is."
Traveling on a motorcycle is Georgeades' first love, where he finds freedom. He's ridden to Alaska, Kathmandu and Central America. On a table in his garage lies a stack of books about Japan, Indonesia, Italy and other exotic countries.
"I think there's a fear of getting too comfortable," said Georgeades. "A lot of people actually want to be comfortable … the American dream. I'm not against it, but everything takes me away from that comfort zone."
Growing up, Georgeades was exposed to a different way of living than most.
"Africa has the Phelps, meaning the countryside, Africa has that, and people like to be out there," he said. "Americans always seem to be trying to get back into the womb again, get comfortable, secure. I'm trying to not fall into that yet, that's really what it is. Otherwise you do, you know, you become boring."
In contrast to the comfortable world of La Jolla, Georgeades sometimes spends six months out of the year traveling, often with a companion.
"Last year, I went with a lady for six months. Usually a lady wants to go with," he said, laughing. "The people I travel with are people who are being who they are, and I can be who I am, and we can go on our way together. I like to meet people who change what I'm doing."
Georgeades and Caldwell have been on a trip together and intend on traveling to Brazil at some point.
"I made a trip to Canada with him, and it was great," said Caldwell. "He travels bare bones, camping and stopping to see the sights. And he takes the back roads."
Georgeades travels on a BMW cruiser motorcycle, carrying all his gear in a backpack and camping along the way. His longest trip lasted six months, from London to Morocco.
"We live on the road, in the villages … put up a tent just outside the village," he said. "In Europe, you can do that. In America, it's a bit more dangerous. I've done it, but it's more dangerous. In Europe, people don't mind if you stay for the night in a field."
Traveling without reason would be useless, so the artist and philosopher come out in the motorcycle man.
"I'm really big in reading philosophy," he said. "That's why I travel in Europe or anywhere in the world. It's because of the art. When you go to Europe, it's thousands of years of art. The art is in the towns and the town itself is a piece of art."
The mentality of being on the road for the art, the people, the experience, the journey is important to the motorcycle diary of Andreas Georgeades.
"Every day traveling, you're going to a new town, putting up your tent in a new town. Every day, you're starting over again. It's the Buddhist philosophy," he said. "I like it because it's today. It's about being in the now. You get on a bike and you're in the now. … The journey is more important than the destination."