Meet My Motorcycle Mentors

I probably wouldn’t be alive had it not been for these men.

I was lucky. I found two men willing to help me when I first started riding nearly two decades ago. Their guidance was less about how to ride the correct way and more about the mental steps you should take to become a proficient rider.

Let’s meet them.

Fred Applegate

Fred and I worked together at NASA in the late ’90s, training astronauts for Spacelab flights and controlling science experiments during Shuttle flights.

Fred retired when he was still young and in good health. In his free time, he played golf, took tennis lessons, and continued enjoying his lifelong passion for riding his Honda ST1100.

Fred is very methodical, detail-oriented, disciplined, cautious, and patient. When I started toying with the idea of buying a motorcycle, I immediately approached him for guidance.

Without hesitation, Fred agreed to become my motorcycle mentor.

He graciously helped me through every new challenge. Instead of giving me the answer to my problem, he always guided me toward the best solution—knowing it would mean more if I figured it out for myself.

Fred was the perfect mentor.

Fred Years Ago

After downsizing from ST1100.

Pete Tamblyn

Pete was one of the top motorcycle instructors in the country. If you’ve taken a Stayin’ Safe Advanced Motorcycle Training Course, Pete might have been your instructor. Over the years, Pete has helped thousands of riders as an instructor at several different riding schools.

Lucky for me, Pete and Fred were roommates back in college and are still friends today. Fred refers to Pete as his motorcycle mentor. Pete was gracious with his time and always answered my toughest questions with patience and thoroughness.

Pete Years Ago

Rebuilding something.

Fred and Pete, as you recall, back in 2007, in the basement of my house, I pulled out a perfectly typed set of notes ten pages long and proclaimed with more confidence than I deserved:

“Someday, I’m going to explain motorcycles my way.”

Through my books, podcast, and words here, I believe I’ve completed that task. All of my words are just as much a part of your legacy as they are mine.

In my wildest imagination, I had no idea it would end up here.

Thank you both for being my motorcycle mentors.



Fred stopped riding years ago, and I recently received this update from Pete.

“I just recently sold my last full-capable motorcycle—a white 2021 650 V-Strom. The last thing I want to do is limp off into the sunset, wishing I had known when to quit but had instead kept riding a bike that had become too unwieldy for my aging frame. I cried a little that day but stuck with my plan and took the nice man’s money as I helped him tie her down on his trailer.

“Jackie still rides with me on the Can-Am, which isn’t a motorcycle but is still enjoyable if we keep the right mindset. I smile that I’m content these days to entertain the bright little faces of two young granddaughters lots of weekends and spend the rest of my spare time writing my memoirs and meeting some friends at the gym. Being 82 isn’t bad.” — Pete

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About the Author

David Mixson writes about the topics other motorcycle books gloss over. He worked as a NASA engineer for over thirty years and is the author of three books.