Copyright By Brian Catterson - Cycle World Magazine / February, 2003 - Used by permission

It's seven minutes 'til sound check at Salt Lake City's Delta Center Arena and Neil Peart is on the phone with Ride West BMW in Seattle scheduling a service appointment for his R1150GS. Liam Birt, the rock band Rush's long-suffering tour manager, had poked his head through the tour bus door a few moments ago to make sure the band's drummer was "coming along," but the service manager just transferred Peart to the parts department, and now he's on hold pending word on whether the taller windscreen and driving lights he desires are in stock. Meanwhile, across the aisle, the band's security manager, Michael Mosbach, is seated at a computer calculating mileage for the following day's ride from Salt Lake City to Denver.

Such is life on the road with rock music's most acclaimed percussionist.

I'm here because I had contacted Jack David of ECW Press about getting a review copy of Peart's new book, Ghost Rider. An act wherein I disclosed the fact that I'm a lifelong Rush fan, having first seen the band perform live in 1978. this led to a phone call from Rush's publicist, Shelley Nott, who informed me that Peart is a devout CW reader, and had asked her to invite me to accompany him as he rode from once concert to another on the (Vapor Trails) tour.

"How does next week look?" I replied, doing my best to contain my enthusiasm. Noting that the band had a night off between Albuquerque and Salt Lake City shows, I suggested we meet there.

Agreeing, Shelley gave me Michael's cell phone number and we arranged to meet in Gallup, New Mexico, one week later.

In his book, Peart admits that he's always perceived concert touring as a "combination of crushing tedium, constant exhaustion and circus-like insanity." While he enjoys the planning and rehearsing in preparation for a tour, and the early shows as the band and crew strive for the perfect performance, once they've achieved that, the thrill is gone.

Motorcycling has made touring palatable again. "The good parts are lots of riding and I can eat anything I want because I drum for three hours every night," Peart says.

After which, most nights, it's a mad dash to the tour bus, where Neil and Michael snooze as bus driver Dave Burnett navigates through the darkness. In the morning they pull over, unload the bikes from the enclosed trailer in tow, and Neil and Michael ride to the next show, arriving early before the throngs; like we did this afternoon.

A late bloomer in motorcycling terms, Peart didn't take up the sport until the age of 41, when his wife Jackie bought him a BMW R1100RS for Christmas 1993. An avid bicyclist, he always suspected he'd enjoy motorcycling, but once the bug bit, Peart was infected, and quickly made up for lost time. He and his best friend Brutus rode all over Canada, and shipped their bikes to Mexico and Europe for Extended moto-vacations. And then, during the 1997 Test for Echo tour, the pair rode from concert to concert, clocking tens of thousands of miles as they visited 47 of the 47 contiguous United States.

Life was good: In addition to the new album, which Peart considered his masterwork as a drummer, he'd just completed his second Buddy Rich tribute album and an instructional video. Though always something of a cult band, Rush had by this point sold upwards of 35 million records, won a score of Canadian Juno Awards and been nominated for a Grammy three times. Perhaps most impressively, the three band members had been awarded the Order of Canada, the commonwealth equivalent of being knighted by the Queen.