Monday, May 27, 2024 May 27, 2024
93° F Dallas, TX
Advertisement
Business

Bob Shibuya’s Dirt Bike Adventures in the Wilderness

The Mohr Partners CEO reignited his passion for the sport after buying a vacation home in northeast California in 2005.
| |Photography courtesy of Bob Shibuya
Image

Real estate executive Bob Shibuya was 9 years old, growing up in the East Bay area of San Francisco, when new neighbors moved in across the street. The family’s son had a minibike, and Shibuya was fascinated by it. He begged his father (the late American professional wrestler “Kinji” Shibuya) to get him one, too. “I started in 1969 with a little Honda Mini Trail 50,” says Shibuya, chairman and CEO of Dallas-based Mohr Partners. “They’re classics now and highly collectible.”

He progressed to larger bikes as he got older. Once he had his driver’s license, he’d borrow his uncle’s truck and cart his bike to Carnegie, a 1,300-acre trail park near Livermore.

When he went to college at the University of Pacific in Stockton, Shibuya traded in his dirt bike for a street bike so he could get around campus. Next came work, marriage, and kids. It wasn’t until years later, when he was 45, that Shibuya’s passion for dirt bike riding was reignited.

In 2005, he and his wife Michele (chief operating officer of Mohr Partners) bought a vacation home in Graeagle, California. The tiny town, which sits in the high Sierras about an hour west of Reno, Nevada, is an outdoor sports lover’s paradise.

“I was sitting at the gas station watching all these guys pull up in their dirt bikes, and I just became nostalgic,” Shibuya says. “On a whim, I got in my truck and drove to Reno and bought a bike. And now I own seven.”

He and Michele and their two 20-something sons all ride, but Bob is the true fanatic. And it’s a passion he loves to share. He has a room at his Graeagle home dedicated to the sport, with boots, gloves, jackets, pads, and other protective gear in various sizes for guests.

“I’m not just messing around,” he says. “I’m pretty serious about it.”

His personal go-to bike is a KTM 350 EXC; the Austrian brand’s motto is “ready to race.” Shibuya calls it the “Mercedes-Benz of dirt bikes” and one that’s built for riders who push it to the limit. 

Not long ago, his need for speed got him into a little trouble. Out in the wilderness on his own, he dropped his bike and broke five ribs. “It was just me driving like a crazy guy up a trail on a high-performance bike, and I hit a rut or something,” he says.

Shibuya had only one bar on his cell phone but managed to reach his wife and tried to describe where he was while wincing in pain. She drove around off-road for an hour or two before miraculously finding him—and likely saving his life. “I don’t want to make it an overly dramatic story,” Shibuya says, “but if I had been stuck in the middle of nowhere and had to spend the night there, it would not have been good for me.”

Another time, he was out for a ride when he dropped his bike and heard something rustling around in the woods. Soon, a bear came out to investigate. Shibuya was lying on the ground with his bike on top of him, the engine still running. Eventually, the bear moved on. After that experience, Shibuya bought a satellite phone.  

He says he likes the challenge of riding and that it helps him sharpen his mental focus. The physically demanding sport also requires him to stay in tip-top shape. But what Shibuya enjoys most about his passion is seeing remote areas of the mountains.

“I go way out there to places most people can’t easily get to,” he says. “Sometimes, when I’m riding, I’ll look over a cliff at a vista, and I’ll stop and turn my bike off to take in the view. It’s almost like a painting that comes to life. I look out and say to myself, “‘Life doesn’t get any better than this.’”  

Author

Christine Perez

Christine Perez

View Profile
Christine is the editor of D CEO magazine and its online platforms. She’s a national award-winning business journalist who has…
Advertisement