BEYOND THE BENCH

WLF Enduro: Mission 05

By WLF Enduro

WLF Enduro was founded around a campfire over a decade ago by six friends W.E. call family. After everyone was burnt and smoked from days on the trail, W.E. all realized there was something greater HERE than just us. There was an opportunity to connect riders from all around the world. The entire two-wheel WLF family spans the globe, and all you need to be a part of it is some gasoline, a sticker, and a dirt-covered grin from ear to ear.

ABOUT WLF ENDURO: Unifying riders around the globe with a common passion for life and exploration near and far, W.E. are focused on connecting amazing humans and incredible brands to elevate the community. The WLF community is here going FURTHER TOGETHER.

WHO ARE W.E.: W.E. are of humble beginnings from the hills and deserts of Southern California. The WLF founders were born and raised in a life of exploration in skate, surf, snow, and motor. A few rode and raced bikes from youth, while others caught the bug later in life. One thing is universal: W.E. each appreciate the amazing opportunities and experiences that riding has provided us. What started as a group of friends and family around a campfire over a decade ago has turned into a global community of riders connected. W.E. are brought together by a common passion for life on two wheels and exploration with others.

 

ABOUT MISSION: The MISSION is an annual event to thank the men & women that serve(ed) in our military. WLF and the industry of like-minded brands bring these veterans together to celebrate them and the freedom of adventure we’re afforded in this great nation. The event isn’t about reliving military life; it’s about getting service humans together to simply say thank you and have them enjoy some throttle therapy.

2022 brought about MISSION 05, and W.E. caught up with two of this year’s riders at their compound to hear their stories of service and how they came to WLF Enduro.

BURNT & SMOKED: The Lang Brothers

One could argue that being rooted in one place gives people the stability to grow and thrive. Like a wildfire in the brush, life catches us all off guard, starting with a small flame and then rapidly bursting into a fast-paced race against time.

Ben and Greg Lang show us that where we may seem powerless against the fast-approaching flames of life, what we all strive for is a life well lived after the flames have passed. These brothers have walked two different life paths that intersected not just because of their blood, but also their passion for people, community, and connectivity.

In The Thick Of It

The Lang Brothers had a turbulent childhood. They moved a lot, got thrown into many different schools in many different states, and were finally sent to military boarding school before their parents divorced. While they could have easily run from their challenges, these experiences ultimately shaped the brothers into two young men seeking a sense of togetherness.

Like most brothers, Ben and Greg are at once very different and very much the same.

Ben wasn’t a huge athlete in school. He was proficient in sports and active enough, but had a love for mechanics and a brain that said, “If there’s a problem, there’s a solution—and I aim to figure out what that is.”

Greg, on the other hand, excelled at sports and found solace in the practice when things were hard at home. He felt a sense of purpose and connection with his teammates on the field and went on to become a Division 1 football player.

Then, September 11th, 2001—a day that changed the trajectory of the world.

Life of Service

Ben was just 19 years old with little understanding of what it means to go to war. But he quickly stepped up and punched his ticket to active duty, joining the Army just one year after the towers fell.

After Airborne training he volunteered and was selected to become an Army Ranger in Special Operations, one of the toughest and most elite classes of spartan-like soldiers in the service ranks. Ben endured some of the most physically and mentally challenging moments of his life and quickly understood what it meant to be part of a team working not just for yourself, but for the greater good. This particular team had 1,500 members who would go on to serve two full tours in Afghanistan.

In his own words:

“I was out on a mission in Bajra and was so young and naïve to combat that I didn’t even bring my armor with me that night. We were all there on the radio as my Staff Sergeant and a handful of others were involved in a DC-10 engine failure helicopter crash. That night, people lost their lives. My Sergeant was found by a river almost dead. He sustained injuries to 90% of his body and had to be held in a medical burn facility for the next 3 weeks before deploying home. When I was called by my lieutenant to go to my Staff Sergeant’s bedside and be there for that time in the burn ward, I was completely in fear and shock. I spent the next 3 weeks by his bed… War is not cool. This was a moment for me I will never forget.”

Later, Ben was shipped off to a Long-Range Surveillance unit near the DMZ in South Korea before spending his last four years of Active Duty in Germany supporting the VIP aviation unit. He finished as a Senior Intelligence Sergeant for another Special Operations unit (civil affairs) and transitioned to the civilian side as a Principal Targeting Officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Greg’s service experience was different from Ben’s, but equally life-altering. Once an enthused athlete, boredom eventually set in on the football field and his D1 dreams became a thing of the past as he left college sports to join a band. The band’s bassist enlisted first and coaxed Greg into doing the same. What started as an experiment to see how hard basic training would be ultimately led to eight years of service.

A natural rule-breaker, basic training was a culture shock for Greg. He recalls sneaking out of the barracks with another solider to get some tobacco. As they happily made their way back, they saw their entire platoon getting “smoked,” or intensely worked out for hours, thanks to their actions. This moment gave Greg an epiphany—he was now part of something bigger than himself, and his actions and decisions affected more than just him.

Regrowth & Regeneration

Like any brush fire, the raging inferno eventually goes out. What happens next is the regrowth and rebirth of an area, creating new life and understanding that everything must move forward.

Since finishing his time in the Army, Ben has spent the last 10+ years getting an education while working in product development and building several successful startups. His current project, Native Chats, is a software platform that integrates chat and translation, leverages AI to maintain your privacy while delivering best-in-class translations, and surfaces multilingual, conversational insights. Listening to Ben talk about this project, it’s clear that he’s passionate about creating connection across any barrier.

Greg, more of a creative mind, enjoyed 15 years in the film and television industry creating sets for movies, commercials, and music videos. He eventually got burned out and was left once again searching for something greater than what was in front of him. In his own words:

“I have been a lot of things and gone a lot of places, but it took me until I was thirty-eight years old to figure out who I really was and why I’m here. I spent most of my life unsure, scared and stuck. I never felt fulfillment in my career or in relationships, until I faced a failed romantic engagement and was fired from a television show. I was a division-one college athlete, an infantryman in the Army, a chef , and a successful designer in the film industry, but none of those things felt in alignment with who I am. When I found holistic wellness and began testing, tweaking, and polishing habits and rituals that supported my healing and my growth, the game changed. I found it. I found THE THING. I began on a journey of education, experience and exploration that gave me a new outlook on life, and now I am in service, using the same methods that I created for myself to help others find clarity, self-actualization and empowerment. This is my why, this is my dharma and this is what I want to share with you.”

After the rodeo of a service life, the Lang Brothers both adjusted into capable and refined humans. The regrowth and regeneration of their current lives teaches us that even after a time of upheaval, your roots can run deeper than ever.

For the Lang Brothers, their regrowth came as they decided that doing this together was their only way, finally landing them both in the high-desert soil of Joshua Tree, California. We recently visited them there to learn more about their stories and their work with WLF Enduro.

New Horizons

As the sun sank on a Sunday evening in late spring, we sat with the brothers on their compound admiring the vastness of the Earth and thinking of all the people that have passed through their lives. They shared their dreams and aspirations for their new property, noting how it is a place of solace for them and their pack—the place where they can finally bring their family together for the first time in more than a decade.

The property boasts an ice bath, sound bath, sauna, meditation hut, fire pits, BBQ, full gym, office space, and a fancy Corn Hole set—the brothers take no prisoners and will beat you 21-1.

They showed us where Ben’s new workshop would be, his face cracking a smile as he thinks of all the bolts that he would lose and find in that spot. Greg pointed out all the plants that had been trying to survive in the harsh desert environment, along with his 3,000 worms that will one day be the catalyst for a flourishing garden and sustainable life.

The elements here will breathe new life into anyone who visits, accomplishing Ben and Greg’s every goal they had when purchasing this property. As we watched and listened to stories of dirt bike trips, broken bones, and running out of gas, the brotherly love was tangible.

One of our favorite tales starts off with Greg learning to ride a motorcycle in just 15 minutes before heading off into the Nicaraguan jungles for another grand adventure. And every time they reminisced about riding, they could hardly get through one story before leading into the next. Motorcycles are their common bond beyond blood, where they find joy, peace, and connection.

Our weekend with Ben and Greg brought us back to what W.E. already know and love about two wheels and a throttle: no matter the physical distance between, we are all connected by these motors and the experiences they provide. Wrenching at the Lang brother’s desert hacienda in preparation of MISSON 5, W.E. anticipated the excitement of our community coming together at the Outpost in Fawnskin.

Our experience of riding tells one story—Go Fast, Go alone…Go FURTHER TOGETHER. Life is well lived in community and in pace with each-other.

W.E. Thank You for supporting the MISSION. Thank a Veteran for their service.

MISSION 5 Debrief: Mission complete… for now.


Benchmade is proud to sponsor WLF Enduro community and their Mission 05 event to support those who’ve served our country. Learn more about WLF Enduro here.

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