As travel agencies have demonstrated over the past 10 years, necessity is not only the mother of invention, its the mother of reinvention. It may not be fun to actually go through the process, but from a safe distance, its inspiring to watch business owners who, when the carpet is pulled out from under them, make a few twists and turns and land on their feet.

If necessity is the mother of reinvention, dreams can be the father, and there are those happy instances when dreams -- not necessity -- are the motivation for a career shift. People who reinvent themselves under duress inspire us, but theres a different, lighter shading to the inspiration in stories about someone who leaves a perfectly good job to pursue a very personal vision.

Gabor Zsambokys vision is leading him -- literally -- into a desert. I met him two years ago in Budapest, when he was the North American director of the Hungarian National Tourist Office (HNTO). He was 41 at the time and had been in his post for four years.

That was not such a bad place to be. He told me then and he tells me now that he was quite happy with his position. He worked in midtown Manhattan and lived in Jersey City, traveling the country to present at trade shows and travel agent seminars. On weekends, he and his wife would relax by getting on their motorcycles and exploring New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

One day, hoping to improve his riding skills, he called the local office of the American Motorcycle Safety Foundation to sign up for an advanced rider course. He was shocked to discover that it would be months before a slot would be available. (Speaking of shock, I thought I must have misheard him when he told me that he had given up motorcycles in Hungary, but started up again in the states because he noticed how courteous New York area auto drivers were.)

He had no idea that motorcycling was so popular and began looking into the phenomenon. He discovered that motorcycle sales had risen by double-digit percentages for the previous 10 years, including the economic downturn years of 2001 and 2002.

He sensed an opportunity to merge his passion with his career, but he wasnt initially sure how to do it. I thought, how do I enter this business? Zsamboky said. I have no mechanical skills, so I cant open a repair shop. And I couldnt afford to buy a motorcycle dealership.

But it wasnt long before it occurred to him that he could apply his two decades of experience in travel and tourism promotion. In addition to his weekend jaunts through the Northeast, he had vacationed in Missouri, Arkansas and Arizona and had rented motorcycles upon arrival to explore those states.

I began thinking about motorcycle tours, he said. After looking into it further, he decided that only two states, Florida and Arizona,  could sustain a year-round motorcycle tour business.

In Florida, the land is flat and the roads are straight. Not very interesting. In Arizona, the elevation varies and there are thousands of spectacular, twisty roads.

So, this summer, he gave up his perfectly good job at the HNTO, loaded his possessions in a truck, and moved to Phoenix.

He and wife Monica arrived Sept. 1, built a Web site, bought five BMW motorcycles and set up an office.

The original plan was to open the business on Oct. 1, but things accelerated a little faster than they envisioned.

We had the Web site up and running and started to receive inquiries, Gabor said. As of today (Sept. 21), we have completed our first sale. The first two bikes went out last week and returned today.

Gabor sounds quite happy, having spent his first few weeks breaking in the new bikes and logging thousands of miles working out tour routes.

His dream includes the travel professionals he got to know in his position at the HNTO -- hes offering a 15% commission to travel agents on bookings (see for contact information).

Gabor and his wife are in the perfect Southwest locale for a happy ending. And it would be a beautiful thing if the newly invented tour operators and reinvented travel agents rode happily off into the sunset, together.


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