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Thanks for visiting the Undead Viking Zombie site. I am Shaun Napier, Founder and CEO of UVZ brand. I’m here to tell you how the UVZ brand has grown. It’s a personal tale, but we are all friends here, right?!
Everyone has a journey. A story that has led them to this point, something that drives them toward their joy and freedom. And a few obstacles that stood in their way. Some may have obstacles that are still standing. The UVZ journey is no different.
When my struggle came knocking at my door, I did my best to meet it head on. To be pragmatic, keep battling on. But everyone has a breaking point. When I hit mine I found solace in only one thing. Riding my Indian Motorcycle. Covering hundreds of miles in one go was my therapy, my port in a storm. My happy place!
Moving forward on my rides inspired me to keep battling forward in my life. And so, the UNDEAD VIKING ZOMBIE was born:
But let’s back up a little.
Still I Rise
I was diagnosed with cancer on my birthday, of all days. Needless to say, it feels like a death sentence. After getting over the initial shock, a few things happened. I call this ‘The 3 Phases’.
After the overarching thoughts of “oh hell, I’m dying”, the perception of impending doom, something else begins to take root. You analyse your life, trying to make peace with who you are. The perspective feels fresh, like the blindfold has been removed. Perhaps for the first time you accept everything ‘as it is’. The aim is to find reasons why it is okay if your time on this planet comes to and end.
Shit gets real! And real fast! Treatments, hospital visits, dealing with things you had never expected you’d be dealing with. Going through it with people at your side, but feeling distant. This is your journey, no one else’s. Forced into a new reality: the doctors, tests, chemo, being poked and prodded almost endlessly. The pills, the nausea, never ending pain and complete lack of energy.
Perhaps the biggest one for me: the 7 stone weight gain in 6 months. I thought I was gonna lose weight! Apparently weight gain is also a thing. Damn!
The fiercest final stage: Groundhog Day. The eternal churning of new realities. Some of the things you could do yesterday become out of reach. You don’t live the same day over again, but carry all of the fear, anger, mistakes and problems over to the next day. Nothing is burned, so it becomes a battle of attrition. The physical impact, the mental damage, the weight of it all dragging you down.
Every second, every step, every day feels like a fight. Despite my best efforts, it could at times feel insurmountable. I was lost. Where I once saw a world of colour, I now saw just a mass of mangled grey.
So far, so dark. This is the honest truth of living with cancer. But trust me when I say there is light at the end of this tunnel. As the creation of UVZ will attest. Stick with me! Or you will miss the best part…
I’ve always had a fascination with motorcycles, though I wouldn’t have called myself a ‘bike guy’. Whilst I enjoyed riding, I was always looking for someone to ride with. For a long time riding solo felt odd. When alone, the thoughts I was avoiding would engulf me. It wasn’t the company I needed, but the distraction.
But as I found myself feeling angry at everything and everyone, something began to take hold. It was like I forgot how to be around people. So I did the only thing that made sense: I avoided them!
As my breaking point finally tipped me over the edge, my one thought was “F*** it!” Out came my trusty bike, and I was off. Down the road, over the hills, I just rode and rode. Before I knew it, my bike and I were a few hundred miles away, and thirsty for more.
This was my great escape! The roar of the engine became my battle cry. I was hooked. The more I rode, the greater I felt. It took that struggle, all the worry, and directed it to that point on the horizon. Forever out of reach, but surrounded by wild British beauty. It felt great, and the urge to share my breakthrough was even greater.
I went from avoiding people to wanting to connect with as many people as possible! If sharing my story could help others, I was hell bent on doing it.
The only time I felt free was with the engine shouting back at the throttle in protest, the wind hitting my face. I rode 30,000 miles that first year, with only the endless miles of tarmac as company.
Fifteen-plus hour rides became something I just did. I felt… NORMAL? GOOD? no, GREAT!
The only thing I wanted to do now was share this wild experience. But how? The joke is, before starting this I had no idea about social media. My wife helped me set up my Instagram account, [@undead_viking_zombie]. She then had to teach me how to use it! After I’d mastered the basics, I set off with only my trusty camera to document my journey.
To be quite honest, I had no idea really what to expect. But what I found blew me away.
A world full of great, caring, like-minded people. People I am now privileged to call friend, and even brother. For the first time in a long time I felt like the lucky one. I discovered that, like me, there were many people out there struggling to find a voice, a place to belong and feel free. People who were battling their own daemons, every day.
And so we return to the force behind UNDEAD VIKING ZOMBIE, and a sentiment we all share:
UVZ is in my heart. It represents the idea that, despite challenges and what you deem possible or impossible, and no matter how angry or lost you feel, there is hope. A way to find your unique happiness, on your own terms.
Never give up! Find your freedom!