Friday, September 01, 2006

My First Column for US Rider News!

I've started writing a monthly column for US Rider News. Here's the first installment (as seen in the September edition):

As is the tradition in enthusiast rags I’ll first thank the El JefĂ© and his team, for this space to spout my views of motorcycles, motorcyclists, and the motorcycling life.

It’s been over a year since I’ve coughed up moto witticisms on a regular basis. Ya see, I too used to be the publisher of a motorcycle tabloid only mine had a distinct Yankee flavor.

For nearly a decade life was great. I’d earned enough respect to be invited on press introductions and get free goodies to test. I’d also reached the point where I had to pay the government, and get a check back at the end of the year.

Then came the explosion of free moto-rags and I felt the sting of competition. Not in content or quality, as the El Jefe will agree, but in the fact that to stay in business I had to kiss the butt of every dip wad, dork and dimwit inhabiting a motorcycle shop, few of whom even read. And if anyone out there thinks I’m talking about you; You’re wrong! (Unless someone is reading this to you.)

Not that the experience of publishing a moto-rag makes me an expert on motorcycles, I’m just another schmo who spent too much time in the saddle as a rally-rat cum traveler instead of going to work, lavishing my wife with attention or stashing money for retirement.

I do lay claim to having earned my saddle sores with real mileage and I have the proof. On my wall is an award, emblazoned with the logo of a certain brand and a number-300,000 miles-to be precise, which was awarded to me for riding those miles on that brand of motorcycle. Though not specifically mentioned on the aforementioned certificate, I would include; Supporting the service department of their dealers along with a consortium of oil companies, diners, donut shops and the like. What is not mentioned in the adoring calligraphy is the resulting rotator-cuff tendonitis, advanced arthritis in my neck and a cholesterol count that rivals the top end of most speedometers.

Along the way to being a mega-mileage rider I’ve been employed as a certified MSF instructor, which makes me personally responsible for keeping some of the clowns off two wheels and in cages. I’ve volunteered on the Safety Crew of more than one racetrack.

To prove that life does get better as you age - the best gig I’ve had recently was as a Sports Reporter for the New York Times covering the United States MotoGP.

The story began with an email from my buddy in Venice that he’d scored two extra tickets to Laguna Seca Raceway for the MotoGP and assorted other racing events.

This little package wasn’t the only offer to appear. My buddy Lee Parks had rented a booth on Vendor Row at the track to hawk his book, Total Control and all his self-designed trinkets like gloves and helmets refresher spray. Lee had borrowed a fleet of super-scooters for the ride and all I had to do was fly to Cali and help him schlep in exchange for camping and a ride.

I starred in that movie two years ago and ended up on the side of Pacific Coast Highway with a totaled Ultra Glide watching Lee and overload gang blow by like a freight train on crystal meth oblivious to my fate.

While tickets to the races were quite the lure remember that I’ve been suffering from mid-life-outta-work syndrome and unless someone was going to spring for the airfare I was not going to the races.

Meanwhile, in another corner of the Golden State my buddy Mike who suffers from a similar income situation offered a trove of frequent flyer miles in exchange for helping him organize his photo portfolio.

With an airfare “in the bag” I figured that earning a few shekels to cover expenses wouldn’t hurt so I fired an email inquiry to the New York Times and they bit! Journalist friends all inquired as to the pay rate and I replied, “for my first byline in the Times; I’d pay them!”

Now back in the days of my moto-publishing I’d send a three-inch thick “This is what we’ve done for you lately” package overnight to Spain begging for credentials. Last year, they decided no credentials would be issued to free magazines.

The New York Times got me full access and the name got me 10 minutes one-on-one with both Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden!

Meanwhile Mike waffled on booking my airfare as the Times confirmed the assignment so my wife dusted off the emergency plastic and I got on the Net.

You can read about the races elsewhere in this issue.

Oh, and that’s how I got here. See ya next month.

Ride well, ride far and ride fast!


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