Aaron was a cool guy. A kid, really. At least in my eyes, since he was still in his forties when he passed away just a week ago. As coworkers we’d spent the last few years wrangling over photos, collages, layouts… all the typical stuff one does to get a publication to the newsstands in time. He and I managed to piece together the collage cover of the Sturgis issue a couple of years back as the rally celebrated its 75th anniversary and though I bombed him with more than 80 images, daily mind changes and endless tweaks to the final product, he didn’t send me hate mail. Which is pretty cool because in this industry, frustrated zinger mail is not uncommon. I’d never met him face-to-face; such is the way with big time motorcycle rags and scooter tramps like me. I rarely meet the folks I work with unless they happen to trip over me as I shoot from the ground, covering events. I always imagined Aaron as the geeky computer guy who would never attend something like the wild and crazy Run 21 or Redwood Run. As the father of a 5-year-old, I was pretty sure the bacchanal lifestyle was not part of his repertoire so I was certain he’d not hang out with a heathen like me. But I liked him. From the safe distance of a text or e-mail, Aaron was quick to offer a smartass remark or some quirky observation of a photo I’d send from the banks of the Eel River as bikers behaved badly. He’d send little emojis with shocked faces as he worked to make the wildlife images fit on a page to accent the words I’d scribble. He’d hammer me with witticisms and jokes and I like to think I kept him as entertained as he did me, in between the serious business of putting together a national biker rag but, as you will read in this edition, we’ve lost Aaron. Working to lay out a magazine is different now and we all feel the emptiness of the place in our hearts that Aaron filled, to say nothing of the work we’re doing without his special touch now. And our collective hearts ache for his family and the loss they will forever feel. At work, we’ve come together to try to continue to provide our readers with the kind of publication they’ve come to expect over the last 25 years and it makes me happy to say it was Aaron who designed the cover for this month, our commemorative edition, and his undeniable fingerprints are all over its pages.
You’ll notice some other changes, too. Over the last few months there’s been some shuffling about, and it delights me to no end to have our shining Texas star back to contributing to our pages. Robert Filla is with us now, but Terry Roorda is not. He has joined the ranks of the retired and while we can all rejoice in his decision to spend more time with his family and take life a little easier, it is impossible to ignore the hole in our tight little family that his absence has left. And I suppose that brings me to my point: change. Change can be a good thing, though it’s not always something we embrace with open arms. At least I don’t. Change brings on growth and we need to grow to survive, no matter how much we may fight it. Personally, I like the freedom of the wide open spaces and hitting the wind on a regular basis, but I need the stability of knowing I have a supportive family, great coworkers and a dependable bike in my life. Thinking I work for a reputable and reliable company is important to me and I like to think they value me as much as I do them so changes in all that infrastructure brings on a bit of discomfort and heartburn. But it’s evolution, my friends. Aaron has gone on to his next journey, Terry has reached for a new chapter, and Robert has taken two steps back to join the ranks of those who love him and miss him. And our little family will continue to ride the stripes and bring our country all the biker news we can cram into these hallowed pages of newsprint as we collectively and individually deal with the changes in our homes, country, jobs. We can choose to make this a time of healing, and embrace the changes, or we can fight and bicker and bitch. Me? I’m looking for the little pieces of good stuff wrapped up in the necessary changes and hoping we all find a way to get more time in the wind to share with riding buddies, to appreciate those we love and who love us, and to stare at the horizon in elation for another sunrise. I find myself telling folks I love them on a regular basis and I think maybe that’s a good thing since really, what good are feelings if you don’t share them?