Long Strange Trip: An Embarrassment of…Books!

Yeah, I know, an embarrassment of riches is the more well-worn saying, and it works, too. But this little idiom seemed somehow more apropos in this case, and I’m going with it, as the magazine goes to the printer tomorrow and I’m running out of time. Story of my life, really…

So yeah, books … and motorcycle books specifically. I feel like I have enough cred to write about the subject, having read my first moto-tome back in the very early 1970s (Christian Lacombe’s classic The Motorcycle), having read maybe a hundred others over the years, and having arranged and written (with considerable help from the man himself) Malcolm Smith’s autobiography in 2015, titled Malcolm! The Autobiography. (Get yours at malcolmsmith.com.) As you might imagine, helping Malcolm chronicle his life was a truly amazing experience, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be writing about it in these pages at some point, because what we did and how we did it – not to mention Malcolm’s life itself – was damn interesting.

Anyway, I’ve managed to collect a few new books over the last several months while at the helm of Thunder Press (one of the job’s perks, for sure), and I’m excited to dig in and see what I can learn.

The first is Don Emde’s fascinating new book on Motordrome racing, which is similar to – but not the same as – what we all know as board track racing. It’s called The Speed Kings: The Rise and Fall of Motordrome Racing, and it’s an amazing look at the crazy stuff those brave men did all those years ago on those splinter-happy tracks, where a long, 100-mph slide would often get you sliced open like a fat tuna on the deck being readied for an afternoon sushi-fest with plenty of cold beer and wasabi. None other than ‘King Kenny’ Roberts wrote the foreword, and you can get yours directly from Emde at Don@DonEmdebooks.com.

Another is Reg Kittrelle’s Motorcycles And Our 2nd 50 Years, which, as you’d expect (coming from our own Contrarian Bastard), is chock full of fun tales and helpful tips for those 50 and older. Reg says the first edition is out of print, but that he’s working on an update, and that he’ll let us all know when it’s available. 

Plenty of great reading here…

Just last week I got a copy of Keith Geisner’s Finding #49, and America’s Forgotten Motocross Team, the story of finding, restoring and chronicling the life and history of a factory Harley-Davidson MX250 motocross bike ridden by Harley factory rider Don “Killer” Kudalski. I’m an old motocrosser, so the story – as well as its connection to Harley-Davidson and its factory motocross team of the late 1970s – holds a special fascination for me. I’m excited to read and review this one. Available on Amazon.

And then there’s Gloria: A Lifetime Motorcyclist, the autobiographical effort of motorcycling legend Gloria Tramontin Struck, who’s 94 years young and still riding, still traveling, still talking about, and still living with motorcycles – and seemingly loving every minute. She’s a wonderful character, a Motorcycle Hall of Famer and member of the Motor Maids Motorcycle Club who’s been riding since the age of 16, which gives her an amazing 78 years in the saddle. She says she hopes to be riding at 100, and I don’t doubt her. I have not yet read the entire book, but I have read sections, and I can tell you it’s a wildly fascinating ride, complete with loads of photos from her times and travels. We’ll be featuring Gloria in an upcoming issue, so stay tuned for that, as well as a review of her book (and the others mentioned). Gloria is also available on Amazon.

Like I said: An embarrassment of (reading) riches.

If you dare to go toe-to-toe with Boehm find him at longstrangetrip@thunderpress.net. May your wounds quickly heal

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