It’s dead-center summer as I write this, and there’s a lot going on. Not sure if it’s just the usual stuff to do crush or the ‘I’m old’ downside of that great old Andy Rooney quote – “Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end the faster it goes.” Whatever, things is hoppin’!
Been thinking a lot about the upcoming Sturgis Rally and the whole get outta town thing, and of course that gets me thinking about road trips – and that gets me thinking about my favorite road music. Back in the day, after I’d moved to Los Angeles to join the Motorcyclist staff, I’d grab a stereo-equipped touring bike from the stable every couple of months post-ship and blast up to SLC to see family and friends – and I’d have those Jackson Browne, Jimmy Buffett and Dead/Garcia cassettes cookin’ the entire 11 hours each way.
But as much as I loved all that music (and still do), the one song that’s remained at the top of my road-trip playlist is the epic Bob Seger tune Roll Me Away. If you know it, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, well, better get that turntable warmed up. (Hey, vinyl is back!) Of all the motorcycle-specific tunes out there, Roll Me Away – a song about frustration, romance, the desire to get away from it all and finding answers and redemption on the road – raises the goosebumps like nothing else. Have a listen if you haven’t – and even if you have! – but play it loud. You won’t believe the power of Seger’s voice alongside E Streeter Roy Bittan’s anthemic piano chords.
Speaking of road trips, I got a box in the mail today and I’m damn excited about it. Inside was an Aerostich Darien riding jacket, which I’ve been lusting after for a while since my old one is 20-plus years old and seriously hammered. I’ve known Aerostich boss Andy Goldfine for nearly 35 years and absolutely love his company’s riding gear; it’s technically superb yet aesthetically old-school, a great combination in my mind, and it’s all hand-made up in Duluth, Minnesota – which makes me smile. It’s the simple things in life, eh? Give them a look at aerostich.com and tell ’em I sent you.
You AFT race fans probably know this, but the June 29 Lima Half-Mile was arguably the best dirt track National in decades, with reigning champ Jared Mees, points leader Briar Bauman and Jeffrey Carver Jr. battling in epic fashion for much of the 25-lap Main Event. A freak mechanical ended Bauman’s chance at an eighth-straight podium (his tire literally peeled off the rim mid-race), with Mees grabbing the win (in a race he and his wife Nichole are the promoters of) to pull back within striking distance of Bauman and the points lead. Red Bull KTM’s Shayna Texter pulled off her second straight Lima Half-Mile win in the AFT Singles class, proving once again she can kick ass on the guys even when the track is rough and nasty. Dial up FansChoice.tv on race day or watch the one-week-delayed broadcasts on NBCSN to see all the AFT action. But whatever you do, do not miss Chris Carr’s in-depth mid-season recap. You won’t read this sort of analysis anywhere else, folks.
There’s news on Thunder Press staffing front, too, as I’m happy to announce that Reg Kittrelle – who founded Thunder Press back in the early 1990s and built it into a powerhouse publication over the years before eventually selling it – has rejoined our ranks. Reg and I connected a few weeks ago in the wake of our June- and July-issue releases, and we had a nice chat about things … motorcycles, people, events, Milwaukee and Medina, builds and builders, racing, all of it.
But most of all we talked about stories and storytelling and connecting with readers, elements that have largely disappeared from today’s splintered, digital-dominated and pay-for-play moto media. Both of us are on the long side of 50, which means we grew up reading guys like Gordon Jennings, Cook Neilson and Peter Egan. In many ways, inviting Kittrelle to contribute to Thunder Press had me flashing back to a conversation I had with then-retired Gordon Jennings in 1993 when I asked him to pen columns and features for Motorcyclist – which he gladly agreed to do. Jennings was devastatingly descriptive, technically adept and a master storyteller, and his prose lit up our pages like the fireworks I witnessed the other night. I have a feeling Reg’s stuff will have a lot of the same effect in the pages of Thunder Press, so please welcome him back when you can.
Finally, I anticipate a lot of angst and teeth-gnashing among the faithful due to our coverage of Harley-Davidson’s new LiveWire EV elsewhere in this edition. I get it, folks. It’s a battery-powered motorcycle, which for many of you is anathema to the concept of motorcycling we hold dear. But remember…Harley-Davidson cannot exist selling only Big Twins to baby boomers. Sales are roughly half of what they were 15 years ago, and that trend ain’t reversing itself anytime soon. So the company has to branch out, to EVs, or cheap Asian-built bikes sold in third-world countries, or whatever. No one’s saying you have to love EVs, or that you have to buy one. But the company needs to diversify if it’s to survive; it’s simple Economics 101. So we’re gonna cover it. And I know all of you are rooting for Harley-Davidson (and Indian, and some other OEs) to succeed in this massively changing, risk-averse market.
So yeah, lots happening. See you at Sturgis, or down the road a ways…
Took a look down a westbound road
Right away I made my choice
Headed out to my big two-wheeler
I was tired of my own voice
Took a bead on the northern plains
And just rolled that power on
—Bob Seger, 1983