Long Strange Trip: The Madness of March

April issues are always produced in March, and the month of March has always been a big deal with me. March signifies an awakening of sorts each year, which I guess is to be expected when you grow up in northern Ohio right up against Lake Erie, easily one of the coldest, wettest and ugliest environments known to man during the winter months.

Of course, motorcycles have had a lot to do with that feeling of rebirth. None of us rode our minibikes during the winter months (though we probably should have), so when March rolled around and the permafrost began to thaw and the idea of riding began to percolate frantically in our 11-year-old brains, we pooled our money, bought some fresh gasoline from the SOHIO station up on the hill and got to kicking those SL70s, XR75s, Z50s, Gaucho 50s, Trailhoppers and Mini Enduros – or pull-starting those Rupps and Techumseh/Briggs & Stratton minibikes. (They all fired up, too, since we didn’t have the shit gas we have today.)

Ahhhh, yes…heaven had arrived! Unless you’ve been there, and I suspect many of you have, you can’t imagine the unadulterated glee and sense of freedom that having a motorcycle – and parents that let you ride it pretty much whenever you wanted – allowed. I was lucky enough in those days – the early 1970s – to live on the edge of a massive wooded area in the suburbs west of Cleveland, and from the minute we jumped off the school bus and grabbed our gloves and helmets we were gone – free to explore the trails and fields and jumps and hills and grassy knolls of our own little corner of the world. It was always a bummer to see the light flashing on and off on the back porch (my Mom, signaling dinnertime), but we knew the next day brought more of the same, rain or shine. And if it was Saturday or Sunday, all the better. Bliss.

A booming bit of Ohio March ’75 Madness thanks to an 85cc kit, megaphone pipe and K&N filter. Bliss.

During college in the early ’80s the same sort of thing would happen, though this time with my GS1000S or GPz550 or 500 Interceptor. The winter months in Salt Lake City would be too cold and snowy to ride much, so I’d roll my streetbike into my bedroom on the lower level of our home and keep it warm and cozy and waxed and ready for the March thaw, when it’d move back into the carport and provide a whole new world of riding experiences for months on end. More bliss.

Once I arrived at Motorcyclist magazine in 1985, the month of March morphed again, this time in the form of Daytona and Bike Week, which became a yearly pilgrimage for 20-some years to come. Despite having near-perfect weather for 12 months in Los Angeles, trekking to Daytona always felt like a massive rebirth, a time to race and hang and reengage with my racing buddies and other enthusiasts in a totally unique way, and in a way much different than our scene in LA.

Things have sort of come full circle for me in the last 12 months, too, which is pretty satisfying. I’m spending a lot of time in that same Salt Lake City family home, motorcycles and all, and with this relatively new position with Thunder Press, Daytona and Bike Week are back on my radar screen in a big way after a handful of years of not attending.

I’m even thinking about doing some racing this summer, possibly on a Harley-Davidson bagger at the Laguna Seca Superbike round for the Drag Specialties event. That’ll be in July, not March. But since it’ll be on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and will be a racing rebirth of sorts for me (as I haven’t raced in about a decade), it’s somehow got March’s fingerprints all over it.

So enjoy your springtime, folks. Things are about to get really interesting.

If you dare to go toe-to-toe with Boehm find him at longstrangetrip@thunderpress.

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