One for the Road: Leaving for love

By Shadow

It’s been a long road, these years with Thunder Press; one that’s been challenging at times yet immensely rewarding, filled to the brim with fun, laughter, and camaraderie. I’ve met many of you through your emails and comments, and a fair number of you in person. I’ve formed deep friendships through these pages, and I am counting on all of you that have touched me in some way to sustain me as I motor along the next leg of my life’s journey. 

I’ve penned countless pieces for this esteemed publication. What you’re reading now is the 132nd iteration of One for the Road since I became Thunder Press editor. I’d also written my gossip column, The Shadow Knows, for over 10 years. And although most of you aren’t aware, I also authored pretty much every Thunder Pants piece for more than a decade, right up until that monthly feature was discontinued in 2017.

Through these pages you’ve listened to my rants about everything from GPS systems to bikers’ rights, and read my accounts of fascinating places, people and events. You’ve written to me in support when I’ve voiced my opinion about matters important to motorcyclists, and sent suggestions for resolving my bikes’ technical issues.

You followed my progress when I upgraded Elvira the Black Beauty, my 2000 FXD, with an all-new S&S top and bottom end and assorted other components. You commiserated when my Sportster Ruby went out on loan to my friend Dusty a few years back. You shared my excitement when I got my new 2012 Switchback, Lucille, sympathized with my angst when I traded the Switchback for my 2017 Road King named Badlands Betty, and welcomed me to the ranks of antique motorcycle owners when I acquired my 1982 FXRS Shovelhead, Foxy Lady. And some of you have graciously invited me to ride along with you, to be my tour guide, even to stay in your home if I planned to pass through your area.

My first story as a Thunder Press contributor appeared in the June 2002 issue (on the cover, no less!), and since then it’s been rare that an issue was published without a story or column of mine somewhere on these pages. I’ve covered events, attended new motorcycle model launches, and written countless product reviews, as well as sharing my touring adventures with all of you as I crisscrossed much of the U.S. and Canada. I’ve traveled to places, met people and experienced things I once could only have dreamed of.

Through the years, I became more and more involved in every aspect of the magazine, having been named Northeast Bureau Chief in 2004, North (and then East) Editor, and finally Editor in Chief in March 2017. As each position became progressively more demanding, I found I’ve had less and less time to actually ride unless I was on my way to an event I needed to report on. Although it might seem ungrateful to complain about the best job I’ve ever had, one that allows, in fact, encourages, that I ride a motorcycle almost everywhere I go, I’d have to guess that in the past several years, more than 95 percent of my seat time was strictly work related.

I’ve done my best to bring you the latest, most interesting news both in print and online, whether it’s new motorcycle model introductions, unique and quirky people and events, or the latest threats to our sport, our lifestyle. I’ve brought on board new columnists and contributors, hoping to enhance your reading experience. With features like Diner Dash and The Folded Map, I’ve tried to encourage you to ride to, and send in suggestions about, biker-friendly locations. And now it’s time for me to take my own advice. I’ve decided to leave the Editor in Chief position. So this will be my last column in Thunder Press, although you may still see some of my work in future issues.

I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I rode just for pleasure, or took off for parts unknown like I’d done in years past. For some time I’ve been on a strict schedule, rolling down the road only between deadlines. Until recently, that is… when I decided to get out and hit the road again, just for the sheer joy of riding. I’d nearly forgotten how good it feels to explore the wonderful roads in the region where I live and beyond, to allow myself to get lost, not worrying about the time or even the destination. And in the midst of this rediscovery I met someone who has inspired me to get out on the road even more. I’d truly missed the therapy of the sun and wind hitting my face while the miles clear my mind of stress and worries, giving me clarity in looking down the road ahead.

Having written about visiting motorcycle museums, staying at motorcycle-only campgrounds, and unique, funky locations that are well off the beaten path, I now have plans to visit as many of these places as I can, starting this summer. You might say I’ve fallen in love with riding all over again. So I’m truly leaving for love. I really can’t think of a better reason.

Thank you for riding along with me all these years. If you’d care to write, I can be reached at mkleiman@shadow-light.com. And I hope to see you on the road sometime.

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