Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful? Sure...

With the 2012 motorcycling season winding down, you might be at a loss for anything to be thankful for. It's been a year of processional MotoGP races; the premier class was decided before the finale, which is lucky because Valencia was a cluster-fuck. World SBK was decided by half a point. That would be great, except as the season drew to a close, we got news that MotoGP was effectively taking it over.

On the home front, Kevin Schwantz was screwed out of his future role at the new Austin track, and there's no sign that the fad for ironic facial hair will end any time soon so hip motorcycle shops are populated by kids who look like Hutterite carpenters.

Is there really nothing to be thankful for? Well, I can tell you that as a motorcycle journalist, I've compiled a list of things I'm thankful for, and here it is:
10.) Helmet laws, or rather the lack thereof
If there's a silver lining to every cloud, it's that thanks to ABATE, in most U.S. states, it's legal to ride motorcycles without wearing a crash helmet. This is like nitrous oxide injection for Darwinism. Ridding our roads of the kind of people who want to ride without a helmet is the best thing the sport of motorcycling could ever do, to improve our public relations with other road users.
9.) Electric motorcycle racing
We might not have Chip Yates to kick around any more, but as long as national-championship level races have grids of four bikes, with the polesitter qualifying 20 seconds off ICE bikes' pace and a further 20 seconds between each of the other three qualifiers, all of the other races are bound to seem incredibly exciting.

8.) YouTube fails
As long as idiots love motorcycles, and filming each other with camera phones, there will always be a way to kill an idle couple of minutes.

7.) YouTube saves
While you'll only watch each fail once, but I guarantee you'll replay this mind-boggling saves.
6.) The AMA
You might have thought that when the AMA sold off its AMA Pro Racing properties -- effectively outsourcing their main source of controversy and member frustration -- the AMA would have gotten seriously boring. You needn't have worried. As the Nobby Clark Affair shows, the AMA can still provide hours of entertainment, screwing up in ways you've never imagined were even possible. (Then, in a way that might almost make you think they've redeemed themselves, they'll occasionally do the right thing. I'm not taking credit for it, but my contribution to the Nobby Clark affair didn't hurt.)
5.) Print-on-Demand book publishing
Profitable print magazines used to allow enough money to trickle down to freelancers that people like me could make a living writing for them. Those days are gone, but as they say, "When a door closes, a window opens" (or is it, an elevator shaft opens)? Anyway, the rise of web-based print-on-demand book publishing has made it possible to publish, distribute, and sell crap that would never have seen the light of day when I got into this business.

4.) The resurgence of small bikes
With the popularity of updated bikes like the Kawasaki Ninja 250, and the new-ish Honda CBR250 and new CBR500 -- even Erik Buell's getting into the act with his Indian partner Hero -- we may finally have seen the end of the days when moronic bike shop salesclerks steered novices towards 600cc crotch rockets. That sales strategy ensured only that, a.) most buyers only ever bought one motorcycle their entire lives, and b.) that the barely-used bike was resold sans bodywork on the used market a few weeks later, denying the dealership that sale, too.
3.) Flat Track
Dare I say that, despite some great events suffering weather problems, Flat Track is finally making its long-rumored-and-awaited comeback? In 2012 we saw the series return to some long-lost California venues, and the continued rise of interesting new bikes like Bryan Smith's Ricky Howerton-built Kawasaki -- flat out the sexiest motorcycle in the world right now.
2.) Global Warming
You can deny climate change all you want, all I can tell you is, the forecast here in Kansas City is for a high of 70 on Thursday, making this the warmest Thanksgiving ever. Last winter, I never winterized my bikes at all, I just rode them enough to keep the batteries charged right through December, January, and February. Sure it was hotter than hell last summer but WTF, I'm a Canadian; I can always migrate north to a more temperate climate. In the meantime, riding seasons are getting longer every year, which has got to be good for (what's left of) the motorcycle industry.
1.) Readers
But seriously. Writers write for all kinds of reasons. Some write for fame, which is misguided. Others write for fortune, which is positively delusional. But most of us, including me, write to be read. Every month, thousands of you come back to this blog to check in with me, and every now and then one of you decides to buy Riding Man or one of my other books, which allows me to earn about half of the minimum wage on all this. Tens of thousands more of you read my column every month in Classic Bike, or read Backmarker on the first Thursday of each month on the site. By doing so, you guys pay my rent. For that I'm grateful, but really,.. all I need you to do is keep reading.

Thanks, eh?

1 comment:

  1. Mark, I'd like to get a copy of your book for review in Super Streetbike. Email me at Thanks.