The Road's editor
A funny thing happened to me as I was standing on my desk in the ROAD office recently. I had just reached up to poke one more waffer thin envelope of old photographic prints (remember them) into an archive shelf when the world fell on me. Twenty eight feet of timber in seven foot lengths teetered toward me with the irresistible force of a landslide before which I fell backward into a chimney breast lined with CD racks that splintered on my impact. My life flashed before me in that moment, not so much as a mental image as in the form of 30 box files of old photographic slides depicting MAG runs, HOG runs, foreign travel and family portraits. This forceful mud slide of memories was complemented by a skyscraper of stacker trays, past copies of the ROAD and reams of printer paper which buried me in a weighty duvet of nostalgia from which I painfully extricated myself. Like some injured miner I struggled to my feet while relics I'd forgotten I owned tumbled down from the top of my head as I coughed amidst the devastation through a cloud of gently falling plaster dust. It's a damn dangerous business, publishing, I can tell you.
Stone me did Paul Facey start something with that Soapbox article in the last issue on the sport/tourer/cruiser milarky. I have never had so many letters on a single issue and I've tried to get at least part of each of them in.
It is a real balancing act trying to be all things to all people in this magazine. Speak to many publishers and they will tell you that publishing is all about niches and giving those niches exactly what they want. Well we can't afford that sort of partisan indulgence because MAG membership is not that polarised. The ROAD is destined therefore to be a kind of hybrid animal that hopefully provides something for everyone.
We've certainly got some extremes in this issue, from a review of the awesome ZX10R by Roland Brown to a partytime review of Sturgis bike week by Maggie Drysdale who got herself hitched while she was out there.
If there really is a common factor that unites MAG members I think it is a fair degree of intelligence and a reluctance to accept what is clearly not right. People who join MAG care about motorcycling and resent the do-gooder bullshit that blights our lives. That makes you an audience worth publishing a magazine for.
Up to the West End to see a preview of this new British biker movie, 'Freebird.' I got confused and went to the party venue instead of the movie venue but the beer was free and I've seen the film now. It's pretty chuckleworthy stuff, don't put your serious head on and you'll probably enjoy it. See review inside.
Speaking of motorcycles - there's a surprise, I've just bought another Harley-Davidson, a 1585cc six speed Dyna Custom. I guess you'd call it a cruiser but as I'm changing the laid back style bars for more business-like sportster bars does that make me a sports tourer rider?
First outing was an arctic January run down to Western Region for their AGM on which I accidentally touched 80mph several times. The result was a badly blocked left ear. I've since adjusted the velcro secured ear padding in an effort to reduce the wind roar that I blame for my condition.
Believe me, when you open the throttle on these new six speed monsters, they don't hang about. One minute you're doing a sensible 50mph then it's 80mph just like that, whoosh! I'll be getting nose bleeds at this rate.
What about the Dakar getting cancelled? Talk about a risk-averse society! Now I don't want to make any cheap gags about the French organisers, actually that's a lie, I do but I'll resist the temptation. I just can't help thinking that there is something slightly ironic about one of the world's most dangerous motorsport events being cancelled because ... it's too dangerous.
None of this has deterred the intrepid Brigadier who, as I write, has just reached Mauritania which is where the threats against the Dakar are supposed to have been focussed. Good luck to him say I.
Down to the Excell exhibition centre for the bike show during which I discover how my heated handlebar grips work. I am indebted to Dr Caroline (posh girl Road iss 12) for this education. A few days earlier I rode all the way back from Glastonbury after the Western AGM wondering how they worked and biting my lip in pain at the cold. What a revelation these heated grips are. I wish I'd had luxuries like this when I was a courier.
So - as we look forward to spring and the prospect of riding in less wrapping than Nanook of the North I plan yet another issue of this tome. I'll just put my thermals somewhere in the meantime, I think there's a small space on that shelf up there...
Ian 'shelfhead' Mutch