The following is an article from the September '04 Motorcyclist, written by Mark Gardiner. This is such a damn good read that I decided to type it out for anybody who doesn't get the magazine. I hope you enjoy it. This guy definitely has it right!
This is my heart.
This is my heart on my sleeve.
I'm the new guy at Motorcyclist. And yes, dear reader, if you're wondering how cool it would be to help edit the world's largest streetbike magazine, I'll answer your question right now: It's fuc*!^g cool.
Is it perfect? No. Do we complain about relentless deadlines? Yes. Bitch about spending more time writing than riding, and moan about being understaffed and misunderstood in a business that treats the stories as filler between the important stuff, like ads? Yes, yes we do.
Are we slaves to newsstand sales? Believe is. The publisher takes us behind the woodshed whenever they drop-because it's always our fault for picking the wrong cover image. (And thanks for suggesting we solve this problem by putting the chart-busting Gina, from our Moto Lust issue, on every new cover; we're considering it
But how cool is it to go into work and have a long conversation about Rossi's latest move on Gibernau-and not be worried about being overheard by your boss, because you're having that conversation with your boss? How cool is it to go down into the garage at the end of the day and choose any of a dozen brand-new test bikes to ride home? How ultimately cool is it, even once in a while, that instead of draging yourself into work, you can drag your knees on the road up Mount Palomar, and have it actually be work?
Like I said, it's cool. But I've noticed something...
When I read magazines, I can tell not all motojournalists agree with me. Maybe the legitimate beefs outlined above have finally hardened their hearts. Or maybe, in their roles as motorcycle critics, they've confused the real meaning of the word with its popular connotation, which is more like "complain." More likely, they feel that cynicism or smugness help them do their jobs. Or that bragging entertains and informs their readers. I don't.
I'm writing this to help you understand where I'm coming from... which, geographically speaking, is Canada, via the Isle of Man and France.
You may already have a sense of where I'm coming from philosophically if you've read the feature stories I've written for Motorcyclist over the last four or five year. But just this once, I'll put my position on the lines, instead of leaving it between them.
I love motorcycles. I love their past; I love what they are; I can't wait to see their future.
The bikes in this magazine almost boggle the mind. Do this mental experiment: Take a modern, cutting-edge sportbikes such as the Yamaha YZF-R1, a mass-market production motorcycle any average working guy can afford if he wants to scrimp on, say, restaurant meals and moview for a few years. Put it in a time machine. Box stock, right down to the suspension and tires. Now ask yourself how far back in time you'd have to go to reach a moment when that bikes's lap times would qualify it for a Grand Prix. My guess: 20 years. More at some tracks, less at others, but around 20 years.
Now try the same experiment with cars. Do you think there's anything available at any price that could match the lap times of a mid-1980s Formula 1 car? No way. Not even remotely close. Compared with motorcycles, even today's most unattainably expensive cars seem like farm equipment.
This is my position: There is simply no other area of human endeavor in which the average working guy can afford an object so close to perfection. It is as though you could walk into a museum gift shop and buy an actual painting by Van Gogh or Rembrandt.
The intent of the following sentence is not to take anything away from BMW's skilled public-relations campaign for "The Art of the Motorcycle." But it was the machines themselves that made that exhibit the Guggenheim's all-time best-attended show. In engineering, build quality and sheer form-follows-function beauty, nothing-at least no mass-market, manufactured product-compares to our bikes.
The people who make them and ride them-heroes and villains, geniuses and flat-out lunatics-comprise a cast of characters that ensures I'll never, ever run out of stories. In fact, as I'm tapping out this editorial, I can look over my iBook screen to a bookshelf where I've stored about a yeard of notebooks dating back to... oh, forget when they date back to. Let's just say I'll run out of time before I run out of the leads, notions and ideas for stories on that shelf. But that doesn't mean I don't want to hear your stories. I do. So when you, dear reader, find yourself thinking, "Someone's got to write about this guy/place/bike/event," send an e-mail to [email protected]
But even more than motorcycles or motorcyclists, I love motorcycling. The ride is the thing. I know why, too. Like most people, I have little control over my life. Frustrations and failures? Whew, baby! Got'em. Fragile ego? Ouch! Does it show?
I know this much is true: Motorcycles make me feel better about who I am. Riding is almost the only time I set aside the distractions and disappointments of everyday life. I stop thinking about the way others see me; I stop thinking about thinking and live in the moment. I'm not cocky or reckless, but on a bike, I at least come close to feeling I'm in control. I feel ready to deal with what the world throws at me.
I don't want to dramatize this jones I have for motorcycles, nor do I want to pretend that our sport can't be cruel and dangerous. Motorcycling has killed and maimed my heroes and friends. But in important ways, risk gives our rides meaning. I'm not morbid, but I take pains to remind my family and friends that my life can never be taken by a motorcycle, because motorcycles gave me my life. Without motorcycles-and it would take book, not a magazine column, to explain why-I would not be here at all.
So I don't just love my sport. I have a debt to repay, and being here is part of it. (Literally, since come to think of it, I took a 50 percent pay cut when I left the darkside-advertising.) In the meantime, I get up every morning well aware that there are hundreds of thousands of guys who'd pay good money to come and do my job. If you're reading this, you're probably one of them.
This is what I owe you for spending your money-which is much harder-earned than mine-on this magazine: respect. This is my promise: I will never dumb a story down; I will write from direct experience; I will give you my opinion, but I will never tell you what to think. I will admit my mistakes (if the past is any indication, they'll be numerous). This is certain: I love motorcycles as much as you do. So if you see me, don't hesitate to introduce yourself. We've got something in common.
That's me, the new guy. Now I've got to get back to work. After his epic 750 test last month, Carrithers left the Gixxer 750's suspension much too firm for my scrawny bod. I have to reset the sag before draining a tank of premium on Mount Palomar. This is work? I can hardly believe it myself.