Lieback’s Lounge Motorcycle Commentary
Since 2007, the year I took a massive breakdown due to stuff that will surely surface throughout my writings, I turned back to motorcycles. The five or so years beforehand were spent playing music and writing transgression fiction that I’m still afraid to revisit.
Since then, my therapy-forward mind was controlled by motorcycles, which I rode about 20,000 miles a year. My most fulfilled year to date was 2014 (the one before my son Enzo was born), when I rode 32,000 miles across sport, ADV, and cruising riding styles on my steeds and press bikes.
Here in cold-laden Northeast Pennsylvania, that’s a hell of a lot of riding. Whether I was traveling out to Colorado for my beloved Pikes Peak International Hill Climb or heading down to Clarksdale, Miss., to trace the roots of the blues, 95-percent was completed alone.
It’s all part of my personal Solo Soul Searching writing campaign—basically my means of writing what I feel while discovering the true person inside, even if it’s that maniac inside who needs to remain up until 3 a.m. sipping cab and writing about life’s beauty.
I thrive on it, and it makes me, well, me. There’s also a byproduct—opening others to what motorcycling can do to an individual on a multitude of levels, from emotional satisfaction to allowing the mind to escape realities of life and reorder them in a methodical way.
By sharing that energy and passion, others will naturally follow, and ultimately help grow our sport. This is why I hate meeting the proverbial hard asses and curmudgeons in the motorcycle industry or in any circle of riding. They do zilch for growth, and may even push some away due to their beat attitudes. It only gets worse daily due to the Social Media Hyperbole—some from fellow moto journalists.
Regardless of what the position, from journalism to CEO of a major OEM to the weekly track rider, we are all in this together. The only way forward is through growing our sport by sharing our experiences with others.
This past June during Laconia Bike Week, I took it one step further. I got a call from my friends at Harley-Davidson, and was asked to cover the Project Rushmore Experience, a slick marketing venture that explains all the positive changes made to the Harley’s Touring lineup since 2014.
I was about to ride solo, but a new friend, Andrew, whom I’ve only met six times, wanted to join. He’s educated (four degrees), well traveled worldwide, and has a passion for all- things motorcycle. He hadn’t ridden in a few years, though he did once own a Ducati 999.
He didn’t own a bike, he never toured more than 100 miles, and I knew nada about his riding style. But, I love to influence. I took a chance, and gave Andrew my beloved Honda VFR800F—never dropped—to pilot to Laconia with me. His total was just under 900 miles in three days of riding —not bad for a first touring trip that included two 3 a.m. nights.
I provided some riding instruction during the trip, and bartered his photography skills. It was a win/win/win. He got to ride and received training, I got a break from photography, and the industry got a new customer—he was about to sign the papers on his new ride the day I wrote this column (he ended up with a MV Agusta F3).
Andrew could have been a major mistake and screwed my Viffer up. But, my initial positive view of his character proved correct. I now have a new friend and mad riding buddy who I know can go the distance when pushed, and the industry has another passionate rider who I see as a lifer.
I challenge everyone to take a chance and nurture that person you know, or just met, to take motorcycling to the next level. Whether the riding style consists of burning a CVO’s tire on Main Street or crossing a stream on an oversized dual sport or perfecting a lap by a tenth of a second, the time to influence is now.