Fueled by Ed Milich | Rider’s Library Review
Ed Milich’s book, Fueled, might be thought of as a combination of “Chicken Soup for the Soul of Italian Bike Fanatics” and “Italiano Moto for Dummies” with a dash of Hunter S. Thompson’s gonzo journalistic style.
Milch’s writing gets your attention like a hornet in your helmet.
Fueled is brief, only 103 pages. It is over all too soon—but it is refreshing. It isn’t only about his exploits on Moto Guzzi and Ducati machines, though those brands predominate his time on two wheels.
It is also about life experiences that motorcyclists often share; some painful, some exhilarating, some hilarious. As is often the case with great writers, it isn’t so much what he says as how he says it. For example:
“Christ on a crotchrocket. I have stabbed myself with safety wire again. In a moment of reflection, I consider the name ‘safety wire’ is a gross misnomer. I have never more consistently scratched, impaled, hooked, pierced or otherwise injured myself with any other common garage item as I have with this one. Particularly a product that purports to exist for the sake of safety.”
Anyone who has attempted to master the art of using safety wire finds that bit of prose highly relatable.
Milich is able to combine his talent for acute observation of people, places and events with a knack for finding new and vivid ways of telling us about them. From the mundane pursuit of bikes to fix and flip to the spectacular world of vintage superbike racing, the narrative keeps you reading.
Milich’s accounts of races won and lost complete with close calls and crashes and the consequences thereof are riveting. Some of it will leave you elated like his Daytona victories on a $600 Guzzi; others will make you wince and feel the pain, like his crash at Willow Springs that degloved the flesh from three of his toes. Out of his love for speed and competition came vintage road racing championships as well as plenty of physical and financial pain.
Just for fun, he takes a backhanded swipe at the moto publishing world, at the expense of one of its giants, Cycle World magazine. The following is an excerpt from his essay submitted to that magazine in response to a call for essays to be used for the purpose of selecting potential candidates for an editorial job:
“After your appeal for submissions to fill the open editor position at Cycle World, I’m sure your mail sack will be overflowing with responses from slicksters, social climbers and suck-ups who want to advance to the next rung of moto célébrité. Allow me to interrupt your approving chorus of Aerostiched BMW dweebs, mullet-headed minimum-wage-earning Harley devotees, and assorted brown-nosers singing hosannas to your editorial prowess, with a lone dissenting voice.
“To the few motorcycle riders whose vision is not permanently desensitized by the empty calories manufacturers pound down the big plastic funnel that is your fine journal, the following statement is glaringly obvious. The Cycle World editorial staff, far from being the bastions of moto coolness, are as lame and limp-wristed as the male cast of America’s Next Top Model.”
There’s more. But you get the idea. Suffice it to say, Milich didn’t get the job, but I’m sure his was most-read among all those received.
Fueled shows that Milich has a lot to say, not getting on the staff at CW notwithstanding. It is as raucous and thought-provoking as a few laps around the Chicago loop on a rat bike with a MotoGP motor and no brakes.
Since the book is so short, you’ll read it cover to cover in about the same time you’d be able to skim through most decent motorcycle magazines. The good news is, Fueled is the second of Milich’s three books. The other two are Wrenched and Bottom Dead Center. Look for our review of those in the not-too-distant future. If you can’t wait and want to check them out for yourself, go to: http://guzzipower.com/books/ and order up a signed copy.
- Title: Fueled
- Author: Ed Milich See also: http://guzzipower.com/
- Published: 2011, paperback. 18 tiny B/W images.
- Publisher: Morris Publishing, 3212 E. Hwy 30, Kearney, NE 68847 USA www.morrispublishing.com
- ISBN: 978-0-9822832-1-9
Rider’s Library—note to readers: many of the books that we’ll feature here may be out of print and some may be difficult to find. That could be half the fun. The Internet should make the search relatively easy but ironically, none of the books currently scheduled for eventual retro-review for the Rider’s Library section were found with the help of the Internet. They all were found at book stores, used book stores, antique shops, motorcycle shops, yard sales and so on. In this case, special thanks goes to my riding buddy Tom Kelly for lending me his copy of Fueled.