Ultimate Motorcycling 20th Anniversary – Nic de Sena Reflects

Two decades of publishing motorcycle stories is nothing to sneeze at, especially when focused on enthusiast literature such as ours. Even in what we can politely describe as a tumultuous space, the two-wheeled community tends to hold onto its rags tightly, perhaps more so than any other community.

Editor’s Note: This month, we are celebrating Ultimate Motorcycling‘s 20th anniversary. We will be publishing reflections from members of the Ultimate Motorcycling staff and team. Ultimate Motorcycling Senior Editor Nic de Sena reminisces.

The much-lauded and fellow SoCal-based Cycle magazine is still spoken about with an almost unrivaled reverence despite shuttering in the early 1990s. It was a subscription that I have vague memories of seeing in our mailbox as a kid. But at that age, I’d have been hard-pressed to make the cut when trying to jump on a carnival ride. The idea that I’d join the galivanting band of reprobates we call the American motojournalist core a couple of decades later didn’t cross my mind as a remote possibility until, one day, it did.

The Triumph Tiger 1200 Rally Pro is Nic’s ride in the mountains above Málaga, Spain.

Ultimate Motorcycling was well established when I appeared on the doorstep of our old office in Moorpark, California. So, instead of leaning into a haphazard historical retelling of how things came to be, I’ll regale everyone with the tale of how my hat ended up thrown in the ring.

I suppose way back when you could walk into a business with a pressed shirt and ask to see the manager, you might have a job at the end of that conversation if your handshake was firm enough. While I’ve always written those claims off as employment folklore, that’s essentially what happened. One fine autumn day, I sat wondering about what I should do with my life. It occurred to me that I had developed a rare and mysterious skill known as typing. I also enjoyed motorcycles. There had to be a way to combine those two things into a means for me to continue surviving off ramen, and it hit me—motorcycle magazines.

As luck would have it, UM was local to me, and oddly enough, I’d even heard of this magazine, seeing as the shop where I got my tires changed had framed issues up on its wall.

Ultimate Motorcycling 20th Anniversary - Nic de Sena in Spain.
Nic heeling the Ducati Panigale V2 over on Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto in Spain.

They say you shouldn’t feed stray cats because, according to the cat distribution system, this is how you get cats. But, we could probably say the same about would-be motorcycle journos. Being the sometimes eager upstart I am, I called the phone number on our website and was met with Arthur Coldwells’ voice. I asked if they offered internships, to which he replied, “Well, no. Yes, maybe. Who are you?” spoken with in the most dignified Queen’s English. The chat lasted a few minutes, and it seems I struck a positive chord when I shared that I’d done a trackday, enjoyed sportbikes, and owned a Ducati 749S.

This illustrious list of qualifications got me in the door, and within a few weeks, I went from the general office hang-around to representing UM in an official capacity. The learning curve was steep for the proverbial “man off the street” rider who was fed a few morsels and stuck around. And that worked, because another helping hand meant that editorial avenues begging to be explored were now more readily available.

Ultimate Motorcycling 20th Anniversary - Nic de Sena on a Royal Enfield
Sitting on a Royal Enfield Himalayan, Nic takes in the Himalayas.

We’ve evolved since then, and so has the motorcycle publishing industry. When I joined, the Robb Report roots still anchored the brand to the earth, helping give the coffee table book that we used to print its particular luster and was well-heeled in our use of ten-dollar words.

As time progressed and the website gained prominence, we shifted gears. We widened our scope considerably under the careful eye of Editor Don Williams, who steers the editorial direction of our web presence and digital magazine. It’s an exciting transition from one extreme to another, yet retaining some of those critical aspects that made UM what it is since its founding, and the thesauruses still get worked out regularly.

We’ll continue to change, develop, and surf the tides of change. So, let’s click our glasses to another 20 years of Ultimate Motorcycling.