Remembering why we ride

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It was hell getting out of Queens and out of the city. Packed traffic on the Cross Island Parkway up and over the Throgs Neck Bridge. Accidents on the 95 heading to the George Washington Bridge. All lanes just limping along. Sitting in the jam on a superheated idling V-twin, no lane-splitting relief in sight.

Over the bridge and into New Jersey and it was hot. Not a lot of traffic, but a long list of highway changes in my travel plans. The effects of the red-eye flight were now clearly being felt, not a good thing given this was my first time on two wheels in this pocket of the Northeast. A handful of wrong turns and route changes, and things were finally smoothing out.

The city quickly fell away to country. Green ruled the color palette. The front wheel aimed north on the 87 — a straight shot (more or less) the rest of the way, and any tension that had built up during the first few hours into the journey evaporated into the ether. The only goal now was Lake George in upstate New York for the Drag Specialties Adirondack Run.

I’d been invited by LeMans to attend the annual dealer/distributor ride and jumped at the chance. The day-to-day slog of trade magazine work involves a lot of sitting, reading and editing. It means staring at a computer for hours at a time and transcribing taped interviews. It means juggling story budgets and weekly editorial meetings and lots of run-around tasks only tangentially related. It’s long bouts of grinding it out punctuated by short bursts of adrenaline.

In other words, magazine work is lot like many other jobs. So when given the chance, I happily snag the perks that come in the form of new bike intros and organized press rides or, in this instance, the fifth annual installment of the ride organized by Drag Specialties. Turns out I wasn’t the only one eager to step out of the office for a little two-wheel therapy.

Jim Matchette, Drag’s national sales manager, says the run was launched not only as a way to bring together its dealers, vendors and sales employees, but also as a chance to ride motorcycles in great locations. “That’s why we all got into the business in the first place,” Matchette said.

And boy, did they get it right this time. Two major loops featuring hundreds of miles of woodsy, twisty blacktop, all of it winding through upstate’s sheer natural beauty. The trees were just starting to turn, so the greens ran into reds into yellows. One trip went to Lake Placid, home of the 1980 Winter Olympics, the other up and around Lake Sacandaga to a lunch stop at the picturesque Jimbo’s Club on Brant Lake.

On one of the loops, I had the chance to ride with Jim Bannon and Buck Shelton, owner and service manager, respectively, of Mavrix Motorsports, a Honda Powerhouse dealership in Middletown, N.Y. Also in our group were their superstar Drag rep, Rick Pence, and one other LeMans employee whose name now escapes me. Good dudes all around. We took a wrong turn at one point that — like all good wrong turns — led to a miles-long lakeside road filled with banked turns and fast bits of two-lane.

Two days of riding through some of the best scenery this country has to offer. Nearly 400 miles of not thinking about a computer or a deadline or a desk or a meeting. Nothing but the steady drone of the road and wind one hears inside a helmet. Trees and turns and lakes and rain and road and acceleration. It was constant locomotion punctuated by leisure and cocktails and conversation.

After it was over, on the ride downstate into the city, the obvious smacked me upside the helmet. Matchette was absolutely right about actually taking the time to get out and ride, to get out and enjoy why most of us got into this business to begin with — riding motorcycles.

I’m not too sure about everybody else, but it’s pretty easy to get wrapped up in the workaday minutiae of our careers, even when working in this great industry, and put our passions on the backburner. So I wonder, how often do you get out and ride? How about your employees? Let us know at
editors@dealernews.com.

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews November 2010 issue.

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