I’ve discovered several things in the two and a half months that I’ve been away from Cycle News and I’d be remiss to not share them with you – just in case you have yet to experience the gut-wrenching feeling of being job-less for the first time in your life. So here we go: Through a technique known as repetitive learning, I now know where everything in the grocery store is located; the fine art of caulking bathtub enclosures has been conquered; my dog now actually believes that a dog walk is a daily event; no one in my neighborhood has greener grass; when your wife comes home from work and asks, ‘So what did you do today?” it might be a good idea to have something to tell her even if you have to embellish (playing up the grocery store thing works quite well); I’m not a fan of “The View,” and something about Oprah still bothers me for some reason; the 15-yard sprint to get the paper from the end of the driveway in your boxers is far easier in August than it is in November; waiting to get paid every two weeks is less painful than paying bills every two weeks without a paycheck; I have more friends than I thought; and I miss the hell out of doing Cycle News.
So grocery store and dog parks be damned, I’m back to being the editor of Cycle News. And I couldn’t be happier.
By now you’ve probably read that the Motorsports Aftermarket Group (MAG) has purchased the Cycle News brand and hired me to be the editor, bringing the last three months of my life full circle – fired/misery, hired/happiness. And to think I questioned those who said way too often “when one door closes, another one opens.” This, my friends, is not just a door. It’s a freaking garage door.
After sitting at a desk in a Cycle News office for the past 25 years, whether that be in Long Beach or Costa Mesa, I’m writing this from the MAG offices in Irvine, California, and I’m writing with a smile on my face that a plastic surgeon would have difficultly removing. The right word might actually be giddy. Selfishly, I’m excited for myself and I’m excited for the team that I’m in the early stages of assembling. But I’m also excited for you because I think – like me – you’ve probably missed your Cycle News. Although we are still in the process of putting a plan together to take the publication to the next level, I can tell you that we now have a future that is bright and you will be getting your fix of Cycle News in some manner in the very near future. I promise you that.
My immediate goal is to get cyclenews.com back to where it needs to be, get our valued contributors back to work and get back to being your news source of choice on the internet. Beyond that… well, you’ll be the first to know.
I recently returned from Las Vegas where off-road editor Kit Palmer (yes… Kit is back!) and I attended both the AMA Hall of Fame Banquet and the final round of the EnduroCross Series. It was there that we were able to get a sense of the excitement from our industry partners that we are back in the fold with what I like to call the new Cycle News, and I know I can count on the support we will need to go forward.
As for our readers, I’m hoping that our announcement today brings a smile back to your face as well. I know my neighbors will be pleased that their mornings can go forward without the fear of seeing me in my boxers, and Oprah can live her life without me. You see… everyone wins in this deal. Except the dog.
It’s difficult to not be filled with both anger and sadness after getting the news from my former co-workers yesterday afternoon that the plug had been pulled on Cycle News and that its death was imminent. Anger because it shouldn’t have ended like this, sadness because it did.
But the weekly motorcycle publication that has been a part of my life since my family moved to America in 1971 is gone. I read Cycle News as a child, as a teenager my name could be found periodically in its pages for my racing exploits at South Bay Speedway in San Diego, and as a fresh-faced young man I took a job there. And it was within the hallowed walls of the then Cycle News offices on Signal Hill in Long Beach that I grew up and became a man. Up until last week, my two children, now adults at 18 and 21, had never known their father to work anywhere else.
I was told last night that I should feel vindicated with the publication going out of business just a week after they let me go as the editor after a 25-year run, but I don’t. I knew this day was coming. I just didn’t know it would come so quickly. When pushed to the point where I lost my temper on the way out the door last week, I predicted they’d be out of business in three weeks. I guess betting the under would have won someone some money.
I can sit here all day long and tell you how the company could have been saved, but what’s the point. You don’t hear people speak badly of the deceased in a eulogy and I’m not about to start the trend at Cycle News‘ funeral. The publication was like a good friend and the long list of people who worked there over my 25 years were like family members. Most went in different directions as time passed, but we were and always will be connected in some way through the times we spent at the smoky offices in Long Beach and the newer digs in Costa Mesa. And when I sit here and think about my times at CN, the good far outweigh the bad. And it is the memories of the people that still bring a smile to my face.
I wasn’t proud of every Cycle News that we printed, but I was proud of most of them. For the most part, the publication was put together each and every week by a staff that cared, a staff that often went above and beyond the call of duty to produce a newspaper that people liked, wanted and needed. And we normally did so without hearing much from the people above. Along the way we went to each other’s weddings, we saw each other’s children grow up and we even attended funerals together. We fought, we cried, we smiled and we celebrated together and through it all we produced our little publication that fed the needs of an industry. It was a family of people so big that old names and faces keep popping into my head as I sit here.
So where does it go from here? I’m not sure how these things work, but it concerns me. At this point I’m not sure I should give a damn, but I do. There’s a lot of history there… for every photo on a proof sheet that was chosen for publication and circled with a blue grease pencil, there are 35 other photos of equal importance. There are bound volumes of every issue ever printed, file drawers full of photos of heroes past and present. Of motorcycles from then and now. And I worry that whatever vulture that ultimately gets their hands on the remains won’t fully comprehend what it all means. I fret not for the things that will be saved, but for the things that will probably get trashed. I fear someone going through the wreckage who knows nothing of Dick Mann, of Giacomo Agostini, or of Kenny Roberts or Roger DeCoster.
I wanted to be a part of rehabiliating Cycle News, of bringing it back to life in a time much different from when it reached its zenith. But I was ulimately thwarted in my efforts and now it’s time to move on. I do so knowing that I gave it everything I had.
So as I sit here this morning and struggle with the loss of a friend, I know there are several others out there who are feeling the same. No matter how their time at Cycle News ended, and a lot ended badly, the little weekly motorcycle publication that could probably remains a bigger part of their lives than they may want to admit to.
It’s gone now, but it will never be forgotten.
It didn’t take long for Infront Motor Sports to respond to Ducati’s release today that they won’t be fielding a factory team in the World Superbike Championship in 2011. And for obvious reasons they’re not enamored with the notion of losing what has always been the series’ most high-profile team.
“We are disappointed and also a bit surprised at Ducati’s decision,” said Paolo Flammini, CEO of Infront Motor Sports, in the release. “Especially since we have been asked numerous times for a change in the regulations to bring about a better balancing of twin-cylinder 1200cc machines towards the four-cylinder 1000cc bikes, but it must be mentioned that last year, without the presence of a phenomenal Ben Spies, the Ducati 1198 would have dominated the championship with [Noriyuki] Haga and [Michel] Fabrizio, and it is therefore difficult for us today to comprehend this decision, which of course we must respect.
“Moreover the FIM Superbike World Championship can today boast the participation of six manufacturers in addition to Ducati, with Aprilia, BMW, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha and is therefore obliged to maintain a total balance in the regulations, without privileging one or other manufacturer in particular. We are, however, pleased that Ducati has confirmed its technical support for private teams that will be competing with its models in the 2011 championship and that the development of its new generation of hypersport bikes, in both homologated and Superbike race versions, will continue.”
Yesterday morning my dilemma was one I usually face only on weekends: Do I make the 20-yard dash to get the paper from the driveway in my boxers or do I take my time, throw on some real clothes, and saunter out to pick up the daily news in attire that won’t get me on some list that my neighbors will find on the Internet?
Today’s dilemma is a bit different. Do I call a lawyer or let the royal screwing I got yesterday fade away like another bad memory?
Twenty five years and $61.94 later, I’m officially no longer the editor of Cycle News, America’s Weekly Motorcycle Newspaper. I’m not going to sit here and go into the gory details of the bloodshed, but let’s just say I left without “feeling the love.” Visualize the scene in Jerry Maguire… I placed my finger over my lips to quiet them and said, “You had me at F-off.”
Should I really have expected any different?
But life goes on and I start that new life today, with the burden of finding things like health insurance for the family, rolling-over the 401k, going through the boxes that contain 25 years of memories from a place I now can’t erase from my memory quick enough.
The support I’ve received from my friends, those in the motorcycle industry – and the crossover between the two as most in the industry I’m quickly finding out are my friends – has been incredible. Just do me one favor, when you see me at the grocery store unshaven in a white T-shirt, plaid shorts and flip-flops, don’t tell me “When one door closes, another one opens.” Yesterday the door hit me so hard in the ass, I’m writing this while standing up.
This weekend is a big one in motorcycling with the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix going on without me. I almost jumped on a plane and headed that way after all of this went down yesterday. But spending the weekend talking about getting the axe didn’t sound like a lot of fun. It’s also a big weekend here. My son “officially” starts his college life tomorrow and the school is welcoming the families for a weekend of seminars and other activities. I will be there instead.
But next week I’ll be back in the mix and will get my working life back in order. Which hopefully means I’ll be working again on something more meaningful than a blog page. Something that gets me out of these damn boxer shorts.
Thanks for your support, people. Will keep you all posted.
Ducati and World Superbike. World Superbike and Ducati. The two went together like Ozzie and Harriet, Lucy and Ricky. Now it’s Tiger and Elin.
For the first time since the World Superbike Championship began in 1988, there won’t be a factory Ducati team in the series in 2011. The announcement came today from Bologna.
“This decision is part of a specific strategy made by Ducati, the aim being to further increase technological
content in production models that will arrive on the market in the coming years,” said Gabriele Del Torchio, President and CEO of Ducati in a press release. “In order to achieve this objective, the company’s technical resources, until now engaged with the management of the factory Superbike team, will instead be dedicated to the development of the new generation of hypersport bikes, in both their homologated and Superbike race versions. “I would like to thank Nori [Haga] and Michel [Fabrizio], and all of the riders that have contributed to the great history of Ducati in Superbike, but above all the Ducati employees; it is their hard work and professionalism that has allowed us to achieve such important results. A big thank you also to all of the partners that have supported us, first and foremost Xerox of course. I would also like to acknowledge the Flammini brothers who have managed the championship for so long, and the FIM, the organization with which we have continuous, constructive relations.”
Ducati riders have won the World Superbike Championship 13 times since 1988, collecting 16 Manufacturer titles along the way. But they won’t collect either of those two titles this year, with both Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio suffering through seasons in which the pair have combined to win just two races (Haga won race two at Valencia; Fabrizio won race one at Kyalami). Althea Ducati’s Carlos Checa, meanwhile, is the top-ranked Ducati rider in the series in fourth place. Ducati says they will continue to support privateer teams in 2011.
Ducati says the decision to stop racing on the factory level will help them “increase the speed and efficiency with which it transfers advanced technological solutions, currently tested in the prototype championship, to the production series.”
Without a factory team, Ducati says the technical support the privateer teams get will be increased with “more competitive machines and parts.”
Ducati is apparently miffed at the current rules, which they “has been interpreted as moving more towards competition between prototypes rather than for bikes derived from production machines. This has led to an increase in costs, both for the manufacturers and the teams participating in the championship. This picture does not correlate with the current worldwide economic situation, which has made the securing of sponsorship even more difficult. Ducati trusts that the work carried out by all parties will lead to improvement also in this area.”
With Ducati pulling its factory team from the series that will likely cost the grid two riders – though World Superbike’s grids aren’t exactly thin. And there was also talk that Colin Edwards was one of the riders in line to replace the current Haga/Fabrizio duo.
Now there’s speculation that all the Ducati money is going to support Valentino Rossi as he moves to the Marlboro Ducati team for the 2011 MotoGP World Championship, thus putting the World Superbike team on the chopping block.
Whatever the reasons, financial or simply Ducati taking a stand against the rules, they will be missed in a championship they have always fought for.
A few months ago an acquaintance told me that it’s a recession when your friend loses his job and that it’s a depression when you lose yours. Well, I guess today can be called the first day of my depression. Funny, I don’t see it that way.
I haven’t actually lost my job yet. But if you’re a betting man, I’d recommend putting your money on the favorite, which in this case is Paul Is Out Of Work in the fifth. The axe will likely fall at 10 a.m. tomorrow as that’s when my meeting with “The Man” is scheduled. And I’m fairly certain this one won’t end in hugs and handshakes.
Let’s back up a minute here. Actually, let’s back up some 25 years. Fairly fresh out of college and working at a local newspaper chain in the beach community of Encinitas, California, I was married, living in a luxurious one-bedroom apartment and covering high school sports. At the time it was exactly what I wanted. A real job working for a real newspaper. Then I got the call.
I’d read Cycle News for almost my entire life. At least the part of my life in America. My father raced “a little bit,” winning a World Championship in 1969 and I’d grown up with the sport. My first race was in mum’s tummy and it went from there. So the call came from the then-editor of Cycle News to see if I’d be interested in helping him with a freelance story in which I would fly to Northern California to cover an AMA National at Sears Point. As the Poms would say, I was “chuffed.” As a teenager from California would say, I was “stoked.”
This was big time. And I have to admit it came rather easy for me. Despite being thrown in the deep end, I sucked it up and got the job done. It helped that I knew the Wayne Raineys of the world and they knew me. I enjoyed the experience, stayed up all night writing my stories on a portable typewriter and flew back south the next day to my job of covering the Carlsbad Lancers and the occasional city board meeting.
Cycle News must have liked my work because I got a second call, this time to cover a big amateur motocross in Texas. This one was a bit tougher. You know… with a zillion kids, two zillion parents and 10 zillion races to watch. Again, I enjoyed it and again I got the job done.
In June of 1985 I started working full time at the old Cycle News offices in Long Beach, California, sitting at a desk with a typewriter (yes, a typewriter!) with no idea of what I was doing. Did I mention I started on a deadline Monday for the weekly publication? Again, I got the job done.
So here I am: 25 years later, feeling fresh, tanned, rested and ready after four days of furlough (my favorite definition is “a leave of absence from prison granted to a prisoner”) and missing a Monday deadline day at the Cycle News offices. It will mark the first issue that I haven’t had some sort of a hand in producing in 25 years. I’m not a mathematician by any stretch of the imagination, but my little calculator here tells me that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 1250 issues.
And those are 25 years I wouldn’t trade for anything.
So what are the chances of the boss man calling me in tomorrow, putting his arm around me, telling me how much I mean to the company, that this has just been some cruel joke for which he’ s sorry and let’s sit down and figure out how we can fix this mess? Ice to an Eskimo, condoms to the Pope… it ain’t happening.
So what’s next? Wonderful question. I’m quickly finding out how many friends I have in both life and the motorcycle industry – and not everyone knows yet. Hell, I don’t even know, do I? So if the axe falls somewhere between my hairline and my spine tomorrow morning, I’m hopeful that this isn’t the first day of depression. Simply the last day of it.