Archive for May, 2009

AMA Nationals Coverage: Onerous Requirements for Press Passes

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

I have a proposition for you. How about if you do some work and I’ll take possession of it, for no fee. Of course, I’ll let you use it, as long as you meet my terms. I may revoke your right, however.

Racing at Thunder ValleyThat, in a nutshell is what you have to agree to if you want a press pass to the AMA Nationals.

Every year out at Thunder Valley Motocross Park here in the Denver area they hold one of the races that make up the AMA Motocross Championships. This year the event is set for June 27. I figured I’d go and take advantage of my press affiliation to get in free and get some preferential treatment in doing my coverage.

I contacted the appropriate people and they sent along the 2009 Pro Motocross Media Guidelines, complete with a waiver for me to sign and return to them. Sure this is just standard stuff and if you want to play you have to play by their rules, but I read what I was about to sign anyway.

Holy smokes! Read this:

Media Members agree and hereby do assign to MX Sports and its affiliates (collectively, “MX Sports Entities”), all copyrights in any or all still or motion picture . . . or any other form of media captured . . . MX Sports hereby grant to Media Member a royalty-free, non-exclusive, limited, revocable license (“Licensee”) to use the Works, illustrating, describing, relating to, or referring to the Event(s) for editorial purposes only.

Oh, thank you so much for allowing me to use my own pictures for free.

I’m still going to go to the races, but I’m not sending in the press credentials form. I’ll pay my way in and I’ll jostle with the crowds to get the best coverage I can. But I’ll own my own work.

Recent from the National Motorcycle Examiner
An experienced motorcyclist’s lessons in humility

Biker Quote for Today

Well, sister, the time has come for me to ride hard and fast. – Rooster Cogburn

Step by Step to Becoming a Professional Biker

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Do what you love and the money will follow.

Have you ever heard those words? Do you believe them? Well, I’m putting them to the test. First some background.

I’ve been a writer all my life, and I’ve been riding motorcycles for more than 20 years. That doesn’t count the numerous times when I was a kid when I had the occasional chance to ride. By 20 years I mean since I bought my first bike. So what could be more natural than to put the two together?

Beginning Rider CourseOK, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ve been in the newspaper business and various other lines of work but the one thing they all had in common was that I was a writer. Most recently I’ve been doing contract work as a technical writer. On my most recent gig I knew first of all that it would end. That’s the nature of the beast. I also knew the economy was in the toilet and that getting the next gig could be very difficult. So I put aside as much cash as I could while I had the income and when the end came I was ready.

I’ve been “unemployed” for a couple months now but I’m working harder than ever. But no, I’m not looking for a job. I’m working to make a living as a biker.

First off, I’ve turned my gig at into an almost full-time effort, and as of yesterday I’ve moved from Denver Motorcycle Examiner to National Motorcycle Examiner. Second, I’m doing what I can to make more money off this website. I’ve always had the Google ads, and they’ve always paid enough to support the website without me having to dip into my pocket just to pay the hosting fees. But now I’m actively trying to sell ads on the site, which has the potential to provide serious income. We’ll see.

Third, I’ve been talking with Dan Patino at Monkey Gripper Motorcycle Tours about working for him this summer as a motorcycle tour guide. Considering the focus of this website, that seems a perfect fit. Now all we need is for the economy not to totally crush the tourism industry and to get some people signed up for tours.

And fourth, I’m considering the possibility of becoming a motorcycle riding instructor. To that end, just this weekend I took the Beginning Rider Course from T3RG Motorcycle Schools. The possibility of becoming an instructor was really only one of four reasons I had for taking the course, but because the course is required if you want to be an instructor, it was fortuitous to be able to do so just at this time.

So we’ll see. I’m doing what I love and while I’m not making nearly enough to live on so far, things do seem to be moving in the right direction.

And doors do seem to be opening up. For instance, in my work with I have helped build a group of the motorcycle Examiners around the country. We try to coordinate our efforts and work together whenever the opportunity presents itself. Well, there is a new East Bay Motorcycle Examiner who just started, Gabe Ets-Hokin, who just today posted his second ever post, which is part two of his introduction. It turns out to my extreme interest that he has been a motojournalist since 2004 and is currently the Online Editor for Cycle World magazine. Holy smokes! I now have a contact with an outfit I’d love to become involved with. It may never happen but you never know.

Rest assured, I’ll keep you up to date on how this progresses. I’m not saying you should be all that interested in how I make my living, but I would think just about anyone would be interested to see whether you really can do what you love and end up making it your job. Who knows, it might be the inspiration someone else needs to do so as well.

Recent from the National Motorcycle Examiner
Emotional day ends Run For The Wall

Biker Quote for Today

You can forget what you do for a living when your knees are in the breeze.

Independence Pass, Mount Evans Now Open; Loveland Pass Closed

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Independence PassNote to the world: Colorado is open for the season.

That’s right, with today’s opening of Independence Pass and CO 5 to the top of Mount Evans opening tomorrow, all the seasonal roads are open. Even Trail Ridge Road is open, although the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reports that it is icy in spots.

One note of interest, however, is that US 6 over Loveland Pass is closed at this time. This is not a seasonal road, but CDOT says it is “closed for emergency road repair until further notice.” Apparently they just closed it yesterday. That’s a good thing for me to know because I was planning to head up over that pass in just a couple days.

Here’s a bit more info from CDOT:

U.S. 6 over Loveland Pass is closed due to a culvert failure, about 1 ½ miles east of the summit. Excess water has washed out the bottom of the culvert. Safety considerations will not allow the road to be open to traffic due to a loss of roadway support over the culvert. All traffic will be detoured though the Eisenhower Tunnel on Interstate 70. Loveland Pass will remain closed until further notice. The Colorado Department of Transportation will send out more information when it becomes available.

Recent from Denver Motorcycle Examiner
Run For The Wall nearing its destination

Biker Quote for Today

If you don’t make it the first time, back up and try again, only faster!!

Meeting Up With the Run For The Wall in Limon

Monday, May 18th, 2009

The Run For The Wall came through Colorado Saturday and I rode out to Limon to see the spectacle. It turned out I wasn’t the only one.

Run For The Wall goes through LimonI’ve been following the Run For The Wall on via Glenn and Cathy Buchholz, a local couple who are on the ride. I figured I’d meet up with them when the group stopped for gas in Limon.

I reached Limon well in advance of the run because I wanted to scope things out and pick some good spots to shoot photos. I knew I had the advantage that Glenn and Cathy are on the fuel crew so they would be arriving ahead of the main group. I picked one of the largest gas stations in town and asked if that was where the group would be stopping. No, the lady told me, they would be using the Phillips 66 across the street. So I went over there.

Those folks knew the group was coming so I chatted with them awhile. Then, getting restless, I cruised through town a couple times just to be sure I wasn’t missing something. At one point, passing a motel, I saw a bunch of folks and bikes sitting out in the parking lot so I stopped. They weren’t with the run, but they had ridden out from Denver to watch them pass. They were a bunch of nice folks so I stood and chatted with them a bit, too.

It got to be time when the fuel crew should be showing up so I went back to the gas station, but after waiting there for too long a time I knew something was amiss. I rode back to the west side of town, where the police and parade marshalls were set up to guide the group, and I learned that the fueling stop was in a big truck stop on the other side of I-70. I scooted on over there and sure enough, this was the spot I needed.

They had marshalls to guide the riders in order to do it efficiently and quickly. Not wanting to interfere with their operation I started to turn in at the first entrance to the station, not the second one where they were directing their people to go. Suddenly a marshall with a flag on his baton lept directly in front of me and started screaming at me that I WOULD go in the other entrance, that I was endangering everyone on this run, and I had now done so TWICE!


I explained to him that I was not part of their group but he didn’t want to hear it, continuing to scream at me and point and wave his baton at me in an extremely threatening manner. I thought, OK buddy, I’m not in the army and you aren’t either, not any more, but you obviously take your duty here very seriously, so I won’t argue. My wife, generous-hearted soul that she is, speculated that perhaps he was a vet who was making the run trying to deal with his unresolved demons from his Vietnam experience and was just a bit overwrought.

I went down to the other entrance, pulled in, looked around for a place to park that didn’t seem to be in anybody’s way, and parked. Then another marshall came over, greeted me cheerfully, asked who I was, and then asked me if I would please move “over that way” a bit because “I’m going to be parking a whole lot of motorcycles right here in just a few minutes.”

“Sure, you bet, not a problem,” I replied. The contrast was blazingly clear.

So I found Glenn and Cathy, had a few minutes to talk with them before the main group arrived, shot some pictures, and then headed back into town to take up position to get some photos as they rode down the main street.

Limon was turned out for the scene but it was not the kind of scene you might have expected. Probably the biggest crowd was on the grounds of the city office building, and by that I mean about 15 people. There were other clusters of up to five people scattered here and there along the parade route. I’m certain there were more U.S. flags lining the parade route than there were spectators. Hey, this is small town America.

The parade passed and I talked a bit with a Limon teen who was eyeing my Concours, telling me he had just gotten a Ninja 250 but didn’t have his license yet so he couldn’t ride it. And then it was time to head back to Denver.

Recent from the Denver Motorcycle Examiner
Civilian Top Gun competition shows who really has the skills

Biker Quote for Today

Never twist the throttle with your ego

Motorcycles as Bling: Can a Poser Find Redemption in a Charity Ride?

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Let’s see. Sixteen motorcycles with a total mileage among them of less than 500 miles. Yep, that guy’s a poser. Or at least he was, and except for one time each year you have to wonder if he still is.

Kyle Petty Charity Ride emblemI’m talking about Herschel Walker, who plays football professionally and has a lot of money to spend on bling. He and a bunch of other monied folks came through here Tuesday on the 15th annual Kyle Petty Charity Ride. Walker and the others on the ride paid $10,045 each for the privilege of participating, according to Darrell Andrews, who told me he has been riding with Kyle for years and has been on every one of these cross-country rides.

So OK, it’s a charity run and they raise a lot of money for good causes. I wrote about that on and you can go there if you want to know more. What I’m interested in here is Herschel Walker.

First off, let me make the point that I didn’t talk with Walker while I mingled with the group at the Chick-fil-A in Aurora where they stopped for lunch. (Chick-fil-A is sponsor of the ride.) I’m drawing my basic information from an article in the Steamboat Pilot newspaper. Here’s what the article said.

When he first participated in the ride four years ago, Walker said he took some ribbing because all 16 of his motorcycles had a combined mileage of about only 500 miles.

So clearly he’s put a little more mileage on at least a few of his bikes since then. This year’s ride will cover 3,500 miles. What I’d like to know is, does the guy ever ride at any other time? Is he still a poser for whom motorcycles are no different than gold rings or necklaces, or has he found that riding a motorcycle is more enjoyable than just owning them and hoping people will think he’s cool because they’re his?

I shake my head and try to think of what else to say, but there really isn’t anything else to say. So I’ll shut up.

Recent from the Denver Motorcycle Examiner

Run For The Wall rolls out of Rancho Cucamonga

Biker Quote for Today

One bike on the road is worth two (or sixteen) in the garage.

A Day at the Motorcycle Races, New Track Inaugural

Monday, May 11th, 2009

The first ever motorcycle roadracing event was held at the brand new High Plains Raceway Saturday and I was there. The weather cooperated and it was a good day to be out having fun.

Ugly Dog RacingMind you, I’m not a big race fan. I think this was only the third racing event I’ve ever been to. Judy and I went to the Super Bike races at Pikes Peak Raceway some years ago, and then we went to the ice races down by Woodland Park earlier this year. And then High Plains on Saturday.

It was fun, and I’m sure I’ll go again, but what I’m saying is, don’t expect me to talk about this like an expert because I’m not. But I’m going to offer you my novice observations on what it was like.

First off, I went because it was the inaugural motorcycle event and that seemed worthy of coverage, which I posted on

Secondly, I wanted to meet and speak with a racer who is being sponsored by ABATE of Colorado, Jonathan Kuo. As Jon put it, ABATE is generally perceived among young sportbike riders as being a bunch of grey-hairs who ride Harleys. Sponsoring Jon is an outreach effort to try to change that perception and bring more of the motorcycle community into the organization. I’ll be doing a separate story on Jon later.

So anyway, one of the fun things about High Plains Raceway is that everybody gets a pit pass. That is, the parking and spectator area and the pit area are all one space, so you can walk around and talk with the racers, look at their bikes, and just mix freely. And if, like me, you’re pretty new to this sort of thing, it’s interesting some of the things you notice.

For example, it seems like everyone has a scooter or pocket bike or at least a bicycle. Getting around in the pit area can entail quite a bit of walking, so it’s completely normal to see some really big name racers like Jason DiSalvo and Matt Lynn, both of whom were there Saturday, riding around on little 50cc scoots. Small electric bikes are particularly popular, it seems.

Also, it’s a real family scene, right down to the critters. Hey, if you’re going out for the weekend you’re going to take the dog along, right? In many cases, at least, the answer is “Hell yes!”

From what the racers say, the track itself is a very good one. I was told it has some challenging turns, some fun and exciting elevation changes, and once they finish putting in the amenities it should be worthy of hosting Super Bike racing.

Of course it was fun to watch Jon Kuo race, in the way it’s always more fun when you actually know one of the guys out there on the track. Jon’s only in Novice class as yet but there’s no question he’s one of the good ones. I watched him run two races and he placed second behind the same guy each time. The two of them were smoking the rest of the field. You could see in the curves how they would swoop down and through, while everyone else had nowhere near the lean and often were way off the line.

So I enjoyed myself. And hey, it was historic in at least a small way. First time for the new track. And I looked in the Denver Post and they said nothing about it at all in the sports section. Too busy with the Nuggets, I guess.

Recent from the Denver Motorcycle Examiner
Healing is focus of Denver-area biker couple’s Run For The Wall

Biker Quote for Today

When you’re riding lead, don’t spit.

American Motorcyclist Magazine Now Available Online for Free

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

American Motorcyclist magazineMagazine reviews are a great source of information when you’re thinking about buying a used motorcycle. Now the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has made almost its entire backlog of American Motorcyclist magazines available online for free. From what I see, it looks like the only issues not available are the most recent ones, which stands to reason considering that the magazine is a member benefit.

In a partnership with Google, the magazines are available in a searchable format, although you can only search one month’s issue at a time. Too bad you can’t say “give me all articles about Eric Buell from between 1995 to 2000.” But hey, I’m not going to be a choosy beggar.

The way you get to the magazines is a little tricky, but having navigated it myself I’ll make it easier for you.

First you’ll want to go to and enter “American Motorcyclist” in the search field. This will take you to a results page and at the top of the list is one for the magazine itself. That’s the one you want.

Click that and you go to the issue pictured, and if that’s the issue you want you’re set. If you want to see a different issue, click “Browse all issues” over on the right. Then dig your way through the archives.

Recent from Denver Motorcycle Examiner
Choosing your perfect motorcycle: If the scoot fits ride it

Biker Quote for Today

As the writer inscribes paper with ink and words, so the motorcyclist cuts a line through sheer space using angles and velocity as letters and punctuation. — Mark C. Taylor and Jose Marquez

Motorcycle Examiners Help Usher in New Era of Journalism

Monday, May 4th, 2009

I’ve mentioned a number of times that I write for as their Denver Motorcycle Examiner and maybe you’ve checked it out and maybe you haven’t. Well, what exactly is

Cottonwood Pass, photo by Andy SimonsWe all know that newspapers are struggling. Here in Denver recently the Rocky Mountain News folded just two months shy of its 150th anniversary. The surviving Denver Post is not exactly raking in cash either, even with its main competition gone. But news is important, and if the old method of gathering and distributing it is falling away, something must replace it or we’ll all be in a world of hurt.

The internet appears to be the future, and part of that future may well be and other companies like it. is set up with home pages for cities across the country so that whatever city you choose, you’ll see local information. They bring on independent contractors, like me, to write on their topics of expertise and they pay us on page views. Then they sell ads related to the subject matter.

Because is headquartered here in Denver, Denver was one of the first local home pages to launch and as such, I was one of the first Examiners, as they call the writers. That meant that for a while I was the only Motorcycle Examiner in the country.

Examiners now number in the thousands, however, and when a new Motorcycle Examiner comes on board we make contact and invite them to join the group that we have created. There are 20 of us today, though that may change tomorrow.

The point is, there may be a Motorcycle Examiner in your city, or even two, and you may want to check them out. They’ll be bringing news of local motorcycle events, updates on local motorcycle-related issues, offering ideas on good rides in your area, and a lot more.

Here’s the list as of today:

Biker Quote for Today

If everything seems under control you’re just not going fast enough.