By Marilyn Stemp
I know what you’re thinking; what does swimming have to do with biking? Well, it’s just a metaphor that popped into my head as I gathered some new articles for Iron Trader News and if you’re willing to read along and give me a few minutes, I’ll explain.
Even if you don’t swim very much, everyone gets the concept of treading water. It’s the equivalent of expending effort just to stay in the same place; an innocuous sounding activity that can quickly become quite frightfully dangerous if it persists too long and you don’t take it seriously. Yes, treading water is nothing to scoff at.
And I’m here to tell you, I’ve lately wondered: is that what I’m doing, thinking I can stay where I am by starting up Iron Trader News? I’d like to say I’ve grasped the reins with gusto, taken on the moniker deservedly, and especially that I felt completely comfortable here, doing this. But to be frank, that would be overstating the truth.
The opportunity to edit IronWorks presented itself several times in the 24 year history of that title, and I demurred several times, feeling that maybe I hadn’t accumulated the credibility or traction to do a proper job of it. So, you might ask, why did I start Iron Trader News when IronWorks came to an end? What makes me think I can do this now? Well, that’s a good question.
I’d like to say that I’m a more accomplished rider. I’d like to think I’ve more thoroughly absorbed the culture and experienced the rigors of the road. I’d really like to think that after hanging around with bike people for this many years, I’ve learned to recognize authenticity. But the short answer, the one that’s closer to the truth, is this: being in the motorcycle industry is fun and I don’t want to give it up.
When bike people gather it always turns into a good time. Big event, small event, or no event at all; motorcycles equal fun. Anytime I’m in a group of riders there are people to meet, bikes to look at and stories to hear.
People who ride have the audacity to pursue something they love, even if it’s viewed as impractical or frivolous by the mainstream. Bike riders can come up with many factors to justify having a motorcycle, most of them smoke screens that mask the truth. We say riding is more fuel efficient than driving a car—but it’s really just more fun. We say upgrading our bike’s engine ensures there’s enough power to get out of a jam—but we’re actually after that torque-enabled grin produced by awesome throttle response. We say we modify our bikes for practicality—but we simply want to be distinctive and pump the cool factor. These things might go generally unspoken, but we know them among ourselves – and we’re loving every bit of it.
The same is true for the people who work in this business. The ones who are here for the long haul started as regular motorcycle riders and decided to try and earn a living (if not necessarily a fortune) doing something they loved. What a great compromise. And though my retirement account has undoubtedly suffered because of it, I’ve never had any regrets about working in motorcycling.
In the final analysis, the timing was just right for Iron Trader News. On reflection, I see its resurgence as akin to life as a motorcycle rider. Maybe you start out riding with a mentor or a few friends. Then you kick it up to riding with a group, embracing the security of a planned destination led by a road captain. Then one day, without any seeming instigation, you just go for a ride—by yourself, with no set route. That’s where I am, I guess. Taking ITN for a spin, with no definite plan or destination, just the inner confidence that it will be a good ride. I have a map but I’m not setting the route. I also have a safety net in the form of the talented writers, photographers and editors who gave IW its solid personality and are willing to ride along with Iron Trader News. It’s good to have friends.
It’s a sense of adventure that’s propelling this trip. Is it challenging? Yes. Unpredictable? Yes, that too. But am I afraid? No, not at all. Because even if I tread water now and then, I know now that I can swim in these waters. And that—plus someone on shore to toss out a life preserver—is all anybody needs to survive.