This being the first blog entry for Road Dog Publications I thought I would tell you a bit about myself and the new line of books. I also own Lost Classics Book Company, a line of 40 plus children's educational books from the late 1800s and early 1900s republished for a new audience of students—homeschooled, distance education learners, and those attending brick-and-mortar classrooms. I've been involved with this company since 1996, about midway being made managing editor. I became owner in January 2010. Not long before I took over, my love of motorcycles was rekindled. I thought I would put my experience to work publishing books in a new subsidiary imprint that jived with my biking enthusiasm and Road Dog Publications was born.
My love of motorcycles goes back to the late '60s, when I was a teenager. (Without going into the numbers, I'll just let you know that when I was born Eisenhower was president.) Then, with limited means, my hopefully cost-effective dream was to buy different used bike components and build a bike from the ground up for myself. Engines and all sorts of parts were available in the want ads and in various local bike shops in the South Bend area, where I grew up. I thought I would just buy a used motor, find wheels off something else, find a frame or weld up one up myself to hold it all together—big dreams for someone who had never welded before or even ridden anything bigger than my boyhood friend's Honda Trail 70. Heck, I might have pulled it off anyway; I have always been pretty resourceful; if it hadn't been for the two things I lacked—a job and money. Lack of funds and unsympathetic parents sunk that dream before I had finished high school. I moved on to other things, many other things it turns out over the years, but that dream stayed alive somewhere in the remote convolutions of my brain.
Over the years, other than a couple times I got the chance to ride bikes belonging to friends, my dream of riding lay dormant until I spied something in the back of my father-in-law Ronnie's, shop peaking out of a cover of stored junk. It was a 1968 Honda CB350, dusty but complete and wearing a 1986 tag.
I asked my father-in-law the story of the bike and whether he cared if I tried to see if I could get it running. He told me a neighbor had the bike before him. The neighbor had bought it for his family and various members had ridden it until one of them dropped it. The incident scared the neighbor and he sold it to Ronnie—for $100. Ronnie rode it for a short while the whole quarter mile from his house to his shop until my mother-in-law put a stop to him riding "that dangerous thing," and there it sat, until I saw it sometime in 2004.
I did get it running—fitfully—but before I could put some serious effort into it we were slammed by Hurricane Charlie, requiring years of repair work on our home followed by, as a result of a growing family, the need to build an addition. The CB sat forlorn and waiting until early 2009 when work began again. All the gory details I'll go into another time, but by August the bike was running reasonably well and was fit for the road and I had gained an inordinate amount of knowledge of old-bike mechanics. By then I had taken the motorcycle safety course, required by the State of Florida, and was ready for the road as well. So started my riding career, forty years after my love affair had begun.
Since then, the little CB has covered the roads between central Florida and Michigan (the trip that earned me the moniker "Road Dog" from a fellow motorcycle forum member and friend, BadInfluence). It has followed the winding paths of the Smokies, made the pilgrimage from Florida to the Barber Vintage Festival in Birmingham, and criss-crossed most of the backroads of Florida, in temps from below freezing to the 100s, in the rain and in the sun. She had 5,700 miles on her when I drug her out from under the junk in the shop and as of this writing, in May of 2011, has passed the 20,000 mark on the odometer. The CB, aka "Old Faithful," would have had more except for an addition to the garage earlier last year of a '86 Suzuki Savage, bought as a "kit" of numerous disconnected and largely unworking parts. That's the problem with the love of bikes, or perhaps the joy, they often multiply as if by magic.
I ride now whenever I can and especially like long road trips. I'm about to head to the Smokies once more in fact in a few days. When not riding I am thinking about bikes and reading about bikes. There really is not a lot written about riding, and much of it is, well, let's say, not very complete, not very "wholistic," for lack of a better word. There's much on technical aspects of riding or mechanics, and books on the so-called lifestyle, but what I like to read is stuff that combines all that together, the way actually riding does. Riding contains the sublime and the down-to-earth; hilarity and tears, success and failure, dirty fingernails and mountain views, stuck case-screws and purring engines. Which has brought me here, to the creation of Road Dog Publications, and I'll try my best to bring you books "for the thoughtful rider."
"Ride Your Own Ride."