During the time I worked at Iron Pony Motorsports (July 2020 to Feb. 2021) I saw several people that I’d met through motorcycling and hadn’t spent time with since before the pandemic.
That set of experiences made me realize how much motorcycling has enriched my life through the many friends and acquaintances I’ve made through it.
Most of my family and non-motorcycling friends hear me talk (endlessly) about riding and wrenching on bikes, but something I don’t think I’ve been able to adequately communicate is the social aspect of the motorcycling lifestyle.
It’s time that I close that void and canonize the friends I’ve made through riding and the great times I’ve had with them.
Larry Ward and Roy Dyckman
I met the 2 Wheel Power Hour’s dynamic duo that is Larry and Roy in 2009. We met at a hotel in Greenfield, Ind., when I was doing a test run for the trip I planned to take in 2010 to the World Superbike round in Salt Lake City. When I planned the test trip, I overlooked that MotoGP was racing at Indianapolis that weekend. When I pulled into the hotel parking lot, there were a bunch of other sport and sport-touring riders there – Larry and Roy among them.
We saw each other every year on the Indy MotoGP weekend for six years and stayed in touch otherwise. Since the end of MotoGP’s run at Indy, we’ve attended a bunch of rallies and races together.
Larry welcomed me to the 2 Wheel Power Hour’s“cast of characters” in 2016 as the show’s road racing reporter. Roy also has served as a kind of mentor to me with regard to long-distance riding and was the person who first told me about the Iron Butt Association.
It was great sharing the airwaves with Larry and Roy, and hopefully we’ll get to restart the show as a podcast soon.
I didn’t meet John through motorcycling, but it’s one of the bonds that has made him one of my best friends. I’d been riding for a couple years when we met during the first semester of my first graduate program. John was just starting to develop his interest in motorcycles, which resulted in him purchasing a non-running 1986 Yamaha Virago 700.
John helped me do winter maintenance on my bike while we were in grad school, and I helped him get his Virago running – including dropping the engine and taking it to a dealer in my 1998 Honda CR-V’s trunk.
John is now the proud owner of a 2014 Yamaha Bolt, and most years I take a long weekend to visit and ride with him in New York’s Capital Region.
I met “Speedy” Dan while I was in the process of moving to Allentown, Pa. I stopped into the local Cycle Gear during an apartment-hunting trip to Allentown, and Dan was working the sales floor that day. After the move was done, I stopped back into Cycle Gear, only to learn Dan had taken a new job at a local motorcycle dealership. I stopped in to say hi to him there, and we’ve been friends ever since.
Speedy Dan is one of the few people I can talk to about motorcycle racing all day, and I helped Dan dip his toes into long-distance riding. Dan borrowed a friend’s Honda ST1300 and followed me on my ‘03 FJR1300 to the 2016 MotoGP round at Circuit of the Americas. Though he’ll tell you he didn’t enjoy riding 3,500 miles in four travel days after having never ridden more than two hours consecutively, the experience has helped Dan in his profession as a motorcycle parts and sales pro at Fay Myers Motorsports in Denver.
I last visited Dan in 2019 and am planning to ride back out to Denver in 2023.
I met Josh in 2019 while I was covering Daytona Bike Week. I was eating lunch and working on a story on the patio at the Chipotle across from Daytona International Speedway when I saw Josh roll up on his saddlebag-clad Honda CBR300R. With a small, single-cylinder sportbike, I figured he probably didn’t come from too far away. I walked over to where he was sitting and asked where he was from. When he said, “Philly,” I had to know more. The rest of Josh’ ride to Daytona is its own story, but he and I have kept in touch and I do my best to see him once per year on my Philly/Allentown ride. I have a blast talking about music with him, as he’s a professional musician and is often familiar with many of the lesser-known the bands I like.
I met David one year when I was on my way to a MotoAmerica event at New Jersey Motorsports Park. I stopped at the Wegmans in Allentown, Pa., for lunch, and David parked next to me. When he asked me a question about my FJR1300 and I realized he was wearing a Mercedes F1 shirt, it was apparent we had similar taste in motor sports.
We struck up a conversation and have kept in touch since then. David is another person I make time to see on my annual ride to Allentown, and we’ve had great times talking bikes and F1. David takes full advantage of demo days at Allentown’s dealership, and I enjoy reading his detailed reviews of the bikes he test rides. He’s also a proud Grom owner who’s given me the best quote I’ve ever heard about Groms:
“It’s underpowered, I’m too big for it and I don’t care! This thing is a blast!”
Travis grew up about 10 minutes from my parent’s house in Penfield, N.Y., but we didn’t meet until the mid-2010s at an AMA Superbike round at Mid-Ohio. Years later, our acquaintance grew into a business relationship, as Travis was the first client served by my company, Marino Communications.
I’ve worked with Travis in a publicist/manager role since 2018 when he started racing a BMW S 1000 RR in MotoAmerica competition. He’s been a runner-up for a MotoAmerica class title several of times and is currently living his dream of being a Harley-Davidson factory racer. One of these years I’ll get out to visit him in Las Vegas … and maybe take a class at his employer, The Ron Fellows Performance Driving School.
The Iron Pony Crew
The best part of working at my favorite store on Earth wasn’t the sweet employee discount (though that was awesome). It was getting to work alongside a fun, passionate and very knowledgeable group of motorcycling enthusiasts. I wasn’t excited about working retail again, but my co-workers made the experience more fun than I could have imagined.
It was great sharing my knowledge of riding and motorcycles with Lexi, Olivia and Rachel, and I learned a lot about dirt gear and riding from Collin, Andrew and Alec. I had some great conversations about the finer points of helmets and street gear with Bill, Mat, Adam and Blake. And Joe and Michelle were some of the best managers I’ve worked for. It’s a blast every time I go back to the Pony and get to see everyone who still works there.
Larry and Jeff Markusic
I met Jeff and Larry when they politely kicked me out of their seats for the AMA Superbike races at Mid-Ohio in 2008. It was my first motorcycle racing event, and I quickly realized they were experienced racing fans when they showed up with the seat pads and scanner radios.
After that first year, I tracked down their VW Rabbit racing team’s website and have stayed in touch with them over the years. We got seats together for the Indy MotoGP races for almost every year. I get lunch or dinner with Larry when our schedules align, though it’s been more difficult since I moved to Cleveland last year.
The Soles of Akron
Another set of Mid-Ohio friends I made is the Soles family. Like Larry and Jeff, we met in the grandstands at Mid-Ohio and have stayed in touch over the years. They helped me move into my apartment in Youngstown, and I haven’t been as good about stopping to see them with the pandemic craziness going on. They introduced me to a great Serbian chicken restaurant in Akron that I need to get back to.
My boss at my only full-time motojournalism gig, Jim taught me the journalism trade and we had great conversations in the office about the motorcycling lifestyle. Thanks to Jim assigning me to cover just about every form of motorcycle competition, I gained experience that wouldn’t have been possible anywhere else. He also did a great job preparing me for my first time covering Daytona Bike Week. I’m glad Kawasaki resurrected his beloved KLR650 model, and I still need to find out what he thinks of the Indian Chief Vintage he got to replace his 1997 Honda Valkyrie.
Rev. Mark Merical
The only minister on this list, I met Mark at the PittRace MotoAmerica weekend in 2017 and got to know him years later while I was covering the AMA Road Race Grand Championship. Mark and his wife, Dawn, devoutly serve the spiritual needs of America’s motorcycle racing community, and it was a pleasure to write a story about their lives and ministry.
Michael and I met years ago at a MotoAmerica round at VIRginia International Raceway. He’s a professional photographer who doesn’t shoot video – but he was shooting some that day for one of his clients.
Michael gave me a big boost in attracting Marino Communications customers when I opened for business in 2018, but what I’ll remember the most are the good times we had racetracks up and down the East Coast. Brock’s an avid rider with a pretty slick MV Agusta track bike and a Triumph Tiger 800 for street duty. His advice on dog parenting has been invaluable with my girlfriend and my beagle-mix, Papi.
Jared & Heather Trees
I met Jared and Heather through the Ohio Mini Roadracing League, and Jared served as Gavin Anthony’s mechanic for his years racing in MotoAmerica Junior Cup. The couple both road race motorcycles and took turns competing in MotoAmerica Twins Cup last year aboard a built Suzuki SV650. I always enjoy talking with them about road racing, and I owe them one after they gifted my girlfriend and I their old chest freezer.
Bill Thom & the Eastern Pennsylvania MSTA Crew
When I joined the MSTA in 2014, Bill was the first person from the club to reach out to me. He invited me to a MSTA lunch meetup near Hersey, Pa., and I saw him and the rest of the EPA group (Doc Lane, Robert Balasco, Bill’s daughter and son-in-law, and more) at the monthly club meetups. I still need to get out to his homestead in central Pennsylvania, which I hope to do this summer.
The OMRL Crew
Shortly after I joined the 2 Wheel Power Hour cast of characters, I was assigned to cover the Ohio Mini Roadracing League. My first contact with the club was with then-president Kent Klawon, and I was a regular attendee of the club’s races at Circleville Raceway Park when I lived in Columbus. It was great seeing one of the club’s younger riders, Gavin Anthony, make his way into the MotoAmerica ranks for a couple years, as well as getting to know a bunch of the racers, including Brian Conrad, Andy Schaffnit, current president Travis Evans, Gavin’s dad Anthony, Dustin May, Morgan Hampton, Andrew Farkas and more.
The CBUS MSTA crew
Another treat from living in Columbus was the first Sunday of the month breakfast meetups for the MSTA group. It was a morning of fun and informative conversation with the likes of Bryan Dunlap, Doug McPeek, Larry Watts, John Boyd and more.
A few of those conversations that have really stuck with me. I’ll never forget John’s advice about riding in Alaska, “There’s nothing highway about the Denali Highway.”
John also told a story about a BMW rider’s process of purchasing a new motorcycle that I re-tell regularly.
Bryan had me laughing with his joke, “You know what BMW stands for, right? Bring more wampum.”
Larry was especially helpful during my short stint as a Kawasaki Ninja 500 owner, as he’s spent years riding and racing them. I still miss my old Ninja 500 a little.
My MSTA membership has given me the pleasure of working with current President Pat Mogavero and vice president Norm Kern. Pat has given me the opportunity to serve as the club’s website editor, and Norm is a walking encyclopedia for the FJR and Garmin Basecamp.
Chris “Paco” Vasquez
I met Paco through a mutual friend and stored his first bike – a Yamaha Road Star Midnight 1600 – for a winter. Though the bike was a bit big for him, the Road Star’s carburetor was the first one I ever worked on. I also helped him find the SV650 he’d been wanting for years and gave him his first taste of motorcycle touring – though I’m not sure how much he enjoyed it.
Zach and I haven’t ridden together much, but it was him, Paco and myself who form the motorcycling contingent of my Columbus friends group. Zach worked at Iron Pony for a bit and is the proud owner of a Triumph Tiger 800 – a bike I’ve seen him ride very skillfully.
The Motoclectic Crew
I met Scott and Dan thanks to a phone call Scott made to a former employer looking to sell ads for the duo’s magazine, Motoclectic . I kept in touch with them and am happy to have written several articles for Motoclectic.
The Indy MotoGP crew
Larry and Roy weren’t the only members of the Greenfield hotel MotoGP crew. There also is Greg Sr. (whose friendly hello at IP inspired these articles) and Greg Jr., Chantel and Martin from Montreal, the late Bob Lyon, and more.
We had some great evenings of conversation for seven years. It was a weekend I looked forward to every year. I still see them at MotoAmerica rounds at NJMP and PittRace now and again.
We need to do a reunion.