CMG is 19 this month!

It’s hard to get my head around 19 years of CMG. But here we are. I do not know the exact day in June that CMG came into existence, so we could celebrate all month long I guess, but I’ll take today as it’s also the day that marks 10 years since I met my life partner and ultimately settled down. Yes, June 2015 is a momentous month.

The reason I know it’s birthday is June 1996 is because I  have a box of all the old print-only Ontario Motorcycle Guide issues ever produced in the corner of my office. In it is a copy of Issue 4, Volume 3, dated Jul/Aug 1996, and on the inside cover it states that “we are now on the net (sort of). Check out the CMG web page at http://www.interlog.com/~cmg.” Since OMG would have been put together the month before, that puts the website’s birthday as June 1996 – nineteen years ago.

Anyone who has a good amount of adult years under their (expanding) belt, will know that 19 years is effectively a lifetime away. I look back at the old issues of OMG (which eventually died off at the end of 1998) with some detached amusement. It’s a glimpse into my previous life, when I was still in my twenties (just), still married (just), and still indestructible (ish).

OMG-contents
The evidence – issue 4, volume 3 of the Ontario Motorcycle Guide.

They were good times, but like all memories they are somewhat rose-tinted and I have often pondered that they may contain some of my best writing, the kind that flows with the enthusiasm and gall of youth.

True, we had some great adventures that can only spawn from a young and foolish mind, but I there’s plenty that is cringe-worthy too. Still, I have a lot of respect for that twenty something that turned his back on England, got on a plane to Canada, secured a job as a mechanic at a Toronto shop (thanks Ralph and T.O. Cycle) and then started the Toronto Motorcycle Guide just because he wanted to push himself further.

It was a journey of ignorance and perseverance (still is in some respects). The highs of getting offered my first bikes to test and the lows of calling a manufacturer Monday morning to let them know that their bike had just been written off at Mosport.

Then there’s the people who offered up so much of their free time to help with my venture; the late nights smuggled into Nortel offices on University St in downtown Toronto to use their computers and scanners (thanks Wilfred), or the young kid that stopped by the OMG booth at a show to offer to get us onto the internet — at no charge — and is still helping to this day (Pat, you are a star).

Canadian-Motorcycle-Guide-HP-archive
This is the oldest screenshot I have of the CMG homepage. It’s from December 1998, but it would have been pretty similar to how the original ’96 site would have looked.

OMG wouldn’t have made it and turned into CMG with out people like Wayne ‘Sonic’ Mallow’s; I spent plenty of time in his Ajax garage cursing demonic old bikes he was trying to resurrect. Then there were the wild rides with the smart and talented Piero Zambotti, whose sole drive was to be a great motorcycle journalist, a quest that ultimately led to his heart-wrenching death. There were faithful friends and workhorses such as Tony Lee and unlikely acquaintances from the biker world like Thom ‘Shovel’ Arnold.

The characters I’ve met on this journey have been a treat.

Yes, they were great times, but they were a different life. So much has changed, not just with me — I’m a dad, and my pace has slowed accordingly — but with the magazine I now produce.

CMG was a bold progression from the world of print to that of the internet. But it worked, and it has become the defining element of my life. One which saw me trained to be a mechanical engineer in England but swept me to be a motorcycle magazine publisher and editor in Canada.

It is a magazine that is now published in a third floor office in Sackville, New Brunswick – a far cry from the frantic life of downtown Toronto and Montreal. It is a magazine that employs not just me, but my life partner and a whole host of talented helpers and contributors. It defines who I am and it archives who I have been. It has conceived the bizarre Mad Bastard Scooter Rally and the adventurous Fundy Adventure Rally. It has been built around the base need to be truthful and informative, despite the financial and growth hits that inevitably come with that path. In short, it has, and continues to, give me a rich life.

To all of you that have been a part of this journey — both behind the curtain and in the audience — I raise a virtual glass and thank you for your support, faith, and in many cases, endurance, on this long ride.

Cheers.

18 thoughts on “CMG is 19 this month!”

  1. I first found CMG on the net about ’98 and been a loyal reader ever since, and it’s probably because its written like your best buddy just got his hands on a bike. Excited to tell you all about the trick bits, willing to make fun of the bike or himself, or you, and just likes bikes. All bikes and what the life of a rider, wrencher, admirer of things shiny and dirty is, a bunch of people who work all week and live for the unwinding of a bit of road.

    And that’s what it is. Feels like one of us.

    All the best, keep it up. We’re waiting for the next installment.

  2. Congrats Rob!! Riders Plus started March of 1996 and OMG was the first mag we advertised in. CMG Riders Club was the first group we signed up for discounts that helped us build our business. Hard to believe it’s been 19 years. I will also raise a glass at 5pm. (and maybe see you on the coast to raise another this summer)
    MB

  3. Congrats Rob! I guess that means it’s ten years since you and a handful of rogues flopped in my living room while we had a pub night and you visited the new missus-to-be, or her family, and since I flopped in your apartment in the Plateau one freezing March after too many of us piled in my beater Jetta to ride from the pub following the Montreal show. About 13 or 14 years since an irate Soapboxer invited himself to my office to “discuss” things (luckily he never followed through). Wow, time flies. We’re all a bit mellower and moderate I think; well, not larry or His Darkness perhaps, but that adds to the fun. 🙂

    Keep up the good work. But I’m still waiting for all those tech articles to explain things like variable valve timing, FI mapping, suspension tuning (or maybe that one did happen; we need another!), etc. etc. Oh, and dirt bike event info.

    MM

  4. I remember handing out possibly close to a couple of thousand OMG’s to all my motorcycle students over the years until you went on the internet……, and then continuing to recommend CMG.

    It gave me great pride to share your publication with all my students, and I am so pleased that myself, and others like me, were able to assist you in getting it off the ground, keeping it going, and helping it grow into the great Canadian Motorcycle Centre that it is today……, always putting a smile on my face!

    Congratulations Editor ‘arris on a mighty fine job well done!
    YOU have earned it!

    Sincerely & Respectfully,
    WORK OF ART / Art Jackes / HuhOreally!

    RIDE SAFE / RIDE WELL / Enjoy!

  5. As a brief aside, Rob, under the banner “About :- A brief history”
    there appears a photo of Piero. That is a 1981 RD 350 he is on.
    (The blue-on-white year). I’ve ridden this bike and done work on it.
    (Years ago; after Piero sold it, but before he died).

  6. Wow! The magnificent, glorious and unforgettable NINETEENTH
    anniversary. Who could ignore an occasion as auspicious as the:

    “It falls on re-cycling day, this year” anniversary.

    Teasing aside, congrats.

    Question: I always seemed to get the ‘Pink Panther’ out in the west
    end; was it ever at “Bent Bikes”? Trying to remember where I first
    made those poor life decisions regarding reading habits.

  7. Haha, I took my bike to T.O. Cycle, got it back with a huge ding on the tank. You should have stayed quiet, you may be on the hook for a few more beers 😉 The best part however, is CMG is legally old enough to enjoy those beers with us!

    Big Thank-You to any and all involved with creating this treasure. It is the only (and best) Canadian motorcycle publication I read on a regular basis.

    I’m on board for another 19 years 😉

  8. Congrats! I’ve been a daily reader of CMG since about 1998. Thanks for providing years of entertainment. I bought a BW’s R because it sounded like so much fun in the article. I sold it to a lady who took the course at RTI and said she rode a similar but beat up scooter there that had been in an ice race. I still have my Kreiga backpack purchased right after reading the article where you pretended to parachute with it. Great stuff (both article and backpack). I hope your advertisers and sponsors know that you’re helping sell products. Thanks again and congrats! Keep it up!

  9. Ah the late nights at 522 University Avenue learning how to do DTP and having to call security to turn the lights back on. I think it was something silly like 10,000 magazines you crammed into the back of my poor little Toyota. I will never forget the sillyness of the trip to the Numb Bum. I wonder where the BWs is now?

    The more I think about it, the more fond memories I remember. Thanks for all the fun over the years. I wish you continued success.

  10. I’ve received for more than I’ve given – keep on rocking.
    I will try to get down to MBSR and we can have a glass !

  11. 19 years, wow! Job well done, it is one of my go-to sites for motorcycle news and info, great Canadian perspective. Keep up the great work.

  12. Larry and Mr. X. Deal. I shall raise a glass of fine scotch at 6 pm Atlantic and hope to be joined by you two fine gentlemen and anyone else who wants to. Cheers!
    P.S. I’ll try to remember to post the cheers on FB.

  13. My Uhlarik – Ah, we’ll have to compare datelines this weekend at the cottage. There were many a GS I fixed at T.O. Cycle with charging issues by fitting a Honda reg/rec. Give me the grisly details and I’ll buy one to ten beers depending on if I feel that I was responsible or not :).

  14. Thank you TK4. Ah yes, the personal delivery service – that was a long time ago. Thanks Scotty, you’ve been a great help to the magazine over the years.

  15. Wow ! …Well done Rob. I still have all the print versions.
    Not too sure how long I have to hold on to those till I strike it rich with an Ebay sale.

    A coupla things :
    Does being an employee indicate there is remuneration involved ?
    A Virtual Glass ? Is that a pre-offer of buying a round at the next face to face meeting ?

    Cheers Man – Your vision and journey have created so many good times and awesome memories ..
    Carry On

  16. “Virtual” glass? Man, you’re acting older than you should! Pour a real glass about 6 p.m. your time and I’ll join you in one at 5 my time.

  17. T.O Cycle… now there is a name I hoped never to hear again as long as I lived. Thanks for ripping off a 17 year old with his first motorcycle. Rob, was it you that screwed up the charging system repair on my GS550?

    But maybe it is karma. It helped pay for your life and OMG in some tiny way and here we are, abusing each other monthly.

    Life is an interesting journey.

    Happy Anniversary

  18. Congratulations Rob, I applaud you and the long, strange journey its been. I remember you coming in to the old shop on Queen St. E., plunking down a stack of OMGs and wondering (hoping ?) to myself that you were going to make it. The humour and journalistic integrity you’ve displayed for these many years is much appreciated. Carry on !!!

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