2017: The CMG year that was

This was a big year at CMG — the first full year with Mark Richardson in the editor’s chair, the year autoTRADER purchased the publication, and the year we had many new faces appear as writers: Jeremy Kroeker, Matt Bubbers, Jacob Black.

And while there’s an air of gloom about some of the industry right now, with publications shutting down and showroom sales dropping in some segments, we still had a pretty good year here at CMG. We had fun, and more importantly, we moved ahead as a publication. Here’s a breakdown of what we were up to all year, and our favourite stories. And since that season-by-season storytelling technique worked so well for La La Land ($446 million in ticket sales, six Oscars), we’ll rip it off here. We’re sure Ryan Gosling doesn’t mind.

OK, so Zac was stuck indoors last winter, dreaming about riding, but at least he got to share his story about riding through the Cape Breton Highlands on a Beta 498 RR.


Sigh. Stuck indoors, looking out the window as the snow piled up in the driveway, we didn’t get much opportunity to get out on two wheels. Costa managed to fit in a two-wheeled getaway; here’s his tale of a romp up California’s Angeles Crest highway. The rest of us had to be content with visiting the motorcycle show circuit and reminiscing over adventures past.

But that wasn’t so bad! Mark shared an excerpt from his travelogue Zen and Now, which tells the story of his retracing the steps taken by famed philosopher-author Robert Pirsig when writing the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Sadly, Pirsig passed away later in the year, making the story a much more timely piece to share.

On a much more CMG-esque note, Zac finally got around to sharing “The Rest of the Story.” Back in 2014, he’d gotten his hands on a Beta 498 RR, the proverbial “racebike with lights” that every performance-minded rider claims to want. He shared a review of the bike here a while ago, but never told the entire tale of his misadventures, getting seriously stuck while riding alone on trails in the Cape Breton Highlands. By dumb luck, he made some friends along the way who helped him get his bike back down the trail—read the story here.

Costa rips around on-track on the BMW HP4 race, after being cooped up for most of the winter.


With the return to the roads came Mark’s warning to be careful out there. This isn’t the sort of story that’s fun to write, but a good reminder of the risks involved in motorcycling, and the results of a mistake.

On a much lighter note, Zac finally got the chance to tell the story about his tour through Maine. Like most CMG expeditions, this one sounded like a good idea: ride a BMW GS up the St. John River into northern Maine, then hit the twisties on the way home, checking out some land speed racing at an abandoned air base on the way home. All fine and dandy, until the rain started and the races turned out to be another weekend. There’s a reason we use the expression “it all went CMG,” and this weekend was a classic example of that sort of luck.

Speaking of Beemers, in June, Costa managed to get in a ripping fun track day on the BMW HP4 Race. Lucky bugger! Upon his return from the event, he was seen Googling “quick ways to raise $95,000 to buy a bike.” Last we heard, he’s planning to run a hard lemonade stand in front of his pad in Montreal next summer, hoping to scrape up the cash to buy this hyperbike.

Mark had another story about his Zen and Now trip as well, when he “lined up the 8s.” While this was sort of a Twilight Zone moment, Mark managed to escape the incident without being abducted and probed by aliens … or so he claims.

Mondo Lulu’s photos from the Freedom Machine show introduced CMG to the quirky Ontario-based custom bike rally. Next year, we think Mark should build a chopper.


With summer here, the CMG scribes were in full-on riding mode. Zac made another typically silly CMG maneuver and bought his father-in-law’s well-worn Suzuki Savage, to see if he could regain his youth by once again touring around on a $1,000 beater bike. Surprisingly, nothing went wrong this time, but unfortunately, he discovered it would take more than a air-cooled cruiser with 31 hp to make him feel young again.

One of the summer’s hottest bikes was the Kawasaki Versys-X 300, and Mark managed to get one out for a ride, and didn’t even wrap it around a tree. How very un-CMG! Maybe that’s because he’s a big sissy and only rode it around Ontario, instead of bolting off to the Trans-Labrador Highway. That’s what happens when you get older (and wiser?).

Also, CMG doesn’t usually cover the custom scene, but after hearing a lot of chatter about the Freedom Machine festival, we managed to get some photos of the weekend from Toronto’s moto-friendly photographer Mondo Lulu, along with some details of the event. Looks fun! Maybe we’ll chop Editor Richardson’s Harley-Davidson and ride it there next year, sticking it to The Man en route? Zac says he’d happily turn the Savage into a bobber, but he’s already sold it …

Not content to simply stop riding when normal people quit for the year, Zac bundled up and did a Toronto-Saint John run in late November, with snow on the ground. He’s still thawing it.


There were lots of show season stories, but things also took a turn to the ghoulish, with the return of Friday Fudge, for one week only, on Friday the 13th. Better yet, Mark penned another classic Halloween tale; this time, he took his patient wife and rode out to Scugog Island, to see if he could spot the area’s legendary Headless Motorcyclist. Not your average date night, but whatever works? Read the spectral story here.

We also had tales of three beginner riders: Jeff Wilson’s story of his son’s visit to a Honda Junior Red Riders event, Willy Williamson’s story of his foster child’s discovery of the world of motorcycling thanks to a cheap Canadian Tire bike, and Matt Bubbers’ description of his first year behind bars. In an age where the motorcycle industry is constantly moaning about a lack of new riders, it’s refreshing to see both kids and adults still discovering two wheels are as much fun as ever.

And finally: the riding season wouldn’t be complete without Zac trying one more silly idea, and this time, after being given a free motorcycle in the GTA, he decided to ride it home to New Brunswick in late November, through sub-freezing temperatures, chilly downpours, and a long list of mechanical hiccups. That’s the CMG spirit! Read about his misadventures here.

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