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).
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).
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.