I screwed up on Saturday when I went to the big Toronto bike show. I had to collect my wife from the airport at 6 pm, which is right around the corner from the show, so I arrived at lunchtime to allow a few hours in the exhibition halls. But her flight actually arrived at 9 pm, and I had more than eight hours there to kill.
You see a show differently when you have so much time. Some commenters on our CMG news story dismissed it outright as nothing but beef jerky salespeople and leather vests, with a tired format, but they didn’t actually attend and were writing from ignorance and previous prejudice before giving it a chance. Yes, there were four different vendors of jerky and sausage (most of it tasty, and I had many free samples), and there were plenty of vendors for leather club vests, but there were also exhibits for literally dozens of motorcycle clubs, motorcycle vacations and destinations, and discounted gear. Not to mention new bikes, used bikes, vintage bikes, insurance companies and lawyers, and handy-dandy stuff.
In fact, the show was as busy as I’ve ever seen it, and I was happy to have the extra time there to see the exhibits I’d normally brush past. We really do need a break in early January to remind us of the coming riding season, and it helps to find such a broad selection of gear. I bought some gloves and a tank bag; my buddy Andrew visited on the Sunday and bought a mesh jacket for $50 off. This year, the stunt riders were motocrossers flying through the air and the audience was enthralled; I’m not so sure about the scantily-clad Perfect Angelz and their dance show over by the custom bikes, but it takes all kinds.
That’s the thing about bikes: it takes all kinds. Dirt riders don’t care about chromed customs, while sport riders just don’t understand Gold Wings. I reckon there are at least half-a-dozen separate genres of motorcycles, and they look out for their own: race bikes, dirt bikes, cruisers, tourers, adventure bikes, commuter bikes – and that’s not even thinking about the sub-genres of customs and hill-climbers and trikes and scooters and the like, as well as, now, electric bikes.
The one thing we have in common is that we like to travel in the open and in the wind. That’s about it. But just because I will never, ever wear a pair of chaps doesn’t mean I look down on those who do. They’re just different from me, that’s all. Very different.
It’s these differences that we used to celebrate in the Readers’ Forum, originally the Soapbox, and I miss having that venue to read others’ opinions. We took down the Forum a few months ago because it was overrun with spam – mostly ads for Russian women and erectile dysfunction. We couldn’t figure out how to protect it while still allowing easy access to commenters, because when we insisted on people proving themselves to be real people and not bots, those same people objected to all the hoops we were forcing them to jump through. But we’ve got the techies on it, and we’re looking forward to reopening the Forum as soon as we can keep it secure.
We’re also looking forward to relaunching a redesigned newsletter, which has been on hold since the site crashed at the end of November. We’re still missing some 4,000 stories from the last five years, which are sitting safely in our server but not actually published; some have been republished manually as they’re needed, such as motorcycle reviews, but many more are just waiting for the site to be secure before coming back online.
It’s not been a straightforward fix: the techies told us they’ve never seen anything like it. A similar bug hit our parent company AutoTRADER.ca in a smaller way, and that had to be addressed first, but the computer people had to figure out just what the hell happened, then design an all-new system that would ensure it not happen again. In the middle of all that came Christmas and New Years, but we’re back to full strength again now. We’re looking forward to getting CMG’s missing stories back onto the site asap.
In the meantime, please be patient if you’re subscribed to the newsletter, or if you miss the Forum. When they do reappear, it will be worth the wait.