One of the first rumors to hit cycling circles when we revamped Handlebars was that the magazine had been "taken over" by people who don't ride. As one biker-bar owner asked us via e-mail before canceling his advertising, "Is there anyone even still affiliated with this ‘NEW' but not at all improved magazine, that owns or rides a bike?"
The answer is a strong affirmative. In fact, all of our writers are longtime riders (unlike the previous version of the magazine, which did indeed use general freelancers with no motorcycle experience, though no one seemed to mind). Most of our contributors have been riding 25+ years—with much of that in East Tennessee, so they know the regional scene and its characters very well. (Even our advertising director has been riding off-road for 27 years and can be found at Windrock almost every weekend.)
Now, the other question our bar owner posed brings up a different issue: "I am curious, this new editor, Coury Turczyn, does he even own a bike?"
The answer: no. I currently do not ride. And the reason why delves into a personal choice that many riders have to face as they travel through life. Five years ago, my wife Hillari became pregnant. This was something of a late-life surprise, and I decided it was time to focus on making sure it went well for us. That meant finding a new job, moving across the country back to friends and family, buying a house, and... putting aside the bike.
Riding a motorcycle in a world of oblivious car- and truck-drivers is always a risk; this felt like one risk I needed to stop taking for a while. So, after some 15 years of riding, I took a break.
I think it was the right decision for us, though it's obviously not for everyone. But it's something to consider before you judge someone based on whether they ride, or even on what brand they ride: Everyone makes their own choices for their own reasons. And sometimes they're good ones, whether you agree with them or not.
P.S.: As it turns out, my son is obsessed with motorcycles. I've been keeping my eyes peeled.