Monthly Archives: May 2012
It’s amazing how quickly two weeks passes when your calendar is full of meetings, traveling, and a mini-vacation. Since the previous blog posted and we busily readied the announcement of the show’s host city, I was in Nashville to attend a Marketplace Events (MPE) company meeting. This annual event gathers together every employee of the company to discuss best practices, address key issues, and simply bring everyone under one roof at the same time.
With 14 different offices across North America producing 31 consumer Home and Garden shows, it’s great to come together and share the experiences that bind us together as a company. As a newcomer to MPE, it was my first event of its type and I left Nashville supremely impressed by the camaraderie and collaboration exhibited by everyone in the company. When I say everyone, I mean every employee of MPE; including sales, marketing, coordinators, assistants, IT, financial, and senior management. We were also fortunate to have Rick Blank, managing partner of Stephens Capital Partners, Marketplace Event’s investment partner, to attend as well.
While the timing wasn’t ideal – thanks to the myriad of details involved with our impending announcement – it was very beneficial for Mike Webster, Cinnamon Kernes and myself to be immersed with other members of MPE. As a side benefit of going to Nashville, I got to briefly visit with a couple of longtime and dear friends, Bob and Sheri Warnke. Bob was the best man at my wedding some 33 years ago, while Sheri worked at Cycle World with me in the early 90’s. I will proudly take the blame for introducing them many years ago in Daytona!
All-in-all, it was a great trip to Nashville and after flying home, I made the quick turnaround (10 hours!) to drive up to Modesto, Calif., to help support a worthy cause my friend Kenny Roberts, Sr. is involved with. He was hosting the inaugural American Heroes fundraising dinner to benefit “Welcome Home Heroes,” a northern California organization that provides local support to returning active duty veterans. Attendees were treated to a visit to Roberts’ ranch, along with dinner in his personal museum which is situated at the ranch. The dinner was a prelude to the eighth-annual Corporal Michael D. Anderson Jr. Memorial Ride that took place the next day and honors United States Marine Corporal Michael Anderson Jr. who was killed in action in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004. Hearing his dad, Mike Anderson Sr. speak about the sacrifices his son, and all veterans make to allow us to enjoy our freedoms as Americans was a somber moment. I also had the great honor to meet one of the 87 living Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, Sergeant Major Jon Cavaiani, who received the Medal of Honor for his valorous actions in the Republic of Vietnam. And while the room was filled with former World Champions KR, Kenny Jr, Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson, and former Grand National Champ Mert Lawill and Bruce Brown of ‘On Any Sunday’ fame, the room’s attention was riveted on the real reason we were all there, to support the memory of a fallen American patriot.
Now, long before I knew about the company meeting, and the benefit dinner on May 11, and that we would also be making our big announcement on Friday May 11, myself, Kenny Sr., and Greg Blackwell from Parts Unlimited had planned an annual Adventure ride in Northern California. Greg and I had been riding adventure-type rides since before they were classified as such, and as busy as it had become for me, it was extremely important to connect back to why we’re in this business in the first place – a true love of riding motorcycles, sharing the experience with friends. Kenny joined us a couple of years ago, and we discovered that we all shared a lot in the type of riding we enjoyed. In this case, as much back roads – dirt or paved – that we could experience.
When we left Kenny’s place outside of Copperopolis on Monday morning May 14, we had no real plan of where we were going to end up. Greg suggested heading up towards Lake Tahoe, so we pointed the nose of our bikes up the slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains on Hwy 4 through Angels Camp, Murphys and over Ebbets Pass. In true adventure spirit, we took a side road off Hwy 4 before we got to the top of the pass and encountered a bit of snow in places (it was at 9,000’ elevation). Not a problem except for when KR caught his foot in some deep snow traversing some ruts and low-sided his Super Tenere. Greg snapped a quick photo of the scene, and in an effort to keep connected to the world, posted it on his Facebook page for all to see while we lunched in Lake Tahoe. Hey, what are friends for KR? At the end of the day, we landed in Quincy, Calif., about 75 miles north of Truckee. Total mileage for the day – 340.
On the second day of our trip, we rode north with every intention of riding through Mt. Shasta National Park, but discovered the park’s roads were still closed from the winter snows. We rerouted toward Red Bluff on Hwy 36 – a twisty, motorcyclist’s dream road that eventually hooks up with Hwy 101 near the Pacific Ocean. Leaving Red Bluff there was a road sign ‘warning’ us that the next 140 miles would be twisty, a sign rarely seen, but very welcomed!! (When I mentioned this road to Cinnamon, she found it on Pashnit.com – check it out)
After the most amazing ride (great pavement, lots of twisties, elevation and temperature changes) we made it all the way to the Pacific and stopped for a late lunch in Ferndale at the picturesque Victorian Inn. Ferndale is known for it’s very colorful restored Victorian era houses. It’s also the starting point for a very cool back road called Mattole Rd. Mattole starts out of Ferndale on what feels like the Scottish Highlands, complete with streaming fog banks and mists crossing the pasture landscape the road runs along. In a few miles the road plunges down to the Pacific and runs for about 10 miles along deserted beaches. From there it heads inland and goes thru some of the more remote Redwood forests after which we broke off and headed to Garberville for the night. Total mileage for the day – 360.
On the final day of our trip, we rode inland from Garberville into the hills. At lower elevation, we were in some pretty intense fog, but once we got above it, the sights of being above the clouds were incredible. Exploring some very rural back roads, we ended up on a dirt road for about 30 miles and then back to the pavement, eventually stopping for lunch in Ukiah. We took back roads out of there heading to Morgan Valley Road near Clearlake, which changes its name to Berryessa/Knoxville road upon entering Napa County.
This is an extremely rural one lane paved road, and the lower portion of the road generally runs alongside a seasonal streambed, with several spots where the streambed actually crosses OVER the road. In Baja these dips in the road, covered in concrete, are known as Vados. Of the dozen or so we went through, most were dry, but the last one had about 20 feet of very shallow water to cross. What I knew and Kenny didn’t seem to know was that moss tends to grow on the concrete below the water. The best way to ride through them is to coast through; no brake, no throttle, no change of direction – no problem. Well, Kenny was behind me and decided to change direction while going through the water, causing him to lose the front and back end. As soon as he hit the dry portion of the concrete, he high-sided off the bike which sent the bike off the road and down a bit of a bank. It was a low-speed get off, and thankfully we all wear excellent protective gear, and only minor cosmetic scratches on his helmet and fairing panels, along with a bent shift lever was the extent of KR’s damage. I didn’t ask if his pride was hurt, as we were too busy making fun of him. We lucked out in that a guy on a Harley with his wife were sitting at the stream crossing, and a van with a couple kids came by, so we enlisted their help in extracting the Super T from the bank it had taken a plunge down. A quick dip into my tool kit straightened out the shift lever and we were on our way again. Of course, Greg made sure to get a photo…
After that little break in riding, we had about 150 miles left. Pulling into Kenny’s driveway back in Copperopolis I noted that we’d travelled 1067 miles in three days – most all of which were on back roads. It was my first lengthy experience on a Yamaha Super Tenere, and a shout out to Bob Starr at Yamaha for letting me experience what is a rather fine machine for the mission we took it on. Not sure when you’re gonna get the bike back, Bob… Kenny rode his Super T also, and Greg was on a KTM 990 Adventure (also a fine bike for this mission). We packed a lot into three days – some great stories (although what happened in Quincy, stays in Quincy as they say), new and irreplaceable memories of some incredible riding, and just simply enjoying the riding experience with friends. To outsiders, it may seem funny that three people in the motorcycling industry would ride motorcycles on a mini-vacation, but we are all passionate about the industry we take part in. Despite busy lives and hectic schedules, at the end of the day, it’s just as important to take time out to enjoy the escape, passion and freedom that motorcycling represents, as it is to go about your everyday business.
(See more fun photos from Larry’s trip on Facebook)
Two weeks have passed since our last blog posted and what a busy two weeks it has been! As you may have seen, the search has been narrowed down to one city and we are currently in the final stages of locking in the host venue and destination, which has been over six months in the making. While the selection process has taken us all over the country, many might wonder what criteria we have used to decide which city is the right fit for the inaugural American International Motorcycle Expo.
The AIMExpo will bring the entire motorcycle marketplace under one roof – industry professionals, OEM’s, dealers, aftermarket exhibitors, media and consumers. With so many parties converging, there are a variety of things to consider in the decision-making process, with some very key factors.
Perhaps first and foremost, the city needs to have international recognition. Even though this is a North American show, it’s going to have worldwide influence. Because of that, it has to be a known city on a global stage.
Secondly, it’s important that the chosen city is a place where dealers will want to come to. We feel it’s important to take them somewhere in the fall that boasts good weather and quality entertainment around the venue. Since we will also have consumers as attendees, the city and surrounding area needs to have easy access to a significant number of motorcycle consumers.
Beyond that, and one of the reasons it’s taken so long to make our decision, is that we’ve been working really hard on behalf of the exhibitors to get good hotel rates and favorable costs at the host venue. We’ve been working with the various Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVB) of each potential city and have sought their assistance in exploring all our options. We also worked with each convention center to make sure all on-site costs as reasonable as possible. At the end of the day, we understand what it takes and our philosophy is that the show will be a success for us if it’s also a success for our exhibitors.
We have been to some amazing places and there are some really good people working within each city at the respective convention properties and CVB’s. It can be taxing at times, but all the cities we’ve visited have been welcoming. Ultimately, we want people to know that we’re doing everything we can to negotiate the best possible deal for everyone involved.
With all that said, we are thrilled to make the announcement at the end of the week. Yes, the city has been chosen and after we have crossed all the T’s and dotted all the I’s, we’ll be letting the world know where the inaugural American International Motorcycle Expo will take place. One thing we can tell you for certain is that the weather is expected to be favorable at a time of year that will be ideal for motorcycle enthusiasts.