It’s a question that’s been mouthed a bazillion times over the last eight or nine months, but it bears repeating: Has 2020 sucked in the Hugest Possible Way, or what?
Between the mysterious appearance (and apparent cover-up) of the world-altering Covid virus, the political theater leading up to the November election, a media that doesn’t even bother trying to hide its overt bias anymore and a host of other occurrences, 2020 will go down in history as the darkest of years – and may continue to haunt America and the world for years to come.
But as ugly as things are and have been this year, there’s still a lot to be thankful for in this wonderful country of ours, which Thanksgiving with family reminded me of once again just last week. Thank God for family and holidays, right?
Some of those positives belong to the motorcycling community, a welcome thing in an industry that continues to rebound from the financial and demographic body blows it took back in 2008.
Besides busy dealers and better-than-normal bike sales, one of those big positives forms the very core of this edition of Thunder Press – the King of the Baggers event, which was conceived and planned by some thoughtful folks at Parts Unlimited and Drag Specialties, and pulled off with assistance from the MotoAmerica road race series. (See page 8 for an in-depth look.)
I grew up during a golden age of American roadracing, when Kenny Roberts, Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Wes Cooley, Wayne Rainey and others were the dominant names, and I remember well the buzz and excitement that bubbled up around the bikes and personalities and teams and the racing during those years – with no internet or social media at all to support it.
American roadracing was big and powerful and glorious during those years, and I got a bit of the same feeling this year as the KOTB thing unfolded. All of which bodes well for the future of the series, which I keep hearing is going to happen in a bigger and better way in 2021. Bring it!
Another was the bold and inspirational move by our friend Rod Woodruff of the Buffalo Chip to hold the venue’s annual biker bash during Sturgis – Covid or no Covid. The folks at the Chip took all the right precautions all while taking advantage of the benefits of an open-air gathering on its 600-plus-acre venue…and reminded folks before, during and after the party that life is not risk-free, that peaceable Americans can gather and act responsibly, and that freedom matters.
“We’ve got a bunch of freedom-loving people here,” Woodruff told Rolling Stone, “that just want to, once a year, get away from everything and everybody, get on a motorcycle, ride some really great roads in the Black Hills of South Dakota, come back, listen to some music, get a little rest, get up in the morning, have breakfast and do it all over.”
So well put, Woody. Thanks for boiling things down for the nattering nabobs of negativism out there. (Thanks, Ronnie!)
Our helmets are off to the folks at American Flat Track, too, who pushed hard to make their season happen, much to the delight of dirt track fans everywhere. Yeah, the doubleheaders weren’t as fun as 18 separate rounds, but the racing was mostly great, especially in the Production Twins division, and we’re as jacked up as usual for the 2021 season despite the fact that Harley-Davidson will not field a factory squad after cutting race-team ties with longtime partner Vance & Hines. (See our website for an exclusive Terry Vance interview).
Finally, and for me this is maybe the best thing of all, 2020 was the year I finally became a Harley-Davidson owner. I bought a 12,000-mile, 2012-spec XR1200X back in the spring and have loved every single booming minute on the thing, whether running around town or blasting up (and down) one of the many twisty roads in Salt Lake City or So Cal.
My XR is bad-ass matte black, and the only bits of silver are on the bike’s bare-metal or machined surfaces. But they contrast wonderfully with the bike’s Vader-esque look, and continually remind me that, despite all the dark-side elements in our society (see paragraph two), there is plenty of silver-lining hope to be savored…including freedom from nanny-state experiments that have been tried again and again, and failed.
Enjoy the holidays, folks, and stay safe.
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