Observation Check

Kit Palmer | December 19, 2017


It Never Gets Old

When this issue of Cycle News magazine hits the press—okay, when we hit the “live” button these days—it will be my 33rd “issue 50.” Around here, issue 50 means the big one. It’s the final issue of the year and we package it with a few extra stories and interviews to keep you busy reading while we take our traditional year-end two-week break; it’s a tradition that Cycle News has been doing for a long time, long before I ever showed up as associate editor in 1983.

Actually, when I was hired, my official title, for a short time, was editor, but I was far from being the actual editor in the true meaning—that job belonged to the senior editor, and he was the man who hired this young kid that was barely old enough to buy a six-pack of Coors Light, but more importantly at the time, rent a car, a necessity when covering faraway races that involved getting on a 727 to get there. That man was Dale Brown who I am still to this day grateful for taking a big chance on me, by offering me Karel Kramer’s former position at the CN office in Long Beach, California. Karel had left CN for a new magazine—Dirt Rider—that had just arrived on the scene.

Thanks to Mr. Brown, on September 1, 1983, I officially, and proudly, became a member of the Cycle News editorial staff, which was at that time made up of just two other editors—David Edwards and Lance Bryson. Not long after I arrived, just a few issues later in fact, Edwards took an editorial position at Cycle World and eventually became the magazine’s editor, and Bryson, who was also the senior editor of ATV News—a sister publication of Cycle News—at the time of my CN arrival, is now the main man behind the scenes of AMA EnduroCross.

Blink, and it’s 34 years later and my title is editor, once again, and issue 50 number-33 for me is about to “go out the door.” Yes, I realize that the numbers don’t add up but in 2010 we did not officially print an issue 50; that was our transition time between going from print to digital and we did not produce an issue for a few months. During my tenure at CN, we didn’t always name a rider of the year like we do now in our year-end issue-50 special. The first one that I remember, or was at least involved with, happened in 1992, when we named Wayne Rainey Cycle News Rider of the Year. Before then, I remember Luis McKay, aka Phantom Duck of the Desert, getting a lot of CN accolades. Since Rainey, however, we haven’t missed a beat in selecting who we feel deserves to be our ROY winner, which we don’t take lightly. After all, we’re not just selecting one rider from one genre of motorcycling, but all genres. Selecting someone deserving to be CN’s Rider of the Year is sometimes a no-brainer—an obvious choice (Jeremy McGrath, Ricky Graham, Ricky Carmichael, Kevin Schwantz quickly come to mind)—other times, mmm, not so much. This one kind fell somewhere in between. There were quite a few names (Zach Osborne, Jared Mees, Marc Marquez to name a few) that got tossed around, and there were some good discussions, bordering on debates among the CN staff as to who should be this year’s CN Rider of the Year. But when it came time to commit, we all agreed that Jared Mees was the right person. Whew! That was…well, easy. I didn’t want to have to pull rank and glad that I didn’t have to. Believe me, when it comes to selecting ROY’s in the past, I’ve been involved in some heated battles in the CN offices that didn’t end as cordially as this one. I guess you can say that we’re pretty passionate about our racing around here.

I still can’t believe how fast 2017—or the last 50 issues—has come and gone. They seem to be getting faster every year, which might have something to do with all the great racing and championships happening all around the world these days, and so many really amazing new motorcycles being introduced seemingly every week; it’s exciting times, for sure, but difficult to keep up with sometimes, especially during the summer months. You don’t know how many times that I’ve said I wish there were more days in the week just to keep up with it all, but I’m glad there aren’t. That would mean having to wait one more day for the racing to begin on the weekends.

There were a lot of big headlines this year. Unfortunately, too many of those headlines were not good ones. Just read Larry Lawrence’s Archives column elsewhere in this issue and you’ll see why—we lost way too many great people in our motorcycling world in such a short period of time.

It was sad to see Ryan Dungey hang up his boots in 2017, and Ken Roczen suffer that horrendous and seemingly career-ending crash at Anaheim nearly one year ago, but on the bright side, Dungey did go out with grace and style, and Roczen is in the process of making the comeback of all comebacks. Just the fact that he’s suiting up again for Anaheim I is already a successful comeback in my mind. (How can you forget all those Instagram posts from Roczen of his splayed open arm after his crash? I know I can’t.) It was great seeing him back on the bike again last week and looking, it appears, as fast as ever. Whether or not you’re a Ken Roczen fan, how can you not pull for him?

And speaking of comebacks, will James Stewart make one next year? But, then again, has he even left? So weird, but I’d like to seem him on the track again, or at the very, least, bow out with some sort of elegance. His fans deserve it, as does the sport. Like him or not, he was/is a big part of its growth and his departure from racing should be officially recognized. C’mon, James. We’re waiting.

There was some excellent racing in 2017, especially in MotoGP. The championship came down to the final race, as it did in both the National Enduro and Sprint Enduro Championships, NHRA, Pro Motocross and of course, Supercross. I don’t know how many supercross races I’ve been to in my 34 years of service with Cycle News, but I know that the final round in Las Vegas this year will be one of the races I remember most, right up with the Johnson/Bailey battle and Jeremy McGrath getting his first win.

2018 will certainly produce more memorable moments as well, we just don’t know who, what, when, where or how it will be yet. But I’m anxious to find out. As for me, after 34 years, this stuff never gets old. That’s because it’s motorcycles—the greatest sport in the world.

Bring it on, 2018. CN


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Kit Palmer | Editor Kit Palmer started his career at Cycle News in 1984 and he’s been testing dirt and streetbikes ever since – plus covering any event that uses some form of a knobby tire. He’s also our resident motorcycle mileage man with a commute of 120 miles a day.