December 15 2010 by Jason Fogelson
This winter, I'm going to revisit Bill Hayes's history of the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club, The Original Wild Ones. Hayes is a great storyteller, and his book really brings the atmosphere of the post-WWII biker club to life, dispelling rumors and misconceptions in the process.
I'm also going to reread Matt Crawford's collection of essays, Shopcraft as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work. Crawford is the thinking man's motorcycle mechanic, and really delves into the whole subject of manual competence and how working with our hands feeds our souls. Great book.
I've got a stack of new books on my bedside table as well.
I'm looking forward to delving into Tom Cotter's The Vincent in the Barn: Great Stories of Motorcycle Archaeology. It tells 40 tales of every motorcyclist's fantasy -- the barn find, that unmolested original classic motorcycle that's been hiding behind a hay bale for decades, just waiting to be discovered.
I've heard good things about Big Sid's Vincati: The Story of a Father, a Son and the Motorcycle of a Lifetime by Matthew Biberman. The author and his father undertook a project bike, a Ducati engine in a Vincent frame, and in the process reconstructed their relationship. Just the kind of male bonding story that pulls at my heartstrings.
Another father/son story that I'm eager to read is John J. Newkirk's The Old Man and His Harley: A Last Ride Through Our Fathers' America. Newkirk retraces his father's 1939 motorcycle tour to the New York and San Francisco World's Fairs, along with his aging father and a pair of rickety 1930's-era bikes. Travel, old bikes and male bonding in the same book. I can't wait.
Winter wouldn't be the same without a bit of reading about riding better, too.
I will jump in and out of my two favorite motorcycling bibles: David Hough's Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well and More Proficient Motorcycling: Mastering the Ride. Hough's books are virtual primers to the art of riding a motorcycle safely and effectively, and I learn something (or relearn something) every time I crack the covers. No motorcyclist's library is complete without Hough's books.
I'm adding the late Lawrence Grodsky's Stayin' Safe: The Art and Science of Riding Really Well to my list for this winter. Grodsky was a columnist for Rider magazine until he met his end on a routine motorcycle ride, which lends his writing an even more poignant tone in retrospect. His no-nonsense, yet wry observations about the mechanics and psychological aspects of riding never fail to spark new thoughts that keep me alert on my rides.
What books are you reading between rides this winter?