Recently I received my copy of American Motorcyclist magazine in the mail, and it had a cover that really caught my eye. It had a picture of an older guy with a long gray beard wearing motocross gear. My initial thought was, “What’s that Harley dude doing wearing MSR gear?”

This is exactly the bias that I’d like to avoid! The theme of this particular issue of the magazine is to unite all motorcyclists in an effort to protect our right to ride and this cover hit the nail on the head!

This subject is something that I really hold close to my heart because when I first started working at J&P I had a huge awakening about the differences between the motorcycle cultures. It was like I was in a foreign country. I even had a former manager tell me that I was “never going to fit in here.” It amazed me that when I talked about Moto GP or the last Super cross race, that and most of the “hard core” motorcyclists had not a clue as to what I was talking about.

On the other hand, if I mentioned Jesse James or talked about the new Harley models, the table was turned and it was apparent that I was the one who was clueless.

My point is, there are many issues facing your right to ride every day. For the street guys there are issues like helmet laws, noise laws and discriminatory profiling. For the off-road crowd, there are issues concerning riding areas, ethanol gas, sound ordinances, lead laws — and a dozen other controversies.

I’ve worked hard over the last two years to combine my knowledge of the metric and dirt markets with the lessons I have learned here concerning the Harley market. One thing that’s really evident to me is we’re all talking the same language — it’s just the translation that gets confused. I know I have learned a lot these last few years, and I encourage anyone to step out of his or her comfort zone from time to time. It really can improve your perspective.

With attacks on our rights as motorcycle riders coming from all sides these days, it’s important that all of us be aware and educated about the issues. In other words, be informed. If we unite as one, we can ensure the future of our passion for generations to come. But if we remain aloof, segregated and closed-minded, we’re doomed. I strongly urge all riders to join the American Motorcyclist Association. These are the guys fighting for your right to ride, and we should join them support ourselves.