Sound RIDER! @ 20 - Part 6: Book Publishing

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Yamaha Motorcycles Street Event - Cbarn



Part 6: Book Publishing

By the time we reached our 10th anniversary in 2009, book publishing was well under way having released several books from some of our editors, a tips and tricks book called Packing Light Packing Right (PLPR) and dropping several ride guides.

PLPR set the stage for the growth of our online store as we added products that were not available at most dealers but were useful to riders. Long underwear, wicking socks, top grade tire repair kits and otherwise filled in a lot of gaps allowing supportive riders to shop for a lot of what they needed all in one place.

In 2009 we'd dropped our first off-pavement ride guide, Dual Sport Rides Through Western Washington which proved to be a top seller. The growing dual sport market was thirsty for rides in the Cascades and we knew the routes. In fact, using the book, a rider could essentially travel from the Columbia River Gorge all the way to Canada over the course of several days. We were a bit taken aback in 2010 when the WABDR route was announced, using a lot of our routing. The main difference being that that original route ate many an adventure bike. Our routes were low on baby head sized rocks, washout and terminated roads, instead being high on success where a rider could successfully complete the ride without trashing their bike.

Other ride guides followed. In 2010 we released Motorcycling through Central and Eastern Oregon with 20 pavement rides and 5 dual sport loops. While the area is lower on the radar, than say riding the Oregon Coast, it is a superior area to ride based on the road designs and lack of traffic. And the scenery is stunning.

During initial production of the book, one of our support crew, Ryan Barnett, had been struck by a car on the grated 1st Avenue Bridge, while riding his motorcycle up to the office one morning. With two damaged wrists, he was out of commission for a number of weeks. When the casts came off, the doctor wanted him to do some light work each day on the computer as part of his physical therapy. I set up a laptop with all the software he would need, delivered it to his house and Ryan put together all the maps needed to complete the book.

More than any other Pacific Northwest state or province, Oregon takes the cake on scenery regardless of where you happen to be in the state.

And so, the follow-up book, Motorcycling through Western Oregon was a must to complete the pavement aspects of the state.

As with all books, a lot of riding is required to seek out the good roads and ferret out the ones that look good on a map, but really aren't so great. So, I set off on a journey that would take me through the Oregon Cascades down to the state line with California. The plan was to camp along the way. At the campsite outside of Silverton, I realized I'd left my air mat at home in Seattle. No biggy - I'd just lay all my riding gear on the tent floor and that should keep me comfortable. It only took an hour to realize - this option does not work. In the morning I was on the phone with our rep from Exped and arranged a pickup at an outdoor retailer along my route that day. Saved.

Then I rode up to 6,000' and camped at Harney Lake. Upon arrival I removed my gloves, where a bee had stowed away in one of the gauntlets and opted to sting my right-hand during removal. My hand quickly began to look a lot like a blow fish. The next day was interesting. Throttle I could do, front braking not so easy. During a call to my sister/general practitioner I was informed that until I elevated the hand for a long period of time, the swelling would not subside. Not having ape hangers on my Yamaha sport standard and with several more days to go on the trip, I totted the blowfish around as I journeyed back and forth across the Oregon Coastal Range.

In 2012, noted motorcycle journalist, David Hough, crafted up a series of articles called The Good Rider. We ran the series in parts each month. Then in 2013, Dave assembled all the articles together, adding additional content and turned in the guts of what became the 400-page book - The Good Rider.

Andy Goldfine was very interested in carrying the book in his popular Aerostich catalog and soon a purchase order for 50 copies arrived. I packaged up the order and shipped it. Then I got the call from Aerostich - "We got an opened box with about 6 books inside. Looks like it must have broken open during shipping…" Uuugh!

2014 was the year we decided to move the Rally in the Gorge from Stevenson, Washington, across the Columbia River to Hood River. We'd already published four editions of Motorcycling in the Columbia River Gorge. The more we pre-rode the area, the more great roads we discovered, both on and off pavement. Going to a fifth edition with both paved and dual sport routes would have made the book too thick to slip into the top window of a tank bag, so instead, the book was split into two. One for pavement, one for the dirt roads.

During that year at the rally, as part of registration, each participant was provided their choice of either Motorcycling Through the Columbia River Gorge or Dual Sport Rides Through the Columbia River Gorge.

When we began producing tours of the Pacific Northwest in 2009, a companion tour book has been produced for every Road Trip and Sasquatch tour we do. While these are useful to the riders who join us, we know there are plenty of people who don't want to do a group ride and that's fine. Following each tour, we make any necessary corrections to the GPS routes and then release the tour book for sale in our online store.

As the behemoth online retailers continue to mow down little guys like us, it's the books we create and sell online that add to the bottom line and are a part of what keeps us around. I like to think of it as a win-win when someone makes a purchase. They get a nice touring book and we get to pay the bills that month.

So, what's next?

Since 2014 I've been crafting up a series of tips and tricks releasing them five at a time in American Motorcyclists, several club newsletters and on Sound RIDER! The idea is to compile them all together and release a Tips and Tricks for Every Rider compilation book.

TM/November 2019

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Sport Touring Northwest Rally


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