I hate tear sheets.
      In case you don’t know your publishing jargon, tear sheets are the first pages that come off the press. Dirt Wheels is produced in California, then printed at a mammoth facility in Kentucky, along with about a zillion other magazines. As soon as the first pages of DW come off that press, someone grabs a handful of sheets from each form and sends them back to our office.
      I don’t know why they bother. It’s too late to change anything and invariably, mistakes, typos and glitches just jump off the page as soon as we take a look. Keep in mind we’ve written, read, proofed and reproofed all those pages before they go to the printer. Yet we see dozens of things we want to change just as soon as we can‘t.
      So I hate tear sheets. But I can’t resist looking anyway. I just got the first copy of the August issue of Dirt Wheels, and to be honest, it’s not bad. The coolest thing is that it gives us the first look and the first test of 2010 models. Cain went back east to check out the new Can Ams and came back with a look at the whole line and a full test of the 2010 Outlander 650. The machines can be seen at www.brp.com. While he was there he covered a GNCC race and then did a story on the ATVs of the GNCC series. He worked hard and came back with the goods, and he didn’t even know he was going until the last minute. Brad was originally scheduled, but just a few days before he was to get on the plane, he was involved in a car crash. He wrecked his wrist and couldn’t ride. I was deeply involved in the production of Dirt Bike (my other job here at Hi-Torque), so Cain basically ended up producing over half of the magazine by himself.
      Brad still had his hands (hand?) full. He did  half dozen product evaluations and a cool piece with Preston McClain, the Club President of the Harlan County Ridge Runners in Evarts, Kentucky. This is an ATV club that stands by its motto of “A ride every weekend, an event every month.”
      One of my projects was budget-minded hop-up of the Honda TRX450R. This whole idea came about when I was riding bicycles with Mark Dooley, the head of DG Performance. Mark is a bicycle nut, and at least once a week I let him drag me all over Orange County. The rides are painful and therapeutic at the same time–we end up talking until we can’t, which happens somewhere around a pulse of 160 bpm. After about 40 miles, neither of us can manage a very impressive pace, so we talk more and breathe less. On one of our rides he mentioned his line of $199 performance pipes. I need to admit, I didn’t even know that anyone made a $199 pipe anymore. I thought that went the way of the five-cent Thrifty ice cream cone. I wanted to try it! One thing led to another and I ended up building a great quad with nothing but low-cost parts.  As it turned out, DG also makes the least expensive nerf bars and bumpers. The previous month I had done an evaluation on the Fox Float R shocks, which are about half the price of the original Fox Shox.
      I even raced the Honda when I was done. Now you need to understand, I haven’t raced an ATV in 20 years. No joke. The last event I did was the Blackwater 100 in 1989. Since then I’ve been overwhelmingly preoccupied with dirt bike racing, but it was a nice blast from the past and I really had fun. The event was the ITP QuadCross at Glen Helen Raceway the day after the motorcycle National. Lori Bryant is the manager at Glen Helen and she’s a very good friend. I wanted her to make a class just for me. “Call it an industry class or something,” I said. She called it the 50 class instead, which had the unfortunate side effect of encouraging other riders. One was Gary Jones. Gary and I routinely race against each other on motorcycles, which is to say he routinely knocks me down and runs over me. But I let him know right up front that I didn’t want to play rough on the quad. Twenty years is a long time and I had a lot of rust to work out. As it turned out, Gary didn’t stick around to crash into me.  It turned out well and I loved the machine.
      Another story that I worked on was the comparison between the Rincon and the Brute Force. Brad (with his wrist still wrapped), Cain, Mark Tilley and I spent  one of the test days in the mountains around Lake Castaic riding the two 4x4s and also testing dual sport bikes for Dirt Bike. It was a long day, but man was it fun. It was one of those perk days which reminds you why you’re in this business. Mark was hilarious. He’s a motorcycle racer and had never ridden an ATV before. Check him out on the cover; that’s him on the Kawasaki. In every photo, he’s tucked in like he’s racing to the first turn. Cain is sitting bolt upright behind him. Laughing.
      A couple of other good stories are the test on the Chevy-powered Predator X18 Intimidator and the story on keeping your quad cool for the summer. It’s a good issue. I’m glad I had the nerve to look at it.

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