If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium?

Robin's sordid tales of jet lag and bad judgement!

The world is a much smaller place these days. Trends that once took months or even years to spread are now overnight successes … can you say iPhone? As Joel Martin notes in this month’s look at the growing go kart market, "you’re always watching what that dealer down the street is doing, but these days you have to know what the dealers in one state over … and all across the country are doing as well."

I would suggest taking it one step further and consider keeping a weather eye out for what dealers are doing the world over. Today’s hot bike in Taipei could be coming to Toledo next spring. And for those old school Harley-only dealers who insist it won’t play in Peoria, exactly what are you going to sell when the last Baby Boomer ages themselves out of the market for an "entry-level" 883 Sportster?

With this global view in mind, I treated myself to a working summer vacation. A chance to join Kawasaki for a trip to Japan to see the KHI manufacturing facilities was the opportunity of a lifetime spent in this business. Getting pit passes for the Japanese National Superbike series was just icing on the cake!

That 10-day stint was immediately followed by a quick side trip to Dallas for Tucker Rocky’s ATV/off-road sales meeting and then back on a plane for Venice immediately after that. While I was ostensibly in Italy to tour the leather working region and visit my friends at Sidi, Set Up, Spidi et. al., the weekend acutally kicked off at the World Superbike Round in Misano!

I’m still a little fuzzy from these extended road trips, but knocking myself stupid on an ATV before flying to Japan didn’t much help, either. It can be argued the brain damage was a pre-existing condition, but doctors orders were no riding, so I missed the chance to join the other journalists on the Autopolis track in Japan or to take a quick blast through the Italian alps on a new KTM. Due to the post-concussion syndrome haze and mounting jet lag, I may not know what day it is, but I do know that the trips to see what is going on in the outside world were well worth it! In fact, while I was in Italy, the news broke that Dainese had just bought AGV … how’s that for a scoop?

Like baseball immortal Yogi Berra said, it was almost like deja vu all over again: One week I’m on the track at the Japanese Superbike Nationals, the next weekend I’m at Misano for World Superbike. Having a "God Pass" in Italy gave me full access to the track, so I was a bit miffed when some dork blocked my shot of the first turn … I didn’t fly all the way to Italy and bluff my way into the infield just to have some guy stand in front of me! Turns out the "dork" was racing legend Kevin Schwantz talent-scouting for his MotoGP team for next season! Yep, you heard it here first, Suzuki really is stepping up with another MotoGP team.

After we were done chatting, some other dork raced by on a scooter, locked up the rear wheel and came back to say hi to Kevin. Dork #2 turns out to be Valentino Rossi, who lives near the Misano Adriatico track and was spending his off weekend watching WSBK. This alone almost made up for the 36-hour delay going from Venice-to-Philly-to-LAX the following Sunday/Monday.

The airline SNAFU cost me a day I really should have spent back in the office, especially since we had a big photo shoot set for Tuesday at the NPA facility in Poway. Scott Cox shot "Rosie The Riveter" for our tools opener (see page 52), as well as a bunch of Italian-made roadracing leathers for next issue. By the time we finished with Tuesday’s photo shoot and I drove home at 1 a.m., I was definitely feeling the effects of jet lag. Maybe my judgement is impaired (even more than usual), but I think the tool shoot turned out pretty well. Of course in keeping with the deja vu thing, Desiree, the model, just happened to be current MotoGP Rizla Suzuki racer John Hopkins’ ex, so she knew the tracks and wanted to talk about what was happening in Europe.

"I’m Europe, Baby. I sent you Dutch Elm Disease, German Measles and Russian Roulette. You sent me World Wind Vacation Tour #225. Now we’re even…" so says the tagline for the 1969 comedy flick If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium. Plot Summary: A group of travelers from the United States races through a crazed overseas junket, with predictably chaotic results. Trust me, I know the feeling!

However I still think it is vital to be aware of what is going on beyond your own backyard. That might explain why I’m getting on a plane right now to see SYM in Taiwan.

Feeling patriotic, we wanted to feature an updated take on the original WWII era "Rosie The Riveter" posters to highlight this month’s look at shop tools. Too much? My judgement is admittedly cloudy at the best of times and even worse these days! However I did ask photographer Scott Cox to make sure we didn’t show any exposed navels for fear of getting more hate mail from the belly button police.

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