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March Madness!

Robin shares the madness encountered in putting together this March issue.


While the powersports industry is still trying to recover from the sensory overload off two giant tradeshows in February, the "real world" is ramping up for the annual NCAA Division I college basketball championship tournament. The seeded pool of the 64 best teams battling their way through the brackets to reach the Sweet 16 then the Elite 8 and then the Final 4 seems to sweep most of the nation up in its annual frenzy — a.k.a March Madness. Every office in the country seems to have a ladder posted next to the water cooler and an office pool (never mind that betting on college sports is illegal in most states). Even elementary school children now have math homework based on the tourney, I kid you not.

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In putting together this March issue, we encountered our own version of madness. While the cover concept and shooting the modern day equivalent of the Old West cowboy in a ghost town seemed like a slam-dunk in the planning stages, a series of SNAFUs resulted. I really should have known better than to try schedule a shoot before the V-Twin Expo and then hope we could get everything else written and shipped to the printers in the week before the Dealer Expo in Indy. After all, I did work for a publisher named Murphy for more than a decade, so there is always a "Plan B."


First we had a couple shipments of the gear go awry. No problem, ace photographer Joe Bonnello is used to being flexible. The problem is that we wanted to use real industry people for this shoot rather than some out-of-work Hollywood types. Being involved in the industry means our subjects all have real jobs and would need a little advance warning.

For example, ex-KTM media go-to gal Laurette Cushman has gone back to college and is working part-time with Troy Lee Designs, so making a couple hour drive out to Calico could only happen on a weekend… Of course Supercross 30-second board gal Dayna Trask works in a shop during the week, but is busy doing her shimmy at the SX races on the weekends, so it could only happen on a week day. Fortunately helmet painter turned TV-commentator Jerry Bernardo’s wife Sarah works banker’s hours — literally, she works in a bank — and our bike wrangler Vince Mariano runs his own shop (Fam-Fab custom sheet metal in nearby Pinon Hills, California).


We finally figured out a Friday that would work for everyone, provided proof of insurance, pulled a photo permit with the County of San Bernardino and cleared everything with the folks at the Calico Ghost Town the week before the V-Twin Expo. Sarah could only make it in the morning, Laurette could only make it for late afternoon, but Joe is flexible. Naturally Murphy’s Law kicked in!

In a rejection move that would put Shaq to shame, our first attempt at the photo shoot was swatted away by Mother Nature. Second only to Death Valley, the Calico area is one of the driest spots in the continental U.S. Naturally the high desert was hit with a record cold snap and tons of rain. No problem, on to Plan B, shooting the following week, the day before I have to leave for Cincy — oh, did I mention the rental vehicle needed to haul 21 sets of jackets, chaps, boots and assorted T-shirts? I also rented a bunch of studio lights and reflectors so Joe could shoot indoors or even in the mine shaft itself if we didn’t get a break in the weather.


Although it was raining steadily when I left my house at 4 a.m., it cleared up a little by sunrise and by the time Joe and Sarah arrived at 7:30, the sun was out. But Vinny can attest that it was still a bit "brisk" riding the bike out. We set up a couple of shots before Dayna arrived in her cool red Corvette… which she promptly locked the keys in! So now we are trying to get the set-ups done between frantic calls to the Automobile Club, various locksmiths, area Chevy dealers (the coded keys have to be individual signed out to the register owner), etc.


Then the first bus load of foreign tourist came in and they thought Vince’s bike was a photo prop for them. Or how about the fact that in a town full of "cowboys" we couldn’t get the chaps to fit any of our models! "No worries," as expatriate-Aussie Sarah said cheerfully, just before noticing she had to leave for work. And then the clouds started to roll back in and the craziness really kicked into high gear…

If I was dribbling in the MPN booth when you saw me in Indy, I apologize — March Madness has that affect on me.

View the results of the photoshoot


To paraphrase Ozzy Osbourne, it was all aboard the crazy train for our March Madness cover shoot. Despite the temporary insanity, we must have made the deadline if you are reading this. Special thanks to our models and all the folks at the Calico Ghost Town (

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