I stepped down today as director of RideApart. It was a heartbreaking and terrifying thing to do. Firstly, because that site has meant a whole hell of a lot to me over the years (remember, I credit it – in its original form of Hell for Leather – as being an impetus to my returning to riding); secondly, because I’m not entirely sure what happens now.
I’m leaving on good terms. So good, in fact, I suspect some casual observers won’t really notice. I’ll still contribute articles to the site, and I’ll be hanging around for a month or so to make sure my replacement has all the tools he needs. So, if you’re hoping to see me set a few bridges alight, dishing the gossip and vindicating whatever moans you may have about RA, I’m afraid you’re in for disappointment.
Obviously, though, I’m not leaving just for japes. Yes, I do have a few gripes (which I’ll keep to myself), but primarily I’m stepping down because the job was pretty much killing me. Back in December, about a week before Christmas, I started to feel pretty rough and that eventually manifested into full-blown flu on New Year’s Day. A month later, and I am still struggling to get healthy – typing this with a tissue up my nose and a collection of pain and cold medicines spilling off my desk.
More often than not, being director of RA has seen me clocking 14-hour days.
Throughout these past two months I’ve continued to work every day. Indeed, I’ve not had a true day off since June 2015, and in that time there has never been a week when I’ve worked less than 60 hours. More often than not, being director of RA has seen me clocking 14-hour days. The first thing I do when I wake up is check my email; the last thing I do before going to bed is check my email. I work so much I almost never socialize. I don’t have any other hobbies. I rarely get outside (back in September, my wife insisted we get a dog so I’d be forced to go for walks). Hell, outside of press events, I don’t even ride that much.
Lying on the sofa a few weeks ago, fully dressed and buried under no less than four blankets but still shivering uncontrollably from a high fever, I had one of those come-to-Jesus moments in which I began to question the direction of my life. I could not get healthy because I was destroying myself for a company that, if I were to keel over and die, would find a replacement for me by the end of the day. I know that’s what would happen because that’s what did happen when RA’s previous director died and I was given the job.
That said, I’m not afraid of working and, despite my moaning, there are some pretty nice perks to this line of work. Hell, just a week ago I was speeding around Scotland’s Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park astride a brand new Triumph Tiger 1200 (review coming next month). So, for the immediate future, I’ll continue to contribute to RA. As I say, the average reader may not realize I’ve switched job titles.
Further down the line, however…
You might have noticed some pretty massive changes taking place to The Motorcycle Obsession over the past week. I’ve redesigned the site, I’ve moved it over to a different CMS, I’ve installed Disqus (a better comments system than WordPress’ native system, methinks, though I apologize that it seems to have obliterated everyone’s past comments), and I’ve set up a Twitter account, Facebook page, YouTube account, and Instagram account. You can see what’s happening here, right? I’ve decided to transition TMO from a personal blog to an online magazine.
“An online magazine focused on inspiring others to seek out the excitement, freedom, and pure joy that comes from twisting the throttle and setting out for somewhere – anywhere,” to quote from TMO’s new About page.
Because it occurs to me that if I’m going to work myself to death, the benefits of that effort should go to, you know, me. Additionally, as much as I’ve loved working for RA, the nature of its being someone else’s website has meant I’ve had to adhere to their vision of how the thing should be run. I’d like to try to create something a little different – a little more honest, a little more inspirational, and a little less pageview-driven. Old hands of the industry will think I’m a damned fool, but I’m inclined to respond to that cynicism with the story of Keanu Reeves’ response when his business partner Gard Hollinger asked why the hell he wanted to set up Arch Motorcycle.
“Because we’re going to die,” Keanu said.
In other words, why not do something you believe in? Why not try? Each of our stories will end – there’s no escaping that – and when it does end, do we want to be able to say we at least tried to do something cool/interesting/beautiful, or do we want our dying thoughts to be: “Golly, those road rage videos I posted sure got a lot of pageviews.”
So, yeah. Let’s try, shall we? Officially, the new TMO launches on 1 March; that’s when I’m aiming to have all my ducks in a row, delivering fresh and unique content every weekday (I’m going to try to not work on weekends – we’ll see how long that lasts). Additionally, I’ll be aiming to add video as regularly as possible. Between now and then you’ll see me adding a lot of the articles I wrote for RA, but a few new things as well.
I hope you’ll stick around, comment, and let me know what works for you and what doesn’t. I am equal parts hopeful and terrified; I hope you’ll join me on the ride.