Yes folks, Steve McQueen is alive and living in Indiana! I’d say it’s very cool to have the same name as an actor who had the same passion for motorcycles as you do. I met Steve McQueen on Twitter. He has followed my Blog for sometime and introduced me to his Motorcycle Nation Podcast site. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did. It’s such a honor to me when people agree to share their lives with me and all of the IHG followers out there.
Please give me a brief bio about yourself.
I am a 43 year old Dad and Grandpa born and raised in Indiana. I served this awesome country in the United States Marine Corps and support our troops all the way. I have been married to my wife Angie for 13 years and we have 4 kids, girls 18, 7, 6 and a 16 year old boy. I am also a Grandpa to a 15 month old girl who calls me Paps. My family shares a passion for motorcycles and I spend a great deal of time within the industry. As the old saying goes, I eat, sleep, and breathe motorcycles. I teach, run a motorcycle safety site for ABATE of Indiana, serve as a state motorcycle license examiner for Indiana, spend time lobbying in Indiana and Washington, DC for motorcyclists' rights for ABATE, and served on the board of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation.
When were you first introduced to the motorcycle lifestyle?
I was introduced to motorcycles at about the age of 8. I had a cousin that worked for the brick mason that lived across the street from the house I grew up in. He had an old Yamaha that he would ride to our house and park on our back porch and ride to work with the boss. I used to climb up on that bike and dream of rolling down the road. Some of my best rides may have been while daydreaming on that bike. In my early teens the same cousin introduced me to Harley Davidson’s and the love affair began.
What was your first motorcycle?
My first actual motorcycle was a 1984 Honda Shadow that my first wife's father gave to me. It was a nice motorcycle and ran very well. I had some good rides in the North Carolina Mountains and on the coast. I lived around the Raleigh Durham area for many years and was close enough to either one to have the best of both worlds.
How many different motorcycles have you had over the years?
I have had six motorcycles. The Shadow, '72 HD FX, an old Ironhead Sporty, and the three bikes currently in my garage. Technically two of them are not "mine" and they are a 1982 Kawasaki LTD 550 that my son rides and a 2006 883 Sportster that I bought Ang for Christmas in 2007. My current ride is a 1999 Softail Custom.
What are you riding now?
My style of riding is changing and I want to move on to a bagger. I have had my eye on a Road Glide for a long time but I may have to go for a slightly cheaper ride and get an Electra Glide Standard and add items as I can. Regardless of funds, my next bike will be one that can carry me for hours without wearing me out.
Could you tell me about the Motorcycle Nation Podcast site and what people can find there?
The Motorcycle Nation Podcast site was a way for me to add two passions that I have. The motorcycle side of course and my wannabe geek side. I started this in December and it is a combo Blog and podcast. I have a feed for iTunes or you can listen right at the Blog site. Whether through voice or text, my goal is to bring information about the motorcycling community to motorcyclists that may not hear it any other way. I have done podcasts on tech tips, electric motorcycles, and other topics. I hope to cover the motorcycle insurance industry and safety in some upcoming episodes. Yep, I am going to open the whole helmet law can of worms!
What has the Podcast experience been like?
The podcast experience has been rough so far. I have been having issues with audio for awhile and it bugs me that I have not done justice to some of the interesting people that have been on the show. I am working through those things now so I hope that any future podcasts will be up to par. If any of my listeners are reading this I want to thank them for sticking with me.
How many Podcasts have you done and do you have a favorite?
So far there are eleven episodes. I think that my favorite was episode 9 where I interviewed Paul Holdsworth from IronWorks Magazine. What an interesting person. His stories were so great that I almost asked one or two questions and he just went crazy from there. It was awesome. I would also have to say that episodes 7 and 8 with Paul Nielsen from Motoworld Media were a blast as well.
Do you have any big projects in the works for the future?
Like I mentioned earlier, I am going to head in a controversial direction here in the near future. Insurance, helmet laws, and safety in general are very passionate subjects in our motorcycling community. I am going to open up that can of worms again.
What is your favorite rally or do you have more then one favorite?
Since I have not been lucky enough to attend Sturgis yet, I will pick Daytona on the national level and ABATE of Indiana's own "The Boogie" on a regional level. Sturgis is on my list of rides I want to do. I can't wait to get there.
Where is the best place in the country to ride?
That is a hard question. I have not had the opportunity to ride out West yet although I dream of the day. But, I think that I would have to say that I really don't care where I ride. As long as I wake up each day to enjoy my family and two wheels it is a good day for me.
What are your other passions beyond motorcycles?
Besides bikes it has to be my kids and my geek side. Podcasting and blogging bring me enjoyment. My kids are involved in sports and I spend alot of time with that. My seven year old just made a traveling softball team so I spend time trying to help her practice at home. The youngest one is my little princess and she likes to hang out with Daddy which is really cool. There is just nothing better than that and one of those things that I better enjoy now because the time is coming when old Dad won't be cool enough for either one of them.
Do you have any mentors or people that you look up to?
I have mentors in each of the areas that I am involved in. On the podcasting side, I count Cliff Ravenscraft (the Podcast Answer Man at GSPN.tv) and Ken Ray (host of Biker Radio Magazine) as those who I counsel with to move my show ahead. On the motorcycle safety and rights side I would have to say that I look up to quite a few people but the biggest influences are probably Rod Taylor and Jay Jackson. Rod is an attorney in Indiana but is the ABATE attorney for Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio and works with the Motorcycle Riders Foundation. Jay Jackson, Executive Director of ABATE of Indiana and a long time board member of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, is nationally respected as one of the most knowledgeable voices in the US on motorcycle safety. Jay will be inducted into the Sturgis Hall of Fame in August for his tireless work for motorcyclists.
You teach a motorcycle safety course, correct? What is that like? Is it rewarding?
I teach for the ABATE of Indiana Motorcycle Safety Program. It is really a blast to help introduce new riders to our sport and also teach "old dogs new tricks." I do have to say that the most rewarding classes I have taught to date are the deaf classes. Interpreters shadow the instructors on the range and hang out in the classroom. They are great riders and their disability makes them stronger riders. The main objective of safe riding is see and be seen. Their eyes are their ears so it actually makes them better.
Do you feel that the motorcycle safety course should be required to obtain a motorcycle license?
I like the idea of mandatory safety courses but the problem lies in the resources. The states that allow private entities to conduct rider training are in a better position to pull this off than state run programs. When the state provides the funding, there is usually not enough money earmarked to run the program. Our current economy just magnifies that problem as programs face the possibility of budget cuts all over the nation you also run into problems such as a shortage of instructors and suitable areas to conduct training.
What are your thoughts on helmet laws?
You have hit a subject that I plan on covering on the podcast in the near future. I will probably get slammed for this but I am going to stick my neck out there. I stand firmly on top of the fence on this one. As a motorcycle safety instructor and a sane person, I will tell you that wearing a helmet is the smartest choice. If you don't believe that you are a fool. You definitely have a better chance of living through your head hitting the ground if you are wearing a helmet than if you are not. But, let me jump to the other side of the fence. I served this country so that we could all be free. The government already mandates so many areas of our lives because they think they are saving us from ourselves. Most of them are not qualified to make decisions for anyone. Wearing a helmet should be your choice. I believe, and this is the stance ABATE's all over the nation take on the subject as well, is if we educate our riders on how to ride safer and how to avoid the accident in the first place, we will save lives. The government's stance? The helmet law is one item that falls under the government's idea of saving lives that they call "Safer Crashing". I think I have made my point. Anyone who disagrees can shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org I can use some of those on the upcoming podcast.
What are your thoughts on loud pipes? Do you really think they save lives?
You like controversy don't you? I have straight pipes and the sound is music. The problem is that I have been run into oncoming traffic despite being next to a car with all four windows down. So, it definitely depends on the driver of the other vehicle and the distractions they are allowing to keep them from concentrating on the road.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to ride a motorcycle?
Take a safety course BEFORE buying a bike. Motorcycling may not be for you or you may not have the coordination to operate one. Other than that, you never stop learning because every ride brings a new challenge you have never faced. When your mind tells you have mastered motorcycling put a for sale sign on it because you are about to die.
What is the wildest thing that has happened to you out on the road?
The wildest thing also happens to be the worst thing and that was hitting a deer in the fall of '04.
What is the most important lesson you've learned out on the road?
To never think that you know it all. I must admit that the time that I hit the deer I was feeling pretty cocky. I was a motorcycle safety instructor and there was not a situation that you could put me in that I could not get out of. Thank God that he let me live through my stupidity.
How does riding enrich your life?
Riding a motorcycle has opened so many doors for me. It is a community. I have met so many friends over the years that I would not have otherwise. We all need to put down our HD is best, or BMW snobbiness, or etc and become one. That is why I named the podcast and the Blog The Motorcycle Nation. I could care less what you ride. What do you bring to the community? We are going to have to all stick together to insure that this sport remains for our children and grandchildren. Brand loyalty is ok, but there can not be separation.
If you could change anything about yourself what would it be?
That is a tough question. Maybe be in the shape I was when I left the Marine Corps. Be a better Dad. Be a better husband. All things I can fix so now I have alot of work to do. Thanks for pointing out my shortfalls, Steph! (hey Steve...anytime! lol)
Do you have a favorite ride or rides that you attend every year? Why is it orare they your favorite/s?
I find little time for rides due to teaching. I enjoy the Miracle Ride for Riley Hospital because it raises funds for the local children's hospital. My daughter and granddaughter both spent time in Riley and they are miracle workers.
What are your thoughts of women moving to the front? It’s difficult for some of us to take advice from a guy but do you have any?
I think it is awesome that the women want to get off the back seat and ride. Forty to sixty percent of every class I teach now is made up of women and I have seen some great lady riders come through. I have also seen some that should not be riding and I tell them so. But, the bigger this community gets the better. Advice? Take the class, practice, and learn why the men have loved riding a bike. The view from the front seat has to be so much better than from the back. Choose the bike that fits you and makes you comfortable and welcome to the community!
What do you think makes a "Biker"?
"Biker" is an attitude. Most often times it is associated with how many miles you ride or if you ride to this rally or that. I believe that I could show you some true "Bikers" that only ride 2,000 to 3,000 miles a year. I can also show you some that ride 30,000 miles a year that could not wipe the rear end of a true biker. A "Biker", in my opinion, is someone who believes in the community, one who is willing to stick his neck out for those in need, who promotes motorcycling to the fullest and will go to great lengths to insure that future generations get to enjoy the feeling of being in the wind. This attitude shows a bond with those who are in the "brotherhood and sisterhood", a willingness to educate those who don't understand it, and a nasty side for those who try to attack it.
Are there any motorcycle publications that you would recommend?
I have two favorites. One is IronWorks Magazine. They have great stories and the people who work there are passionate about motorcycling and it shows. The second is Motorcycle Consumer News. The thing that I enjoy about this magazine is the fact that they do not sell advertising but are funded through subscriptions. Why is that important? Read one of their motorcycle or gear reviews and you will understand. If you are not taking any advertising dollars you are not afraid to give your honest opinion on the gear or motorcycle that you are reviewing. A truly refreshing approach.
Does anyone else in your family ride?
I have many cousins that ride and of course my stepson and wife.
What is your favorite swear word?
I try not to use any because I don't want my girls to pick any of them up. They will hear them enough outside of the home and hopefully they will follow my example.
What music are you currently listening to?
I listen to alot of Nickelback. As a general rule you would find me listening to country, southern rock, or any 70's and 80's rock. About the only thing that I don't enjoy is rap.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished reading 'American Borders' by motojournalist Carla King. The book is about a ride around the borders of the US on a Ural sidecar motorcycle. It was a good book that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Thanks again Steve for doing this interview. Please makes sure that you check out the Motorcycle Nation Podcast site @ http://mcnationpodcast.com/ .