I get it, already. As a father for almost forty years, and a son for some sixty, there is no way fatherhood – and its commemoration – will ever compare favorably to the celebration of our mothers. We didn’t carry the baby to term, our breasts didn’t swell in anticipation of the feeding, and while we may have suffered to the same degree while our offspring worked through puberty and the social/sexual angst that goes/comes with it, we didn’t stay up at all hours worrying about it. We were, instead, asleep in the armchair pretending to worry while watching Johnny, Jay or Dave. In short, Fathers’ Day falls well short of Mothers’ Day – for all the right reasons.
With that, we think Dad is still deserving of the token gesture. And given your preoccupation with ‘self’, we’ve come up with a few suggestions that will span most budgets, along with a few specific interests. And if your dad is of a certain age (I think they now call it life stage rather than ‘age’), one of these will hopefully resonate.
Racing the Gods – Paul Ritter: If, like me, your dad was paying attention to Ducatis in the early ‘70s and American Superbike Racing by the end of that decade, he will immediately identify with Paul Ritter’s autobiographical take on racing those bikes in that era. A talented – and largely self-taught – road racer, Ritter started racing a Ducati single, graduated to riding his own Ducati 750 Sport before obtaining a sponsored ride aboard both a Ducati 750 Super Sport and 900 SS. Quickly elevated to the pro ranks, Ritter won the very first professional AMA race he entered. A contemporary of Cook Neilson, Phil Schilling and Reg Pridmore, Ritter’s autobiography is a great look at someone actually doing while many of us (during the same time period) were only watching. And while Ritter’s pro career was brief, his ‘inside baseball’ look is absolutely golden, some four decades after it took place.
Regrettably, twenty years after Ritter’s retirement a return to racing at a vintage event produced a catastrophic accident, resulting in full paralysis from the chest down. That part is the more personally compelling, giving us a far more intimate portrait of the racer as a man – rather than the man as a racer. We think Ritter’s writing would have benefited from more aggressive editing, but its absence doesn’t reduce a life well lived, even if lived in a necessarily reduced circumstance. Racing the Gods is published by Octane Press.
Wheels Afield: Just when you think the Barnes & Noble newsstand couldn’t handle one more title, along comes Wheels Afield, a well-constructed take on adventure travel. The magazine describes itself as written for the “shooter, angler, hunter and outdoor adventure traveler…to equip, discover and explore.” While these topics have been explored before, Wheels’ take on adventure seems more accessible and democratic than competitive efforts. At least in its inaugural issue, the magazine appears more interested in Montana than Mongolia, although an article by Jonathan Hanson detailing the Camel Trophy at least touches on China’s northern neighbor. We liked its editorial feel, graphics and diversity; witness separate features on the ADAK adventure trailer – costing some $60K – and modifying a Honda Ruckus. Volume 1, Number One is on newsstands ‘til August 10th, and will cost you $8.99.
Royal Enfield’s Continental GT: This is where, all too typically, the writer throws a wrench into the list of affordable suggestions and enthusiastically recommends the $70,000 Cayman. We’ll keep it at around $7K, hoping you might get brothers and sisters together in coming up with the down payment; Dad, after all, is well-equipped – if you’re finally out of the house – to handle the monthlies. And while there are any number of two-wheeled examples you might secure for that same investment, few will offer the visual and visceral rewards provided by Royal Enfield’s Continental GT.
This newest Enfield, while not visually dissimilar from the first edition introduced in the early 1960’s, benefits from an all-new rethink of frame, suspension and braking. And while the 535cc single produces something this side of 30 horsepower, that should be enough to propel your dad forward while he fondly recalls earlier – and possibly better – days. Admittedly, the dealer network supporting Royal Enfield is better in Dehli (Royal Enfield has been a product of India since the early ‘50s) than Des Moines. However, the bike’s simple design and robust construction should limit problems to the occasional tightening of those things loosened by the engine’s vibe. And in a day of electric-this and connected-that, the Continental GT, like the Beach Boys, offers a good vibration. Of note – our pictured example is modified by Paris-based dealer Tendance.
Ethan Allen’s Classic Beauty: What is art? For some, it’s a beautifully crafted car or bike. And if you can’t have the car or bike, there are few better substitutes than an artfully depicted photo or painting of same. Ethan Allen, well known in the ‘burbs for its moderately upscale home furnishings, offers four photographic tributes to the art of the classic automobile. And although $339 per may seem pricey, buying all four and getting out of the store for under $1500 seems like a bit of a deal. But we’ll suggest starting with one. Available at Ethan Allen showrooms, or at www.ethanallen.com.