Our Talk With GL Joe
by Victor Wanchena
Joe–GL is the name of the mythical radio town that continues to evolve where people can shoot off fireworks, keep score at ball games, see which kid can get to school during the worst snow fall, it’s a place where common sense is still common and where anything worth figuring out can be figured out in the garage.
MMM–Explain the C.I.?
Joe–C.I. is the Cylinder Index originally intended as a means to irritate the EPA but it has also come to be a means by which you measure your self-worth. The higher your C.I. the better. (Essentially you count the number cylinders in the internal combustion engines you own. A good C.I. is equal to your age.)
MMM–Explain your enjoyment of the Internal Combustion engine.
Joe–Well it is even more basic than an intentional enjoyment. I just don’t fear that it means the end of the world. I don’t think that the gasoline engine is anything I need to worry about. I think that it has been so politicized by environmental radicalism that you do need to be on guard in order to protect the great advantages that the internal combustion engine brought to the United States.MMM–What sort of motorcycle do you ride?
Joe–It depends on the day and the weather, mood and it’s a choice between Hondas, Harley or Triumph.
MMM–What is in your motorcycle collection?
Joe–4 vintage Japanese, a current 750 Nighthawk, a current Triumph Bonneville, current Harley Dyna Super Glide.
MMM–What was your first motorcycle?
Joe–A 1976 naked Goldwing that I took my license test on. I think the guy passed me out of sympathy. I could take it now on that bike and stand it on its end. I only started riding in 1997.
MMM–Any adventures on that first motorcycle?
Joe–The only major trip I’ve taken was on that bike. I did 333 miles on day one in the rain. That was over to Eagle River, Wisconsin and into Ontonagon, Michigan, over to Bayfield (Wisconsin), Duluth then home. And unfortunately I haven’t had the time to put together routine trips, so most of my riding is day riding on weekends.
MMM–What do you love about motorcycles?
Joe–I again think it’s an example of something that I am shocked that they’re not against the law. They are neat machines to go poking around places on. I have no desire to see how fast I can go, but if I want to go poking around some area it’s the best tool for that.
MMM–What don’t you like about motorcycles?
Joe–There’s nothing I don’t like other than the obvious safety concerns. I … you know I waited a long time before, I mean if I go down now I pretty much got all the bills paid.
MMM–We understand you have issues with the deer. Are they your friend? (At the time of the interview Joe had recently had a deer infested ride)
Joe–I’m over that, I really have gotten over it. I understand more why I shouldn’t let it bother me.
MMM–Any other critters you don’t like?
Joe–Bears, I think bears are going to be within the metro area within two years, according to my trash collector. I’m not kidding you. There is already one in Cottage Grove that they’ve been watching.
MMM–I understand Rookie (Show Producer) wants a scooter. Any difference in your mind between motorcycles and scooters?
Joe–I have a scooter. I have a Yamaha Vino 125 and I have as much fun on that as anything. Rookie on a scooter would be a terrible public safety issue.
MMM–Other than Onstar, what accessories should Rookie install on his scooter?
Joe–Some means by which it could constantly provide him with food. Plus he’s never going to find a helmet that would fit him.
MMM–What is your favorite ride?
Joe–I’ve got quite a few routes I’ve developed. And one of my favorites is through what you would still consider the undeveloped parts of Woodbury and Cottage Grove down through to the river bottom and ending up down in Prescot and working my way back the same way. And I do have a route that’s quite pleasant. I did 62 miles Sunday. I have a lot of routes in Washington County that can end me up at Big Marine on St. Croix. And I don’t mind city riding at all. Last night I did 15 miles down Grand Ave through downtown St. Paul and rode the river road back through Highland Park.
MMM–If you could only own one motorcycle which one would it be.
Joe–Well I’m certainly no expert but of the ones I own right now I’d probably keep the Triumph Bonneville. It’s nimble. I like its look. It’s been incredibly reliable. I like motorcycles that look motorcycles. I want to get a Royal Enfield for example. I don’t like the bikes that look like jungle gyms on two wheels. So right now if I had to get rid of every bike I’d keep the Triumph.
MMM–What do you think is the biggest safety issue facing motorcycle riders?
Joe–Well, I think it’s that you’re just so vulnerable. That you can do everything right and still lose and when you get to my age I think you realize that more than when your 20 years old. I did ride when I was a teenager. I rode my neighbors Honda 90, you know with no helmet going down highways. I know you think that you’re indestructible at that age. I have had the greatest percentage of all my riding in classic safe experiences, that I have never … what … I am a very good rider because… (Joe pauses as a the thought hits him) Here’s what I like about motorcycling is because at the end of the ride I’m not dead. I focus so intently that I find the act of that focusing clears my mind out of everything else. In a way it’s very relaxing.
MMM–You’re the Martha Stewart of the American garage. What would Martha Stewart ride?
Joe–Oh boy, probably that new Suzuki 650, the Burgman.
MMM–What do the kids “you used to have” (referred to as such because Joe’s domestic associate wanted the children not mentioned on the radio show) think of your motorcycling hobby?
Joe–None of them, well of course they’re gone, they have expressed absolutely no interest. They’re used to me having and accumulating things that run and make noise, so motorcycles didn’t surprise them.
MMM–Have you ever heard of the Ironbutt Association?
Joe–I have a friend from college who is an Ironbutt rider, Jim Winterer.
MMM–We know the fabled Jim Winterer. (MMM readers will remember Winterer as a trials hooligan and known single cylinder high miler.)
Joe–He’s a real strange rider. Hasn’t he been to the end of the road and back in Alaska all on a single cylinder Yamaha?
MMM–Yes, and more than that.
Garage Logic features a blend of humor, news, insight and wit. You can catch Garage Logic weekdays 3-6pm on AM1500. MMM would like to thank Joe for the time he took to speak with us.