Listen To Marilyn Stemp. Ride To Work.

Marilyn Stemp, Executive Director of Iron Works Magazine is one of the sweetest ladies of our motorcycle industry. Very discreet but very efficient, she is one of those you will always see helping others during most charitable events. From her North Carolina office she shares her thoughts about riding to work, even in winter.     

"As falls moves into winter, riders in the northern parts of the country tend to move to a mindset of hibernation. When I lived in the northeast, that process was well on its way by November. In fact we assumed that the riding season would be finished by Thanksgiving and began to prep the bikes for winter storage, unless we wanted to hone our ice-racing skills. Here in the Carolinas, the weather allows for more optimism, as riding right through the winter remains a possibility, so we keep the bikes ready to take advantage of nice days when mother nature allows. I’ve lately been talking with riders who have clocked up mega-miles on motorcycles over the years, asking them how it happened that they rode so many miles, how they incorporated riding into their lives. They’ve been kind to share their philosophies with me and I’ve been impressed by the variety of the responses. 

Some riders have made it a quest to rack up as many miles as they can, taking an annual cross-country trip and hitting every poker run to keep the clock rolling. They wear their miles like a badge of honor. Others don’t even notice, they simply ride for the pleasure of it. Some commute by motorcycle or ride everywhere they go, using their bikes as transportation in these times of high fuel prices, and high miles are a consequence of this. I can relate to this frugal approach.

Weather is a deterrent for some. Others ride if they want to ride, dealing with less than favorable weather if necessary, going on two wheels in any case. Then there’s the fair-weather-only crowd who keep the bike parked when there’s the slightest chance of rain because, as we say in the south, they’re so sweet they might melt if they get wet. Hmmm, I know some of these people and I don’t think that’s the reason.

As I’ve been thinking about the coming winter, the advice I heard more than once from the high mile riders hit home: "Don’t worry about the weather," I was told. "Just get some good riding gear and go." The second most repeated comment: "Ride with someone who thinks like you, or ride alone." That advice addresses safety as much as enjoyment.

So are you getting ready to hibernate? Or are you like Cyril, blessed with south Florida weather in the winter months? If you’re a high mile rider, has that happened by intent or do you simply ride everywhere because it’s your first choice in transportation? Does the weather hold you back? I’m a proponent of emphasizing the economy of motorcycles, not only related to gas mileage but in traffic reduction, ease of parking, even leaving behind a smaller carbon footprint. Andy Goldfine at RIDE TO WORK has compiled all the rationale you need to keep riding your bike for transportation. Maybe it’s just me, but when I see all the cars clogging up the highways of this country, I have to wonder why the EPA is worried about motorcycle emissions. Aren’t there any motorcycle riders working for the EPA?" Marilyn Stemp, Executive Editor Iron Works Magazine

17 Responses to “Listen To Marilyn Stemp. Ride To Work.”

  1. 1 Sean Nov 14th, 2007 at 10:02 am

    She looks sweet, but I am not sure I feel like riding to work when it’s freezing in Michigan.

  2. 2 ROB Nov 14th, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    God bless the weather in the southwest we ride 350 days a year min average 3k a month

  3. 3 Nicker Nov 15th, 2007 at 12:01 am


    Is the bulk postal rate causing you to adjust your business case?

    I understand that a new container rated was instigated by big media like the Washington Post and Time-Warner..(?)


  4. 4 gustian Nov 15th, 2007 at 3:41 am

    Untill 12 years ago, I rode every day about 80 miles, just to work and back (done this 20 years). I’m living in Belgium (Europe) and as Cyril can confirm, the weather here isn’t so great. In summer, we have an average of 25°Celsius and in winter we can go easily minus zero.
    Except when the roads were covered with snow, I always continued riding.With the adapted riding gear and a bike in good condition (tires!), things go well. It was for me the ideal combination of a must and pleasure. Not to mension the healing effect of simply riding home on your bike after a stressy day or night at work.
    In Belgium, the governement encourage the use of a motorcycle for the home-work travel. Not to forget also a 100 procent profit in our annual taxes. By this, they want to reduce traffic jams and toxic emmision.

    Now I’m working at 3 miles from home.I go to work by bicycle. It is a big advantage (cost-time to travel…..) but, I do miss those daily trips to work and back. That makes me now a more free-time-biker, but…. a little bit of cold or rainy weather doesn’t scare me yet. Ride on…..

  5. 5 Rogue Nov 15th, 2007 at 8:53 am

    I ride all year and in all kinds of weather just cause I can. Okay some times I am traveling and have to be somewhere so there is protective clothing.
    Yes like Cyril I now live in Florida so that is a advantage But I still ride out of state and for many years did live in Connecticut so I got to ride in all kinds of weather.
    Things have changed and there is so much in the way of warm and protective clothing available there is no need to wrap news paper around your body to ward off the cold. You can even get suits and gloves that have heaters in them so I do not see staying warm as aproblem anymore.
    Road conditions and operators of other types of vehicles are another thing and that will have to be determined by each rider and their local weather.
    Something we did was take one of the Triumphs or BSA’s and stud the tires so we could ride in the snow and race on the ice when the lakes froze. That was some fun.
    Let your comfort level and experience help you decide when to ride.

  6. 6 Rogue Nov 15th, 2007 at 9:17 am

    “Maybe it’s just me, but when I see all the cars clogging up the highways of this country, I have to wonder why the EPA is worried about motorcycle emissions. Aren’t there any motorcycle riders working for the EPA?”

    The attempts by the EPA to force emission controls on motorcyclist come from the big 5 manufactuers. They were having to comply with standards and wanted other manufactuers to also. The trickle down affect continued to the street rider and indivual builder.
    The other reason was MONEY!!!! Yes you remember how the EPA was willing to let people pay a fine instead of meeting standards.Some in the EPA saw how much money was being generated in the motorcycle industtry and wanted their piece of it.
    We Do Have Friends That Can Influence The EPA and also advise us on how to fight them and I want to thank those that did that for me and also the fine job your magazine did on informing the riders of what was happening.

  7. 7 Marilyn Stemp Nov 15th, 2007 at 10:03 am

    You’re right about the money angle. It’s at the heart of too many things like this. Maybe my editor, Dain Gingerelli can shed light more on this as he rides (sits in traffic?) on SoCal freeways, not to mention he’s still embroiled in an emissions-related “disagreement” with the DMV regarding a kit bike he can’t ride or sell. When you compare the number of cars to motorcycles though, it still seems out of proportion. You’re right, too, that we have to thanks those who have helped us fight back. S&S Cycle comes to mind.

    Hey Nicker, what new container rate? Time Warner happens to be my ISP but they don’t have anything to do with IronWorks…

  8. 8 Fab Kevin Nov 15th, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Right on, Marilyn! I too wonder why I don’t see more bikes on the road with gas prices so high.

    I live in Michigan where cold winters hamper our riding. Luckily, my shop is just 8 miles from my home, so even on 20 degree days it is bearable. Only with icy or slushy roads do I succumb to my work van, and it’s surprising how many days I’m able to ride in spite of our Northern climate. Thanks for the extra inspiration!

  9. 9 Kiwi Mike Tomas Nov 15th, 2007 at 11:39 am

    Marilyn is one of the sweetest people in the industry.
    Keep up the good work.
    The m/c industry has never really capitalized on selling m/c’s in the US as an economical means of transportation or a fun way to get around. If we put more m/c’s on the road we’d be saving a ton of gas. Even when I take my 1950 Indian Chief sidecar rig out for a ride with my wife and son we still pull in twice as many mpg than most other vehicles on the road.
    Kiwi Mike Tomas

  10. 10 goldiron Nov 15th, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    Tomorrow will be another 350-400 mules in 30-40 temps. Saturday could be a little dicey with a rain sleet mixture.

    The government uses the motorcycle related issues as a barometer of what they can get away with in many areas of the constituency. The government understands the “hot” buttons and uses the motorcyclists as a test bed for their outrageous behavior. Generally, if they find the usual apathy that the MROs find, they know that they will not receive much resistance.

  11. 11 goldiron Nov 15th, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    mules should read miles

  12. 12 Mike Savidge Nov 15th, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    I’ve recently started up a new motorcycle magazine in Central Florida and one of the subjects I’ve addressed in my latest issue is the lack of support from the local communities for the annual Ride To Work Day each July. The majority of the people in this area don’t know anything about it and the local media has totally ignored it. I’ve started contacting the local governments and transportation agencies to ask that they include motorcycle and scooter commuting as part of their plan to ease the traffic problems. I’m using the Ride to Work Day as a foundation to build on and hope to see it get some recognition in this area in 2008. Unfortunately, you’ve also got to contend with some employers who have misguided views about those of us on two-wheels.

  13. 13 Nicker Nov 15th, 2007 at 6:30 pm


    The rate question related to a recent plea for a donation to cover increased mailing costs, from a monthly paper subscription.

    In it they claimed that new postal regulations favor the larger volume publishers at the expense of the lower volume guys.

    According to the letter, the rate policy change was instigated by some larger publishers (as i recall: Time & Wash. Post…).

    In Chris’s article he mentioned moving his mag from news print to glossy format. I was simply wondering if there is a rate issue for newsprint-format distribution…????


  14. 14 Big Joe Nov 16th, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    I’ll chime in to say how much I love Marilyn. With my arms out wide I say “I love Marilyn this much.”

    Here in South Dakota it’s not hard to ride in the cold. I have ridden in sub zero weather just because the roads were clear. And because I’m not that bright. I have even ridden while passing snowmobiles running in the snow filled ditches. I know I’m not the only one! It’s really no different that getting on a snowmobile. You just have to been in the right state of mind. Go into it knowing it’s going to be cold.

  15. 15 Rogue Nov 16th, 2007 at 10:24 pm

    What is the name of your new publication and where can I get a copy?
    I do live on the east coast of Florida.

  16. 16 Mike Savidge Nov 20th, 2007 at 9:20 am

    The magazine is called Go For A Ride. Contact info can be found on the website at It’s currently distributed in the Tampa and West Coast area.

  17. 17 bcarter Sep 2nd, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Seems like everyone is riding to work these days—and by the way, Marilyn is the sweetest lady in the biz!

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Cyril Huze