It often takes an anniversary of sorts to stop and reflect on where we've been; be it a birthday and our own self contemplation, or an anniversary and reflections on relationships or professional accomplishments. As this year comes to a close, we've spent a lot of time planning 2017 content, which means we've spent some time looking back at what we've done in the past year. I've only been around six months or so, but it's incredible to look back at the library of work behind us, the incredible experiences we've been able to have, and the way we've grown as we've tried to evolve our product.

I could not be more proud to be a part of this team and to call these guys my peers; it's honestly quite humbling. I didn't really know our Editor in Chief Mark Hoyer at all before taking the job, and the man never ceases to amaze me with his bike knowledge, riding prowess, or enthusiasm for a great story. My complaint of motorcycle journalism has always been that too many magazines/sites seem to not want to get better and that too many people are far too happy to keep doing the same thing they've been doing for the last decade; without trying to find new ways to engage, inspire, educate, and entertain readers. But, somehow, I lucked out with Hoyer, a guy who hasn't (yet) tired of my crazy ideas or the all the work it takes him to refine them for the better.

Bradley Adams and Don Canet are two of the most talented humans I've seen pilot a motorcycle, and both have more knowledge about technique or what a bike is doing between their legs than I'll ever have. Bradley is turning into a great feature rider and our brand would blow up without all he does, and Don is the final word when it comes to performance. Our staff photographer Jeff Allen is the best in the business, and a serious force when the riding gets dirty. Then there are our two biggest and best contributors, Kevin Cameron and Peter Egan, who need no introduction nor my flailing attempts at honoring them. They define motorcycle journalism.

But that's not to leave out our other contributors. Guys like Paul Dean and Nick Ienatsch and Peter Jones and Brian Catterson are some of the most influential voices in motorcycling, and are writing some of my favorite content out there.

I don't know why they let me on the team, but I'm happy they put up with my antics, my droning on about supermoto-ing all the things, and my incessant complaining about things I want to fix for the better.

Here's a look back at some of the stories we're the most proud of seeing in Cycle World in the last year.

Peter Egan
One of the several Robert Johnson memorials in the southDrew Ruiz

"Down to the Crossroads" by Peter Egan. I started reading Peter Egan when I was 12 years old and have to say I pretty much learned how to be a motorcycle (and car) enthusiast by reading his stuff. So that fact that I grew up to work with him at my favorite motorcycle magazine is still amazing to me. The beauty of a Peter Egan story is its authenticity and honesty. By that I mean, his good-natured spirit, so interested in life, people, and machines, comes out purely and wonderfully in is work, and to read a Peter Egan story is to really know the man. I mean, this only works because he's also a world-class storyteller, but there have been many great writers who are not great humans.

Egan is both, and to travel with him on what we called the Smoke Trail Tour from Memphis to New Orleans, playing guitars, eating great food and riding some of the finest American road-going V-twin cruisers is the trip of a lifetime and his story ranks among the best Cycle World has ever published.

Jonathan Ko
Jon at a track dayCourtesy of Jonathan Ko

This was originally a story I was working on when I was at Jalopnik, with the intial intent to raise some funds and go ride with Jon. I still remember the day I did the interview and how much I appreciated how much he really was one of us, despite being pretty inexperienced. He really got motorcycles; he got how they brought people together and how beautifully humbling trying to master them is. I also remember the day I wrote the story, sobbing in my home office as I climbed further into his story and what his mindset must have been.

I was so nervous to publish the story. Nervous that no one would care or that people wouldn't understand why I wrote it. Nervous that his family would feel it invasive or think it was disrespectful. His sister emailed me and thanked me for the story and said that it was uncanny how well I was able to share his spirit, and I cried then too. I was so thankful Hoyer let me publish it.

Courtesy of Aprilia
Stefan BradlAprilia

Every so often Cycle World Technical Editor Kevin Cameron touches on a race-related topic addressing the march of technology and its effect on modern motorcycle competition. Coming from an engineering perspective and former crew chief that spent a good many seasons tuning road race machinery, Cameron naturally tends to favor advancement in technology whatever the cost.

Often that cost is in the entertainment value racing offers fans of the sport. I personally prefer viewing a close on-track battle between riders of different brands to that of seeing one manufacture run away from the field and smash lap records due to hooding a technical advantage. Not to say that I wish our racing heroes still rode on bias-ply tires, so a degree of balance is necessary.

Reading Cameron’s analysis of such things often provokes thought and offers insight from another’s perspective.

Ken Roczen
Ken RoczenDrew Ruis

Full disclosure: This Ken Roczen profile was a last-minute addition to the November issue of Cycle World. It came about in a brainstorm session that started off with, "Okay, our race story fell through, we need to come up with a back-up plan. Fast."

There’s a silver lining in every situation, and the silver lining here is that we were able to take a closer look at one of the most talented guys on a dirt bike right now. A guy who’s got tons of personality, and is just a ton of fun to watch ride a motorcycle.

I’ve long had the opinion that, the easiest way to get people watching (or, gasp, attending) races is to make them a fan of the riders. The bigger fan you are, the better chance you’re going to buy a ticket when the traveling circus that is supercross/motocross/superbike comes to town, buy merchandise, or tune in to the races on TV. Creating content that lets you get to know the rider helps makes that happen.

That, and it gives you a chance to publish beautiful Drew Ruiz photos. Seriously, have you seen the pics in this story? Now you know why Ken, and Drew, are my heroes.

Norton Motorcycle
Riding the Norton Commando 961 SportJeff Allen

As the Norton 961 Commando test says, the first Commando I ever kickstarted was a Kenny Dreer VR880, the hopped-up, restyled restomodded "vintage" Commando that lead to Dreer & Co. building a prototype Commando up in Oregon in the early 2000s. So the meaning here for me is deep: I'm a 1974 Norton 850 Commando owner and got my ass in the seat of most of Dreer's prototypes, witnessing firsthand him and his crew work through the ups and downs of a small group of enthusiastic engineers and fabricators as they tried to launch a new Norton.

When the wheels came off that ride and Englishman Stuart Garner bought the whole lot and shipped it to England, I and everybody else wondered what would happen to Dreer's work and this storied name. Garner's made a good go of it, and there was much to like (and dislike) about the 961 he's making now, but it was my honor to honor and highlight how much of Dreer's work survived in what is a fun and quirky retrobike. It was being party to a small but significant piece of motorcycle history, and a story that hasn't ended yet.

Jeff Allen
Indian's all-new FTR750 V-twin flat-track racing engine. Narrow, compact, and lightweight.Indian

“Come in my office and close the door’ is usually NOT what you want to hear from your boss. Uh oh. But this was different, and I could tell by the look on the face of El Hefe Mark Hoyer. With a bit of excitement in his eye he explained that Indian Motorcycles had a secret project underway and “you’re going to Switzerland to shoot it.”

That of course would turn out to be the FTR750 Flat Track motor designed and built by Polaris affiliate Swiss Auto in Bergdorf, Switzerland. At the time there were a few rumors floating around about their interest of returning to Flat Track and reviving an old rivalry with the Motor Co. So I had a hunch but one never knows. The assignment was full of mystery and vagueness. When I'd ask for details the response was something like the opening scene from Mission Impossible. Book a flight to Geneva, wait for details.…

There would be more cloak and dagger associated with the ongoing story until the FTR750 made its racing debut at the Santa Rosa Mile. A hush-hush testing after Charlotte, covert photo shoot of the new Wrecking Crew. Early access to new motorcycles is a fun part of the job but the FTR750 was next level.

Now that the wraps have been pulled off the undercover project. We can all look forward to the big dogs of Indian Motorcycles and Harley Davidson pushing each other to new levels of competition in the upcoming American Flat Track race season.

Alpinestars boots
A well worn pair of Supertech Rs overlooking TahoeZach Cohen

This was a super fun story to write, partially because it came from just a conversation with a buddy, and partially because so many people have had the same experience. I first thought about trying to write a love poem but A) I'm terrible at poetry and B) I thought that might be a little too weird for a motorcycle site. A love letter was weird enough, and I felt that its difference from the bulk of our content stretched us in an interesting way.

I was really worried people would see it as an abomination of the Cycle World brand, one step too far in the opposite direction of Kevin Cameron's incredible technical pieces we often feature. But, I believe that part of keeping this site interesting and a place worthy of you coming to every day is to switch it up. I'm hoping to write more love letters to objects in 2017. Funny note, but I was at American Supercamp last week and one of the coaches was wearing an old pair for flat track duty. He said he loved them for almost everything.

Honda
Honda's CB1100 TR ConceptCourtesy of Honda

I still think of Cycle World contributor Joe Gustafson as the former press relation contact for the riding gear brand Icon. Who knew Gustafson was such a gifted voice over talent?

I can't help but admire the polished, energized delivery as Joe distills the attributes of Honda's CB1100 TR concept bike into a one-minute video narration.

Kawasaki Z125
Our trusty steedBradley Adams

How in the hell do you cover a 24-hour motorcycle race, while participating in that race? That was the problem I faced going into this year's UMRA 24-hr mini bike race at Grange Motor Circuit.

I signed myself up for the race about .002 milliseconds after the guys from Kawasaki told me they were building up a Z125 Pro for it, but hadn’t given much thought to the fact that, you know, it’s 24-freaking-hours long.

A few days before the event, I came up with the idea to do live-ish updates from the track. That got a little hard to do between the hours of 3 and 5 am, when my body took a turn toward Sleepville, but having a few hours between stints meant I was able to get a pretty steady stream of updates going.

There’s a chance that a ten-year-old could have strung better words together than my sleep-deprived self that day, but I was really happy with the level of excitement the story built towards both the Z125 Pro and mini bike racing. I’ve heard from more than a few people that they went out and bought a Z125 Pro after that story/race was done, and for that I couldn’t have been happier.

Big Sur
Bixby Bridge - Big Sur, CaliforniaJeff Allen

The Quail Motorcycle Gathering in Carmel, Calif. is a highlight for lovers of all things rare on 2 wheels. When hundreds of bikes, multiple organized group rides and loads of enthusiast of vintage and classic motorcycles converge on this little beach town good times are inevitable. Need I mention the food and wine? The scenery? The roads? Epic comes to mind. As great as it is, it’s also a long working weekend for this photographer. Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not complaining, it surely beats a day in the office.

But as always, all good things must come to end. So in the spirit of a weekend spent mixing business with pleasure the ride home would be something special. Along with my long time riding partner Serena Cummins, who also attended The Quail festivities, we would ride 2-up for the trip back to Southern California. The obvious route was iconic Pacific Coast Hwy, a first for Serena. With an early morning departure we are southbound on PCH headed for the famous Bixby Bridge and a short dirt road side excursion on the road less traveled in the heavenly hills near Big Sur.

I let the boss know he should not expect me in the office on Monday, maybe not Tuesday either.

KTM 1290 Adventure
Love this place. Love this bike.Jeff Allen

Looking back, we couldn't be more proud of all the amazing things we got to do, write about, and share with you.

Help us out, and comment below with which stories stuck out as some of your favorites over the last twelve months. What did you like? What do you want to see more of? What type of stories do you look forward to reading?