Who The Hell Is Peter Egan?

Who the hell am I?

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Contributing Editor Peter Jones shares his wealth of motorcycle knowledge, experiences, insights, history, and much more.Cycle World

I know that for many readers of Cycle World, I totally suck. That's because I've (half) taken over a job done previously by a superhero.

I'm sure most readers have noticed there's no longer a monthly Leanings column in this magazine by Peter Egan. Instead, there's some guy named Paul d'Orleans, who I've never met, and me. It takes two of us to replace one Peter Egan for a couple of reasons. First of all, we're only each half as good as Egan. Maybe. Second, neither of us could manage the emotional drain of taking full blame for Egan's disappearance. So we share the guilt of unintended mediocrity.

Of course, in reality, it's not our fault that Egan no longer has a monthly column here. And by "here" I mean exactly right here, on this very page between your very fingers at this very second, while you're hating us, and in this month hating me in particular since this is one of my six chances this year. It's by Egan's own choice that he is no longer authoring monthly columns for Cycle World. Really.

But who cares? D’Orleans and I are here, Egan is not, and so we get the blame. It’s as if on one cold Wisconsin morning we broke into Egan’s garage, slapped from his hand the delicious, hot coffee Barb had just brewed for him, dragged him down the highway behind our totally non-British and electric-start motorcycles, and left him where he’ll never again be found. Next to a shrub in the Dells, I suppose.

Truth is, if you’re not hating us for this crime that we haven’t committed, I’m kind of disappointed. You should hate us. Feelings don’t need fact for justification; they only need passion. I know this because at one time I irrationally hated Egan. I hated him for taking over the job of a superhero.

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Peter Jones Bike LifeCycle World

Back when I was just a wee teenager, Henry N. Manney III, the world's greatest motorsports writer, had a column in Road & Track magazine, and he was the editor at large for Cycle World. It was Manney who showed me that motor­sports are a lifestyle, not hobby. He wrote about things familiar to me as if he were my best friend, with intimate knowledge of my personal perceptions. And he wrote about things unfamiliar to me in ways that took me there. He was a thrilling tour guide into the life of mechan­ical things that are hot, fast, noisy, and stinky. Sadly, Manney suffered a stroke in the early 1980s and was in a coma until he died in 1988. I recall the shock I felt learning of his condition and how I hoped for years that he'd return.

Taking over the column page left blank by Manney was some upstart import car mechanic from the Midwest named Peter Egan. I hated him just for trying. It was months before I allowed myself to even read his stuff. Initially I’d check the bylines of each story to make sure I wouldn’t accidentally read something by this nervy guy who thought he could replace Manney.

Of course, a day came when I couldn’t help myself and read something by Egan. Yeah, it was pretty good. And so was the next thing. And the next. Now, decades later, the kid has really proved himself, just as he would have even if it’d been beside the beloved Manney.

So, for all of you who hate Mr. d’Orleans and me, it’s okay. And although Egan has said, with modesty and grace, that he’s no Manney, I can go him one further and assure you, in full fact of talent, that I’m no Egan.

Jealous or not, I do finally forgive him. Pretty much.