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Q&A with Tony Rudy: winner of the Planes, Trains & (Cool) Automobiles Flash Tour

December 19, 2012

AMA Kawasaki Vulcan Vaquero Flash Tours have been going strong all fall and will continue into the winter months. Motorcycle riders across the country have been submitting themed pictures on the AMA Facebook page in hopes of being chosen to appear in American Motorcyclist and win prizes.

The most recent winner is Tony Rudy, who won the Planes, Trains & (Cool) Automobiles Flash Tour that ended on Dec. 3, and collected a $100 gift certificate from 2012 series sponsor Kawasaki. Rudy, from Lansing, N.Y., got this shot of his 1989 Katana 1100 at March Field Air Museum at March Air Reserve Base just southeast of Riverside, CA..

We decided to follow-up Tony’s AMA Kawasaki Vulcan Vaquero Flash Tour win with a short interview to get some insight into his motorcycle riding background.

What do you ride?

I have a high-mileage 1989 Suzuki GSX-1100F Katana that I bought in 1993 and also a 1997 Suzuki DR350SE that I purchased about eight years ago. At the time I bought the Katana, I figured I'd have it for about three to six years and then upgrade, as I did with my previous street bike. Well, after getting married, moving from coast to coast twice and having a son born since that purchase, a newer bike hasn't really been in the financial picture. When I found the DR for a really good price with very low miles, I couldn't refuse buying it. Besides, it got me back into the dirt, which is where I started riding as a teenager.

Can you tell us the story behind your winning picture?

I think a little background is needed first. I moved from upstate New York to southern California for a job a while back. I was excited to explore all the great roads in southern California and nearby states and took many short and long trips while I was there. Going from riding an average of 4,000 miles a year to 12,000 a year was a wonderful thing.

I have an aviation management degree and have worked in airport operations and management since 1992, and I've always had an attraction to aviation. Many times I would gear my rides to visit aviation-related places, such as Mojave Airport's bone yard, Edwards Air Force Base for their 50th anniversary air show or a trip up to San Bernardino Airport just to see the second Boeing 747 to come off the assembly line. By the way, the 747 was just sitting quietly in a state of disrepair before later being moved to South Korea to become an unsuccessful restaurant for a short time, but that’s another story in itself.  

The particular trip I took for the picture I submitted involved a nice ride on Angeles Crest Highway -- one of my favorite roads in that area -- and a stop at the March Field Air Museum just southeast of Riverside. With the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk displayed out front on an unusually clear day, the picture was obvious.

How long have you been riding?

About 31 years now.

What type of riding do you like to do and why?

I enjoy both street and dual-sport riding. On the street, it’s mostly sport touring when I'm not commuting to work, but not very much in recent years.  I like to say that my longest commute was about 520 miles one day when I left Roanoke, Va., after visiting Deals Gap and the Blue Ridge Parkway, and detoured into work in Ithaca, N.Y., while on my way home.  

I've been doing more dual-sport riding lately. Although there isn't an abundance of trails nearby, I still have fun on seasonal roads and other places that are not too far from home. It's great just to get out for a couple of hours and ride. Really, I’ll look for any excuse to get the bike out when I’m not busy with projects at home or at work.

What interested you in AMA Flash Tours?

It just seemed like a fun way to get out and look at things a little differently while enjoying a nice ride.

What are some other cool rides you've been on this year?

There were really no spectacular destinations or unusual things to report on from the rides I've taken this year. The most enjoyable have been the ones out in farm country near sunset when everything is peaceful, the sky is glowing and the bike is humming along.  Another one was just last week on an unusually warm December evening, riding though a quiet, starlit countryside on my way to a snowmobile club meeting.

Are there any awesome rides you're looking forward to?

I look forward to all of them, but no, nothing planned right now.  I'd love to ride the Trans-America Trail for my 50th birthday in a few years, but I'd probably settle for a dual-sport ride closer to home.

What's the craziest thing you've seen out on the open road?

I was once riding on Angeles Crest Highway and observed an unusually fast aircraft (or at least the contrail) in the distance over the high desert making insanely quick maneuvers at incredible speeds. That was the day I understood how some people would claim to have seen UFOs.  Another crazy thing I’ve seen was an ordinary SUV sliding down the 91 Freeway near Yorba Linda...on its side.

What are you going to buy with the $100 gift certificate you won in the last AMA Flash Tour from series sponsor Kawasaki?

I really need to replace my old Gaerne Boots. They've been a great pair of boots, but after 14 years the toe sliders have been ground off, the shifter pad has disintegrated and the soles are coming apart. Many recent rides in the rain have really done them in and forced me to finally retire them.

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