Andria Yu, the former Front Page Editor at USA Today, traded one dream job for another when she left her prestigious post at the widest-circulated daily paper in the country in order to become the director of communications at the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC).
Yu worked for The Baltimore Sun as copy editor and then make-up page editor before joining the staff of USA Today, ultimately working with other editors, reporters, and designers to lay out the front page and decide which stories to run in the news section.
“In my 18-year career as a journalist, I mostly worked nights and weekends,” Yu says. “Oh, and holidays too. But really that didn't bother me too much. Journalists do what they do because of their passion for journalism.”
But journalism wasn’t Yu’s only passion.
One summer during high school, Yu’s parents sent her to Taiwan to learn more about her Chinese heritage. She ended up on the back of a scooter, falling in love with the feeling of being on two wheels. It was a feeling she’d never forget.
“I [learned to ride] when I was 23 and working at The Baltimore Sun. I didn't know anyone who rode. No one in my family rides, and I didn’t have friends who rode, so when I finally had the time and money to learn, I thought the prudent thing to do would be to take the ‘official’ class provided by the state of Maryland. Back then, I didn’t even know about the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF).”
During her time at USA Today, Yu commuted on her motorcycle everyday—50 miles each way. Her colleagues all knew of her love for two wheels, so in 2012, when the MotoGP circus came to Indianapolis, the motorsports editor sent her on assignment. It was the first time she had the chance to combine her vocation and her avocation.
“Although I was writing the story for USA Today, it wasn’t what I was paid to do. So I had to do everything on my own time. I came in before my shift started to make calls and do interviews, and used vacation days to ride my BMW F800ST to the race. I even paid my own way!”
The same year, she was invited to the International Motorcycle Show in Washington, D.C. by Ty van Hooydonk, vice president of communications at the MIC.
“He talked to me about motorcycles.org, the MIC, and gave me a real insider’s tour of the motorcycles. I remember thinking then, ‘Dang, what a cool job this guy has!’ ”
Four years later, van Hooydonk offered her a job. Although she initially struggled to trade journalism for public relations, ultimately the MIC’s mission won her over.
“The messages the MIC puts out were messages that I personally believed: ‘Riding motorcycles is fun! Get proper training! Wear proper gear for every ride.’ And in many ways, I had always been telling this to my friends and neighbors anyway. Now I get paid to do it!
“The great thing about this job is that each day is different,” Yu says. “One day I’ll pitch cool stories to writers and editors, another day I’ll be leading an MSF Basic RiderCourse or working with media at the MSF DirtBike School. Some weeks I host rides to Death Valley, and others I’m working with our government relations team on ways to promote access to trails and public lands.
“The most rewarding thing is seeing the smiles on people's faces when they get into motorcycling—it’s fun, it's transportation, it’s bonding with friends and family. I know it sounds hokey, but it’s true.”
If you’re interested in learning more about the MIC’s work, visit motorcycles.org, and be sure to subscribe to RideReport, a weekly email newsletter. Yu says: “It’s free and available to everyone! And, yes, I help put that together so I still get to put my editing skills to use!”