Tuesday, September 8, 2015

My Own Jungle Road

With the EX re-wired it became glaringly obvious that some pre-race testing was in order.  Better heeled riders than I would now pop off to the dyno, hand over a few $100 bills, take some pulls and know within a few minutes whether the changes made had worked.  Necessity, (or poverty, call it what you like) being the mother of invention and all that, I needed an alternative.  Preferably free.

In the 1950s, when they still raced on the beach at Daytona, FL, there was no practice, no chance to test the bikes until race day, which is often too late.  There are stories of the famed "Jungle Road", a secret test area on a stretch of public highway out of town where riders and tuners would go to sort their machines.

Tommy McDermott (a friend of my mentor Phil Lee) and the factory BSA team tuning at the Jungle Road

I needed my own Jungle Road, somewhere deserted with a relatively straight stretch of asphalt that wasn't completely disintegrating, far from the prying eyes of the law and the sensitive ears of suburban housewives.  What I planned was highly illegal, could result in several hefty fines and, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, would possibly land me in jail for 30 days.

But I had to know.  There is always precious little practice at WERA race events, and absolutely no time to be chasing electrical gremlins.  It was worth the risk, with a championship at stake.  The Kawasaki was loaded in the van with a few tools, some spare ignition parts and the hunt began.  I left the metro area and headed for the rural roads I had explored by streetbike a few months earlier.

After about 35 miles driving, an almost dwelling-free section of road was located in a heavily wooded area, with a small stream running through the bottom of a small, shallow valley.  It was not completely straight, I would have to run the bike down the hill, over the small bridge with no guardrails and up the hill on the other side.  But at nearly 3/4 mile long, no houses,very little traffic, and the clock ticking, it would have to do.

An idyllic scene, at least until I started the engine...

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