Monday, November 21, 2016

The Road To Rattlesnake (Part I)

Friday, October 7th 2016 

I left work early to return to Rural Retreat, VA, for the penultimate round of the Virginia Championship Hare Scrambles Series, known as "Rattlesnake".  A hurricane was marching its way up the East Coast, promising plenty of rain and high wind for the entire seaboard.  There was a pre-run of the course scheduled for Saturday afternoon, but I had another, ulterior motive for arriving as early as I could...

Languishing in a garage only two hours from the race track in Hickory NC, was a 2006 Gas Gas EC300, nearly identical to my 2004 model.  The price was in the ballpark, and I desperately needed a parts bike.  I wanted the peace of mind that I wouldn't miss a race because I didn't have a part in time.  Emails exchanged, appointment made, there was nothing to do now but drive.  And drive.  Through the driving rain.

An invisible sun began to sink as I unloaded and set up camp at Wythe Raceway.  I headed back on to I-81 just as the rain started bucketing down.  2.5 hours later in the pitch dark, rain still pouring, I arrived at a suburban home.  The owner and I spoke for over an hour, exchanging war stories and tall tales.  I kicked the tires, but he and I both knew, I was going home with this thing one way or the other.  The only item left was the numbers.  This particular EC looks decent, but the wary eye sees the tell tale signs of a hard life.  Chain and sprockets shot, wheel bearings toast, shock in desperate need of a rebuild, footpeg bracket broken and re-welded on the same side as mine (disappointing), the only reason the front forks are not leaking is apparently because there is no oil in them.  Suspension linkage bolts are loose, with the nut falling off of one, exhaust pipe nearly flattened.  Rear sub-frame is a cobbled on Kawasaki unit, rear fender is cracked.  Yup, all the hallmarks of an 11 year-old dirt bike that has suffered at the hands of someone who didn't care.  But it seems to run reasonably well and there are plenty of good, serviceable parts, like a new Brembo clutch master cylinder and aftermarket powervalve cover among others.

We negotiate, I pay too much, load the Gasser and head back into the monsoon.

High and dry loaded in the back of the van, newest member of the fleet, 2006 Gas Gas EC300

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