Wednesday, December 19, 2018

2018 Race Season Photo Review

2018 VCHSS season, 4th place overall, 40+B class.  The pictures tell only part of the story...

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Waiting For Winter's Wane

2018 gasps its last agonal breaths with only a crappy holiday or two left to endure.  Six weeks after the last race, three months before the first.  Staring out at last Sunday's gift, a foot of snow, coldly book-ended by grey days of torrential rain, watery sunshine, mud and a stupid time change.  One wishes to sleep 18 hours a day. 

But the man has other plans, as well as a garage full of projects.  There's motors to be built and rebuilt, van interiors to be re-designed, parts sourced, money upon money burnt.  This is racing, and it's never over.

Even when it seems like it's over.

Flying into spring, hopefully...

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Let It Ride

"I do the work that is in front of me." -Ian MacKaye

The 2018 season draws to a close, with only one race left to contest before the end.  For most this is a break, a rest, a respite.  No more packing up, hauling bikes and gear, schlepping all over the countryside in search of an obscure, seldom found muddy glory.  Many will take stock, reflect and wonder whether to remain in this hardscrabble hare scramble world.  There are certainly more forgiving hobbies, cheaper ones, less painful and difficult.  I'm not immune to that line of thought, comes with getting older I suppose.

 But for those who keep their skin in the game, now is the time to build, train, prepare.  To learn new tricks.  Yes, even this old dog.  The scant four and a half months between races will be gone before you know it.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, another birthday will pass like a breath and the faithful will be lined up on a cold, damp March day with guts full of butterflies and fogged goggles, listening to the race marshal bellow, "TEN SECONDS!!!".

Looking around a garage littered with dirt bike parts, engines in need of rebuilding, a bare frame that I shall have barely enough time to turn into a race bike, I wonder what to do.

Moments of overwhelming indecision, then it becomes clear.

I shall do the work in front of me.


Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Battle Rages On...

September 23, 2018 VCHSS Round #12 Knockdown Hare Scramble, Charlotte Court House, VA

Rain overnight.  Another muddy race.  Another 3rd place.  The season winds down.  Much learned.  Much left to be learned.  The clock is still ticking...

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Caveat Emptor Fucked By A Spanish Whore

Found a 2011 Gas Gas EC 300 on Craigslist in NC.  Drove there, looked it over, seemed to run decent, needed a little TLC.  Settled on a price of $2,500.  What could go wrong, right?  Well, for your amusement, I've decided to describe the debacle in pictures and poetry: 

A bit rough, off the cuff, but surely built with the right stuff? Too much? Not enough?

Piston leaves me wishin' I'd have kept fishin'. Rebuild now is the only mission. On my head rain is pissin'.

The head is dead. I see red.  I need gold, but have only lead.

My bore is scored. Oh lord.  How will I afford?

Crankseal doth weep. That ain't cheap.  Bearings too, creak, creak.  Rod probably also weak.

Happy couple or cursed nuptials?  Short honeymoon, 'til the trouble.  Iberian dream now shattered bubble. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Photo Coyote 2018

August 26, 2018 Rural Retreat, VA
VCHSS Round #10 The Coyote Run
3rd place 40+B

Although these pics make it look like a trail ride, this was one of the most challenging courses I've ridden all year.  Nasty rocky hillclimbs of death followed by treacherous cliff dangling off cambers filled with ruts and roots and a creek run called "The Hero Section".  3rd place.  I'll take it.

(photos courtesy of Mike Jackson)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Mud Puppies of Martinsville, 2nd Best In the Worst

August 12, 2018  Martinsville, VA 1:30 pm

Rain.  It's coming.  It's already started.  The race is about to.  Goggles and tear-offs ruined.  Brain shifts gears.  Prepare for the wet Hell.  Harder now, hurts my eyes.  I think the guy waved the green flag.  Fuck it, go, go.  Start this bitch and take your medicine boy, there's no turning back.

Some shitheel decides he wants to bang bars, bad idea, I'm in no mood for anybody's crap, lean a shoulder into him and he backs down.  The weather and the conditions are the enemy now.  As well as fatigue.  And myself.  It's like riding in peanut butter and chocolate pudding, with about as much traction.  Actual rivers are running down the hill climbs.  I've been here before, two years ago, same location, same conditions.  I know what to expect.  A part of me wants to cry.  This will not be fun.  This is not sanity.  This is destruction.  Physical, spiritual, mental and mechanical.  It gets so dark in the woods there is no light at the end of the tunnel, just more darkness and pain.  Many will quit, I wish I could.  Got to get through to the other side.  Don't fall, don't make mistakes.  Ha, that's a joke.  Hope fades, emotions roller-coaster like the hills of the Blue Ridge range we are racing in.

Nearly three hours later it ends, bike, body and brain nearly dead.  2nd place, best finish of the year, with nothing save a crappy coffee mug trophy to show for it.

But the memory remains...and the darkness.

(Photos courtesy of Mike Jackson, thank you!!!!)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

King of the Road

"I'm a man of means by no means..." -Roger Miller

$10,000 for a dirt bike?  For what amounts to essentially a toy?  I struggled to swallow that one, as a friend told me the out of door price for his new KTM.  Don't get me wrong, I'm sure with all the whiz bang technology it's worth every penny, but I wondered how any human being, especially men of our rather ahem 'advanced' age could exploit and really take advantage of such technology.  Sure electric start is nice, endlessly adjustable suspension, butter smooth power everywhere in the rev range, lightweight, one finger brakes and on and on. 

I'd venture to say nearly any motorcycle built in the last 20 years is capable of far more than the average rider.  Yet we still want, no, demand, more.  And we pay for it.  Or should I say, we make payments on it...

At what point do we reach the level of absurdity?  Or hit the outer limits of diminishing returns?  When do we finally make the distinction between want and need

Who knows?

Break out the duckets, it's gonna cost you...


Thursday, June 28, 2018


Sunday, June 24, 2018 Rural Retreat VA

To lead a race, if even for a short time, is an amazing thing.  And difficult.  Red-eyed hounds of hell nip at boot heels with only one intent: your failure.  The animosity behind is palpable, wheedling its way into the subconscious to whittle away at self-confidence.  Hanging it all out turns into merely hanging on.  Until...

Fast becomes past.  Passed.

But a brain remembers those moments besting all comers, and formulates a plan to take it the distance.   

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

This Is Spring Grove Part II

Charley is back there.  I can hear him.  His KTM is ready to pounce should I make the slightest bobble.  We reach the second grass track section, with built in wood pallet chicanes.  The Spanish and Austrian two-stroke 300s get to feed, I'm up into 5th gear.  Can't lose him.  Wide, sandy, sweeping left hander, he pulls up on the outside.  We are neck and neck.  It's dusty, can't see a damn thing, but my memory from last year tells me there is a sharp turn to the right coming up.  I back off slightly, Charley goes by, off track and right into some hay bales, but doesn't crash.  I make the turn, barely.  Relax and breathe for a few seconds.  He'll be coming again.  It doesn't take long.  He gets by and I try to give chase, but soon he is gone.  I'm not up to speed yet, fighting my own battles with the bike and the track, let him go.  My day will come. 

I float around in 9th place for the first three laps, waiting for my second wind.  Can you really call it a second wind if you never got your first?  Now all my training begins to pay off.  The riders in front of me start getting tired, they slow down.  I'm on the move.  Eighth place.  Next lap sixth.  I see fifth place in front and follow.  He's faster in some sections, but I am faster in others.  He can't pull away, but for every little mistake he makes, I make one trying to capitalize.  For over 30 agonizing minutes we play cat and mouse.  Getting tired.  Finally he slows.  Make the pass.  Fifth place.  I'd be over the damn moon if I wasn't worried about him putting up a fight.  He doesn't.  Thanking my lucky stars and finishing the race in fifth, my best of the season.

I'm gaining.  Finally.

Just after the start.

2nd place!  It wouldn't last long...


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Fuck the Bohemians, This Is Spring Grove!

Sunday, June 10, 2018 5:00 AM  Spring Grove, VA

I wake up with a sore throat and know that I'm getting sick.  Now is not the time.  Just over eight hours until the race.  My teeth feel fuzzy, fell asleep before I brushed, whoops.  It is cool, if a bit humid.  Temperatures must have dropped considerably last night.  Lie awake and think, unable to go back to sleep.  Scenarios play in the mind, how things need to be done, how to handle them when it inevitably goes wrong.

The sun finally rises and so does the heat, hand in hand with lovely Southern humidity.  My Yankee blood may never fully acclimate to this. Hours pass, the morning race participants head out, then return as I continue with my pre-race rituals.  At what seems the last possible moment don the 25 pounds of gear and ride my aged 2005 Gas Gas EC300 to the the line.  There's hardly anyone there.  Dammit, early again.  Sit and bake in this goddamn oven.  Finally Dave Zimmer shows up with an umbrella and it doesn't matter that he is not a scantily clad 'brolly girl, so welcome is the temporary shade.  The bite valve for hydration in my helmet suddenly springs a leak and squirts sticky electrolyte solution over my goggles and tear-offs, ruining all visibility with five minutes to go.  Swearing, yank every tear-off and wipe the goggles down as best as can be done, with the bite valve jammed in my mouth sucking down precious fluid as quickly as it pisses out.  I am now suitably furious.

The flag waves and two dozen middle-aged adolescents charge with screaming engines towards the first turn.  Third to arrive, wondering where the hell everyone is.  Push as hard as I dare through the grass track, bike wallowing, feeling like the frame is broken in half, finally into the woods, down into second gear and up into second place.  It's not going to last long, there's fast company nipping at my exhaust pipe, revving motors, hooting and trying to push me into a mistake.  They get what they want when I clip a small tree which proves remarkably inflexible.  Five of them rush by and I watch my best start of the season evaporate.  Let the work begin...

Third (well, sort of) on the outside, soon to be second...

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Restless Life

"The answer is there.  The answer is there.  But there is not a fixed position."
 -Fugazi,  Long Distance Runner

Have you ever been content?  Looked around and felt like this was all you need and want?  Was it a good feeling?  Did it last?  Could this be called happiness?  Are they the same thing?

The recent celebrity suicides got me thinking about these concepts of happiness, contentment and restlessness.  Many of us common struggling folk might give our eye teeth to be where those two were, but such dissatisfaction and hopelessness existed in them to choose extreme, final solutions.  Yet, the statistics show suicide rates are on the rise in all demographics.  From a pragmatic viewpoint it can be said that none of us asked to go on this ride, why should anyone be forced to continue if they don't wish to?  Hackneyed cliches (e.g. "Life is worth living.") aside, such a scant minority of life's choices are actually our own, choosing the time and manner of one's demise might just be among the few.

Always present is a great, unrelenting push from advertisers to make sure that no one is happy or content with what they have or who they are.  If everyone woke up tomorrow and decided not to buy anything non-essential there would be chaos among the Madison Avenue types and corporate mucky-mucks.  Plastic surgeons would go out of business, cosmetic companies bankrupt, therapists and psychologists panhandling, indeed much of the glittery fake fabric interwoven with the cloth we call America would fall to dust.  Not going to happen, but still something to ponder...

And the restlessness persists.  Perhaps a human genetic predisposition, for surely without it man never would have crossed the oceans or hurled himself into the heavens.  For some this discontent is a great motivator, for the troubled it may be a final straw under which our camel collapses.

The happy are not immune either.  'Tis but a short drive from content to complacent, and oft is one mistaken for the other.  Doubtless it's double-edged.  Complacency corrodes, depresses, and destroys.  It is also a very easy thing, thus all the more treacherous.

I'm sure I don't have any answers.  Just keep the wheels turning.  Or else Death might catch you.

Give Him a run for his money...



Thursday, June 7, 2018

State of the Blog 2018

It occurred to me that I have been writing this blog for almost four years.  It seems like a long time and a lot of work, but I wanted some numbers, so here we go:

First post: 11/7/14

Most recent post: This one, duh. 6/7/18

Total number of posts:  337

All time pageviews:  50,516 (as of 6/6/18).

Followers: 0   (That is not entirely accurate, a handful of you follow through my linked Google page, so thank you for making me not feel like a total social media loser)

For the most part I think this thing has served its purpose, allowing me to work on my writing, to post self-aggrandizing stories and photos as well as providing an expressive outlet for ideas closely, (and sometimes not so closely) related to motorcycles.  I'm not overly proud of it, being, after all, mostly ramblings akin to talking to oneself, but there are bright spots that still make me smile when reread. 

Will it continue?  Probably, in a limited fashion.  I feel the need for something different, some sort of a change, but at this moment I can't say exactly what.

Thanks for reading.

The chase continues.  RIP #334

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Odds and Sods

Thank you to The Who for loaning me the title for this post.  Good album, especially the track "Naked Eye".  What follows are random excerpts from my "Drafts" folder.  Posts started but never finished, and lets face it,  probably not going to get finished.  Below is a selection from the basement archives, the "odds and sods", as it were.  



Long hours training in the gym and wrenching in the garage do little to sate the racer's urge. One needs an outlet, otherwise the light at the end of the tunnel grows very dim.  


A fool believes he can win when the odds are stacked against him. A genius believes he can win when the race is already lost.


The test and the truth lie in finding oneself.  But did it always need to be so damn hard?


Sometimes, I think if I could find a forest big enough, I might just ride into it and never come out. 


There is no secret speed formula, I work at it every day, with mixed results.


Riding is a finicky drug with no set time release, no prescribed or recommended amount, and you never know it's too much until you've overdosed.  Side effects have been reported, some fatal.


Despite the sense of entitlement we tend to feel, motorcycles owe us nothing. 


Ever notice how doing simple maintenance on a machine can convince you it is running better?


  I've never been one to commit to a whole lot of things (as my marital status, or lack thereof will verify), but the ones that I do, I am in for the full measure.


As a young man, I wasted a lot of time, as it seemed an endless thing.


Whatever your personal beliefs in an afterlife, the soul, reincarnation, might be, no one knows definitively that we get more than one lap around.


Racers know it.  A low hum at the very edge that is always present, persistent, nagging reminder of the possible outcomes.


The motorcyclist has discovered something which can help to counter the creeping darkness we all experience from time to time.  


 I wait an hour and a half for someone to bring fuel.  Gives me time to decide how mad I should be at my stupidity.


Force myself to relax.


$10,000 for a dirt bike?  For what amounts to essentially a toy?


You reach a point in the murky depths of adulthood where you realize that everything parents and teachers fed you full of as a kid, you know "dream it and you can do it" is, for the most part, utter shite.



Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Ten Things That Suck About Racing

  1. Crashing.  Let's just get that one out of the way first.  It wrecks equipment, body and spirit, and at some point it WILL happen to you.
  2. Money.  Racing will take most of, if not all of it.  This puts serious strain on savings accounts, relationships and could force you to buy all your clothes at Goodwill.
  3. Winning.  Once you've tasted it, there is no going back and no settling for second.
  4. Losing.  It never tastes good.
  5. Other racers.  Those guys would use their own mother as a berm to make a pass.
  6. Waiting to race.  There is just too much time spent not racing.
  7. Driving home from the racetrack. (see #6)
  8. Going back to work Monday morning, because no one wants to hear your tales of glory
  9. Fixing broken shit
  10. Quitting racing.  Because what else are you going to do?

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Why Suffer? Part II

It's a funny thing, the feeling one gets as mental faculties begin to shut down.  Perhaps it's a bit like the beginning stages of insanity, this sinking notion that something is wrong, but not a damn thing to be done about it until madness swallows you.  Two laps into this race and it's all going sideways in a fuzzy, putrescent, disgusting sort of manner.  The monster of heat exhaustion prances trailside with a grinning maw.  In order to continue, to finish, I have to slow the hell down.

There is no cooling air, sweat cannot evaporate due to the humidity, instead super-saturating jersey, pants, socks and boots so that one is swimming and drowning in their own salty secretions.  The trail is littered with those too exhausted to continue.  Had I more functioning brain cells at this point I would be among them.  Were it not for the electrolytically imbalanced misfiring neurons, this dumbass would have quit. 

There is something to be said for those who can walk away.  When risk is too high versus reward, a mountain too big to climb, pain greater than pleasure, the switch flips, a safety valve blows, brain and body run safe mode and return to that which punishes less and gratifies more.  In short, an intelligent, normal, rational reaction.

My legs are cramping so bad I have to stand up. But this makes the head even more swimmy, so sit back down, feet off the pegs, letting them flail about, dragging in the ruts and smacking into obstacles.  Vision is starting to tunnel, things are going to get bad.  It's likely I bounced off every tree in that forest.  There is no technique, no grace, no skill.  The only conscious thought is keeping the wheels turning and the bike from falling over.  One rut, one corner, one tree dodge at a time.

Finally, after two grueling, godforsaken hours this thing ends.  Still not sure it's over, I have to ask an official, who points to the checkered flag hanging from the scoring computer.  I cross the finish line in 6th place, my best of the year, but there is no celebration, no pat on the back, just a rush to get out of sweat drenched gear.   

Why do it?  Why suffer needlessly for a task few will remember and less will care about?

I'm sure I don't know, except to say that for some of us, to start a race means you damn well better finish it.