Big Boys On Little Toys

May 26, 2012 View Comments by

It doesn’t take much to draw me in to something a little crazy (or as Kathy would say, “a lot stupid) especially when it comes to bikes. For years, I’ve wanted to race motorcycles, but just never really had the chance. Money, time, school, and chasing other fantasies, like being a rock star, always seemed to get in the way. Then, like Kenny Roberts on his TZ 750 flat tracker, the ol’ 40th birthday screamed by on the outside leaving me in a cloud of dust. Yeah, well, I sort of like dust and I’m nowhere near old enough to be farting it yet. Screw it; I’m going racing while I still can.

Sure, I’ve done the track days and go trail riding all the time, but there’s one form of racing I’ve always admired from afar, but never dreamed I’d have the chance to participate in; flat track. In my opinion, there’s nothing more badassedly graceful than a rider screaming out of a slick, dirt corner, sliding sideways, both wheels adrift, and still grabbing a handful of throttle. Yeah, sign me up. The question is, where does one start? That problem was solved at Aaron Stevenson’s Cornerspin school near Charlotte, NC. His instructors all raced their XR 100s at Coleridge Speedway, the nearby go-kart track. What began as a class to improve on street riding skills by pushing Honda XR 100s to their limits of traction in an off road setting, ended up setting the dirt track hook a little too far back to spit out. And like a big, fat bass striking a fluorescent, K-Mart lure, I swallowed and ran for cover… in my stepsister’s garage. You see, her 16 year-old son had a ’98 XR 100 and a girlfriend. Guess which one wasn’t getting much attention? Well, $400 later I had my racer on the back of the truck. I drove straight to Yates’ and we commenced. Years ago, he was known to crew and wrench for David Aldana and turned a few laps on the hard-pack himself. And like me, he firmly believes that there are no stupid ideas when it comes to bikes.

Our first race was a success. Even bone stock, we managed to not be last. OK, we were closer to last than to first, but that’s neither here nor there. The hook set even deeper. Then came the modifications, all top-secret stuff, of course. Let’s just say that the Sawzall, the welder, and a pile of rusty, 60s vintage Hondas all contributed. Well, my wallet got involved in there as well, but that’s also neither here nor there … right Kathy?

Our second race this season, and only my third race ever, we finished mid-pack-ish. Well, we were closer to the back of the pack, but mid pack-ish nonetheless. When it all boils down, this new racing experience is a blast. Yates gave me the speed, now I just have to learn how to ride. It’s a fun learning curve.

Of course, there are naysayers. Mom advised, “you’re too old for that sort of thing” and Kathy embellished, “but apparently not too smart for it”. Thanks ladies, but I must opt for the words of a far wiser sage than you both. As Yates said, “It’s just a bunch of grown men racing minibikes, what could possibly go wrong?” And, to that I’ll add, “there’s only one way to find out”.

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About the author

At 16, I got my motorcycle license and cut my street teeth aboard a Honda MT250 dual sport. I quickly discovered that motorcycle touring was an excellent antidote for acute wanderlust.