Friday, March 02, 2012

Motorcycle Memories, We were it...the cool.

Back when I was a kid I was into Motor cross bikes big time. I dreamed of having an Elsinore, If you look at this site you can look at great pics and info on these old racers. For me, these bikes were everywhere during that time and we would all bash the other brands because what we rode was the best, in our eye and mind at least. I had a Honda SL70 to begin with - my very first real motorcycle - then later a Kawasaki 100, next a Suzuki TM100, for a short time a Yamaha YZ175 which had the first airforks with the large canisters on top of the forks which were sized the same as speedometer and tach housings. A couple other bikes but My last dirt bike was an RM125.  1974 KTM 250
The RM was bad assed and just a twist of the wrist could bring you right out of a wrong and make it a right. It handled superb, gripped like a Grizzly bear and pulled like a freight train. The engine and transmission, almost bullet proof, even when wing dinging through the air. You remember wing dinging don't you? That was when you came off a jump, you were tired and just trying to hang on til the last lap, so when you got air you didn't roll off the throttle and the bike engine was wing dinging. Not a good thing when landing but sometimes you was just dogged tired. This bike almost killed me doing a hill climb, I made it to the top with a death grip and so much forward motion that honest to god I was above the pine trees at the top of the hill. These trees where at the edge surrounding the top - probably twenty feet high - and I was in that slow motion brain thing waiting to come down. I remember thinking "this is not good and it's gonna hurt like hell" and could already feel the blood rushing to my nose in readyment for impact. Like a dream I kept going up and was looking down at the tree tops - all still in that slow motion brain deal happening - totally aware of my predicament. I wasn't wing dinging. Me and the bike upon reaching the crest had kept going straight up, not much arc at all, just up and up. And we came down that way too, I mean straight back down slam into the ground. The bike bounced and tossed me off several feet away. I lay there with the breath knocked out of me and dazed, I could see bystanders and other riders not moving and just staring at me while my bike was still running at full throttle laying on it's side. The throttle grip was dug into the ground locked wide open. Finally the brain fog lifted just enough for me to crawl to the bike and kill the engine. Not a damned one of those riders or bystanders made any effort to help. Miraculously I was not bleeding but everything hurt for weeks after. I think I cracked a couple of ribs. Massive adrenaline rush.
I was wearing this Helmet here with the Bob Hannah Thunder bolts removed. I was riding a Suzuki at the time so ref to Yamaha wasn't kosher. I still have my red and white leathers in the attic, maybe my gloves to and goggles. All the stuff I was wearing helped save me from injury, that and a large huge dose of luck.
I was able to ride the bike back to my pit truck and my brother rode up to help inspect the bike and load it up. But, he noticed my rear hub was broken and later we found I'd damaged the engine. This was evident when it was fired up the next time and seized the rod. I fixed everything but to my recollection only rode it around enough to be sure everything was again good and then sold it. That hill climb couldn't be saved with any amount of throttle. It was tough selling it though, the bike.
The Honda Elsinore of the day was always my dream bike I never had. Something about them just oozed excitement. I guess it was the whole package, the looks, the sound the coolness of a Honda that Mr. Honda didn't want his name on in the beginning. That's why when they first came out they were known only as Elsinores, no reference to Honda anywhere on them. They were the baddest thing you could buy, factory racers and only Honda had developed a machine anyone could have that would beat high dollar factory sponsored riders of other brands. The Honda was far advanced and actually was a factory racer available to the masses. I still dream of owning one of the Vintage Elsinores, I just won't be riding it like the days of my pliable, flexible fast healing youthful days. That hill climb crash would have killed a guy my now age. Oh how I do miss the sounds of all the bikes racing down a straight-a-way sounding like a bunch  of pissed off hornets. The smells, the dust, the sweat, the bruises, the heat, the people, the girls - girls always gravitated to us guys in leathers riding screaming bikes - the huge smiles all around after the day and tending status making injuries.
Even back then it didn't take long to make friends while riding a motorcycle. You were a different breed, wild to most parents, but it gave us teen youths an outlet, a direction, something to be noticed for, something to keep us out of big trouble. It was just good fun, even if practicing and getting chased sometimes off vacant dirt lots by the Police, we weren't truly hurting anything. Though I didn't ride the model I wanted most, I got to ride while many other kids in my school didn't and later on ride weekends after work to relax and forget the world. It taught skill, determination, outlet for anger, how to get a long with others, how to feel accomplishment when you failed at other things, a feeling of belonging, problem solving, something else to focus on and exercise and pride in yourself. Man I was skinny and in shape back then. I don't care what so called "Experts" say, a youth having a Motorcycle or a Go Kart makes better drivers in the future and more responsible for their actions.        


Lady R (Di) said...

I can just hear you wing dingin'" it like I was standing there watching. Great post!

My brother got into hill climbing while he lived in Montana. He and my dad spent hours and hours getting ready for climbs that would take place on Saturdays. He got good enough to attract some sponsors and was bumping his head, trying to break into the Pro level before things changed in his life. He needed to be a dad and husband instead of a racer.

Sometimes I feel really bad he was never allowed to grab that brass ring. I think he would have made a big name for himself.

Thanks for sharing. Memories are awesome!!

Arizona Harley Dude said...

Always wanted a YZ 175, but didn't want to mix the oil. Then the Elsinore came out and wanted one of those, but wanted to ride on the street. Honda had my answer when they introduced the XL 250. That was the ticket for many adventures for me.

Thanks for the trip on Memory Lane.

WooleyBugger said...

Lady R, The whole thing gave special bonding between your Dad and Brother I'm sure, great times. To bad he didn't go ahead with it.

Arizona Harley Dude, the XLs' were great bikes alright and had style. You could have put an Elsinore engine in there and had a really wild rider.