Don’t Ask: Vintage Stories from Super Hunky and Letters Answered

Nov. 03, 2014 By Rick Sieman
If you choose to email a question to this forum, then you must conduct yourself accordingly. Therefore, the following rules are in order:

1. Do not write your email to me IN CAPS. If you do so, I will print out your question and do terrible things to it.

2. Do not request a personal e-mail response. Since I get thousands of questions each month, trying to answer them all would cut deeply into my leisure time, which I value more than your current state of confusion.

3. Try to spell at least in a semi-correct fashion. If you choose to mangle the English language, expect no mercy from this quarter. You might be mocked severely.

4. Do not ask for me to send you copies of my many manuals and literature. I am not in the library business, nor do I want to spend the bulk of my day at the copy machine just because you're too lazy to ask your dealer,  or look around a bit.

5. Don't bother me with truly stupid questions, like how to get 50 more horsepower for a buck and a half

6. Now that you know the rules, think carefully and have at it!

Oh yes … I’ll leave your e-mail unedited, for what it’s worth.

Previous Don’t Ask Columns:
October 2014

September 2014

August 2014


                                                          ***

SUBJECT: WHO REMEMBERS THE AMERICAN EAGLE 405?
Hi Rick:
I have been reading you since Dirt Bike #1.  Bravo!!
Since retirement a few years ago I have become a vintage Husky parts dealer and have accumulated a lot of NOS dealer stock (available thanks to Cagiva pissing off the dealers in the early 90’s).
 
I am working on a deal for an American Eagle 405 up here in ORYGUN. I see your 2005 “Oddities” write-up and it includes the “405”.   The cylinder fins on my “chase” are the same as the photo you used, i.e. stick out low at the rear. Any idea of the year (or early/late production) for your photo?  All the other photos I have found show a smooth cylinder shape.
 
And, can you point me at some American Eagle experts/collectors?
Thanks,
David Pratt
Hillsboro, OR


 
The American Eagle we tested way back then was a good bike, but we had no follow up from the distributor.  A short time later they went out of business. Sad, because it was a great handling bike.
 
The American Eagle 405 Talon was a 400cc, single cylinder, two stroke, off-road motorcycle manufactured by American Eagle during the early 1970s.

The 405 Talon had raised fenders and no instrumentation. The exhaust was unusual as it was a low-swept expansion chamber while other motorcycles used high-mount exhaust systems. The transmission was said to be unreliable.

Specifications
§  Displacement: 399cc
§  Engine type: Piston-port, two-cycle
§  Lubrication: Pre-mix
§  Ignition: Flywheel magneto
§  Transmission: 4-speed, right side shift
§  Claimed horsepower: 34 @ N/A
§  Weight: 230 pounds
§  Wheelbase: 54-55 inches
§  Ground clearance: 8 inches
§  Frame: Double downtube, full cradle
§  Front suspension: Telescopic forks/Sprite
§  Rear suspension: Swingarm w/Girling shocks
§  Front tire: 2.75x21 knobby
§  Rear tire: 4.00x18 knobby
§  Wheels: Steel
§  Fuel capacity: 2.5 gallons

                                      ***

SUBJECT: FRIENDLY PLAGIARISM AT WORK
Rick,

Something I wrote to the fellas just to have fun. I am the Lumpy character and my brother is Juan (bicycle racing nickname).  Any way, stole all my good ideas from you. We laughed our butts off back in the day when we read your column.  I've chatted with Clipper a few times at the ISDT Reunion Ride. Cheers.
 
Mike Husted
Tulsa, OK
 
Subject: Mortars
First of all, as much as Juan might think this is a funny story, I believe Lumpy is still under the care of a professional because of it. It is the doctor's belief that if he talked it out with someone then it just might help in his recovery so, here is the story I was told...

It started just like any other two-day vintage event weekend. Juan flew in on Thursday and Lumpy picked him up with a long punch-list of things to accomplish with the bikes before they were ready for the weekend in New Blaine, AR. They chatted about the tasks during the drive home and before they knew it, the garage door was opened and they got to work.

Rock and roll music played in the background as they busily turned sockets and wrenches, confident they were going to haul 3 awesome vintage bikes with them to shred the Ozarks.  Thursday gave way to Friday and they steadily made progress on the list especially the new 1973 Penton 250 Hare-Scrambler with the massive, gnarly looking cooling fins.  New tires and massive cooling fins, it's a guaranteed class win! 

Well, as Friday wore on, the list seemed to be harder to carve down. Hours were grinding away and the rapid pace from before seemed to give way to a realization that they needed to hurry up and get done. The trip was a good three hours and they really wanted to tech inspect Friday night before it closed at 10 p.m.  Punch list done (enough) and tools/gear/bikes/gas/... loaded up and off they went.

It is a tradition that racers will bring some sort of little treat to chow on during a race weekend. Lumpy's Yamaha mechanic friend Greg prefers Oreos while Lumpy/Juan have NutterButters as their go-to snack. As they cruised down the highway, the wrappers from Paco's Taco Shack were long ago balled up and thrown about the truck cab like pinballs in the arcade. FizzyCola was guzzled by the gallon to wash down the remnants of the gut-bomb tacos. 

With Dave Mathews cranked up to volume 10, the two intrepid vintage bikers were delving into the finer points of crank-stuffing a two-stroke for better performance when Juan's eyes bulged out like Marty Feldman and he turned white as a sheet. With his lips looking like 20-grit sandpaper from the NutterButter crumbs, Juan slowly turned his head toward Lumpy as the panic set in. "I forgot to put fork oil in the mailto:${RDhref+}@#%+£ Penton!" he blurted out while rapid-firing NutterButter crumbs at Lumpy and the entire left side of the cab. 

Lumpy was quick enough to shield his remaining eye after the crumbs did quick work on his right one. "Okay, okay!!" Lumpy shouted while trying to keep the careening truck on the road. "We can figure it out. Houston, we have a problem!!" 

Juan was shouting as he recalled what happened with the different weights and quantity of fork oil and how stiff the Penton was and how he wanted to make the front-end more responsive. He then related how he had left the task of fork oil top-off for later and how it had apparently been left off the punch list or accidentally crossed off, he didn't know what had happened. 

Lumpy then turned the tunes down and started to formulate a plan. "Ok Juan, at the current speed we are doing, we should arrive just about 20-30 minutes before tech closes.  I can't go any faster because I'm getting some real weird noises from the tranny and I think she might blow.  The ATF top-off back at Paco's used up the last of the oil.  So, given those constraints, we should have just enough time to broadslide into the gravel parking lot, offload the bikes and quickly get them tech inspected before they close at 10pm.  Problem is that they need to be impounded immediately after that.  We can't get at them until 15 minutes before our row number tomorrow morning.  What we will do then is wheel them out and put fluid in the forks before we start.  We might be late for our minute but, it's the only choice."

Juan seemed to calm down some after hearing the plan.  Silence enveloped the truck as they were lost in thought for the remainder of the drive.  Will the plan work? Can the Penton be ridden with no fork oil?  Probably not a good idea.  How can they hope to get this accomplished without being massively late for the start?  An awesome weekend was already under a cloud of confusion and despair.  This was supposed to be fun!
 
Well, true to the plan, Lumpy masterfully full-lock drifted the overloaded truck into the last patch of open parking.  Doors flew open as the two madmen unloaded just enough gear to get the bikes off the truck and into tech inspection.  The fairly rotund tech inspector gave them a disdainful look as he muttered under his breath some disparaging remarks about idiots late for tech.
 
All the bikes were successfully inspected and wheeled into impound while the beer-drinking crowd nearby watched in amazement that anyone could be so thoroughly late and obviously screwed up.  Lumpy and Juan didn't care.  They had successfully accomplished step one - get to impound before it closed.
 
After driving to the hotel which was a good 45 minutes to an hour away, both Lumpy and Juan staggered into the room and hit the rack.  Tomorrow would come too soon and there was much work to be done. 

RING, RING, RING.  What the hell is that horrid racket?  Lumpy took a swipe at the alarm clock which only succeeded in knocking it off the nightstand and under the bed where it happily kept ringing its little brains out. Feeling like they had been hit by a truck, the two vintage fellas creaked out of bed while slowly coming back to reality. 

Over Grandma's Double Country Steak and Egg Breakfast at the Cracker Barrel, Lumpy reviewed the plan while stirring his coffee wishing there was a shot of whiskey in it.  He knew he would need it regardless of how well this went.
  
"Ok, Juan, we need to break this down like a Nascar pitstop.  Since Penton/KTM saw fit to place the bars over the fork caps, we will need to remove four bolts to get the bars and controls out of the way.  Then we will need to do the forks one at a time.  We will put in the pre-measured amount of fork oil immediately followed by using all of my weight to get the damn caps down while at the same time turning the wrench.  They are a pain to get back in so this could slow us down.  After we have done both legs, we will bolt the bars back on and should be good to go."  Juan nodded his head in solemn agreement.  This would have to be a precision execution of the masterful plan. 
 
While holding up his ill-fitting riding pants with one hand and clutching his quad-shot espresso with the other hand, Lumpy marched to the truck like a man possessed.  Squealing tires greeted the bluehaired crowd as the vintage boys exited the parking lot.  Not a word was said as the duo  drove to New Blaine, confident in the plan and their abilities. 

They waited at the entrance to impound and at exactly 15 minutes prior to their row, Juan and Lumpy recovered their steeds and pushed them over to where the truck was parked.  Nascar would have been proud at the twirling wrenches and seriousness.  Lumpy admitted to me that he was making little pneumatic wrench noises under his breath.  As Lumpy was leaning his weight onto the fork cap and turning to get the impossibly fine threads to line up, the unthinkable happened.
 
The plan was going flawlessly and as often happens in cases like this, the participants start free-lancing.  Juan decided to start removing the right side fork leg cap early since it had what seemed like hundreds of fine threads and would take awhile to remove.  Lumpy had just gotten the left-side threads to engage when FOOOOOP!  Juan's cap let go before he expected and since all the weight of the bike was now on Lumpy's side, the one engaged thread wasn't enough and it let go at the same time. 

Juan and Lumpy silently watched the forks springs exit the tubes like mortars and gracefully arc into the Arkansas woods.  Although they couldn't be seen through the thick trees, the sound was giving away their progress towards Mother Earth.  Whack!  Smack! Crash! Foliage Ripping Sounds!  They finally thudded to the ground in a way that sounded like somebody whacking a rug hanging from the clothesline with a broom. Weird actually. 

Lumpy and Juan took off like two kids on an Easter Egg hunt in the direction of the thuds.  Luckily enough, due to the thick canopy of trees, there wasn't much undergrowth and finding the springs was pretty easy.  Juan held them up.  They looked like some ancient lollipop found under a seat in the car.  The oil dampened springs were festooned with pine needles, dirt, bits of leaves and all manner of forest floor debris. 

After high-footing it back to the truck, Lumpy proudly produced a 27oz can of Gigantic Industries Brake Cleaner and All Around Zoot Spray. The offending springs were then briskly sprayed down and lovingly wiped clean.  In they went and to the starting line the vintage boys did go. As the last of the start crew was folding up their  chairs to leave, the late entrants were marked and took off for the ride. 

After all of that turmoil and a few penalty points, Juan actually did win his class!  Massive fins, new tires and all.  True story.

Faithfully submitted,

Mike Husted
Chief Cook and Bottle Washer
 

All things considered, your story was well written, but not so sure it was true. Don’t give up your dayt job.

                                      ***

SUBJECT: WHAT IS IT WITH THESE NEW BIKES?
Me and my friend pooled our money together come tax time and we decided to get a bike that we could both ride and race. So we decide to get a brand-new 450 Honda. We both rode the hell out of it for a month every weekend and just about the time we’re getting ready to go race, it started making funny noises. We took it into the dealer and he said it would have to be rebuilt. Sure we rode this bike hard, but for only a month. You would think that would last longer than that. After all, we put in a clean air filter and fresh oil every weekend that we rode. So what’s the deal? Are all the new bikes like this or is the Honda just a piece of crap?

Alan and Fred

Welcome to the world of the new generation four-stroke racer. Think about this for a second. The Honda you bought makes its peak horsepower at 13,500 RPM. That’s just about the limit for piston foot speed for a stroke single. How can you even begin to expect a long life span out of a hand grenade like this?

                                       ***

SUBJECT: THINGS YOU NORMALLY DON’T TALK ABOUT
Rick,
 
Just found your website on a whim. 
 
In 1979, when I was 12 years old, my family moved to a suburb north of Seattle, into a neighborhood which had just been carved into the woods.  There were trails everywhere that we would disappear down for the whole day on our BMX bikes and the minibikes and motorcycles of those friends who were lucky enough to have them.  My father's opinion on motorcycles and their inherent danger in his eyes was such that I would never own one while I lived under his roof, so I would beg and borrow turns riding my friends' bikes.
 
I was obsessed with motorcycles and would spend some of my paper route money each month on the latest issue of Dirt Bike magazine, of which your column was always a beguiling favorite.  It spoke of things far beyond my limited experience or knowledge, both in the realm of motorcycling, and also of life in general.
 
I never became a dirt biker, as my passion morphed into the pure speed and smooth Gs of roadracing.  In 1986, at the tender age of 19, I bought a first-year GSXR750 and went racing.  It was everything I hoped it would be.....
 
In my Dirt Bike reading years, you wrote an article about a man who was diagnosed with a life ending illness.  He bought the motorcycle he had always wanted, built the machine he had always dreamed about, and finally rode it off the cliff at the end of the road.  Some 35 years later, my recollection is that the final sentences were:  "He had always wondered what it would feel like.  And now he knew."
 
That story has stayed with me all these years.  I have searched for it online several times over the age of the internet, without success.  That story was some damn fine writing.
 
If you could point me to where I might find a copy of your story, I would be very grateful.  If not, it's all good.  Either way, your story lives on, and I thought you should know.
 
I hope you are well.  Thank you for sharing the gift of your writing.
 
Cheers,
David McWhirter
 

EXIT
By Rick Sieman/February 1982

(When I wrote this piece, an avalanche of mail followed. A whole bunch of people thought the story was about me, and that I had a terminal illness. Luckily, that was not the case. However, the story was based on reality. I will not say who, why, or how.)
 
It was the pain deep inside his chest that forced him to see a doctor. Oh sure, he knew something was wrong, but, like most people, he put it off And put it off. How long had that pain been gnawing away? Two years? Three? At least three. It'd been there so long it was almost taken for granted.

But, lately, it had worsened. It was affecting his riding, walking, eating, sleeping and his work. Motorcycle racers don't like to go to doctors, even though they are forced to seek their services now and then. The occasional trip into the Twilight Zone, the harsh crack of bone against rock and it's Plaster City. Frank had been there before. Not too often, but enough to keep a healthy respect for just how far he would let it all hang out now.

He raced a bit more cautiously now days. Still fairly fast and competent, but the years and the close calls and the bumps and the bruises had all taken a tiny bit off that racer's edge. Still racing was fun and that's what counted, right?

Frank sat in the doctor's office idly flipping through a tattered copy of National Geographic, wishing he'd had the foresight to bring a bike magazine with him to help pass the time. He'd been in this cold, white office too many times in the last month what with all the check-ups, X-rays blood tests and other mysterious things they did to his body. The pain was still there. Always the pain.

The white-haired doctor called him in to his private office and closed the door quietly behind them. Frank knew at that moment that something was desperately wrong.

The doctor told him very quietly, patiently and calmly what was up. He did it so professionally that Frank listened in an almost detached manner, as the white-haired physician told him he had only a few months to live … perhaps five or six at the most.

What got Frank upset was that he'd never even heard of the disease. A lot of Latin words strung together. Why didn't they just call it a ball of pain in the chest?

With more calm in his voice than he could believe, Frank asked the good doctor about operations and alternatives. With an obvious tremble in his hands, the doctor explained the whynots and the where-fors of the situation. He took a long time and ignored the blinking light on his phone.

When he stopped talking, Frank fairly well understood the mechanics behind his doom. The doctor wrote out a prescription “for the pain” and told him to use it as needed and to call any time the pain got too intense. There were stronger things available for stronger pain.

They shook hands and parted. Frank drove his pickup truck home, head whirling with thoughts. He stopped off at a drive-through, ordered some burgers and junk food and ate as he put in the 22 miles that separated his home from the medical center.

By the time he got home, Frank knew exactly what he wanted to do. He grabbed a beer and sat down at his wobbly old desk. A yellow-lined pad and a felt-tipped pen were extracted from the center drawer, along with his savings account and checkbooks.

Very slowly and with much thought, Frank made a list on that clean yellow pad. After each item, he put a price. Frank knew just about what things cost. Nine hundred bucks for the trick frame. Twenty-five hundred for the bike. Exotic forks, special shock, aluminum this, magnesium that, chromoly goodies, lightweight plastic, special parts for the engine, the best tires money could buy. . . in fact, the best of everything.

When he completed the list and added it up, he gave a low whistle. The total came to over eight thousand dollars. A check of his bank and checkbooks showed that he had more than enough to cover the cost. He slowly savored three more beers that evening and made page after page of notes on the yellow-lined legal pad. Sleep came easy, in spite of that ever-present pain in the chest.

The next morning was spent cleaning out his garage. He shaped it up to perfection, then made a trip to the bank and withdrew a tidy sum of cash. Frank then stopped off at his favorite place and spent a considerable amount of that cash on new tools. The good stuff. Snap-On, S-K, top-of-the-line sockets and wrenches. And then he bought a shiny new red Craftsman two-piece roll-around toolbox.

It gave him an odd feeling of pleasure to peel off the twenty-dollar bills to pay for the tools. The salesman helped him load everything in the back of the pickup and Frank then headed down to the bike shop.

The man behind the counter knew him by his first name and they exchanged the usual pleasantries. Casually, with a slight smile of glee, Frank told the man to load that bike—that one over there—in the back of his truck, and started counting out one hundred dollar bills on the counter to drive the message home.

After the paperwork, Frank placed an order for some special parts and goodies. The man totaled it up and Frank once more proceeded to count out bills on the glass top of the display case. He was offered a discount, but refused it. His only request was that everything be delivered to his home before the end of the week.

Frank made two more stops before he headed home to his garage … one to order a special frame and another to pick up a cardboard box full of speed parts for the engine.

He spent that night sorting every thing out on his work bench and checking off items on that yellow legal pad. Sleep came hard.

Early the next morning, Frank rolled the new bike into the center of the garage and put it up on a milk crate. Parts were carefully removed with the shiny new tools and placed in various cardboard boxes that were marked with a thick felt pen; then he placed them on shelves.

By noon, only the engine sat there. Frank opened the thick workshop manual and proceeded to tear the big four-stroke engine down. He made notes, put nuts and bolts into small boxes and, at four o'clock, took the barrel down to his local machine shop with instructions to bore it out to match the new, huge piston.

The days went by slowly and pleasantly. Frank did not answer the telephone and did not open any mail. He only left the garage to make trips to the machine shop, or to the bike shop for needed odds and ends.

With the arrival of the frame and forks, the bike started to take shape. Parts started to fall into place. Some things required drilling, bending, shaping and fitting. Frank carefully fitted each and every piece with patience until he was satisfied that it was perfect.

By the time two weeks had passed, Frank was forced to stop by the pharmacy and get that prescription filled. The pharmacist looked a bit startled when he read the doctor's scrawl and placed a call to check it out. Frank took a double-dose of pain killers to sleep that night, but he woke up so fuzzy-headed the next morning that he flushed the remaining pills down the toilet.

It took one more week before the bike was completed. Naturally enough, the last two bolts were snubbed in place well into the wee hours of the morning. Frank poured some straight gas in the tank, twisted on the petcock and depressed the choke lever.

It took three kicks for the big bike to light off, but when it did, the sound from the megaphone was pure music. Frank ran the bike for three minutes, ignoring the blue haze filling up the garage, then shut off the lights and went to sleep.

Early the next morning, he rose and went out to the garage. An hour was spent checking all of the nuts and bolts with a torque wrench. Frank then loaded the bike up into the back of his truck with all of his riding gear and headed out the Interstate.

He stopped off at his favorite restaurant and had steak and eggs and several cups of scalding-hot black coffee. The waitress smiled from ear to ear when he left the whole twenty dollar bill with the check.

Twenty minutes later, Frank arrived at his favorite riding area and unloaded the bike. He fired it up and let it idle comfortably while he put on his riding gear. Frank slipped the goggles in place, then swung a leg over the bike and blipped the throttle a few times. The engine responded cleanly and instantly with a rapping snarl. Good

Frank nudged the shift lever into low and eased away. The bike pulled strongly, satisfyingly, through the gears. Not a hint of a flat spot, or even a burble, as the revs rose.

Frank followed the two-track road through the valley and then caught the old fire road heading up the mountain side. The smoothly graded road had just the perfect surface for letting it all hang out.

Once he got the feel of the bike, Frank started to stuff it into the turns with the rear end hanging out, the exhaust note wailing off the steep canyon walls.

As the road climbed, Frank was forced to use a lower gear and rev the engine harder to maintain his speed. A thin sheen of perspiration covered his forehead and face. He breathed harder, worked the bike deeper into the turns.

As Frank neared the summit, he saw the last wide sweeping corner before the road ended and the narrow trails began. It was clearly marked with white barriers to keep wayward vehicles from plummeting off the vertical drop.

Frank smiled, took a deep breath, let the revs rise and aimed the front wheel directly at the flimsy barriers. The white wood snapped cleanly and the bike sailed out into the clear blue air.

Frank held tightly onto the bars and sailed and sailed and sailed. He had always wondered what it might be like.

And now he knew.

                                                ***

SUBJECT:  GOOD VS. BAD
Just where do you get off bad mouthing new bikes when you compare them to old bikes. I’ve got a Yamaha 250 4 stroke that I really genuinely love and when I hear you say that 10-year-old YZ 250 will smoke it I think maybe that you’re smoking something the you don’t want to talk about. Let’s face it, a new world is here and a new generation of bikes is with it. You’re just stuck in the past … Face it.

No name given
LA, CA

Well, no name, when’s the last time you ran a straight up race with a two-stroke YZ 250? Chances are if you were in such a race, you would notice that the YZ 250 is a bunch faster than your new generation four-stroke. Of course, you would not feel comfortable like that.

                                          ***


SUBJECT: A LOOK THE FUTURE … BACK THEN
As everyone has said, each month I couldn't wait to get my issue of Dirt Bike Magazine... and the two things I would check out first, was "From the Saddle" and "Crash & Burn". "From the Saddle" always made me laugh, as Rick was a master story teller, with a great sense of humor...

That was until I got my grubby adolescent hands on the April 1973 issue of Dirt Bike. As I looked forward to some good laughs with "Saddle", I noticed something quite different about two paragraphs into the article. The story took on a different mood. As I read on, I was totally consumed... and by the end of "Saddle", I was forever changed... This was one of the most profound things I had ever read... my 14 year old brain was buzzing... and today, after 41 years, the story still resonates.

Thank you Rick, for writing one of the most incredible stories I have ever read in my life! It doesn't get any better than this... If you all haven't read this one -- or may have forgotten about it -- I highly suggest you check it out!


SUNDAY MORNING RIDE … 1984
By Rick Sieman/April 1973
(Notes: Consider the fact that this story was written in 1973. It was so prophetic that it's frightening. Not only was it way ahead of its time back then, it rings hard and true today. Over the years, I've drawn literally thousands of letters regarding this chilling little piece. Its purpose was to scare the off-roading community to get off its dead ass. Clearly, even though the story had impact, it failed in that respect.)
 
We hear a lot of talk about what riding will be like in the future, you know, 20 years from now. From The Saddle tries to mirror the way it is today—but what would a story in From The Saddle be like in 1984? It might be more of a nightmare than a story...

A narrow slit of sunlight knifed through a gap in the curtains. It was this that caused Adam Spence to wake up.

When he did awake, he snapped his eyes open in excitement. This was Sunday morning. And that meant one thing—today was riding day. Today that good old dirt bike gets fired up and it's ride, ride, ride. Hot damn!

Let's see … time for a quick breakfast? Nope. It's almost 7:15. Time's a-wastin'.

Adam descended the shaft leading to the communal garage—his ma­chine was stored in cubicle 14. There it was. Sleek, purposeful and mean looking. Jagged knobs bristled on the tires and the hydro-pneumatic suspension valves reflected light off their stainless chrome surfaces.

The machine was a 125cc Yamaha AT-27-MX and was the finest money could buy. It handled like a dream and put out the maximum horse­power allowable under current gov­ernment regulations—8½ at the rear wheel. And it was all paid for—that was the best part.

Loading up took little time—eagerness helped. Adam hadn't been rid­ing for over three months and was more eager than usual.

OK. Helmet, boots, gloves, goggles, protective clothing, mandatory wrist identification … hmmmmm. Forget anything? Oh Christ—almost forgot the permit!!! Let's see, where was it last? Near the dresser by the bed? Yeh, here it is. Man, you don't want to lose one of those permits— they're too hard to come by.

As Adam drove out to the main road, it was hard to restrain the excitement. Thoughts flickered through his mind, fun thoughts. “I wonder what I should ride first today? An enduro, or maybe a few hot laps around the motocross course? Or maybe I should spend most of the day in the desert. I've always loved to ride the desert. Oh well, I'll just make up my mind when I get there—that's what always happens anyway.”

An hour and a half later, he ar­rived at the Multi-Track. It was hard to miss that giant building, covering nearly three city blocks. And that sign—wow! Almost 80 feet high, showing a rider doing a wheelie. Sent shivers up your back and sure made you want to get in there and do some dirt riding.

Adam presented his identification and permit at the window and was given his Class 4 badge—something very difficult to earn these days. This meant he was allowed to ride all types of tracks, except the roundy-­round stuff, which he didn't care for anyway.

The lift/hoist removed his machine from the truck and the lady gave him an assigned number. Sec­tion 34B. Hot dog! The best section in the house! This was going to be a good day. Adam could just tell.

He entered the transporter tube and punched 34B on the console panel. Moments later, the doors whispered open and there he was. Section 34B, a favorite among riders all over the nation. Some people even drove hundreds of miles just to ride this beauty.

And there his machine was, sitting patiently with the energy cord plugged in to the powerplant. Was it fully charged yet? Nope. The red light on the tank was still blinking. Adam buckled on all of his gear, the sound of the Velcro strips music in his ears. Just as the last glove was locked into the sleeve, the red light on the tank went out. Ready—the machine was fully charged and set for a full ride.

Adam disconnected the power cord and pushed the machine over to the Section Entrance. Unsmiling, the attendant demanded to see his permit. A mild moment of panic hit Adam, but the permit was right there in his pocket where it was supposed to be. A selector was clipped to his handlebar and the attendant opened the door and let man and machine into the riding area.

It was beautiful! The large turn­table-like platform measured nearly 100 yards around at the outer cir­cumference, possibly the biggest and most demanding course in the country. Oh sure, there was one bigger in Belgium, but that one had been built years ago and was nowhere near as elaborate as this beauty.

The texture of the dirt was per­fect—as always. Loamy and soft, with no rocks. Bumps, 10-foot slopes and several heart-stopping jumps made this a rider's track. Not one of those nothing tracks in the smaller towns. This one was a test—a real test—of the suspension.

Adam checked everything over carefully. Sixty pounds of pressure in the suspension, power unit fully charged, all ready. Now, what kind of riding?

How's about a little desert—start the day off right. He flipped the se­lector to Desert and almost immedi­ately the platform started moving, like a giant record.

The walls and the ceiling came alive as cameras projected the proper image. Joshua trees flashed by, the sky was an incredibly eye-hurting blue and the mountains in the distance loomed up high and proud.

Adam was so caught up with the beauty that he almost fell. Whuuup! Better pay attention to the business at hand. Those bumps will getcha if you're not watching.

A series of whoopdies rippled ahead, but the suspension did most of the work of soaking up the harsher jolts. Standing on the pegs did the rest.

Deep sand loomed up, the rutted wheel-grabbing kind. Adam got his weight back and rolled on the throt­tle. The bars waggled. some—not bad—but enough to demand no errors on the part of the rider.

Perspiration broke out on his brow and breathing became deeper. Dirt riding was hard work, indeed.

A smooth section came up and Adam reached down to the Selector and deftly flicked the sound switch to 112 decibels on the “A” scale. Almost immediately, the sound of a crackling expansion chamber saturated the platform, raping his eardrums in the process.

But the assault on his ears was music. Good music. It was amazing how the sound of the chamber synched perfectly with every nuance of his throttle hand. Tweak the throttle, and the crescendo blitzed upward—back off and the sound muted and popped. Bitchen'.

Time was fleeting, so Adam once again reached for the selector and this time hit the Enduro button. The desert background vanished and was instantaneously replaced with deep, black-soiled woods. Flickers of sunlight filtered through the overhead branches. Adam drew a deep breath. Mygawd, that's beautiful, he thought.

Obstacles flashed up in front of him and he got up on the pegs to work the bike around them. Going was gnarly and all of his skill was required to keep from making contact with the 3-D images of trees, rocks and the like.

A buzzer snarled at Adam, warn­ing him that the last tree hazard had not been missed. More concentration was required and he settled down to the business at hand. This slow riding was even tougher than the fast stuff—really took a lot out of a rider. Whew.

Adam glanced at his watch. Not much time left—better get in some motocross before his riding period expired.

Click.

Bodies hurtled by and slammed the gate right in front of him. Even though he knew they were just images, it was still frightening. Adam scrambled for the first turn, passing several of the images and making contact with several more. Angrily, the buzzer warned him of his clumsiness. He made a mental note to be more careful—too many buzzer viola­tions and that old riding permit would get yanked for six months or so.

The platform speeded up, as it always did for the motocross action. Bumps that had previously been av­erage suddenly took on a new, more vicious character.

He had to ride wider and wider to make the turns, using all of the available platform and coming perilously close to leaving the platform at times.

Adam got caught up in the frenzy of competition and worked the ma­chine for all it was worth—thrust, slide, jump, pass, weave in and Out of traffic until his forearms were burning.

But he still pushed harder and harder. And the harder he pushed, the better he rode. No buz­zers snarled at him, even though he was riding right in the thick of all the action. Adam was completely caught up in the heat of competition ...then...

…then, everything stopped. All of the images disappeared. Motion ceased. The platform no longer moved. And the little red light on his tank flashed accusingly that his time was, indeed, up.

Reality was brought back with sudden harshness. Being yanked back to earth this quickly was always depressing. It always seemed to happen during motocross. Adam made a mental note to try and ride enduros towards the last on his next ride.

As he was pushing his machine out of 34B, another eager rider was waiting at the entrance. Adam en­vied him—but, three months from now, he'd be back. Just show some patience.

When he got to his vehicle, his machine was already loaded on the carriers for him, just one of the many niceties of this Multi-Track. An undefinable feeling of depression settled over Adam as he headed for his apartment. It sure would have been nice to ride a bit longer. Oh well.

Then he saw it. Among all the buildings by the Main Way, there was a section of open ground. Obvi­ously, several older buildings had been torn down and the land was awaiting construction of the new buildings. But there it was—several acres of dirt. Real dirt. And it wasn't fenced in.

Adam pulled off at the next Loop and worked his way back to the construction site. No one was around. He was tempted … hell, why not? What could they do to him, anyway?

He was sure that at least 20 minutes of power was left on the reserve units in his machine.

A few moments later, the bike was unloaded and he flipped the lever to reserve. Sure enough. Nearly a half hour left. He fired the powerplant up and checked everything over—mostly out of force of habit.

A dab on the left side engaged the converter and the bike moved off. Hey, this is really neat, thought Adam. He pitched the machine down and threw a rooster tail high into the air.

Grinning like a man pos­sessed, he slithered and slid all over the cobby construction site. At the end of a very few minutes, Adam had a homemade track laid out. He was panting so hard that he was forced to take a short breather. Wow, this was real work! Sweat coursed down his brow and the salt stung his eyes. But he was happy.

Leaning forward on the bars, he surveyed the area about him. All these buildings and, right in the middle, my own personal dirt riding area, thought Adam.

These were his last thoughts.

A milli-second later, the sharp sound of a firearm cracked and echoed. The bullet entered Adam's forehead and passed through his brain. He was dead before his head slammed against the crossbar.

The little red light on his tank blinked. The Sunday morning ride was over.
 

                                          ***

SUBJECT:  WHAT’S A USED BIKE WORTH?
Hey,  I just got a chance to buy used dirtbike. The bike is a Yamaha DT one or something like that. The thing is been stored in a shed for something like 20 years. The paint and stuff is a real good condition and if I may be looks like 10 years old at the most, so cosmetically it looks okay.

He put some gas in the bike and tried to start it. No luck. It had a spark and the compression felt okay but it never even tried to start.

The guy was yesterday 200 for it and came down to hundred and 50 and then 100. But I figured no start, no bike. Who wants to buy something that won’t run?

So did I make the right deal on this or what? After all, the bike did look pretty good. And I probably could’ve gotten it to run I guess, but I’m no great mechanic. Your opinion?

Mike Dinoble

All things considered, by not buying the bike you made one of the biggest dumb ass moves of the year. You have any idea what parts from a DT1 in excellent condition would bring on eBay alone? And if the bike had spark and compression chances are it would have started fairly easy. You could have had a running DT1 for a 100 bucks. Your best bet at this point is to walk into a corner and start smacking your head side to side.

                                                ***

SHAMELESS PLUG

I got some questions from a few readers who wanted to know what kind of vintage posters that I had for sale. Here’s one that ought to knock your socks off. It’s Steve McQueen doing a wheelie on a Husky.

It’s a full color poster of McQueen taken in the early ‘70s when he used to test ride for me at Dirt Bike magazine. This poster is 12 x 18 and printed on heavy 120-pound stock. Shipped in a sturdy protective tube. Cost is only $12 and this includes mailing anywhere in the US. Limited number available.

Just send a check or money order to:
Rick Sieman
49818 W. Val Vista Rd.
Maricopa, AZ  85139

Or if you use Paypal, that address is: [email protected]
Email is: [email protected]
Paypal address: [email protected]


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