~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I found this on AdvRider.com. I don't usually post stuff I find on-line as the only content of a blog post but for some reason this video made me laugh harder each time I watched it until I had tears in my eyes.

And then his buddies posted it on YouTube. Hey, what are friends for?

(Note: Friends direct friends to an MSF class!)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Got The Finger

No, not that finger although I've received it more than once in my life and in my younger, wilder years may have returned the gesture in an uncivilized moment of anger.

Down below is a picture from last year of my ring finger. I was soldering a couple of wires for my brother and the soldering iron sort of flipped the springy wire which tossed off a glob of solder which then warped the space time continuum enough for the glob of molten solder to find it's way to the side of my wedding band between my fingers where it instantly bonded to the gold which then transfered it's molten heat to my gentle flesh. What were the odds? It could have hit the floor, hit my brother (might have been funny then), or anywhere in the garage but it got my wedding ring.

Click if you really need to see it better

When the solder hit the ring and the gold ring went solder-hot I began doing the wild man boogie around the garage trying to get the ring off, which I did. I looked down at the badly blistered skin on my digit and knew from past painful experience with a Hodaka exhaust pipe what that meant. My brother looked at the skin and said "Oh dude, that sucks!" Then I began quickly pulling off the blistered skin. Bro yelled "Dude!! Dude!! What are you doing???? What are you doing???" I replied that the burnt skin had to come off now or later and it would hurt less now than later. He looked it me when I was done and said "Pulling burnt flesh from your own body? You da man!!"

Clean up, bandage,  the usual stuff ensued.  Later, a trip to the doc confirmed the 3rd degree burn.

The finger healed fine, took about three months.   So this is just a reminder to be careful when working on your bikes. Sometimes even the little stuff can screw up a perfectly good afternoon.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Encinitas and Miramar MX and Scrambles 1970

I took my last four rolls of old 8mm movies and squished them into one last video. The motocross and scrambles races took place in 1970 in the Encinitas and Miramar area in San Diego County. As always I have no idea 39 years later who won or who lost. The most memorable part for me was a crash that landed me (with some embarrassment) and some hapless fellow from the Jackrabbits M/C, on the last page of Cycle World in the February 1971 issue.

That's all, folks. I hope you younger guys enjoyed a peek at sportsman dirt racing in ye olden days and maybe a few old timers will have some fond memories stirred.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I've Been Published! Eight Years Ago Though

Back in the year 2000 I was still fooling around with vintage motocross stuff and my wanderings took me to California to shoot some pictures and do a bit of web page content for for Rick Doughty at Vintage Iron. The web page thing didn't work out well in the long run but I did get some nice pictures at the 2000 edition of the Vintage Iron World Championship races at Glen Helen Raceway. There were lots of vintage bikes and a who's who of famous Yamaha racing stars of the past where there to compete on identically prepared Yamaha YZ250 motocross bikes in the Yamaha Race of Champions.

Back then I was shooting a Nikon CoolPix 950 with a whopping 2.1 mega pixel image sensor. The 950 was and still is a nice camera although I no longer have it. Worth noting is that the little Nikon was anything but a pro quality camera and 2.1 mega pixels may not seem like much these days but I think a look at the photos does illustrate that you don't need a camera with an 80 bazillion mega pixel sensor to get decent pictures, you just need a good quality camera.

Sometime after my pictures appeared on the Vintage Iron web page I received an e-mail from the folks at White Brothers Performance, a motorcycle performance parts company in California, asking about using some of my pictures in their upcoming catalog. Shucks, if it was ok with Vintage Iron it was certainly ok with me so I sent them some higher-than-web-quality picture files for their use. Someone was supposed to send me a copy of the catalog when it came out so I could see my handiwork on the printed page but it never happened. No biggie but it would have been nice.

Over the years when yakking about pictures with other photography enthusiasts I have mentioned that I had some pictures used in the White Bros. catalog. For an amateur photographer getting anything published that doesn't include nekid ladies is a rarity and a big deal. Now, as far as I knew I wasn't fibbing to anyone these past eight years; White Bros. said they were going to use the pictures but then I'd not actually ever seen the pictures in print. My dear ol' mum taught me not to lie so it was a close call for my conscience. When it got right down to it, a life of photographic obscurity meant I was willing to snarf up a tiny molecule photo geek glory while hoping I wasn't full of hot air or worse.

Fast forward to this week and I'm in my favorite bike accessory shop, the Motorcycle Accessory Shop in Mesa, AZ. MAS is a great place, even a very cool place if you know what you're looking at bike-wise. Stop in and visit and mention vintage motocross and you'll have a good time. I mentioned the White Brothers pictures to Bill Ramsey, the owner of MAS, and he reckoned he might still have that 2001 catalog issue around as he is one who never throws away motorcycle related stuff. Visit his store, you'll understand. Anyway, some poking around turned up the 2001 edition of the White Brothers catalog and thereby brought me to my eight-years-in-the-making moment of truth.

A quick thumb through the pages to the vintage bike section and sure enough, there were my three photos. Semi-sadly they were attributed only to the Vintage Iron World Championships and not yours truly but I did take them for the VI folks as much as myself so I can't complain too much even if it wasn't a paid gig. As always, fame and fortune eluded me but at least I could boast now with a clear conscience. Mom probably taught me something about not boasting along with not lying but let's face it, you have to be something less than humble to start a public blog about yourself and what interests you personally.

The catalog pages are below and more of the original batch of pictures on Webshots.com. I post these at this late date eight years after the fact not because anyone accused me of stretching the truth -- Heaven forbid that I would ever do such a thing! -- rather, I simply wanted to make myself feel less guilty about almost stretching the truth a few times over the years. Okay, and maybe I wanted to boast a little, too.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Legal Ruckus

The Mighty Ruckus has left the building. With the 50cc Ruckus gone there will be no more midnight rides with the wife burning up the country roads surrounding our little town. No more edging ever closer to being a 1%er and blasting down another stretch of lonely highway with 'Born To Be Wild" raging from her I-Pod headphones as the Ruckus engine thunders it's menacing four stroke music at the still night. No more infuriating local farmers with a moonlight cow tipping raid. The Ruckus can truly bring out a person's wilder, darker side.

In days gone by I have sold bikes to some interesting characters including a dark, menacing, fellow who bought my Harley, paid for it all in wrinkled $20 bills, and told me he was a professional magician. "I make things disappear" he said looking me straight in the eye. Uh..yeah...ride safe...
'86 H-D FXST-C Softail Custom brought a big stack of 20's

Today the Ruckus sale hit the other end of the public spectrum; we sold it to a judge. No, not a beauty contest judge or county fair livestock judge, or even someone as lofty as a vintage bike show judge. Mark is the kind of judge who you get to see when you've transgressed in some fashion that got you noticed by da cops.

I'd never had a conversation with a judge on my own turf before. Interesting experience. In the course of trading greenbacks and paperwork for the Ruckus our conversation turned to you rascals out there who like to exceed the posted speed limit in some flagrant and excessive fashion and thereby wind up in court. I was shocked, shocked I tell you, to find out how fast some of you ride on public roads! (...he said glancing around watching for an incoming lightning bolt).

I cannot divulge the privileged communication between His Honor and I or anything I may have admitted to now that the statue of limitations have run out except to say that he takes a dim view of traveling at "warp factor 5" on the public roads. Dim as in dim like a poorly lit jail cell. Word to the wise: The fact that you race on the track and your sport bike is safe and stable at 135 mph will not be a winning argument in his court.

After the Ruckus left to begin it's new life on the straight and narrow path I began to ponder how to once again shuffle things around in the garage. With the way bikes come and go here at the palatial 40on2 estate I feel sometimes like my real hobby is rearranging the garage to make more room for whatever comes next or cleaning up the mess from the last adventure. This afternoon I moved the TW200 into the slot vacated by the Ruckus so once again I can walk directly through the garage and open the garage door without squeezing by anything or tearing a good shirt or pair of pants on sharp metal. Hopefully the garage will stay in it's present configuration for a while although I do have this unseemly urge to buy a clapped out Yamaha XS650 and build a bobber. Say what?

I know, it's not a Yamaha 650

I've never built a custom bike of any sort before, it would be a new experience and who knows, I could even take up smoking unfiltered cigarettes, get a tattoo, slick back my hair, get a 60's vintage metal flake helmet, and fully embrace the raw edged bobber kulture that has emerged on the motorcycle scene in the last couple of years. It appeals to my sense of rebellion, of non-conformity, and there is no way to run at 135 mph on a hard tail bobber as my spine and kidneys would disintegrate long before that speed was reached.

The wife was going to spend the Ruckus money on motorhome stuff but the money is just sitting there on the counter tonight gathering dust and I saw a Yamaha 650 on Craig's List the other day. A real bad boy would go for it and hope for forgiveness later or maybe just laugh a careless, devil-may-care laugh and take off down the highway on his new bobber to go tip cows or whatever it is that wild men do these days.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Kit Carson Park Scrambles Race - 1969

Really turned up the dial my personal "Way-Back Machine" with this bit of film.

I was in my senior year of high school at Orange Glen High School in Escondido, California and mad for motorcycles, probably much more than I am now.   I belonged to the school's Interact Club, one of those Rotary Club sponsored student clubs designed to teach young people about civic duty and charitable work.   I suggested to the club and our adviser, that we work with the Brush Barons Motorcycle Club to put on a scrambles race at large, undeveloped piece of land south of town. The land, already known as Kit Carson Park, was to become a developed city park eventually.  "Cool idea, Doug! Way better than a Saturday car wash!"

From hanging around motorcycle shops I already knew some guys in the Brush Barons and I tossed the race idea to them and they in turn sold it to the City Council as a fund raiser for the first playground slated to be built at the park.   Off we went.

The Brush Barons would do the organization and run the race, and our school club members would act as corner workers and such.   It was all a grand plan except for the part where I neglected to clear any of this with the school principal.  It did not even occur to me to do that, after all, it was all about doing a good deed and who could find fault with that?

When news of the race made it into the local paper as "When 200 motorcyclists roar into town..."  Faster than you can say "Bikers pillage small California town" I got yanked into unfamiliar territory, the office of Mr. Ross, the high school principal.  I was told in no uncertain terms that the school club would immediately disassociate itself from the event.  Our dear school principal, Mr. R., who probably knew little of motorcycles beyond watching the old Marlon Brando movie "The Wild One", really thought that two hundred men were going to ride their bikes into our little town of Escondido and hold a motorcycle race. Shades of the Hollister Riot!

"When we're done here, boys, we'll hit Escondido next!"

Nothing I could say to Mr. R. about expensive and specialized racing bikes, the American Motorcycle Association, AMA sanctioned motorcycle clubs, or raising money for charity made any difference. Orange Glen High School would not be associated with possible the sacking and pillaging of the city by a motorcycle club, period. I was devastated to find my hopes and plans cast in the worst possible light. 

So officially our school club was out but I and all my fellow club members still showed up on race day and did our job as corner workers and we had a blast! It was a hundred times better and louder and less responsible than a stupid car wash!

It was a fine motorcycle event with an interesting course that had some super sticky water crossings and fast flat hard pack dirt sections. The race had a great turn out of riders and spectators too. One Escondido City Councilman at the race was heard to say "This is great!! We need more events like this!" Of course that never came to be; the Kit Carson Park scrambles race was arranged as a one time only deal and it stayed that way.

On their way to do who knows what evil deeds!

A month or so later when the bills from the race were paid the Brush Barons went to the next city council meeting and presented the Council with a check for $500, not a small amount in those days, in fact equal to a month's pay for lots of folks. The Council was astonished at the amount and one member told the Brush Barons club president after the meeting "We thought you guys were going to show up and give us fifty bucks!"

In due course the kids playground was built and a plaque was put up noting all the civic groups that donated money to the building of the playground. There was no mention of the Brush Barons M/C or the 200 riders who had roared into to town to hold a motorcycle race and raise some money for little kids.

Typical uptight "citizen" that he was, the school Principal never called me back into his office and said "Oops, sorry. You were right." Or maybe I wasn't right? Maybe I should have asked for permission first but I have always understood from that time on that motorcyclists, regardless of who we were, what type of bike we rode, or what we did, would always be outside the mainstream just a little and sometimes a lot.  After forty years I prefer it that way. And I have learned, as the old saying goes "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission."

Here ya go, dirt scrambles racing at Kit Carson Park in Escondido:

Saturday, July 04, 2009

1970 Sod Busters M/C Santee CA Motocross

Still a miserable day here in AZ and probably will be until, oh say, mid-September, so I'm still putting videos together from my old 8mm films and learning a good bit in the process about improving the quality of the video output.

This next one is from the Sod Busters M/C motocross outside of Santee, CA in July 1970. I recall that it was hotter than blazes and the guys with the water truck kept turning random corners back into grease just about the time the mud was drying to the point of having actual traction.

In the second moto I got a bad start, fell down in the slippery first turn and got up mad. I proceeded to pass people and after three or four laps was sitting in third. I could see second place and at the rate I was going thought maybe, just maybe, I could catch him as he was slow on a downhill section. I let the bike run out through one more gear at the bottom of the downhill and into a little wash with a jog coming out and proceeded to nail a small boulder buried in the dirt. Did the usual sky-ground-sky-ground thing, rolled to a stop, jumped up (sure was nice to be 19 years old) and ran for the bike which was laying there with both the triple clamps broken. Day over. Being a Bultaco it cost me something like $35 for new triple clamps at a time when I was making $2.00 and hour. That hurt. Surprisingly, the fork tubes were not bent, probably because the triple clamps let go.

So here ya go:

Thursday, July 02, 2009

1969 Carlsbad Raceway

I seem to be getting quicker with making these little videos. I must be learning something about the video software finally. I had a little more fun doing this one too. My apologies to Gen. Patton...or maybe he'd understand.

Here's the oldest 8mm footage I've got, a typical weekend at Carlsbad with motocross going on at the motocross track and bike road racing right next to it on the road course. I'm not sure but this might be the first or second motorcycle race I ever attended. I know I borrowed my dad's 8mm camera and received stern warnings about what would happen if it got dirty or broken. Next time you're shooting your digital video camera imagine you've only got 3 minutes of video and it will cost you an hour's wages to get it out of the camera.

Ossa Stilleto. One of the prettiest dirt bikes ever

I didn't start racing until a few months later when I left home and dear ol' Dad couldn't stop me anymore.

In case you're wondering why I am bothering to post a bunch of grainy, ancient old home movies on YouTube and here, it is mostly for the guys in the films. I hope maybe someone will see himself (or herself) back then and remember what fun it was, what it was like to be young and slightly daft. Motorcycle racing was a lot less socially acceptable then than it is now. Maybe the rider's kids will see the movies and realize that dad or even grandpa were not always worn out old fahrts that they are now. We were all young once. Sadly, not for long enough.

Here ya go:

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Big Brother Inches Closer

I did a blog entry back in 2005 about the creeping of Big Brother government into the control of our vehicles. It is a subject that concerns me greatly because, frankly, it seems inevitable unless Americans stand up to the creeping and leaping Big Government intrusion into every sector of our lives. From light bulbs to cow farts the government is extending it's tentacles into our lives and vehicles.

Here's a tidbit from the news that should make you stop and think and also scare you as we watch the US Government seize control of car companies, plan new "carbon taxes," and generally tighten the grip of it's money grubbing fingers around our privacy and wallets. From the Kansas City Star:

"The year is 2020 and the gasoline tax is history. In its place you get a monthly tax bill based on each mile you drove — tracked by a Global Positioning System device in your car and uploaded to a billing center." Link

Now some of you might think that you could circumvent the system by keeping your old vehicle. No, that won't work because you will simply be required by law to have it installed on your old vehicle. At your expense, of course.

You might think you could find a way to disable the system or mask the GPS signal but that would be tampering with a regulatory device, akin to grinding the serial numbers off of a gun. Big time felony, fine, and jail. You would not risk it. You have too many obligations to attend to. Besides, your odometer could be physically checked during your annual someday mandatory Federal smog equipment/safety inspection and you'd have to account for the mileage discrepancy between the big government computer and your vehicle odometer just like you can be audited by the IRS and have to explain your tax filings.

Radar traps, red light cameras, speed cameras, mandatory safety inspections, by-the-mile taxes based on GPS installed in your vehicle. Do you feel those cold, slippery, tentacles of government around your wallet yet, or worse, your privacy? You should. It's happening. As I said back in 2005, it's not a question of political parties at this point, it's a technocrat and money issue. And these days the government's insatiable thirst for your money trumps your freedom and privacy every time.

Think twice next time you vote and be sure to ask the politician for whom you are voting where he or she stands on personal privacy, actually cutting government spending, and the mile-by-mile tracking by the government of law abiding private citizens for any reason.

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"When my mood gets too hot and I find myself wandering beyond control I pull out my motor-bike and hurl it top-speed through these unfit roads for hour after hour." - T.E. Lawrence

An Important reminder from the past:
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." - James Madison