My Suzuki RMX 250 dirt bike was a very nice handling motorcycle. My motorcycling buddies talked me into fitting it with an aftermarket performance exhaust system. They were ‘old-salts’ of the sport. It was about the engine. This did make the thing screaming fast, but that was largely wasted on me, as carving a slalom line down a twisty wooded trail was my forte. It was one of the first dirt bikes with upside down forks. “Everyone needs to switch over to upside down forks”, all the magazines said. “They’re the future of fork technology!” At about the time that everyone had made the switch, the motorcycle companies came out with “next generation, right side up forks”, again, “the future of fork technology.”
At national caliber dirt bike races in wooded trails, the local yocals, such as myself, would give way to the professionals. They’re going to beat you no matter what, so get out of their way. You could tell that they were professionals because you could hear them coming up on you fast. When you slowly work your way up on another rider, you’re apt to waste a little bit of time getting around them.
At low RPM’s, my two-stroke engine didn’t have much power, but was rather quiet. Wind it out at high RPM’s, however, and it made the most god awful racket!
Light bulb moment. ‘Why not sneak up on your next target in a high gear, with the poor engine lugging along in protest. The next step is to make your best guess as to when the moving clog in the trail ahead of you might start to hear your engine over their own. At that precise moment, kick the transmission down a couple of gears and let the engine scream. This dastardly scheme was only tried a handful of times, but it most definitely did prove quite effective. This maneuver was quickly laid to rest for two reasons. First, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, and second, I switched from motorcycles to mountain bikes. The new engine (my legs) did plenty of screaming, but only at me, nobody else could hear it.
I noticed a full blown, Austrian made, KTM SuperCross Motorcycle for sale – “Very reasonably priced”. These are the machines that you see in the big stadium races on TV, doing insanely high jumps. Even though I already had my trusty friend in the garage, I felt like there was room for another – it’s a bike thing. It was one of the most rad-looking machines I had ever seen (I would’ve said beautiful, but this story is for the guys). I bought it.
I took it down to St. Joe State Park the next Saturday to give it a test. Now, I had been laboring under the delusion that my Suzuki was screamin’ fast, but this stadium supercross bike ‘launched’. I also found out another important thing. It handled like shit. ‘This machine wants me dead’, is the conclusion that I quickly came to. Once our intentions had been clearly stated to each other, neither of us saw the need to spend the rest of the day together.
“For Sale: KTM Supercross motorcycle – Very reasonably priced”. It came into my life, and then back out again, in the span of a week.
The Suzuki spent quite some time up on blocks in my garage before I could part with it. While mountain bicycling has so many advantages;
Adding another layer of complexity-fitness, Power use strategy-conservation, An absolute ton of trails close to home-thanks to GORC, Larger group of athletes living around you, The clientele is much more varied-non motor heads, A much higher percentage of female athletes-that makes things more interesting and cools the temperature a little, And finally… A better chance of not dying-yah… that’s a good one.
Every once in a while, I would go out to the garage, throw one leg over, stand on the pegs, feel the connection, and go, “VROOM!”
Below is the highlight reel of a recent version of an annual, local race I used to do at St. Joe State Park. Most of the people shown are better than I was, except for the parts where they are in really tight, twisty parts of the trail. There, in my “happy place”, I felt like I could keep up with anyone.