On Any Sunday, The Next Chapter Official Teaser:
On Any Sunday, The Next Chapter Official Teaser:
Cheap racing? Maybe it isnt. But the 100 class at vintage races is about as close and exciting as it gets.
Ride along with Doug Dubach as he battles with Scott Burnsworth and Guy Cooper. If you don’t yell at your screen around the 8 minute mark there is no hope for you.
“What have I gotten myself into?” I thought as my team mates for the weekend and I rattled our way down a horrible dirt road. Our Friday afternoon drive to the races had been rather uneventful thus far save for the drive-by mooning to a fellow racer. Its funny how a mooning is usually a good laugh for all involved but come in hot from the back seat and try to stick your exposed pasty white cheeks between the driver and their steering wheel and suddenly everyone thinks I’m a lunatic! We had just finished up our Drive to the Race podcast and posted it when Ellis veered off of the pleasant rural highway and onto what seemed to be a supercross whoop section from my vantage point, a lawn chair in back of the van. The reason for my trepidation was not the tumultuous death march we were doing down this dirt road. It was the fact that I was spotting rocks. Rocks everywhere. The kind that jut out at odd angles. Rocks made of decomposing limestone that feel like razors when you hit them and do about the same type of damage to your tires. I was worried because I had brought my fastest motospode friends with me to what I figured would be a typical Oklahoma woods race, a few rocks, wide fast trails and A LOT of whoops. Motospodes excel in those conditions so of course I brought them. 9 hours of racing should ensure whoop development. Not in this terrain though. My fatal oversight in planning for this event was to not look at a map. The race site was located a mere three miles from the Oklahoma-Missouri border on the northern end of the Ozark mountain range. First obstacle of the weekend, noted. I started singing Kumbaya using Ellis’s Bell and Arai helmets as bongo drums.
Rolling into the gate of the race we were met with some awesome sites as the event was held the D-Day Adventure Park. D-Day is a massive complex for paintball wars. Not games, wars. It has many different buildings and even small city-scapes across the property. They have tanks and jeeps to get around in and even some old planes and boats sitting around for the games. It is truly an impressive place. And lets not forget, we race through those buildings at The Off-Road Cup which makes this years event EPIC on a whole new level. We got parked, did the sign-in dance and even messed with our buddy Brian over at Moto-Tally before hunting down some dinner at the little on-site café.
Early the next morning we awoke to a startlingly long line of cars coming into the event. It had been very busy the evening before but this was getting wild. I heard reports that over 500 people had come through the gate for the event. That’s what happens when Wieners in the Woods race team shows up, people congregate and usually end up drinking and practicing their poor decision making skills.
We drove the race van right past the riders meeting and out into the pit lane area. Lucky us, we had an outside spot and were able to back the van right up to it. This would prove even more useful than we could have hoped by the end of the day. In the meantime I just meant our cellphones could be on chargers, we would have AC in case it got hot and most importantly my new quadro-copter with go-pro mount would have a charger available all day.
The race went off with the usual amount of hitches for our team. Clark’s super modded CRF250R decided to be a little bitch after firing up seemingly while breathing on the kick starter all morning it took him 5 kicks to get it fired up. I would have gotten this all on camera from the air except for the small detail of leaving the Wi-Fi on with my Go-Pro caused it to prematurely drain its battery like a 13 year old boy watching scrambled CineMax on Friday night. I hustled back to the van to swap cameras and was able to catch third row and back from the air.
After the start Ellis and I headed back to the van to get everything ready for our rides. Riders started pouring in at the 20 minute mark and no Clark. I was hearing from other teams that there was a lot of tight virgin trail and a copious amount of nasty rocks. I felt impending doom was looming over us as Clark rolled around the corner and into our pits about 8 minutes behind the lead pack. Clearly I should have started as this is not my favorite terrain, but I am much more comfortable riding in these conditions than my teammates. Ellis took off and Clark looked like someone had just beaten his puppy with a kitten as he slumped into the lawn chair. “Dude, this place sucks,” is all he said for about 5 minutes. He repeated it so much I started inspecting his helmet and bike for signs of a crash thinking maybe he had bonked his little noggin.
40 some minutes passed until we saw Ellis again. We hadn’t seen him come by to take a second lap so we worried that problems may quickly be stacking against us. Ellis finally showed up to pass the baton onto me and said “You’ll love it!” I had already heard enough of people complaining about the terrain that I had made up my mind that I was going to LOVE this dirt whether I liked it not so his words were encouraging. I hustled into the woods knowing that we had a lot of ground to make up and approximately 8 hours to do it.
Three miles into my stint I had already decided that the course was “so-so” in my opinion but I could tell it was going get a lot better. Just as I wrapped my head around that I got a flat rear tire. I did everything right, I run super heavy Dunlop tubes, I put air in them weeks ago and never checked them so as not to unnecessarily lose any air so I know that wasn’t the problem. Obviously it was sabotage by a nail, evil unicorns or vengeful rocks. I believe I called a tree an “asshole” somewhere around that time as well. I heart trees 4eva.
I waddled my way around the course and back to the pits to hand the torch off to Clark, who wasn’t ready for my arrival which was another growing trend in our race. I spent the next hour or so changing my rear tube and flying the quadro-copter over the pits getting footage for the video of the race. Woods-Mom and Woods-StepDad arrived around that time to check out the teams progress. They were quite impressed with our last place running in the Pro class and the facilities in general.
Clark shows back up into the pits from his stint, arm in his lap and tears in his eyes. We called him a sissy and start icing him down. He hit the dirt hard with his shoulder and wasn’t too sure he could continue. We finally get him back on the bike about 2 hours later after Ellis and I each did nearly hour long stints.
Somewhere around this time, I had to crap. I don’t know how many of you wear in the boot pants and knee braces, so I’ll just break it down for you. Basically you hover while holding your pants as far forward as possible and hope for the best or you disrobe and go to the porta-potty in your underwear and flip-flops. And no matter how many times you put wet wipes in your gear bag they will never be there when you have to do a number two on race day. So you are playing with fire… possibly on your doo-doo hole. I’m talking about the dreaded monkey butt.
Around the six hour mark I was strapping my helmet on figuring Ellis would show up any second when the “ryno of doom” showed up with the passenger madly waving a baton at me. Luckily Ellis wasn’t hurt, he had just broken down less than half a mile from the finish line. This put us another 30 minutes down. I raced as hard as I could and was rewarded with a front flat tire about 2 miles into my second lap. It actually wasn’t bad as long as I wasn’t trying to lean over. I came in and got Clark back out on the trail and went to access the situation on Ellis’s bike.
Fubar’d came to mind instantly upon seeing the poor KTM. A rear wheel bearing had gone out causing the chain to come off the rear sprocket and get wound up between the engine case and front sprocket. Luckily we couldn’t see any leaks, but Ellis’s 300 wasn’t moving any more at this race.
Coming into the last hour we stopped for a team safety meeting and we took stock in our situation. Clark had just come off the track for his last session and had a flat front tire. We were all out of tubes at this point so his bike’s day was over. We decided that Ellis should ride a lap on my KTM 250XCF with the sweet retro graphics. He hoped it wouldn’t give him a boner but we all knew that it would. He wears snapback hats so obviously the 90’s graphics were going to “do it” for him.
Ellis came in from his last stint on the bike complaining of cramps. I handed him some Midol because cramps are for pussies then told him to meet me at the finish line in 24 minutes with a beer and the Go-Pro. Our last place finish had to be documented. I scooted out of the pits feeling surprisingly fresh for having nearly three hours of riding under my belt by that time. And then it happened, it was in slow motion from my point of view and the image has haunted me ever since. I was trailing some slower riders through a big G-Out and thinking to myself “I am going to dispatch of these spodes as soon as we hit this next section.” When suddenly the rider in front of me kicked a jagged football sized rock into my path. I turned it up to 11 on the throttle and hoped for the best as I came slamming down into the G-Out but was met only with agony and shame as I felt the rear tire collide with the middle finger of mother nature. I instantly knew I was going to have flat number three of the day, number four for the team. I tried to ride it out but the bike was slithering like a snake on ecstasy as soon as I hit the next turn. I was in full on Ken Block Gymkhana mode going across the field across from the pits. I’m sure Tanner Foust would have gotten a tiny boner as I whipped the bike through the trees at odd angles. I had to give up the ghost as I came into the next field as the bike was barely moving because all that Austrian horsepower killed the rim lock with a quickness.
I limped it back to the race van and promptly slammed a beer before we tore down the pits and headed back to our camp spot. The beers were going down too good to leave with the rest of the team so I stayed an extra night with other people from the race and hitched a ride back. I also flew the quadro-copter catching some nice after race parties from the air. That’s what its all about anyways, hanging with buddies around a camp fire bench racing and having a few beers. Till next year Off-Road Cup, you were a stone cold bitch to me this year but I’ll be back for more come next spring.
Electric race bikes are coming. They just keep getting better and better. With Zero, KTM and others making production pushes already and companies like BRD RedShift and Yamaha soon to launch its only a matter of time.
And suddenly, within the next 20 years, bikes will be simple, lightweight, and fairly cheap to own and ride again. Only this time around we will have good brakes and suspension already.
People want to blabber on and on about how great some bikes are and indeed most of the time, yes all the motorcycles on their lists are absolutely wonderful specimens of motorcycle design and engineering. But Have you ever ridden a Vincent Black Shadow or a V8 Moto-Guzzi? How about a factory motocross or road racing bike? No? Good, me either. And very few of us ever will.
I cut my teeth on dirt bikes, wrenched in multi-line dealerships for years and have ridden just about every motorcycle in the real world. That and the fact that I own this website obviously qualifies me to put in my two cents on the subject. I approached the list with a lot of thought and based it on many criteria including: affordability, ease of maintenance, smile factor, reliability, and above all else, FUN. That is the one thing holding this entire list together. All these bikes are a hoot to ride and guaranteed to make you smile every time you ride them. I chose from as many categories of motorcycling as possible.
So, without further ado lets kick all those super expensive exotics out of the way and get down to the Top Ten Real World Motorcycles of All Time. For clarification, just consider all bikes on the list to be their most recent model year unless otherwise noted and that the numbers are just for listing, not a ranking.
1) Honda Super Hawk 996
This is arguably the most under rated street sport motorcycle of all time. Honda took a proven winner in the Ducati 996 and turned it into an every man’s motorcycle. Liquid cooling, wet clutch, service intervals that wouldn’t break the bank and typical Honda reliability and quality. They didn’t sell well and can be found cheaply which leads to the biggest complaint you find. People buy them cheap expecting cheap transportation and find that a 1000cc drinks gas and chews up rear tires. The people that make these complaints obviously have zero understanding that you don’t ride 1000s for economy, you ride them for FUN. And the Super Hawk 996 gives you a lot of fun and asks very little in return. Honorable Mention; Suzuki GSXR 750
2) Buell XB12 Lightning
Yup, a Buell. Why? Because they are a hoot to ride. The growls clatters and snarls these bikes put off make everyone on the sidewalk do a double take as you wheelie past with 100+HP worth of American muscle wrapped in a completely unorthodox chassis. Nothing feels like a Buell XB, some people say the 1125 and the race bikes are better, but I love the XB because you can get the bikes cheaply, the parts are everywhere and if you don’t like the sound, you are probably a terrorist. Honorable Mention; Kawasaki W650/800
3) Kawasaki KLR 650 (First Generation)
It doesn’t do anything particularly well yet it seems to do everything with minimal balking or modification. Heavy, simple, bulletproof. The KLR 650 is the AK47 of motorcycles. If you can purchase it and pick it up out of the dirt, its a no brainer to ride. When the smoke and ash of nuclear war clears up, all that will be left is cockroaches and KLRs. Hopefully there are some surviving bandits riding those KLRs avoiding zombie hordes as was the intention of the designers of the original KLR650. Honorable Mention; Suzuki DRZ400
4) Yamaha YZ250
I am a firm believer in keeping with tradition, and apparently so is Yamaha as they haven’t updated the venerable YZ in nearly a decade. But then again, why would they? The tooling is paid for and besides KTM and a couple of outlier companies, no one is competing for the 2 stroke 250cc MX market. And in the same breath, none of those other bikes are to the level of the YZ just yet. It has the best suspension available, the engine is powerful yet docile and the entire bike wears like iron. The few complaints people generally have are easily solved and they are everywhere, always ready to be bought and ridden and at home in any terrain. A true racers dirt bike. Honorable Mention; KTM 350XCF
5) Honda Goldwing
Nothing eats miles and is still docile on city streets like a Goldwing. While I freely admit that a couple BMW’s do everything the ‘Wing does and maybe more, they cost more to purchase and maintain and there isn’t a BMW dealer in every town across the country. The Goldwings are impressive on so many levels its hard to pick any one thing out. If you have never ridden one, go do it. Especially if all you ride is big Harley touring bikes. Honorable Mention; BMW RT1200
6) Honda XR 250/400/600
There is no denying the glory the old XR’s claim. Nothing else eats up the trail or desert without so much as a hiccup as they will. Feed them a steady diet of 87 octane, change the oil and air filters regularly and the mighty XR rewards you with reliability of an anvil. Every time I ride an XR I am reminded of a quote from Preston Petty that goes along the lines of “If they banned water cooling and power valves and all that to keep bikes simple and cheap, would we have less fun riding and racing?” I doubt it. Honorable Mention; KDX200/220
7) Kawasaki EX250 Ninja
One of the highest selling street motorcycles of the last 30 years the venerable EX250 is short on features and long on adaptability. You are just as likely to see these war horses on a race track as you are in the garage of a teenager or beginner rider. They are kind of like the XR of the street. Durable, docile, and cheap to own they reward your pushing with ever predictable handling that will make you smile. Who doesn’t like riding a bike that you can honestly push the limits of its engine at any time and feel like a hero when keeping up with bikes twice its size. Communists, that’s who. Honorable Mention; Yamaha YSR50
8) Honda Ruckus
Ubiquitous on college campuses across the USA the Ruckus doesn’t even qualify as a motorcycle really and barely counts as a “scooter” being that it lacks any real storage capacity. There are other scooters that are “better”, but nothing in recent times has made scooters more acceptable, accessible, and fun to ride as the Ruckus. The Ruckus’ big tires and stripped down look are down right utilitarian. The fact that the Ruckus is extremely simple to work on as well as cheap to purchase make the choice clear. Leave the engine stock, keep a fuel pump handy and grease the kick starter gears every now and then and the Ruckus will reward you with years of scooting fun. Honorable Mention; Honda Grom
9) Yamaha XV1700 Warrior
If you are into cruisers, specifically Power Cruisers, you have to look at the Warrior. In fact, I will go so far as to say that you should only look at the Warrior. Its bold, yet subtle muscular looks betray its downright nasty attitude on the street. In my opinion it is everything a cruiser meant for the city should be. Low slung seating, fire breathing engine, suspension and brakes right off the R1, and a virtual middle finger to every Harley bar racer in town as the Warrior does things a cruiser was never designed to do such as accelerate, turn and stop with authority. Add in that they are readily available and easy to maintain and its a winner. Honorable Mention; Harley Davidson V-Rod
10) Honda VFR 800/1200
These are bordering on the overpriced side in my opinion as not many people have pockets deep enough to plop down $17,000 for the new 1200 DCT model. But these are glorious motorcycles that pack in a ton of features and truly embody sport touring motorcycles. Comfortable enough for all day riding, handling that will never leave you in the dust in the twisties and the engines are fantastic. Just experiencing the VTEC “boost” is worth going for a test ride on the older models. With the newer models Honda gives you a glimpse into the future with its DCT system. The bikes are simply electric and much faster than you would think given their docile power in town. Honorable Mention; Suzuki V-Strom 1000
There are so many good bikes out, that it is hard to name them all. If you want to tell me that I am a fool or whole heartedly agree with my list, just comment below. I love hearing from readers!
So the AMA has “advanced” me to B class. To my knowledge, I have never ridden any AMA event, as an adult on a full size bike in a class other than A250, A-Vet or E1 LOI.
This amuses me greatly, so I decided to have some fun with it and sent an email over to the BJEC President and Scoring Chairman. It should be noted here that I have been racing this series for nearly 20 years, the last 5 of which I have been in the AA class. I was also the Scoring Chairman last year. So I know these people. That makes this even more amusing in my opinion.
Kit did not seem amused, and despite the fact that I got him his cushy position as the BJEC Scoring Chairman he responded with a firm “NO” and continued with further elaboration.
Former BJEC Scoring Chairman Todd York and Local rider and amateur reporter Jason Hubbert weighed in on the subject;
Obviously Todd is a comedian and Jason a worldly scholar who likens my plight to that of Macbeth.
Lloyd, the President of the BJEC finally returned my email after sleeping on the issue over night.
As you can see, I have an uphill battle to wage with the powers that be in BJEC. But I am determined none the less to make these people understand that I have a much larger governing body on my side.
Even multi-time national champions aren’t immune the AMAs amazing class identification systems. Charlie Mullens just posted this to Instagram and in the comments many other pro level riders commented how they had received similar letters in recent days.
Now I really don’t know what to make of this, does this mean I’m that fast? That the Hot Rod is that slow?
One thing I am sure of however is that this has something to do with the AMAs new class advancement system that was discussed in depth over at Cycle World in December 2012.
Maybe I will just drop it and suck up the fact that although I am a bottom of the barrel regional AA rider the AMA is about as clueless and fast moving as a three toed sloth on a Jack Daniels bender.
I will keep you updated on this scandal as it unfolds so keep checking back!