The K T M
...and now for something completely different.
"A cold Thanksgiving wind blew through Texas Stadium the day the Packers came to do battle with the Dallas Ca..."
"CUT !!" "CUT !!" "Now I think you know that aint right" "Again,...from the top"
"Beeench racinggg' take two" ( SNAP ! )
"Right " "Ahem"
" Down in Texas a cold October wind blew through the trees outside of Dallas."
The brisk morning air tingled with excitement as the morning sun glinted off the tops of the hundreds of Winnebagos, box vans, & trailers, that had been collecting on this hilltop since Friday night.
From all over Texas they came. From Dallas, Ft.Worth, Austin, & Killeen. Some even came from as far away as Louisiana, & Oklahoma.
There was LCS Racing, with their huge following down in the valley. On the ridge was the shiny box van of DFW Honda. The KTM boys had taken up position by the water hole.The local squads from Suzuki,& Yamaha, were here in force as well. And the formidable Kawasaki team, with their nicely roped off paddocks, & bright green machinery were hidden in the treeline.
Hundreds & hundreds of them. Young & old. Male & female. All here for the same purpose. All here to do Battle on the Ridge.
These were the rough boys of off road racing. Led by guys like, P1, Clay Hoenshell, & David Culpepper, P11. These are the men & women of the Texas Cross Country Racing Association.
And today is the season opener at Rocky Ridge Cycle Park in north Texas.
Along with the occasional whiff of frying bacon from someone's campstove, comes the unmistakable aroma of bean oil, & the metallic rapport of a passing CR500. The unknown rider, clad, as though out of some futuristic science fiction thriller, in hi-tec body armor, Carbon fiber helmet, & plastic boots, appears strangely robotic with his mirrored goggles & aggressive stance.
I was there on that day , & like the rest, I too planed on "takin' care of some bidnis" in the over thirty expert class. My ATK was runnin' great, as always, & I was feeling very positive about the whole event.
My friend Mike was there too, with his new KTM 550, & we had parked together in the big field up by the house.
I had just gotten back from an early morning practice lap, & noticed that Mike wasn't dressed ( for the race ) yet. After gettin a drink of green Gatorade, (my favorite kind ) I Strolled over to his van ( we both have Ford Aerostars ).
" Hey man, what're you doin'"? Silence. I went on," We need to get to the startin' line, we're goin' in fifteen minutes "!! I looked at his wife, & she at me & we at him.
"What"? I demanded. His new bike lying on it's side, also said nothing.
"It won't start" he whined.
"The kickstart gear's sheared"
"Are ya sure" ? I asked. ( at this point I'm of course, trying to show as much concern as I can muster...you see, my friend Mike rides the same class as me. aww too bad... there's one down.. I smile inwardly )
In an attempt to show the futility of his situation, & therefore cause me to feel sorry for him, & thus ruin my positive mood, in hopes that I'll then crash out, & DNF just like him, he grabbed the kickstart lever & spun it around like Vanna White spins the Wheel of Fortune...making about the same sound.
Then he delivers the Coup de Grace, He looks up from his shiny new scoot, with a tear in his eye, & says.."Well, I guess I'm out"
Oh gotdammit, now I do feel sorry for him, & I am loosing my positive mood, & I probably will crash out...
" OK" I said, "here's whatcha do", ( now I wanted him to race so I wouldn't feel so bad ) "The Pros are gonna start any minute" I said.
" So go get dressed, & after the pros start, get this thing rollin' down yon hill, bump start it, ride over, get yer card punched, & join me on the startin line just in time for the green flag." " If ya don't stall it durin' the race ( ha ha ) you'll get to race & we'll fix it later"
We decided it was a plan, & off he went to suit up, & off I went to gas up.
Now, here's where it gets interesting.
The KTM 550, if you'll recall, is 550cc of rompin', stompin', fire breathin' two stroke racer, certainly a handful for even a big burly guy like myself, let alone a skinny, spindly, wisp of a guy like Mike. Make no mistake, he can ride it...but without a moments notice it could easily ride him.
As I was pullin' my helmet on, I saw him runnin' along side of his orange pumpkin...he's up to speed...there's the hop to the saddle...and....nothin'. The back tire scraped up more dirt than a front end loader, but didn't turn an inch...the racers down on the line were startin their machines.
I ( stupidly ) ran down & told him that he didn't have enough ass to fire a man's machine like this, & ( stupidly ) offered to start it for him...with the same results. The Pros were leaving.
Someone...( him ) had the Idea of tying a strap to the handlebars, & pulling it behind the great White Aerostar van, with me bringing my considerable weight to bear on the rear wheel forcing it to get traction, & thus start.
And so, with confidence that we were going to make it in time, we affixed the necessary towing device to bike & the Great White Aerostar van. We also decided for communication purposes, that we would leave the rear hatchback type door open.
He got in. I got On. Off we went. I could hear the AA class leaving.
With the rear door open we could easily talk back & forth, he said "Is this fast enough"? I answered by dumping the clutch.
Nothing happened. Just a violent jerk on the handlebars. He dragged me along, rear tire scraping, for a few yards & I could see, in the rearview mirror, a look of disbelief in his eyes, & I'm sure he saw the same in mine.
Then I decided to jump up in the air as far as I could, & with tire still scraping, pound my butt down on the seat, surly driving the tire into the ground.
And so I did. "Did it start" you ask? Yes it did. It started alright. Remember the violent jerk on the handlebars, I mentioned a minute ago? Seems the tow strap had pulled something other than the handlebars, yes it did. Namely the throttle cable, all the way out, & the kill switch wires...all the way out. And yes it started, and yes it was at full throttle, and yes I was terrified!!
Now, what seemed like plenty of tow strap, shrank up just like my Johnson, & suddenly I found myself rocketing, in a wheelie, into the ( if you'll remember ) open back door of the Great White Aerostar van.
And once again, just for an instant, I saw in the rearview mirror, a look of disbelief in Mikes eyes...or was it terror. All I remember is that the mirror was very big...and it was filled with my friends wide open eyes !!
Well, of course you can't really fault Mike for what happened next, 'cause it would be anyone's natural reaction to slam on the brakes, & sure enough...that's what he did ...the bike didn't care one little bit.
Alright, so, we got this 550cc of rompin', stompin',fire breathin' two stroke racer, screamin', wide open, me on it's back also screamin' wide open, trying to pack itself & me into the back of a mini-van. ( stop laughin' )
Well, lucky for us all, the bike wouldn't really fit into the Great White Aerostar van, & that's when we came to the sudden & horrible, realization that not only could neither of us switch it off, but it was now tied to a parked mini-van.
Ya ever see what happens to the end of a waterhose when ya got it wide open, with a nozzle on it, & it gets away from you?
Well after a moment it fell over on its side, & Mike, thinking quickly ripped off the gas line...moments later it died...I already had.
Well of course the bike was beat up, the van was beat up, after Mike got finished with me I was beat up...
& sure enough...I crashed out & DNFed Just like Mike.
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