Author Archives: dawnvk
Jordan Creek March 30, 2013
Nostalgic of our first dirt bike ride in the PNW early spring 2009. It was warm, no dust, perfect conditions.
37 Stick In The Nose- The trail had been recut recently. More switch backs and less straight up. It was a nice warm up. Tried to take 103 Purple Bug Stump down, but couldn’t find it so we went down the way we came.
39 Spaur Creek, bermy with trees and small hills.
84 Jordan Creek- Mostly fast and open, same as always. It goes into the trees a couple times but mostly follows the Creek.
29 Morrels Maze- We looked for this before with out luck, but this time we finally found it. Brand new freshly cut trail. It looked as if only 10 bikes had been there before us. The very narrow trail hugged the mountainside. The area was an old growth graveyard of stumps and fallen trees. The new canopy was dense enough to provide deep woods feel even in early spring. It was all first and second gear, technical, but not too crazy. I could ride it with out it just being damage control.
28 Archers Firebreak and assorted side trails. Fun up-hills mostly going east to west. Big jumps, big puddles, rocks…better than I remember.
We missed 77 Payne, but Morrels Maze was better anyway and I needed to conserve energy for Buzzards
35 Buzzards Point- Riding this early spring, there are no leaves on the trees. You can see extremely well how steep the grade is, like very straight down. It has seemingly endless tight switchbacks, rocky down. It’s hard to manage at the end of the first ride of the season. My punny little muscles were giving out, but it was worth it.
We were so hot and sweaty when we returned to the van (yeah, in March), we jumped in the mountain snow melt freezing cold river, perfect ending to a great ride.
I forgot my brand new Lumix LX5 point and shoot camera so the only photos we have are from Steve’s antique digital camera that died during the trip.
Traveled down to South Lava campground to check out the SFRC-Shoe Mafia Memorial day camp out. SFRC seems to be cut of the same cloth as our RGN friends. We met a few of them at Jordan Creek a couple years ago and they were a blast to ride with. I saw this event in their newsletter.
The Camping at South Lava was a lot like the China Hat Campground packed and loud as expected. It was and interesting collections of bikes. A few bike stood out in a sea of orange, a BSA vintage dirt bike, a few Japanese vintage dirtbikes, and an extra new WR. Oh, and the coolest race hauler I have ever seen. I can’t even find anything like it on the internet. Something like this:
We camped across from what I think is the Shoe Mafia, Super nice 3 families of similarly minded folk. They had many bikes, vintage and modern, kids, really big dogs, and a professional chef motophile preparing their meals.
Friday Ride 40>38>35>30 back to camp 22mi
Last year I broke my radiator when we finally found this rocky trials type trial. Steve and I headed for trail 38 right off. 30 goes through lava flows, with a good rock dirt combo and serpentine trails.
Mike came along. It was good getting to know each other at stops.
Saturday Ride 90>80>85>?>? poker run>2310N>2310S>2510>2270>18>22>90>camp 40 mi
Started a big group ride. Steve, Mike, Hans and John, where the only people I knew, plus maybe 4 or 5 others?
I think we took 90 to 94. The beginning was great bermed corners with moist tacky dirt. It would tighten up unexpectedly, but generally fast and open (no whoops). When 90 turns black the rocks start. It seemed longer and rockier than last year. I must be more out of shape. Someone had a vintage bike with no kickstarter and stalled it in the rocks. Ew.
At the 94 junction, the group went back to camp. Steve and I continued on toward the motorcycle only single track.
At the junction of 80 and 50 there was a poker run check point. It was snowing, which it had been doing on and off all weekend. We didn’t think much of it. It would usually snow for 20 minutes or so then stop.
We continued on to 85. At the junction of 85 and 78 we stopped for a snack. It was still lightly snowing, but not sticking on the ground yet. We headed up 85 and it turned into a blizzard with huge quarter sized heavy snowflakes. We thought we had better get back. We could see the poker run to the west of us. We joined them going south at least it was one-way traffic since visibility was minimal.
I was having a riot riding in the snow. Maybe it reminded me of ice racing. Steve was more cautioned. We decided to take the road back. I take us on a wrong turn on 2310, and we head north. The snow gets deeper and deeper about 3”. By the time we figured out we were going the wrong way I was wet and frozen.
We encountered another poker run checkpoint with a woman dressed as a Yeti. She offered us beer and said they saw a grey wolf pass through.
As we went south the snow gradually disappeared. My fingers were painful frozen stumps, I couldn’t tell if I was pulling in the clutch lever or not. Back at camp, I wanted to throw myself on the fire and just get it over with. I ended up sitting really close steaming while quaking.
Sunday Ride 40>49>40>80>85>81>74>66>60>57>32>30 60mi
The whole reason I am writing this is so we don’t do this again. We are enticed by the motorcycle only no quad trails. We did this same thing last year.
The blue 40 is not as good as the green 90. It is just quad point and shoot.
85 goes over flat paved-like lava slabs, rocky trails, small climbs, some tight trees
81 is not so good. The 4 rocky plateaus that you climb up and down are great, but the 5 miles of whoops are spine shattering (although Hans “I like whoops” might have enjoyed it). It did have a few small tree obstacles.
74 bad quad boring whoops no connected turns
Quads are good for something! (Stacey) Some crazy shit happened around 57. Quads can make a Wall of Death in the right conditions! A few of the walls seemed to go beyond vertical. One section had two connected back to back. WILD! Unfortunately there were a lot of quads on that trail.
We thought we would check out the blue 30 on the way back. The beginning was pretty horrible. We got to boundary signs and thought about taking another route, but there was nothing around. It was fun enough at speed, but the trees were dense and you couldn’t see oncoming traffic at all.
I think it was Steve’s intention to run me into the ground so I don’t think about dirt biking for a while. I hit the proverbial wall once we got to black 30. I also actually hit a few trees and fell in big rocks breaking my precious start button.
Remember to check with the Hood River County Forestry Department 541-387-6888 before going out to ride at Post Canyon at Mt Hood. It closes to OHV due to fire hazzards.
We started at Post Flats staging area on the north side. The surface is soft ball sized volcanic rock that was a little rough on Stanley. On the way out we noticed a couple dirt bikers with cars and small trailers staging by the mountain bikers probably for this reason.
The single track was nice, but there was not much of it. One loop was less than 20 miles. It was mostly loamy dirt. There was only one small rocky section. No gnarly hill climbs.
We tried to stay on single track because the quad trails were wide, point and shoot, and not so fun.
115 > 140 some parts of 140 were very new with very tight turns and the dirt not packed down.
160 to the Binns Hill Staging Area
crossed the road and took 180 > 173 > 170 the end of 170 got a bit rocky.
turned around and did 170 back
180 >160 >130>133>140> other leg of 115L back to the parking lot
130 across the parking lot>112loop>130 west out and back>137>130>parking
Post Canyon is good option if you don’t have a lot of time. If you want to make it a decent length ride you would have to do two loops unless you like quad trails.
270>Cat Creek Campground>118>back 118>271>back 271>270
Blue Lake Campground only had one other camper when we arrived Saturday morning. We were prepared to camp off campground due to the obnoxious campers we encountered at East Fort Rock, but the road clung to a mountainside, there was nowhere to pull off the road. Oddly, Blue Lake campground was almost deserted on a holiday weekend. After unloading and setting up camp, we hit the trails around noon.
We started on a route recommended route; 270>118>276>272> back down 270. The quad trail 270 was surprisingly good. There were some small elevation changes, lots of turns (unlike EFR), a little rocky, some mountainside hugging, but not too much. At Cat Creek Campground we lost the trail for a little while. This is where the quad/dirtbike families camp and there are splinter trails everywhere. Kids were doing endless laps around the campground. We finally found Hamilton Mountain trail and started heading up.
118 had loamy dirt and narrow goat trails etched into the side of the mountain. Along the way someone told us the trail was snowed in a bit higher up so we knew we wouldn’t make the loop. It didn’t matter much because this trail was so good, going back the way we came would be fun too. At one point I decided to stop to take photos of some wild flowers. After securing my bike, I turned around and was shocked by a stunning view of Mt St Helens. I didn’t know it was behind me.
We hit snow and turned around.
Quad trail 271 also made a loop to our campground. Besides the usual amazing greatness it had some tight switchbacks with big rocks on every exit, baseball size gravel trails, a downed tree. 271 was also snowed in but this time we tried to plow through a couple snow banks and made it about another mile before giving up and turning around at a beautiful mossy creek. Snow is fun! I thought this trail was a bit on the more difficult side until I saw a group of 7ish year olds on the way down. I didn’t know what to make of it. On one hand child endangerment on the other these kid must be incredible riders. With their small wheels the rocks must be like boulders.
We took 270 get back to the campground. We road hard for 6 hours. There were no straight flat sections to relax on. You had to pretty much be on it the whole time. I was so exhausted I was hallucinating.
Saturday night there was only one new camper. I think none of the yahoos were at Blue Lake campground because it is paved. No dirt for kids to do laps on. What luck.
270>272>back 272>270> across road from North Fork Campground>back.
We thought we would try to go up from the opposite direction on the recommended trails. We took 270 to 272. The trails were narrower, the rocks were bigger, and the drop-offs were steeper. We got up into the clouds where it was dark and cool. I was getting a little more used to the rocks and the extreme heights, but at some point it got a lot harder or maybe I was tired from the previous day. I had to turn around. Going down was a lot easier and faster than I expected.
At 270 we took a right. The trail to North Forks campground was whoopy and not too thrilling. Steve at his lunch on the bank of the North Fork Cispus river and I took photos. We decided to take the trail on the other side of rd 23 for a couple miles to check it out, and then turn around. At first it was flat but it had tight serpentine turns. About a half mile in, I had to stop. The forest seemed different. We were riding in old growth. I have been dying to do some hiking in old growth, but never imagined there would be dirtbike trails through it. We went for more that a few miles. The trail seemed to go up the base of the mountain and back down to the valley, narrow tricky and fun. Some of the best trails I had ever ridden, all through this primordial landscape.
Gifford Pinchot is about 2.5 hours from our house!
East Fort rock, OR
2 spaces left at the China Hat Campground! In retrospect, a campground full of barely supervised children with motorized vehicles may not be a good thing.
As we set up camp, it was sprinkling a little, raining a little and occasionally sunny. It stopped raining by the time we were ready to ride. My WR battery was dead. The charger read charged before I left the house. It started fine after changing the oil, but I did have doubts about the 4-year-old battery. I thought maybe I could get one more year out of it. Nope. Not the end of the world. That is what the spring shake down is all about. It’s a lot harder than kick starting the 200exc, and impossible on a hill…. I’ll just not stall it.
35 >30 and came to the South Cinder Cone Play Area where Steve blew up his bike last year. We had a good laugh. I dared Steve to go up it. He refused. We continued on 30. Seem like more thought was put into constructing this trail compared to most others (see Saturday). Many connected turns and some rocks. We took 90 to the South Ice Caves. Then 90>40>38 Steve says. 38 is super great, but I don’t remember doing it Friday.
I went to Bend for a battery Saturday evening. Poor Steve was subjected to kids on motorcycles and quads doing laps in the campground for hours. The worst was a kid on a really loud 4-stroke that didn’t know much about riding. He was simply thrilled to twist the throttle in the campground ad make that really loud noise. I caught the tail end of it, but thought, “what do you expect in an OHV campground?” I didn’t really understand Steve’s agitation.
We woke up to and inch of snow on the ground. It was beautiful and warming up fast. Around 11am the midget shriners started up again. I started to get the idea of what Steve had experienced the day before. We decided to explore some of the recommended for motorcycle only trails. We warmed up by climbing East Butte. The climb is not too steep, but just goes on and on without many rocks on the trail. The temperature dropped about 15 degrees.
50 > 85 (black trail). Most of the trails in the EFR system seem to be geared toward Quads. The blue trails seemed to be mostly point and shoot quad trails, which are very boring for bikes. , Apparently quads can’t connect corners. We thought the blacks might be more interesting but the blacks seem to be ungroomed blues, still point and shoot but with lots of whoops. We finally hit the black and yellow portion of 85>81 which are not recommended for quads. We were hoping for some great single track, but it ended up being not so tight and whooped out. It got better at the end of 81, but not enough to make up for the whoops.
76>Ground Hog Rock Play Area- I imagined it to be big trials type rocks, but it was two big gravel piles, boohoo
71 was great. All one mile of it. Turns and rocks.
We were low on gas and far from home so we headed back. Bloody point and shoot whoops.
The shriners were still at it back at camp and continued from 4:30 till after 9pm. Wow, seriously excessive.
I did get up in the middle of the night Saturday night and marveled at the super bright almost full moon, and utter silence.
The midget shriners started around 10am.
We decided to do the black and yellow trail by the campsite first. Steve recalls doing this trail Friday. It must be so different backward that I don’t recall. This time I thought it was the best trail ever. It had rock climbs and loose rocks, sort of a balancing trials type of trail. We stopped and took video and photos.
We decided to get a room in town Sunday night because of the yahoos in the campground. When I thought the shriners couldn’t get more annoying, suddenly their number doubled while we were packing. The idiot on the 4-stroke joined in the cacophony for punctuation. Yeah, they were kicking up tons of dust. I couldn’t pack fast enough.
We toured Newberry Volcanic Monument. WOW!
Super freaky dusty, more like flour than dirt. We just spread out a bit, which worked well enough. The freak dust had pea -sized pebbles mixed with graphite lube so slippery that it felt like snowboarding. Some hills were impossible. Video of Steve going uphill
The southern section of single track had a central “times square” that trails radiated out from and looped back. It had a bit of hills, ok flow, but the loops were short which was a little frustrating since were were trying to keep our distance from each other.
We had a bit of excitement trying to get from the Southern trails to the northern area. We couldn’t find the trails on the map and ended up doing a little bush whacking which was fun.
Toward the north, the trails got a lot better. It seemed like the trails were a little better planned out. The hills had switchbacks, the trails were more technical, there were a lot of rocks and less extra fine graphite powder. I was actually happy to see rocks. How strange. I like rocks, except what they do to my tires. I am missing a lot of knobbies.
We crossed a cool refreshing stream (Ditch Creek) on the way. Filled our camel backs. Had lunch.
Singletrack 160 was great; hills, rocks, boulders, deep woods. Wish I could remember more.
Then we hit quad trail 150 which was still a bit technical, burmy and good. We hit some unmarked that were not groomed=big logs. I practiced my wheelie over logs with some success. Back on 150 we had amazing lookout points, Mount Adams on one side and the town of Hood River and the Gorge on the other.
Single track 140 was a blast. A little narrow ledge clinging, boulder patches, hills.
Alas, we had to go home. I felt like we were just getting to the good stuff.
Sunday May 17
Margie threw Diamond Mill on the table for exploration. Trackmaster was not exactly familiar with the area, but he had been there before, which was more than the rest of us, so he became the navigator.
There were reports of trees down. I didn’t think much of it. A little adversity could be fun. But it was more like a tornado went through. Our first sign was a seemingly well-used quad trail that was interrupted, not by one tree, but a log pile.
The first trail we hit was 93 Mongos Canyon. It was rad: rocky up hills, tree dodging, ruts, and ledge clinging, not too steep. The many downed trees were cut.
Then we traversed to 76 Frankenstein. The trail narrow loamy single track carved into the mountainside. It looked amazing, but there were trees down. We got over the first 5 or so, sometimes having to carry the bikes over.
Margie’s throttle stuck. The ledge we were on was about 5 ft wide and she managed to stop it leaning into mountainside. 20 ft down the trail was a 90-degree turn. If you didn’t make it, straight down you would go.
We had a nice break on the trail while the Steves took a look at the throttle issue.
After that we decided to head back out of Frankenstein. I think we had only made it a 1/2-mile, but spent a couple hours there.
There was a little mix up on the way to the next trail. Trackmaster went one way and Margie went the other. We ending up catching Trackmaster and going Margie’s direction. I started up only to find Mos and Ken stuck in the trail, we 3 went back down. Trackmaster came down, and said Margie was in his way, that’s why he didn’t make it. He did not make it the second time either. Turns out, Margie was the only one who could make it up the hill. Mos theorized her throttle stuck to comfort his brused ego. Hilarious! Nice job Margie.
We encountered more armies of white trees down mostly perpendicular as we headed down a two track toward another trail. At first it was fun, we could get around, over, under most. Then we came to another huge impassable log pile.
Plan B was a quad trail (not sure, maybe 97 Old Cedar Creek?) It had many drainage jumps and it was clear of trees with very few rocks. Fun and fast.
It seamed like we did a lot of searching, turning back, getting unstuck etc, but what a great problem to have. There are so many trails out here, it is impossible to know them all or be able to gauge the condition of the trails.
On the way back we stopped Outazablue Market and Café (56625 NW Wilson River Hwy, Gales Creek, OR 97117) for lunch. It is a multi cultural urbany restaurant in the backwoods. Their signage doesn’t express well what is inside. I‘ve driven by quite a few times and not even noticed it. The Chef and Owner Gabriel Barber bakes his own ciabatta, and had homemade dolmas that looked amazing. Looks like everything is made from scratch, and very fresh. The waitress Sierra encouraged us to customize according to our likes and dislikes.
Saturday May 16
Saturday was an epic mountain bike ride at 3 corners, Washougal, WA. I was thinking we should shuttle, but I didn’t want to be the wimpy link, so I left it up to fate and the group.
We ended up going 13 miles up a gravel road before hitting the single track. We were all in pretty good spirits. I enjoyed getting to know Margie, John and Trackmaster. I kept imagining how great the 10 miles of downhill single track through the forest would be.
The single track was amazing starting with loamy grippy dirt and then getting into slightly gravely switchbacks. We got to a river and it was uphill again. I may have enjoyed it if I had not just done 13 miles uphill on a gravel road.
There were waterfalls everywhere coming down the mountain. The forest was dense and cool. The scale of the old growth trees lying on the ground was amazing and the stumps too. At the end was the Washougal River to jump into, cold and refreshing.
The 7.5 miles of killer single track would be great to do with a shuttle.
We went riding with Margie at Jones Creek about 45 minutes from our house. It has 3 main loops A, B, and C.
Loop A was about 4 miles. It was very muddy on the day we went. They put hallow cement blocks in the trail to mitigate erosion, so it was like an almost paved ATV trail. The A look looked very over used and sort of a mess. Looks like the trails were built for quads. I am told that there is single track if you know were to go.
The C Loop was a little less traveled still quad like, but had a couple good steep uphill rocky sections. At the top of the hill we tried to find some single track and ended up bush whacking. Which was all good and fun until a stick punctured Margie’s radiator hose. We pushed her bike out of the woods and luckily there was an access road that went down the hill to the parking lot. We coasted for miles. Eventually the road flattened out. Luckily Margie had a tow strap. I towed her to the parking lot.
Meeting Margie was the best part. It’s great to meet other women that ride and especially a good rider like Margie. We have both been riding for about the same amount of time and we ride at a similar pace. I think we will have a lot of fun this summer.
I pushed the Benelli almost 2 miles home in October of 1997. Steve Stewart turned me on to it. He was my boss at a photo studio. My Job every morning for a year prior was to choose my favorite motorcycle out of the motorcycle encyclopedia. Influenced by Steve, I naturally gravitated to the Italian singles from the 1960’s.
Steve and Whitney started all of us from the photo studio going to motorcycle night at the Bucktown pub. On Wednesdays, tons of vintage bikes would show up. I took if for granted at the time. Being my first introduction to motorcycles, I thought it was normal for 30 rare vintage bikes to show up to a bar on a weeknight. Originally the Vincent Owners Club of Chicago started going there once a week for their chapter meetings. It caught on in the Chicago vintage motorcycle community and turned unto motorcycle night. The people I met there spanned generations and economic status with a common love of motorcycles. I lived paycheck to paycheck, it never occured to me that I could own a motorcycle. Common sense and my west Michigan Dutch (cheap) upbringing would have usually taken over if the idea crossed my mind. I had never spent so much money on something so unpractical. At the time I was suffering from a break up. I needed something big to focus on. When Steve mentioned a friend of his was selling her Benelli, I took the plunge.
I bought a 1969 Montgomery Wards Riverside made by Benelli. It didn’t run, but I was ready for a challenge. I thought if you rode a bike you had to know how to work on them too. Only later did I find out that a lot of people riding motorcycles have no idea how to fix them. I liked the idea of a small single. Fewer parts therefore easy to work on. That was the theory anyway. The manual it came with was basically how to remove it from the shipping crate. And even that was a poor translation from Italian. Montgomery ward sold this bike through their catalogue in the 60’s. It was a mail order motorcycle. The idea was that people living out on a farm, were able to place an order and have it show up on their doorstep. The “manual” did have instructions how to ride it. Never having ridden a motorcycle before, this would come in handy once the bike was running.
The gas tank was rusted, the carburetor was shellacked solid and the battery was long dead. After sorting that out, it started right up. It was really loud and the throttle stuck a bit. It freaked me out. Most of all I couldn’t believe it ran. My heart was beating out of my chest. I didn’t have a garage for it at that point, so I was basically doing all this in the alley- not optimal conditions. During this time too, the Bucktown was invaluable. Whenever I had a technical question I would take a poll at the buck town. I was lucky to get involved with some great people.
When it was time to learn to ride it, I was stubborn because I didn’t ask for help. Maybe I was too embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know how to ride but bought a bike anyway. I read the manual (see below). Eventually I was comfortable riding in a few block radius around my house. Steve was the first person I road with. We rode around my neighborhood a little. I think I worried him a bit. I kept stalling it. He must have been thinking, “ What did I do, encouraging this klutz to get a motorcycle?”
My first ride out of my neighborhood was exciting. Paul, who I met at Triple O, was taking his novice friends out for a ride and asked if I wanted to join them. I was very nervous, but it was a great opportunity we were all just starting out, I had to go. The bike still had mechanical issues I was apprehensive about riding it out of the pushing it home range. Sure enough, once we got downtown it stalled. I was panicking a little and was having a hard time starting it. Paul came back for me, I eventually got it started and told him I was going to go home. I didn’t want to have to push it 4 miles. He tried to talk me into continuing on. I protested, imagining all the things that could be wrong with the bike that I didn’t know about. He wouldn’t have any of it and told me to go and I did. The other novices had the most beautiful bikes. One had an original 1970’s Ducati 750 GT and he bought his wife a completely restored 1971 Ducati scrambler. The ringleader had a gorgeous Ducati mark 3. My bike had been sitting in a shed for 5 years and barely ran, rusty, chipped paint, but it was an Italian single. We took scenic Sheridan road. It contains the only set of curves with an elevation change in the Chicago area (sadly only about a half mile). Once we got to Highland Park Paul showed us how to get gas, it was my first time getting gas for my bike at the gas station. The scrambler rider had mechanical problems on the way back. We waited for a tow truck then Paul and I continued on home. We took lakeshore drive, it was getting dark and storm was coming in off the lake. The wind was blowing so hard that I felt like I was riding at a 45-degree angle to keep the wind from blowing my bike over. Then the wind would change direction and all my compensation was suddenly for not. I finally made it home. It was a perfect ride. I realized that my life was never going to be the same again. I was elated.
The longest ride I took on the Benelli was about 300 miles round trip. We rode to Road America to watch AHRMA races. My friends didn’t seem too bothered that I couldn’t go too much above 50 mph. Whitney rode his 47 Harley and Steve and Christina rode a Norton Commando. Our parade must have been quite a sight going down the road. At one point I saw what seemed to be mist on my face shield. It turned out to be an oil bath from riding too close behind the Norton!
Soon I was wishing I had a bigger bike to go on longer road trips and be able to keep up with my mates. I liked vintage bikes, but now I was ready for more riding time and less maintaining time. Going totally modern or Japanese never crossed my mind. To me at the time 70’s or 80’s was more modern. My ideal was a Ducati 750 GT but finding one in decent shape was too expensive. I looked for Ducati Darmah or an 860 GT, thinking it would cost less, but still out of my range. A 1970’s Motoguzzi V7 sport … but too pedestrian. Moto Morini? To rare.
A few people were trying to get me to go British. A friend was trying to sell his Norton Atlas. I told him that it would never sell sitting in his garage, and that he should let me ride it to help sell it. He did! A funny thing happened a couple months later. A guy asked me at a stoplight on Western Ave if it was a “Dominata” in a thick British accent. I told him, “no, an Atlas”. At the next light he asked the year. “1965” I told him. At the third light he asked if it was for sale! He bought it 2 days later! I was half joking when I offered to help sell the bike; I just wanted to ride it around. I liked Steve’s commando, but I just couldn’t get the Italians out of my mind.
I found the perfect bike, Ducati and Cagiva’s bastard stepchild, the Cagiva Alazzurra. Cagiva bought the ailing Ducati company in the mid 1980’s. Ducati must have had a bunch of Pantah motors lying around and Cagiva decided to put them into this new Alazzurra model for a couple of years. Not too new, not too old. So uncool –it’s-cool 80’s body styling. I was in love.
The best time I had on the Alazzurra was the Milwaukee to Minneapolis TT. I can’t go into detail because I don’t think it is legal, but boy, was it fun! The first nail in the coffin of my street riding career was bringing the Cagiva to the track for the Ducati Owners Club of Canada track day at Grattan.
I had watched friends and acquaintances race AHRMA, but I had never imagined doing anything like riding on a racetrack.
It was fun… It must have been scary too. I don’t remember much. Things starting moving fast after that. I did another DOCC track day. Around this time the people I knew that raced AHRMA, traded in their vintage Ducati’s for Honda RS 125 GP bikes. I didn’t know much about bikes, especially modern bikes, at the time. But every time these guys got off the track they were giggling like schoolgirls. They went on about the cornering speed and the 100mph stoppie trying to slow down for turn one.
I think the following spring one of the guys wanted to sell his 125 and buy a newer one. He let me take it to the team Chicago riding clinic. Once you take the class you can get your racing license. Not that I had any plans to race or anything. The weather for the team Chicago date was miserable. I think it was early spring and it was raining, foggy, sleeting, hailing 38 degrees or so. The last thing the owner of the 125 told me when I picked up the bike was, “oh, you won’t be going out if it rains, the race slicks do not work in the rain”. I wanted to go out so bad. I thought it might be my only chance to try this thing. The first lap was a slow sighting lap. I thought, at least I will do that. Due to the foul weather, there were 2 students per an instructor. I couldn’t pass that up. The other student in my group crashed his beautiful vintage bike in turn 6. I was fishtailing around corners. I did not walk away that day with the drive to go out and buy a 125.
I decided that racing was too expensive. I could take my Cagiva to Friday practice on a race weekend for cheap. I was having a blast. Why do I need to race? The racers that I pitted by said that I should not bring my street bike to the track, and that I eventually will crash. I thought since I was not going that fast and didn’t ride over my head, that it wouldn’t happen to me. As I gained confidence, I really started to lean it over enough to scrape the exhaust. At first I thought is was kind of cool. But when I leaned it into the bus stop at Grattan and something picked up the rear wheel. I did a nice gentle low side into the grass. Because of the rush of adrenaline I picked the bike up like it was a 10-speed. Now I had a 15-year-old bike that was only made for 2 years that needed a lot of obscure parts. Taking my street bike to the track was turning out to be not as cheap as I planned.
My boyfriend at the time made me a deal on his old 125 that I couldn’t refuse. I joined a loose knit team with a couple guys that I used to watch racing AHRMA in my Benelli days. I raced for two years; always trying to improve, beat my nearest competitors, having a blast.