On Any Sunday
Joined: Mar 2011
Location: Columbia County
Chehalis Vintage MX & Trials Nationals 8-14-11 “The Farm”
Friday afternoon I spent several hours just sorting thru all the parts and pieces we might need and worked at getting loaded up. At one point, being weary of the whole process and running short on time, I literally took several containers of metric fasteners and just dumped them into the bottom of one of the parts buckets. Too many things to sort and load and not enough time! Past experience has proven that if you don’t bring it you will need it and if you do bring it you most likely won’t, so we brought everything but the kitchen sink. On the trip up, the old Ford F250 4X4 was straining with its load of bikes, tools, spare parts and travel trailer, but after a nervous couple of hours, we made it. On the trip home we had to stop and add three quarts of oil, so you know the old beast was working pretty hard. Whew!
We arrived at the track about 6:30 PM and wondered (a.) where was our friend Don Matthews and (b.) where was Paul? We didn’t have Don’s number with us and after a quick look around decided to just go ahead and park. We gave Paul a call and made sure he was on course and told him we were saving him a spot next to us. We also realized later we had parked directly across from Don & his crew after all! When we had our camp and pits all set up, we went to the barn and played bingo. Had a good time, met many new people and Jan even won a nice folding camp chair.
Later, when back in camp, everyone was just sitting around enjoying a perfect moonlit night when Paul decided to get out his camera. He began to experiment with shutter speeds, and took all kinds of interesting pictures, even getting the kids into the act using glow sticks for special effects. This kept everyone pretty well amused until bed time. Besides being a very skilled rider, Paul is also endlessly entertaining!
Saturday morning we all got up bright and early and set out to follow Paul thru his Observed Trials adventure. Luke and Al arrived (Lady Bug couldn't make it) on their adventure bikes and joined right in. A group of us (Lonnie, Al, Luke & Patrick) rode bicycles and followed Paul from section to section, while a few others walked back and forth between sections 1, 2 and 3 to watch. My daughter Christine and her friend Brad ended up walking to all 10 sections which was a pretty good feat in itself, considering how spread out they were and the terrain. There were a total of 10 sections and the riders had to complete each of the ten sections 3 times. There was also a time limit that became critical for Paul as the day progressed.
Paul’s performance in the trials was pretty impressive, not only is the bike heavy and awkward, but it was also having carburetor or tuning issues and if we adjusted the carbs to keep it from stalling, it would intermittently start free revving. Luke and I concluded that it must have a valve on the left cylinder getting tight and possibly giving the carb an intermittently weak vacuum signal. There wasn’t time for a proper fix, so Paul just had to tough it out. Regardless of bike issues, Paul did an amazing job, the most memorable for me being section 5. This section featured a steep side hill with a sharp right hand approach up an embankment and then immediately followed by a tight left hand turn, causing several riders to literally loop out their bikes, even crashing back to the road below. And what did Paul do? He just went thru it with a perfect score! We were all hooting and hollering for joy, we were amazed. At the end of the process Paul had finished with a score that was about mid pack, no small thing for his first trials on a bike that was running poorly and ill suited for the event.
On a side note, probably the most impressive trials rider was Tom Street riding a 1949 rigid frame Indian whose score for 30 sections was only a 3! I’ve never been to a trials event before but now have to admit, I’m hooked!
After the trials concluded, the rest of the day was spent fiddling with bikes and gear, visiting and looking around at other bikes, the most amazing for me being the VME group from Seattle, with a whole bevy of Rickman framed Matchless, Norton, AJS and other huge vintage four strokes that were museum quality but used regularly for Trials and MX. Pretty amazing.
Christine had made some team “Barn Fresh” shirts and due to demand, ended up going into town with Jan, buying more shirts and art supplies and making more. Al took a few pictures of the group wearing these shirts and will be posting them soon.
Sunday morning dawned bright and early, first the riders meeting, then practice. The bike suddenly sprouted oil and fuel leaks we had not seen before, and the group consensus was my recent switch to synthetic oil was the culprit. I would go out for half a lap, see a new leak, come in the pits, get repaired, go out ride another half lap, find a new leak, make another repair and so on. I ended up getting only one full lap of practice at speed and then brought the bike to the pits to wait for Moto 1. The good news was we were the last race in both motos (races 16 & 32), so we had plenty of time to make repairs. Crew Chief Randy Hess soldiered on all day and with Paul and Lonnie's help plugged the tach drive that was suddenly squirting oil, rebuilt the fuel petcock (we already had new gaskets and seals), replaced all the fuel lines and rebuilt the gas cap and even made a new gasket for that.
By the time Moto 1 rolled around at 12:00, I was feeling petty confident that the Barn Fresh crew had plugged all the leaks and I could just focus on riding. Decided to start from the far inside pole and have a shorter run to turn 1. I had a reasonably good start, ended up around 5th going into turn one and thru the course of the race gave up a few positions, the most most notable pass was when the top expert rider came up from behind and went around to lap (Wes Poole 19X, BSA 500 single), he was riding at a whole other level and was fun to watch, I tried to pick it up a little and attempted to ride his lines but could only keep him in sight for 3 or 4 turns until he was long gone. Impressive.
Moto 2 got off to late start due to a serious crash and injury to one of the riders, I do not know his name but he crashed hard in turn one and had a double fracture of his arm, and other injuries unknown. The ambulance crew did a great job taking all due precautions, and once the track was cleared we began again. It was probably a little after 4:00 and my race was the absolute last race of the day, and the pits were beginning to empty out. I decided to try the far outside pole and although I had clearer run to the first turn, it was little longer and I think cost a few positions. I did feel very calm and ready and even though I had a worse finish, actually felt like I was riding better. Toward the end of the race I was shifting less due to fatigue, over revving the bike a little in some places, and on the last lap I could hear the engine starting to miss. I have no idea how I finished the day, but am guessing maybe 10th or 11th overall in class?
After the race was over, I loaded the bike into the truck and was just sitting there trying to take in oxygen when Jan ran up and said, “Dick Mann is out on the track, you better get over there and get his autograph!” We had stopped by his motor home several times during the weekend to get an autograph but had just missed him each time. I ran out to the track (huffing and puffing) and was able to enjoy a brief moment with this legendary rider. Dick is my all time hero of motorcycle racing and getting his autograph and talking with him for a brief moment will always be a cherished memory.
Overall Chehalis was great fun, I feel good about how both Paul and I performed, especially considering both of our bike’s limitations. We met quite a few people who have a great deal of experience or knowledge with the Honda twins which should prove helpful during the winter rebuilding process.
Thanks again to all of my friends and family for their support and to my new Adventure Rider friends that continue to show enthusiasm and support. Thanks to my crew chief Randy Hess, to Paul, Lonnie, Patrick and Al, to my Daughter Christine and friend Brad, to pit chicks Cindy and Karen and most of all thanks to my amazingly supportive wife and best friend Jan. Also thanks to Alex Martens of Konflict Motorsports, Brian Timmons of Wide Open Motorsports and to Ken Quay of Forest Grove Honda. I’m a lucky guy and have a lot to be thankful for. Here are a few photos from the weekend;
Photograph of photographer being photographed
With Paul's bike after the trials
Rider with crew chief
Waiting for last moto
Sportsman 500 "double gate"; experts in front, intermediates behind
"Barn Fresh" pit chicks
Note lower left; still working!
Pit dog Danny
Rider with next generation rider
What would John Penton do?