So almost a year ago now I asked readers to share stories about their adventures on two wheels whether they were funny, inspirational or whatever. Wish I could come up with an excuse as to why this has taken me this long but I don’t really have one except “2020”. If this was a project in school where they subtract a few marks every day it is late, I would be getting a minus one million on this one. Please accept my apologies. While I didn’t get as many as I would have liked (disappointed in some of my peeps actually because I know they all have good stories), I would like to share a few that were sent to me.
Flat tracker and former road racer Steve Ball recalls a practice session in Welland a couple of years back. “Apparently I hit a wet spot on the clay exciting turn four and of course the resulting high side tossed me onto my head. I don’t remember my walk back to the pits but I was escorted by fellow rider Clayton Isherwood. Apparently once we were back in the pits I asked Isherwood why all the dirt bikes were at Mosport. Taking a cue from my question, Ish promptly told me I was done for the night and loaded my bike into my trailer. As we continued talking I slowly began to “come to” and then I realized that my bike was all loaded up and I wasn’t the one to put it there. Side note: While nobody would ever accuse Steve “Ra Ra” Ball of playing with a full deck, he came back from that crash stronger than ever and shows no side effects of his headstand on the clay.
Reigning Flat Track Canada champ Dustin Brown remembers the days gone by when he started riding on a PW 50 at home. “I would ride around all day and into the night and dad would have to peel me off the bike. After the 50 I graduated to a TTR 90 and it was the same thing. I even started turning on spotlights so I could continue to ride well past dark. Sometimes when we had two or three feet of snow in the winter my dad (all around good guy Glen Brown) would make a track around the yard with the snow blower so I could still ride. Side note: All of that riding seems to have paid off as Dustin has been ripping it on the Flat Track Canada circuit for years. I hear Glen is pretty good with a snow blower as well…..
Tom McCullough has flashbacks of the first time he took his son, “Jimmy the Jet” to a track on his new Honda. “Jimmy got a new CRF 50 for his 6th birthday and our little track didn’t seem challenging enough so we took a trip to a local track. Being newbies at transporting bikes, we weren’t quite as equipped as most when it came to bringing motorcycles to the track. With the Honda “securely” strapped to the old snowmobile trailer we normally used for yard waste and trash, we hopped into the Jeep and headed down the road. Amped up about going riding, I took the corners slow but apparently forgot about the dreaded train tracks we had to cross. After bouncing across the tracks I glanced in the mirror but couldn't see any sign of the handlebars. We stopped thinking the 50 had fallen off of the trailer but after a quick look we saw it had actually managed to stay on the trailer despite taking a good tumble from its original upright position. With bent handlebars being the worst of the damage, we continued on to the track with the bike "securely" fastened this time where Jimmy enjoyed a few hours of riding. Side note: Jimmy the Jet has come a long way since that CRF 50 and is now one of the up and coming Expert riders on the Canadian flat track scene. Tom is also available to give tie down pointers whenever they are needed.
Mark Noonan recounts the days way back when he twisted the throttle on his old Kawasaki KD 100 for everything it was worth as he struggled to keep up to his reckless buddy who was riding his new YZ 125. "I remember hitting the jumps and my wheels must have been at least two inches in the air as my mullet flowed magnificently out of the back of my helmet." Side note: While no longer sporting his beautiful mullet, Noonan is happy to share stories about bikes and hair over a couple of beverages.
David Thomas Sr. had an experience like no other as he toured communist Cuba on his BMW. Covering over 33,000 kms in one and a half years, Thomas wrote many articles in a collection titled "Cuba on Two Wheels".
I have one from a few years ago I should share as well. One of my co-workers had never rode a bike before so he wanted to come to Paris Speedway to try out my CRF 450. I'm sure he doesn't want his real name used so we will call him Paul Booth. Mr. Booth is a sports car enthusiast, raced go-karts and loves anything with a motor so throwing him on a bike to try it out didn't seem like much of a stretch. Showing up at the track, Booth borrowed my daughter's pink helmet and hopped onto the bike and seemed to locate the throttle, clutch and shifter lever. I'll admit I'm not much of a teacher but the only question I was asked was "Where is the brake?" which I promptly pointed out. Firing up the bike, Booth successfully got rolling and headed across the field with an audience of a dozen or so people watching. After a few hundred feet he made a right turn in order to head back in our direction. At this point he snapped the throttle and what happened next was amazing. Despite only moving at about 5 mph, Booth, who is not a large man, ejected off the seat with the expertise of a seasoned veteran. Somehow Booth ended up horizontal about seven feet in the air and did a full one and a half rotations as he did his best imitation of a helicopter. Barely able to make it to his side to check on him due to belly laughs, I picked up the bike as Booth brushed himself off with embarrassment. After assuring him everything was fine with the bike, Booth stuck around for a few hours watching the rest of us ride but called an end to his own two wheeled career. Side note: I still haven't been able to convince Booth to try again and he won't admit it but I know he feels a slight twinge in his shoulder every time he walks past my bike.
I know there are a million more stories out there and even if you didn't share them with me, I hope you are sharing them with others. Whether you are cruising the streets, riding the trails, or getting your butt handed to you at the track like I did back in September, the appeal of strapping on a helmet and firing up the engine is almost primal for motorcyclists. They say four wheels move the body and two wheels move the soul. Never has that been more apparent than the past twelve months or so.