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April 1998

 Vintage World

The vintage MX racing season started for me this March. I swore that I’d lose 25 lbs. and be ready to go fast. Of course I’ve gained 5 lbs., gotten a year older and two years slower. I was going to ride my bicycle to work 3 days a week, eighteen miles each way, and spend 3 nights a week lifting weights. Dream on! I have cycled to work twice and made it to the gym very sporadically. I have been riding more, which should help, but it’s not going to be enough to catch Harry. At least I’m in better shape than Jay! What the hell, I’m going racing anyway.

I’ve spent most of February working on my CZs, so the bikes are in better shape than I am. The Penton is still in many, many pieces, though the freshly powder-coated frame looks great. My mechanical skills are fairly mediocre, increasing the time it took to get everything together.

The race weekend was approaching and I was looking forward to having fun. My wife asked if she could come, which is a first. Cindy has never really been interested in dirt bikes let alone vintage racing. I was shocked that she was willing to get up at 5:30 to help me load up. While loading the bikes I received a sharp reminder that my aging body was not ready for this. My back was not happy and wanted to go back to bed. Being a rational racer, I ignored the warning and took off. We stopped for a caffeine fix and headed for Hollister.

I headed for sign-up and entered two classes, 250 and 500. There was plenty of time until the first race, so I checked out my new ‘73 CZ 400. I had guessed on the jetting, based on what Harry runs on his ’74, so I had no idea how it would run. The bike started on the second kick and settled into a rough idle. So far so good! Cindy was a little nervous, worrying that I might get hurt and she would have to carry me home. She watched me put on my helmet, goggles, and gloves and headed for the TT track. The TT track is about a mile from the vintage MX track, and right by the main MX track. Riding by the modern guys I could tell that my 26 yr. old CZ was not impressing them. The track was empty, which I was grateful for since I had never tried to ride this bike fast before. The track is flat and fast; the CZ slides so well it was a blast to push it through the sweeper. Thanks to Harry, the jetting was great. Five laps later I headed for the vintage track.

The bike seemed great on the vintage track. I could see Cindy watching me as I worked my way around the course. She seemed to be having fun, watching the riders and talking with some of the other spectators. Hopefully she has forgotten how the 400 appeared in our garage. She came up to me as I returned to the truck, telling me again to be careful. "I never get hurt," was my reply. This is usually true due to my slower-than-average speeds. I took out the 250, since that is usually the first moto. The bike ran well, and I diced with the Strawberry Farmer, also known as Mike Miller. I was riding like a squirrel, which Mike was kind enough not to mention. I knew that Mike on his Huskys would be the guy I would have to beat today.

The first race came up and I rode to the line, realizing when I got there that the 500s were first this time. Getting back to the truck and switching bikes, I felt a sharp twinge in my lower back. Ignoring the pain, I grabbed the 400 and headed for the line. Since this was the first race of the year, we had lots of riders on the line. Sensing trouble, Rick broke up the race into two waves, letting the fast guys go first. The second wave left the line and I was third into the first turn, with Mike grabbing the hole shot on his 400 Husky and pulling away. I wanted to catch him, so I cut to the inside of the next turn, passing another Mike on a 360 Yamaha. Then Mike’s Husky was long gone, so I just tried to keep ahead of Mike Cumming’s clean Yamaha. The Yamaha was really pushing me, but I made it to the checkers in 2nd place. I’m feeling pretty good at this point, planning on how I would get the "farmer" in the second 500 moto. First though was the 250 class. Mike on yet another Husky was also in this race. I get another third place start behind the CZ of Jim Sedlacek, with Mike get hit in the first turn. Soon the race is Jim, Mike, and I going for the lead, unfortunately Jim and Mike are in front of me. In the middle of the third lap I went to pass both of them at the very back of the track; Mike and Jim went inside and I railed the outside with the throttle wide open. Needless to say I high-sided over the berm; fortunately they did not get to see me fall. It was a combination high-side and endo, one of my better crashes. My back was really pissed at this point, and since I could not stand up I could tell my day was over. The only good thing about this was Cindy’s reaction -- she thought it was all her fault instead of my own lack of preparation. First race results 500 class DNF, 250 class DNF and the Mike wins both classes. What a great way to begin the season. I was dreading the ribbing that I would receive from Jay when he saw me walking bent over with a cane on Monday. Jay had his own troubles, which ended with a trip to the hospital, so he missed my misery.

"Vintage World" by George Vadney