When I started a new job at Remedy Corporation I heard about this guy, Jay Everson, who was involved with dirt bikes. Involved is not the correct word, maybe consumed comes closer. He told me about this WEB site and asked me if I was interested in writing a monthly column. Since I barely can write my name there was no way this would happen. I did try to get Jay to put up some information on my vintage MX racing group, and he agreed to do this if I wrote some stuff about vintage MX. So here it is -- an introduction to my involvement with vintage bikes. (Photo courtesy of Reese Dengler and Czechpoint)
Why would anyone ride, let alone race, a motorcycle that is at least 24 years old, has seven inches of fork travel, four inches in the back, and drum brakes?
I asked myself that 2 years ago when I bought a '72 CZ 250 for 600 bucks. At the time I just wanted the bike to restore and look at. My modern bikes had the power and suspension needed for riding and racing.
The CZ was going to sit in my garage and look cool.
In '72 the CZ250 was the bike. I remember going to Grand Prix Cycles in Santa Clara, CA when I was 15 to see these exotic machines. They were from the wrong side of the iron curtain and raced by guys like Miroslav Halm and Jaroslav Falta. These guys were so tough they used friction tape on the bars instead of grips. I wanted one real bad, but the $1,200 price tag was about $1,150 more than I had to spend. At the time I had been riding for 5 years, borrowing my older brothers' bikes, and assumed that the CZ would make me as fast as Brad Lackey or John Desoto. Unfortunately skill was the missing ingredient, not the bike. (Photo courtesy of Michael Rydman and VMV )
Twenty-four years later I finally bought the bike I always wanted. The bike was in great shape, so I took it down to Hollister Hills to try out. They have a vintage MX track, so out I went for a few laps. At first I blew through the turns; drum brakes take getting used to. The bike was FUN to ride. This was cool; I was 15 again for a few hours, trying to do DeCoster cross-ups off the jumps and sliding through the corners like a dirt tracker. A friend of my older brother has been riding and racing since '66; he still is very fast even though he turns 50 this year. Harry belongs to a vintage MX racing group called the 40+ Racing Organization that races at Hollister Hills and he encouraged me to join. Since I just met the age requirement and had a vintage bike it was a natural. I found out that playing around and trying to race again were different things. How could I be so slow? How could some of the "old" guys be so fast?
I still ride modern bikes and race them in enduros and hare scrambles. My vintage bike collection has just doubled to two, adding a '74 Penton 250 and I'm looking for a '72 Maico 400. The Penton is going to be a complete rebuild, not a restoration -- this is going to be a racer. Next time I will, hopefully, have made some progress on the bike. Currently it's sitting in pieces on my work table, in too many pieces to count.