With my reduced budget for a bike, my options were limited. I looked through the newspaper classifieds and didn't find what I wanted for what I had to spend. I ended
up turning to an old friend who was looking to get rid of one of his old bikes.
In retrospect, this was not a good idea. He rode his bike hard and often. He was pretty good about maintenance, but he would kind of cut corners. For example, if he
could get a Yamaha part for his KTM that was close to what he needed, he would machine it to fit rather than pay the extra 2 bucks for the Honda part. He also crashed
quite a bit. By the time he was ready to sell a bike, it was in rough shape. I'm sure I was well aware of this at the time, but either chose to deny it, or simply
realized that this was the only Open bike that I could afford
We met at a track on race day to conduct the transaction. I gave it a look over and rode it back and forth in the pits a little bit to make sure it ran and all the gears
still worked. That was the extent of my pre-purchase inspection. My first time out was practice for the race. It had been three years since I rode a motocross bike, but
even discounting that, this was not an easy bike to ride.
Although only a year newer, this was not at all like my 83 CR480. The engine could best be described as violent. It had a mid-range surge that would yank your arms out
of their sockets. The frame was a bit tweaked, the tires were worn, and the suspension fluids had not been changed for a long time. All these factors made my first few
rides of the "hang on for dear life" variety. Towards the end of the second moto on the day I bought it, I started to get used to it, but it definitely took a lot of effort to ride.
My bike never looked like this, not during my time with it anyway
I raced it at three or four other races. There was a spring series that year. I always wanted to be able to ride all the races of a series to see how I would do. I had dropped
down to B class. I earned a trophy once or twice and ended up 6th in the series. The series awards only went to the top 5.
One of the races I took a big points hit was at the same Elizabeth City track that had bit me three years earlier. They had added a rhythm section that was very similar to the
one that I used to double through on my XL 200. I didn't double through them in practice, but I was pretty sure that I could do it. I’d jump them for the first time during my
race. That was my well thought out plan.
I got a decent start and as I approached the whoops, I thought that I needed to double through them in order to hold my position (which turned out not to be true, everyone
singled them). The critical thing I didn't take into account was that the predictable, low-HP, XL motor made it easy to time it through something like that, while the life
threatening, high-HP, CR motor pushed the Level of Difficulty meter to the other side. I don't remember much about the crash other than I went in way too fast and hit the
face of the third or fourth one. My friend said I was wide open and went through the whole section with my feet off the pegs, before finally tumbling off the side of the track.
I suffered no serious injuries, but decided that the bike was not going to get any easier to ride. I had freshened up the rear tire and the shock oil, but even though that
helped, I knew that if I kept racing it, it may kill or main me.
This is another bike that I distinctly remember selling. A kid came to look at it with his dad. He was probably 13 or 14 years old. His only previous bike was some kind of dual
sport 200. Much as I wanted to sell the bike, I asked several times if he was sure he was ready for a bike like this. He kept answering in the affirmative. For all I know, I
may be legally required to disclose that fact.
This bike had an elaborate starting ritual. A combination of lean jetting, a kick start mechanism that didn't turn the bike over enough, and a piston the size of a small garbage
can, made this bike very difficult to start. If you didn't follow the routine, it would not start, period. You needed to flood it a bit, but not too much. Neither the kid nor
his dad seemed to be paying too much attention when I was going over how to start it. I often wonder if they ever got it running, or if they did, how many times he looped out on it.
After this was originally published, around 2002, I received an email from a woman in Australia that said her boyfriend / husband had raced one in Europe. Thinking about the
timeframe and the year of the bike, it sounded like she was talking about Jeff Leisk. That email is long gone, and I didn't ask at the time, so that will remain a mystery for now.
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Revised September 2017