MX Bob Bike History - Synthesis 22
2003 Yamaha YZ250
MX Bob Plimpton

With the CR250 gone and the YZ125 for sale, I started contemplating what my next bike should be. I liked the YZ part of the 125, and the 250 part of the CR, so it made sense to morph them into a single bike, a YZ 250. This bike was sitting on the floor at South Metro Motorsports, nearly all summer, begging for my attention.

After getting the 125 sold and waiting for the price on this motorcycle to drop, I struck a deal with the former SMM parts man, who I'll refer to only as, Eric Hughes, 245 Carlson Berm SW, Lonsdale, MN. It wasn't "injury forces sale", my initial strategy for a same-year, low-hours, race bike, but "four-stroke lust forces sale". Eric bought an 03 thumper and immediately stopped riding the 250. One man's premix-running trash is another man's easy-starting treasure (yes, that phrase was a bit forced).

Prior to the 2003 season, I had advanced myself to A class. It wasn't because I was doing all that well in Senior B, far from it. I saw Senior A as my last shot at ever riding A class, and possibly getting a coveted, earned number. I thought my start and finish strategy would be effective. It would need to be, because in a straight up race with the guys that raced this class, I could probably only hang with about 10 out of the 60 or so who might race the class on any given Sunday.

Until the CR250 was sold later in the year, I had a two-bike stable again. Since my impressive 3rd of 3, 4th of 6th, championship run had me near the top ten, I didnít want to mess it up by riding a different bike. This would begin an odd trend of buying a bike, and then not riding it right away. After almost a month, the bike was correctly sprung and all freshened up. I may have even rode it in practice once. For the last 2 or 3 races in 03, I rode this bike, finishing a bit better than I had with the aging Honda.

By showing up for both rainy days at Plainview (I still call it that), I snuck into the #9 slot at the last race of the year. I had an amusing, probably only to me, back and forth battle in the points with one of the fastest riders in the class. He went to about two races for every three of mine, but would get as many points in those two races as I would in three. On the track, I had nothing for him, wouldn't even see him anymore after the first few turns. But I wanted that #9 enough to race on the miserable days. I'm sure he was completely unaware of where in the D23 points he was.

Once I finally started riding the bike, I immediately liked it. The motor pulled fast and strong. It felt like the Honda on race gas. The turning felt a bit slower, but it was much more stable for me than the in the faster sections. The forks felt noticeably better than the 2000 CR. I could especially feel it when negotiating the sweeper after the first turn at Millville. That would get really rough on the days with 600-800 entries.

This bike became the workhorse that the Honda was, but with an added element. This is where there the Race Stories section of and this collection converge. Not happy just talking about things that happened decades earlier, the 2003 Coverage included the pilot race report, Ohland Owns Jordan Supercross. It was very appropriate that the headline included a one-time employee of South Metro Motorsports racing in a Motokazie event.

With the buzz generated from the pilot, MXB Industries, a division of MX Bob Empire, assembled an infamous staff of writers and photographers, known rather cryptically as "The MX Bob Writing Crew". The first full season was 2004. With stories to be told, and races being run, the motley collection of journalism and art school dropouts filled the ranks of the District 23 Beat Writers Association, changing how local races were covered.

Itís quite possible that the entire last paragraph was embellished just a wee bit.

Many people have never really understood that MX Bob is not a nickname for a person, but a general concept of freedom. The freedom to ride dirt bikes, and looking at it in retrospect, the freedom to drone on about almost anything, often with no social significance whatsoever, and publish it all on a web site.

The bike seemed versatile to me, so somewhere along the line, I got the idea to try the bike in different forms of competition. For those of you old enough to remember George Plimpton (which my marketing arm tells me is most of the people that have made it this deep into the list), I was going to try something that I've never done before, and then write about it. The result was the critically acclaimed, "An Old Motocross Rider's Guide to..." series.

You would think with this bike, the first natural crossover attempt would be something off-road, a District 23 Hare Scrambles, for example. Instead, the first one was a TT race. I had seen this track for years, because itís on the same property as the Cambridge motocross track, the site of my first race back in 1978, and many other races since. When I got the chance to ride a motocross bike with a rear dirt-track tire on it, it was as much fun as I had always dreamed it would be.

This wasn't really meant to be a series of articles. I had painted myself in a corner by implying the TT race was the first of many. A few of the class reps on the district board offered to make it really easy for me to try some of their disciplines. The Hill Climb was fun, slightly scary at first, but I liked it so much, I did others, mostly the Kato Cycle Club events. Then there was the Quad Racing attempt. There sure was some nice weather on that day.

2004 was the same year I won my only championship of any kind, the 40+ A class in the 2004 Motokazie Dealer Series. My good friend, Dave Hencir, also captured the 45+ A class that year. We had outlasted our faster competition.

Even though I was trying different forms of completion and almost purposely trying to use all my throw-away races early in the season, towards the middle of 2004, Points Fever struck again. I was at a motocross race every weekend. I mean every weekend. Rain, wind, cold, far away, bike needed work. There wasn't a reason that would stop me in my senseless quest to re-prove the point I had made the previous year; that one of the slowest guys in the class could finish in the top ten by going to enough races.

By sheer coincidence, I again secured ninth place at the last weekend of the year, with the same number of races as 2003, and the exact same number of points. I had successfully defended my comically large, 9s plate. Little did I know how little it would be used the next season.

Not too long after the 04 season ended, the slow and inevitable burn-down of the company I was working for resulted in me being laid off, the euphemism of the time being "the company was being right-sized". Because of this, 2005 ended up being a rather low cash-flow kind of year. Nothing that was going to get me in immediate trouble, but it was hard to justify spending money on racing.

Even though I barely rode, 2005 was the peak of the Race Coverage era. It generated some income, but with what motorcycle magazines paid for local stories, it would have taken four or five races a week to even approach programming money. I practiced just often enough to avoid bike-sitting-around, mechanical issues. 2005 was an easy year for the Tuning Forked wonder.

Over the winter, I was getting the top-end done, but I had waited too long, because there were scars in the cylinder wall. Ugly scars. Since the price ended up being pretty close to the same, I opted for the big-bore kit, one full size over, bringing it to about 280cc. I thought this would be an improvement and help me against the 450s that were starting to fill the vet races. If anything, the added CCs seemed to make it too strong in the middle and harder for me to ride. While not as bad as the 23-inch front wheel decision back in Chapter 5, it did make the bike worse overall for me.

I mentioned to someone that I might sell it before the end of the year. A few days later, someone called wanting to know what Iíd take for it. In what seemed like an instant, what was, and still is, my favorite bike ever, was gone. For the first time since 1998, I did not have a motocross bike. My 2006 season had ended almost as soon as it started.

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Set up for TT.

This is obviously not this motorcycle, but one of the few times I rode someone else's bike in competition.

Mankato Motocross. The author thrills the crowd was his jumping antics.

Manakto Motocross

Manakto Motocross. Looks like I came up a little bit short on a gap jump.

Revised October 2017