It's funny how kids grow up. Some realize their potential and become President, others wind up in Jail. For some reason or another I fall just short of realizing my potential and thankfully I've never wound up in jail (and maybe sometime I'll divulge a few of my stories of "almost" going where I need not go!). As far back as I can remember I've loved anything that is mechanical or is petrol-powered. I was born next to a dairy farm and lived in a very small apartment next to the town butcher. At the time I think our town had a population of about 600 residents. Everyone knew each other and everyone knew that I like to tear stuff apart (I never really got interested in putting it back together). Luckily my father, Tom, was skilled in sign making and only had extremely sharp hand tools to work with in his shop down in the basement. I started finding out early that the toys Mom and Dad would get me and my brother for our birthday's and other gift giving holidays had little motors in them that could be removed and made into something else. I would take garbage bag twist ties and strip the covers off of them and put them on a set of D sized batteries and then attach the ends to whatever little motor I pulled out of some odd toy. I made all sorts of things, sawmills, helicopters, conveyor belts, etc. I was even dubbed "The battery kid" because I just used them all up all the time. I now have this sneaking suspicion that I kept Mom and Dad's pockets very light with dollar bills!
I think most of my fascination with mechanical things came from me being jealous of most of my neighborhood pals and the bullies I had to deal with too! You see, while I didn't have ULTRA cool belongings, I did have a sweet BMX bike and other things that you had to use effort or imagination to play with. My father thought it would be neat to have a dump truck come and drop a pile of loam under our tree house instead of 3 wheeler or a snowmobile. So, be it as it was, me and my brother and just about all of my friends, which would all come by on their "awesome" toys, used all of our imagination in making that loam pile a fun place to hang out on. Every day my friends would come over, and every day I'd have to see them leave in a cloud of dust as the zipped away leaving trenches in the dirt road we lived on. I was, in fact, so jealous that I would go out to the dirt road and see how long the trenches were, how deep they were, and where all that dirt went to after it was removed from where it had belonged. Why? Heck I didn't know at the time, I was just plain jealous.
Fast forward about 20 years later and I made a deal with some fella I had met through a friend of mine who just so happened to have a dirt bike. My emotions went haywire when he said he had one for sale and not only that but it was CHEAP! The following day after showing my interest I pulled up to his house to see what was going to be mine:
A 1995 Honda CR250 2-stroke dirt bike. He let me take it for a ride up and down the street. It was wobbly. It was underpowered. It was beat up, but I payed the fella and down the road I went with my new to me dirt bike in the bed of my pickup truck with a grin from ear to ear.
When I got home I pulled my new to me bike out of the bed of my pickup truck and sat on it. I bounced up and down feeling the suspension soak up my weight, turned the handlebars back and forth, twisted the throttle and even made my own noises imagining me jumping 100 feet over some jump landing and slamming on the rear brake to make some epic stopping maneuver. You'd think I would have just kicked the engine over and rode the stupid thing, but no, I was in my own dream world. A dream world where I was the star and nobody else was better than me. You see, I had NO experience on a dirt bike. I mean, I did get ride a mini-bike at a friends house one time (and I mean, once). My friend had let me ride it and when I say ride it, I mean he let me get on the bike and do whatever I wanted. What I meant to do was to ride it around his yard, but what really happened was I twisted the throttle and came off the back of the bike still holding on to the handlebars which have no brakes and a throttle that was now wide open. A nice big oak tree stopped me. That's why I only got to ride it once. I had a hard time sleeping that night because the following day I was headed up to my parent's cabin in the Cherohala National Forest. Lost of trails to ride on that go on for miles and miles of fun, fun, fun!
The next morning I gathered everything I thought I would need to have a fun day out in the woods just cruising around. Gas, gas, gas, and I think maybe a powerbar. I had a helmet, a riding jersey (which is basically a padded longsleeve shirt), riding pants, gloves, and some old boots that the original owner had given me when I purchased the dirt bike. I loaded up the bike in the bed of my pickup truck and headed up to Tellico Plains where my parents lived. Now just so you know I'm a determined type, but very spontaneous at the same time. Some might call that a good thing, I think its ADHD. So here I was, proud to show my parents that I had purchased a toy. Something that wasn't going to get me in trouble. I'm a semi-responsible guy and I thought they might like to see what I spent my hard earned money on with or without their approval. I'd also like to note that in my spare time I do a lot of mechanical work for friends and family, which generally includes getting used parts and putting them in the back of my pickup truck. I also had no idea that the oil drain plug leaked on the new to me dirt bike. As I drove up the steep driveway to my parents cabin I started to daydream and get excited all over again. I rang the doorbell, greeted my parents and told them to come on outside to see what I bought. I think my mother had a mini-stroke when she saw it. My father, well he was probably wondering when he could have a turn on it but would also be saying things like, "You'll shoot your eye out!". Me, I was ready to show them how a big boy could unload and ride this thing like no tomorrow! I was going to be the next Steve McQueen on a dirt bike. After taking the tie-downs off the bike I started to unload it. First, move the bike to the tailgate, then jump down while still holding onto the rear tire. After that, keep the bike steadied and pull and carefully put the rear tire on the ground. What really happened was when I pulled the bike backwards I found out that the bike's rearend was much heavier than expected and the fender went right into my gut leaving a nice raspberry there. OUCH, but I held it in like a man. My parents had no clue that I was already feeling a little bit of pain. Then of course the front of the bike had to come out. That was the cling and jerk move and just let the the front end come out and settle down nicely on the ground and that's the truth. Hold onto the handlebars and drop it, so I did and then almost fell on my face trying to keep the bike in the upright position.
Now here's where things get a little funny. You see as I had told you already I've never really ridden one of these things. I did fake it to the guy I bought it from and got lucky and didn't crash it. I did manage to get it out of the back of the truck. I did turn it around and put my helmet on, gloves, and the rest of my outfit. What I had no idea about was that the bed of my truck had a nice glaze of gear oil, motor oil, anti-freeze, and anything else that was slippery on it. I also thought I'd be the cool kid and just get on my bike and go out for a fun time on my new to me dirt bike. What I didn't expect was that on pavement, even though it's all grippy from it being pavement, tires with oil and such on them don't really grip at all when you press the brakes, but what the heck did I know? I was in 7th heaven with my new to me dirt bike! I kicked started the bike and let it warm up. Mom was in my face in .5 seconds flat, "You BETTER be careful on that!" "You better be easy on it!" and so forth. My father, well he was just waiting for the inevitable. After the bike had warmed up and the throttle had a crisp response to my inputs I swung my leg over the seat and took a nice long stare down the driveway, which at the bottom of the driveway not 100 feet away lays some of the best single track dirt riding on the east coast. I took off hard! Wheelie! WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Then a though occurred to me, "Hey you idiot, you have to slow down to make that sharp corner down there!" and bang I hit the front brake nice and easy only to find myself on the ground reeling in pain and watching my bike do 360's down the driveway. I had done myself in for the day in 1.2 seconds. I think I actually got 2 complete revolution of the wheels before I crashed. I landed on both of my wrists thinking that I could hold myself up and not get hurt when I fell. Both wrists were sprained. My ego was deflated. My father was laughing so hard I heard him over the bike's loud, wide open engine as it was spinning down the hill. My mother was already running down to me. Yep, it was like I was 10 years old again only this time I'm older, but that my friends, didn't stop me! As hurt as I was. As stupid as I am. As being in the moment and spontaneous just can't hold me back, I picked my bike up. I let my head hang low in shame and dissappointment, but I swung my leg back over that bike. I kick started it and said, I'll be back later.
An hour had passed and I was riding back up the driveway. It was the most disappointing short ride I would have ever gone on. I went inside after parking my bike and asked Mom for some pain meds and layed on the couch. I did ride on a few trails though and that was enough for me that day. My dreams for the afternoon were crushed, but my dreams on the couch were filled with 100 foot jumps and doing cool things on a dirt bike I had bought.
Funny stuff Ty. Your writing is vivid and fun. I remember this day perfectly. I'd like to say I'm sorry for laughing but the more I see the scene of you sliding down the hill after one second of GO, I start laughing again. Sorry. Great story.
Oh I remember this day well! I'll send you a photo as that is my job to take the photos of these moments in history! We know now to look at the tires, or let me say I do after that story. Great writing Ty you had me right there. You did look like you knew what you were doing in your official outfit for dirt bike riding! As you get older you stop trying these unknowns as the sprains, bumps and bruises take much longer to heal.
Love ya, Mom
Yeah, I'm happy to see that the same spirit that inspired us in the "Dark Ages" of the Mid-Twentieth Century didn't die out in the "Keep the Children Safe At All Costs" milieu of a later time. Every time I see a little kid all laced up in "safety gear" while riding their bike I become nauseous. Thanks for helping me believe.
Ty, I have to laugh. That was a great story and one that I remember you telling me about the day or so after. I know that if it were me I would have had the same thing happen to me, since I'm such a clutz! I remember Dad always saying when we were kids that we would never have motorized vehicles until we could drive. I didn't see it at the time, but I think it probably saved our lives for sure. Also, I think he just didn't want to fix them when they broke down, which you KNOW we would have broken them. Hey, funny think to add...I never broke any bones growing up and I don't think you did either. Last year or two we both broke bones, mine my wrist and you your collar bone. Problem for me is, is that I broke mine on flat ground on my stupid mountain bike (without an engine) and you at least broke yours on your dirt bike. That would be a great follow up for this story bro. I love you and your enthusiasm for the motorized vehicles of the world. Great story and I'll see if I can't post my "totally cool" story about my clutzy head on the mountain bike. Love ya buddy-
I don't give a rip about dirt bikes (sorry), but your story was so funny I was not only laughing out loud, but practically crying. what a great sense of humor you have! Reminds me of the time I (thinking I was SOOO cool) bought my first stick shift car, only to be utterly humiliated in the car lot because I didn't have any idea how to put it in reverse so as to drive off with my new prize... Anyway, great story!!