Sunday, September 14, 2008

Back to where it all started.

With all the negative things happening in the airline world recently and my impending lay-off from United Airlines, I've been fairly obsessed with finding a new job/career. This new obsession has prevented me from getting much riding done and due to the lack of flying jobs, it hasn't been very conducive to a positive outlook on my life. So a couple days ago I just made up my mind that I needed to go out and just ride for a bit to clear my mind of all the negativity.

I had to haul a few things out to my friend Tony's house in Enumclaw so I hitched up the motorcycle trailer to my old pickup and off I went. After dropping off the items at Tony's, I unloaded the WR and headed off toward my old stomping grounds.


My family moved to Enumclaw when I was in the 2nd grade. My dad had purchased a 1974 Honda XR75 about that same time and as a young boy, I thought that it was too big for me to ride. I tried it but after crashing it once, I was afraid of it, so it sat buried in our basement for quite some time.

I don't remember how old I was but sometime in the next few years, I was inspired by our neighbor, Jerry, who was (is) the coolest guy I ever met. Jerry had an old Honda 100 and rode it around our neighborhood, (we lived on a dirt road). I distinctly remember that as I watched him ride past our house one day that I thought that I should be riding a motorcycle... and then I remembered that in fact we already had a motorcycle.

I proceeded to uncover the old XR from the piles of crap in the basement, (a feat in of itself), and eventually got it out in the driveway. I'd like to say that it fired right up on the first kick but I honestly don't remember. I do remember that once I got it running, (probably with help from Dad), that I started out VERY slowly. I remember that I would ride up and down the dirt road in front of our house in FIRST GEAR. I was afraid of going faster. This lasted for at least a day or two. I finally got the balls to actually shift into SECOND GEAR and I was progressively getting bolder and bolder. I don't know how long it took but I eventually was able to actually use ALL the gears and at some point in the following months I actually was wanting a bike that would go faster than the XR was capable of. My brother started riding as well and we would take turns on the little gray bike until Dad decided that we needed another one. We went and bought a brand new 1979 XR80... it was red... and it was cool. It also had a 5th gear which was one more than the old 75 had. Dale and I rode these bikes every chance we got and spent many an hour in the trails and dirt roads in the hills near our house.

Fast forward nearly 30 years (holy crap!!!, am I really that old???)... I turned on to the old neighborhood road (it's still dirt) and as I left the pavement I remembered the time I was spinning a doughnut in the gravel when the neighbor, Gary, drove up on his way home from work and he scolded me for tearing up the road that he had just fixed. I also remembered all the dips and mudpuddles from those many years ago, even though they had changed a thousand times over, I could see them in my mind. Actually, aside from a few trees that were missing, the old neighborhood hadn't changed all that much.

I rode slowly up and down the entire length of the old dirt road and just took my mind back to a time where jobs and stresses of adult life were non-existent. I was 9 years old again, even if it was only for a few minutes, and just living each moment to ride my motorcycle.

Here's what our old house looks like today.

It was a nice diversion and it did take my mind off of the negative stuff that is going on in my life. I'm glad I made the journey and hopefully I won't wait until another 30 years go by before I swing by again.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Flashback... Quad style

As you may have noticed, it's been a while since I've posted any ride reports. That has a lot to do with the number of rides I've been on since July... exactly ZERO. I can come up with a bunch of excuses ranging from getting ready for the 2008 Burris Drags or spending in inordinate amount of time searching for a new job, but they'd end up just being excuses just the same. So instead of that lets just say I've dropped the ball when it came to getting off my butt and going riding.

My lack of riding came to an end yesterday, sort-of. My neighbor, Joe, came over yesterday morning in a bit of a huff. It seems that he had loaded up his truck and trailer with 2 quads and his buddy called at the last minute to cancel. Now it seems that Joe was pretty determined to go riding but didn't want to go alone, which is smart since the ride site is vast and wooded and a bad crash might leave you stranded until you died... alone. He had made a few calls to see if any of his other buddies wanted to go but to no avail. He then came over to see if I wanted to go. Initially, I really wasn't that interested since I had, (and still have), tons of things to do around the house but after a bit of arm twisting, I conceded. I got all my riding crap together and within 30 minutes, we were on the road.

We got to Tahuya, (the same place I found our dog Lola), and proceeded to unload the 4-wheeled machines. I used to own a 1991 Honda TRX-250X and I really enjoyed riding it many years ago but I honestly hadn't ridden a quad in probably 16 years. Joe was letting me ride his Honda TRX-300EX (nice to have electric start!). I was not sure how quickly I'd pick it back up but I figured it wouldn't be too tough. I turned out to be almost immediate. I took to it like the proverbial duck to water and within a couple minutes I was ripping through the trails as quickly as I'd dare without being stupid. It was pretty enjoyable and at that point I was glad I'd agreed to go.

After a 45 minute ride or so we took a break near the truck, grabbed a snack and headed back out for more. The second half of the ride was awesome as instead of riding in the open areas we rode on a bunch of narrower, technical trails which is my favorite type of riding.

We ended up not riding all day as Joe had to go to work that evening but the half-day ride was just what I needed to get out in the beautiful weather and get some time in the saddle.

I still prefer the 2-wheeled bikes but it was kinda fun to "turn back the clock" and ride the quads like I used to.