Motocross Riding: Brave or Foolish?
I recall the first motocross meeting that I took part in. It was in 1982 at a track not far from my hometown. It had rained the previous week and the conditions were ugly to say the least. The reason this came about was due to the fact that, for some time I had been riding in enduro events on a 250cc Honda XR, no,not the proper racer, but the original twin shock model that was fitted with the huge 23″ front wheel, do you remember that bike? the one that wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding. This was replaced with another Honda, this time it was the 500cc XR, this alas, was also a twin shock model with the gargantuan front wheel and a wheel base that was minuscule. Sorry, I digress. What was lacking in my armory was the ability to get good special test times when competing in the enduro races. These special tests were of a motocross type going and so it occured to me that if I actually rode in a few motocross meetings, then my specials would improve, not rocket science, eh!
Now I need a motocross bike.
The thing is, I don’t have the money to buy a ‘crosser, so,being ever resourceful, I remove the headlamp from the front of the Honda and fit a racing number plate, stick on some racing numbers to the front and to each side and I’m ready to go. It didn’t occur to me that the standard exhaust silencer wouldn’t be loud enough for me to hear if my own engine was running.
Finally, the motocross race.
I decided that although I held expert status in both trials and enduro, I entered my first event as a junior. The day started with a 10 minute practice session for each of the classes, juniors, seniors then experts. To say that some juniors should have stayed in bed rather than tackle the muddy conditions, is an understatement.
At last, It’s my turn to line up for my first race, I seem to recall picking a numbered peg out of a bag to give me my position on the start line. I didn’t know were to go, so I elected to start from the very end of the row, out of the way. I was sat there with my engine running, although I couldn’t hear it ‘cos of the enduro silencer, blipping the throttle and feeling somewhat anxious. The gate went down and we were off, 30 odd screaming 2 stroke bikes, and me on the only (very quite) 4 stroke machine.
Just before and after the first bend, a number of riders fell so I carefully picked my around them and settled down to a steady rhythm, I wasn’t the fastest rider by any means, but my enduro skills were beginning to pay dividends. You see, I was used to muddy going, after all, just about every enduro I had ever ridden in had gloop as it’s major componant. Round the next bend and a couple more motocross riders on the deck, a bit further on and some more stuck on an uphill climb. I just kept my head down and continued to move forward, not particularly fast, just forward. As I continued on my way, there seemed to be more riders parked up than actually riding and a lot of spectators on the sideline waving and shouting and pointing to their heads. What on earth was going on? As I rounded the last bend and slithered along the finishing straight, a man waved a black and white checkered flag at me, that’s it then, it’s over.
Later, I learned that all the head pointing and so on was for my benefit, it seems that they were trying to communicate with me to keep going and use my head and not to stop or fall off. The majority of motocross riders in my race had done just that, stopped or fallen off so when that man waved that flag at me, it was because I had just completed my first motocross race, AND WON!!!
I finished that first season by starting as a junior, going on to win many more races as a senior and finally ending the season as a motocross expert. I rode for a while in 1983 but always had a hankering to go back enduro racing, which I did half way through the season.
Did motocross riding improve my special test skills and times? You betcha!