Broken bones, bikes and dreams ...
Thirty years on a dirt bike.
By Chet Jones
June 2003 is my 30th anniversary of being a Dirtbiker. Man I'm an old fart!
I have totally enjoyed every minute of it though. All the endless trails, the racing, the feeling of accomplishment, the fear ... even all the pain of all the broken bones.
Lemme see now, I've broken my right leg three times. I know this .... My tibia and fibula, twice (shin), my right femur, (thigh). My left Humorous, (upper arm) my right radius and ulna (forearm), my clavicle (collarbone), My Coxis (tailbone), several ribs (ribs), couple of fingers (fingers) and tore all the tendons (ouch) out of my right ankle. Oh yea, broke my nose once too, taking a soil sample with my mustache! Now they tell me I need a hip replacement!
At the Second annual TeamBORK (Balding Overweight Riders Klub) "BORKfest" (June 2000) I crashed hard on a Railroad tie buried in the sand, landing on my left hip. I apparently severed the vein supplying blood to the hip and ball socket, thus drying it out. Now, I guess little bits of cartilage break off causing extreme pain. Doc gives me pills to take but he says it's only a matter of time till It'll have to be replaced. Doc also says I gotta give up dirt bikes after the surgery. I guess If I were to crash and break my hip after the surgery there is no current prosthesis to connect the ends and I would be playing Superman the rest of my life, flying a wheelchair around!
I am going to put off surgery until I can't walk anymore. I guess I might be on a 4 wheeler eventually (shudder)
Several times while recovering from one broken bone or another. I wouldn't ride my bike for a year or so. But I never sold it. I knew eventually I would return to her, and I always have!
I am sure I will still have the bug ... or should I say, Obsession!
I had a Briggs and Stratton mini bike for a bit as a kid, but my first real bike was a 1968 Honda CL90 that I bought it from a buddy of mine, I still see, for $150.00.
I set that bike up with knobbys ($3.00 ea.) and a pair of 36" wide desert bars ($5.95) from JC Whitney Co....... Needless to say, I learned why they don't use 36" bars in the woods!
I beat the Sh*t out of that bike for about a year, putting that thing through way more than it was designed for, let me tell you. Then sold it to a friends brother who blew it up the first day.
I had put my money down on a 1974 PUCH MX175. They were very big in this area, and hey, at the time, there was NO better than a European Motocrosser! It was going to cost me $1100. Now you must remember, this was in the days before long travel suspensions, before single shocks, and even before forward mounted shocks. I think this PUCH had like 4½" rear wheel travel. Quite a bit for the day.
Then, one day, while I was out shooting my muzzle loader at the gravel pits, I saw the new 1973 HONDA CR 125 Elsinore for the first time. I don't know who was riding it, but it screamed right past some guy on a PUCH, the very bike I was going to buy! Walked right past that PUCH like it was standing still. Some of you guys might remember that "toggle switch" throttle the CR125 had, either on, or off, there was no in between.
The power they pumped out was amazing, for the time!
I promptly got my money back on the PUCH and went to the local HONDA dealer to put my money on a new 1974 CR 125. But when I got there ... SOLD OUT!
BUMMER! Now what? What else? I got money in my pocket and an urge to buy a dirtbike.
Go across the street and buy a new 1974 YAMAHA YZ125 the silver one with the tank strap. Yamaha still offered the "MX" series, but the "YZ" was Yamaha's answer to a European mount. They had one on the floor, that was in my garage by the following Saturday.
I kept that for another year, riding motocross 125C class, at Motosports park. Then bought the first new 1975 YAMAHA Monoshock. The first one in the area. I loved that bike and kept it for several years, didn't race much motocross on it, quickly realizing that wasn't my bag. Eventually, I set it up with a lighting kit and large tank for enduros, which I tried too.
I got out of high school and went to AMI (American Motorcycle Institute) in Daytona Beach Fla. I hauled the now Enduroized MX250 down with me. I think I rode it twice!
After graduating in the top 10% of my class I was promptly offered a job.... Repairing the CL70's they rented out on the Florida beaches. No Thanks!
Being a little homesick I returned to Northern Illinois, quickly getting a job in the very Yamaha shop I bought my first YZ at. I started there at the paltry sum of $3.50 an hour. I would have made more than that working on the mini bikes on the beach!
Ten Months later I was offered a job as Mechanic at the Kawasaki shop right my town. They soon purchased that very Honda shop I was looking at the CR's at. Soon, I was off to the Official HONDA motors tech school, Eventually I was a certified HONDA/KAWASAKI Mechanic . . . . . . Wow!?
Four years later, I came to the conclusion I wasn't making much money! It was great in the spring summer here in northern Illinois. but, come fall and winter, you were forced into working on snowmobiles, YUCK! I hate them. It's such an expensive sport ... The sleds only sell for $6-8000 but you gotta stop at every bar you come across. Now ... who can afford that ?!?
Anyway, the drudgery soon convinced me it was time to change my direction. I took a parts Manager position at the Honda shop.
In the meantime, I ended up getting interested in Observed Trials and selling the MX 250 back to my old boss at the Yamaha shop who used the motor for an Ice racer. I bought a Bultaco Sherpa T 250cc then another Sherpa 350cc, I found in a box. I rode Observed trials for several years, till tiring of that.
My job still wasn't producing the cash I had hoped to make. I took a Plumbing apprenticeship. I was offered and was making much more money in a much better job. JOB, no, not a job, a career, a real trade, with many benefits.
Burnt out on bikes, the sherpa's sat silent in my garage for several years.
Eventually I started to realize I still loved and missed dirtbikes, and motorcycles in general, now what? Well, with it not being a "job" anymore I could approach it as a hobby, or closer yet an "Obsession" I got the sherpa's out. Didn't take long to shake the cobwebs off them.
It didn't take long to realize I also missed the fun of working in a bike shop, now what?
Simple, I worked at the Honda shop part time on Saturdays and evenings to pay off one of the new, completely redesigned 1986 XR250R sweet!
Soon the XR was paid off, and the thrill of working at the bike shop, once again diminished. I left again, for the final time, now focusing on my new plumbing career, as a Union Journeyman Plumber.
I rode that 1986 XR250R for 12 years, eventually selling it to a good friend, and buying a 1997 XR250R. Again, from the same HONDA shop I worked for years. I paid cash this time and, well, lets just say, got a hell of a deal!
This is the same bike I ride today, I've got it set up the way I like. You can see it at my JustXR webpage:
The first day getting a computer, I typed in "Honda XR" and JohnK's site popped up and I have been here ever since.
Thanks john k