Sunday, January 7, 2018

Aye... Karumba!

What gives eh?  Normally, this time of year I'm doing minor repairs on bikes, working in my (somewhat) heated 1100 square foot garage.

Not this time baby!

Although there is little to no snow on the ground, it's so dang cold and has been for weeks, you'd need dynamite to dig a hole out there. 

As I pretty much do every morning, I have a peek at my back door mounted thermometer. 

Blimey, it's 20 below zero on the Calvin scale.  Again! Zero being the equivalent of 32F.

I don't care which scale you use, it's friggin' frigid!

It's so cold I don't even have any desire to fire up the Polaris for a spin round the hood! 

When I arrived back to Canada mid December, the temperature dropped and hasn't really improved since.  Shades of living in Alberta!  I remember well the winter of '81, living and working in Fort Mac.  That memorable winter it didn't get warmer than -40 for SIX weeks!  You read that right, minus forty as a daily high. (note: at -40 both scales meet)

Living on an Island, our mini climate is more temporal but not as of late.

Much as I try getting my head space into riding weather, I can't get over that banshee biting wind tearing at my clothes out there.  Just this past week we had gusts to 139 kph or otherwise for my American friends, 90 mph!  Fortunately the roof stayed on.


On the plus side, it's the end of the week in the New Year and I can already tell the days are getting longer. 

So what am I doing if I'm not wrenching, and our internet speed (a misnomer if I ever heard one) is too slow to even watch the occasional Netflix program... I've hauled out some of my old magazines, this batch being from the late '70s.  I'm reading about twin shock RM 400 Suzuki's, reading a shoot out of the 175/185 cc "dual purpose bikes" (the DT 175 won) and reading the multi colored ads which were common in the day.

Seeing the Yamaha ads prominently featuring the '79 YZ 400 brought back some interesting memories. 

Yamaha swept the US Nationals
Rich Burgett, Bob "Hurricane" Hannah and Broc "too tall" Glover

I had left my machining job at the "plant" and taken a position at Four Seasons RV World. 

In those days I was organizing the McMurray Dirt Riders (MDRA), we'd just had a new track built a few miles south of town by my contacts at Keyano's heavy equipment campus free, as part of their training program.  I was still trying to find some time to ride my own MX bike, run the then new National Canada Safety Council Program locally, when my friend and business owner John, asked me to ride MX for the shop. 

I really felt I was better learning the ropes in preparation for my soon to my departure east, to open my own venture (Freedom Cycle)  Nagging me by the day, I finally compromised with him and offered to ride "if" he got me a new Monoshock YZ 400.  Considering that they were sold out in the entire country, I felt pretty safe I wouldn't be donning my MX gear anytime in the near future. 

Well imagine my surprise when JM approaches me and asks if I can give a hand in the shop to uncrate a just arrived motorcycle, nothing unusual there. Except, to my surprise the model number on the crate states it's a YZ400F!  Yup, a brand new open class race bike. 

Given how little time I had, the YZ didn't get much use but I did have some fun at Valiant MX park (named after Gil Valiant, a young man and racer that died of a fatal disease.)

1979 YZ 400 quite a departure from racing 125's

Some of my competitors were astonished that I could pull second (and sometimes third) gear off the start line on the hard pack course. Of course the fewer times you had to shift, the quicker you could get round the circuit.  I don't remember how I did with the little time I was on the bike but I had lots of fun roosting the 45 plus bhp 5 speed two stroke, having ridden 125's for several years. 

Even after moving to PEI shortly after and building some local tracks, I never went back to the monster open bikes. 

Which brings me to another story... After opening up FCI and getting together with some guys to build a very good track in Richmond, I was back on a YZ 125J. 

That year (1982) while at the Vancouver Yamaha motorcycle dealer show if memory serves, on our way to Japan (with Mike Gallant, my partner), I happened to be talking to a very distinguished gentleman by the name of Abe, about my success with the bike.  Wanting to have a little fun with Mr. Abe, I answered him with this quip.

"I was happy with my YZ but needed more horsepower," stating in jest, that Honda's CR 125 was more powerful... and I wanted to go faster...

Being about the same height as he, but about 40 years his junior, he looked me in the eye puzzled, and asked me pointedly in broken English;

"oh... you need mo powa, you YZ 1 an 25 is not fas enuff..."

I nodded. "yes, that's correct it's not fast enough."

After a moment thinking he continued;

"No problem. You get YZ fo niney... is much fasser." 

Now it was my turn to be puzzled until the smile broke on his face... He'd got me.  I'd been had!

* (YMC's president)

( (or it might have been Mr. Ken Aoba)

My Race bike and race van!


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