I felt like I was in Dante’s “Inferno.” My bike was steaming, my heart was screaming to nuclear levels, and my knees
felt like someone had pounded drywall screws into them.
Some infamous Dylan lyrics danced in my brain, a vat boiling with nonsense.
By Tom Webb
“You better call for an insertion team to
get his fat carcass out of that canyon.”
“I was mired in a canyon among
boulders the size of small children
ladled like rock gravy in a random and
thoroughly spiteful fashion.”
“You want help?”
“You better call for an insertion team to get his fat car-
cass out of that canyon.”
“He looks dead.”
“He’s too big to pick up; go poke him.”
I was in my backyard, my zone, my playground, and I
wasn’t used to being the guy who struggled. Once I shook
Dylan out of my head and perused the situation, I realized
that I was overheated, exhausted, my joints screamed and
my glasses were fogged from the 450cc tea kettle I was
straddling. I wasn’t mounted on my normal pony, a button-
equipped Austrian bike designed solely for off-road forag-
ing, but on a motocrosser—a big, mean green one.
I love the KX450F. As a purebred racer, it has teeth,
is the easiest-starting kicker of the moto machines and
handles the track world better than any other bike—at least
in the “World According to Wolf.” I had decided to take out
the KX rather than my orange machine to test its prowess
off-road and had performed the normal updates: added
handguards, softened the clickers and packed extra fuel
since our loops can get rather long. For decades we used
moto bikes on my playground: RM250s during the Coop
era, KX250s during the LR era and YZ250s during the
Hawkins time frame. Of course, that was 15 years ago…
Unfortunately, I wasn’t on a track or remotely close to
one. I was mired in a canyon among boulders the size of
small children ladled like rock gravy in a random and thor-
oughly spiteful fashion. Ahead of me was a technical uphill,
and on top of the precipice were my buddies: brother
Mike, brother Tip, the Realtor, Bum and Johnny L. And
they were the ones who wanted to send in a rescue team.
I mulled over my dilemma. Tall gearing hurt my ability to
use the proper power to tractor over the obstacles. Stiff
suspension had me bouncing like a golf ball off the cart
path, and my arms were useless cords of dangling meat
from trying to hold onto a beast that craves speed, jumps
and berms. I had backed out the damping, dropped the
front air pressure, relieved both high and low speed out of
the shock, but still couldn’t seem to make the bike track.
And in spite of the kicking ease of the KX-F, my right leg
felt atrophied and wasted after only a dozen or so kicks.
I could barely lift it off the peg, and the last flame-out
sucked out my internal flame.
The Realtor called down, “Let’s switch. You ride my
450XC-W and let me try the Green Meanie.”
“Let’s see here, you’re gassed and I’m younger. Now,
suck it Leroy, I’ve been wanting to toss my finely carved
chassis onto one of these suckers for a while now.”
With that, I relented. It was the first time in my dirt bike
life that I bent to the forces of time, fitness and being
manly. Just two weeks earlier, I had swapped with the
Realtor when he was thoroughly detuned and couldn’t
climb a Fiat-sized hill on his 450XC-W. I gave him my
450XC-F and we both had a riot. For some reason, when
the boot was on the other foot, I was fine with helping my
friend out. Having swapped, I was gagging on my own
lack of testosterone.
We finished the additional 32 miles of the loop. My group
smiled, laughed and ridiculed each other. We roosted, we
made stupid mistakes, and we pretended that we were
serious off-road athletes. It took me all of 2. 2 seconds to
get comfortable on BP’s machine. Cushy suspension, a
GPR steering damper, a button and smooth power all funneled into a shell that had wanted nothing more than to get
to Coaches and sit at the bar just minutes earlier. Now, I
felt like I wanted to go to Six Days.
One side note: BP loved the KX-F and rode like a wres-tler-sized Robby Bell. My group also decided that anyone
with bad knees who was born before JFK was nominated
had to ride with a button when we go off-road!
Done deal. o
“And I said, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that, but then again there’s
only one I’ve met. And he just smoked my eyelids and
punched my cigarette.’ Oh, Mama, can this really be the
end, to be stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues