The rain was constant now. It had gained strength and was soaking into the ground. My dogs peered into the
heavens and were rewarded with an unpleasant blast that
hit their eyes and had them blinking like crazy. I ordered the
troops to rally.
When you’re a Southern California dirt bike guy, your life
revolves around the weather. Our group, the infamous
“Conga Line,” follows The Weather Channel and studies the
almanac for crucial historical data. When the skies open up
and start to spit, every pilot I associate with is on full alert,
ready to ride.
Even though our group has aged, widened and grayed,
we ride just as hard, just as often and with as much gusto
as we did in 1988. There are even those among us who
actually believe that they are faster and tougher than two
decades ago when they wore size- 32 JTs instead of
bulging-at-the-seams 38s. One of the most delusional riders in the group is brother Tip, an on-again/off-again Conga
Line member (depending on whether Mental, our fearless
leader, can tolerate him). After every ride, Tip is impressed
with his own speed and boasts that he’d kill a younger version of himself. Yes, he can pin it—until his arms turn into
We all talk big, but I know Tipper; he’s blind to his own
deterioration. Let’s face it, our atrophying vision alone
makes it hard to read terrain at speed, and glasses, contacts and fuzzing focus have slowed our reaction times.
By Tom Webb
WEBB SITE WEBB SITE
Our loops are shorter now, and we often look for an
excuse to hit the fire road rather than tackle Sizemore’s
hill. The days of doubling up and hitting the hills for a second round are rare, even when the earth is a delectable
feast of moist loam. It’s natural, I know, but I hate it.
Still, there is something I hate even more: people who
seem to defy nature. There are some members of our
group who have morphed into…irritating individuals.
While the rest of us struggle with atrophying muscles and
bulging midriffs, some actually do seem to be fitter versions of their younger selves. One of our main Conga Line
soldiers, a man dedicated to his work and family who
scrimped and saved to keep a dirt bike in his garage for
years, has hit the big time. He is retired. Now he has time
to train. Ride. Monk. Research. Bug. Gloat. And flaunt his
open calendar in our faces.
Bum is one of my best friends, but I hate him. I’m fairly
certain that he is, in fact, a stronger rider, more dedicated
and ultimately more versatile than the ’80s version of the
ranting sheriff I met back when Ronald Reagan molded
our country and Van Halen warbled about their teacher.
Bum has overcome some serious injuries through intense
rehab, all while putting in the work and effort to save for
his golden years. I always thought his work ethic was
crazy, but I realize now that he was smart. My retirement
will come when I’m pushing up daisies.
Bum texts me daily about riding, mountain biking,
adventuring or just to help me organize my magazine life.
Because Bum is a total asset, he pretty much has carte
blanche at the Wolf abode. He has the run of my well-appointed garage, and I even let him test my machines. I
always get them back in better condition, accompanied
by a well-written dossier e-mailed to me within 24 hours.
Mr. Bum has a long leash.
But, recently, I was tempted to hack out several feet of
the leather leash I had doled out to my friend. He failed
me big time.
A copious amount of liquid was falling from the sky. The
dirt was saturated, and the Conga Line was set to head
out from Mental’s at 8: 30 a.m. All pilots were told to pack
a lunch; it was going to be a two-loop day.
Mental was on the prowl before the sun rose. Mr.
Lovett, built like dental floss, marched around his
RMZ450. Von, probably the most gifted pilot in our group,
smiled, nodded and goosed the throttle on his CRF.
Tipper actually showed up on time, but his Suzuki needed
love, so three of the Conga Line mechanics spun wrench-es on the yellow steed. Still, there was no Bum.
He’d forsaken his allegiance to the Conga Line and
gone mountain biking. The dirt was dust-free, and it may
have been the last rain of the year. Nearly our entire strike
force had assembled, but one of our stalwart soldiers had
Bum apologized big time, but our ensemble demands
more. He’s the only retired rider among us. He made the
best decisions about life after clocking in for 35 years.
He’s the only one who wakes up giggling every day. But,
his decision to ditch our group in a time of heavenly rain
Know this: Bum will suffer. ;