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I began racing and riding dirt bikes sometime in the late sixties. I owned a succession of great bikes from OSSA (made in Spain) to my last bike, a Kawasaki KDX420. My friends and I had great fun riding the trails around Lake Desolation in New York State. It was great exercise and fun rolled into one.
I started out with the OSSAs and loved the bikes. When Yankee Motors in Schenectady,NY, - the OSSA importer - went out of business, I switched for a brief period to a Suzuki Savage. A friend of mine, Pete Olsen, (the local Suzuki dealer) and I tore it down, made some modifications and put it back together as a pure dirt bike. We left just enough original parts on it to make it street legal so I could race it in cross country races called Enduros.
Our best times were riding with friends on the weekends (when we weren't racing) on all the trails out of Lake Desolation in New York. We had access to miles and miles of trails there.
I rode a lot with my son, Jeff, Dick Jung, John Putman and Ed Picinich and we had a ball together. We always came home in the evening with Lake Desolation mud caked on our riding gear. When we came in the house, Mom stood guard to make sure we didn't track any of that sticky Lake Desolation mud into the house. My daughter, Kim, rode with me for a while until she realized she had to roll out of bed at 6 AM every weekend in order to ride with Dad. We did a lot of great family things with Mom, Jeff, and twin daughters, Kim and Val.
When we couldn't get OSSA's anymore two friends, Dick Jung and Rob Furlong and I opened up a dirt bike shop and got a KTM franchise. We called the shop RCR Cycles after the first letters of our first names. We loved the KTMs and rode them exclusively. Shortly after that we got a Kawasaki franchise and sold them along with the KTMs. My last bike was a Kawasaki KDX 420. It was a great dirt bike but took some getting used to because up until then I had only ridden 250cc bikes. The 420 was a handful.
Dirt biking is a great sport and I look back with fond memories to those days.
When I bought my first bike, a 1967 OSSA Pioneer, from my friend Ward Robinson in Edmeston, NY, I was ready to go. My intention was to ride some motocross races on weekends and ride trails near my home in Amsterdam, NY. At that time the Motocross bug was biting a lot of US riders and Motocross tracks were springing up in cow pastures all over the country.
The idea of a good track was to build it to utilize natural terrain wherever possible with a minimum of bulldozing and earth moving. The OSSA was a crossover bike. Slap on a license plate and it was street legal so you could ride it to work during the week and then, with some duct tape on the headlights to avoid broken glass, you could take it to the local MX track and race it on the weekend. That was a huge attraction for many folks, including myself, who loved the thought of being able to race on the weekends and also use the bike as a passenger vehicle during the week.
I raced three MX races and decided that I didn't want to take the chance of making my three kids orphans and my wife a widow so I stuck mainly to Enduros and Hare Scrambles. By the time I had decided to race MX, the sport had created a demand for specialized, high cost, single purpose MX bikes and bikes like the OSSA Pioneer were no longer competitive.
But the fun didn't end as my friends and I raced in cross country races in the northeast US. Cross country endurance racing was more than enough physical exercise on a weekend and kept us busy during the week doing the bike preparation needed for the next week.
My friend, John Gurga, was the MX star in the central NY area. He had won the New England Motocross championship on OSSAs for three years and did some National Pro competition as well. He also starred in the local racing scene in AMA District three races.
Ward Robinson had built a motocross track in New Berlin, NY which became (and still is) one of the most famous MX racetracks in the world. John had won the support class there twice and was on his way to national stardom when he broke his wrist and needed extensive surgery and rehab to get it back to strength. Then OSSA bit the dust in the US and out the window went John's chances to achieve national fame. Fortunately, John and his wife Andrea went on to success in other endeavors.
As I get on in years my wonderful memories of my life with motorcycles and my friends who rode with me come back to my thoughts often.
It was a great ride!
I also kept one foot in Stock Car racing. I enjoy the company of Dave Bayes and his wife, Pam. Dave raced in the street stock class carrying the number 3.
Doing research for Stock Car Sam, I met Teddy Marsh of Marsh Racing in Connecticut and was invited to observe NASCAR races from the status of a pit crew member at Chicago and Las Vegas. Of course, I didn't do anything except stay out of the way but I learned a great deal from that experience and my discussions with Teddy.
I love racing of all sorts and now enjoy covering the NASCAR races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for our local paper, The Desert Valley Times. I also enjoy covering the ntional MX finale in Las Vegas for the paper.
My experiences with car racing led me to create Stock Car Sam. I'm working on sequels to both Motocross Mike and Stock Car Sam.
I guess, at heart, I'm just a gearhead!
I am also working on an anthology of short stories for adults. I hope to have that done and published during the summer of 2011.