Sunday, December 28, 2008

Snow Moto Memories

All this snow we've received over the last two weeks, reminds me of growing up in New Jersey.

I’m not claiming to be Mr. Pro Rally, but did goof around a lot in the snow back then. Cars, dirt motorcycles and mountain bikes. Snow time was play time. My friends dad also had a snowmobile. We’d take that out, him on the snowmobile, me on a dirt bike behind him – riding in the compressed snow.

I lived about a 1/4 mile from Lake Hopatcong (largest lake in NJ), so lots of snowmobiles buzzing around the neighborhood when it snowed. I also took it as an excuse to roost my dirt bike all over the snow covered streets. From whatever reason, I never ventured out on the frozen lake. We did buzz around a nearby pond when frozen – my friend on a ‘70s BSA MX bike, complete with studded tires. Me on a 1979 Suzuki RM125, no studs – on ice.

Lots of car sliding around also – head to the empty mall parking lot (or something similar) and slide all over. One time, pal and I used two light poles as course markers to create our own flat track course. Him in a ancient Volvo wagon, me in my ‘74 Ventura. Raced around, sometimes side by side, sideways in the turns. Just like the drifting competitions you see now - except with crappier cars and no crowd.

I used to take the Pontiac Ventura and plow into snow banks on purpose. Car would overheat after awhile from all the snow pressed into the grill. Wheels would actually be out of balance from snow smashed into the rims. I once mangled my exhaust system on a frozen snow bank. Another time, cracked the radiator by hitting some frozen ruts at speed. Almost rolled it once, by hitting a ice covered parking lot at high speed – then slid across to the dry section – sideways. Tires chirping, hopping sideways stop. Car actually pulled to the left after that, must have completely knocked the steering out of alignment.

Later, with front wheel drive Fiats at my disposal – lots of snow stupidity. I had a set of snow tires mounted once, it was like owning a cheap rally car. Huge fun. I’d plow through snow so deep, the front bumper would knife through the powder.

The blurry pictures, from 1980 - from a 110 camera (remember those?) - me on my 1979 Suzuki RM125, old friends Todd Mazzola and Kevin McGatha on a pair of Maicos (remember those?).

Person getting some serious snow air is Todd. He was a pretty damn good rider, as was Kevin. The half cut off shot is Kevin. The yellow bike is me, # 267, my old motocross race number. The place was a popular riding area at the time, known as Mine Hill Pits. A few hundred acres of old mining area, semi-woodsy and laced with trails. This was back in the day of open access and little complaints. A fun era.

I remember the day we took these pictures, as well as other snow rides and adventures. Great memories and riding my mountain bike in the snow today, brings me back there.

Dirt bikes, mountain bikes, snowmobiles, skis, snowboards - your choice - all a good excuse to be a kid again.

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