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.

White Christmas

After all the running around and planning - Christmas is over. Having two kids in the prime Christmas age does make it fun again. Up at 6:15 AM to open presents, followed by an entire day of playing with new toys. I remember those times as a kid and get a kick out of seeing Ian and Amy enjoying it as well.

Was snowing like crazy on Christmas day, so we called the family invited to join us for dinner and gave them the bail out card if needed. We elected to reschedule until after the Holidays.

We've had a ton of snow over the last week or so. I shoveled the driveway a few times and part of our street with help from a neighbor. Trip to the library yesterday required a few attempts to make it up our street. Deep, wet, slippery snow.

Also helped another neighbor get her Toyota Prius unstuck. I always wondered how those hybrids would drive in the snow. Low ground clearance, electronics that won't allow excessive wheel spin, pretty heavy for its size - took a few people and some shoveling to get it moving.

Snow is now melting fast. 40 degrees and raining. Fun while it lasted. Getting hit with the occasional snow storm is all around good. Gets neighbors outside to play and talk, people at work talk about their crazy commute - a good interruption in the usual routine.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

More Snow

Still snowing as of Sunday night. Eight or so inches on the ground, with three to six more inches expected tonight. My son Ian and I rode around the neighborhood a bit. Snow is too deep to pull off a bike commute tomorrow - guess I'll play Pro Rally racer and drive in.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snow !!

Freezing cold and loads of snow in the Seattle area this week - doesn't happen that often. Rode to work on Thursday, nice ride, but the 34 mile round trip in the snow was a little tougher then expected. People at work think I'm insane.

In the morning, after cruising slowly down my big ass hill, hit the Burke-Gilman Trail. It was a few inches of fairly wet snow that was hard to ride in. After a half mile or so, considered turning back, but made progress by following a bike track from some nut case who rode earlier. Then a car track (!?!) on the trail saved the day for a few hundred yards. Apparently some lakefront home owner used the trail to avoid the steep hills heading towards Bothell Way – tracks eventually turned into a driveway.

I figured the snow level would drop towards Seattle and I was right. After a few miles of pain it was great – awesome riding. It was snowing like crazy when I hit Seattle itself.

I thought I’d bag out of work around 3:00 or 4:00 PM to head home. Wound up leaving around 5:15 PM. Way colder on the way home, but nice hard snow on the trail – with plenty of ice. For awhile, it was awesome, can fly at almost normal speeds. It was a blast.

Before I got to the trail, some Dude on a road bike blew past me going down Eastlake. The street was an ice skating rink. Either he had studded tires or I’m a wimp. A pin in my collarbone is not on my Christmas wish list. I did push it a bit on the trail however. Fun stuff.

Wheels fell off the wagon on the Lake Forest Park section. Deep hard snow, with tons of frozen footprints and tire ruts. Lots of energy to keep rolling and a mild pounding as well. I was pretty wasted by then. The climb up to my house was quite painful, I was toasted. It also was a total sheet of ice all the way up. Some people sledding on the hill were impressed/horrified by my slow progress. One guy offered me a Powerbar from his house. Nice offer, but I declined.

I was glad to get home. Left knee was hurting – rare for me. It was fun in a challenging way. No crashing or mishaps. I used my Cannondale mountain bike for the trip.

Back in New Jersey, I did quite a bit of snow riding with dirt motorcycles and mountain bikes. In a way, riding in the snow takes me back there. Call me Loopy.