by Stephen Gautreau #999
A large thank you goes out for the invitation to pollute his fine VMX Magazine known as McCookRacing.com with my old school, east coast up-yours attitude and foul sense of humor.
After pondering a suitable topic to violate, I settled on memories of riding, the camaraderie and racing (applied loosely) what were then current state of the art motocross bikes and now considered "Vintage". The thrill of racing back in the day was the actual riding and bar banging that we all took a turn at. Some of the other rider/racers we made friends, other's we attempted every time on the track to use them for a berm. Back then we all seemed to live to ride. If we weren't in school, at our part time jobs or sleeping, we were riding. And in the winter we "worked" on our bikes to stay in tune with it and to be sure it was ready as soon as Spring sprung.
I'm sure a number of us started out hanging around the local M/C shop, getting in the way, taking home way to many sales brochures (now worth good money) and generally being a pest. Then being asked to sweep the floor, empty the trash, go for lunch. The usual stuff that we all ended up doing to become accepted at the shop. Eventually being allowed to change tires and oil, under the watchful eye of someone like Al Doane.
Moving along at what seemed then to be a slow pace, the years were filled with new bikes, road trips to racetracks, seeing friends and having fun riding.
Then the years picked up speed, we grew older quicker and in some sort of twisted Twilight Zone mentality, we have convinced ourselves that riding around on what we grew up on is a great way to continue our youth and good times. Well, it works for me. As the years have gone by, the advent of the Internet and luckily most of the trash we hung around with and rode with have also learned to operate one of these computers, we have once again been brought together from all over to B.S., blab about our latest "race" bike and share the good times all over.
The only memories that really seem to hit home are the ones that revolve around the Heroes/Legends we had then and now. Some of us were quite fortunate in becoming life long friends with a few of them looking back that all seems to mean the most. On a recent vacation I had the chance to see an old friend, the first thing I blurted out was, "Dude, you cut your hair" funny how our memories are stuck in the exact moment we last laid our eyes on someone or something.
As time steam rolls ahead in what seems like fast forward nowadays, the bikes are ever present, the friendly banter via the Internet is constant and the opportunity to see old friends and actually sit down and talk is far and away to infrequent. Tomorrow evening I will have the good fortune to sit down and get the chance to talk with friends, some old and some new ones, albeit due to the common thread of old school motocross. The focus now (for me and a few folks I know well enough to consider them friends) is more on the camaraderie and B.S.ing. When I do get out to the track to "ride" around on some fossil I happen to have in my possession that weekend, I have no inclination to attempt to go fast. the simple act of finishing five laps is a true victory for me. The trash talkin' between motos, the helping of some poor soul to start their bike that they are to tired to start themselves and the chance to gaze upon some truly incredible restorations that run as well as they look, make the journey worth it every time.
Reminiscing with old friend
With the Passing of friends and family members, it has finally dawned on my three remaining brain cells that when my daughters roll me off to Shady Pines and dump me in a rocking chair on the porch so I can drool on myself, the only things I'll be able to take with me will be the memories, not the bikes, the trophies or the boxes of photos, just the memories. Small consolation really for all the hours, days, weeks and years (I started on my first gas powered two wheeler when I was eight, still own it too) I and most of you have poured into this noble past time called motocross.
Enjoy the ride and make as many fond memories as possible while it lasts, Eternity would truly suck without them.
Stephen Gautreau #999