It all started around 1977~ish in Montebello California. My brother and I were playing in the dirt fields near where we lived and I watched a group of teenagers trying to start one of those old style mini-bikes with a lawn mower, pull string start, type of motors. They let me ride it about 100 feet. I was hooked. It wasn't until 1982 that I finally had enough money to purchase my own bike, (without anyone's permission). It was a Honda 175cc street legal enduro. I pushed it home, replaced all the broken bits, performed some engine and carb work, then taught myself how to ride. My brother learned to ride it also, he found out that the fence could be used as a braking zone. I/we ruined the back yard in a single weekend.
I sold that bike the same year and made a nice profit. However, the parental units put the cuffs on me and forbid motorcycles. I mean, what were they thinking? Nothing makes you want it more than when it is verboten! Fast forward to my military days, routine paychecks and voila! A brand new Suzuki GS550e was all mine. If I had seen the GPz550 or the RD350, I would have gone for one of those. Two months later the sport bike era began when the Ninja600, VFR500 and FZ750 were launched. Thus started my continuous, never ending, habitual two wheeled envy...
I purchased a GSXR750 in 1986 and also got the bug for road racing. I tried my hand at it in 1989. I wrecked my first weekend as a fellow rider spun out in front of me and collected my front end. It was repaired and raced the next month. Fast-forward a bit and I piloted a CBR600F1, FZR600, a newer GSXR750 and an FZR1000 for the next few years at the track. My street ride was a CBR900RR. Then Suzuki dropped the holy grail of bikes on me in 1997. The TL1000S was released and I ran out to get one, along with my other friends Tim, Joe and Paul. I was instantly comfortable on this bike and found myself getting fast in the canyons. I turned to the race track again and started making top ten results in my class. I visited Willow Springs with my friend Johnny Rock Page (he is/was an AMA Pro racer...) We were there with Chuck Graves as he was transitioning from Suzuki to Yamaha on his way to a factory team manager. Johnny was there buying an AMA superbike R1 from him. Anyway, Chuck was watching me at the track and said "your suspension is fucked and you have the wrong tires on that bike." I corrected it with a RaceTech gold kit and reduced the rear width to a 180 tire per his suggestion. Immediately, there were some positive results apparent to me. The bike was solid, it turned into corners fantastic had stable corner speed. I was still considered a slow amateur, but was gaining ground on those ahead of me and I had loads of smiles under my lid.
I owned six TL1000S models and one Tl1000R in a 10 year span. I got on the podium more often and scored 10th overall in one season. Not bad for a slow guy! I did have one bad wreck, shattered a collarbone, made it back later that year to finish having fun. I stopped going to the track sometime in the early 2000's. It was costing too much and I really wasn't having a good time anymore. Some of my friends got competitive and went a different direction with their racing.
On the street I went to a ZX1200, to an R1 , to an RC51, to a 2005 R1, an Fz1, and then a DL1000 VStrom. I guess that was my first large ADV bike.
I had tried my hand at dirt bike riding during various times in my life with CR250's, a CR500 that tried to kill me everytime I was on it, aYZ429,
KLR650 (2nd ADV bike / gutless turd) and a WR450. That WR did EVERYTHING I needed it to, but run cool in the slow technical terrain and was not street legal. My friend Andy and I spent 4 days riding MOAB and I was invigorated once again. I wanted his KTM 525EXC because it was street legal, had an electric start and a 6th gear. It was the best large, single cylinder dirt bike I had ever ridden. Probably the best in a lot of other riders opinion also.
And then I grew up... or so they say.
I got another DL1000 and partnered up with my best friend Kevin to test my skill at large bike adventure touring. We spent about two years gathering gear, testing items, camping and touring around AZ. We went on a few group gatherings in southern California and that's when we decided to plan out the Anchorage Alaska trip. Unknown to me, my friend in IOWA, Jeff, was planning the same trip. We coordinated things for about a year, we were going to meet in Yellowstone and head north from there for 3 weeks. However, life got in the way and we cancelled.
Jeff ended up riding Dawson to some trails north. He has great pictures... I have a lot of envy. Kevin and I decided to ride the HWY 1 from Dana Point to Vancouver in 2014. Pacific coastline all the way! One side adventure was to visit all of the remaining WWI and WWII Pacific bunkers. We found the best ones in Oregon and Washington. There should be a page with pictures coming soon. Maybe.
We camped and hotel camped when the KOA grounds were full or flooded. It was a great trip. We consumed superb beer in Eugene and ate some VooDoo Donuts. We then stayed overnight in Tacoma where I had some corporate work to do for a couple of days. As we suited up and rode out of Tacoma, Kevin was playing with his GoPro. I said, hey, there is a huge bridge in Seattle, make sure you set that thing to record as we cross over. As it turns out, the camera malfunctioned. A pity too, because that was when a Jetta decided to cross into my lane and punt me down the road at 50 MPH. I tumbled for what seemed like forever. All I could do was scream, and watch the lug nuts swirl next to me. I couldn't move at first, and found out that my ADV helmet visor was sideways and pinning my neck to the ground. I was still screaming because I was having a hard time breathing and rolling over. I was wearing full riding gear from BILT. Helmet, gloves, boots and their ADV suit. It was shredded on the knees, back and elbows. The gloves were road-rashed and only exposed the outer palm on one glove.
Let me shorten this bit up... that gear, as cheap as it was, saved my ass. I had road rash on my knees, elbow and hand. I broke one bone in my hand, nine broken ribs and took a ride to the hospital. Even cheap gear has its benefits.
I ended up recovering very well at Whidbey Island Naval Base with my family. The insurance company totaled the DL1000 and I was very lucky to get all of my personal gear back thanks to my fast acting friend Kevin.
4 months later I bought a used GS1200ADV. (I never said I learned any lessons or that I had any common sense, I said I was a motorcycle junkie.)
I was determined to ride ADV or nothing. Kevin upgraded his GS to a GSA, my friend Jim also upgraded to a GSA. We did a few 5-10 mile off road tests in the Salt River area. Less than a year later, Jim showed me a video of this fellow named Eric Hall on YouTube and he is working his GS1200ADV through Baja Califoirna like a madman. I shoot him an email and he invites me to his website XLADV.COM https://xladv.com/ After a few months, I see this event called the 2015 HIGH SIERRA Gathering, sponsored by GSGiants http://www.gsgiants.com/ . Side bar --- look up the event, its great and all proceeds go to Lost For a Reason. http://www.lostforareason.org/<-- Look that up also.
Anyway, I go to this High Sierra ride with my friends Kevin and Jim. 4 days of camping and big bike ADV riding. I learned a lot, I picked up a lot of fallen riders, their bikes, and I still had a lot of fun. ADV riders are an odd group of folks that sit around after a long ride and laugh about the fun, falls, injuries and repairs. Sounds insane doesn't it? I found that the GS didn't suit my riding style because I could not get used to the cylinder heads getting in my way. They are right where I am conditioned to place my outstretched leg and foot for cornering in the dirt. And its heavy, which is terrible if you are out of shape. (I know, round is a shape...)
The following year I traded the GS for a 2016 Super Tenere. Armed with a new set of Karoo3's I did much better at the 2016 High Sierra event and felt a lot more confident. But, that bike is heavy too, and I am still out of shape. I love it too much to sell it so I looked for a spare ride. I found a 2010 KTM 990 Adventure. Generally referred to and "THE" big daddy of ADV bikes. It is bone stock. It feels like half the bike of the GS1200 when riding through the twisties. I am starting to build it up for this years High Sierra 2017. I think I will start a blog about it. Maybe "50 and still playing in the dirt"?
this gets better, I swear.