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Dec 8, 2012

Race Prep

Chapter 8 ended with the question of will it run and will we get it on the track for tomorrow’s practice? Well, yes it does, but no we didn’t.

But first, let me back up just a bit. As mentioned earlier, as we were building the Triumph I learned the builder was a professional flat track racer back in the 70s. I also learned there was a vibrant local racing scene that he would help me participate in. My wife and I went to one of the races and we both enthusiastically agreed this would be fun for me, so the project began. The builder offered to make me a period-correct vintage race bike at bargain pricing, and help me learn to ride it.

More than that, he introduced me to one of the local racers that he sponsors and this racer invited me to the track to put some laps down on one of his race bikes! What luck!! We met during one of the pre-race practice sessions, he helped me squeeze into a set of leathers, arranged with the race promoters to let me go out on the track without any other riders, and even though my knees were knocking together, I mounted his 55 hp rocket and headed out. The instructions were to ‘just ride around on two wheels (meaning don’t try any fancy stuff), so that’s what I did. Pretty embarrassing to be a total rookie, out there all by myself, but it was a magical experience for me! The bike was so quick and the track so short, it seemed like the whole six laps were just gas-brake, gas-brake, gas-brake, gas-brake… but completely exhilarating!

All the progress of bike building in these blogs of mine takes a lot longer than I expect, and I knew the race bike would be no different, but this was late winter of 2012, and my hope was to at least have it done for the summer outdoor season at Albany (Oregon) MX Park’s flat track events, but that didn’t happen. One thing that did happen however was another opportunity to mount one of that racer’s bikes and get some more laps in on that outdoor track one warm April day. It was just a 100cc Honda, but I was provided lots of pointers and had a blast.

While waiting for my bike to be built, I was able to have two tutorial sessions with top-notch professionals where I was able to get in some more laps and learn from the best. Timmy Ricketts took me out on the Albany outdoor track on his Honda 450 CRF for an afternoon and early this winter I signed up for Joe Kopp’s Secrets of Speed class at the Salem Indoor. What a lucky man!

Here’s some pics from those days – followed by the chapter of my debut!


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