172 MPH Suzuki
That's right, All you O-38 Experts, read it & weep. After a few mods, they clocked my new Suzuki at an eye waterin' ONE HUNDRED & SEVENTY TWO MILES PER HOUR !!!
...now, for the past couple of years I've been racin', well cruising', around on my very nice ATK 406, & it's a nice bike & all, but ... well,... it's got a snowmobile engine in it, & when it was designed, Can-Am was still on the scene. And though in three seasons of racing, I only had to change the oil once, & I think I put a spark plug in it once,... it IS kinda old technology.
So it was with a heavy heart, ( I loved that bike ) that I took it to Honda/ Suzuki North, to see if the guys there could modernize me. I looked at the Honda XR400, of course, a bunch of guys are doin' good on these things,and there's no doubt that Mr. Summers is kickin' ass on the 600, but those ings have too many movin' parts for me ( after all, the ATK only had about 6 moving parts, & two of those were wheels ).
In the end I came away with an RMX250, this, after I brought my considerable negotiating experience to bear on the poor guys at Honda / Suzuki North. ( they didn't have a chance ) Anyway, so I got a more modern bike, this one uses water to cool the cylinder, ( imagine that ) has a big gas tank that's skinnier than most women that I've known, & can actually turn AROUND the trees & stuff!! AND there's a lever on the handlebars that will make the whole bike stop!! The ATK had a similar lever, but I never knew what it was for, it didn’t really do anything.
That was on a Friday, just before the third race of this season. Of course I started it up & cruised it around the block a few times to warm up the oil, & give it some minor break in time, then set the sag, & figured I'd mess with the boingers on Saturday at practice. But as luck would have it, my services were required at the airport on Saturday ( I'm a jet engine specialist ), & I completely missed the practice session. Being determined to race my new scooter, in the morning race, I packed up early, & headed out.
It musta been a thousand light years from my house to the track, 'cause not only did I miss practice but also was ten minutes too late for sign-up !!
However a well placed C-note, & much wailing to a certain Austin based official, secured my name on the start roster.
Now folks, I'll never admit that I'm fat...I like to say...Big, apparently bigger than Mr. Suzuki had planed on when he chose the springs and suspension settings for the RMX.
The start grid. Surprise number one. As the over 30 experts took off, I glanced over at Mr. Speed, who'd taken up position on my left, & thought to myself "Ha ! These guys don't have a chance! I got me a new scooter, &
I'm feelin' very positive about the whole thing". "..pre-ride the track? I don't need to pre-ride no stinkin' track"
So we got the signal, I put it in 2nd, opened the loud handle about half way, and boom !!! Away all !!
Ya know, for a little 250, the RMX ( compared to the ATK ) is remarkably...peppy. For a moment, just a moment, the other bikes seemed to go backwards. I, yes me, was leadin' the pack to the 1st turn... then it happened. Of course, the reason they call it the 1st turn is cause ya gotta turn there.
I think it was a blade of grass, possibly a discarded cigarette butt, or maybe a twig, or perhaps a dislodged piece of track, from the preceding start, but whatever it was, it launched me & my new scoot skyward...& sideways. And yes, the 1st turn was upon me, and yes, I grabbed a handful of brakes, those wonderful brakes, that work so well...when the wheels are on the ground. And yes the entire pack blasted by like I was tied to a tree. No don't laugh, there's more.
It was about that moment that I came to the sudden realization that the spectators stand entirely too close to the 1st turn berm...and so did they. I screamed, they scrambled. Though they all got out of the way, I think I collected a portion of someone’s softside cooler on my starboard side footpeg. No problem though, " Just got off in high spirits" I thought. I recomposed myself, spun that puppy around, dumped the clutch, & rocketed down the next straight towards the second corner. This time I definitely saw it. It was a twig, about the size of one of those Cuban cigars. But it treated me like it was one of those logs that the lumberjack games are played on. Again there was unexpected airtime. Again there were the screams, and the scrambling spectators, only this time I came away with what appeared to be a young lady’s bikini top entangled in my clutch lever...orange & red...34 b, I think. Sorry ma’am
I discovered that there were a couple of points that I would have to touch on, during my next ( first ) maintenance session. One was that there was some suspension tuning to be done, & two was a steering dampner...this new scoot was just a tad ...twitchy. I felt like a bright yellow pinball careening down the track, bouncing off what ever didn't run away in time. I believe it was the fourth corner, that after getting the bikini top caught in a tree branch, that I usurped an elderly man from his lawn chair, he grabbed his beer, & cooler, but his first & only chance to grab the partially eaten sandwich was a failure...I think the Dunlop got it...ham & cheese I believe…on Rye. Sorry sir.
By the end of this, my most miserable race to date, I had extreme monkey butt, had hit every tree on the course, & collected the piece of cooler, the bikini top, a part of a sandwich, several course markers, a tail-light from a blue Polaris fourwheeler, and later found a Dallas cowboys baseball cap wedged between the front numberplate & the fender.
I did, however, finish the race, and would've been last in my class were it not for Mr. Speed not being able to complete more than a lap or two. Sheer anger, or maybe determination brought on by anger... or maybe it was the fact that my throttle hand was pinned to the grip with a Mesquite thorn.
Whatever. Oh yea, the RMX goes 48 miles of a 50 mile race on a tank of gas.
Oh yes, the 172 mph thing... that was on my OTHER Suzuki, a 1200cc cafe bike.
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