090 – Motorcycles, lap one

  Early Bike yearsHard to believe I know, but when I was a young boy, I always wanted an off road motorcycle. Some new neighbors, the Hawkins family had moved in across the street. It was exciting for a few reasons. Cindy Hawkins was one of the prettiest girls ever!! She had fine features, sparkle in her eyes and very smooth, perfect skin that was amazing with a summer tan! What’s more, her brothers, Jeff and Jodi were the same age as the rest of, so more friends. We about filled the whole school bus up at our one stop. It made for lots of fun. Last but not least, Jodi was always riding his motorcycle and occasionally I would get a go at it. It only fueled the fire in me more. I saved any money I got and finally Mom and Dad helped me buy my first motorcycle! My chest got puffed out, I was so cool! It was a Yamaha 125 Enduro. (So, I wasn’t so cool). It was built for on or off road riding, so it had an electric starter, head and tail lights, turn signals and mirrors. Dad and I didn’t communicate very well – he thought I wanted it more for the streets. I just wanted a dirt bike I could ride in the mud. My friends teased me for riding it out in the field poppin’ wheelies and going over jumps. I decided to strip it down. My brother-in-law Richard helped me one day. We took off all the electrical “stuff”. We changed out the small rear sprocket for a bigger one that gave the bike more torque and more low-end power. We put new “Knobby’s” on it for better traction in the muck and stiffened up the rear suspension all we could. This was back when they still had two spring loaded shocks in the rear – one on each side. Of course we couldn’t get it running again.
Crap! I had to ask dad to help me take it to the Yamaha shop we bought it from in McMinnville to get it fixed. The service techs just shook their heads.
Dad was not a happy camper when he found out we could've bought a cheaper motocross version that was already made for dirt riding. He let me hear it! I survived the tongue lashin’ and went on to ride the poor bike into the ground for several years. I rode just about every time I could, and started to get pretty good. I learned of different places to ride from other riders. One really fun place was in the woods. We called it Indian Flats. In order to get to it, we had to ride down the middle of the train tracks that came through town to get to the east side of town. Some riders would go even further and ride over the long train trestle bridge. I hadn’t got the courage up yet. It was very high and very long. All I could think of was a giant train steaming toward me, whistle blowing and me flying off in the middle and … Soon after that the Newberg police were stopping us and warning us to quit riding the tracks anyway, so I never had to cross the trestle. The cops were really cool back then and didn’t really bother us otherwise.
We had lots of room on the farm to make a track with jumps and whoops and all kinds of crazy turns.
So pretty soon we started getting riders showing up and riding at our place. Tim Bredemeyer was the “wheelie poppin’ KING.” He could ride ‘em forever, over hills, around corners… everywhere. Kenny Burthol had this new Honda XR75 that was really fast for a small bike. I begged to ride it all the time. It was perfect for this separate little track we built that went inside the back end of the big chicken barn, around and back out again. One of my cousins, also Greg, had just gotten a nice new motocross bike. So his parents would bring him out from the city so he could ride. One time we took him to this other track at a friend’s place. His name was Calvin Christy. He lived in a place a lot like our neighbors, the O’Halloran’s. It was probably five to ten acres along the creek. There was a pretty steep hill down to the flats by the creek. Calvin had put a jump in the middle of the downhill. It was really pretty easy to go over – you just had to gas it a tiny bit and you were good. Well, this time my big brother Dennis came with us which was unusual, he didn’t ride much. He got onto my cousins MX bike and was riding around the track, not too badly. But when he came to the downhill jump he was going too fast and then gassed it way too much.
He flew right off the track, upside down into this mountain of blackberry bushes. They have long sharp stickers on ‘em and he was stuck! We were all rolling on the ground laughing.
He was yelling for us to help him – which made us laugh even harder! My cousin was more worried about his bike after we knew Dennis was ok. Dennis didn’t ride much after that. One time our cousins, the Molenkamp’s, came out to the farm. They would come out from Portland a lot and we had a blast. Cousin Jack was riding my Yamaha around our track as fast as he could, we were timing each other. He crossed the finish line and didn’t stop! He was barreling along straight at the side of our big chicken barn. He went right through the electric fence and up over a big heap of rubbish and old wood. His legs flew out to the side and he bounced up from the seat but somehow stayed on. We were helplessly running after him. There was nothing we could do, we thought he was gonna plow right into the barn! Then right at the last second he found the brakes and skidded to a stop just inches before impact! I still don’t know exactly what happened, but thankfully he didn’t get hurt.  

3 Responses to 090 – Motorcycles, lap one

  1. Jon Molenkamp September 1, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

    The time spent on the Day farm riding “the yamaha” will always make me smile, and laugh. Those were the days that I recall as the best days of my / our young lives. Thanks Greg, for the many chances to ride, the lessons and the trip down memory lane. Love you all. Jon

  2. Marty & Sallie Tucker September 1, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

    Great story Greg! I remember all the riding places you talked about in your story. Indian Flats was known as, Indian Plateau. This was our secret hide out. Getting there was , like you said, railroad tracks at 60 mph. In 5 min. from the swimming pool, you were there. Bruce Boyd liked your riding arena, behind house too. He tried to kill me in that old 64/65 chev pu, jumping it. I had to grab the keys and jump out.

    Anyway, great times with the motorcycles. Feel fortunate to have lived here as a kid.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you. God bless you!

    Marty & Sallie Tucker

  3. Darcy Greene September 1, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    Fun memories!!