Dangerspouse Rides Again

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Garage - Track

Mar. 26, 2004 - 7:17 a.m.

Avenging Eve

You ever seen one of these?

That, my friends, is a Beta Rev-3 270.

And I have one. NewWifey(tm) gave it as her wedding present to me.

It does things like this:

See the seat?

No. No you don't. That's because a seat would slam into your balls whenever you hit a wall like that. There is no seat. You ride standing up. Everywhere. Because of your balls.

These bikes are used in the very specialized sport of "Observed Motorcyle Trials" (just "Trials" for short). If you're not familiar with it, you're in the majority. It's probably the most spectacular motorized sport nobody's ever heard of. The general object is this: the organisers present a course that would make a mountain goat vomit in fear. You have to ride your motorcyle through the course without dying. You lose points every time you put your foot down or bust an internal organ. At the end of the race, whoever was luckiest to make it to the end, wins.

That's what NewWifey(tm) and I do for relaxation. She's won the New England Womens' Championship 2 out of the last 3 years. I've....had a lot of fun.

It takes a lot of practice to be able to do this without dying. That's the main reason why I hate winter - the snows up here at DangerHouse generally approach handlebar depth by late November, and don't really melt until, well, yesterday. That's almost half a year's worth of non-practice time. Time that probably should have been spent doing donuts rather than eating them. Now I stand a good chance of dying at my first race.

But I may be able to stave off that fate for another year. Yesterday when I got home from work I was able to see the trail in the woods surrounding my house for the first time since 2003.

Time to get dirty!

Too bad NewWifey(tm) was still at work. I suppose I could have waited for her, but I truly have the self restraint of a Beagle puppy. No impulse control at all. So I saddled up Ol' Paint and hit the dusty trail.

Well, the muddy trail. The very muddy trail. All that melting snow decided it would rather stay wedded to the native soil rather than run off into streams and reservoirs, the result being mile after mile of knee deep 90-weight gear oil (ask your husband).

I didn't care. I'd watched race porn all winter, perused racing magazines til they turned to confetti, scoured race websites, darned my race socks, and generally was a boor to NewWifey(tm) by steering every conversation towards racing ("What do you mean, 'Did you pick up my insulin'? Don't you realize our first race is only 11 weeks away??"). I was ready to ride NOW.

The Beta was absolutely pristine. Four solid moths of saliva applications every night (and maybe, uh, a few other fluids) gave her a glistening shine (and somewhat tacky feel). We keep both our race bikes in the Guest Bedroom over the winter, so it took a minute to wheel her out the door, down the hall and then down the front steps to the driveway. But once there, she started on the third kick. Ah, my baby! I let her idle while I suited up.

I have a terrible admission to make. I wear Spandex pants.

When I ride, too.

Yeah, actually, ALL Trials riders pretty much wear Spandex pants. You need the flexiblity for one thing, and for another, it lets spectators concetrate on something other than your pathetic sucession of crashes. "Did you see how small that guy's package is? No - not him. The other guy, up there hanging from the tree limb. With the missing arm. Yeah, isn't that too funny? I bet his wife bought a Great Dane puppy the morning after their honeymoon...."

Then the boots, helmet, and gloves. An odd thing, it's only when I put my gloves on that the little switch in my brain gets flipped and I become...MotoSpouse. I could be butt naked, but if the first thing I put on is riding gloves I'll immediately rush down to the garage, start the Beta, and impale my bare feet on the toothed footpegs. Conversely, I could be completely suited up from noggin to toe, sitting on my bike 10 seconds from start time on Race Day, and if I've forgotten my gloves I can't remember how to let the clutch out to get the Beta moving. Weird.

Well, I didn't forget the gloves this time. It was GREAT to be out in the woods again, shaking the winter rust off. Yeah the trail was muddy, and yeah I was so out of shape that I found breathing difficult by the time I got to the end of my driveway. But I ignored it all and just wicked the throttle open.

After about a half an hour I fell into a rhythm on the trails, blasting along at a comfortable pace in 4th gear. I wasn't doing any actual practicing this day, just getting the cobwebs shook out of my muscles. So I was content to just amble along and feel the ground get chewed up underneath me.

There's one point on our loop that takes us down a steep winding ravine, at the bottom of which is a sweeping left turn onto a broad fire road. It's an unbelievable rush to plunge the last ten or so vertical feet down that gorge onto loamy soil, throw the bike sideways and nail the gas all in the span of less than a second. It went off without a hitch my first time through, and I was back in 4th before my second breath.

A little down the trail from this point is a stretch littered with broad, flat rocks. I noticed that some inconsiderate hiker had left what looked like a length of coiled rope on one of those rocks - a rock that my current trajectory was about to take me over.

I wasn't worried about it - I can claw my way up 7 foot vertical walls on that Beta. Four feet of wayward nylon rope would be like rolling over a mosquito. I didn't change course.

About 10 feet from the rope, the rope lifed its head. It looked just like this.

At this point my options were limited. Swerving at that speed, on those rocks, from that distance, I'd end up a pile of shredded tissue until I became nourishment for something farther down the food chain. I decided to try to jump over it.

I almost made it.

Lack of practice, muddy conditions, weeks of drunken excess. I suppose I could blame any of them. But frankly, even under the best of circumstances it's damn hard to lift a motorcycle straight up into the air from flat ground, at 50 mph. I got the front wheel up fine, but the back wheel....

Let's just say, if that snake had eaten one less hamster in his life I probably would have cleared him.

As it was, I heard a quick snapping sound, and then "ThwupThwupThwupThwupThwupThwup....."

I pulled to the side of the trail. Before I even saw it I could tell what had happened by the smell. WHEEE-OOO! Do you know what mud, 2-stroke racing fuel fumes, shredded Eastern Cottonmouth snake and partially digested bunny smell like? I do, now. I'd rather bunk in a Chicago pork abattoir.

Despite my revulsion, there was nothing I could do. The main body of the snake was wound around my rear hub, with a good portion caught up in the sprocket and chain as well. There was no disentangling it. I had to ride all the way back listening to thwupthwupthwupthwup....

Fortunately I have a power washer at home, and it did a pretty good job of blowing shredded snake off my bike and into my neighbor's pool. I did keep the head though, and am thinking of mounting it on my front fender as a warning to other creatures not to cross my path.

Oh well, I just got home and it looks like another beautiful day. I think I'll go riding again - don't tell PETA, ok?


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