Snakebites, tumbleweeds and pumping units... rambling through Texas.
Sunday, April 04, 2010
It's been a long process, but I finally got a dirt bike, and rode it. It all began in the summer of 2009 when I was pretty bummed out about Houston, and complaining about nothing to do. I decided to look up dirt bike training, since I didn't know how to ride a motorcycle. I knew how to shift and had some practice on my uncle's ATVs many years before, and about a quarter-mile on Erik's motorcycle, but that was it. I signed up for a Honda riding school -- a "closed range exercise" -- designed to cover all the basics. The school was in late October, and I eagerly awaited it. Then it got postponed to November. The course was fun. I rode a Honda CRF150F, which is basically a teenager bike. It seemed a fine size. At the end of the class I hopped on the larger CRF230F and found it perfectly fine. It looks big to a non-dirt biker, but once you're on it and moving, it's not too big at all. After the Honda class, I was totally sold. Now I just needed a hitch on the Subaru, wiring for trailer lights, a trailer and then... a dirt bike. Months went by as I tried to find a place to install a hitch. I was loathe to call U-Haul but finally I did. They did not return my several calls. I had almost given up when coworker Sam went to Master Hitch and had a hitch installed on his Audi. He was impressed, so the next day -- sometime in December -- I went and got a hitch and the wiring. Next came trailer shopping. I couldn't find what I wanted -- a 5x8-ish, lightweight trailer but beefier than the basic "lawnmower" trailer. Prices seemed too high at the local joints -- $750ish. Finally I checked out Big Tex, which had exactly what I wanted for $599+ttl. $720 out the door. 5x8', 12" wheels, easy to move around by hand. A cinch to pull with the Subaru. Now I scoured Craigslist. The going rate for a beat-up Honda 230F was $2000-2500. The better ones seemed to land around $2200. Meanwhile, Honda West had a school-used 150F for $2600 out the door. I agonized over this for a while and had decided on the 150 when I saw an ad for a lightly used 2005 Honda CRF230F with minor carb problems for $1800. Woo hoo! On a rainy March Saturday, I drove down nearly to Galveston to pick up my bike. Back home, a new spark plug and an overnight battery charging went a long way to fixing the no-start issue. Next was carb cleaner in the air intake, an oil change and viola, a ready-to-ride dirt bike. Now, where to ride? The next weekend, the trails in Sam Houston National Forest were closed due to wetness from recent rain. I had to ride. I started up the bike and rode in circles: down my driveway and around the front yard. Finally, this weekend came. The weather looked good. The trails were open. We had Good Friday off work. All the planets came into alignment. I picked up friend Ben and his 1982 Honda 125 enduro. We drove up to SHNF and met two other co-workers, one on a spanking-new Suzuki 400 enduro and the other on an ATV...