Motorcycle Memories: Do it in the Dirt!

I guess if I told you that I began my motorcycle riding journey in the dirt, it would be stating the obvious. Having shared with you that I began riding at the age of 6 or 7, I’m sure you figured out that I was not riding on the road…not that I never rode a dirt bike on the street, but that’s another story.

My first real bike, that is one with gears and a clutch, was a Honda SL70. Technically those bikes were not really dirt bikes; they had a headlight and taillight. Back in those days bikes were not so specialized; you rode what you owned and you rode it wherever or however you wanted. Mine was treated like a motocross or GNCC bike, meaning it was thoroughly thrashed through muddy woods, rocky creeks and rutted hills. I literally wore that bike out until it would no longer run. Thinking back it was some of the most fun I ever had on a motorcycle in my life, and it was very low-tech.

Somewhere between it and my 16th birthday, I made a major jump to a Suzuki TS250 dual sport bike. That was as close to a street bike as I wanted at the time. Dirt was my domain.As it turned out, the TS was pretty lousy off-road. Wasn’t all that great on-road either, so I purchased a Suzuki RM 125 and a whole new world made itself available to me. My dad called it a “ditch digger;” I called it “awesome!” Two-stroke power was intoxicating and I absolutely loved that bike. I learned to wheelie, jump and plow a field without the use of a tractor!

My 2nd RM

Eventually I found myself drawn to street bikes. I think it was mostly due to the fact that I was bored with riding on my parent’s property and it was a pain to haul the RM somewhere to ride. So I eventually abandoned dirt bikes in favor of the road. Since then I’ve owned many dozen street bikes and taken all sorts of interesting rides and trips, something that I plan on pursuing as close as possible to the day I breathe my last breath. 

Every once in a while, however, I feel the gravitational pull to return to the beginning…or at least close. I went through a period where I owned several Suzuki DRs and did some backcountry exploration. I even bought another RM, but found that true off-road  riding just didn’t really work for me anymore. But dual sporting, or maybe more precisely, Adventure Touring and exploration, that has a very strong appeal to me. In fact, the older I get, the more backwoods and backroad discovery feels like the direction I want to go. 

Now, if I had an inseam more than a mere 29″, I would probably be the owner of a KTM or Husky dual sport. However, I’d have to lower those bikes so much that it seems almost pointless. I purchased a Tiger 800 XCx last year with the idea in mind of doing more exploring. I love the bike dearly, but it does have it’s limits, at least in my hands. What I’d like to add to the garage at this time in my life is something just a wee bit smaller. Right now I’ve got my eye on the BMW 310GS. Improve the suspension, add some knobby tires and away I go! Only problem I have is that there is no room in the garage for a fourth bike and so far I have not been able to talk my wife into parking her car outside…I mean, is that really too much to ask? In return, I’d agree to up my life insurance policy and then take the bike on this trip. Seems like a fair trade to me….

Later,

Shep

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