Grumbler's note: It was during the 70s when Jack and I happened to own
older Triumphs prior to getting our '73 T140Rvs. Had a '67 650 TR6R
project and a '68 Suzuki X6 Scrambler. During this story, Jack was
riding his pre-unit construction first year '59 Triumph Bonneville.
When I was of age, I received my "Learner's driver permit" and several months
of convincing, making promises and proving my worth to my parents I bought,
with my hard earned wages, several months old 1963 Triumph Bonneville for
Rode the "63" till I graduated from high school and sold it towards my
"Higher Education." As I had promised to my parents. During my "Freshman"
year of college and 3,000 miles from home, I bought a Full Dressed 1958
Police Special 1200cc HD for $600.
On my ownership of my first "Hog" I took off the saddle bags. One of my
"wanta be biker" classmates conveniently sheared off the windshield as he
accidentally popped a "Wheelie" from the dorm parking/loading area, crossed
the campus road, went airborne as he bounced off the high curbside,
dismembered the windsheild with a road sign and landed the Hog on it's side
in the empty field... He had said that he'll pay for another windshield, I
said, "Don't bother I was planning to take the damn thing off anyway."
You were standing beside me watching this grand show... You had mentioned
to me, "Well, That's a start for your stripped down Hog." Our camaraderie
for motor cycles began to grow since. Later on, you acquired a 67 Triumph TR6.
After the "mid-sixties" cultural upheaval, fate had separated us and we
rejoined on the West coast beginning of the "Seventies."
There were many variables that continued to strengthen our bond. One
of them, were the days of dirt bike riding in the "Hills."
It's kinda hard to separate the Saturday jaunts of our wild trail rides
and suicidal hill climbs that happened more than three decades ago.
So, bear with me, some of events may have had happened on many Saturdays.
If one can remember, it was during an era of the "Japanese Invasion" for the
motor cycle industries and sales. The two cycles imports had ruled the dirt
and trail bikes while the four cycles imports were taking the lead on the
street/cafe bikes market.
There were a few of us, street riders, who wanted to feel the four stroke,
thundering beasts between our legs that tipped the scales at 350 LB on the
dirt trails. When one twists the throttle on these raging beasts, adrenaline
sky rockets. The white knuckles "Rush" never quits till you get off and walk
Our usual scenario starts at the "Shop" after a Saturday half day's work with
our bikes strapped down in the beds of our pickups. We're eating hamburgers,
fries and drinking sodas on the fly as our caravan heads north for Summit Rd
via #17. Our main rides were: 175cc Bultaco(John)... 200cc Triumph
Cub(Steve)... 250cc Montesta(Jim)... Two identical Honda 90cc Mini Bikes
(Pete and Ed)... 250cc Suzuki(you)... 1959 650cc Triumph TT (yours truly)...
My coworkers had been riding in the Santa Cruz Mountains for several
seasons. While Jim the oldest rider in our group rode for more than
twenty years on his British Bikes, Jawas, Bultacos and this year his
You and I were "newcomers." I had just set my roots in Santa Cruz last
summer. You had lived at a pad in Hayward that any biker would have had
killed for. We dubbed it "The Fonz's Place."
I believe at the time, "Project 67 Triumph Street Chopper" was waiting for
your artistic skills in the garage below your studio.
Your Suzuki transmission output shaft threads were stripped and the sprocket
securing nut was coming off that weekend. You didn't want to jeopardize your
67 Triumph project funds to R&R the shaft so you had Jim welded the nut and
sprocket to the shaft permanently. I have often wondered when you sold it
what the next owner of that bike would say when he finds the shaft welded.
He probably would have said. "I got Shafted!" HEH, HEH.
Soon we're at the launching/parking area in the Santa Cruz Mountians on Loma
Prieta Road. There were other vehicles with empty trailers had parked
earlier in the morning. We can hear the other dirt bikes buzzing throughout
the hills above and down below in the bowls of the forest.
The parking lot was jammed full with families members and fellow bikers were
lounging on patio furniture and having tailgates parties watching the bikes
racing across the "Start and Finish Line."
We unloaded our bikes, cranked them up and I checked and adjusted my TT
carbs. As we zipped up our riding jackets and gloves Jim and I made eye
contact and we simultaneously mouthed, "You are going to eat my dust!"
Jim's 250cc Montesta was brand spanking new... He already had two or three
"break in" rides on the Montesta. His previous bike was a 175cc Bultaco which
he sold to John. He practically rode his previous owned bikes in every nook
and cranny among these hills. To most of us he's the "King of the Hills."
The TT was a low slung sled with a "Banana" gas tank which had a deep
tunnel so the tank sits low on the top part of the frame, to keep the
center of gravity low. A solo seat with a small 4" x 6" Buddy Seat on
the rear fender.
Spark powered by Lucas magneto, no battery or lights. Front spool with
19x3.50 front and 19x3.90 rear knobby tires. Ported and relieved valve
pockets with high performance valves and assemblies. Open 1 3/4" TT pipes
for exhaust and two Amal 32 mm Monoblocs. "GP Cams" to handle the
breathing. "Barnett" clutch pack, front and rear sprockets had 17 T
and 53 T... Zero to 60 just a hair over four seconds with top end
of 100 MPH.
It was designed for half mile and mile dirt flat track during the early 60's.
It was perfect for hill climbs as I found out by chance from one of my rides
in Holister Hills a while back. But it's flat track and hill climbs days are
numbered. Soon, it'll be converted to a "Street Chopper."
The "Bottom Course" which is sopping wet and muddy from this week rains,
starts with several miles of slow arcing curves and straights which leads
into winding forest trails, around fallen trees, hair pin curves, small hills
and loads of jumps. Then we run several predetermined laps on a banked
oval track and back track to the beginning.
About 40 miles round trip with average elapse time of 45 minutes. That's not
beating around the bush... My first "intro" on this course took me an hour
The bottom course also has hundreds of secondary trails that branches off
from the main and leads into "box canyons." Jim had said that it was
impossible for him to explore all them in his life time. Most ends at 5-10
miles and a few of them go as far as 30-40 miles. You gotta have enough gas
to return or you'll be walking back...
The upper course was called "Top of the World" which was above the tree
lines. It's arid and dusty, lots of 100 to 300 foot high hills that runs
along the fire service roads. That's where the famed "Widow Maker Hill Climb"
of Santa Cruz County was located.
The short cut to the upper course is up "Rattle Snake Gulch" across the paved
road from the parking area. Most beginners or underpowered bikes can't make
it and have to take the alternative, the long way, which is back to the
pavement and drive about 20 miles to the other side of the mountain.
Something to avoid cause pavement eats knobby tires to the max.
We snaked through the parking area and as I entered the bottom course trail
head, I twisted the throttle half way in first gear. The TT snorted, barked
and shot forward as the front wheel raised almost to the "Point of no
Return." Whoa! Wild Stallion! Not too cool to find oneself bouncing on his
After playing with the gear selections for several miles, I can launch the TT
as I lean forward from a dead stop on a level terrain using second, twisting
to half throttle and a 25-30 ft rooster tail would shoot out behind me. As I
shifted up the remaining two gears with the throttle wide open the rooster
tail was still there.
Then I would back off in fourth then down shifted quickly to third and then
second to a crawl in matter of seconds. Not once I applied the rear brakes
to slow down. HA! The remains of my rooster tail caught up with me from
behind and splattered mud on my back, neck, head and top of my gas tank as I
made my stop using the rear brake to keep me from rolling forward. Awesome!
Our first lap of the course is an orientation lap, get to know the current
course conditions, making our adjustments on our bikes, riding gear, etc.
So, we're scattered all over the course. Then we would return to the parking
area, top off our gas tanks from the "Jerry Cans" and wait for the rest.
On one of my orientation laps a topless girl wearing hiking shorts popped out
from the forest a few yards of me when I passed her and I took a double take
and downshifted two gears to slow down. I was so preoccupied and ran my
front wheel up a bank and fell to the side. No biggie, just a drop in the
dirt. My pride was hurt.
While sitting on my haunches and yanking my goggles off and rubbing my
unbelievable eyes. I stared with my mouth agape as she slowly crossed the
trail, she waved and disappeared back into the woods. What the F...!
I went to pick up my bike. I usually have my carbs adjusted way below idle
when my throttle is at closed position or I'll have a "runaway" on my hands.
No kill switch on the magneto. I checked for neutral, kick started, put it
in first and crawled slowly down the trail to look for her. She was gone...
A figment of my imagination. Laughed to myself and said that "No one will
As I click on more miles, my thoughts were back on the "ride." Jeez!
Another topless girl with couple of children in their birthday suits comes
out of the forest just ahead of me, walked across the trail and disappeared
into the thick forest. MAN! I'm losing it! "Take me to the Funny Farm!"
Jim and I were the first pair on the "Start Line" with the others behind us.
I attempted to tell Jim about my "figment of imagination" but Jim yelled,
"Last one back is a .....!" Oh hell! Jim got the lead.
Jim and his bike proved to be masters at the jumps and tight bends. My TT
was way too low for this type of track... Sheeesh! The others were passing
me on the first muddy hair pins and jumps with ease. Even the 90 cc Mini
Bikes were puttin' on by me.
By the time the trail had straighten out, you guys were almost half way down
the long straight. I was in third and twisted the throttle wide open, my
panoramic view went into a blurred green tunnel.
I griped my hands tighter on the handle bars with my ass was sliding off the
solo seat, passed all of you and shifted to fourth to increased my distance.
A couple football fields length later, I down shifted each gear to second to
maneuver around the bends and curves. No hair pins or jumps this time.
Great! I'm Still ahead as I come out of the bends and made another mad dash
on the straights. I had to down shift a couple of times slow down before
entering some more of those damn jumps. I had to go around bunch of 20-25
foot fallen trees which took valuable time.
Jim's Montesta climbed over the fallen trees on the trail and sped off as I
completed my redirection. No way my TT can do that! I sure wished that I
had scrambler exhaust pipes instead of these TT pipes underneath the frame.
By the time I caught up with him we had entered more bends, hair pins and
series of half a dozen jumps. He kept slinging mud at me, I was driving
blind. I had to pull over to wipe the mud off the goggles. That "SOB!"
My only chance to catch up with Jim was at the banked quarter mile oval track
down the in the "Bowls." We agreed on ten laps before we back tracked home.
You guys were already entering the oval while Jim finished his first lap.
I stayed in third gear, throttled wide open on the "apex exits of the curves
and straights and throttled down, no braking, to drop the TT and myself to
the left bank using my left foot as support or 'drag' just a hair before the
entry of the curves and somewhat feathered half to three quarters throttle on
the banks of the curves as I slide past the "apex." As I leave the Apex,
throttle is wide open again. I would repeat the process for the remainder of
After my third lap the Mini bikes pulled off the oval cause they were too
slow and smart enough to quit. I had lapped all except Jim by my sixth lap.
Jim and I left the oval at the same time and we fish tailed back onto the
straights we we're neck to neck till I shifted in fourth and left him eating
As I entered the first bend and jumps I remembered there was a gigantic mud
hole that I had avoided before. As Jim edged closer behind me, I entered at
the outer edge of the mud hole and I twisted my throttle wide open then
backed off. HEH, HEH...
My knobby tire slung loads of mud on his bike and in his face. His goggles
were caked with streaking mud and he had to pull over. Here's my chance!
Yeah! I play dirty too, this is war! HA! HA!
I put some distance from Jim and the rest further down the trail. As I went
around the fallen trees I stopped and listened for the others and I can hear
Jim's distinctive two stroke Montesta revving up a storm down below.
He'll catch up if I didn't clear the last of the hair pins and jumps. The
jumps were to close together and I had to stay in second and try not to jump
too far and land at the next jump base or I'll be pogo(ing) my front end with
my rear wheel in the air. Finally I cleared the last of them and hollered,
"Color me gone!"
The last stretch of the course was about 4 miles of straights and easy
curves... Once I had cleared the bends and entered the last stretch there was
no possible way he could catch up.
As I exited the last bend I shifted into third with twisting the throttle all
the way open, the rear knobby tire had a full bite and I popped a wheelie for
about 20-25 yards. Front end dropped slowly back down as I accelerated to
70-75 MPH and shifted into fourth and propelled to 100 MPH...
Freaking mind blowing!
Suddenly, as I was cruising back down to 85-90 mph, pops out two topless
girls from the forest, about hundred yards ahead me. I had backed off in
fourth, down shifted to third, slowing to 40-45 MPH trying to decide on
whether I'd stop or what. "Wow! Two of them!" I'm in heaven! Pinch me!
As I passed them, I turned my head for a fraction of a second and then I find
myself crashing into the bushes and slid into a dirt bank. They headed
towards me to check if I was all right but since I was getting up and dusting
myself off they turned around, walked ever so slowly and melted back into the
woods. I was shaking... Not from the fall but from the girls.
The bike was okay, pushed it off the bank to put it back in neutral before I
can start it. Jim screamed by and gave me his "Victory Wave." The rest of
you guys passed a little later as I was kick starting my bike. I slowly
cruised back, scanning the edge of the woods, and hopefully to spot some
more of the elusive nymphs... My heart was pounding wildly just thinking
As I pulled up along aside of you guys at our parked pick ups while drinking
pop, Jim asked, "What happened?" All of you were snorting and chuckling
trying hard not to burst out laughing.
I parked the TT and walked to the cooler, grabbed some pop and said, "You
won't believe me."
Then all of you guys burst out laughing something fierce... When Jim finally
had control of his laughter he said, "There's a nudist colony near by in one
of those box canyons. The trail are their cross roads for their nature
"Has any one talked with them yet?" I asked.
"Not unless you take your clothes off" Jim replied.
Hmmmm... For a while there, I thought I was due at the "Funny Farm."
With the afternoon sun setting in the west, the other bikers were leaving the
parking lot and soon we would be last ones here... After checking my fuel
level in my tank and it was half full. I offered to anyone who wanted to
ride my TT. Jim took the offer and jumped on the TT.
It was strange to hear my TT roaring through the forest. The TT has
definitely had it's own tone. "A Breed Apart." I thought. About 10 minutes
later we can hear Jim shifting through the gears on his return trip. The TT
was screaming from within the forest as he poured on the coal. He backed off
just as he cleared the edge of the forest and cruised pass the finish line.
Coasting back to us and stopped beside me and the TT was idling a tad high
and he asked, "Where's the kill switch?"
"Hold your rear brake and let out the clutch in second gear" I replied.
He was pumped. "Whoee! This baby is a "Cannon Ball Express!"
"What's the top end of this flying sled?"
"Oh about 100 or so." I replied.
" No wonder you can leave us in our tracks on the straights."
"Any one else, before I haul it on the pick up bed?" I asked.
The rest declined and you said, "I'll take it for a short spin."
You've ridden the TT before. You went through the same motions as Jim but
passed the finish line at a much higher rate than he did. Pulled along aside
of me and you popped the clutch in third to kill the motor and gave me a big
smile and winked. Saying, "One quick mother."
We were just finishing putting all the bikes on the pick ups and you decided
to ride your Suzuki back to Santa Cruz to see some friends and then meet me
at Denny's for dinner.
About a dozen or so dirt bike riders came down the "Rattle Snake Gulch,"
crossed the pavement into the parking lot and sped down the trail. A few
clicks later they come back racing around the empty lot and then all of them
stopped to redirect and headed back to the trail.
As we were watching, you sped off after them without saying any word... We
just stood there waiting to see what will happen next. We could hear you
guys racing all the way to the first bend about 3-4 miles and then turn
around and raced back.
The first pair broke through the edge of the forest crossing the line then a
wolf pack came not long after. You were in the middle of the wolf pack, then
you popped your head above the rest and looking from side to side trying to
find an escape route out of the speeding pack. The dust was 6-7 feet high,
you're riding blind!
I think you were standing on your pegs but from our vantage point looks but
seems like you were standing on your seat. Were you? Hmmmm...
What developed next was that time and space had slowed down and all of this
went into slow motion.
The dust was still suspended in the air while your body was leaning forward
with the wind whipping at your clothes, you had separated from your bike from
underneath and seems that you were floating upright two feet above the
ground. Slowly, you went into a forward dive into the flying dust.
The dirt bikers were going around you and your fallen Suzuki. Suddenly, you
popped up from the swirling dust, running and stumbling forward trying to
keep yourself on your feet. Finally you slid on your feet to a complete stop
and walked back to your fallen Suzuki as the dust was settling back down. We
all laughed thinking it was an act that you put on. Then we realized it
You picked your bike up, inspected it for damage, started it and pulled along
I asked, " Are you all right?"
"Yep! Lets go!" was your reply...
We all were dumb founded as you sped off towards back to the highway.
The caravan of Pick-Ups followed you. As we turned onto the pavement Jim and
I glanced at the entrance of the "Gulch." We looked at each other, I had
said, "We are going to climb Rattle Snake Gulch and go to the "Top of the
World next Saturday. Huh?"
The gang from the shop and our friends were eager to ride some more after we
had just finished racing the bottom course early this afternoon. We quenched
our thirsts with pop and we rode single file out of the parking lot and
headed for the "Top of the World."
We approached the steep incline of "Rattle Snake Gulch" and blasted our way
up the rocky ravine. Now it's time for me to stand on my pegs and hover over
the gas tank.
The "Gulch" was a steep rocky ravine which millions upon millions years
erosion and floods carved series of twists, bends, gullys, ravines and washes
out of this mountain. The first 5 miles of "Rattle Snake" must be navigated
in first and second gears with deliberations and full attention while
climbing or one will spin out and stall. It's a "Royal Class A" bitch to
start from a dead stop on these incredibly steep inclines with football sized
rocks and loose shale scattered about.
Jim with his 250 Montesta and I were constantly passing each other when
either one of us was in trouble and stalled. The others were not in sight.
After a while we cleared the "mother of all hairpins" which our bikes were
bouncing from one deep ragged rut to another and we barely made it without
spinning out and pulled onto a small leveled area above the hairpin.
We parked our overheated bikes on the side next to the edge so the others can
drive onto the only available flat spot. Took my cigs and Zippo out of my
front jacket pocket, lit and took a drag off my cig and waited for the
We haven't left the tree line yet but I can see the top of the pine trees
from where we are parked... The forest was quiet and tranquil now but not
for long. The silence of the forest was broken with the other bikes clamoring
up the steep grade.
Jim and I knew that some of the gang may need help. The 90 CC Mini Bikes
came first. They entered the hair pin, stalled and down they went... They
didn't need our help cause the Mini bikes were light enough for them to carry
on their backs, if needed to... Hell! Pete and Ed were over 6 ft tall and
weighed 200 LB.
It was down right hilarious to see them straddle their bikes with their legs
dangling off the sides of their bikes. Like the clowns you see at the "Three
Ring Circus." At times, they did a "Duck Walk" while sitting on their bikes,
using first gear and climbing the steep part of the inclines. We then
nicknamed them "Daddy Legs" and "Spider."
The rest, 250 Suzuki, 200 Cub, 175 Bultaco a couple of Hondas that I can't
remember the size came and down they went also. After a few false starts all
of them made it. For some who have had made it for the first time were
After all had rested and told their stories of conquest of the first leg of
the "Gulch" Jim and I spun our rear wheels in first gear and slowly, bouncing
off the rocks, out of the level area and hit onto another incline. Now,
we're leaving the ravine and approaching a steep trail that cuts into the
side of the mountain.
The steep trail was wide enough to accommodate two speeding bikes but risky
due to the drop off to the canyon below. There wasn't any guard rails. I
needed elbow room. Hmmmm.... "It's tweak your adrenaline time."
We went to the top of one mountain then drop back down to another ravine but
not as steep but still climbing. Jim let me pass and I took the advantage of
his chivalry and sped toward the long sloping left hand curve that had
incredibly smooth surface and led to another steep incline.
I entered the smooth inviting curve and down I went. I was spitting out
Looks can be deceiving! Jim passed me on the rough outside high side of the
curve. He stopped at the top of the rise and looked back and watched me
while I was flopping around in 18 inches of fine silt at the center of the
I got to my bike and picked it up from the dirt/silt and started it up and
began speeding out of it but I couldn't steer the bike and the bike and I
went down in the choking silt again.
Seems that there were ruts hidden underneath the silt that went everywhere
but straight. I had to get out of the silt and go to the higher rocky side
to get out of that crazy trap. That's why Jim let me pass a while back... So
he can see me make an ass of myself.
I was cookin' by the time I had reached Jim at the rise. He sped out and
we're vying for the lead as we bounced in and out of the deep ruts that had
cut into the steep incline. Soon, we would be heading for the side of
another mountain and towards the cliffs again.
I twisted my throttle wide open as we cleared the ruts and sped up the
somewhat less rocky incline to the cliff's edge. Jim, being a family man and
in his 40's, backed off. Me... Being a single, 22 year old fool, felt
invincible, speeding toward the edge of the cliffs, brushed with death as I
power banked away from the edge, bounced up the other side of the trail and
banked sideways up the wall of the mountain.
After coming down the wall I blasted my way further up the trail and onto a
small plateau. I had to down shift into second to slow down as I entered a
semi bowl enclosure and attempted to turn hard left while passing some thick
underbrush on my left with the towering mountain side on my right.
Just before I turned I had noticed that there were glass shards and some shot
up debris toward the right against the back drop of the mountain.
I knew that I was entering a make shift firing range.
"Sh--!" I'm between the shooters and their intended targets.
I heard reports of gun fire and I slid my bike under and went down using it
as a shield. There were some more gun fire, rocks were exploding beside me
and dirt and pebbles were peppering my riding jacket and pants.
The five shooters immediately ceased fire and rushed over to me. Jim came
shortly after and stopped behind some boulders on the left side of the trail
for protection as I was cautiously bobbing my head up and peering over my
bike to see if the rifle barrels were still pointing in my direction.
As the shooters helped me up and said the usual excuses of "We didn't hear or
see you come." As a fellow shooter with tremendous amount of self control I
told them that they made several irresponsible and idiotic mistakes... Never
shoot across a public thoroughfare or roadway to your intended target...
Make sure that there is no possible way for any one to cross your field or
range... At least put one field spotter while the others are shooting down
range. On and on I went.
I dusted my self off and checked for any holes in my clothing or flesh then
picked up the TT to check it over. It was caked with mud and dirt but no
major dents or bullet holes.
The shooters were standing around slack jawed and waiting. I quickly turned
towards them and said... "There will be more bikers coming through here and
I know for a fact that they are anti-guns fanatics and if they see you here
at this location they will not hesitate to report you."
They left with their tails between their legs. Sure enough the others came
one by one. "What happened?" Someone would say. Jim filled them in as I
slowly and shakily sat down on my bike to settle my nerves... Heck! If I
didn't take a dump back in the woods a while back. I'd be changing my shorts
now. All I can hear in my head was...
"They're coming to take me away to the Funny Farm. Ha, ha, he, he, ho, ho!"
We decided to finish our day climbing the hills. We headed for the "Widow
Maker" and I shut my TT down. I'm sitting on the TT watching the other
bikers making their mad dashes up the "Widow Maker." Most have had reached a
little more than half way.
A select few made as far three quarters. Jim almost made it, just shy of a
few feet to the top then pivoted around on his rear tire and sped back down
without removing his feet from his pegs... That old man has Balls!
I asked him. "Why did you quit and turned around when you know you would
have made it to the top?"
"I was going way too fast and would have been airborne and missed the
landing, slide to the other side and fall 1000 ft to the bottom of the
gorge." He replied.
Whoa! I gotta take a hike up there and see this for myself. There was about
100 feet of running room before the base of the climb then it angles upward
at about 30 degrees. No ruts for the first 150 feet then gradually turns into
45 degrees and ran for 500 feet but with many deep criss cross ruts that
steers your bike to the general area of "V" section at the center. By the
time we hiked half way I was huffin' and puffin' and took a small break to
get catch some wind.
The last 200 ft was an insanely steep with loose broken shale and mixture of
fist sized rocks and pebbles. There was a two foot crown at where the edge
of the top and landing was at. I can see why one would need the speed to
clear it. "I like challenges" I boasted...
Jim said. "Wait till you have reached the top."
I grabbed for the roots that were poking out of the ground along the side of
the hill and yanking on the branches of the under brush next to me, I managed
to crawl over the top.
Big surprise! There was a landing no bigger than a two bay work shop. Off
to the left side of it is a fire road that leads back down to the side of the
mountain but with a nice and gradual slope that a forest service truck can
use. Directly across the 20-25 foot landing was a drop off that Jim talked
"How many times have you reached the top" I asked Jim.
"Oh, several times back when I was in my 20's... Of course, then it didn't
have the steep incline and deep cut ruts that has now.
All those years of the rains, earthquakes taking the other 100 feet of
landing and sent it down the gorge and the off road vehicles abuse of this
mountain finally took it's toll."
We had walked down the service road, chatted about the weather and telling
each other on how warm it got in rest of the afternoon. Talked about the
ride up the "Gulch." We talked just about everything there was to talk about
but the "Widow maker."
About 20 minutes later we reached our parked bikes along the rest of the gang
who were laying underneath their lean-to's that were tied across their bikes.
The late spring sun it was hot.
I reached over to my GI canteen off my "Triple Trees" took a gulp of
refreshingly cool water. Some of the water spilled and passed my lips then
onto the ground. I watched the droplets of water sucked into the dry dirt and
tied the canteen back on the bike.
You said, "What the verdict?"
"I'm going climb the Widow Maker." I lit my cig with my Zippo and put the
lighter back in my front jacket pocket along with my pack.
Jim said, "You'll over shoot if you clear it too fast."
I took couple of drags out my cig scanning the climb.
"I have a plan." I replied. "I'll try to stay out of the ruts in the in the
middle of the climb and if I can maintain my speed on the far right of the
ruts, brushing among the knee high bushes, with my bike angle diagonally
towards the left, exiting from the right side of the top then hopefully land
myself and the bike on the service road to the left of the landing."
There were other bikers speeding up the climb but got as far as half way and
turned back to try again... I was watching how the bikes were forced to the
middle. I studied them as a few made it out of the ruts and headed for the
right of the "V" but quickly lost power and spun out or stalled on the steep
I stamped out my cig and fired up the TT and rechecked my carb adjustments
and lowered to where it died in case I lost it. Didn't want the rear
wheel/tire or rear sprocket and chain do a "tap dance" on my body...
I roared to the to the base of Widow Maker to check my acceleration and top
RPM performance and turned back to the beginning of the run.
Started in second with the throttle wide open, shifted into third as I passed
halfway down the run, shifted to fourth as I hit the base of the hill. I was
probably doing 70-75 MPH at that point. My adrenaline was soaring as I
climbed the first 150 feet.
The TT was losing RPM and power quickly and I down shifted into third, then I
stood on my pegs leaning forward over my handle bars. I was forced to the
left hand rise along the ruts but it was too much of a bank and I veered
towards the center.
Now, I'm stuck inside of the deep ruts and speeding up the last 200 feet of
the hill. I had to down shift to second to maintain my climbing speed but I
was still stuck in the "V." I backed off and pivoted back down using my
The gang was waiting at the start of the run and asked, "Well?"
"Hold your horses!" I yelled.
This time I wanted to climb up on the right side of the center not on the
left. The TT flew up the hill in fourth and I downshifted and stood on the
pegs much earlier than the last run so I can maintain my power and speed as I
reached the ruts.
Well, I was forced into the same spot. Heck! Law of gravity and bad luck
was in play... I kept scrambling up on the left side of the ruts but
eventually veered across the center. I jumped the ruts at the center by
accident and ended on the right bank heading towards the bushes.
I backed off on the throttle as I went into the bushes and lost my forward
momentum. The TT stalled, I pivoted myself and the TT on my left leg, headed
down hill and bump started the TT.
Went down and killed the motor at the run and coasted towards the parked
bikes and needed a smoke break and to cool off the smoking bike before I
wanted to try again.
All of you said, "Let it be, let's move on."
"Oh hell! You're right. Go ahead, let me finish my smoke and cool off my TT
a little. I'll meet you at the watering hole a few miles up the trail." I
All of you blasted towards the "Hole" as I sat on my TT and stared at the
Widow Maker. I was seriously thinking trying it again... I'd be fool to
break our number one rule, always have a "buddy" in case one get hurt or
I put it out my head... Stamped out my cig, kick started the TT, Slammed it
first and did a complete doughnut and shot out back on the main trail and
headed for the watering hole.
From the watering hole we raced further down the service road to the easier
hill climbs and if the one didn't make it on their first run they had
conquered them by their second attempt.
We had more fun running around the "upper course" tracks that weave
throughout the smaller hill climbs as the warm afternoon spring day wore
on... We even swapped bikes among ourselves which was a charge to watch a few
of the guys eyes widen and clenched their teeth as they rode the TT and
bucked up and down the trail.
A few rode the TT on the smaller hill climbs. Pete and Ed would say too much
power and didn't like the front end coming up too easily... I explained to
them when you pull up the hill you stand on the pegs and lean forward...
Less front end lift.
On the way back to the "Gulch" we had to pass the Widow Maker. I can see her
flat topped peak jutting out among the other hills. She was beckoning and
The guys passed me as I slowed down to look at her back side, a long way to
fall to the bottom as I was thinking. Suddenly, I veered to the left and
went up the service road of the Widow Maker.
I reached to top and parked the TT and walked to the edge of the climb. I
can see that the guys were stopped and motioning for me to come down. Gosh,
they are as small as ants down there.
After sizing up my options I went to my waiting "Stallion" and roared down
the service road and stopped at the beginning of the run.
" I'm going to conquer the Widow Maker!" I roared off before any of you guys
had a chance to say their piece.
I had this "Gut Feeling" that TT and I are going to make our own personal
history either in success or failure. This time, I'm not going to fight the
all powerful law of gravity and it's unseen forces.
"Go with the flow!" I exclaimed.
Speeding towards the base in forth gear with my engine screaming, my valves
were on the brink of floating and my terminal speed at the base must have had
reached 100 Mph. My whole body slammed against the tank as I shot upward the
Losing rpm by the time passed the first 100 feet of the climb, I then down
shifted to third, stood on my pegs and leaned over the handle bars climbing
on the right side of the "V." I was still maintaining my speed and power.
I had noticed that something "white" was peppering my left side of neck and
cheek and disappeared behind me. No time to check that out, don't bother me
now and I kept my senses tuned to my climb.
Then by the laws of "unseen forces" I crossed the damn deep ruts, bounced on
the left of the "V" but still climbing at a good clip in third gear.
My options began to narrow when I reached about 150 feet from the top.
Either stop and turn back or wait till I bounced to the right and across the
ruts and head for the bushes as I did the last run.
Then suddenly, I flew across the "V!"
This time I was still maintaining my speed as I approached the right side and
bull dozed through the knee high bushes. Broke free from the bushes and
another 25-30 feet later my front wheel, the bike crested the edge
"diagonally" and I immediately backed off my throttle so my engine acts like
a brake and the rear tire dragged across the crown. My airborne front wheel
went down with a hammering jolt. I landed then bounced back into the air,
piloted my bike towards the service road, made a two point landing and
screeched sideways to a complete stop on the service road.
"I made it, you C--k S---er!" Screaming at the top of my lungs.
I killed the motor and sat on my TT. I reached for my cigs and Zippo in my
left jacket pocket and my 3/4 full pack of cigs were gone. Seems that the
suction or winds took my cigs one at a time out of my half opened soft pack
as I climbed the Widow Maker. Or was it the Widow Maker has the last laugh?
Hmmmm... Next time buy a hard pack.
The guys couldn't see or hear my TT after I cleared "her." Fearing the
worst, some got off their bikes ran up the climb, a few went around to the
side and up the service road.
Swung my kick stand out and got off the TT and walked over the edge and
waved. Jim came along the service road and stopped beside me as I was waving
and he said, "Good show."
He looked down the Widow Maker and turned his head slowly to me, giving me a
big grin and yelled, "Last one back is a ------!" Then he went over the edge
and descended down the Widow Maker. That SOB!
I ran back to my TT and kicked started it made a 180 degree doughnut and went
over the edge myself... Jim was already at the base and speeding off towards
the "Gulch." The others got a wind of what's happening and took off after
Jim. Whoa! What a trip going down the Widow maker but not as hard as going
I raced down the "Gulch" sitting on my "Buddy Seat" so I can have some
traction with my engine braking. I felt like I was falling over the front of
my TT as we went down. It looks steeper going downhill than uphill. Jim was
standing on his pegs all the way down...
Matter of fact I never saw him sit down once, except when he has to stop.
Strange riding stance he has there...
Maybe he has hemorrhoids in his old age. HEH, HEH.