It Don’t Come Easy: Vintage Tour Cross

Three friends set off on a 350-mile California dirt-bike tour, with a motocross race at the end.

| March/April 2018

"I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king," sang Frank Sinatra in That's Life. The same might apply to my motorcycling career, thanks to a longtime interest in vintage dirt bikes, street bikes and road racers, modern superbikes and motocrossers, and even touring. With such schizophrenic tastes, sometimes it's hard to know what to pursue next. Last year I decided to combine three longtime loves — vintage enduro bikes, touring and motocross — into one grand adventure. "Vintage Tour Cross" was born.

The plan was simple enough: Aboard a 1969 Suzuki TS250 Savage, a 1971 OSSA Pioneer 250 Enduro, and a 1975 Honda XL350, we'd load up Aerostich saddlebags, backpacks and sleeping bags, and ride 350 miles over two-lane backroads from Santa Barbara to Hollister, California, where the 21st round of the AHRMA Vintage Motocross championship would be held. We'd then camp in the pits and race the vintage national on Sunday. Unprecedented? Yes. Unlikely? Sure. But we wanted to try.

Volunteers included 10-time car racing national champion and avid motorcyclist Randy "The Rocket" Pobst; his friend Deborah Inskeep, a marine biologist and sport bike enthusiast; and racing photographer and rock climber Seth DeDoes, following in a Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup with his camera gear, tents, and some gas, oil and tools. With some 500 car races to his credit, Pobst had just one motorcycle event under his belt. And Inskeep had never ridden in the dirt. Like challenges much?

The bikes

Randy's Suzuki was stock and nearly all there, until close inspection uncovered mousy wiring, a horn that intermittently bleated on and off, nonfunctioning turn signals, an inoperative tachometer, a gummed-up carburetor and, worst of all, much piston slap. But it showed just 4,100 miles on the odometer, and after a carb rebuild it started, idled, ran and shifted through the gears fine.

My beloved OSSA was essentially fit for duty, except for a questionable charging system and the possibility that the Spanish fiberglass tank — coated several years ago with Caswell — would start seeping anew on the long road ride. Even after 46 years, the venerable Pioneer had gone only 2,800 miles.

And Deborah's Honda? Well, just like a Honda, everything worked, including the lights, fork lock and turn signals. After cleaning the carburetor, Randy had turned it into a real pussycat. With just 2,950 miles on the clock, the XL350 was eager to go.

3/10/2018 8:43:47 AM

So Like I Always Say......"IT" IS.....ALL About the All of US...TimAlaska

3/4/2018 2:41:41 PM

I loved this story... totally catches the spirit - you guys rock!

3/4/2018 2:41:39 PM

Wonderful story - you guys rock!

Ride 'Em, Don't Hide 'Em Getaway

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