Lieback’s Lounge: September 2019
Now that things have slowed a bit in the personal life—wifey is healthy, and son Enzo is in Pre-K—I can refocus on some personal goals for my 40s.
I’ll be entering my fifth decade on this planet later this month, and I want to continue racing forward toward accomplishing various long-term visions and goals that I continually set for myself. A life without constant transformation is boring, even if it simply means becoming a faster rider or mastering the Dorian mode while jamming some guitar.
Two of my newly set goals for my 40s involve motorcycles (of course!). The first is to restore a classic bike each year, mostly over winter because Northeast Pennsylvania can become quite harsh when the white stuff begins. I finished my Ducati Monster 900 S i.e. last year, which won an award at a recent Rockers Roll event, and this year I have a very cool Honda CL125S scrambler to restore, along with finishing my Honda RC51 Joey Dunlop build.
The latter was always sidelined as other things kept surfacing over the past few years, but that Honda V-twin is sitting there patiently waiting. The difficult part of the build is done. The bike has a rebuilt Traxxion fork and a freshened engine. The only things remaining are the plastics and wheels.
Regardless, the build preps me for another goal of my 40s—racing. I could care less about titles or even podiums. I want mad fun from the time the racing begins to the time the bottles open in the paddock.
The RC51 will set me up for the series I’m most looking forward to—AHRMA (American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association). The AHMRA board just made a “preliminary decision” to allow the RC51 SP2 (my series) into the Next Gen 2 class for 2020. Fingers crossed, but it should have no issue getting into the series.
The atmosphere at AHRMA events is like no other. The on-track competition levels are still undoubtedly high, but there’s more to the experience, from the smells and sounds of old two-strokes from a Yamaha TZ750 to the appealing rumble of an, um, modern Ducati 848.
The other series I know it will surely get sucked into with two of my good moto friends who are also Italian is the Lightweight Twins series. My friend Tony (still have your race article that needs to get published from like two years ago!) has been diehard into the LT series and loves his Suzuki SV motorcycles.
The racing costs much less than other series, and the competition appears tighter because these bikes are so close in performance. I’m looking forward to that, especially if we can do some team endurance racing.
Then there is also my newest love—drag racing. I’m not talking about a stretched Hayabusa and a trailer queen; rather, I’m talking about what I call a “ride and race” series in my head. I have a local dragstrip, Numida Dragway, that I used to frequent as a youngster with various Mustang 5.0s, but never with a motorcycle.
One Friday last month two of my friends and I got together for some drag racing—Isaac on his Kawasaki Concours 14 with I think 70k plus on it, and Michael on his brand new Indian FTR1200, which was still under the 500-mile mark.
I rode out comfortably on my Ducati Multistrada 1200, with nearly 50k on the clock. The MST 1200 is still one of my all-time favorites because it will do anything street-worthy and tackle fire roads with ease on street tires. I’ve toured to New York Safety Track in the past, ripped off some lighting to run two days of track, helped out my friend Jon DelVecchio with a Street Skills school, and then pack up and ride home.
The same occurred ahead of Numida, but this was even easier. I didn’t even bring tools or a tire gauge. “Run what you brung” was a thing of my youth in cars—a scene highly influenced by one of my all-time favorite movies, Two-Lane Blacktop. Motorcycles made this situation even easier.
I ran a best of an 11.232, making it to the semi-finals on the bracket-racing track during my very first day on the dragstrip via motorcycle. I then knocked myself out because I beat my time in the penultimate round.
Thankfully, my buddy Isaac made it to the final, though he lost due to also beating his own time. The temp that day was in the upper 90s, but once the sun went down, the engines were producing much better power. Lesson learned for next time.
Outside of AHRMA and Lightweight Twin racing, the drag racing is the simplest, and it occurs nearly every Friday night at that raceway tucked into the middle of Pennsylvania farm country. The goal of racing at least one Friday per month is simple. The cooler goal is to race every street-ready motorcycle I have, including my full-ADV KTM 1190 Adventure R with 50/50 (road/dirt) tires. That will make for a stupidly fun story, and show how amazing the new crop of ADV motorcycle tires has become.
Albert Einstein said, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.” Part of my learning process involves setting multiple goals, sometimes as far as 20 years out. These goals, from the small ones like going club racing to the big ones like owning an ex-MotoGP Desmosedici, keep me from mentally dying.
Somehow motorcycles are always part of those serious transformation goals, and I’d have it no other way.