Friday afternoon epiphanies

Today we rode motorbikes at the Berthoud motocross complex — with its handful of tracks and scribble of trails — and let me say this: What a day!

(Sorry: Too much flow for photos.)

– Neighbor Mark wouldn’t let me duck out and play on the little tracks, as I usually do. No badgers in sight, and the main track was in good shape. Time to man up.

– The track was a foot-deep sand/gravel stew. At first it felt like riding the Pismo dunes: lay your bike over and gas it. Letting off the gas: not a great idea. Might as well trade your front wheel for a rudder.

– After an hour some beautiful lines formed. Carry 3rd gear down the back of a jump, gas hard, lay into a rut then braaaap all the way into the corner. I think the expression is “riding on rails.”

– Fireman Jeff and I have been working on rhythms, aka whoops. Last week we were manualing them two at a time. This week I looked at the line of six rollers and decided it was time to double them. Crest a monster table, click into third then think BMX. Pump the first lip with a brap; land, pump and braap; land, pump and braap. That easy: one, two, three. So sweet. Oh, and with license plates.

– OK, now it’s time for a bigger double. Square against the rut, roll in second, hit third, but — no — too slow, and a slight case. No big deal with 12 inches of travel, but still. Follow Jeff’s line this time: Enter super wide, start at the source of the rut and accelerate like whitewater. Roll second gear HARD. Straighten out, grab third, roll the throttle, load the lip and WHOOOOOOOSH through 40 feet of air to a perfect backside. Oh my.

– It’s been a great day for jumps, but let’s not push it. Off to the back 40 for some funny business. Pick a big figure 8. Second gear hard, coast across the braking bumps, lay into the rut and braaaaaaaap around to the other end. Coast across the bumps — rat tat tat — lay into the rut then braaaaaaaaap and on and on and on. Kind of like infinity.

– Find a tiny 8, obviously set by kids on 50s. Perfect for a 450 with electric start, yes? Enter in second gear — no, too fast! Try again in first. Crazy tightness requires crazy lean. Cross the 8 off the saddle, fold the bike into the turn, slide forward and sit on the side of the tank. Shoulders low, inside arm straight, inside foot skimming the ground next to the front fender. Damn: Cornering will never be the same.

– Off to a sweet moto slalom. Enter the turn forward, let the throttle pull you back, let off and fall forward into the next turn. Catch yourself with the throttle, switch sides, repeat.

I’m really digging moto because the learning curve is almost vertical. Every day’s an epiphany, and I must say my Honda CRF450X is feeling less like a motorcycle and feeling more like a bike. It’s a 260-pound beast, but when I’m on my game it feels like an SX in a pump track.

Left, right, left. Brap, braap, braaap!

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