Baseball has the World Series, NASCAR has the Daytona 500 and Tennis has Wimbledon.
For vintage off road riders we have the ISDT Reunion Ride.
This is the event where the off road elite (and goobers like me) from all
over the world attend to putt around on their old iron. Some attend for
their last chance to garner coveted AHRMA Cross Country points, some
come to see the old Six Days vets and some come to show off restored
bikes. This year’s ISDTRR was hosted by the Tulsa (Oklahoma) Trail
Riders and held at the location of the 1994 ISDE; the Zink Ranch in
Sand Spring, OK. The 2004/2008 ISDTRR was also held here but both
those years I was on my way to Iraq to play in the sand when the ride
was going on.
My YZ465 got me through the last 2-day event in Arkansas pretty well but
starting remained a big issue. Since then I had been poking around
different areas trying to find the culprit(s). I narrowed it down to the
timing. The timing was too far advanced making the motor hard to start
and when it was running it would be detonate intermittently. I had set the
timing with a timing light to Yamaha’s spec (ok, ok, maybe I bumped it
up just a little) but this time around I decided to use the ear, boot and
seat-of-the-pants method to adjust the timing back to where I need it to
be. I also raised the needle to it’s highest (richest) setting as my plug
readings were light tan and the weather forecast called for much cooler
temperatures for the ride. After three or four tiny-weenie timing
adjustments I got the bike to become a 1-3 kick-starter with no
noticeable signs of pinging. All I had was a dirt road to test on so putting
a heavy load on the motor to get it hot was hard to do. Never the less the
starting was much better and the bike had enough power to easily break
the rear wheel loose in fifth gear. After these adjustments I went
out in the morning three days in a row and started the motor by slowly
kicking it through 4-5 times with the kill button pushed, then giving it the
big kick. The motor started in 1-2 kicks every time. Sweet. I dumped the
old Preston Petty headlight used on my last race in favor of a more
“Period Correct” light off my 1980 KTM GS250. The event also required
a taillight so I cheaped out and stuck a little blinkly light for
joggers/bicycles onto the rear fender. Dumb looking but it filled the
requirement. To raise the fun factor at this year’s ISDTRR, my buddies
and I formed team “Scuderia Veloce”, (Italian for “Team Speed”). This
year there were over 20 teams competing; ye-haw. A look at the entry
list showed 17 in my class and this turned out to be the largest class in
the event. Cool. This event would be a good benchmark for judging my
ability on the YZ.
On to Oklahoma
Before getting to the Zink Ranch, I made a detour and stopped by Guy
Cooper’s place in Stillwater to check out his mini-museum. Guy had
opened the doors that day for folks to see his place. When I went inside,
the first person I saw was John Penton. How righteous. John was talking
about his old race bikes and the virtues of the NSU transmissions. John
can talk…a lot. Then I went around the corner and there was Jack
Penton chatting with Coop. In case you didn’t know it Guy’s mom and
dad ran Cooper Cycles back in the day and were a Penton/Bultaco
Coop has a few older bikes too, sorry about the fuzzy picture.
This one was a little unique looking:
A few bicycles also hang out here:
On to the Ranch!
Some of the bikes at this year's ride:
Here is a sweet 650 Triumph punched out to a 750ish size. We will see
a better picture of this bike in action later.
Here is one for all you IT490 fans:
The impound area filled up quickly:
You can't miss Dwight Rudder, with his old school goggles, wax cotton
jacket and big smile.
Time to Ride
As the weatherman promised: temps dropped. Saturday morning
greeted us with a layer of frost covering the bikes.
Fortunately Key Time was 09:00 a.m. and the sun was up and bright. I
was on minute 22 and started slowly kicking the YZ motor over when
minute 21 took off. Although the YZ would start great when stone cold in
50-degree weather, it did not like the 30-degree temps and got
stubborn, requiring about 10-12 kicks to light off. Ugh!
I finally got the old girl fired off and I was gone in a cloud of 2 stroke smoke:
After the start, riders were greeted with a fast, fun winding trail to warm
up prior to the first Terrain Test (TT). The trail was classic Zink Ranch,
meaning it was great but don’t stray off the route because there are
rocks EVERYWHERE just waiting to kick the front end of your bike out
and put you down; hard. Here is an example of the rocks talking to this
Some folks barely got thier bike warm. Sometime classic machines have timeless problems:
As the race developed I found that my class nemesis would be a guy on
an XR200. Wait a minute pal; did you say XR200? Yes, an XR200. I
know that might sound silly but in a ride like the Zink Ranch an XR 200
is a formable weapon. While bigger bikes have horsepower and speed
the little Hondas have lightweight, great cornering and tractable power.
They are also Post Vintage class legal up to around the 2003 model
year so you can get a pretty good bike with much more fresh/modern
pieces to play with. The rider was no slouch either.
There were test sections where I was just short of wide open in fifth gear
(and scared to death) with stuff flying by so quickly I couldn’t compute it fast
enough which resulted in me blowing thru more then one corner.
Remember those rocks just off the main trail? I found them more than
once as I was trying to get the YZ slowed down enough to make a turn.
But man, what a rush flying down a 18 inch wide trail in top gear on a
open class bike, you quickly learn to start looking waaaaaay ahead for
what will be upon you in the next couple of seconds…including slower
riders. Oh, and let’s not forget about those cute little Black Jack oak
trees. Most on the route stood three to five foot tall and although small in
stature, they are tuff as rocks, don’t like to move and that includes the
branches. Fortunately these trees were sparse on the course. At the end
of the day we get one lap on the grass track for time. It was a tight track.
Here I'm just trying to make the best of it:
By the end of Day-1 I was in third place in my class. Considering my
screw-ups in the test sections, I was elated. My team was in 10th and
holding it’s own.
An ISDTRR tradition is the Saturday evening banquet. This is where
awards are presented for achievements and lies are told about past,
present and future rides. There were about twenty ISDT/E riders present
including Tommy McDermott (first American to win ISDT gold), Drew
Smith and of course Jack Penton. Jack Penton and Jeff Debell MC'ed
this years banquet which was held at the John Zink lodge.
Someone made the mistake of letting me have the mic. Here I am
discussing the finer elements of how to ride with Guy Cooper. I don't
think he totally bought in on my techniques. Actually we were just having
a little impromptu fun with Coop.
Day-2 was a shorten version of Day-1. We had another great ride and some of the tests were the reverse of Day 1. Riders generally improved their scores as they had a feel for how the course worked. The big event for Day 2 is the grass track race, this is where you get to show your stuff or embarrass yourself in front of everyone...including the cameras.
Remember that big Triumph? It REALLY motored!
Guy Cooper (number 402) rode a vintage class 400 Penton aganist the
rest of the 6 Day riders and pros, most of which were on modern bikes.
Even though Guy dogged the motor off the line and the others were on
modern bikes it didn't help much as Coop did this:
Then Coop rearanged this corner:
Two turns later he had the lead which by the end of 4 laps was 20 -30
seconds over 2nd place.
Mommy Make it Stop Hurting!
The grass track was just short of a mile in length and tight with lots of
short straights and turns. There were a few open areas which included a
couple of mini gravity cavities where you would drop in and out of a 15
foot deep bowls and a 75 yard sweeping turn that was also part of the
start. Ah yes, the start. The first turn was a 180-degree deal about 50-75
yards away from the start line. A two-foot wide tree made sure no one
cut the corner. The only thing tighter than the turns was the starting line. It
only took ten riders to fill the start line bar to bar and I had seventeen in
my race. I lined up right next to my friend on that little XR200; I was
kidding him about having a target on his back as he was in first place I
was in third. Ha, ha. I figured that I might get a good start but it would be
the riders on smaller bikes would have the overall advantage especially
in the turns. A flag was used for the start and my class (race 7) got
called back due to riders jumping the flag. Crazy fools. Everyone had to
line back up and after that the flag dude gave up on us because we
were trying to inch up on each other, so he flagged us off. Nothing like
going from full speed to an almost zero speed first turn with 17 other
riders. Somehow I managed to get thru the first turn in third place:
By the second corner I was in second place, GREAT! Now all I had to
worry about was my lack of riding ability and the 15 bikes behind me.
Then I soon realized another issue I needed to worry about; trying to
hold down this damn 465 between corners. Most of the corners were
tree lined and often only 25 feet apart. As much as I wanted to use third
gear, many of the corners were way too tight and the straights were way
too short for third gear. Using third gear would mean having to shift from
second gear-to third- and back down to second for almost every corner.
So I elected to sit on the gas tank and keep the motor in second gear
for all but the longest track sections of which there were about three. Let
me tell you going from no throttle into a corner to coming out WFO in
second gear and then throwing out the anchor into the next corner on a
465 will flat wear you out. So here I am on this YZ trying to hang on and
guess who is right behind me? Yup, that little XR200. I’d pull him out of a
corner and he would roll right up behind me going into the next one. I just
held the inside line and didn’t give him enough room to get a wheel in. A
couple of times I went too wide but the YZ had enough boost to
overcome my screw-ups. I think people were laughing their a$$es off
watching me trying to hang onto this beast while the little XR was
nipping at my heels. Of course, since the two of us were trying so hard
to pass each other the first place rider was gone. Anyway, this scenario
went on for the four-lap race. When we got to the final lap I kept
wondering when/where the guy would try to make his move as I kept
closing the door on his lines. Was he just patiently waiting and setting
me up for a last lap pass? I'm not sure as I never asked him but on the
last part of the last lap the little XR roared to life and made its move.
Going into the last drop off the XR stuck its front wheel up against the
YZ. I had two choices: Push back which I felt would have put both of us
on the ground going down the drop off or give some ground and move
to the right. I moved to the right but the little XR rider wasn’t done with
me, he just kept pushing me over across the track and into the weeds. I
thought: Man, if he wants it this bad he can have it! And so it ended up
with the XR taking the lead and finishing 1 second ahead of me .
Jeeez. When the dust settled and the scores for both days of riding
were tabulated, I found myself in third place out of seventeen entries in
my class. Good enough for gold metal. Could I have rode better? Sure,
but so could everyone else given another chance.
Team“Scuderia Veloce” finished 5th and garnered a bronze metal out of
over 20 team entries.
Ok YZ fans; name this classic 465 mechanical failure:
My kick-starter return died right after I got the bike started for my grass
track race. Whew. Good thing I didn’t stall the bike during the race!
Upon tear down the following week it showed a broken return spring,
kick starter shaft, gear and to top it off; the case. Right now I’m
envisioning building a motor for next year I all ready chatted with Eric
Gorr about it. Eric likes old 2 strokes. Thinking about using an IT bottom
end mated with an YZ top end. Heavy crank, wide ratio gearing & Eric
Gorr motor work.
Drooping pegs need some attention too but the M16s are holding up
great! Maybe while Eric is working on the motor I should be working on
the elliptical machine :
Location for next years ISDTRR will be at Dalton, Massachusetts where
the 1973 ISDT was held. Should be an epic event. But for now the big
YZ is tucked in, back at home safe and sound.