Feb 13


2-13-16 GonzoCross Extravaganza!

One night is not enough! Three nights of GonzoCross is better!tn

Thursday June 16th 2016 Gonzo QUAD!!!!
Friday June 17th 2016 Gonzo Cross!
Saturday June 18th Gonzo Oval!

Thursday night Quad races. Race Quads, Utility Quads, Vintage Quads, Senior Class, Super Senior Class, Super Super Senior Class! Three Wheeler Class! Golf Cart Class! Side X Side Class! Garden Tractor Class! Mobility Cart Class! Get five alike and we’ll make a class for you!

Friday night Bike and Sidecars! Race Bikes, Vintage Bikes, Over 12 Class, Vet Class, Plus 40 class, Plus 50 Class, Plus 60 Class, Plus 70 Class, Plus 80 Class, Plus 90 Class, Rudimentary Mini Bike, Exotic Mini Bike, Side Car. Get five alike and we’ll make a class for you!

Saturday night Oval! We’ll be running the regular MidAmerica Flat Track program, but we’ll be adding some exciting classes, like the Sportster Class! Yep, ride your Harley to the fair and race the oval! Ducati Class! Honda Class, Yamaha Class, Suzuki Class, Kawasaki Class. Top two in each class move up to the Battle of the Brands!

This is a very relaxed, just for fun event. Our goal is everyone having fun. We don’t want a lot of rules, so just line your bike up next to bikes like yours and be kind.

This is the official source of information on GonzoCross, so check here for updated information. Also, follow us on Facebook and join in on the cyber fun leading up the the GonzoCross Extravaganza!

Have questions, ideas? Contact trailridercharlie@yahoo.com

Sep 22

Sign Craft

10985205_10202438287598320_2923473346708198310_nVintage signs created the old fashioned way, hand crafted.


Gold Leaf, new and repair work.

Water Gilding, new and repair.

Window lettering

Faux Finnish, furniture, residential, new and repair.

French Polish

New items antiqued, old items made to look new….

Chalk paint, Milk paint, Glazes, mixing, matching.

Restoration work, residential, commercial, furniture.

Display stands for art and treasures.

Displays created for trade shows.

Art pieces hung and displayed.

Looking for a gift?  Need a series of signs for your business?  Need a trophy created?   Flip through our gallery, get some ideas, and we’ll create what ever you can dream up……

My Dad taught me how to antique a board, he’s been playing around with it as long as I can remember. He is quite the artist him self. When I was in first grade, I remember he and my Mom took on a project. Dad bought a big metal TV from a motel, and we all know the best TVs come from motels, in 1966….. Out in the drive way, Dad carefully masked off all the most important knobs and buttons. He sprayed it refrigerator white. Then a very young My Mom came 2014-08-03 11.57.36out with a arm load of magazines and some siccors. We cut out our (their) favorite pictures and glued them to the white TV, in the drive way, in full view of every one standing on the side walk watching.

I only bring this up to prove that bad art runs in my family. Greatest Thanksgiving story ever! Tell about the TV again!!! Oh, and Dad’s best advice on antiquing a sign? “Start with an old board.”DSC_4934

I rescue old wood. I start at the bar. You can’t just go to Lowes and buy old wood, so you start at the bar. That’s good advice for about any thing, infact for the next few paragraphs, add “start at the bar” to the beginning. But the bar is a good place to find old wood. You won’t find the wood at the bar, but you’ll meet the guy who has the wood…

2014-09-21 18.15.46Currently I’m working with Indiana Oak and Walnut full 2 inches thick, even a small block is a sturdy object. But these particular boards came out of an old barn my friend Ed owns. He said I could have some boards, so I grabbed my hammer and pry bar and nothing….. See, I’m a 16oz curved claw kind of guy, I own a bigger hammer, but keep it hidden under the tool box. Next time I had a 16lb sledge and a 3 foot pry bar. Yes, the boards came down, 20 2015-02-22 12.34.14penny ringed nails, hold pretty darn good! Now to load them in the truck, grunt, out of the truck, grunt, saw horses, garden hose, brush and soapy water, flip em over, grunt, scrub scrub gurnt. I’m going to guess these boards weigh about 80 pounds each. I’d put one on the bath room scale, but it will never fit down the hallway, but it really puts the grunt into it. You get used to modern lumber, mostly Pine and easy to handle, no these are good old timey slabs of history.2015-02-26 12.18.51

How do I keep from filling my home with hand painted signs? Thankfully friends and family have been helping me out and buying as many as they can, but it’s kind of like when I sold candy for the band camp. I didn’t sell any, I ate it! Mom took thirty dollars right off my tail end. Plus, I wasn’t even in the band! But, I sell signs. Pick from the gallery or send me your vision…… Pricing is like this, simple and easy is less expensive than complicated. I DSC_4846offer small items to fit any budget, but you have to contact me so we can figure it out. I can’t read minds. I’m never going to have a slick web site where you can click to order, nope, you are going to have to contact me…. I also offer “Dip Shit waited till the last minute” pricing, so express is possible.

I do need to ask a favor, please drop me a note at trailridercharlie@yahoo.com, I’d like to hear from every DSC_4902body. Tell me what you like or don’t like. You can help by liking our face book page and sharing with your friends. Here’s another way to look at it, the reverse pyramid scheme…. Each one of my pieces is signed and numbered and I keep records of who and where. You buy a sign, I get the money. In time I will die and that feels like any minute now. But upon my death your art work value will sky rocket and you will be able to get your initial investment plus!!!!! It is an investment in your future. Now you have bought in to dumber plans, but this one is fool proof, guaranteed. Wouldn’t it be cool to have your grand children on Antiques Roadshow with their original Charlie Williams and find out it’s worth a fortune?2014-12-02 17.14.48

Hey, if you get bored and don’t want to read about me scrubbing old boards, there is plenty more to see on this site. Look at the “gallery”, it’s just pictures, no reading…. Or over on the right is a listing of old articles you can read, check out the Mexico story, where Chuck Sun and I rode around Mexico for 50 day’s, it’s completely raw, straight off the fingertips, no editing just stream of consciousnesses. Or scroll down to see what last motivated us. Thanks for looking and we’ll ride soon. Charlie

2014-12-13 21.00.412014-10-22 18.13.322014-09-01 16.11.372015-01-25 14.03.292014-09-20 19.59.062014-12-23 20.53.56






2014-07-26 14.47.29



[etsy-shop shop_name=”GonzoRider” section_id=”16443864″]

Aug 20

Not broken, don’t fix.

8781be8246efd23f94812e6e10340003Another Moto GP weekend here in Indianapolis. Seventh year in a row for the big show. Worlds best riders, worlds finest facility. Tickets are readily available and cheap.

Around the corner, the infamous Indy Mile, dirt track racing at it’s finest, during the Indiana State Fair, so there is happening around every corner, tractor displays, square dancing, corn dogs…
Vintage Short Track Racing at Mid America Speedway is one of my personal favorites too! It’s off the hook, it truly is a flash back to my youth and beyond. There was a guy riding a rough 1950 Harley and it was cool. Win? Not in his plan book, throwing some dirt and making some noise? He was the winner!
Bultaco fan? Ooodles of them. Their noise, their smell, the action, takes me back to my childhood when Dad would drag me to races….2014-08-09 19.46.13

Two weeks ago, I accidentally took up sign painting… I had been at a Vintage night and there was a guy selling hand painted signs. I bought a Bultaco sign. It sat of the shelf for a couple of weeks and I decided I could replicate it, so out to the garage, scrounge up some brushes and scrap wood. So for two weeks I’ve worked manically on signs, buying proper brushes, watching YouTube and chatting with Jerry Bernardo in Australia, he’s my mentor, I’m his tormentor.
Eventually I ran out of boards and started on ply wood, I cut some rectangular ply wood in the shape of number plates. Then I pulled up some of my favorite riders pictures, on Google Images. I choose Bart Markel and Gary Nixon, number 4 and 9. I copied the font, painted it on a piece of salvage ply wood and gave it a quick antiquing and it looked pretty good.

I need to sell the signs I’ve painted over the last two weeks or start burning them, they are already taking over the mini barn. So I took some Bultaco signs and my number plates to the short track to try and sell.

I hung the number 4 up and with in seconds a lady came up to ask about them. She told me that Chris Carr was here and he could sign the plate for me. I told her it wasn’t a Chris Carr, it was a Bart Markel number 4. “I’ll take it.” Just that fast. Turns out the lady is Bart Markels daughter! How cool is that! I mean, give that a lottery number.. We had a good conversation, she showed me her moms bracelet. It was one of those charm bracelets, but each charm on this bracelet marks one of her Dads National wins! Pretty cool list of customers huh?2014-08-09 16.23.59

Friday night was the famous Indy Mile. It is nice. The track is always perfect a beautiful sight alone. The pits were open all afternoon so you could see and meet the riders and bikes. Plus the State Fair is going on! I moved around and saw the action from many angles and came to this conclusion…

They all talk about “Saving” Flat Track, well it doesn’t need saving! Flat Track is just fine, it’s a beautiful show. But what little bit of advertising Flat Track can afford, it’s trying to sell Flat Track. No body wants to be sold any thing, you show me an ad, I divert my eyes. Create curiosity with the ad campaign, and of course the date and time…

On local radio there is a car advertisement and they are using the phrase “Rotary Shifter” I have no idea what that mean, but I hear it over and over, I’m darned curious as to what a “Rotary Shifter” is. Do I want to buy a new car? No, but I’m tempted to stop in and see the “Rotary Shifter”…. See my point about creating curiosity in advertising? A much better tack than trying to sell a ticket….

People are so enamored with their hand held technology they cant put it down long enough to go to the races, that’s Flat Tracks competition. So cater to them, live Twitter feed, figure out how to broad cast the announcer straight through their phone and ear buds, use the precious technology.

But most of all, get up off your couch and go to a race, meet with your friends, sit in the stands, tell jokes and laugh. Mile racing is perfect for this, the pack goes by and you have 30 seconds of conversation and here comes the pack again. So don’t fix Flat Track, it’s already perfect.

Now MotoGP needs some help… I am at such a distance from what is happening on the track the racing is secondary for me. I enjoy going to see all the stuff, all the bikes, all the people, the infield of the MotoGP is a good situation. But I’ve been to 5 years of events and have yet to see a bike and rider up close and personal. I can see them on the track 50 yards away and 100 miles an hour, but something needs to be done so I can see the garage action. I’d start by tearing down the back wall of the garages and putting up walls of glass so spectators could see what’s going on in there. Now I don’t need to be able to kiss Valentino Rossi’s feet, but I would like to see his bike some time.

Then at the Vintage short track, pits are open, bikes are everywhere! Too many bikes! I’d like to see an abridged racing program next year, invitation only, just the specialists…. But again, the racing is secondary to a nice night out with friends, I got to see so many people I only get to see at the races, that’s what the MotoGP weekend is to me, social event with friends, maybe one of them can describe a “Rotary Shifter.”

Nov 29

Bill Gusse Won, Charlie 1.7

I did it! I over came my fears and rode the infamous Moose Run. Billed as America’s Toughest Race and I did it! I had not made an attempt in 15 years or so, all the bad memories had faded away and the event flier claimed “All Rideable Trail” What could go wrong? I’m in!


Yes it all started at Taco Tuesday, those guy’s were talking about how tough an event it was and I was assuring them it was not that bad. Besides I was the only one at the table who had ever been to the Moose, so I was the authority. Swagger I think is the word I’m thinking of, just because I can out ride all you bean eating taco lovers does this mean I’m tough enough for the Moose. Maybe I was being played by the guy’s, but I’m not afraid of Bill Gusse. I’m such an idiot, those guy’s even started a fund raiser to get me there. Bill Gusse heard about this and put a bounty out on my head. Who ever delivered me to the starting line got a free entry into America’s Toughest Race. Uhhhh, that’s the sound of me back pedaling. Uhhhh maybe it’s a trap…. Uhhhh I can’t let on that I’m afraid or less of a man, so I started tormenting Bill Gusse on FaceBook. Lucky for me, the Bill Gusse I was picking a fight with is a school teacher from Abilene Texas and not the real Bill Gusse, whew!

The Checkered Flag Tavern stepped up and sponsored our trip. Damn, there is no way out now. I tried to bow out because of the weather, but it was perfect.

” My van needs a defibrillator.”

“I’ll drive said Stacey.”

There was no way out, sponsor, driver and audience. Plus there is the delusion that I ride better than ever and could actually negotiate the course. I live in two worlds, one in my head that is the truth, the other spews out of my mouth and on the key board boasting, bragging and generally asking for trouble and showing what an ass I really am.

Bill Gusse and I have history, and I came out on the short end of that stick too. See back in around 1994 or so, some shit went down. Suzuki unceremoniously dropped 6 time Enduro Champion, Randy Hawkins and pulled the rest of the team out of the National Enduro series. Okay, strike to the sport I most respect, Enduro. Next turn of events, Suzuki announced they were attending The Moose Run at Bill Gusse’s place. But…. Here’s where I got mad, the Moose Run was being held the same day as a National Enduro in Ohio… It wasn’t enough just to pull out of our oldest series, you had to go up against it two states away?

Our circle of riders is too small to be split up like that, it was a slap in the face of all Enduro riders. So I wrote a story about it, said Bill Gusse had sold out and all sorts of stuff. I don’t remember but I may have said something about Bill wearing panty hose and watching chick flicks… Bill responded by sending a invitation to the next years Moose Run.

Over time I felt guilty and went to the next years Moose Run. It was awesome! I walked in to the Barn to sign up and every body knew who I was and they all HATED me. Every one but Bill, he was gracious and welcoming while all the henchmen shunned me. I made it a pretty good distance this year too, almost one whole lap, but then I got stuck. The worst I have ever been stuck. At one point Bill rode by, stopped, accessed my situation, gave a little wave and rode off! I was stuck so bad I had to hide in the bushes waiting for some one else to get stuck. As long as I was in view, I felt obligated to point the good line out to riders. So I hid. The first guy wasn’t stuck bad enough and would not agree to help me, so he drug himself out, now he was mad at me too. The next guy got good and stuck. We had to get fence boards to stand on and flip my bike over and over to get it on hard ground. While we were doing this, I got a good smell of what we were stuck in, and it was cow poop. Handle bar deep cow poop…. I’m sure they all got a good laugh out of this. I rode the poop covered bike back to the pits and loaded it in the van, for a long smelly ride home….

I made a couple of other trips to the Moose in the years following, but with dismal results. One time at the starting line, Bill had walked the entire line, shaking hands and greeting every rider. I was the last rider and for some sort of karmaic twist, my bike had fouled a plug and I was on my hands and knees changing plugs. I was with in 30 seconds of wrapping up the project. Bill asked what was up? I told him, he said: “Well, good luck with that.” and waved the green flag. I was starting the Moose from my knees, dead last, and let me tell you, last on the Moose is a scary place, no one coming up from behind to help if I had problems. The Sweep Crew already proved they hated me. I gotta pass some body and quick! Then off in the distance, I could see another rider, I was catching some body! Whoohooo, some one to help me! As I got closer I recognized the rider, Quinten Davis, the one legged rider from Iowa. He’s a total bad ass. His leg is cut off all the way at the top. He starts his bike by hand, but would he be able to push me out of a ditch with out his crutches?

Later in that day, I came across the most diabolical section ever laid out by man or beast. There was a drainage ditch with walls about 15 feet tall. We rode the length of it and it must have been half a mile or so. Well first I could smell something rotten. Then off in the distance, I could see these big white balls of something. As I got closer I could see they were turkey corpses. Dozens of rotting turkey carcasses lined the ditch. The smell was horrendous and we could not escape the ditch. We had to slalom between the bloated rotting turkeys. Not throwing up in my helmet was my first challenge, not hitting a turkey was second. God if you clipped one of the giant birds it would have unleashed even more stink, it could not end soon enough. Bill had gone to the local turkey farm, he got two loads of dead turkeys and seeded the ditch, time took care of the rest. Bill and I laugh about that mile of trail every time I see him.

So fast forward 15 years to today. The Moose Run has gotten easier, it had to. You can’t host a race and only have 5 riders show up, no you need a full gate to pay the bills. What the Old Charlie would taunt Bill Gusse with is he was catering to the C Class and getting soft., But the new, older wiser Charlie knows better. A full gate is important. So Bill made the event easier, but it’s still tougher than any other race in the country! Yes, it is still the Toughest Race in America! But like any thing, it’s not what it used to be.

New Improved Moose

New Improved Moose


How does Bill get away with this? Making a race hard but still filling the gate? Oh he is genius. How do you entice the Pros? Big cash pay out. How do you attract the rest of the riders? Double points! Yep, a stroke of pure genius. The Moose Run is the last race of the season for the OMA Series and it pays double points. If you are any where near a points race you have to attend. How will I ever match wits with a true genius! Then, once you get your points they have a heck of a banquet at the year end. Do a search on Springfield Moto Armory or watch this video on You Tubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-d2QmLPY3I It looks like an awesome place to have a year end banquet.

We are finally getting to the important message of this article, what The Moose Run represents. Oh it represents way more than a tough motorcycle race, much more. The Moose Run represents FREEDOM. Freedom for Bill Gusse to go his own way, listen to his own drummer. No where in the AMA rule book does it say a word about using dead turkeys. Only at the Moose Run. Bill does not follow the AMA rule book, he wrote his own rules. It’s your own freedom to run wild around the country side for a day. Nothing in my estimation is as much fun as crossing a big field, jumping a road, and diving head first into some deep woods. Freedom.

Tough Old Moose

Tough Old Moose

Yes the Moose Run is Americas Toughest Race, Bill enjoys the freedom to do that. Can we all finish America’s Toughest Race? Probably not, but we are all offered the freedom to try. Is it America’s Toughest Race because the course is so hard or because you suck as a technical rider? Uhhh only you know. I’ve tried, I know, I failed, I’ll try again. I’ll enjoy the freedom as long as I can. The next generation is not going to have this freedom nor know what they missed.

So are you going to step up, exercise your freedom, or stay at home on the couch and tell your wife about your local C Class trophies again. She knows the truth. I guess you have the freedom not to face your fears, hide behind excuses, that’s a lot easier and safer. Fleece footie pajamas or wet leather boots? Your choice, your conscious, you have to live with the truth.

How about Jeff Fredette, he’s ridden around the world but he keeps coming back and claims it’s one of his favorite races. Why? Freedom. Freedom to run wild like little kids again. I am humbled by the genius, guts and the sheer nerve of the Gusse clan. I’m already planning my return next year, let freedom ring…

Photo Credit John Gasso

Nov 08

Astro Magic

Man, I gotta tell ya, we had a show here in Indy a while back. No, it wasn’t the MotoGP, sure it’s nice, the worlds finest facility, the worlds fastest bikes, the highest paid riders, everything should have made the GP the perfect event. But no, it’s not much.


Oh don’t get me wrong, it’s a great day at the races, sights and sounds from around the world. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway truly has to be one of the best racing facilities in the world. No I have not been to Monza or Spa, but I don’t know how they could be any nicer. For the Indianapolis 500, admission for practice is $5 and free parking. Decent sandwich and a beer, less than $10 so even for me, it’s a pretty cheap date.

brett miller

But the GP is kinda lame, sorry to say, it’s not a sport I follow and I’m sure not going to shave number 46 in my back hair, although I could. No, it’s so disjointed from the public I feel left out. I’ve sat everywhere in the track, first turn, last turn, pit lane, infield outfield. The noise and speed are impressive, but I’m old school, I want the Isle of Man, I want to lean over the fence with bikes piercing by at 180 mph. I want to feel the wind, I want to feel the sound, the vibrations of 18,000 RPM on my fragile ear drum, that’s motorcycle racing.


Am I thinking of the Indy Mile at the State Fair Grounds? It’s pretty awesome too, elbow to elbow at 130 mph and throwing them sideways to scrub off enough speed to make the turn. As wide and smooth as that track is, it would sure look narrow at that speed. The mile is much more relaxed than the GP, you can walk the pits early in the day to meet and greet the riders, ogle the bikes, the Harley’s, the Kawasaki’s, the odd Ducati some KTM’s mad scientist all of them.

But again, I’m so far from the action, if you sit in the stands you can see the race, but no details. Bugs flying down the back stretch at top speed is cool, the noise is good, I do like the V-Twins held wide but they zip by on the front stretch and it’s just a roaring blur.

dave and jay

The lucky one’s sneak past the guards and stand on the guard rail in turn one. Now you can’t see the race from here, but you can see the action. A couple of years ago, we were watching from the infield and Gary Nixon came stomping up, he was mad and started in on me. Now I know who he is, but there is no way he knows who I am. He was mad because the guard would not let him past the gate and up to track edge.

“Hell, I made this place! He would not have a job if it were not for me!”

“Well Gary, would you like me to go talk to him for you?”

“No dammit, I’ll get in there, I’ll have his job…..”

Gary may have been right, because after a while, the guard was gone and we all snuck up to the guard rail. It’s a great place to watch the action. You could hear the bikes bombing down the straight and we would all think to our selves, ‘this time I’m not backing up, I’m staying right up front.’ But as the bikes came into view at a frightening pace, we would all take a step back away from the edge. All of us but one, Gary Nixon would take a step forward up to the rail! Once the bikes passed, we would all step forward, Gary would step back, it was awesome and we really lost a great guy when Nixon passed away.

This year Nixon was gone and the guard was on point, I could not get close to the action and left early. Heck, you cant tell what race is happening, who is who, just helmets flying by on the other side of the tall guard rail, let me out of here and beat the traffic.

No the best show during the greatest weekend of racing was Friday night at the County Fair Grounds. Short Track on the dirt oval. Indiana has had a great resurgence of Short Track racing over the last few years. The leader of the movement has changed a few times over the years, guys get burnt out, feelings get hurt, money is always a sticky subject but lucky for us, the racing has continued. Right now, the lead guy is Jim Terchila. He’s a Speedway guy and has ridden all over the world. World Champion? I don’t think so but world class supporter for sure!

If I could get a dime for every lap he’s driven a tractor or a water truck or a drying truck around this track I could buy the moon. It is an unbelievable amount of work to build a good track. Truck load after truck load of dirt had to be hauled in, see the good Indiana top soil might be good for raising corn, but way too soft for racing. So a special dirt had to be bought and hauled in, hundreds of truck loads. Then it had to be smoothed out, all the rocks picked up and dragged and watered and more rocks picked up and holes filled and ruts filled and high spots ground down. Smooth and flat as a billiard table. I’m telling you, I’d have a big pile of dimes.

Then there was the project of lighting. It takes me about 3 months to get the batteries changed in the smoke alarms at home, the beeping is maddening, but getting the batteries and the ladder and enough energy to do the job, takes time. Sure I can hire it done, but that man is two weeks behind. So it just boggles my mind to think about putting up telephone poles, string all that heavy wire then the giant heavy lights and that stuff all had to be paid for.

Then there are the bleachers, first class aluminum bleachers, enough seats for 2,000 people or more, announcer box, speakers, porta johns, parking lot lighting, concession stand area, ticket takers, track workers, flaggers, starters, water truck fillers, and I’m sure there are a hundred details behind the curtain I’m not aware of. Official papers with the Fair Grounds, insurance, advertising, trophy purchasing, more insurance, it’s amazing we ever got to see the first green flag.

Jim Terchila and gang have been pushing this turd up a hill for years, and it would rain him out…. Seems like every time he planned a big event, it would rain, we called it the Terchila Curse. But finally, the astrological signs aligned and all that work paid off. Years of effort all paid off in one night. Maybe not a money pay out, but better, the pay out that feeds the soul, and money can’t buy that.

What if you poured your heart and soul and savings account into building a track, what if it rained out every big event you planned? What if you kept pushing and one night, all the coolest riders of all time came and raced the coolest bikes of all time, would that make your soul smile?

Introducing The Astro Cup. What’s that? Well in the late 60s early 70s Bultaco built a bike called the Astro. It was built just for short track racing. In my eyes it’s always been one of the best looking bikes ever made. Astro owners got their own class on Friday night before the Moto GP and they came from everywhere. Some better than perfect, some ratty and loose. Just having them on display would have made many of us happy, but no, they got to race.

The riders came from all over the country and from several generations. From kids on Grandpas old bike to famous riders like Jay Springsteen. Here’s an interesting side note. Jay Springsteen’s heat race was 4 seconds slower than the 450 class heat race. That’s pretty darn close for a 40 year old bike and 50 year old rider.

One of the most popular riders of all time, Dave Aldana was there too. No he didn’t turn the fastest laps, but he’s like 62 years old and still fit in his leathers! Now that’s an accomplishment!

Steve Morehead wound up winning the event. Springsteen’s bike was tuned just a little too tight and it blew up, he had the fastest laps, but had to use a back up bike in the final and it was not as fast. Morehead put on a school and took the prize, it was awesome to see him ride.

One of the guy’s I know is Brett Miller, he’s a Tucker Rocky sales rep from Ohio and I knew he did some flat track, but nobody ever got to see him in action.

Well, strings were pulled, a bike came from Michigan and Brett saw it for the first time on race day. Brett rode the hell out of the old tires and made the main event. Finished out the night with a fifth place in the main event and he could not wipe the smile off his face the whole weekend. We actually won his front number plate from the race in an e-bay auction, it looks cool hanging up in the garage, glad to call Brett one of the guy’s I know.

But my favorite memory was when my Dad and I first got there and walked up to the staging area. It was loud and smoky, the noise was sweet, two stokes, air cooled two stokes and they sound better. Exhaust noise and parts rattling. I get more flashbacks from sounds. At the RacerX Inter AM a few years ago I could hear a old Husky being kicked and recognized the noise and identified the bike much to the amazement of my friends.

Dad and I walked up and he pointed at something, then his arm just moved around pointing all all sorts of stuff. Beautiful Astros, Springsteen, Aldana’s skeleton leathers, ratty Astros, Morehead, Atherton, red Astros, blue Astros. Blue smoke and dust filled the air. It was a really cool moment, one I will never forget, one I got to share with my Dad and my Brother.

Thanks Jim Terchila and all the people who have worked so hard for so many years to make this moment possible. May we all be blessed with flashbacks.

Oct 03

How to Make Your Own Neck Brace

I Love the Smell of Napalm in the Morning:

AZ09 026Mom read my article about seven of us living in a 21 foot FEMA trailer and decided to pitch in and help me out. I’m not sure how, but she brought over a repossessedconjugalvisitation trailer from the Lompoc prison. It’s painted right on the side.

With Mom, I don’t ask questions. Something else with the newconjugalvisitation trailer, never, NEVER, turn on a black light. My hands are raw from washing them so often.

Now in most cultures, two trailers would be parked side by side with a hole cut between, “the double wide” we call them. But Mom is a thinker, she spotted the new trailer at a right angle to the existing FEMA trailer. We cut the end out of her trailer and a hole in the side of mine. Then we hung the 97″ plasma television on the wall so we could sit theater style and watch Super Cross!

Of course along with Mom and her ‘new to us traile’r, came her Latin boyfriend and his son, who would be my step brother if in fact he dressed as a man. It’s crowded and confusing, can I leave the bath room door open or will my brother/sister become aroused?

So the ten of us were sitting in folding chairs watching Super Bump the other night when Chad Reed went down and was out for the season. That’s too bad, he was doing pretty darn good too, the field is thinning quickly.

But one thing I noticed is Reed was not wearing a neck brace. I looked into it a little and I guess the trend now is the Pros aren’t wearing their neck braces because they are uncomfortable. Well, I have an opinion about this. First, the Super Bump guy’s only ride for a few minutes at a time, just how uncomfortable could they be? Let’s see, you got yourtonguepiercedbut a neck brace is too uncomfortable. What ever. If you are dumb enough to triple jump and you break your neck, I’m sorry, but a neck brace might have helped.

But so many kids watch what the Pro’s do and follow along, if Reed stops wearing his neck brace, kids stop wearing theirs. So suck it up Super Bump Star, as a role model, it is yourresponsibilityto wear your neck brace. If not for your own safety, for all the kids who watch at home.

Now my self, I’m a little to girthy for any of the current neck braces to fit, so I had to make my own. I used an industrial toilet seat and an old kapok life preserver. It took a full roll of Gorilla tape and I’ll have to admit, it works pretty darn good. I’d show you a picture of mine, so you could build your own, but I’m out of Poloroid film and can’t find it any where. You can see full instructions on my web site,www.gonzorider.com

In other big news, Jimmy Lewis, Editor at Dirt Rider Magazine stepped down and his replacement is the young Chris Denison. Congratulations Chris! It’s a funny story how Chris moved to the top and to accurately tell it I have to use the word foreskin. It’s not a dirty word and it’s not on George Carlins list of words you can not say, but still, Shan my have a problem printing it, so if you get to a blank spot in the next paragraph, just insert the word foreskin..

(Shan Moore is the Editor at Trails and Enduro News, where this article was originally going to be printed, but with the use of the word “Foreskin” it was struck down and only available here on gonzorider.com )

Well see, it was a few years ago and Jimmy was interviewing for help, I had submitted my resume and had gotten as far as sitting at Jimmy’s desk discussing the job. Now being the Editor of Dirt Rider is a big job and Jimmy had an even bigger desk. It was a piece of mahogany as big as a soccer field. Maids pushed those big wide mops back and forth on it as we spoke. The interview was very Martin Sheen / Colonel Kurts from ApocalypseNow……. I had the job wrapped up, I was going to be in a glossy magazine, none of this pulp stock for me any more!

We were just winding down and chatting when Jimmy started absentmindedly opening mail and he opened a packet from Chris Denison. Chris had been looking at yet another magazine and it had the advertisement for your chance to “go to art school”. Just draw the Pirate, bunny rabbit and the turtle and they would review your skills, free.

Chris also liked Dirt Rider magazine and when it came time to send in his art project he mistakenly sent it to Dirt Rider. Jimmy was opening this very piece of mail. What Chris had done with his drawing was to incorporate all three pictures into one. The Pirate with the wooden leg was holding the turtle around the neck squeezing the bitter life out of him, while the scared little bunny poked his terrified little head out of the Pirates foreskin! A very disturbing image.

Jimmy got quiet while studying the drawing, he then slammed his hand down on the desk and said:

“This is who I want to run this magazine! Bring me this Chris Denison!!”

Dazed, Jimmy looked at me and said:

“What are you doing here?”

“You just hired me to work on your magazine.”

“No, your’e fired, look at this genius!”

He turned the drawing to where I could see it, I winced, it was raw talent, but then I saw it was addressed to the wrong magazine. Jimmy would not hear it and soon enough Chris goes from trying to enter a mail order art school to running the biggest dirt bike magazine in the world.

Then a few weeks ago, I saw Chris and congratulated him on his new position. I expressed an interest in writing something for him and I suggested giving me the back page every month and a meager pay check. With out hesitating he said “Yes” I could have the back page of the Dirt Rider “Web Site”but “No” to any type of pay check.

Have you ever been to the back page of the Dirt Rider web site? No one has. So I’m still stuck here on the recycled paper. I used to be thrilled when I got an article in front of the staple, but now we don’t even get a staple. Plus I have that creepy Latin brother/sister prancing around the trailer with Spanish speaking soapopera’s blaring on the 97″ plasma…. And you thought Martin Sheen was in a bad spot…..

Sep 27

Taking the (Shorter) Long Way Home 7

Growing Wings

Along the road the past couple of days, I had begun wondering why I was riding the bike all the way back east. Riding around Nevada and loving it, seeing the wild canyons in Utah. Heck, I haven’t even ridden to Death Valley yet, and that’s one of the destinations on a long list. Here I was riding in the opposite direction!

The plan started to form to ditch the motorcycle out west, and come back and continue the ride in the spring. Actually, if Jimmy Lewis had been around for one more day I probably would have left the bike in his garage.

Nevada buzzard

Buzzards are circling my bike.

But I had one more option, maybe. My buddy Pete, in Denver, is connected to a lot of motorcycle folks. I mentioned it to him last night, and he didn’t seem to think there would be any trouble at all. A few arrangements have been made, and voila! A place for the BMW to live through this coming winter.

Disappointing? No, I don’t think so. My secret original plan was to bail out in Denver if it wasn’t fun. But, it has been fun. The truth is, there’s not a bunch of fun riding from Denver to home. Most of it is an asphalt slog, and I won’t miss it. This way I can come back and schedule it at a time when I can take a ride with Pete, and that’ll be very cool. Also, how’s this for an idea–keep an eye out for another bike, buy it and come out here with my son Zack, and we can both ride all over the west. How cool would that be? The possibilities are much more appealing than jamming east through the cold and rain for five more days. And the cold and rain has finally caught up with me here.

Also, a problem came up on the bike. The rear differential seal started leaking yesterday. I kept an eye on it along the way, and it’s not real bad. But I took the wheel off this morning and checked it out, and it looks like the bike is going to need a new rear outer bearing as well as a seal. Not a major job to do, but a time waster at this point, and we can arrange to have it all fixed over the winter. I wish I could risk running it to back to Cyclepedia where we have a good shop and can do the job right, but there’s a possibility of a spectacular failure along the way, and I don’t want that to happen.

So off we go! I’m flying back on the redeye tonight, and I’m already looking forward to next season’s ride. With luck we’ll even get back to Pie Town for a slice!

Keep an eye out on this site for some more pieces of the trip when I get some time. I also have some funny handlebar videos of riding in the desert, sure to cause vertigo in the weak. Trouble is, the small computer I have with me can’t handle the video format and I haven’t been able to get it edited. All things will happen, given enough time. Thanks for reading!

Sep 27

Taking the Long Way Home 6

Rock Art Day


Started off the day in Green River, Utah. Nothing special happening, just kinda cold. I had a hankering to go to Moab and look at some old Indian art, pictographs scratched into cliffs and things like that. So I left Green River pretty early, and rolled down into Moab. Somehow, the information center escape my search, so I never picked up a map to all the pictograph sites. That’s okay, I followed muscle memory to the condo we stayed in when we last dirt rode here, wasn’t that in 2010? I think so. And I learned at the end of our visit that there was a wall site to see just up the road from our condo, but I never went there because by then I was too injured to want to walk very far.

Moab Rock Art

Moab Rock Art

Little did I know that the canyon wall in question was only a block away from the condo. No lie. Less than 100 yards. Go figger. So I looked it over, took a bunch of pictures, and then started thinking about what to do next. I guess hit the road; get on over to Colorado.

So I rode back up to Interstate 70, and decided to explore the old road, which runs more or less parallel to the interstate and lies virtually unused. So I’m cruising down this bumpy old paved road, I’m the only person on it. I would have liked to have seen more cliff paintings, but without local knowledge I was doomed to hunt around in the dark.

Moab Town Scenery

Moab town scenery

I was musing thusly when I passed a derelict motel in the town of Thompson Springs, I think it was called. I have this thing for motels. Other people collect dolls, stuffed bears, beer bottles. I collect motels. Or at least I wish I could. I really like old roadside motels from the early days, before the interstates and Holiday Inn Express chains. This one in Thompson was pretty neat, in a plain way, so I stopped to take a few pictures. Which led me to a little picnic area adjacent, where there was a sign with a map to a cache of Indian art. Well hey….

I followed the map down into a canyon, and found the mother lode of Indian art. How cool. I had even seen these cliffs before, in photos, and now I was able to take my own photos. Even cooler. I rummaged around there for a while, and then headed east again on my old road, much more satisfied.

Road motel Utah

Derelict motel.

The old road followed 70 for quite a ways, maybe all the way. I jumped on the interstate at times, jumped back onto the old road when I was tired of it, and generally had a great ride up into Colorado. Once there, the choices narrow quite a bit, and I spent a lot more time on the interstate. Yeah, I could have gone south through Aspen and all that, but I’ve been there before. I could have rooted around looking for dirt roads, but that’s a whole lot more fun on a big single with knobbies on it. Instead I just enjoyed a beautiful day and rode whatever I felt like. I did hop off at Georgetown and take the road up through Guanella Pass, where the aspen trees were all turning yellow and beautiful, and the air was crisp and cold. From there I followed Route 285 down to Sedalia, and visited my friends Pete and Lisa for the night.

Colorado Aspens

Colorado Aspens

Nice day. Pretty Colorado scenery and weather. Cold at times. REAL cold. The cold and the wind take it out of you, and I was glad to be off the bike. No real plan for tomorrow, so it’ll maybe be a rest day.

Sep 25

Taking the Long Way Home 5

Run for the Border

Putting down some miles for a good cause.

Nevada resident Jimmy Lewis called me last night, and if he had more time on his hands this day may have gone completely different. If we could have hung out, I would have gone down to Pahrump and learned something about the riding down there. As it was, Jimmy had to run into California this morning, so I packed up and headed east.

After two days of riding around in the dirt, I was thinking it was time to put some miles behind me. There are some people counting on me for stuff back on the east coast, and I figure they’d be bummed if this went on to take another two weeks. Besides, it was the second Wednesday that the guys in Asheville would be drinking beer without me, and I know they need me to deplete the supply further at the Avenue M.

So it was time to get out of Nevada. I’d had a good time and seen most of what I wanted to see. I got up early and put on everything warm I owned, because it was under 40 degrees outside. On a morning like this that electric vest is worth its weight in pearls. I hit the switch as soon as I got on the bike and never shut it off until after 2:00 in the afternoon.

The course was up Route 6, past the Extraterrestrial Highway and up through Ely. Cold and clear, and at least the sun was on me to help break the chill. I’m liking the way the BMW works more and more. It definitely handles better than the V-Strom; the weight is a lot lower and the steering is somewhat slower…like the typical difference between a Germanic and a Japanese dirt bike. The BMW does not steer heavy–sometimes it seems spooky-light–but it feels more sure-footed. That and the overall high comfort level makes it a less tiring bike to ride, I think.

Nevada Lunar Crater

Craters we got.

With the exception of the handlebars, although I’m getting used to them. They’re a fancy three-piece bar, with the lever ends obviously rubber insulated, and they probably do a great job of damping road and engine vibration. Maybe they’ll feel good with bar-backs installed, or handlebar risers, whatever you want to call them. I am definitely missing the big, fat touring grips I had on the Suzuki, and I wonder if I can find another pair of them. They were the old Sunline Grand Touring grips, and they are the best thing in the world if you have big hands.

The Nevada desert rolled out beautiful as I headed north. The cold weather and the high speed had me concerned a little bit about gas, especially when I saw the sign “No Services for the Next 186 Miles.” Hmmm. I knew that going off road did a great job of turning a 100 mile distance between towns into a 200+ distance. but how bad could it be on the road? I saw the sign for “Lunar Crater 9 Miles” and thought “Surely, 18 more miles fits into the budget here.”

So I rode on out to the Lunar Crater and I’m glad I did. There’s just a ton of awesome stuff out there in the desert. I saw the Lunar Crater, and then across from it was an old volcanic crater that was even more interesting. I got back on the pavement and continued north…and you guess it, I rolled into Ely coasting downhill in neutral, with the “low gas” light on and no bars showing on the gauge. All the specs say that the tank holds 6.3 gallons, but it must have a quantity that isn’t available to the fuel pump. The day before, though, using Chevron premium, I rolled in with 220 dirt miles on the clock. This morning, I filled it with Shell premium, and it was panic city at 186 miles showing.

Nevada Desert Craters

A cool volcanic crater too.

Is it a difference in the fuel? I wound up using Chevron as often as I could get it when I did the big trip with the V-Strom, and the bike seemed to run best with it. The V-Strom liked nothing stronger than the mid-grade “Plus” fuel, it didn’t like premium. Dorian told me his bike (GS1200) liked premium, so that’s what I’ve been using. I might try a tank of the mid-grade stuff just to see if it makes a difference. Also, if you want to add a gas additive that really seems to do something, try some StarTron, the blue stuff. It made the Suzuki purr like a kitten. I haven’t tried it in the BMW yet, but I probably will.

I filled up in Ely and rolled up Main Street, and right out of town. It seems like not that long ago, but a little quick ciphering told me it had been 20 years since I’d been there. How can that possibly be? Since the Nevada Rally in 1993. Man oh man.

The scenery is spectacular, as you follow Route 50 out of Nevada. Just gorgeous desert vistas and mountain passes, hills that go on forever. Rolling down into western Utah it turned into farming country, and the speed limit changed from 75 to 65. Bummer. Of course I came up on three State Police cruisers at the state line rest stop, and I pulled off to change maps and let them get in front of me. Now I had to keep an eye out for them, since I knew at least one of them would be somewhere along the road.

Awesome Utah Scenery

Awesome Utah scenery

I wasn’t right about that, I never saw them again. But at one point a Highway Patrol cruiser pulled out a half-mile in front of me, and I had to stay politely behind him for over 70 miles while he went 65 all the way. It reminded me of something Vic, the owner of the International Bar, said the night before: “The speed limit shouldn’t be 70 out here. Everything’s so far apart it takes FOREVER to get anywhere at 70 to 75 mph.” At 65 it’s even worse.

I cut it close on the next tank of gas as well, even though I topped it off an hour west of Ely. The towns just aren’t very close together, that’s all. When I did stop again, I desperately wanted a cup of coffee, but I had been running from a storm front and I saw no reason to hang back and get soaked. So I gassed and ran. North on Utah 15, then east on 50, all the way out to Interstate 70. I wanted to get to Moab, and gave up at Green River with 500 miles on the clock for the day. Yeah, there was some slab as well as the two-lanes, but with the Utah Canyonlands scenery I don’t mind having to use a little bit of Interstate. All those pink-rock canyons and Utah beehives look like they were painted on a backdrop and hung up by Disney. If you’ve never been there, you gotta go. Ride through, rent a car and drive through, do like we did a couple years back and truck all the dirt bikes out to Moab and ride it all. It’ll be worth it, no matter what.

Okay, that’s it. Tomorrow we’ll make it to Colorado.

Sep 25

Taking the Long Way Home 4

Doubling Down on Mileage

How to turn a 100 mile paved ride into 220 miles of gravel


Breakfast this morning was a huge ham steak and a couple eggs at the International Bar in Austin. Two women “of a certain age” were on shift, one waiting tables and the other was cooking. “A certain age” means I would hate to call them late middle-age, but then again they may have been older than me. The cook had music going in the kitchen, the Dark Side of the Moon CD by Pink Floyd. I watched her closely and tried to figure it, but I really couldn’t. I wondered, was she there? Did she know? Or was she a latter-day fan? She could have been. I never asked.

You see, I was there. My first Pink Floyd concert was in 1968, back when Interstellar Overdrive and Set The Controls were what you went to hear and see. You could have heard a pin drop at the concerts, for as silent as the audience was. I think I saw them 14 times over the following seasons, and we quit going after Pink Floyd became “popular.” In our mind they had sold out, gone commercial, and we were done with them.

But I’d heard Dark Side of the Moon well before it was recorded, when they were still working out the rhythm and the chord changes. I was into it up to my ears, and I flashed back to those days while the familiar notes of the guitar break in Great Gig in the Sky floated out of the kitchen. I wondered if she knew. Because if you weren’t there then, you’d never get it. You’d think Pink Floyd was all about huge, flying, inflated pigs.

Oh my. What a frame of mind to start a day out with. After studying the map I’d decided to head off south on dirt roads below Austin, and make my way to the Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park. Much as Pink Floyd fascinated me in my learning years, dinosaurs held my attention when I was younger. If I could vary my route by a few degrees and see some cool fossils, that’s where I’d be. So an early start was organized, and I actually got out of town while the shadows were still long.

Ichthyosaur Fossil GonzoRider

Can you see all the bones?

Unremarkable lizard

It was a lizardly kind of day.

Old car Berlin NV

Slowly rusting desert junk. I could shoot photos of this kinda stuff all day.

Front door, Berlin NV

Front door, Berlin NV

Typical Nevada dirt roads were my fare for the rest of the morning. Hard pan covered with marbles is what it’s like, and if you’re a tense rider you’ll never learn how to get along with it. The best thing to do is relax and let the bike wander a little, and find the sweet speed where the bike works good. You have to watch where your wheels are going the entire time, because a little G-out might be hiding in the road, or a silt pocket might grab your tire, and there’s always rocks to box your wheels around. I know that sub-30 pound pressure helps the handling a lot, but I stayed with the 32 front, 36 rear I started with because I’d really rather not risk a rim or a flat.
Got to the dinosaur park, and learned that admission was only $2 for a bike, a real steal. The place is both an Ichthyosaur graveyard and what’s left of the ghost town of Berlin. I love that kind of stuff, so I wandered around with the camera for a couple hours. I brought both a pocket camera and the big camera, which is a switch for me. The big camera dominates the tank bag, but I wanted a chance to get some good pictures for a change.

Nevada mine shaft

Big hole in the ground. Check out the road in the background.

When I’d seen enough, I talked the GPS into steering me towards the ghost town of Manhattan, and darned if it didn’t know just where it was. I can’t imagine. Here it’s an $85 cheap Nuvi, and it knows every place I’ve been so far. You gotta love it.

Manhattan is no longer a ghost town. Last time I was there it was a tiny little bar and a handful of residents. Since then it looks like it’s been going through a real estate boon. The place was packed, lots of new trailers and come of the cabins look like they’ve been renovated. Quite a shock. I rolled through and headed for Belmont, because what visit to central Nevada would be complete without a picture taken of the Belmont Courthouse? I went there, and got the requisite photo, as well as a shot of the bike in front of Dirty Dick’s taproom.

Berlin, NV miner's cabin

Inside of a miner’s cabin in Berlin, NV


It was getting late, and the gas gauge was looking low, so I figured it was time to roll into Tonopah for the night. I planned on staying at the Jim Butler motel in the center of town. I stayed there once before and it was really nice. The Jim Butler is right next to the famed Mizpah Hotel, and I hadn’t figured on the possibility of the Mizpah being open again, but it was. What the heck, it had been three years since my last visit, it’s only right that a few things might change. What I wasn’t ready for was for Jim Butler to have no rooms available. And the Mizpah had the no vacancy sign out, and so did every other place on the high side of town. Some sort of travel group had dominated the place, and I was lucky to get the last room at the Clown Motel for the night. Just as well; any other town was at least a 100 mile ride I wasn’t ready to take.

Dirty Dick's in Belmont

Dirty Dick’s in Belmont


Of course, I had to hustle up to the Mizpah and see what they’d done to the place. In a word, it’s gorgeous. It actually looks like I can’t afford to stay there any more. I had a couple beers at the bar and then went into the dining room, more to see what the room looked like than a reluctance to eat at the bar. The dining room is also pretty nice, and I had a steak there that was a great meal. Highly recommended–visit the Mizpah the next time you’re in Tonopah.

I’ve had some good times at the Mizpah, both during dual sport rides and the Nevada Rally, though it was too small of a place for us to be staying there during the Rally. Nice place.

Belmont Court House Nevada

The Belmont courthouse seems to be erupting.


So that was it, a long day on the dirt roads, looking at old bones and the incomparable desert mountains of Nevada. Some of those hills are already topped with snow, a thought that increases my urgency to start thinking about pointing the rig east and getting on with it. And that’s probably what I’ll do tomorrow, head to eastern Nevada and maybe find a way from there across to Moab, Utah, just for fun. We’ll see what happens.