Like when I sort of need a new pair of gloves, but not really because only some of the fingers in the current pair have holes in them. Right? I know that means those gloves are still good, but then I see a pair on the closeout sale rack and realize that I really do, in fact, at this moment, need a new pair of gloves. Those gloves, right there, the nice ones that nobody else wanted so they're cheap.
Whatever it is, whatever the consumer product, everyone knows that feeling of "I must buy this to make my life perfect. If I do not possess this item I will be unhappy". So we reach for said item, we know what it is and we know we want it. We know we need it. We know that our very happiness for at least the next few moments depends upon the successful acquisition of this, this, this thing in front of us. Grab it we do and gleefully, giddily we try it on.
And it doesn't fit.
It's not even close.
And, no, they don't have a bigger one.
We walk away. Unfulfilled, unhappy, unsatisfied.
But sometimes stuffing yourself into something that's way too small can have benefits. Sometimes it can even be a whole lot of fun. Sometimes something that you thought was too small for you is actually a pretty good fit. And, no, I'm not talking about those skinny jeans you've been eyeing. They really are too small and fit like a like a cheap hotel (no ballroom. Ba-dum-bum).
I am talking, of course, about the singular pleasure that is mini-bike racing.
ever worn a thong?
ever ridden one around a track?
This past weekend marked the first event on the 2011 M1GP calendar; the time trials. Time trials are a way to figure out which class people will race in for the coming season, "expert", "novice", or in my case "old and slow". For those of you who don't know, and I'm assuming that's just about everyone, the M1GP is a dedicated group of people who get together at a prearranged place and time to stuff themselves into suits made of dead cows, sit on children's toys, and go around in circles as fast as possible.
Sound like a cult? Sound like a group of lunatics? Sound like fun? It is, well ok, it's not really a cult. Maybe.
|Young Lee, M1GP president, dices it up with Josh Tootell|
More specifically, the M1GP is a Southern California based mini-bike racing organization. Don't be confused, though, these are not the mini-bikes once available from Sears. Those weedy old death traps with a Briggs and Stratton lawn mower engine which, when ridden, would usually result in some kid being launched through the neighbor's hedge. No, these are a completely different animal. These are purpose built from the factory race machines, which, when ridden will sometimes result in a kid being launched through the neighbor's hedge. So there.
The most popular mini is the Honda NSR 50. It's a single cylinder, 49cc, liquid cooled, two stroke. It has a modern six speed transmission, front and rear disc brakes, decent suspension, twin spar frame, and in my opinion it sucks. Mostly because I have Yamaha YSR 50's which despite being cooler in every way and not being a Honda (always a plus), are a lot older and slower. The YSR may not have all of the NSR's modern parts or fancy good looks, but it does have something no Honda ever has; a soul. Yes, a soul, and no I'm not at all biased. It's a known fact, ok, Honda's are perfect and have great fit and finish and run really well and, whatever, they're soulless.
The YSR was last sold in the US some 20 years ago making it a lot older than some of the little pipsqueaks I have to ride against. Not only are these kids younger and riding faster bikes, but they also cheat by having loads more talent than I do. Jerks.
|yours truly. almost looks like I know what I'm doing. almost.|
Once I got out onto the warming track I gave the tires a lap to get up to temperature before really putting my head down and trying to put in some fast times. I would have really shown those other folks a thing or two if only they would have stayed behind me for a minute. But, no, they had to just keep passing me like I was standing still. Always in a hurry to rush off to the next corner. Nobody had time to just sit back there and learn how to do this stuff properly, no, they just wanted to be all fast and stuff. Eventually, I remembered a little bit about how to ride a motorcycle and the previous night's sampling of some questionable meatballs had given me the world's first methane powered turbo boosted YSR, I was still unable to get my times anywhere near the respectable level. Even so, it was some of the most fun I've had on a racetrack.
The time trials were held at Willow Springs which is a famous racetrack (to people who already know about it). It has been the scene of many a motorcycle racing legend and just as many motorcycle racing legends have been there. They come to test their mettle on the "fastest road in the west" as the sign out front says. Yes, it is a storied race track that demands respect and punishes the unprepared and out in the back of it's overflow parking lot were only those who come late dare to park there is another track. A much, much, much, smaller track. It's tiny, in fact, a track far too small for a normal sized motorcycle. A track that not that many people know about (even those who have been to Willow) and that my friends is where the minis rule.
It was nice to get one more roundy - round with the minis before mothballing them in storage while we head off to yon European continent in search of more moto-related shenanigans. Thanks to Young Lee and everyone at M1GP for all their hard work and for keeping mini racing alive and well in SoCal.
And for anyone who wants to check out the fun first hand go to http://www.m1-grandprix.com/
|this kit contains everything needed for two adults to enjoy a day of mini-bike racing (some assembly required).|
All pix by Mix, words by Josh. See you all next time I'm off to bed.