In December of this year, myself and a group of like-minded individuals are going to be riding motorcycles some 1500 km through Patagonia in Chile and Argentina to deliver much needed motorcycles to park rangers. Just the thought of it makes me tired. I know I am going to have to "step up" and get fit. In the past couple years I have lost close to 50 pounds and I am grateful that little 200cc motorcycle does not have to lug around that un-needed baggage. Losing 50 pounds sounds like quite a feat, but I do have a fairly large chassis. At 6'4" I seem to be able to conceal some weight better than the average-sized man my age but can say without reservation I feel better without that extra weight. On the motocross track I am able to do more laps now than when I was riding regularly in my late 30s and early 40s albeit I am riding with less intensity.
So the question I get asked the most about this upcoming adventure is "how do you plan to get in shape?" My answer is "more of the same". I will eat more consciously, I will be more physically active and I will ride more once the snow melts. The active part of my lifestyle involves walking the dogs... now enter my friend and neighbour Rob Kern.
Over the Christmas holiday I got a text from Rob: "Going for a walk, wanna go out to the island?" "Sure" I said. The ice was now safe and good for a walk. Mrs. Vintage Moto packed me a small flask of premium 12-year-old rum and Rob, Whiskey the Lab, Alli the Springer and myself had a great time enjoying the winter paradise we call home. That little walk is now becoming a regular part of our days although we leave the rum at home and walk in the forest instead of the river.
A little bit about my neighbour Rob. He moved onto the street a couple years after we moved here. He and his lovely wife Adrienne are about my age and have two girls the same ages as our girls. Rob is a recently retired OPP officer. He and his wife Adrienne love motorcycles, their garage is filled with them. Rob has a particular penchant for off-road and adventure riding. Adrienne commutes to work on her sweet little Triumph. Rob bought his kids some dirt bikes and taught them how to ride. I caught the bug too, I went and bought a Kawasaki KLX-250 for myself and a little TTR 125 for my kids. Rob taught them how to ride. I cannot overstate how competent he is at instructing kids how to ride. Nothing seems to phase him. His patience seems endless and he has boundless good sense and wisdom to share. Rob and I went riding together only once or twice, our schedules seldom lined up. After a couple of years I sold the KLX, I just wasn't riding it the way I wanted to ride.
Two years ago I got the itch to get another bike. This time around I decide Vintage Motocross would be a good thing for me to try. How much trouble could I get into on a 30-plus year old bike. I sold the kids TTR for $500 and to the chagrin of my daughter Rose - who won't let me forget it - I bought myself a 1984 RM250 for $700. The day the TTR sold, I saw Rob in his back yard burning some brush and I walked over to say hello. I mentioned to him that I found an RM250 on Kijiji and without hesitation he said "Let's go!" We hooked his trailer up to his car and drove to Low Quebec and purchased my sweet little gem.
Rob is always there to help out when I need a hand. I don't have a garage, so my basement is my workshop. I took the bike apart and Rob helped to carry it down to my workshop. When I finished restoring the bike Rob helped me bring it back upstairs.
So back to getting in shape. Since our little walk to the island, Rob and I have been walking the dogs together more often. Old Whiskey follows along close behind while young Alli runs for miles in circles around us while we tromp through the woods around the house. Rob dresses in his police-issue boots, winter coat, toque and cop sunglasses. When I walk with other people I am used to being the fast walker in the group. This is no longer the case. I am now walking at top speed and there is no slowing down. We talk a lot. Rob loves to tell stories, has many, and he is very good at telling them. Like myself, he also likes to take in a good story and many of these stories are about dirt bikes. You can't complain about that.
What I feel I must point out though, is that Rob finishes the walk just as he started. I finish the walk carrying my coat, toque and mitts. My sweater is unzipped, my under-shirt is soaking wet with sweat and I am wheezing like an old man with emphysema. I now know, if I am waking with Rob, puff the Ventolin prior to departure. Last time out, Rob mentioned to me one of his career achievements. He has never lost a foot-chase. That is to say, as a police officer, when someone tries to get away on foot, he has a 100% success rate at running the guy down on foot. My obvious question to this impressive claim was; "how many were there?" "Oh, Dozens" He said. "Do you tackle them like in football?" I asked. Rob went to explain his technique. "I talk to them" he says. "I break them down mentally." "Hey, I can do this all day, it is just exercise for me!" "I can keep going... how long can you go?" "You are just going to be tired in jail!" "Quite often they just give up and stop running" he said.
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