BattleTrax!

The last weekend in April the Laughlin River Run came to town - big motorcycles, beautiful women. After a winter of Winnebagoes and blue-haired snowbirds, the hot-pipe V-Twins are as welcome as the songbirds in Spring. Along with the River Run came Reg Kittrelle, of Thunder Press and Battle2win magazine. On Saturday, April 29th, he set up a BattleTrax course at Harrah's Hotel and Casino.

The course ran about a quarter mile, and Reg calls it "drag racing, with curves". It's actually a fast obstacle course, and the curves are the obstacles - they're everywhere, of every shape and sharpness. It adds up to a lot of fun, a nice charge of adrenaline, without involving lethal speed - though you can easily toss a bike going too fast in a slow curve.

Timing equipment was set up at the start and finish lines, and two Buell motorcycles, a hot-rod Twin and a Blast, were available for those who wanted to try them over the course. The charge for all this? Free! All we had to do was sign a liability release and produce a motorcycle license.

The Blast was getting a work-out. People rode up on Big Twin touring and cruising bikes, saw the Blast, and had to try it. Reg told me that bike's been "thrown away" half a dozen times on the BattleTrax curves, but the only damage I could see was some taped-up Surlyn below the seat, and a slightly tweaked footpeg. Both pegs were roughly beveled from dragging in turns. I don't know who the masked man at left is, but he knows how to ride - popped a couple of foot-high wheelies Blasting down the backstretch, too. I didn't get his time - busy changing film. But it couldn't have been much faster than mine...
 
 

A couple of guys with Big Twins were ready to run their bikes through the twisties. The first, on a chopper with floorboards, started out with a dragstrip-style high-revving tire burn-out - but the first curve was six feet from the start line, so that didn't get him anywhere fast. He had class, though - he rode hard and dragged those floorboards around every turn to the sounds of grinding steel and a powerful engine.

I got a chance to take the Blast out, and it was like shaking hands with an old friend. It went round the turns like it knew the course and was just taking me for the ride. I didn't scrape the pegs, but when I pulled in I heard my 54-second time was the second fastest of the day. Great, but the day was young, and it wasn't long til John Salazar, of Fresno, California, came in with a full-dress Harley and ran a 48 on it. Watching him was educational - I didn't know you could do things like that with a "dresser". He did flog the Hog.

The Buell Twins were running 44-45 second times. Good bikes, and good riders.

I took my XT out for a few runs and it felt great. I haven't ridden anything like that since my last run through midtown Manhattan, and I'm getting rusty. For what it takes - an acre of pavement, chalklines, and a broom for sweeping out the corners - it'd be worth getting together with a few others for Sunday morning workouts.

Practice makes perfect, and running a BattleTrax course would make us better riders. And man, it's a gas.

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joe@gazette9.com


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