Now I made one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made in my motorcycling career.
Living in Dapto, I was exposed to a huge community of bike riders, and especially young kids riding dirt bikes. A young fellow up the road was already an established motorcross rider at Mt Kembla and a young kid called Wayne Gardner was raising eyebrows with his performances aboard a mini bike at the Fairbairn Park mini bike circuit in Canberra.
Uncle Brian’s Bike Shop and Dapto Tyres was in Baan Baan Street where the new Priceline Pharmacy is now and it was a hotbed of dirt bike riding. The head mechanic there was an Expert Observed Trial rider and all the dirt bike guys hung out there all the time.
So, without doing proper research (buy in haste, repent at leisure) I traded the 350/4 on a new Honda MT125 trail bike, a de-tuned and road going version of the famous Elsinore Moto-X bike.
And when I say it was de-tuned, I mean it was DE-TUNED. It didn’t have enough power to pull the skin off a rice pudding, a front brake that existed in name only and all the adhesion of a flea caught in a typhoon.
I rapidly found out that it was totally unsuited to every purpose to which I wished to put it (it was, in fact only suitable for one thing, a boat anchor, and even that is being charitable). I continued to use it as a road bike, while satisfying my dirt bike pretensions with a used Yamaha TY250A Trials bike, again from Uncle Brian’s.
We were living in Fowlers Road, just down from where the F6 was being constructed and the earthworks from the construction made an excellent venue for learning the skills of observed trials. Every afternoon after school, it was straight up there on the bike and ride till the sun went down or exhaustion set in, whichever came first.
Here I must say that I believe that riding a trials bike was one of the best things that I ever did in terms of developing my skill-set as a rider. Having to balance and manoeuvre a bike at slow speed on hostile ground while standing up is a recipe for a rapid increase in skills and confidence. I do recommend that you try riding a trials bike at least once. You’ll love it.