A few columns back I opened the proverbial floodgates to reader feedback by sharing my modest foray into the veteran racing class at the final motocross practice of the season. A majority of the correspondence, I’m pleased to say, came in the form of the sympathetic variety by fellow old-timer inductees but was not without the occasional youngster looking to justify his own inadequacies by ribbing on someone admittedly slower. That said, I immediately set off to work on a system of age identification designed to spare old farts from potential humiliation and to give younger riders something to shoot for.
To begin the process, let us assume the median age of our subject to be at least 25- kids and mini riders are too mysterious these days for this author to attempt to sort out. Now add three years right off the top if they own more than one bike or take six away if the only bike they own happens to be yours when you finally cave in and let them borrow it. The remainder of the formula is as simple as adding or subtracting years as follows:
A rider rolls up on a brand new repli-racer without stalling as he approaches the curb. He’s wearing full gear that matches the color of the bike’s plastic and the fairing, you observe, is yet pristine. Add 10 years and give the rider a nod of respect. These bikes aren’t cheap and the desire to act stupid on them seems particularly honed in to youth.
You stop at a red light and a ratty 1981 Kawasaki KZ750 rolls up beside you. Without making direct eye contact, you sense the rider’s challenge through a series of revs that result in clouds of rust breaking free from somewhere above the severely wobbling pipes. Immediately subtract eight years and whatever you do, don’t accept the street-cred challenge being offered. Racing a thirty-year-old bike being piloted by a rider half it’s age isn’t going to prove much and besides, it sounds like the KZ is giving it all she’s got just to keep idling next to you.
When dashing in to the dealership to be the first to straddle the latest CBR they just got in, a gentleman decked out in denim with a well kempt beard of gray and aviator sunglasses holds the door open for you. Add forty years and say hello. Standing before you is a rider who outlived not only the most recent chopper-craze but the real one as well. Here’s a rider who likely remembers when all Japanese bikes were merely small-bore glorified scooters and when race-ready 4-strokes were in style the first time around.
You find yourself along side a friend of a friend rider that you just met this morning at breakfast before heading off for a group adventure-touring ride. Not only is he underdressed for the inevitable cooler temps of evening but also he seems to have stuffed his bags with little more than a sleeping bag. Subtract four years and hope he isn’t your size. It’s only a matter of time before he asks to borrow your spare gloves, raincoat, and dry socks.
You park at the local MX track directly beside a well organized pit with shiny bikes on stands beneath a sun tent. Tools are located neatly in their designated areas and beverages are confined to coolers. Add seven years and another three if there’s a Craftsman Eight-Drawer tool chest on the premises with an additional year per tool-chest drawer count over eight.
You arrive home from an extended ride to find your wife dressed and waiting for you to accompany her to the show that she told you about three months ago. Add 10 years if you remembered and just so happen to be sporting a tie and dress pants beneath your leathers. Add another three if you not only remembered in the first place but also thought ahead enough to pick up a dozen roses on the way home to make up for the inevitable argument awaiting you later that evening. Subtract a year if you’ve forgotten completely and give me a call if your wife simply climbs onto the back of your bike when you pull into the driveway.
Back to the MX track again, only this time the rider pitted next to you happens to be struggling with a spool of safety wire in effort to secure his saddle in place. Behind the clearly panicked rider you notice that tools are mismatched, misplaced, and just plain missing. Subtract four years and lend him a sparkplug if he asks for one in the event that the rider in question happens to be me.