Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Water Tanks, Cops, XR75's And Underwear...

More about my XR75---
{This is a second installment of a short series of tales that basically revolves around a motorcycle.

The first section is here (XR75 )
and will make this section make more sense} --

I love the expression "Oh the things we got up to, when we were young..."

And I do because it implies a none too small amount of creativity, which tends to go hand in hand with mischief-- if the mischief isn't just malicious mayhem. Know what I mean?

No? OK. As an example. When I was in the fifth grade, we used to lock all the afternoon drinkers in a bar by slipping a bicycle lock around the pair of massive handles that served as the front door pulls. We would run up and wrap the cable or chain quickly and efficiently through these handles, then close the lock, run like hell and then sneak back via a creek to get close enough to watch patrons pushing against our handiwork. Ten minutes later we would watch the fire truck come out of the firehouse down the road, and giggle as they got out their bolt cutters and set the staggering patrons free. Watching men in uniforms deal with men in a state was always good fun, and then the fire truck would go home and the drunks would stagger off and no harm was done. Mischief without mayhem. No destruction. Lots of giggles. A well executed plan...
And when my brother Steve and I got our motorcycle, and after we had become extremely well-versed in riding around on our available trails in circles, the motorcycle simply became another tool for our mischievous shenanigans.

My best and most mischievous friend growing up was G, who also owned an XR75 and had almost six months before we begged one out of Mum and dad. On the days it was my turn to ride the bike, G would come up the road on his machine-- eyes peeled for cops who were pretty rare in our quiet neighborhood but always a possibility-- and then together we'd go back into the hills behind my house and zoom around like young boys on motorcycles. There was a small hillock directly behind my house, accessible by a gate in my backyard. Just to the left of this was a creek that ran into a drain that disappeared beneath the street and served as the flood drains with gutters and lost tennis balls and spiders and four foot cement pipes.
Then there was a bigger hill further to the left of this, which led to our tree house built over the years in a grand old oak tree, and then this rolled over and down into a large creek after crossing a thin gravel road which ran at the base of Yerba Buena Hill. So way up to the left and behind my house, over one hill and down a creek and up the other side, was Yerba Buena Hill. It was a difficult hill climb for most motorcycles, as the trail that went up it was direct and steep. At the top, however, was a spectacle. A direct view into not only my backyard, but everybody's backyard. People swimming in their pools. Swings. Dogs. Daughters... All that good stuff.
And to add to this, a water tank. A huge water tank. Surrounded by barbed wire and a place to be mischievous if we so desired. Climb the fence. Climb the ladder on the side of the water tank. Jump up and down on the top of it, making thunder noises that echoed across the valley and back...

Once you got on the other side of this water tank, there was a blue shale service road that went down the other side of Yerba Buena Hill and into another neighborhood full of houses and pools and daughters and dogs.

And what G and I would do was this. We would own those neighborhood streets, riding up and down them, jumping off of people's curbs, spinning donuts on people's driveways (leaving those oh so annoying chattered rubber circles) and riding wheelies in front of houses where we knew cute girls from school lived, and we would do this for about an hour and then it would end.
And the reason it would end is because somebody would call the cops on us, and the cops would come, and then we would skedaddle. Now if you have ever skedaddled on a 76cc. motorcycle when you are ten years old while being chased by not one, but sometimes three cop cars, you would know how fun skedaddling really is. G and I would have to ride up on lawns. We'd have to double back. We'd have to crisscross each other and then we'd always do the same thing. We would head up that service road, our little bikes floored in top gear, looking over our shoulders with out helmets flipping around on our small heads to see cops and lights right on our tails, and then the road would end and turn to trail, and the trail would turn to a steep trail straight down Yerba Buena Hill, and this would end at a creek which we would cross, and this would lead to a thin road that we would cross, and then we'd climb a smaller hill up past our tree house, and then we'd head down the other side and into a creek, and then we'd follow this creek out of the view of just about anybody to my back gate, which we'd sneak into and then put the bikes in the garage with the garage door down....


More than thirty of these chases in under two years and I am certain the cops had a pool or something going as to who would catch the two little rodents on the two unmarked motorcycles and I am certain they were sure somebody would.

But they never did.

They got wise and put a car down on the thin gravel road, and as we came off of Yerba Buena Hill a light flashed red and spun around and we simply headed up the trail and left the cops eating donuts in the dust. High grass season was the most fun because we could hide anywhere beneath the five foot high late summer grasses.

Once we were chased back out onto our neighborhood street way up and to the right of my backyard, but we simply went to G's house and hid the bikes and watched The Three Stooges and in a few hours I walked home in a borrowed shirt.

If I were a cop I would have put up tack strips and high tech triggered-cameras and brought in a helicopter. But we were kids and I think they knew we were kids.

Maybe they enjoyed the chase as much as we did?

All that said, I am gonna bet that these cops really really really wanted to have a word with us.

Which leads me to believe that G was correct running his motorcycle up my driveway and sliding it sideways into the sheetrock at the back of the garage and into the house.

Or at least mostly correct.

One day I walked out into my open garage just in time to see his opened mouth and his wide eyes flying up my steep driveway at an incredible rate of speed. Near the top he simply laid the bike down and slid into my garage and out the back of it through the sheet-rock and into the house. Four seconds or so later a cop flew by my driveway and shot up the neighborhood. I ran and pulled the garage door down and that was that.


G had come to an intersection between my house and his house only to find a cop coming toward him from his immediate left. He went straight through that intersection and then turned right on my street, Knowing that he had to make my driveway before the cop made that right turn. I was three houses up from that corner and if it weren't for some large juniper bushes, he would have led the coppers right to our door. He must have hit the bottom of the very steep driveway doing forty. The steep incline probably slowed him down to twenty when he slid. The sheet-rocked wall pretty much brought him to a stop as his rear tire crashed through a stud and half the bike ended up in our not so elegant dining room. We pulled the bike out and banged the stud back in place and put some screws in it, and my construction and remodeling career was officially started. Wall paper had hid most of the inside damage, and we were left to explain to pops later, when he got home, where and why we had to patch a section of rough sheetrock in the garage to his satisfaction.

“The clutch slipped”... I believe it was.

The second time G did this he did it in his underwear.

And he took out the sheetrock patch in the process

On XR75's, there is a throttle cable that sticks up off the handlebar on the right side and points upward at a steep angle. When you flip the bike a bunch, this gets damaged and you need to replace the throttle assembly. Well, this cost money. One of the things a kid can do is take the cable out of its sheathing and simply tie it to the crossbar. If you want gas, you pull on this cable like you are pulling on a bus ding-cable and the bike will go faster. You have to ride one handed but that is OK, because you are a kid and you think it is cool. Need gas, reach over your tank and grab the cable knotted to the crossbar and give it a tug. Need no gas, let this go. G was spending the night and was out in the garage in his underwear, and his underwear alone. We were unchaperoned kids and G had this idea that he was going to ride my broken motorcycle in just his bright white unders with no shoes around the street in front of my house. Something to do, I guess, on a Friday night at 10.

It was summer. It was hot out. G was just going to tool around and amuse himself for a bit, something I knew well with that little motorcycle as I tooled around on it for years.

For some reason he decided to head on up the street. If you were standing in my garage and looking out, you would look down steeply to the street. The street went to the left and climbed steadily for a mile before hitting a four way. You made a right on this four way and headed in a curved arc for almost two miles before you hit another four way. This was the four way G saw the cop. Here, you make a right and climb a hill and it flattens out and then another right and my house is three houses up on the left. A compete trip around my bock. I tell you all of this because this is the route G took in his underwear and his underwear only while pulling on a throttle cable tied to the crossbar while being chased by five, maybe six high school hotrods full of drunk high school guys anxious to get a hold of G and do I have no idea what to him.

From my perspective the story went like this-- G was riding around in circles in front of my house while I tinkered on our workbench in the garage. I guess G got bored because I heard the very familiar low rumble of the four stroke Honda head up the street to the left. I thought “What the hell?” and walked out in the balmy night to listen as I heard G make the right turn a mile up the road, and then I heard him slow down, and then I heard yelling and honking and the little bike full throttled as it made its way around the block. But I also heard some big motors start up and I heard some peeling tires and I heard some whooots and Wahoo's and whistles and what not.

Then I saw G, doing full throttle and full speed, which was about sixty, his eyes wide and white and his hair blown straight back and his whities glowing in the moonlight, flying past my house, pulling hard on that throttle cable tied to the crossbar--real hard-- with two hot rods full of high-schoolers right on his ass and then I followed the sound of this as it went around a second time. Somewhere where all the fracas started, I heard G slow, then full throttle again. As I followed him around the second time, I was both worried and laughing my little ten year old butt off. I mean, WHAT THE HELL?

He came around from my right like before and headed up my driveway with me running out of the way and slowed as he hit the steepness down to twenty five or so and then slid across the shiny, glossy concrete floor into the back of the garage and put the rear tire through the sheetrock, knocking out the stud we had carefully screwed in months prior, and seven or eight cars full of teenagers flew past and I pulled the garage door down and that was that.


I asked G how he had gotten the lead he did, and he said the cars had jammed up all trying to get out and join the chase and he squeezed through them while drunk guys grabbed at him and drunk girls made comments about his outfit. He pulled the whities out of the crack of his backside and we got out the drill and scabbed on new wood and finished the patch by three in the morning when my Mum was due home from work.

“What’re you boys doing still up and out here in the garage?”

“Uh, not much.”


Nikky said...

(note to self: do NOT get kids dirtbikes, motorcycles, or anything with wheels and motors!!)

Thanks for the great story Scott!!

Hammer said...

My childhood was monastic compared to that.

Cheesy said...

Awesome tale my friend! Reminds me of the tales my Hubby and his sis's and bro would tell around the table... I always needed to wear depends when that clan got together!
"and my construction and remodeling career was officially started"~~~ Hubby always used to tell me thats how he became a glaizer... They were constantly tossing each other thru windows!

Thanks for the big grins this morn.. loved it!