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A story about dirt bikes and old Baja friends

posted Nov 28, 2014, 12:45 PM by Marketing Media   [ updated Nov 28, 2014, 12:45 PM ]
A good friend of mine and my sponsor in my early racing years, Joe Disimone, and some other old friends, used to come out from Pennsylvania every year or two for a multi-day Baja tour

One year they brought this guy that we called "Humphrey Pennyworth" after a comic strip that had this big tub of lard ride around with an outhouse on the back of his bicycle, a big, fat guy who lived in the outhouse.   

Humphrey weighed at least 350 pounds and for six days he never got his butt off the seat, no matter how big the rut or the rock was. The seat just kind of disappeared into that massive blob when he hit a bump. But he was always right there, we seldom had to wait long for him.   

What impressed me most was the bike he was riding. I was racing motocross at that time and had started a dirt bike tour business in Baja called "cycle tracks Baja". I was using Huskies and Maicos with undependable success. At that time Humphrey had a four stroke Honda 250XL keeping up with nary a problem. This was the first year for it, maybe 1969.

Baja dirt bike riding

Next year they came out with the 350XL and I got one. It was perfect for the tour business, totally reliable.
I liked it so well that I got Bill Bell, who worked for long beach Honda and built some of the Baja thousand winning bikes, including that year's winning bike, to build me one. I wanted to try it for motocross. My theory was that it could hook up quicker on the hard packed tracks out here in California.   

I had to buy a new 350XL just to get the engine, so Bill could hop it up for me and put it in a C and J frame, which is what the thousand bikes were using. It worked pretty well, but lost to the two strokes coming out of turns unless it was really smooth and hard packed and quite too heavy for the gnarly courses.I was only about thirty-five years - too early for my theory.

Once, Joe Disimone, me, and some of the other friends from back east got to Mike's to find the dining room packed with people like some kind of a convention. And the MC recognized Joe and said "hi, Joe, what are you doing here?" it seems that everybody knew Joe. The MC was Joe Parkhurst, editor and publisher of "Cycle World". I think they were all people from the motorcycle industry.   

Somebody said, "Joe, (Parkhurst) why don't you make introductions all the way around, but also give a thumbnail of what each guy does and his connection to the industry".  He did exactly that and there were perhaps forty of us in the room. I'm trying to remember names and bike tours and I hate Joe Parkhurst. Maybe I'm just jealous, because he sold his magazine to CBS? For millions.