Words: Travis Newbold

Photos: Jon Wallace/ Brapp Snapps

 

The old knee wrap ice machine. My old friend, I have not seen for years. Just a simple line of plumbing coming out of a small igloo cooler.  A small electric pump, an analog control valve with a mercury thermometer, and a wrap to compress over the knee. I have had three knee surgeries. Some more successful than others, but the last one has left me in pretty good shape.

 

When I was young I landed myself 86 hours of court appointed therapy. This would have been a total bummer had it not been that my therapist was a rather interesting and intelligent man of psychology. And an outspoken user of LSD. The old fellow talked and I listened. One lesson I learned from him, that I have taken to heart: If you don’t want to get caught, don’t break more than one law at a time. If you are going to drive without a license then don’t have a cracked windshield, or roll a stop sign, or fail to use a turn signal. If you are going to live a life on the run as an outlaw with a warrant out then don’t break any other laws.

 

You can tell how I have used the lesson mostly involving my passion for operating vehicles at speed. Now I mostly use closed course race tracks but it was not always so.

 

This brings me to the present day. I broke too many rules last weekend and that is why I have the companionship of my old ice pack machine. Friday was a mad scramble for me to finish the complete restoration of my 1998 Kawasaki KX500, a fantasy bike come to fruition. I had never ridden one other than customer test drives around the shop I have wrenched in.

Saturday I awoke and rushed the big green dragon of a mythical bike to the local pro motocross track. The reputation of the bike was up to snuff. Fast. Scary. Scary fast. I was constantly giggling at the gobs of horsepower the big bore two-stroke would cough out at any rpm. I overshot more jumps last weekend than I have for the last ten years. Power galore but suspension way, way, way too under-sprung.

 

As the weekend progressed I kept pushing it farther and farther, until I was battling with the A riders who were not as old as my bike. A perfect storm was building. Not only was I breaking more than one rule at a time but I was breaking many. They stopped making 500cc two strokes along with three-wheeled ATVs for a reason. They are unforgiving and undersprung in my case. Sunday afternoon, and I was getting tired. I was outfitted in ridiculous '90s freestyle motocross gear, The thick canvas cow skin pants weighed a ton and were like giant bucket scoops around my boot heels. Wallace [Mr Brapp Snapps the photographer] said he was going to get right up in the corner and I was eager to give him a glory shot for his lens.

 

I rode into the corner as hard as a Bruce Lee roundhouse and gave the throttle the beans. Right  then the meat of the berm blew out under the assault of such shredding and as the suspension compressed an absurd amount my knee became pinned under the handlebars. My foot attempted to posthole into the loam. My knee brace earned it’s weight in titanium. Without it I would not be walking today, but hobbling. My own medical prognosis is merely stretched tendons. Not torn. Lucky I am. And reminded once again to not break more than one rule at a time. Anybody want to buy a bad ass KX500?

‚Äč

This post originally featured on Travis's blog - 747rider.blogspot.com