The following originally appeared in the August 2008 issue of American Motorcyclist:
By Rickey Gadson
Like a kid in an ice cream parlor—that about sums up how I am around anything with two wheels and a motor.
I guess there’s good reason for my dedication to motorcycling. I come from a family of motorcyclists. Yeah, even my mom. Normally, mothers don’t want you doing anything that might be considered dangerous, but she’s just as excited as I am when I point a turbocharged ZX-14 down a quarter-mile of asphalt and whack the throttle wide open. Her enthusiasm is no surprise, though, when you consider that, even at 72, she probably rides on the street more than I do.
And my wife? Maybe some guys have to beg their better halfs before they go riding, but I wouldn’t know about that. When I mention riding, mine jumps on the phone, nails down a babysitter, gets her jacket, gloves, the keys to her own ZX-10 and asks, “Where’re we going?”
Professional drag racer Rickey Gadson loves to go fast, but he also enjoys two wheels at any speed.
As an avid motorcyclist and a professional racer for the last 17 years, I’ve had ample opportunity to get this motorcycle thing out of my system. Instead of fading, though, it seems to be spreading—in fact, I’m pretty sure I have even more fun these days than I did when I made my first trip to the drag strip at the age of 13.
I’ve come to that realization after an experience that’s about as far removed as you can get from my usual days in the high-stakes world of drag racing for the Monster Kawasaki team.
I’m talking mini-moto racing.
That’s right, mini bikes. If you’re never seen mini-moto in action, it involves a professionally designed and built mini-motocross course, complete with scaled-down tabletop jumps and whoops, berms and even, for the fearless, doubles. Throw in a couple dozen other motorcycle junkies like me on KLX110s, and it makes for a crazy time. The speeds may be low, but the fun factor is off the scale.
I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy mini-moto racing in the best environment possible—Kawasaki’s Mini-Moto Invitational, which the company has held for the past few years during the Kawasaki Superbike Showdown at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. Of course, I’m way outside my element on a mini-moto track. I’m used to smooth straights with two riders, not dirt, jumps, bumps and turns with a field of similarly crazed speed freaks bouncing off each other. And it’s about the only time of the year I take wheels off pavement.
But you know what? None of that matters when I’m out there, having a great time pretending to be faster than I really am.
I guess this experience has taught me a few things. One, before attempting to ride these little dirt monsters, it sure helps to stretch. Two, after a long, hot bath and some Ben Gay, I’m wishing I could get right back out there and do it again.
Third, and perhaps most important, when it comes to fun on a motorcycle, size just doesn’t matter.
I could be launching down the quarter-mile at 190 mph, riding the countryside on a Vulcan cruiser, or jumping into the deep end of the mini-moto pool with a KLX110. Any way, I’d be having a great time.
Like a kid in an ice cream parlor.
Rickey Gadson is a factory drag racer for Kawasaki and runs the Rickey Gadson Drag Racing School.