Weekly Roundup: Down, But Not Out, In Florida Edition

It wasn’t until after I ran down from the starting hill and down to the track’s end that I realized my son had been injured. I carried his twisted bike off the track as he stood on wobbling legs and stumbled into the darkness past fence before sitting down. Then I sat down next to him and observed the way he shielded his face with his hands, helmet still on.

“Come on, let’s stand up and walk over to the trophies,” I said, mistaking his behavior for disappointment or stubbornness.

“I can’t,” he replied, “I want to, but my head hurts so much.”

It was our first flyaway race, a ninety-five degree scorcher just outside Tampa. We arrived Saturday morning to find that the other children in John’s class hadn’t even bothered to show up for practice. They’d all been in the previous day’s pre-race, presumably because their mothers didn’t prioritize yet another day at school over being prepared for the 25-mph dive from a thirty-five-foot-tall starting hill, so they’d be arriving fresh at noon while we sweated out the aftereffects of an 8:30AM lapping session. Even so, John won the first moto by thirty-five feet, looking confident despite the heat and a lack of familiarity with the track.

Leading the main, he was deliberately knocked off his bike about fifty feet from the finish line by a child who was nearly a head taller than he was. The mother looked at me as I was carrying John’s bike away “Es illegal?” Yes, lady, es illegal. She shrugged. The father of the boy who had hit my kid down was nowhere to be seen. I had the paramedics check John out. No concussion — his Bell Sanction helmet was dented and scratched, and his head hurt from where the visor had shoved the liner into his forehead, but he would be fine. His shoulder was bleeding a bit. His bike was twisted and bent. That night I straightened what I could and adjusted the rest.

The next morning I let him skip the first moto, figuring there was no sense putting him in harm’s way again. He took second place in the second moto, transferring to the main event. I don’t want to talk too much about what happened before the main event. The mother and a friend of hers conspired to intercept John as he was going up the starting hill. They told him he was ineligible to race. He assumed the adults were being honest and he rode away. I saw him leave, caught up to him, got the story, and returned him to the gate. Then I proceeded to be extremely unpleasant to a few people. I can’t hate the child who knocked John over, even though he knew he’d done wrong. These are children. For the mother, however, I have complete and total contempt. What kind of person conspires to intimidate, and lie to, a nine-year-old? The father, of course, wasn’t there. We never saw him. I assume that after impregnating a horse-faced virago under the influence of crystal meth he had promptly peaced-out to the next trailer park, leaving his baby momma and spawn to surf effortlessly on a wave of public assistance drawn from my most recent IRS-audit judgment.

In the main, the big kid swerved at John a bunch of times and while he was doing so, another boy snuck past him and took the win. John avoided his would-be assailant and grabbed third place. He wasn’t happy with his performance, but I was thrilled he’d crossed the line without further injury. I took him to Clearwater Beach and rented him an inflatable boat, towing him out to the buoys and then letting him ride the waves back to the shore. On the track, he had looked like a racer, like a competitor. At the race, this whole drama had possessed life-and-death seriousness. At the beach, he was just a little boy having fun.

It would be unwise for me to ask too much of him in the months and years to come. If you put the flame to steel you will temper it, but if you heat it too much you’ll render it worthless. The problem is that you need experience to know the difference, and I have just this single chance. Afterwards, I expressed my pleasure that he’d made it through the second day. “In the morning,” he told me, “I thought about not racing, but this is very important to me and I’m not a quitter, so I decided I should try to make the main, even if I was scared about getting hurt again.”

“Well, if you’re not going to quit,” I replied, “then neither will I.” And I thought about a moment where I’d seen him riding a head-high wave in his little boat, all the way to the shore, and the unaffected joy on his face in that moment. Not the joy of victory, not the pleasure of mastery, just the happiness of childhood. We are running the clock out on this childhood, on these moments, melting the wax from a mold to reveal the pain-forged shape within. On the airplane he rubbed his shoulder and winced from the rawness of the wound. Then he turned his head to me, to see if I’d noticed his weakness, however temporary, however justified. I was looking out the window, into the blank night, pretending to see something more important than that.

* * *

This week, for Hagerty, I wrote about crew-cab pickups.

54 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: Down, But Not Out, In Florida Edition”

  1. AvatarJustPassinThru

    Interesting piece at Hagarty. FWIW, I hate crew-cab trucks, too – not so much for what they are, but for who purchases them. No, not tradesmen and businesses and city crews. No, the Bro-Dozer crowd – who have to have their trucks the longest allowed by law, and lifted, and diesel, and able to smoke on command. Complete and utter sub-idiots, who eagerly pay close to a railroader’s yearly salary for the privilege of driving a loud, unwieldly, garish, generally useless vehicle – with exhaust outlets the diameter of sewer pipes.

    For a brief time, after I moved to the mountains but before I was “retired” against my wishes, I had a Toyota Tacoma – a 2015, with the suicide doors. At the time they’d just phased out the standard cab models. I wasn’t prepared to like it, but I actually found the two doors opening with no center post, handy as anything. Easy to swing stuff into the back; makes for a shorter door. MOST of the grief getting odd-shaped widgets into a car, involves getting around the door cutout.

    Honda did it with their clad plastic fantastic SUV – and it didn’t catch on, either. I don’t know why. Is it that the buyers for trucks are disproportionately low-IQ? Are they so obsessed with what their friends will think? Is there something manly about a white crew-cab with four doors, that doesn’t exist with the two suicide doors, letting crap in and out, clear? Or does the extra five inches, Extra-Cab-versus-Crew-Cab, really matter so much?

      • AvatarJustPassinThru

        That’s kinda what a family car was for.

        “But-but-but…I NEED A TRUCK!!” Yeah, okay…I get it. Except that so many of those things have five-foot or smaller boxes. Useless for many jobs. Since I sold my Tacoma, my plan was to rely on rental trucks. Until I find their fleets are FILLED with those useless things. Only one company offers a six-foot-box truck.

        “But-but-but…that’s rental companies!” Yeah. But they buy what will hold resale value. What will be easier to sell later. So they get those hulking Tonka trucks in white.

        And…”…need a truck!” I love that. I live in a rabbit-warren of an apartment compound; and the trucks out here outnumber cars. Most of them being newer (a prosperous town over-represented with government employees) they’re all four-door, long-wheelbase. Which their proud manly-man bro’s DO NOT KNOW HOW TO PARK.

        Now of course I’m generalizing, but people in apartment houses, generally need a truck less often than people with suburban homes or people with small farms. Just as backwards-hat-wearing single doods, have less need for a six-place vehicle than parents.

        And, given how in many cases, the only thing those bro-dozers are hauling is an unscratched bedliner (and sometimes, stacks punched through the bed) I’d say my generalizations are largely correct.

        Bottom line, a pickup truck is not a family car. And the more family-car duties it adapts to, the less practical it is.

        • Avatarhank chinaski

          I share your disdain for these, compounded by their relative lethality to me and mine in anything less than a full size passenger car. I ride eye to bumper level to even the unlifted ones. Feelz bad.
          I don’t how you moto guys do it.

          • AvatarJustPassinThru

            Hyper-defensively. Always with an eye for an Escape Route.

            And at some point, most riders’ numbers come up. Road-Rash time. Again, how bad depends on how went the Plan, and whether there was a Plan.

            All the gear, all the time. Here in this state, bareheaded is legal. But only a compleat idiot would ride that way.

            The problem, as regards these Bro-Dozers in traffic, is not the size – but the stupidity and lack of skill of those who buy them and insist on using them as weapons.

          • Avatar-Nate

            “I don’t how you Moto guys do it.”

            Some times, neither do I .

            I was buttoning up a clutch repair on one of my Motos yesterday when it began raining, I geared up (I don’t have fancy technicolored riding suits, just the basic gear that’s saved my life twice so far) and took a test ride, riding in the wet isn’t fun, remember Jack’s Winter commuting tales a few years ago ? .

            Sometimes one just goes crazy if no riding is done for too long so rain riding happens .

            I should prolly figure out where my old rain suit is, or buy a new one or some trash bags ~ yes, it’s like that .

            BTW : A.T.G., A.T.T. or don’t ride .


          • AvatarJustPassinThru

            Always a plan, Nate. It’s a rolling improvisional script.

            What if Idiot X does Jackass Move Y, in Intersection Z? What if, those sweeping S curves ahead are tighter than they seem, on this road you’ve never been on?

            Cut the corner, cross the yellow? What if there’s traffic coming around that blind curve? Do you just get as low as you can, and risk a low-side get-off…you slide a bit, the bike goes over the edge? Or do you panic, not make it, hit the railing, and go over yourself with 600 pounds of murdersickle following right behind?

            You know all this, of course. Probably you’ve just never thought of it in my terms. But, with all the idiotic stuff that goes on here, in our college town close to the State of Washington, where pot is legal…a rider has to expect the unexpected.

          • Avatar-Nate

            I _always_ think like you do ! .

            I assume everyone else is out to get me .

            Sometimes I’m right, like all Motocyclists, I have the stories to tell .

            I try to not tide past 8/10ths unless I’m on some road I know well and have *perfect* sight lines ~ once you’ve seen a few dead Motocyclists, you become very aware of just how fragile you are .

            I’m not afraid of dying but I’m not in any hurry either .


          • AvatarE. Bryant

            I’m no longer a motorcycle guy, but I do spend some time on road bikes. The guys in the big pickup trucks drive overly aggressively; if someone passes me with 3″ to clear between my left shoulder and their right mirror, it’s almost certainly a 20-something male in a lifted pickup (usually black, with some horrific wheels, and at least one sticker in the rear window related to a powersport). But they at least demonstrate some basic driving skills and seem to have an understanding of the spacial relationship between their vehicles and the environment. I don’t fear those guys as much as the geriatric crowd in their Buick crossovers, or the vapid younger females in their 10-year-old Chevy Malibu sedans (which appear to have replaced the Pontiac Grand Am as the car of choice for the ex-party-girl who now has a couple of crotchfruit).

            I’ll also say that the brodozer crowd is generally less likely to be staring at a phone while driving. Maybe it’s because their lifted truck requires both hands on the wheel to drive; maybe it’s because they caught up on Instagram before leaving the house. Regardless, they seem to be paying attention more than other drivers.

      • AvatarMike

        I have a crew cab truck. Even worse, a crew cab DUALLY. Big full tonner.
        I also have 2 kids, a wife, and a dog. Who all fit nicely in the cab of said truck.
        While it’s hauling….
        A load of trash to the dump
        A race car to the track
        A camper to the woods
        A ton of stone/mulch/dirt back from the landscaping supply store
        A load of lumber back from the hardware store

        It’s also fairly good at pulling out trees and doing other truck-type stuff.

        Growing up, my dad had an endless succession of regular cab half ton trucks. That the whole family could never fit in. And that got broken springs from being overloaded. And overheated, from towing too much.

        We learn from our parents’ mistakes. So stop being judgey over what other people drive.

      • Avatartrollson

        I don’t really understand the hate for the 4 door truck. It’s not a work vehicle. It’s a lifestyle vehicle. The choice is between an SUV and a 4-door truck, not family sedans. If you have a bunch of dirty outdoor gear to transport, a truck is better than an SUV. As a bonus you can haul big stuff with an optional truck enhancement bed extender.

        • Avatar-Nate

          My brother’s crew cab Dodge (a REAL_ crewcab, no 1/4 doors) is a wonderful family truck…..

          Crude yes but comfy and nice to cross America in .


    • AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

      If you’re a working stiff doing some type of construction, the crew cab DOES make more sense. Our company moves industrial machinery, and there are occasions where a move is local ( 10-20 miles). I can throw a “job box” in the bed, grab 3 guys and all pile in my truck and meet the equipment at the new location. At one time I tried the “cab and a half”. I thought, meh I don’t use the 4 door THAT often. When the lease was up on that truck, I went back to the crew cab. The extra 18″ (average difference in length) makes a world of difference.

    • AvatarCartime

      Any odd shaped widgets difficult to fit through the door ride in the bed. It’s a pickup after all.

      Quite often people, with varying degrees of oddity , are the payload. MOST often they prefer space for the portion of their legs that extend beyond their knees.

      Not to mention the circus act of then unloading such cargo in a tight parking spot, slamming front doors against a forgotten open rear door, and the general looseness of a larger opening.

    • AvatarRyan

      YMMV, but the Crew Cab definitely does matter when you have an actual crew to haul around.

      I used to have a 2000 F-250 7.3 PSD “Supercab” w/ZF 6-Speed Manual. We took that thing hunting/camping, pulled an enclosed full of motorcycles/snowmobiles/derelict cars. Put nearly 80k on it in 5 years without much more than brakes and tires. It was ALMOST perfect, except for the fact that it could only fit two “normal” results. At 6’4″, I couldn’t even fit a baby seat behind me, let alone one of my friends for any length of time.

      I sold the truck a few years ago to fund my return to college and just picked up a 2018 SIlverado 1500 Crew Cab last fall. The truth is that this thing will haul nearly as good as the F-250 and I can throw whoever the hell I want in the back (even my dad, who is 6’7″ and 400 lbs.) without hearing any complaints. I kind of wish that I would’ve tracked down one with the longer bed, but I can still throw 4 guys worth of hockey or paintball gear in the back without issue. Anything more than that and I would probably be pulling a trailer anyway.

    • AvatarEric L.

      Ha! My wife absolutely hated the doors on her Element. There was no 30-45-60-90* notches to keep the door slightly open. Whenever she’d give others a ride, they would almost inevitably let a door swing open into a car next to them. Oops.

      She also got sick of having to open both doors to put something in the back. Occasionally, more than 10 years since she sold it, she’ll still complain about how poorly designed the doors were.

      Because of her experiences with that loud, uncomfortable, and fuel-hungry little bugger, she won’t let me buy a coupe. She fears the “extra long doors” will be equally unmanageable.

      But, um, I’m glad you enjoyed your Tacoma’s suicide doors. The french door comes in extremely handy at times, for sure.

  2. AvatarThird Owner

    Jack, your kid chose his lines well in the video. It appears he is both well-coached as well as talented. He just needs to build up his size and strength. The will and the spirit are in place already.

    Since trucks are also a topic of this post, what is your opinion on the future desirability of regular cab / short bed / 4×4 / V8-powered trucks? In my mind, they are a sport coupe equivalent of the truck world. (Others please chime in on this too).

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I think they’ll be sought-after as weekend cruisers… Ram SRT-10 is the alpha dog but the Rumble Bee and 454SS will also be worth real money.

      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

        We did not protest. I don’t want to teach my son to protest the results, if that makes sense.

        • Avatar-Nate

          “I don’t want to teach my son to protest the results, if that makes sense.”

          It makes *perfect* sense ~ John will grow up to be independent and know how to handle life’s unfairness .

          It also hurts a little bit to the parent as most wish nothing but sunshine & rainbows for their children but good parenting means teaching them to handle adversity and prosper, not just to survive life as so many do .


      • AvatarEric L.

        I watched it a few times and still don’t see what the other kid did. What’d he do that made Lil J’s bike collapse like that? Almost looked like a cop PIT maneuver?

    • AvatarAoLetsGo

      Regular cab truck vs. a sport coupe, yes please. Two years back I was in the market for an extra 3rd vehicle. I checked out the Mustang, Camaro and Challenger – all fine cars but not for me. I bought the RAM regular cab, 2wd, 5.7 hemi with the black express package. It gets lots of complements and thumbs up and I know I would be pretty much invisible in the sports coupes.
      You could build something similar with a Ford or Chevy but RAM does it for you and for a much cheaper price. The majority of the time it is just me, but that would be true in a Mustang also. Plus I have used to move some big, bulky items (usually for friends and family).

      Finally, as a father who raised a successful, independent, and adventurous son, I would say your skills at blade tempering appear to be fine.

  3. Avatar-Nate

    I like pickups, basic 6′ bed strippers, that’s what I have it hauls everything I need it to .

    Thirty years ago my brother bought a ten year old long bed, service bodies crew cab Dodge from the highway dept. and still has it ~ I don’t like the turning radius but it’s a fantastic work / play truck,. FUGLY but oh so functional .

    The service beds lockable compartments are *perfect* for keeping camping / traveling gear separated .

    I worry about John, I hope he’s O.K., the lingering effect of a head injury like concussion etc. can be serious .


  4. Avatarscotten

    I’ve got a friend whose son plays tennis pretty seriously, and he talks about the “head games” BS that parents and kid pull in that sport to screw other kids over. I thought contact sports were bad, but tennis has that beat.

  5. Avatar-Nate

    Anyone caught doing this should be banned on the spot, same as deliberately crashing into John ~ it’s the only way the mouth breathers will learn .


    • Avatarhank chinaski

      Jeez, yeah. Aren’t there ‘corner workers’ to black flag or otherwise sanction the little miscreant?

      Another reply would have been ‘No, senora, tu eres illegal.’

  6. AvatarCJinSD

    A friend of mine’s son attends Norfolk Academy. One of his son’s after school activities is competitive shooting. Come the next Democrat president, and shooting might be a more relevant skill than bicycle racing.

    New Yorkers don’t drive pickups because anything that can be seen will be stolen. An open bed is an invitation for New Yorkers’ eyes to wander. After whatever you’ve left in the bed is stolen, the next wave of New Yorkers will fill the bed with trash. Once there is some trash, the third wave of New Yorkers will rifle through it for recyclables and reclaimables. Then, they’ll either go to sleep or defecate in it. You’re better off just getting a van and putting up with the inevitable tagging. The parking theory is rational, but New Yorkers drove 230 inch long cars almost exclusively for as long as they were available.

    • AvatarJustPassinThru

      There’s the Open-Bed problem; but IIRC the REAL problem with trucks in NeYuck, is that the Vampire State requires “COMMERCIAL” plates on pickups. And “Commercial Vehicles” are banned from entry onto parkways – which in normal American cities are just beltways or through-route expressways.

      There’s limits on where they can be driven and parked; and registration on them is crushing. Ergo, the only people in NYC who own trucks, really need them – immediate need, money-related need.

      It does, or did, hurt the sale of those things in the state as well. Or did 15 years ago, when I last lived there.

      • AvatarCJinSD

        The commercial vehicle thing is actually an advantage in the city, or at least it was twenty years ago. I knew a guy who had to keep the rear seats of his Range Rover folded at all times because he had it registered as a commercial vehicle because it allowed him to park on the cross streets of NYC in many a designated and free commercial vehicle spot. The rules for commercial vehicles specify one row of seats, so he also had his company logo on the door of his Civic Del Sol to go with its commercial plates. I don’t know that a modern pickup truck would be eligible for commercial plates if you wanted them, unless you removed the back seat.


        • AvatarJustPassinThru

          That’s nooze to me; but then, I was never an NYC rat. Or rather, my family moved away when I was four.

          Buffalo was my stomping ground, but at nearby Chautauqua Lake, we used to get a lot of Long Island summer people. Some of whom had cabins; some of which kept trucks parked there. I asked one old retired duffer why, once, and he told me of the difficulties of having a COMMERCIAL plated vehicle in the City.

          The added expense of Commercial plates was statewide. Some of the young guys I worked with, back around 1980, had trucks or wanted them, and told of the added registration cost.

  7. AvatarWidgetsltd

    I could really use a pickup or full-sized van for hauling to the race track, but those things are just miserable to drive on a daily basis. Besides, I have a company car for daily driving duties. I do have a hip wagon in my fleet: a 2005 Subaru Legacy GT turbowagon. Sadly, mine is an automatic instead of the one-year-only 5-speed stick.

    • AvatarJDN

      I’m not sure this is really true anymore. I recently replaced a similar vehicle (05 WRX Wagon) with a Yukon Denali.

      For daily driving I’d argue the Yukon is better. It’s orders of magnitude better on NVH, it’s got heated/vented everything, and rides much much smoother. The stereo is better, and the seats are more comfortable. From a roll it’s probably not much slower than the WRX was, and gets shockingly similar fuel economy.

      Really the only real negative is parking it is kind of a pain. As Jack mentions in his article I think you’re really underestimating the driving quality improvements that have been happening in the full size truck space over the past 10 years or so.

      • AvatarWidgetsltd

        Maybe I’m an anomaly, but I’d rather drive a smaller vehicle than a full-sized truck or van any day of the week. I don’t really want Brougham-tastic ride quality. I’m generally happier driving a stick rather than an automatic. Thus, a modern truck isn’t appealing to me.

        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          You’re just not aging as ungracefully as I am.

          On track, I want a bronze-bushing WC touring car; on the street, I want a ’76 Talisman.

          • Avatar-Nate

            Graceful schmaceful ~ _you_ earned the right to drive /ride whatever floats yer boat .

            Who cares what others think of the jalopies I ride/drive, you’re a professional driver so get what you like .

            So many bad taste vehicles in the ghetto where I live it’s saddening but, I don’t have to ride in / work on them so whatever…..


  8. AvatarShrug

    I too appreciate the crew cab pickup. I recently bought an ancient crew cab Dakota so I don’t have to drive my Mustang in the winter and it’s been a revelation. Despite the age, miles, and general bankruptcy era Chrysler apathy, it’s been a fantastic, fantastic truck. It’s just so ridiculously practical and does everything the Mustang does not.

    The 4WD and locking diff make shitty terrain a breeze, the open bed makes transporting dirty or oversized items a trivial matter, and the four doors make carrying passengers and a 120 pound lab a simple thing.

    It’s wonderful, and the normal internet-approved ideas of “snow tires” or “single cab, manual, vinyl seat, refrigerator white, rwd, long-bed pickup” wouldn’t have any hope of filling all the roles this stupid Dakota does for me.

    • AvatarJustPassinThru

      Who, me?

      I deplore white trucks. To me, white trucks suggest the gas company or the parks department. Drive one home and it looks like you’ve really fallen in status, and then are home goofing off with a department truck.

      RWD is simpler; and thus less prone to breakage or attention. Which is useful in a utility vehicle. In any event, all the high-perch lifting does is make the thing easier to roll on the Interstate. Check out some dash-cam vids on Youtube and see the dramatic way those lifted things do barrel rolls when things get real.

      I don’t need a four-door truck so they don’t have any appeal to me. But I don’t quite get what needs ANYONE has that are satisfied by the micro-boxes on those lifted hulking diesel monsters.

      I have driven in about 40 states since the Buckeye State gave me a driver’s license in 1974. Four-wheel drive used to be a complex, expensive proposition with many compromises built in. We leanred how to drive in snow without; and until about 15 years ago, we all did just fine that way.

      That includes a couple of winters living in Denver, including one where I was obligated to drive a Ford E250 van to Vail and back. Sun or snow. With sandbags, a shovel, and good sense, I always made it – unlike some touristers who came in at DIA and rented Pathfinders or Suburbans to drive to Vail…instead, flipping near the Eisenhower Tunnel.

      The joke among locals was, the rental companies should put **THIS SIDE UP** stickers on those SUVs, because out-of-staters kept parking them on their roofs alongside I-70.

      If what you have, works for you…great. I’m happy for you. Contentment and satisfaction are wonderful things. But just as my solution is not for you, your choice still makes minimal sense for so many dood-bros I see here who have those lifted, white, clown-trucks.

      • AvatarShrug

        It was not intended as a response to you; sorry for any confusion. Moreso directed towards the “Oppo“ virgins who cry about anything and everything that isn’t exactly to their specifications and lifestyle.

  9. AvatarRonnie Schreiber

    the respective qualities of vinyl records and TDK cassettes

    TDKs had the reputation but I didn’t find them significantly better from Maxells with similar formulations. For a while I was able to get a great deal on Denon metal tape, but in general I found my Sony WM6DC Pro Walkman recorder did best with Sony UX cassettes.

    And now? I don’t even know where the boxes are with about 400 hours of life tape that I recorded and traded for are. Maybe I should find them and get my Nak deck repaired.

    • AvatarSobro

      As far as tape goes, it was a revelation to me when I first played back Nakamichi tape recorded on my Nakamichi deck. It was like they were made for each other, much like Sony tape and Sony Walkman.

  10. AvatarE. Bryant

    That video serves as a reminder that I need to get my 8-year-old on a BMX track soon. Your son is exhibiting some kick-ass bike handling skills.

  11. Avatarrpn453

    Looked fair enough from that view. I’d even argue that John was the aggressor, at least initially. It looks like he was attempting to cut the track off, but the big kid got his bike even with John’s before he could get it done. There was a lot more open track on John’s side if he wanted to avoid contact. He had the right idea but stuck with it too long once the other kid caught up and the positional advantage gave way to size.

    He’s looking good out there and he’s obviously got the killer instinct. He’ll learn to pick his battles more wisely. It is somewhat of a contact sport, as I’m sure you well know. The first time I got chopped hard my instinct was not to give way. I didn’t care if we both crashed. But, of course, that’s not how it works. I learned the hard way and a following rider T-boned my ribs when I went down, cracking one.

    Almost hard to believe the descriptions of some of the horrible parents in your stories (though I do). The Western Canadian BMX community I grew up around was very friendly. I’d expect community outrage if a parent tried that on a child. But it was a small community, and only the top riders took it that seriously. Most of the kids in a novice class race were wearing jeans. I think I was still wearing jeans and a Chip and Pepper sweater as an expert, riding a bike that was too big for me.

    BMX was just about having fun for me. The track was in my neighborhood years before I even had my 16″ wheel Sears Constrictor, so it was well established as a popular hangout as I got older. I’d just go whenever and stay until dark. Watching the big kids ride and goof around was at least as enjoyable as my own riding; though nothing beats conquering an element of the track yourself, and I never lost the thrill of jumping. But, in hindsight, the racing almost seemed like something I had to do to be a part of the BMX culture. I certainly did want to win though. That was the only acceptable outcome unless I was up against riders who were already experts when I started. I’d get extremely nervous before every race.

    What size are those cranks? It looks like he might be able to spin a shorter set more easily. There’s a lot of body motion there.

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      He is on 155 cranks at the moment, although conventional wisdom says 160 for his inseam.

      From the other video angle you can see the kid lean on him a bit better.

      I still race in old khakis as a 47 Expert but today’s Novices ride, and look, like yesterday’s Intermediates. Part of that is due to rule adjustments… you dont move to I until you have 10 wins. John has nine wins in 22 starts. And you cant move to X until you have 20 wins in I, so many local intermediates have been racing for a decade.

      • Avatarrpn453

        I had an easy path to Expert regardless. I don’t think I ever beat an Expert my own age or older on the way there. There were a large number of kids around my age just starting out when I did, or the year before, and I always won those races. So I got there within a year.

        I’d always get beat by the Expert who was in my age class for a month at the start of the season, and whooped by one a year younger who had seemingly been riding before he could walk. He was from a BMX-centric family. Both his older brothers became national Pro champions but he stopped riding in his teens.

        Looking at a crank sizing chart, they do recommend larger cranks than I’d expect, particularly for smaller riders. I thought it would be directly proportional to leg length.

        My cranks and bike were totally inappropriate for a small 11-year-old. It was a Robinson Pro; the coolest looking bike I could afford from any of the local shops after saving for over a year. It supposedly had 175 cranks but they measured closer to 170 from what I could tell. I had the stock 43-16 gearing and won most races easily until one day another kid was suddenly almost as fast as me. He told me, possibly unwisely, that he had put a bigger ring on the front to make him faster. So I put a 44 on the front and regained my dominance. I don’t know why I stopped there. I should have kept experimenting with bigger rings to compensate for my oversized cranks.

        I didn’t really think about it much until I went back to racing at age 21. It was a great year of riding. Most of the guys I raced in my youth were racing again so we had full gates with six of us always fighting for “best of the rest”. Our national champ Pro could probably beat us without pedaling after the first straight, while one other guy was a clear notch above us. I switched from those “175” cranks to 180 cranks (on a 31″ inseam) near the end of the season and was immediately slower. I couldn’t believe how much more difficult it was to spin. I went from a 45 to a 46 big ring and seemed to regain what I lost, but never experimented any further as I went away on an engineering internship and never got back into it.

        When I watched an old video of a Western Canadian “National” I was fairly smooth but looked like I was on a stairclimber compared to the faster, and more experienced, kids on properly sized bikes. I had installed 1.50 Comp IIIs and a short DK invert stem, so the cranks were the most obvious mismatch. I wonder how much difference it made.


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