I’M GETTING OLD

Words Scott Bishop

You know you’re old when your first stop on the way to go riding is for hand tape at the chemist. For the young brigade, their first stop is usually the servo for 100 litres of fuel, a six-pack of Monster and some phone credit so they are sure to post all the action online as it happens. But for us older dudes, the chemist stop is essential for hand tape and some back-up Panadol for the unstoppable post-ride pain.

You know you’re old when you don’t know how to communicate with the younger generation. No, I don’t mean talking, I mean what is the latest and coolest technology to keep in touch. Here I am still working out how to get my MySpace page up and running and apparently I’m way behind. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snap Chat, Tinder and a thousand other phone apps are now available and I’m just not sure which one I should be using. I know I can’t just dial in some numbers and start talking because the kids tell me that’s not cool and times have changed. And, text messaging in a young person’s lingo is a nightmare, I would be better off reading Aboriginal cave paintings, at least I could understand those.

When I went to a mud race back in the day, it was one set of gear and some garbage bags over the top to keep the wind and rain out. Riders these days take 200 sets of gear to the races, 14 changes of shoes, a couple of hat changes as well as a range of phone and headset updates just to get them through the day. I don’t know how they lug all that crap around.

Speaking of lugging crap around, back in my day, cabin luggage on a plane was a small bag with maybe a change of clothes or some basic essentials in it, nothing more. Now when these young people walk onto a plane, I see them trying to shove gear bags in the overhead lockers. I see them slamming their bags into place, swinging off the door to get it shut and then proceeding to sit down with another 30kg of luggage just for a one-hour flight and two nights away.

STOCKER

Back in my day a stock bike was exactly that… standard, as delivered, just add fuel and ride away. Now, the definition of stock obviously is rubbery to say the least. There are several people racing “stock” bikes that just happened to come with revalved suspension, motor work, trick exhaust and ignition, not to mention graphics, chains, sprockets, bars plus a heap of shiny crap that I don’t even know what it does. I have redefined stock as, “how it comes out of the van or trailer at the morning of the race”.

When I was racing, keeping in touch with the people who helped you was either a phone call on the morning after a race or writing up a fax and sending it to each of your sponsors. Any of you kids out there even know what a pen or a fax machine is? Now, riders post up a poorly written Facebook status that usually announces they have things to work on and will be better next week. And the photo is usually a selfie taken from their phone whilst driving home.

When riders say how slow or bad handling a modern motocross bike is, a modern motocross bike is pure bliss to ride compared to some of the bikes in my era, and they were light years ahead of the generation before me. If you think your 2014 model isn’t that fast, strap yourself into a 1998 CR125, or 1994 YZ125. Then if you think your bike doesn’t handle, jump on a bike from the 1980s with fork legs the same diameter as your garden hose and foot pegs that look like paddle-pop sticks. And try bashing your manhood on a steel petrol tank and tell me how that feels. I still have nightmares of slamming my Johnson on the tank of a RM50. It wasn’t pretty and I’m scarred for life.

Speaking of scarred for life, the young punks love a tattoo for every occasion. I just hope that ‘No Fear’ or ‘Ride Til Dead’ tattoo has the same significance in 2040 as it did in 2014. My scrawny looking, pasty white body doesn’t really invite tattoos, not without looking like redneck trailer trash.

And why can’t kids ride off a jump without twisting, turning, scrubbing, turning down, leg swagging, tear-off pulling, helmet-adjusting, panic-revving or some other stunt move that seems to happen every time the wheels leave the earth? You know what I do when the wheels leave the ground? Breathe! That’s about all I can think of doing and all I have time to do. At my age the world goes by in a real hurry and I don’t have time for distractions.