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Common Tread

Dopes in the dirt: Exclusive post-race interviews with Dashing and Dirtbag

Jun 10, 2016

Unencumbered by training, not delayed by preparation, Spurgeon and Lemmy recently made their debut in flat-track competition.

The two packed up bikes, a cooler, and good attitudes, and took them to the inaugural Country Mile Race, held at Oakland Valley Raceway Park in Cuddebackville, N.Y. The event website describes the day accurately and concisely as an "action-packed weekend of motorcycle racing, beer, bands, and camping."

Dashing and Dirtbag
One of these men combs his hair for photos. Or anything else. Photo by Brett Walling.

Each man registered to race his machine in the “Crash Course” class, the “run-what-ya-brung” division for racers who value cutthroat competition over strict adherence to rules. Spurgeon was riding a 1990-something Baja Doodle Bug, with a transplanted Briggs & Stratton engine. Lem piloted a 1990-something Yamaha YZinger PW80. Both came in dead last in their respective heats, a fact that seems to have escaped each of them.

When Lance recently wrote about the weekend racing action, Spurg cried foul that his exploits were not included. One lone reader expressed interest in knowing more, a fact that Lemmy and Spurgeon described as a swell of popular demand for interviews with them about their racing weekend. In what will likely be a new low point in Common Tread race coverage, here is the transcript of the Monday morning debrief.

CT: So you went flat-track racing on wholly inappropriate bikes. Exactly how much thought and planning did you two idiots put into this?

SD: Everything was thought out pretty carefully, actually. My bike wasn’t even close to stock. I was running a classic Briggs & Stratton motor on vintage oil and vintage gasoline. Pull start. No air filter, to reduce intake restriction. Lemmy and I rebuilt the clutch with sandpaper and transmission fluid. All in all, she’s now putting out four horsepower.

"Wait, so I have to take the front brake off? Just don't even have it on the bike? OK, Lem." Photo by Brett Walling.

CT: Four horsepower?

SD: Yeah. I was watching the Kentucky Derby a few weeks ago and those guys are packing just one horsepower on a very similar track, but they're much smaller than me. I figured I should consider bumping it up a bit as I am about six feet, three inches and I weigh about 205 pounds. So four seemed to be the right setup for the track and the rider.

Spurg out in front
Here's Spurgeon, way out in front. Or way in the back, depending on whether or not you place importance on lap number. Photo by Brett Walling.

CT: Uhhh… OK. Spurgeon, your rear tire appeared to be extra soft. Some might even have called it flat. Is that also part of your setup secrets?

SD: The guy at tech inspection made the same comment. It’s clear you've never raced before. That’s what we call “race pressure.” I like to run about three psi in the rear tire to maximize grip. It helps me control all of that power at the rear wheel by maximizing the contact patch. You can really feel that tire flexing with you through the corners.

Spurg Walking
"We're gonna have to bump up our requirements on the tensile strength of these chains. Torque got this one, too." Photo by Brett Walling.

CT: Lemmy said you snapped a chain. How did that affect your results?

SD: Well, as I always say, “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” In my case, that link quit on me after I crossed the finish line. How did it affect me? It didn't. I came in second and I am damn proud of the results.

CT: You were second but there was only one other person in your heat.

SD: I don’t understand the point you’re trying to make.

Spurg storytelling.
"So I'm crushing this guy on the Sportster, right? He's got a thousand cc advantage, but I'm telling you, Lem, it's 90 percent rider, 10 percent bike when you're out there." Photo by Brett Walling.

CT: Do you intend to return if the event is repeated?

SD: I don’t think I have a choice. There is a title on the line. I didn’t fight through the grid to come in second and not show up next year for a shot at first place. Remember, for every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled. Also, I really want to see if I can make it past the first heat.

Spurg finishing his story.
"But just then, I remember that yeah, I may be out in front, but he is six laps ahead of me. Which, as you know, means that my lead was a bit shorter than I thought it was. Like a negative lead or something." Photo by Brett Walling.

CT: Did you just quote Hunter S. Thompson?

SD: Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke thoroughly used up, totally worn-out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a ride!”

The "PW" stands for "Passin' Weapon." Photo by Brett Walling.

CT: So that's a yes. Moving on. Lemmy, what sort of prep did you perform to ensure your bike was in top shape? Spurgeon evidently did doodly-squat.

L: Well, I filled up the oil tank with lots of blue oil. The blue oil helps the bike go faster than that red stuff. I slopped plenty of lubricant on the chain. I also cleaned the spark plug. The factory Yamaha setup is very reliable on this bike.

Spectators packed the grounds to watch the headliners practice their craft. Photo by Brett Walling.

CT: Do you rely on any exercise or diet techniques to help you dominate the competition?

L: I lifted both bikes up into the truck. That took some serious grunting. I always keep my cooler filled with carefully prepared dietary staples that my nutritionist (Mrs. Lemmy) prepares. On race day, I ate two turkey-and-cheese sammies with mayo and mustard and drank seven Yuengling Black & Tans. I am looking to obtain a sponsorship with them sometime very soon. I also had a handful of sour cream ‘n’ onion tater chips.

A lot of sag
"I made some mistakes with suspension setup." Photo by Brett Walling.

CT: Did you learn a single damn thing out there?

L: Well, it’s all about keeping your tools and skills in top shape. I treat my body like a temple, which I think shows. I practice often — I find commuting, grocery runs, and lots of kicking on cantankerous Harleys and dirt machines keeps me in the shape I need to stay competitive. I also recommend practicing “race face” in the mirror for at least 30 minutes per week, preferably split into several sessions.

George racing
Remember George and his do-it-all Ninja? He came and kicked some ass as well. He high-sided, but he looked great doing it. Photo by Brett Walling.

CT: You didn't get lapped until the very end of the final lap, which is kind of miraculous. How the hell did that happen?

L: Well, I like to start at the outside, which is a bit uncommon. I give away the holeshot. There’s so much going on in that area, it makes no sense to get dragged into the fray. I let everyone get underway, then swoop down to the inside, staying behind to draft for almost the entire race. If I am in danger of getting lapped, I drift back to the outside so I don’t get injured. That’s because part of success is physically being able to race week in and week out. I’m not scared of injury — I welcome it, but I have to think about my career, too. Remember, if you’re out in front, you’re winning, regardless of what lap you’re on.

The machine
Kenny Roberts got speed blocks, but I think we all know who you'll be thinking of the next time you see this color scheme on a bike. Photo by Brett Walling.

CT: So like Spurgeon, you're planning to do this again?

L: I think we can all agree that there’s really nowhere to go but up for me. I’m imagining I’ll spend some more time on the flat-track circuit, toiling in relative obscurity, until a reality TV show is made about me. Blah blah blah, energy drink endorsement deal, yadda yadda yadda, revival of flat-track, continued work with RevZilla… you know. The usual dreams every racer has, right?