My First Bike... Bari WaalkSunday, February 4, 2007 | 11:24 AM
Do you remember when you got your first bike? For most of us, it’s one of the best days of our lives. Thanks to the support of our friends at Spy Optics, we have a new Saturday column called “My First Bike.” The subject of this week’s column is Mechanix Wear’s Bari Waalk, who has fond memories of his first bike, which sparked his passion for racing motorcycles.
This was my first bike and I bought it used from my friend for $550. It was basically a stock CR125 with the exception of some Gas Girling shocks, an FMF down pipe and a factory Honda replica gas tank. My parents said if I really wanted it they would help me by paying half the cost. So at 13 I got my first job to pay for my portion of the bike, some motocross boots and a helmet. I remember buying it in the winter of 1977. Minnesota is cold in January, so I also had to convince my parents that I needed to put the bike in my bedroom to keep it warm. There was no room in the garage because it was full of cars, trucks and snow blowers and I certainly wasn't going to keep it outside under a tarp all winter. Of course this strategy provided me with an opportunity to sit on it day and night while waiting for the snow to melt.
Once the snow finally melted and I got to ride it I realized two things right away. First, I had no clue how to ride a motocross bike; and secondly, this thing was a bullet in a straight line. After a couple of months of riding with my friends who were racers, and going to a few races to watch them race, I got up the courage to sign-up for my first race. It was at the track in Cambridge, MN. At the time there were so many riders in the 125 beginner class that they would have as many as six different races of my class alone and all the gates were full with 40 bikes. So when I pulled the big holeshot in my very first moto I thought I was doing pretty good. But the feeling didn't last too long! By the end of that first lap I was dead last and I didn't even fall down. I was just scared to death of the other 39 guys on the track. Fortunately, with so many racers they had to limit each moto to three laps which probably kept me on the same lap as the leaders.
I did about a dozen races that first year with this bike and it made me want more. At the end of the summer I sold this bike to another friend and bought my first brand new bike which was a 1978 Yamaha YZ 125. I was hooked for the next seven years and never missed a race.
Living in California the last 18 years you would think allowed me more time to ride more than ever before. It has, but not on a motorcycle. Now I ride bicycles with family and friends in the hills in and around where I live. And I just realized something else about my motocross past--the older I get the better I was!