Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Enduros and Trail Riding

The Golden Age of Enduros for me was when riding enduros was truly an amateur sport and the competitors were all weekend warriors working full-time jobs like doctors, lawyers, truck drivers, astronomers or whatever; and dirt riding was their hobby. Usually the toughest competitors out there were the motorcycle mechanics and dealers who were often able to spend more time on their hobby and often had a place to work on their bikes - hence their machines were usually better prepared. The teams were all club teams with no factory involvement. The events were called "endurance runs" or just plain "runs," and were never referred to as races - because we weren't racing. We were out there having fun competing with each other in a sport that we loved. The motorcycles we rode were manufactured primarily for paved and unpaved roads and were modified by the competitors to make them more reliable and more capable of coping with all kinds of off-road terrain like mud bogs, water crossings, stone-covered hills and hundreds of miles of trails in a single day. The events were not only a test of the competitor's specialized riding skills, but also of his endurance and the machine's endurance; as well as a test of his ability to do time-vs-mileage calculations in his head in the heat of the competition so that he could arrive at secret checkpoints at precise points in time. The loss of points for arriving early was even more costly than for arriving late, so it was important to carry an accurate timepiece and have the ability to multiplex his timekeeping skills with his highly technical riding skills. Most of the riders I met and competed with during that era were great sportsmen doing their personal best at what they loved most. Our playing field began to change in 1970 when factory-supported riders and factory-supported teams invaded the sport with expensive, hi-tech purpose-designed machines and sophisticated on-board computers to do the timing for them. The penalties for arriving early at the checkpoints were soon eliminated completely, making it a race through the woods between these factory-supported professionals. Speed became everything and the mental gymnastics of multiplexing the timing calculations was totally eliminated. Eventually, the weekend warriors who built the sport, with having fun on the weekends as their hallmark, were left with very little chance of making the podium.

This post contains many photos from my book The Golden Age of Enduros, and many from other enduros and trail riding from the late 1940s to the mid 1990s. Most have captions. Many of the photos were taken by the late Grant Whidden and by Boyd Reynolds, professional photographers of the era, and by Bob Hicks, who created and published Cycle Sport Magazine and later Trail Rider Magazine. Bob also rode enduros and scrambles on Sundays, and as I remember, he was a formidable competitor.

The first photo below was taken sometime shortly after WWII at the start of a Yonkers Turkey Run, directly across Broadway from Jack Tracey’s Harley Davidson dealership. The riders are about to head south on Broadway before turning north on McLean Ave toward the “Ardsley Woods,” which was usually the first woods section of that run. The only person I recognize in the photo is the starting official with the board - AMA Hall of Famer Reggie Pink. I think the guys with the sidecar, behind the big Harley, are from Newburgh, NY. Most of the competitors rode their bikes to and from the events in those days as well as competing with them. Click on any photo to enlarge it.

The photo below is yours truly at my very first enduro, taken at the noon control of the 1948 Yonkers Turkey Run. I was riding my 1947 Harley Davidson 74 OHV that day - the same beautiful bike I purchased new a year earlier. The big 18" front wheel is from an earlier model Harley, and the front tire is one I found in a junkyard from a 1920-something Chevrolet. On the rear is a 6:00x16 retread snow tire from another car. The front tire wouldn't clear at first so I removed the fender. Both tires still barely cleared when the suspension bottomed out. The massive bike handled well enough on the trails but was a real bear in deep mud holes. I rode it to the event that day and rode it home afterward, and then I converted it back to look very close to the photo following this one.

This is what my bike looked like before I stripped it down for the run. The photo was taken at a friend's home in Detroit, MI on an earlier road trip. I'd sure like to have it now. It would be a treasure. But I rode it for about 60,000 miles before selling it just before being activated into the US Air Force in March 1953 from my full-time job with the NY Air National Guard during the Korean War.

The photo below was also taken at the noon control of my first run minutes after getting through the infamous "Yorktown Swamp" - with a little help, I might add. My black leather jacket and Harley mittens show signs of my struggling in the mud earlier and from riding the trails without a front fender. I was a real novice.

Drew Smith (L) and Wink Butz are shown struggling to get through the Yorktown Swamp with their bikes in the early 1950s. It got pretty crowded in there sometimes.

A sidecar is stuck in the swamp within 100 ft of a timing checkpoint.

Champion enduro rider Don Pink emerging from the swamp on his Harley Davidson 45 cubic-inch WLDR in the late 1940s. Don, the son of Hall of Famer Reggie Pink, won the famous Jack Pine enduro in 1953 on a Harley Davidson KH, which was an 883cc flat-head. He was also known for having ridden his enduro bike from Yonkers, NY to the 500-mile Jack Pine endurance run in central Michigan, ride the run with the same motorcycle and then ride it home - a total of more than 2,000 miles

AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Rod Coates on a beautifully prepared BSA 500 Gold Star Single, with Phil Phillips doing the checking. Both were popular enduro riders of the era. Rod won the Sandy Lane Enduro in 1948 and also won the 1950 Daytona 100 Road Race and many other honors during his illustrious career. Check him out at the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame museum website.

Drew Smith at a checkpoint in the early 1950s with Jim Fennell and Bernice Pink doing the checking. Also looking on is Joe Denny.

Here is the result sheet from one of my first enduros, the 1948 Yonkers Motorcycle Club Turnkey Run. Page 2 of these results follow below. Al Kroeger from Rochester, NY won the High Score overall while Don Pink won the second overall and awarded first place in the Expert Class. I was 15th in the Novice Class. Click on the image to enlarge it some.

Another AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer, Freddie Marsh of Warehouse Point, CT riding the annual Connecticut Ramblers Snow Run that sometimes started from the front of his motorcycle shop. He also excelled in several other types of competitive events. Freddie, a long-time motorcycle dealer, was still able to ride after his 100th birthday.

Soon after being discharged from the Air Force in 1955, I decided to try my hand at riding enduros for the second time. This time I bought a small 1956 Harley Davidson 125cc Hummer like the one below. The dealer thought that I was joking when I told him what I intended to use it for. Gene Baron, who worked at the shop as a mechanic, suggested that he could fabricate a swinging-arm suspension for it that would be an  improvement but the little bike was definitely not made for the rigors of the trails.

I sold my first '47 Harley 74OHV when I entered the Air Force. When I got back, I bought another used '47 Harley 74OHV primarily as a street motorcycle for riding two-up with my wife Lillian. I did a little trail riding with it too - sometimes, and occasionally I entered field meets. The trick here was to ride the twisty path without putting your feet down – like observed trials. The caption below this photo that appeared in our local newspaper said, "Piet Boonstra on his 47 H-D 74, foot clutch and all."

This is my 1956 Harley Hummer after the swinging arm was installed and the headlight removed. I was ready to try my first enduro with it. Soon afterward I placed first in the Novice Lightweight Class at the Yonkers Annual Turkey Run. I always rode it in the enduros with the street tires that came on it. I was strong enough to push it or carry it through or over just about anything if the need arose.

I rode the little Hummer in enduros for about three years. It would break and/or bend quite often. Once I snapped off the handle bar, throttle-side, in an enduro . I reattached it temporarily with duct tape and finished the run with it. Another time I landed from a high jump during an enduro and broke the single-tube frame below the engine. The engine dropped almost to the ground and I had to push it out of the woods. In the photo below I bent one of the pedals on a big rock while trail riding one weekend, but I was able to straighten it at the side of the trail easily enough this time.

We would load three bikes onto Ralph Spencer's pickup and he would have to shift to a lower gear to pull the hills with all of us in it. That was before the interstate highways were built, and it took quite a while to get to and from enduros in central and eastern Connecticut. This time (below) we were headed for Torrington, CT, which was only about 80 miles away. Jim Forbes (left) traveled with us on this trip. The little Hummer can be seen squeezed in the middle. The other two bikes were 250 two-strokes.

On any Sunday when there was no enduro, Ralph Spencer and I would go out for a trail ride regardless of the weather. In this photo are my Hummer on the left and Ralph's DMW against the tree.

Same day in deeper snow. That's Ralph.

The snow would get quite deep in spots.

I managed to get second highest score overall in the 1959 Yonkers Spring Run with the tiny Hummer, and I won my class. It was a close-second overall behind Don Pink on a very well-prepared 165cc Harley. I got a 905 score vs Don's 912 out of a possible 1000. So in the fall of '59, the AMA upgraded me to Class A (Expert). Meanwhile, I upgraded myself to this well-used Harley 165 with a rebuilt "Puckett Kit" engine that I bought from Gene Baron, who was still working as a mechanic at Jack Tracey's shop in Yonkers. The kit was designed by AMA Hall of Famer Dick O'Brien who was the Harley Davidson racing team manager for many years. The bike also had an Earl's front fork and a swinging-arm frame as Gene Baron had modified it. I entered it in the District #5 Championship Enduro in New Jersey the following week and won first place in the Expert Lightweight Class over Don Pink and all of the other great lightweight riders of the time, and several of the expert heavyweights. I rode it for less than a year before it was played out, but the little 165 was quite a bike that would get speeds of up to 70 mph on gravel roads and would handle very well in tight woods.

But it's evident from this photo that I was still far too big for the 165 Harley.

And I still had to push it occasionally. Sometimes I'd walk alongside when there wasn't enough power to pull us both over a steep hill or through the mud holes. I think this photo was taken on Tompkins Corners Hill during a Crotona Halloween Classic run. I might have been walking alongside because many of the bikes of that era would become overheated on the hill by this time.

Another shot of a rider coming up Tompkins Corners Hill. It was sometimes called Bullet Hole Road, which was its actual name before this section of road was abandoned sometime in the 1930s.

Action on Tompkins Corners Hill during a Crotona Motorcycle Club Halloween Classic in the late 1950s. This was usually the toughest point in that run. It was an exceptionally steep climb for a mile or more with huge rocks and exposed drainage pipes across the abandoned road in some places. I was able to get over it without help with all of my bikes, including the Harley 74 OHV, but it wasn't far from my home so I had been up it several times. I don't recognize the rider here but the helper is Don Whyte, a long-time Crotona club member.

The rider in this photo, also taken on Tompkins Corners Hill, is Tony Granone, a well-known scrambles rider from the area, trying his hand at enduros. The helpers are Don Whyte pulling, and Don Pink and Jim Fennel pushing. Don and Jim did the layout of the run and were the "front-runners" who rode the entire course on the day of the event ahead of the first competitor.

Jim Fennel during the layout of a Crotona Motorcycle Club's Halloween Classic Enduro, riding his 500 Triumph with a box of trail markers (arrows), a staple gun and a hand-axe to clear the trail if it was virtually impassible. He and Don Pink would usually do the job alone unless it was just after a hurricane and many of the trails might be blocked. Sometimes they did it alone then too. Several years later I became president of the Crotona Motorcycle Club for a few years.

Joe Kastner competed in the expert lightweight class in the NY Metropolitan area and New England, and he usually did quite well.

When I began to compete in New England in the late 1950s, one of the top enduro riders in contention for the championship was Charlie Schumitz (right). He won the overall title in 1959. Charlie is shown below with one of his two teammates, Dick Chandler, who took second overall in the same annual championship that year. Their Milford Riders Motorcycle Club was the top enduro club in New England for several years. Charlie rode a 500cc Matchless while his two teammates rode 500cc AJS machines. Charlie would often win High Score at an event while Dick Chandler and Paul Walton would finish first and second in the Expert Heavyweight Class. Dick and Paul were also first-rate scrambles riders.

 Charlie Schumitz in a New England run, riding a Matchless 500 single.

 During the 1950s, Sal Scirpo from Middletown, CT was the top national enduro rider from the New England area. He won High Point overall in the 500-mile Jack Pine National Endurance Run in both 1955 and 1959, riding a 500 Triumph both times; and he won the Canadian National Corduroy Enduro in 1963 as well as other US nationals including Sandy Lane in New Jersey.

Sal Scirpo at a Sandy Lane National enduro in the 1950s, where he also won High Score at least once. Sal was one of the last riders in the area to wear a hard helmet.

Coleman Mitchell, originally from East Hartford, CT and later from Randolph, VT, always placed high in New England enduros on 500 and 650cc Triumphs. He also rode the Jack Pine national enduro in Michigan on a number of occasions.

 Coleman Mitchell in New England in the 1950s

Don Cutler began his competition career riding different types of events before he settled into riding mostly enduros. He's shown here in trials competition in the late 1950s on a heavyweight bike.

Christy Scholar was one of my early idols. He was at his best in the most technical riding situations like deep mud, slippery wet roots and exceptionally tight quarters between the trees. He usually rode a BSA 500 or other big single-cylinder bike. Before helmets became mandatory, he would often ride with a beret and dark glasses, and quite often with a big smile on his face - singing or talking aloud as he rode. You always knew the man was having fun.

Christy Scholar at the Snow Run wearing a RAMS M/C helmet. He was our founder.

Christy at an earlier Snow Run

Christy Scholar in an Observed Trials event.

Frank Degray, a popular dealer from Ellington, CT, won the New England Grand Championship in 1960 and 1962. He was very active in the sport for more than 50 years, starting in the mid-1950s

Another early photo of Frank DeGray. I think he was riding a 250 Zundapp at the time.

Bob Butterfield of the Meriden MC won the overall New England Enduro Grand Championship in 1961.

Chuck Boehler, from Jamestown, NY, was a top-rated Greeves rider from western New York State in the 1960s. He usually finished high in the results wherever he competed.

 This British 250cc DMW was a good bike for me while it lasted. We won first place together in the Expert Lightweight Class of two consecutive national championships, a week apart. But after about a year of strenuous use it began to unravel with too many mechanical problems while I was working a full-time job with a lot of overtime and didn't have time to work on it between runs. Usually the only thing I'd do to my bikes between runs was wash the mud off of them and lube the chain. Then I would be ready to go but the bike often wasn't.

This photo was taken of me with the DMW at the 1961 200-mile Covered Wagon National Championship in the Berkshires. I was coming through some swampy marsh grass near the Knightsville water crossing in eastern Massachusetts. I finished third overall in that event.

Holding the coveted Covered Wagon trophy that I thought at the time was the pinnacle of success.

A fuzzy photo of Frank DeGray having fun at the Knightsville crossing in 1961 with Ron Alleman and Bob Hogan following. There was a checkpoint at the far side of the river.

John Penton at the same spot of the Knightsville crossing in 1961. The moss-covered rocks on the bottom were round and usually quite slippery. The caption says, "Whoops, little bump there."

John Penton, earlier at the Pioneer Valley clubhouse in Southwick, MA, signing the board at the start of the 1961 200-Mile Covered Wagon National Championship enduro. He was riding his modified 250cc BMW.

Sky Ball was a relative unknown in national competition when he won that 200-mile Covered Wagon National Enduro in 1961 riding a 250cc Greeves. He had just recently been advanced by the AMA to the expert class. The photo below of Sky Ball was taken at a Sandy Lane Enduro in New Jersey, his home state.

Gene Esposito, a Cycle Alley MC member from Brooklyn, was a top-rated Triumph rider throughout the 1950s and 1960s - in national as well as local enduros. He is shown here riding his 500cc Triumph during his High Score performance at the 1965 Sandy Lane National Championship.

Another popular Cycle Alley rider from NJ was Emil Cocce, riding a 500 Triumph. He is shown here at the foot of "Impossible Mountain" that was often part of the District #5 Championship run. It was quite steep and rutted with loose rocks strewn all over the surface. If you had a late number, it was likely there were a dozen or more bikes stuck on the hill that you'd have to navigate around and past.

Expert national rider Cliff Guild won several enduros in the Northeast including the Sandy Lane 250-Mile National Championship. He often rode and won with a Triumph 200cc Cub. He worked for the east coast Triumph distributor in Towson, MD.

Rather than stay with lightweight bikes, I took a ride on Dick Heins’ 500 Triumph once in 1962 and decided immediately that I had to have one of those. In the first three runs with my new Triumph, I took first-place heavyweight in two and High Score overall in the third. It was my very first High Score and it was against some impressive competition, so I was quite thrilled about it. A string of 500 Triumphs then took me for one heck of a ride for the next 8 years until Triumph quit making that model. The photo below was taken in 1962 after my first High Point win. My trophies suddenly started to get bigger with every run.

 Taken at the Little Burr 250-mile National Championship in Ohio on my first trip to the Midwest..

 Taken at the noon control of the first day of a two-day, 500-mile National Championship Jack Pine Enduro in Michigan. My friend and often teammate, Ralph Spencer, traveled with me to act as my pit crew for the two days. I quit cigarettes a few years later and haven't smoked since.

Bob Maus was at the same noon contol checking over his Triumph Cub. His wife, who often came along as his pit crew, took the photos.

Bob Maus

Clocking into the final check in Lansing at the end of the two-day Jack Pine.

The enduro rider I admired most during my career for his sportsmanship as well as his superb riding ability was Bill Baird, shown here with his only pit crew, his wife Millie, and their support vehicle - the family station wagon. He was truly a "weekend warrior" who held a full-time job at a local wire mill in his hometown in Illinois. Bill was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame for being the undisputed top AMA national enduro rider from the mid-1950s to the late 1960s, winning seven consecutive national enduro championships before retiring in the late 1960s. Later he served on the AMA Board of Trustees for 21 years and was one of the driving forces behind the formation of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum. I'm proud to say that Bill and Millie Baird are long-time personal friends of mine.

 Bill Baird riding his 500cc Triumph at the peak of his career.

Bill Baird at Tompkins County 90-Mile National Championship in Newfield, a small town in Tompkins County, NY where he won High Score overall by a significant margin over the next highest scoring rider. It was a particularly tough and sloppy event where it rained most of the day.

The photo below was taken of me at the same 90-mile national championship in Tompkins County. I didn't do nearly as well as Bill, although I placed third in the Expert Medium-weight Class.

At the Chatauqua Lake Cyclists 100-Mile Little Bone National Championship, held near Jamestown, NY in the far-western part of the state .It was one of the shortest of the national championship enduros but was usually tough for most of its length, especially the Seneca Woods section.

Here I'm in a different mud rut at the Little Bone. It was raining most of the day, making for a lot of mud and slippery going. The Seneca Highlands section was especially difficult with my big fat "trials-universal" front tire that I used quite successfully in New England, but it didn't work nearly as well in deep sand or slippery mud ruts. Weekend warriors were often handicapped by the amount of time they had to prep the equipment, which would often be directly proportional to their probability of placing well in the final results of some runs.

In the photo below, I'm following Sox Brookhart in yet another mud rut at the Little Bone enduro in western NYS. Sox won the Expert Heavyweight Class that day riding a big 650 Triumph that he handled in the woods like someone else might handle a lightweight. I rode in the Expert Medium-weight Class with my 500 Triumph.

Al Sedusky (left) about to leave the starting line of the 100-mile Little Bone with his Cycle Alley teammate, Gene Esposito. They were riding on the same minute. Al was best known for manufacturing special waterproof enduro brake pads long before motorcycle manufacturers knew how to make them waterproof. He turned them out by the hundreds from his little shop in Patterson, NJ for riders all over the world.

My first trip to Jack Pine was in 1964. It was organized like a big deal with a dinner on Friday night where Oscar Lenz would tell horror stories about nightmarish gumbo mud and other hazards awaiting the competitors. Then on Saturday and Sunday there was at least 250 miles of riding per day for two days, for a total of about 530 miles. There were 5 riders on every minute with a total of about 500 riders starting the run. The course was made up of many different types of roads from superhighways to two-track, single-lane woods roads with a sandy mound in the center. There were four or five famous spectator points where sometimes as many as 50 to 60 riders would be fighting their way through a swampy section at one time, with many hopelessly bogged down. Timing was a key factor, but I soon noticed that a lot of the riders seemed to know where the secret checkpoints were, as there would often be a group "waiting time" about a quarter-mile before one of those "secret" checkpoint. There were miles of sand trails with some deep sand. I rode Jack Pine a few times to see what it was all about, and then I stopped going because it wasn't my type of run. With five riders on a minute, there was often a line waiting to be checked in at the checkpoints. Below I'm waiting to be checked..The slip of paper in my mouth has the time that I arrived on it from the people behind me.

Negotiating a sand field at Jack Pine where there was plenty of it. I was still competing with the little "Police Special" helmet that I bought in the mid 1950s when they passed a law saying we had to wear helmets. I bought one for about 20 bucks that wasn't even DOT approved and I used it in competition for about ten years.

One of the hazards in Jack Pine was Tobacco River (below).

Another hazard and a favorite spectator point at Jack Pine was the Rifle River crossing where many riders drowned out their motors because it was quite deep in spots. Sometimes as many as a hundred or more spectators would be standing around, with many in the water. There was usually a "secret checkpoint" at the far side of the river. It was one of three river crossings in the 1964 event - the Grand River, Tobacco River and Rifle River.

The photo below was from the District #5 Enduro in northern New Jersey in November 1964 - two years after putting the Triumph foot peg through my foot in the same run, which was a national championship that year. I was carried away to a hospital for emergency surgery on my heel. This time I tied for the highest score overall with Bob Maus - missing out by a few seconds at the tie-breaking check, so I took first in the Expert Heavyweight Class. It was one of my favorite local events with lots of rocks and technical riding where I could use my long legs to an advantage.

1965 Jack Pine

I felt that my strongest competition in New England where I enjoyed riding the most was from riders like Don Cutler, Bill Perry, Frank DeGray, Bob Butterfield, Vito Bonan and others. In the late sixties it came mainly from my two RAMS club teammates Bud Peck and Dave Latham; and also still from Don Cutler. I enjoyed riding in New England most for the hilly terrain, the percentage of technical riding trails and for the sportsmanship and camaraderie of the competitors. Each of the guys I just mentioned won the overall enduro championship at least once during the 1960s, and some won it twice. Most I've shown already; the rider below is Bill Perry.

Bud Peck went quickly through the amateur ranks riding a Greeves before switching to a 500 Triumph. Bud injured his right leg and knee in an early-life motorcycle accident that kept him from bending the knee; but even with that physical impairment, he was a superb competitor, winning the overall New England enduro championship twice in the late sixties.

Dave Latham won the overall enduro championship in New England in 1967, the 115-Mile National Championship in Dallas, PA in 1969, both with Greeves motorcycles; and he rode four International Six-day Trials with Ossa in 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1973.

Al Eames was an expert rider who later became known as “Mr. Berkshire.” He lived in Dalton, MA in the mid-Berkshires and was credited with having organized one of the biggest enduro events that ever took place in the US, the 1973 International Six-Days Trial. Before accomplishing that feat, he laid out and organized many enduros and the Berkshire International Trials two-day events in the area in the late 1960s and early 11970s. Al is shown here laying out one of the earliest of those runs, riding an English DOT motorcycle.

Bill Decker, originally from New Jersey, was one of the top riders in the East during the early 1960s, including the national championships. He won the Jack Pine National in 1995 riding a Greeves on the same number as his Cycle Alley teammate Gene Esposito. I rode on the minute behind them for the two days but didn't do nearly as well as they did. It was the year I ran into gumbo mud on a gravel road that packed solid between my tires and fenders and brought me to a complete stop where I lost about 30 minutes..

Bill Decker at a checkpoint in the Sandy Lane National

Gene Esposito

Don Cutler in the early 1970s, after he switched to riding an Ossa with which he competed in a number of ISDE events in Europe.

Here I'm riding along an old abandoned road in the rain in a Connecticut run.

Coming through a soggy section after emerging from the river at a point that was known as "RAMS crossing."

More wet Connecticut trails.

Taken on the same day in a different spot.

Salmon River crossing in central Connecticut could be a thrill when it's partially frozen in mid winter. I've crossed it when it was barely 10 degrees above zero.

I chose this great photo by Boyd Reynolds for the cover of my book, "The Golden Age of Enduros." Dave Barnes laid out a great endurance run every year near Cayuta, NY that was used as the annual 150-Mile Natrional Championship event. It had all kinds of terrain that was usually quite tough but ride-able, and difficult to keep time on; but it was all good dirt riding. This one was taken in 1965.

At the same Cayuta event a year later in 1966

This photo was taken very close to the spot above, a year later, when I hit some fairly deep water in the river and drowned out the motor. It restarted quickly, though, and I was on my way. It pays to have everything waterproofed.

I don't have photos from the 1966 Berkshire International Trials, but this is a photo of the gold medalists from that year. The names are shown below. Click on the photo to zoom in.

RAMS #1 Team won the team trophy in 1966. Shown in the photo from left are Pete Niemi, Bud Peck, Piet Boonstra and Ken Gardner.

Silver medalists in the 1966 Berkshire International

Bronze medalists at the 1966 Berkshire International

At the 1967 Berkshire International

Action in the 1967 Berkshire International. That's me with the bike down and my teammate Bud Peck about to take the lead. Bud loved this photo and displayed it prominently on his office wall at home for many years.

From the 1968 Berkshire International

Another from the 1968 Berkshire International, taken on the infamous Colrain Power Line that became my Waterloo in 1970, when it rained hard all day and my drive chain gave out. I made it across that year and pulled into the checkpoint at the end of the section 58 minutes late, but the chain was in no condition to continue.

At the 150-Mile National in Cayuta, NY in 1967

I believe this was taken at the 1968 150-Mile National in Cayuta

This was the best team the RAMS ever put together. We won numerous national team trophies, and it was all for fun by non-professional weekend warriors. Left to Right are Dave Latham, Bud Peck, Piet Boonstra and Phil Bourdon proudly holding the 1968 Berkshire International Team trophy.

Shot of Bud Peck, me and Bud's son George leaving a gas stop together on the same minute during a Berkshire International in the late 1960s.

I tried my hand at scrambles - just once. I was well into my 40s and at the top of the enduro game in the area but they said I had to race in the novice class. I finished a distant second to a youngster that someone told me later was "Harry Higgins kid." A few years later he was already at the top of the scrambles and motocross game and he was known by his own name, not his father's. It was Barry Higgins. I never rode another scrambles after that.

In spite of the fact that I was known for my timekeeping skills, I was caught about 3 minutes early at a check in the Dallas, PA 90-Mile National Championship and my teammate Dave Latham won the High Score overall that day. It was my kind of run - very technical trails in the mountains and tough all the way.

Dave Latham took this shot of me at the end on the second day of a 350-Mile Corduroy Canadian National Enduro in the late 1960s. Both he and Bud Peck had taken time off during the summer to practice and this was the first event of the fall season. The three of us rode on the same minute and they totally wore me out that day. I was saying, "One of these days I'm gonna have to retire!" That's a bottle of Marie Brizzard Blackberry Brandy near my right knee. We often had a sip at the end of the day to celebrate our ride. On this day we took home seven trophies between us, including one for each of us for placing in our class and one for each for winning the team trophy, plus Bud Peck won the "Best Opposite Class trophy," which was awarded for a rider with the top score in a different class than the overall winner. I had won the Best Opposite trophy in 1966.

At the 1970 Berkshire International, coming through the rocks

More 1970 Berkshire International with air under both wheels

Second day of the 1970 Berkshire in heavy rain. As was often my problem, I came to the event totally unprepared, having washed the mud off from the week before and never taking the time to work on it. The chain gave out on the Colrain power-line in the toughest section of the run and I eventually had to drop out with mechanical problems. My longtime teammate Bud Peck finished in the gold.- the only heavyweight still in the gold at the end of the second day. Check the photos after this one.

Bud showing his fatigue on the Colrain power-line that took many gold medals. He's always referred to this feat as his "finest hour." Some of his competition were factory supported professionals on the newest and best prepared machines in the event.

Bud Peck at the checkpoint after descending from the Colrain power-line. He's wet clear through all of his clothes and almost totally exhausted - but he's still in the gold. Mega kudos to Bud Peck for an outstanding ride.

Great shot of Bud Peck coming across the Colrain Powerline

A couple of un-named riders struggling in the mud during 1970 the Berkshire International.

Bud in the rocks - '70 Berkshire

More 1970 Berkshire

Dave Latham in the rocks - 1970 Berkshire

This shot was taken of Bud and me at the 1970 Berkshire International on the morning of the second day.. That's Bud's son George behind me. I wore that same old GI fatigue jacket in enduros for almost 20 years.

Taken of me at the 90-Mile National Championship in Newfield, NY in the late 1960s

At the 1970 Curly Fern National in south-central New Jersey.

At the same 1970 Curly Fern, being followed closely by the eventual High Point rider of that day, Buck Walsworth, riding an Ossa.

Different spot in the same 1970 Curly Fern National in New Jersey.

At an early Sandy Lane National Championship in New Jersey

Riding a plank to get across a stream at Sandy Lane

At a Sandy Lane checkpoint

I made the cover of Trail Rider with this shot of me on top of Streaked Mountain between South Paris, Maine and Buckfield, Maine. The photo was from an enduro that I rode in the late 1960s that started out of Lewiston, ME. I think it was the same year that I rode the bike from New York, rode the run with it and then rode it home - about 300 miles each way.

Ron Webster in typical New England terrain.

Ron Webster at a checkpoint in a Connecticut enduro that went through a nudist colony. The motorcycle club enlisted the aid of a few colony members to do the checking at this point.

Marcia MacDonald was the top woman rider in New England in the late sixties and early seventies, and she served as the US Team Manager at a few ISDTs in Europe.

New England trails are among the most beautiful.

Leroy Winters at Berkshire International

Don Pink at the Berkshire International

Jerry Ladue

Jim Moroney

Frank DeGray having fun at the Berkshire with his Grumph

Bob Maus on a Bultaco

Jim Moroney and Bill Fitzgibbons

When Triumph stopped making the 500cc dual sport T100C around 1970, I turned to Suzuki for a few years with this TS250. I rode my first ride with it in the 1971 Berkshire International and had several problems, like losing the front fender on the first day and having the air cleaner clog with mud. I also rode without knobby tires.

In the late 1970s, Suzuki introduced the PE series with this PE250 with lots of power and knobby tires. I really started to have fun again as shown here at a closed-course enduro in Swanzy, NH. It had plenty of power and was almost 100 lbs lighter than my Triumph. I was into my 50s at that time but still having lots of fun at my favorite hobby.

After riding the PE250 for a few years, I bought a 1979 Honda XR500 that I rode for several years, including a 550-mile ride to reach the Canadian National Corduroy Enduro in 1982, where I rode the event with it and rode the same bike home. The photo below was taken at a 100-mile US National Championship at Middlefield, MA, after riding eight days of trails to reach the event for the second year in a row.


  1. Hello Piet:
    Thanks for the photos and words about my relative, and mentor, Chris Scholar. He informed me that most times ... most, but not always, turn on the throttle to get out of trouble.

    It works!
    john gerent

  2. GREAT site!
    Maria C. over @ EverythingCroton

  3. Hello Piet,

    Thanks for sharing the great article and photos. You included my dad, Bob Maus, in the article and it brings back great memories of me as a child and the enduro races. Thanks!

    1. Hi Bob, was your dad a member of Yonkers Motorcycle club by any chance? Just looking at some American Motorcyclist magazines and his name and Frieda pops up
      Keith May Yonkers Motorcycle club.

  4. Piet,

    Thanks for the great article and photos. You include some photos of my dad, Bob Maus, in the article and it brought back some great memories. Thank you!

  5. Piet, I rode the 1970 Berkshire on a 250 Ossa. Great seeing those blue and white vests again.

    Lee Hodsdon

  6. Thanks Lee. I might even still have one somewhere.