Have you ever heard of Steve McQueen? I hope you have because he's a damn icon, and so is the bike he rode in the famous film, On Any Sunday.
Over the summer, Joey and I had planned on hitting Albany MX for a 125 Dream Race shoot, and by planned what I mean is he called me from the road the morning of and told me to meet him somewhere on the side of the road. If only we'd known the gem of a day we were about to have.
After rendezvousing at a nearby store, Joey began telling me about his latest idea. He has about 1,001 every day, I'm convinced. Although I don't remember that one, what I do remember is Joey telling me that an old fellow came into Apex Motorsports, and told him about an old Hoosk 400 Cross he was selling. When Joey clarified that is was a running Husqvarna 400 Cross, his eyes lit up like a kid in a candy store. The man with the Hoosk for sale was named Ted, a genuine bad ass. Apparently, Joey wrote his number on a napkin and said he would be in contact.
As we're driving through Salem on our way to Albany, Joey gave old Ted a call to make arrangements to check out this mystical motorcycle. I was excited to see this thing after hearing how he came across such a deal. After all, Ted wanted all of $800 for his machine.
Once we got to the track it was all business, roost, and photos. Joey came to the conclusion that his 125 still ran, but needed a rebuild. We wondered if Ted had gotten back to us about the Hoosk, so we packed up and hit the road back toward Portland. Joey's phone rang with Ted on the other end and it was on! Joey needed to get the cash together and go scoop up this bike, but there was a problem. It was a Sunday and Joey's bank was closed, with his ATM limits maxed out. So, he made me grab the other half of the cash we needed. Our hope was restored.
Upon arriving at Ted's home, we knew by looking at the old Chevy pickup in his driveway, that we were in for a treat. He took us to the side of the house where this mystical 400 Cross sat, perched against the fence, still covered in mud from a recent trip to the Tillamook State Forest.
Ted shared some of his riding adventures with us (Ted is in his 70's, by the way, and finally thought it was time to give up riding off-road). When you meet a guy like this, something hits you. For me, it was imagining myself when I'm this guy's age having to give up riding dirtbikes. It kind of sucked for a minute. Then I remembered. I've got years to go, and smiled. Ted started the stubborn old bike in his shoes, after mentioning he'd broken his foot once starting it cold. Joey and I looked each other and chuckled.
Our story got even better as Ted left us alone for a minute, and ran into the garage. He popped back out with the original manual and tool kit, something we could have never expected. It was obvious Ted loved this bike, cared for it, and even though the scratches and dents told us it wasn't in perfect condition, it's the scratches and dents that give the bike its opportunity to tell its own story. And those are good stories.
You know riding is important to someone when they tear up as their motorcycle gets loaded into someone else's rig, but Ted knew we would give the bike years of adventure, so we shook hands and we were off.
We got it home, took some photos, and then I got eager. I had never started a cranky old big bore two stroke. Wearing Vans, I threw my left leg over the bike, got a compression crank and went for it. Joey about fell over laughing at me, as it kicked back and killed my foot and almost threw me off the bike!
I found my boots and eventually got it started (before Joey of course). We then proceeded to ride it up and down my neighborhood street, smiling from ear to ear like we were little kids.
Joey calls this the Holy Grail of vintage bike finds. It's the bike that Steve McQueen and Malcom Smith rode in the classic On Any Sunday film. Sometimes, the motorcycle buying experience can be ruined by anti-personal, online transactions. These purchases are loveless. A big part of the love that we have for all motorcycles starts with the story. It starts at the beginning. If you're lucky to find one of the most classic, vintage motocross bikes, that's one thing. But if you're lucky to sit down with the original owner, learning the history and the adventures the bike has been through, you can commit to continuing the story while feeding the soul of the motorcycle. It will feed your soul too. Sometimes, bikes find you. This bike found Joey in the most old school, organic kind of way.
So, is it for sale? Never.