They came, they saw, they burned: scenes from the 2013 Dirtbag Challenge

Pub date October 15, 2013
WriterSam Devine
SectionPixel Vision

This is a follow-up to Keep Choppin’. You probably wanna check that (and this blog post) out first.

The go-to joke is that Alex “Koshka” Verbitsky claimed the Dirtbag Challenge — held Sun/13 at the end of Quesada Ave. — for Moldova. His 1969 CB 450 build took home not only the Coolest Bike title as voted by the fellow builders, but also the People’s Choice Award. His build was inspired by old-fashioned board-track racers, taking chopping back to its roots in the 1910s and ’20s.

Builder brothers Chris and Dan Faulkner came with two very cool bikes. Chris’ bike, the cleverly titled “Cherry Pauper,” was made from a 1976 Kawasaki for about $130. The bike completed the run to and from Pescadero, and did reliable burn-outs well into the evening. Dan’s bike made tricky use of flag colors. With its blue frame and red-and-white tank and fender, it looked like the Captain America bike from one side, but could be seen clearly as the Rising Sun flag of military Japan from the other.

Nick Murphy, from Portland, Ore., chopped a rare, automatic-transmission bike called a Hondamatic. In Pescadero, Murphy presumed his throttle cable would snap before the ride was over. But the bike held out, making it to Alice’s Restaurant and back, even though it behaved sporadically, chugging along at a snail’s pace one moment, ripping and snorting ahead the next. “There was no plan,” said Murphy. “Those carbs are doing their own thing.”

Builder Mike Finley brought a plywood-clad monstrosity all the way from San Diego. Built from a 1989 Suzuki “500 something” that had been sitting around, it looked akin to a cardboard rocket ship. Fishtailing precariously at high-speeds, the bike won the coveted Gulu Award for most lunatic bike.

Kyle Cannon showed up on a heavily chopped Kawasaki that was unrecognizable from the large sport bike it once was. The bike his son started with friends didn’t quite make it. “I wasn’t going to do it for them,” said Cannon, still proud of the young group. “We’ll finish it, though.”

Josh Stine’s bike developed electric issues on the ride but still received the Founder’s Choice Award.

Casey Anderson showed up with a picture of the bike he was working on. Oddly, he dropped out for the opposite reason of most: his build went too well. Not wanting to mess anything up, he decided not to rush things. (After looking at the photo, I couldn’t blame him.)

Julian Farnam’s futuristic bike earned the title of Craftiest, evoking compliments of symmetry, welding, and cohesive design. Turk’s thick-wheeled, sidecar “Death Racer” would have given Farnam a run for his welding, if not for one small issue. “It won’t go straight,” said Turk. “I pitched it just leaving the shop. I haven’t got to wring it out, yet.”

Brian Wright took home the Too Fuckin’ Pretty award with his sparkly, green 1981 Kawasaki KZ 650. “I’ve got an unfair advantage,” admitted Wright. “I’m retired.”

Emily Wakeman and company earned themselves “The Jake” prize for a bike that should never have set out, yet somehow completed the ride. You could tell if you were catching up to Wakeman on the ride because the smoke got thicker. She was well protected from all but the most cancer-seeking and masochistic of tailgaters.

In between the burnouts, volunteer rock bands played in the blistering sun. Butt Problems thrashed out a song about GG Allin’s dick. It was fairly well received and yielded comments from the other bands. “Butt Problems stole our idea,” said Baroness Eva Von Slut.

“I love playing the Dirtbag,” said Nate von Wahnsinn of the White Barons. “I get to play outside while people fuck around with motorcycles? Are you kidding me?”

The event was capped by “Mini Mad” Mike Cook, a stuntman from Oklahoma. He rode through two flaming walls on a mini dirtbike or pitbike.

Poll Brown led the ride in his signature black-and-white striped sweater. He and Dirtbag doc director Paolo Asuncion were hanging out, talking and filming. “We’ve got other things going on,” said Brown. “I can’t tell you about them just now though.”

We shall see what the Dirtbag hath wrought.