Cycle News - Archive Issues - 2000's

Cycle News 2004 11 10

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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Page 102 of 103

By TEARDO WN PAUL CARRUTHERS A Helping Hand ake McCu llough is a few t hou sand miles away, but you can almost see I just rev it a nd dro p t he clutch." his smi le. You can d efinite ly sense his excitement. He 's t alking a bout with o ne hand . Since Jake's birt h de fect left him without Sounds easy e no ugh. O kay, now try it gears with a t hum b-shifter), Jake also da bbles w ith wrestling and t rack and field at h is m o t orcyc le , a bo u t raci ng it a right hand, everything on his motorcycle school. But it all po ints back to moto rcycling. " I ma inly do it to ge t in shape," he says . " I' m supposed to be at wrestling practice t hrough th e woo d s, about finish ing second, t hird, it matters not. He 's talking has been moved to the other side . Front brake , t hrottle, clut ch... it' s all controll ed by at 6: I5 in t he morni ng t he day after my next race . I'll be tired. " so fast you have to inte rrupt him to slow that left hand . Think abou t it. Clutch, thr ottle , front brake. All wit h o ne hand. It' s So me how you ge t t he fee ling that he' ll be t here. This isn't a kid w ho gives up real enough to make Chinese ar ithme tic seem easily. Jake 's love for all things motorcycle started e arly. His fat he r Jack race d motocross in t he 1970s ("He co uldn't him down . H e ' s t a lk in g a bout tires , clutches... a nd his "Mert Arm." His "Mert Arm" is the key to go ing fast, Ja ke says. It' s cha nged his life. Forever. Th e " Me rt Arm" is a pr ost hetic hand, designed and man ufactu re d by 1969 AMA Grand National Champion Mert Lawwill. When one end is attached to t he handleba r o f his Ho nda C RF150 and the o ther end to Jake , it transforms him into a 13year-old Scott Summers. Wh e n attached to the hand lebar of his mountain bike, it allows him to ride every day after school. Just like every other kid. You see, Jake was born wit ho ut a right hand , bu t the birth defect hasn't slowed him much - especially since he discovered the Lawwill-made prosthesis a year ago. " I've le arn ed to adapt," he says witho ut hesitat io n, ready to move o n to more exciting subje cts, like rid ing ' that litt le Honda through mud. "Rain o r snow, I'm racing again on November 15," Jake enthuses . " It's t he Egg Hun t. You pick up eggs, the y used to have just o ne colorbutnowtheyhavetwo because...." He 's off and running now, his wo rds running toget her. To slow him, you have to inte rru pt , ask a no ther qu estio n. Jake is a member of the Variety Ride rs Motorcycle C lub in Illinois. He races with the club, taki ng part in mostly woods races, t ho ugh he used to race mo to cross w hen he was yo unger. Back t he n, he used a "pi ncher claw" on his right hand . That was pre- Me rt Arm . It was t he eq uivalent of drum brakes whe n compared to discs, dual shocks to monos ho ck. T his Mert Arm ... well, it's tr ick. No two ways about it. And it has transformed him as a rider. " I ride a lot better now," Jake says. "Everybody says I'm a lot faste r now. My dad says I'm really good. And fast." But back to the bike : "My dad w orked o n the bike and there 's no mo re first gear. easy. It' s so co mplicated I was having tro uble unde rstanding as Jake patie ntly trie d to exp lain it to me . And I'm pretty sure I still don't have it right. As far as I can tell, Jake uses his thumb fo r the clutch and his midd le finger for the brake, with the brake lever mou nted backwards. Again, the kid was talking about his motorcycle. So he was excited. And talking fast. Really fast. "Learning to use the fron t brake ... that was the most difficult part," Jake said. I figured out another way to slow Jake down early in the conversation . I brought up school. He says he's a good student, but tha t pes ky math. "Well,math... You know, it's just alright." Kids. But back to the bike. "I've had a lot of get -offs and goes," Jake said when talking about getting used to the Mert Arm . "But a lot of that... We ll, we just don't have the right tire com bination on the bike right now." Is this kid a racer or what? Fall down. Blame the tires . Wh e n he does fall do w n, Lawwill's invention allows the arm to qu ick release from the handlebar, making Jake's crashes no different than ours. Jake races about fo ur times in the spring , takes the summer off, does a few hillclimbs along the way and dreams of getting to race flat track. He's fortunate in that he can ride just six miles from his home in O tta wa, Illino is. "I'm trying to convince my dad to do flat track, but we do n't really have the money," Jake said. 'And t hat Supe rmoto stuff interests me as well." He 's got me so pumped fro m talking to him that I'm ready to se nd him money for a steel shoe. In add ition to riding his motorcycle and new mou ntain bike (he controls the rear gears with a twist-gri p shifter, the fro nt make a living at it so he stopped ," Jake explai ns) and passed his skills o n to a young Jake. T he fun started wit h his first bike , a Suzuk i JR50 . The temp o in his voice builds revs qu ickly when he te lls you about it. " It was fast . It had every single trick done to it . That was the fastest JR50 in the state of Illinois." T hen he graduated to a Kawasaki KX60 . Again, you have to listen rea l close - the clut ch is being fanned and Jake is ro lling again . "Junio r Jackson's dad built tha t. I was fast on that. Real fast . It was linke d. And t hey won't be alone . Lawwill and Dr aaye r 's son, Christ ian , have sta rted a me mo rial fund tha t will he lp kids like Jake ge t Me rt Arm s to help t hem ride t he ir bicycle s and mo torcycles. W hen you see w hat it has done fo r Jake , you know w hat it can do for ot he rs. "C hris' insistence t hat I did this is go ing t o help ot he r kids," Lawwill says. T he McCu lioughs ho ld Lawwi ll in high regard , as any par e nts would o f a pe rso n w ho made such a dra matically positive change in t he ir child's life . "Jake is ecstatic with anything that has to do with Mer t Lawwi ll," Jack McCu llough said. "It's unbelievable what he's done for Jake . Motorcycle people do n't just help motorcycle people - guys like Mert he lp everybo dy. I really can't say enough abou t him ." All too many kids with physica l challenges such as Jake's tend to with draw from society. T he y hide their prosthesis, they shy fro m venturing out in public. .. no t so fo r Jake . In fact, it 's qu ite the oppo- fun." T hen came a Suzu ki JR80 (and, finally, the Mert Arm) . And now the C RF 150. " If I had my cho ice , I'd have a C Ra5. I'm more of a two-stroke ride r, but t he site. Jake is out the re trying to make a d ifference . He 's the re to try and he lp those C RF is good. " If he sits still long enough, you ca n find Jake watching NASCAR on Tv. He's a huge fan, his loyalt ies sitting square ly in Mark Martin's lap - but not just because he has a cousin of the sa me name. But ba ck to the Mert Ar m for a minute... Just how does o ne stumble across the on e thing t hat's de stined to c hange his life fo reve r? " I was watching On Any Sunday Revisited and I saw C hris Draaye r o n t here," Jake recalls. " He had t he Mert Arm a nd was ra cing mo torcycles." Draayer was killed this yea r in a st re etbike accident, bu t not before a highly successful raci ng career - with bot h his real arm and his Mert Arm. Jake speaks highly o f him. '" wis h I could have met him ," Jake says of Draayer. "I ta lked to him o n the phone and he gave me some adv ice w ith th e clutc h." Now Jake and D raaye r a re forever dedica ted to ge tt ing the physically cha l- eye L I! o ther kids. In fact , he's gone o n the roa d as a motivational speaker for a group called Creative Mobilities, an organization len ged on bicycles . The group is run t hro ugh Th e Bike Rack in nearby St . Charles . T hat's where Jake gets his bicycle s. It's where he stays involved - doi ng what he ca n to help. After conversing with Jake enough to inte rrupt his homewo rk, yo u hang up knowing that you've just spent t ime with a so lid, well-rounded kid. You also know fo r certain th at the Mert Ar m doesn't do a lot of dust co llec ting a round t he McC ullough ho use. Danatians can be made ta the Chris Draayer Memarial Fund through any branch afZian Bank (acct. # 09834356 9). Far mare infarmation, e-mail Christian Draayer at For more information an Creative Mobilities, call 630{587-8 /00 . For more informatian a n Lawwill's work, visit ... Editor N I! W S • NnVFMRFR 1() ? ()() iI 10 3

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