Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1970's

Cycle News 1972 01 18

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 2 of 31

,J Rumor in the desert says super-fast J .N - Roberts was born riding a factory-sponsored Husqvarna, and Cycle News . always interested in miraculous happenings , sent me o u t to get the straigh t sco op . The sign on the gate of the fo othills home said, "Beware of Dog," and a largc Doberman lay on the lawn, I hesitated for a moment, but J.N . was working on his bike in the driveway and he waved for meto c ome on in. "Do you mind if I work while we talk?" he asked . J .N. was rep lacing the gas tank that had split just before the start of Check Chase. "It all st arted with t he Marine Corps," J .N . remembered. "I spent 48 months thrashing aro und on foot in this stuff." He indicated the brush co vered foothills across the road. "And ca rrying a rifle an d pack besides. I made up my mind th at when I go t out of the Marines I was going to buy me a motorcycle and ride over th at st u ff, and that's what I did." The first motorcycle was a used 250 Hon da which he started racing in 1965. It took a year to make Expert on the Honda (does that make so me of yo u No vices feel better?) and when he b ored the bike o u t to 350 cub ic centimeters he suddenly found himself baek on the line as a Novice . But eight m onths later J.N . was once again an Expert, tliis time in the I1eavyweigh t di vision. By then J.N . was riding pret ' . ell. lie felt ready for a more c omp eti t ive bike and b ought his first Hu k . "I didn't quite have th e bik e figured o u t when I ra ced it fo r the first timet:: .N. recalls, "and I onlv fin ished s.;.v~nth overall ." . ' : d't q J .N. keeps in shape by riditll~: : about four days a week, either on h is mo to rcy cle or on one of the h orses he keeps in the stables behind the house. "I'm luc kier than most guys," he commented. " I don't even have to load my bike in th e truck , I just push it across the road an d I h ave all th e open country I need to practice in." As for food and drink: "I sorta ' watch what I d o. I whoop it up occasi onally, but not o n Saturday nigh t. I try to watch my diet close enough so I can have a beer once in a while without ruini ng myself." On sheer horsepower : "Well, if you have th e h o rsep o wer , you have to be able to hang o nto the bike in order to use it. But th at all c o mes with practice. In a H re and Hound o r a cross countrv rae • you tl3\' to look way ahead and be m,l to re",d th e desert so you will kn w if yoU are riding into a gull y or a ro c p ile; I it takes is a good pair of ey es and !ots' (jf practi ce." Tra <;y, of Bl).rb an k keeps J .N.'s Husky in ~op' eonditi on , but he still carr ies ; bail1ng, - e:':iPare plugs and a few to ols for litnerg repairs. lli~ .ex t physical co nd ition is only to his racing, hut is impprt;;mt vital to his profession. J .N. is a moti on-picture stuntrnan , and. as with h is racing, he is d edicated a nd talented . En ough so th at h e is a member of Stunts Unlimited , an organization o f abou t 20 of the ver y best stuntrnen in the coun try . In add iti o n to doing stunts involvin g motorcycles, J.N. appears in man y movies as a cowboy or Indian . Re cently h e has appeared in th e m ovie, "Sometimes a Great Notion," several television co mmercials , episodes o f "Mod Squad" and "Mannix' and in several movies of the week. A new motion picture, HO n the Line:' a movie about desert racers and h ow the spo rt w ~ C CJ :r ~ :::> a > z « e, s o u e Z s Z . ID > a: « a: ID ..J U ... U « e, good eyes, lots of practice, und lots of luck By Alice Rhea • ,,; .. . '.-, t. ,I allec ts their lives, features J .N., wife Dian, son Rafe and most of District 37's racers. "On the Line" promises to be well worth seeing. Although his professi on is a natural parallel to motor cycle racing, bo th being brutally demanding, in past years J.N . has spent so mu ch time on location making movies tha t he hasn't been ab1e to attend en ough races to win the number o ne plate. In his seven years of racing J.N. has won all the 'biggies'. Utah's Cherry Creek, the Mint 400 twi ce , Baja 500 once, Baja 1000 twice (o nce o n a 250 Husky) and the Barstow-to-Vegas so many times that they o ugh t t o name it after him. lie did n ot win the B-V the first y ear it was run... He was in New and Au stralia racing Z ealand Mrnorocr oss before it became popular here. I had h eard seve ra l pe ople accuse J.N . o f cu tt ing c o urse, so I asked someone who should know wh at goes on out there in the b o onies where nobody else can see . Rich Thorwaldson had this to say: "He is good at what he d oes . What more can you say ? As for co urse-cutting, th a t 's a b unch of b ull ! J .N. is too fas t to need to do that. When yo u are' up fron t there is no d ust trail to see in the distance... you have to stay on the trail or you get lost." Earlier th is year J .N. was invi ted to th e Isle o f Man for his first tr y at the Internat ional Six Da y Trials. A cas ual d re sser, J .:" . is fond of well worn jeans an d shirt s, and al tho ugh he knew he would have to dress up a little for a foreign cou nt ry . h e w asn't prepared fo r th e rigid ru les of dress o n the Isle of Man , HI wen t to three rest aurants try ing to ge t break fast th at first day," J .N . said . "I final ly had to go ba ck to the hotel and borrow a tie so I co uld eat!" Some experts were skeptical of J .N.'s chances at the trials since he is essentiall y a de sert rider, but those wh o chose the te am members had th e good sen se to rel y o n his familiarity with the m otorcy cle and his natural talent. Alth ough th e press has app lauded him for ada p ting so quickly to the unfamiliar terra in, J .• ' . is not too happy with himself for winning "only a silver medal." In six days o f riding, J.N. was late fo r o n ly o nce check. On the second day he ran o ut of gas n ear the finish line on a p aved ro ad. Th e big ca rb o n the Husky just ate to o much gas. lie also quickly adapted to riding in tra ffic , a th in g he never d oes , and on the wrong side of the road at that! In spite of the problems in dress and terrain, J.N . is alr ead y talking about '.'next year... " Back in the desert , J .N. joined in the h otly co n tested b attle fo r Number One. J.N. and Rich Thorwaldson were both riding brilliantly and giving th e fans pl enty of material fo r sp eculation. At on e time Rich was abou t 300 points ahead of J .l ' . Then, ten days before the all-important Barstow-to-Vegas race, a stunt went awry and J .N. was left with 26 stitiches holding his head together, b oth eyes swollen sh ut and one hell of a he ad ache. With the number one pl a te a t stake, J.N. expressed his fears that he would not be able to ride the following weekend. Missing this race could cost him the coveted Number One position, he said, "And I been tryin' a lotta' years ." Gritting his teeth against the jolts, J.N . .came out on Friday and tried to loosen up for TilE RACE . On race day, Rich roared off the starting line well ahead of J .N . and stayed there for a long time . In the heat of the pursuit, J.I'. forgot about his throbbing head, stood on the pe gs and gave the Husky full throttle...Then bad luck clobbered Rich with a n at tire which caused him to run out of gas miles from the pits. Not knowing who might be right behind him, J .N . kept the throttle wide open and wo we d the spectators by finishing twen ty min utes ahead 0 f George Wal ker , who finis hed second. But lady lu ck just could n't make up h er m ind . At the Prospectors' race a co up le of weeks later she turned her back on J .N. He got o ff, lost a footpeg and the race. But I wonder how many other racers would have finished that last quarter of the race o n one peg? Sandblasters held the final ra ce of the season. Rich was not the short end this time. His bike threw him, bent a footpeg, bloodied his nose and gouged him in the ribs. Rich finished second to J.N.'s first . Even then, with the last race ru n, nobody k new for sure who had the number one plate . J.N. h as a ttained the ul t im at e. A fter 'seven years of desert racing, h e is Number Onel Asked wh at it takes to win at desert racing, J.N. comments: "Luck. a lo tta luck." ~ ~ Q.. ~ Cl eo g ..., ~ w Z ~ o ~

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1970's - Cycle News 1972 01 18