I woke with a mission. The Goose needed a rear tire. I’m guessing I could squeeze one or two more days out of it before it let go and left me stranded on some unfamiliar road in California. Luckily I had teammates on my side. My good friends at Crossroads Yamaha-Suzuki in Albe Marle, North Carolina had my back and Carmen was at the lead. She responded to my previous evenings voicemail at around 10am. She set up a plan to find a fellow Yamaha dealer in the greater Los Angeles area after finding out where I was and where I was headed. Barstow is no more than a half days drive to any where in Los Angeles, so I was pretty flexible no matter what dealership that she found. Her plan was to call a few until she found one that could hook me up with a deal. I told her that my original plan of travel was to head west to Malibu Creek State Park and that Thousand Oaks Yamaha was over there. I remember Thousand Oaks from my 2001 visit to Loretta Lynns ametuer motocross championship. If my memory serves me right, they were sponsoring Mike Alessi on a Yamaha YZ85. She contacted Courtney at Thousand Oaks and Courtney agreed to help me out. Not long after that though, she contacted Dave from Chapparal Motorsports in San Bernandino CA. San Bernandino was quite a bit closer to Barstow, so we eventually decided that was the place I would go to get a tire. I packed my things and prayed that my tire could pull off the 80 miles to San Bernandino. At this point, I had already spoke to Dave on the phone and knew that they could hook me up with free tire change if I bought the tire and I knew that Crossroads negotiated a good deal for me and that was enough to put a smile on my face for weeks.
Eighty miles later I pulled into the, Walmart sized, Chapparal Motorsports and when I say Walmart sized, I mean it. I’m not sure of the square footage of the sales floor, but it takes the cake as the largest one I have ever laid eyes on with its three massive rooms, one for offroad and streetbikes, one for quads and side by sides (and even a dune buggy), and one for parts and accessories. The sales floor has to be in the range of 300×100 feet. This doesn’t include the huge helmet room and the attached tire shop. Then folks, there are three other detached buildings. One is a 110,000 sq. ft. tire storage and shipping warehouse, one is another, 110,000 sq. ft., parts and accessories distribution center, and one is a massive service shop that would be any mans dream shop. Believe it or not, there’s more and it is located in Ohio and is a 50,000 sq. ft. distribution center. I get all excited just thinking about it. Moto Heaven? I think so! In the late 90’s and early 2000’s I would order their free catalog for the great deals that they always have going on. I stopped ordering them when I started working at bike shops years ago. This is a great reminder that I need to get another Chapparal Motorsports catalog when I get back home and start racing again. I remember them sponsoring Jeremy McGrath and Jimmy Button from 1998 through 2000 through the Chapparal Yamaha team. In the world of motocross that’s as big as it gets. I have pictures of their race truck from the Atlanta Supercross that I went to in 2001. Needless to say, I was a bit star struck just by the building. Once I yanked off the tire in the parking lot and gathered myself I went inside to track down Dave.
As soon as I walked in the tire shop doors, Dave greeted me with a smile. He looked square at me and said “You know that they (Crossroads Yamaha) are going to take care of this tire for you”. I didn’t know. I thought I was going to pay for a nicely discounted back tire. Boy was I surprised. It was one of the best feelings of my life just knowing that good people are looking out for me. Then he spontaneously said “You know what? I’m going to go half with Crossroads on your tire”. Holy moly I thought. Here I was, a simple ol’ country boy from West Virginia in a building that I can only dream about, talking to a fellow who wanted to help me out. Insert speechless right at this point. The only words that I could muster up were thank you. With everything I have, THANK YOU, guys. After meeting the fellows in the tire shop they took the Goose’s back tire to the service area to change it and I took the Canon and explored the huge showroom. Walking through Chapparal brought back memories of my better days of being a parts counter guy or a setup guy at the four motorcycle dealerships that I’ve worked at. The smell of the new tires, squeaky clean bikes, awesome new gear, and excited looks on the customers faces, were great. After a massive circle around the showroom I headed back to the tire shop to get the newly mounted tire. I thought it would be time to go, but Dave one-upped it again. He took me on a behind the scenes tour of Chapparal through the huge buildings that I mentioned before. I met the service shop manager and the distribution shop manager and saw what it takes to make an operation like this run, and it was impressive. Once the tour was over, Dave and I headed back to his tire shop and I briefly grabbed the guys for a quick picture. They went the extra mile again by hooking me up with a free Chapparal beanie and a sticker. I said a thank you and farewell to the guys and headed to the parking lot to mount the new meat. Twenty minutes later the Goose had its second leg back on and I was off, trying to beat the sunset to Malibu.
My route would take me from San Bernandino to the 15 south to 134 west to the 101 north. Malibu Creek State Park is 82 miles from Chapparal Motorsports and I would have made it before dark if not for stopping to get some food. All of the excitement from the day left me starving. A quick stop at Dennys along 134 west and I was back on the road in the thickening Los Angeles traffic. Out here there is a phenomena where there can be up to five lanes of traffic creeping along and the guys on motorcycles will ride right on the white dotted line, barely squeezing through cars. I was passed by several sport bikes and even a BMW adventure bike with side boxes. When the traffic got real slow I thought about trying it, but decided not to when I saw a big white work van swerve sideways across two lanes of traffic to keep from rear ending someone. Plus the Gooses side boxes are a bit wider than your average motorcycle luggage. Those guys who do that are playing Russian Roulette and they WILL get in an accident someday. If they have been injured as bad as me in motorcycle crashes perhaps they’d think twice too. Soon, I lost the race with the sunset and there I was driving past Hollywood on the 101 looking for the park in super heavy traffic. I made one last stop at a convenience store and met the most fascinating lady. Her name was Nancy and she was a Malibu native, writer, and all around welcoming soul. We spoke about writing and life in Malibu for no less than 20 minutes before I continued on. I eventually found the park, paid the $35 dollar camping fee, and popped the tent up in the dark, grassy, Malibu hills.
Crossroads Yamaha-Suzuki 704-982-7623
Chapparal Motorsports 1 800 841 2960
Two shops where service matters period.