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Thread: Family camping and dirt riding in the late '60s and early '70s

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    Benevolent Dictator ancientdad's Avatar
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    Family camping and dirt riding in the late '60s and early '70s

    Not long after my father got me started riding in '68, he bought a CT70 for my mother to learn to ride on (at age 44). Once the three of us were doing some trail riding and a little hill climbing we started going camping with another family (the husband/father of the family worked with my father). Since we didn't have anything to sleep in overnight, the two fathers together built toppers for their pickup trucks so we could get started. Instead of the typical combination of a stock truck tailgate and half-height access window on the average topper, they built a full-sized removable rear wall for the back of the topper with a smaller door in it. The interior was 3 removable pieces built from wood that slipped over the wheel wells with the 3rd section across the front of the truck bed ahead of the wheel wells, making up 3 bed areas on which we put small foam mattresses. We took our bikes with us on a 3 rail trailer and spent entire weekends camping and riding in a wildlife preserve that, ironically, I now live less than 5 miles from but at the time was about 45 miles or so north of where we lived. I dug through all my pictures, found and scanned a few more from my mother's photo album and assembled as many from that period as I could find.

    First, a closer look at the topper on my father's F-100 at the time (sorry Mom, we're looking past you in the second pic)





    Unfortunately, no pictures were taken of Mom's CT70 but she only had it for a couple months. She learned to ride well enough that my Dad traded it in on an SL100 for her, then the clutch learning curve took a bit longer but she probably rode it more than any of her bikes overall.







    Meanwhile when we were first getting started with our weekend fun, I had the amalgamation that was nicknamed Sparkplug by my Dad (old racehorse term I guess) cobbled together from a Sachs (maybe 125?) 2 stroke with a clapped out set of forks and a tired engine. It got to me like this and though I don't have any pictures of it later after the grafted Ducati 250 street bike front end (steering head from the frame included) and a tranplanted C200 engine, it shows up often in the two parts of Super 8 video taken during our weekends before the purchase of my first new bike (Candy Red SL175K0) and later while the bike was in the Honda shop I no longer worked for to get a warranty crankshaft replacement.



    and leaning on a block on the left in this front yard picture



    Later that year we all had nice new bikes and we were still sleeping in the truck under the topper.

    Last edited by ancientdad; 11.19.22 at 7:56 PM.
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    Benevolent Dictator ancientdad's Avatar
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    The trail riding, hill climbing and jumps ensued







    After a while my Dad decided to get my Mom a little bigger bike and traded in the SL100 for an SL125, the drab solid blue color the first year so he painted it pearl with lavender lace



    And sometime not long before then he made a deal for a camping trailer. The first time we took it out behind his F-100 it made the truck buck like crazy on our old tired, bumpy roads in Lutz so he made some torsion bars for the hitch out of old leaf springs with chains welded to the ends and bought a couple of lever-latches to tension them. He also cut a couple of feet-long piece of truck driveshaft, welded the ends closed with plate steel, found a small 12v air compressor and made a pressurized system with a regulator for the water tank on the camping trailer. It was like opening the faucet at home, and he added a second battery under the hood of the truck to handle the load for the weekends.



    By the time I was going into my senior year in high school I'd moved on from the SL175 to an SL350K1 and my second dealership job. I was socializing with my bike-riding friends more and didn't go camping with them as often. Mom moved up from the 125 to her biggest bike, a used SL175 that had been lightly crashed by an idiot I went to high school with, so he repaired it and painted it solid Candy Gold with black frame and Mom recovered the seat her way (the same bike she later made the Lil General commercial with).





    One of her knees started to bother her and the weight of the 175 was more than she felt comfortable with at age 48 so she traded down to a CT90, her last bike.



    She did take a few rides on my ATC90 during the latter part of my senior year when I had beaten the hell out of my XL250 (which followed my CL450K4, NOT a dirt bike) and was fascinated by the first model of 3 wheeler Honda made.



    And here are the converted rolls of Super 8 film from '69 through '72 including the XL250. I have only about 3 or 4 minutes of video of my SL350K1 and it has not yet been converted, though I do have some footage of it after a crash at the more popular riding area near us (Croom, off the SR 50 exit from I-75 north of Tampa). My father repaired the bent rear fender and dented gas tank from the bent steering stop letting the forks hit the right side of the tank, then repainted it and it was sold to bring home the CL450.





    While my 350 was apart, I was riding my Dad's Candy Orange SL350K1 to school and work and a guy pulled in front of me at a cross-street in Tampa on my way to the job after school. With nearly a foot-tall square stone curbs, cars in the left lane next to me and the big old Lincoln stopped dead in the lane after he saw me, I had nowhere to go. Braked as hard as I could, slid into the car's rear wheel and fell over just like on Laugh-In only it wasn't funny. The car driver was cited of course, but that didn't change my father's mind - he was pissed and didn't want to hear anything I had to say about it.



    Back to the fun, some video taken at the aforementioned Croom when a cousin from Michigan was visiting and my local cousin had come home from the service and bought an SL350K1.



    And finally, some silliness in the side yard at my parents' house after buying the ATC90 (still in my Honda Village uniform after work)

    Last edited by ancientdad; 11.19.22 at 8:07 PM.
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    These are a good collection of your family memories Tom.
    I like to see your Mom's style of motorcycle riding,similar to mine;keep feet loading the footpegs all the time,even in the saddle.
    You look to be riding well on the SL350 in the dirt;a heavy bike.
    How long did all of you go camping together ?

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    Senior Member ballbearian's Avatar
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    Now that is a cool seat. Bet you wish you still had it. The seat that is. I bet you're still a hotdog at heart.

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    Benevolent Dictator ancientdad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ballbearian View Post
    Now that is a cool seat. Bet you wish you still had it. The seat that is. I bet you're still a hotdog at heart.
    I rode that bike to school once, and got razzed by the guys who rode bikes immediately after I got there. They all shut up when I told them it was my Mom's bike.

    Of course I'm still a hot dog at heart. I've always enjoyed cautiously pushing the envelope a little.
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    Benevolent Dictator ancientdad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilbikek411 View Post
    You look to be riding well on the SL350 in the dirt;a heavy bike.
    How long did all of you go camping together ?
    As I mentioned above the next to last video, the guy on the blue SL350K1 is my local cousin who came home from military service and bought the 350 (the guy at the trailer hitch in the beginning of the video). It was his first bike though he had ridden a few bikes previously. I'm the guy with the headband riding the XL250 in that video, my Dad also had an XL250, my local cousin's SL350K1 is in the first shot and and we brought my Mom's SL175 for my cousin John from Michigan to ride though he did more filming than riding that day.
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    Senior Member ballbearian's Avatar
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    The SL90's must have been before the Super 8 era. Man, you guys were drowning in all those different bikes to ride. What a ball!

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    Benevolent Dictator ancientdad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ballbearian View Post
    The SL90's must have been before the Super 8 era. Man, you guys were drowning in all those different bikes to ride. What a ball!
    The SL90 came out in March of '69 and my Dad bought the Super 8 set for the family for Christmas in 1969. He didn't have the SL90 more than 6 months I think and it was not long before I turned 15 during the summer after 9th grade so I wasn't riding on the street yet (well, legally). I can't remember if he sold the 90 or traded it in but the next bike he got was a CL175 which must have been the first year (K0) because the release date for the next version with the chrome low fender wasn't until '70 and his did not have the high fender (K3) that is so rare to see now. Yeah, we had bikes coming and going during that period like my father had cars coming and going for about a 10 year stretch. Sometimes he would buy a car, repair it, my Mom would start driving it to work and one day he'd meet someone at her work and sell them the car. She drove all kinds of stuff from manual to automatic and whatever brand he thought he could make some money on.

    Crappy picture but the only one I have of that 175

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    Senior Member 2wheel's Avatar
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    Pics of the truck reminded me of my first vehicle. 65 F100. It’s a pic of my brothers 66 falcon but my truck is partially in the pic. Paid $100 bucks for it.
    6B724F7F-40CB-45A7-89E8-2E1CEE72ED91.jpeg
    1966 CA77 305 Dream
    1976 CB200T
    1975 XL250
    72 CL450
    84 CR60
    1980 KZ1000 B4

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    Quote Originally Posted by ancientdad View Post
    As I mentioned above the next to last video, the guy on the blue SL350K1 is my local cousin who came home from military service and bought the 350 (the guy at the trailer hitch in the beginning of the video). It was his first bike though he had ridden a few bikes previously. I'm the guy with the headband riding the XL250 in that video, my Dad also had an XL250, my local cousin's SL350K1 is in the first shot and and we brought my Mom's SL175 for my cousin John from Michigan to ride though he did more filming than riding that day.
    That blue SL350K1 is a very nice bike

    Do still have at least one of those bikes from your past ?

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    Amazing post, thanks for sharing!

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    Benevolent Dictator ancientdad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2wheel View Post
    Pics of the truck reminded me of my first vehicle. 65 F100. It’s a pic of my brothers 66 falcon but my truck is partially in the pic. Paid $100 bucks for it.
    That red '66 F100 eventually was finished (full diamond plate bed metal and top edges, body work and paint, engine and transmission transplant from a tired 352 with column 3 speed manual to a 390 with C6 automatic taken from a rolled '67 Galaxie with a Mustang T-handle floor shift added) and was painted Dodge Charger Lime green. I got to use it now and then to haul my bikes to go dirt riding, and I'd love to have one today but as you know the old F100s are popular now.
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