2420830399_9f3d9347c5_mI’m not much of a camper. In fact, I haven’t camped at all since about 1982 or so. I’m just not into it, at least not as a lifestyle thing. My compulsion about hygiene and taking showers kinda keeps me in hotel rooms.

But with gas prices climbing to European levels, and the mileage in my old Dodge truck hovering just under the 10mpg mark, I can no longer afford to be so picky. If I’m going to make any vintage races this year I’m going to have to be able to camp at least one night because I just can’t afford gas plus a hotel in my race budget. Over the winter I began collecting a little camping gear with the idea that I would camp all weekend at the 6th Annual Diamond Don’s Riverport AHRMA National. Here’s a picture of my campsite.

On the left is my old Dodge 4×4 with a Sportz Truck Tent ($150 from Tenst on Trucks) setup in the bed. This worked great. I hate the idea of camping on the ground in rainy conditions. The truck bed keeps everything well above ground, and the tent overlaps all three sides of the bed to ensure that water doesn’t get underneath the tent. I set the tent up once at home to be sure I had all the pieces.

Once I got to the track and setup the tent I rolled out my air mattress. It’s a nice pillow-top full-size unit I got from Overstock.com for about $80 a couple of years ago and it just fits between the wheelwells. Before I left I wired a Xantrex 700w XPower inverter (from Amazon for $43) to my truck battery and used that to pump up the mattress. I also used it to run an electric drill so I could fit new number plates to my 250 before the race. All-in-all it worked just fine.

2421645040_e2757e818c_mWhat you see here is a shot of the campsite from the front, with my 10’x10′ pop-up canopy. That’s a Tipke Fold-It aluminum cart ($199 at Northern Tool)in the foreground. They’re pretty cool. I saw them in the pits at an AMA roadrace at Road Atlanta last year. It folds almost flat for transport, weighs very little, and can carry up to 300lbs. In this photo it’s loaded with buckets of water – something that was in short supply at DD’s this year. On the table is a little two-burner stove, a Mr Heater Portable Buddy heater ($99 at Northern Tool,) and a couple of gas lanterns. I had to take all this stuff out of the box at DD’s. I never used any of it before.

I can say that it all worked just fine. Except for when I went stumbling into the trailer, in the dark, Friday night carrying only a flashlight. I have a couple of aluminum cabinets mounted on the trailer walls and I forgot and left one of the doors open (sharp corners). While fumbling around to find whatever it was I was looking for (I don’t remember) I raised up and slammed my head into the corner of the open door. Ouch! My right eyebrow was sliced open and bled like a stuck pig for about 30 minutes. Everyone said I looked like a pirate the next day, with my eye bandaged and my do-rag on.

2420832969_dcbee57c1c_mThis was the first outing for the Mean Lady, the Sportsman-class 250 I bought from PSL in Canada last Fall. It was in storage and I picked it us just before the race. I wasn’t at all sure I would ride her, because I hadn’t done anything at all to get her ready. But Texan John Putkey, who with his wife Laura put me up Wednesday and Thursday nites in Houston, cajoled me into working on her and then pitched in several hours of his own labor to help get her ready. Here you see the aftermath of the first, muddy moto. What a mess. She ran great in the first moto and, had I not stalled the rear wheel in a corner on the third lap I would have finished quite high. As it was, I finished 6th in Moto 1. But in Moto 2 she died in staging, re-fired after about 25-30 kicks, then died again about 2/3 through the first lap. Leaving me with a long push back to the pits. A little work on waterproofing should help me do better next time.

2420834127_2da825ef74_mThis pic is Lil’ Red, a “new” 1972 CZ 125 I picked up from Weedhopper Joey Poole of Arkansas. Joey made a special trip down to Jefferson, TX just to deliver the bike. A close friend of Joey’s died unexpectedly the day before and he had to cancel his plans for the event. But he brought Lil’ Red down for me anyway. Thanks Joey.

There are a few more pictures in my flickr photostream, including a few of a really cool custom tow vehicle a guy made from two 1950’s C600 Ford truck cabs. Just click on any of the pics to go there.

Update: Tommy Montgomery has posted more (and better) pics of the DD’s event over at his flickr page. Check them out.

hydrosorbentHere’s a nifty little item you might find helpful if you live in a really humid area like I do – hydrosorbent packs from CampingSurvival.com. The self-contained, rechargeable moisture absorbers come in a variety of sizes , change colors to let you know when they’re full, and can be recharged with a few hours in an oven. I put them inside the RubberMaid containers I use to store engines and engine parts, clamp the lid down tight, then slip a big 2ml garbage bag around it. Any moisture that gets in the bag gets absorbed by the gel pack. Over time it will even suck out whatever moisture may be in the engine and really keeps the rust out of the internals. Good stuff and pretty cheap insurance if you’re going to keep a good motor on a shelf for a year or two. (I know, who does that?) From $5-$12 depending on size. Oh, don’t eat them.