NIC bookstore account technician restores, races vintage bikes
Like the old saying goes about classic cars, they just don’t make motorcycles like they used to.
At least that’s what North Idaho College Bookstore Account Technician Dale Walter believes. And he would know. Walter, who is in his 60s, has spent most of his life riding motorcycles. He first started riding with neighbors who rode around on small dirt bikes on trails around their homes in California. Though it began casually, soon the racing bug bit and Walter got the inkling to race at the track near where they lived.
“The first two times I broke down,” Walter said, adding that he was 30 years old when he first started racing. “But then I saw this ugly-looking bike go past me. It was the faster, lighter German-made Sachs. I don’t know what it was about it, but it caught my attention.”
|photo1|Walter decided to get one and on his newly-acquired 1969 Sachs, he began motocross racing in the 100cc class. He soon started winning races with the new bike, earning more than 80 trophies over a four-year period racing nearly every weekend in American Cycle Association competitions.
Since then, Walter has had a 30-year love affair with the foreign bikes that have been such a major part of his life.
He quit racing in 1974, but never stopped riding. Three years ago, he found a 1972 125cc DKW, the new name for the bikes that were once named Sachs, on the Internet. He purchased itand brought it home from Arizona to restore and ride on trails.
Walter took the bike apart and restored it completely with original parts. Fortunately for Walter, his wife Karen is originally from Germany and a DKW parts store is near her hometown.
“She has always supported my racing,” Walter said. “I just have to remind her that DKW stands for Dale and Karen Walter.”
Walter fully intended to ride his motorcycle after he completed the restoration.
“I don’t want to restore a bike so it can be a paperweight,” Walter said. “After all that work, I’m going to ride it.”
But when the restoration was complete, somehow Walter’s itch to ride transformed into a yearning to race again.
In 2004, he participated in the 60 and older class of a desert race in Odessa, Wash. He regretted it. The 88-mile course was designed for modern bikes with better suspension and the course nearly jarred the older bikes, and their riders, to pieces. Walter finished second to last in his class.
Figuring he was done racing, he later bought a 1972 125cc Penton and had a 370cc Bultaco Pursang that he focused on restoring until he found out about the American Historic Racing Association. The association, which had a Northwest district, was specifically focused on vintage motorcycles and vintage racing.
Now in a more suitable class, Walter participated in a race with other vintage bikes last summer in Goldendale and Spokane, Wash. Even after having not raced for several years, the racing spirit that was second nature to Walter kicked in and he placed fourth in the race.
Walter is now converting his Penton to a 100cc so he can race in both size divisions with his bikes and is looking forward to other races this spring and summer held throughout Washington.
“Riding and racing have always been a lot of fun for me,” Walter said. “And there’s something about being on a vintage bike that makes it even better.”
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NIC Bookstore Account Technician Dale Walter, (208) 769-7773Posted: Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2006