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(Notes: I love chasing rabbits, but only caught a few in the last 30 years or so. The best rabbit catcher I ever saw? Well, it wasn't the mythical Fearless Ralph in this bullshit story. Nope. It was Bob Hannah. Once, during a test/photo session , we were talking about catching rabbits and Bob said it was too easy. To prove it, he took off on his YZ-125 and came back in less than 10 minutes, holding a big-assed jackrabbit by the ears. We were suitably impressed.)


Bench racing is an integral part of dirt riding. Whenever a handful of riders get together, the yarns and stories start to flow. How much of these stories are truth is debatable, but the idea behind bench racing is to tell the wildest possible tale—and still have a germ of truth.

Some time ago, a bunch of riders were at my garage, working on the bikes and drinking some brew. The bench racing was hot and heavy, and not a whole lot was being done on the bikes. The conversation got around to chasing jackrabbits.

Jackrabbit chasing, for those of you who have never done it, is one of the neatest ways to spend a day. There are no special rules and you don't want to hurt the rabbit, just catch him from a bike.

It goes something like this: A cou­ple of riders fan out and ride slowly across the open ground. Sooner or later, a rabbit will pop up and start to make it flat-out, zig-zagging as he goes. The riders try to keep him in sight while charging and dodging rocks and bushes. It's great fun and, usually, the rabbit wins, disappear­ing after a few minutes of hard chase.

One of the guys was telling about the time he almost caught a big “jack,” but had a flat at the last second and the rabbit got away.

“Yeah,” he went on, “I chased that tough old jack for 40 miles over the roughest ground you could ima­gine. Almost had him, too, but my rear tire went flat and I hadda stop. When I looked at my wheel, I saw there were only seven spokes left in it. That's how rough the ground was.”

Another cut in and said, “That's nothin'. Once I went out chasin' rabbits with a brand new knobby on the back of my bike. This big old jack jumped up and took off. Man, he was bigger than a collie dog and had a top end of around 60. Anyways, that smart old rabbit led me over a lava bed for two hours in a big circle. I finally had to stop be­cause all of the knobs were worn off of that new tire.”

A general groan greeted this story. Somebody else had a story: “About a month ago, I was chasin' this huge jackrabbit around, and I mean huge - he musta weighed about 80 pounds - and I ran him out of the brush right onto a dry lake bed. Well sir, right then and there, I figured I had him. So I put her in fourth and poured it on. When the rabbit realized there was no way that he was gonna outrun my Triumph, he stopped in his tracks, bared his fangs and attacked me.”

Boos and hisses from everybody.

“No, I'm not kidding,” he said with a straight face. “That old rabbit hunched down like a lion and leaped right for my throat. Fortunately, I pulled a quick wheelie, and he bit my fork boot instead. That sorta stunned him for a second. Then he got up and ran off.

“If you guys don't believe me, go take a look at that tear in my left fork boot. Sure was a mean bunny.”

A lot of eyes looked skyward at that one.

It was time for my two cents worth. “Did any of you see that rabbit running around wearing a number plate? Yessiree, fastest thing you ever saw.”

A whole lot of boos greeted that statement, so I didn't pursue the story any further. Disbelievers.

“Apparently none of you guys have ever seen the greatest rabbit chaser of them all,” said my buddy Tom. “Fel­low by the name of Fearless Ralph. At least that's what everyone called him. He used to ride a big 450 Du­cati, all tricked up, and did nothing but chase rabbits. In fact, they say he once caught two rabbits at the same time.”

Mutters of disbelief.

Tom went on, “Nope, it's a fact. Seems that he spooked two bunnies at the same time, and they both lit off together. Old Fearless chased one around the north side of a hill and the other around the south side of the same hill. Then they ran head on into each other, both of them getting knocked out in the process. Guess they were so worried about Ralph, they just didn't pay any at­tention to where they were running.”


A beer can fizzed open, punctuat­ing the silence.

“Then one day someone told Fear­less about this wise old jackrabbit out near Death Valley,” he continued, “that nobody could get near. Seems that this rabbit would pick the tough­est and roughest terrain around and just hit the high spots, like a stone skipping across the water. Well, that's all Fearless had to hear. He loaded up his Ducati and that weekend headed for the rabbit's stomping grounds.

“Didn't take him too long to lo­cate that old bunny, either. Guess the rabbit liked the chase as well as anyone else. When Fearless spotted him, old long-legs waited for a mo­ment as if to say, ‘Come and get me,' then hightailed it.

“Fearless got right on his tail, and the rabbit started to look scared. So he headed for the rough country. But the rougher the ground got, the closer Fearless got. That old jack was mak­ing 30-foot leaps, from the top of one rut to the next rise, but Fearless pulled closer than ever.

“In desperation, the jack headed for Garbage Canyon , the worst spot on the face of the earth, trying to shake Fearless. And he started to pull slightly ahead of Fearless, who was riding for all he was worth. Then it happened.”

Tom paused for effect.

Somebody said, “For krissake, what happened? Get on with it!”

Tom looked him straight in the face, then said, “What else? The rabbit crashed.”