« * * The courage of convictions | Main | * * A tale of two surgeries »

* * Keeping up with the Joneses, for three generations

Blasting through the woods at top speed on two wheels isn’t for everybody, but for Bob Jones, his two sons, and his grandson, it’s been part of the family for decades. It turns out that I had a part in their passion.

I met Bob, now 65, at a local car dealership in the 1970s. He’d moved from Newport News and gotten a job as a car mechanic. I was 20 and had been a motorcycle enthusiast since around age 14. We hit it off and he bought a bike to ride with me. Eventually, I drifted away from dirt riding, but it stayed an obsession with him that has never worn off. Now my enthusiasm has returned as well, as I’ve recently bought another dirt bike.

Bob, sons Travis and Nathan, and grandson Trevor met me at Travis’ house on the edge of Blacksburg to talk about it.

Bob said, “I met you and became fascinated by dirt bikes in general. I’d been riding (road bikes) but was fascinated by your Penton, which was state of the art. I bought a 1970 Bultaco. I started motocrossing and trail riding. By 1977 I did woods racing. I’ve always been mechanically inclined and I worked my career as an automotive technician and in tool sales. Now I work for Travis at his store, Go Race (in Christiansburg), again as a mechanic.”

Son Travis, now 47, grew up in his dad’s tire tracks, so to speak. “I was growing up as dad was really getting into it, and it was natural for me to do the same. I was probably 4 when I rode for the first time and got my first bike when I was 6. I was involved in the environment and was stimulated by the machines and the people around them, working to understand how to make them go faster and how to ride faster. Dad taught me a lot and then I learned more on my own.

“We were racing constantly, hare scrambles, motocross and enduro.”

Terminology: motocross is done on a short dirt track with multiple obstacles, jumps, curves and the like. A lap takes a minute or two and a race is comprised of many laps. Hare scrambles are races through the woods on single-track trails that may take 20 to 30 minutes per lap. Enduro is a timed race with checkpoints for the riders.

 Bob said that even beyond the almost weekly racing and the constant mechanic work on the bikes after the races, there was training. “You have to be in good physical condition to race. Hare scrambles races are over 2 hours long and are grueling. To be competitive you have to be in good shape. We were racing together, wrenching together, learning together. I always thought it was a good family thing. We were close knit, enjoying the same activity.

Second son Nathan, 29, has also been a rider and racer for most of his life, and he’s now working on a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech. “I grew up going to the races with Dad and Trav. I worked my way up through the various age classes, which eventually led to a state championship in 2007. Many of the weekends we weren’t racing we were riding around here. I’m appreciative of the upbringing I got and think that racing builds confidence in other areas of life as well. We’ve always been close as a family in large part because of this shared passion.”

Bob and Travis have also won several state championships between them.

Racing was expensive, and to pay for it they bought a trailer and equipped it to be a mobile shop to take to races, offering mechanic services. On a typical weekend, they’d drive to the track on Friday, sell parts and services all day Saturday, often well into the evening, and race on Sunday. They did this for over ten years, learning the skills that eventually would lead Travis to establish Go Race Inc., which is located beside the Sheetz in Christiansburg. “One time,” Bob said, “Travis was doing suspension work until 4:00 a.m., got a couple hours of sleep, and then won the race at the Pro-Am level.”

Travis’ son Trevor is a high school junior, and he’s a rider as well, known for his near-endless wheelies and technical riding ability. Trevor said, “I don’t ever remember not riding motorcycles. I want to continue the Jones legacy of winning championships and eventually I want to be a world champion.”

“They’re all faster than me now,” Bob admitted. “I’m just trying not to hurt myself!”

I said, “I remember my first ride, how exciting it was. It either grabs you or it doesn’t. But it’s still thrilling for me today.”

Go Race, Inc. now employs several people and takes in suspension work from across the country and indeed worldwide. “Around 70% of my work is from beyond Virginia,” Travis claimed. He’s got all the work he can handle, including upgrading my new Beta. 

Travis said, “Motorcycles have been a successful and fulfilling way of life. I know we all thank Dad for sharing his passion with us; it’s been very rewarding, exciting and a whole lot of fun!”

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>