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Owyhee Motorcycle Club wants to be a good neighbor

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I sat at the head of Corrals Trail, up Bogus Basin Road, patiently waiting for this article to be written. Below me squatted Boise, lights winking in a romantic, if not epileptic sort of way. In the hills above drifted the audible sounds of the Owyhee Motorcycle Club. Beside me jumped a Mormon cricket, which I smashed because I am mean.

A cyclist pedaled up next to me as I was taking in the scenery.

"Hear that?" I asked him.

"Yeah," he answered my obviously rhetorical question, "but check that out." He gestured to the foothills below us, which are slowly being eaten alive by various housing projects, or as my companion succinctly stated, suffering from a "yuppie toothache."

It is precisely this toothache that has lead to increased efforts to relocate the Owyhee Motorcycle Club, which has resided in the aptly named Peaceful Cove off Cartwright Road since acquiring the land in 1946. Negotiations to relocate the club began in earnest last fall as development and noise complaints began to pick up. Specifically, the Terteling family has been championing the move, as well as trying to ensure that the OMC benefits from such a deal. The Tertelings have been longtime neighbors to the motorcycle club, as well as major foothills landowners.

"We've been working with them, listening to their offers to relocate us, but we haven't found anything as good as we've got right here. It's hard to replace paradise," explained club president Mike Jackson while preparing his daughter's cart for a short track race. Last year the Terteling family offered the OMC 200 acres of land on Seaman's Gulch Road, adjacent to the Ada County Landfill. The proposal fell apart due to strong opposition from Hidden Springs residents. Other sites east of Boise have been proposed without success.

"Of course we don't want them over here. Our community is environmentally conscious. This is a beautiful, peaceful place, that's why people choose to move out here. We shouldn't be subjected to that kind of noise or air pollution," stated one woman who asked that her name not be used (but had eyes reminiscent of Tammy Faye Messner).

"We're willing to look at any available spot without a lot of homes nearby," continued Jackson, while fiddling with an axle or something. "I understand why [our neighbors] want us gone--although we've probably been the best neighbors for them because we've kept the land from being developed," he laughs.

As Jackson proudly explained, the OMC is the oldest public motorcycle track in the United States. Members have their own keys to the facilities and are encouraged to practice at their leisure. Also, because of their longevity in the area, Boise's 10 p.m. noise ordinance does not apply to the club. With over 500 members and races scheduled practically year-round, it is easy to see why new homeowners would have reason to complain.

"We try to be considerate [of our neighbors] and finish racing by 10:30 most nights," said Vice President of Short Track Terry Sinsel.

The self-imposed curfew is partly out of respect for their neighbors, and partly to ensure that their younger members get to bed at a decent hour as I discovered after stumbling over 6-year-old racer Page Lee Kubista. In her padded black and silver leather racing outfit, Kubista looked more like an industrial-chic porcelain doll than a racer.

Kubista was by no means the only youth in the group. Roughly 80 percent of the club is comprised of families, estimates Jackson, whose own teenage daughter Sierra has been racing for seven years.

"It's the best thing I can imagine introducing your kids to," boasts Jackson, while shrugging off my worried queries about injuries and/or decapitations. "We had a guy dislocate his shoulder a while back, but that's part of the fun of it." Several men around us nodded solemnly.

Perhaps, I thought, some sort of compromise could be reached. The OMC could soften its public image a bit, become a touch more genteel, and lure some families from developments like Hidden Springs into becoming members. Then the club would be welcome in the community, instead of politely asked to leave. All they would need is some wasp spray, daily brunches and Pilates classes for the ladies. Soon the Crane Creek Country Club would be building a short track to stay competitive.

As if cueing off of my mental calculations, the woman next to me began complaining loudly about the wasps swarming her exposed flesh.

Her complaint was diplomatically met.

"Tough titties. You don't cover up, you're gonna get stung," barked an old man walking past us.

There would be no Pilates classes. My dream was dead. I idly crushed a wasp.

On Corrals, the sun is setting and two Mormon Crickets are fighting over the carcass of the one I smashed. I can still hear the motorcyclists racing, and start betting on when they'll call it quits. They finally stop at 9:42 p.m. (I was guessing 10:15 p.m.), and the foothills are enveloped in the happy chirps of evil crickets (until 9:55 p.m., when someone in the toothache below me starts up their lawn mower/wood chipper). The sound is only slightly less annoying than the motorcyclists, and I begin to think that maybe there is hope for coexistence. With brunch and Pilates, all things are possible.