A Story About Elden Carl and Pauline Read

From the editor:
During my searches of Elden’s archives I have found a number of letters and testimonials from a couple of long time expert motorcyclists who have ridden with Elden and his wifePauline. The testimonial reproduced below is from Garry Wright, a former 1980’s pro-motocrosser and outstanding pavement rider. He lets the reader see first-hand how exciting a ride with Elden and Pauline can be. – Pat Rose

A Story About Elden Carl and Pauline Read
By Garry Wright

It would take me a lifetime to write about Elden Carl and his wife Pauline Read. Although I have only known them for about three years, we have managed to pack a lifetime of memories into a short period of time.

My initial contact with Elden was at the motorcycle store that I managed. It didn’t take me very long to understand that Elden was a rare breed. He is probably the best all around mechanic and motorcycle set up guy I have ever met. This is quite a statement from a guy who grew up racing motocross all over California and who has worked in the motorcycle industry for over 20 years.

I had never actually done a whole lot of Multisurface Motorcycling until I met Elden. I grew up racing motocross and have ridden street bikes for 30 years. I have attended numerous motocross races, off-road riding seminars and as many track days at Laguna Seca, Sears Point and Willow Springs as I could fit into my schedule (and still keep my job).

On my first adventure with Elden, an overnight to Ensenada, I quickly learned what 50 years of multisurface motorcycling can do to your talents as a skilled rider. We blasted down Highway 94 East at a pace that would make the most avid sport bike enthusiast jealous. After crossing the border into Mexico and hitting our first trailhead, we let some air out of the tires and jetted across some of the best dirt roads I’d ever ridden. We climbed hills, rode ridges and had the best time I had ever had on a motorcycle. What made the memory even more spectacular was the riding ability of Elden. The man was almost 70 years old on that ride and I had to work hard to keep up.

Although there have been many trips since then, that was my first Baja ride with Elden and it will always hold a special place in my heart. There was the broken beer bottle in Elden’s soup at dinner, there was lunch in Constitution National Park with Miss La Paz, 1958 and some other great moments, but you may have to ask one of us for details. The most bizarre moment on that trip was returning to the states. We had just begun to enter the south side of Tecate at a pretty good clip, Elden in front and me following, when Elden went into a full fledged flat track slide. Elden’s bike pitched completely sideways and remarkably he just gassed it and rode it out. I had enough time to witness the slide, caused by diesel fuel in the roadway, and broke hard. I had scuffed off enough speed to only pitch the bike about a fourth as far as Elden had. We both just looked at each other and smiled. I knew at that moment I had found a new riding partner. I guess you just had to be there.

It was on another ride to Baja that I got to know Pauline much better. Now Pauline is a sweet petite lady of 77 years of age, not what you would expect to find riding shotgun on the rain-rutted trails of Baja California. The truth of the matter is no one, and I have ridden a lot, no one does it better or more relaxed than Pauline.

During this ride we were on a trail between Valle de Trinidad and San Vicente, usually a pretty nice trail, but not this time. The three of us were riding the pre-run phase of the Baja 1000 and the trophy trucks were digging ruts deep enough to grab the footpegs on even the highest suspension bikes. I ran across a set of whoops, about 150 yards long, and perfectly spaced. I could not resist the temptation to pin my XR650 and hit them at full speed. As I skimmed across each whoop (having a great flashback of motocross racing) I didn’t think about the dust I was throwing up all over Elden and Pauline. At the end of the whoops, I stopped and Elden rode up beside me, Pauline on back. Elden wasn’t real happy with my escapade and said I could lead. That was OK, except I had no idea where I was going. I began riding in the lead and ran into some of the toughest terrain I had ever seen in Baja. It wasn’t long before I heard a KLR650, two up, blow past me at a speed that was incredible. I had fourth gear pretty wound out, 65 mph, bouncing off of ruts when it dawned on me that Elden was in front of me with Pauline sitting behind him, bouncing off the same ruts. Pauline sat behind Elden, completely relaxed, hands on her thighs and not remotely stressed about the terrain that we were bouncing across. I have never seen a person that relaxed as a passenger on a motorcycle, not even on the street, let alone in the stuff we were going across. We rode into San Vicente and stopped for some cool drinks and some fresh fruit. I could only look at Elden and Pauline and shake my head, with a big smile. These two are absolutely incredible!

Having ridden several times with Elden and Pauline, I greatly appreciate the talent these two bring to motorcycling. One example of that experience happened on a short trip to Baja on the way home. Elden was riding his DR350 and I was on my XR650. Elden asked if I wanted to ride in front on the way back down Hwy 94 toward San Diego. I agreed with a smile and thought I’d push the envelope a little. I hit fifth gear and held it there through the twisties, simply looking through the exit of each turn. I was pushing the 650 through the turns at a pace most sport bikers would have been jealous of, when I checked my rear view mirror only to find Elden and the DR350 right on my rear tire. We blazed home at a record pace, only stopping at a gas station for a cold drink and a smile. Had there been an R1 or a GSXR1000, I believe they would have just pulled off the road and scratched their heads.

I can’t say enough about Elden and Pauline. They are as nice a couple as you will ever meet. They ride for the love of riding, and they are good at it. I feel privileged to know them, blessed with the opportunity to have ridden with them, and anxious for our next ride.