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14 Trail Rider While in the process of freshening up our KTM 300TPI for the upcoming season, I called Trail Rider adver ser Ron Ribolzi of E Line Accessories to order a new carbon fiber skid plate and pipe guard. Although I've been familiar with E Line for decades and have known Ron for quite some me, we finally met in person last fall at the annual AIM- Expo while downing a few cold brews. As one who's been told "he can talk a dog off a meat wagon" more than a few mes, within minutes of our introduc on I knew I'd met my match when it came to bench racing and generally shoo ng the bull about bikes and life in general. What's cool about mee ng guys like Ron is he's truly one of the few who's "been there, done that." Like many of us in the motorcycle industry, Ron's love of dirt riding began at a young age. Bea ng up local trails on step- through Honda 50's was his introduc on to off-road. By age 11, Ron got his first new motorcycle, a 1969 Yamaha 125 AT1MX. That Yamaha AT1MX fit Ron well and was certainly his introduc on to the elite FBI club (Fast Boys from Illi- nois). The following season, he traded in the 125 for a 1979 HT-1, a 90cc bike since he wanted to race the then popular 100cc classes. The 1970 season was busy, racing enduros in the spring and fall, scrambles during the summer and in between. The year 1972 was another turning point. With a new Yamaha LT2MX 100cc fi ed with a GYT Kit (Genuine Ya- maha Tuning), Ron began racing flat-track; short-track and half-mile, along with enduros. Moving up from the small bores, he switched from Yama- ha to Suzuki with a TS400 Apache. The big Suzi was Ron's introduc on to what would be a lifelong passion, Na onal Enduros. The early to mid-70's were consumed with all aspects of off-road riding and racing. Flat-track/half-mile occu- pied me between Na onals aboard iconic rides. Ron really took to the flat-track scene with a Trackmaster framed Yamaha RT2 360cc. Later, the iconic Bultaco Astro was his mount of choice for going sideways. Ron recalls 1975 as another turning point in his career of off-road racing. While at the Burr Oak Na onal Enduro, (Indiana) he found himself on the same row as Mr. John Penton. A er a short conversa on with this legend — something along the lines of "You need to be on a Penton." — Ron bought a new Penton 175 Jackpiner, and off-road racing soon became his forte. ISDT Qualifiers, Na onals along with flat-tracking con- sumed a whopping 38 weekends a year! The 1976 season started out with a bang. With some help from "King" Richard Burleson, Ron jumped to the Husqvarna brand, riding for Grayboy Cycle Center in Peoria Heights, Illinois. He rode Huskys during the '76-'78 seasons. It was late into '78 at the Lonesome Pine Na onal when Ron hooked up with Team Yamaha factory rider John Fero. This is where it gets real good. Fero offered Ron a posi on as a factory rider, along with working in R&D. The deal was soon sealed, and Ron rode Factory Yamaha aboard a '79 IT175 to his first gold medal at the ISDT in Germany later that year. He also rode the all-new IT175G model during the 1980 season. Factory Yamaha shut down their off-road racing program in 1981 and Ron received an offer from Jack E Line Accessories E Line Accessories Advertiser Spotlight/Product Feature Advertiser Spotlight/Product Feature By Kurt Flachbart By Kurt Flachbart

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