Fox Valley Off Road Open B Year End Results

The results are in…..

Saturdays GP: B Class, 3rd Overall
GP Results

Sundays HS: Open B, 1st – Overall, 9th/49
Class Results     Overall Results

Fox Valley Off Road Overall (Open B):
1st/25
FVOR Overall Points

Suffice to say, I’m quite thrilled.  It feels good to have finally won some form of overall series since my Advanced Trials class in 2009.  I rode far less than normal this year, but seemed to grow more and more confident in my riding.  Thanks to my wife, family, and friends for all the support.

Andrew

Team MGH #205 – Midwest Harescramble Rambling

I figured I’d start a new thread for the 2014 season. If you’re bored & want to read up on the 2012\2013 seasons…Check HERE.

It’s been snowing since November. My motivation for getting ready for the upcoming race season has been around -5000. I didn’t have a race bike until about 2 weeks ago (more on that later). I’ve been rowing off and on through the winter….though more off than on. My buddy I go racing with has been giving me crap about getting off my ass. He’s been exercising far more than me, though I still like to remind him I’ll beat him in a race any day .

I was greatly motivated after watching this interview with Bob Hannah:

I realize I’m doing this racing thing for fun, but the concept of beating the guys now….before the bike ever touches dirt has stuck with me. I want to earn an A plate\number. Why? I don’t know. I guess I want to prove to myself that I can go that speed, and heck A sounds better than B 

The first race is March 9th. I’m committing myself to working out every day for the month of February to help get ready for the upcoming season. This first race will be to shake the cobwebs. The race is notorious for sandy whoops. Everyone says they hate this race. It’s about 4 hours away….so why not go?

The biggest change this year for me is that I’ve gone KTM. I had been planning on going with a 450, but with shelling out this kinda $$$, I wanted to insure that I’d have a plated bike for when we do trail rides\practices up north. I also knew that I really didn’t NEED the 450 umph. I wanted it, but I know the 350 will do the trick. Heck, if David Knight is destroying people on a Sherco 300 4-stroke, this KTM oughta be more than enough.

So here it is, a 2013 350exc-f:

Street legal stuffs have been removed. Wiring has been fixed (pretty bad for a $$$ machine). Gearing has been changed. Euro map has been flashed to the ECU. Now I’m just waiting on handguards & skid plate to arrive.

My plan for this year is pretty straight forward. There are far too many races for me to even try to win the District 17 Open B Overall. I’m too far North in Illinois to make that a feasible option. So that said, the local Fox Valley Off-Road has their own mini-series which I intend to win the Open B Overall in. I have complete confidence that I can win it. I took 3rd this past season (5th in 2012) and considering I missed two of the events this past year, I see no reason that I won’t accomplish this.

I’m looking forward to a successful race (& Riding) season for 2014. We’ll see yah at the races!

Andrew

Fired My Mechanic.

This is about how I feel right now:
My 250F has been a royal pain in my ass. Well, more so, my right foot. I made the epic mistake this past winter of messing with the engine. I’ve been paying for it since, and the currency has been Head Gaskets. I had worries about not being able to actually get to race this year. I made some quick decisions, and long story short, I’ve no longer got a Trials bike, but a Yamaha WR450. I’ve also fired my mechanic (myself). I’m only allowed to change oil, filters, and grips. Beyond that, if that shmuck touches anything else, he’s gonna get slapped around 

Not a move I’ve exactly wanted to make, but it’s making more and more sense as time goes on here. I realize it’s not the easiest to use 45hp in the woods, but I’m finding it incredibly easier than I remember. I find that I don’t really want a Rekluse on the thing. It’s nice, but it’ll lug so much better than the YZ, that I’m just not stalling it like the 250F. We’ll see how things pan out.

Here’s some riding from 2 weekends ago:

I’ve got 2 weekends on the WR450F, and will be racing it this weekend. My biggest concern with it is related to starting it. It’s no 2-stroke, that’s for sure. I did about 30 dead engine starts Saturday while riding. If the engine is good n warm, it seems like it’ll fire just fine with the kick start. Suppose I’ll do that with the finger on the e-start button at the same time.

In the meantime, I’ll be on the rower tonight. This 450 works your body a heck of a lot more than the 250F. The riding from Saturday was pure awesomeness. I’ll be putting up video of it. We had a track groomed in a farm field for us. Flat track & kinda like supermoto. Tacky dirt that you could in places just about put the handlebar into the ground while railing a corner. Awesome stuff.

Andrew

______________

Some y00per Fun!

Well this past weekend was spent re-energizing my riding batteries. A lot of time spent on the bike, in a non-competitive, non-race situation. Granted I still pushed myself while tooling around, but in a way that just puts a big ol smile on my face. Me & 2 other riding friends loaded up the toy-hauler and drove due North to the great y00per (The Upper Peninsula of Michigan). The plan was to ride some fun 2-track loops based around our camp & if we were up for it, hit up some of the local singletrack. Some\most of the pics courtesy JZEE

The 3 bike crew:


JZEE on the KTM 530xcw
Jburroughs12 on the Honda XR350R
Me on the Husky WR250

We were all having a blast out there. Essentially all of the 300ish miles we rode, we didn’t pass a single other dirtbike\4×4\ATV\UTV\ORV\Car\Truck\Bus\Logging operation. It was just some good pure fun. I realized immediately I shoulda re-geared my Husky. The OEM 13/48 gearing left a lot to be desired in the speed department. On these same trails on my 450, I could cruise 10-15mph faster and not feel like I was revving the snot out of the bike. My fault for not gearing up for the ride properly. Not the end of the world, but in some of the more open riding (and sandy areas), I really like to open the bikes up, and being topped out around 65-70mph, just wasn’t enough.

On the 2nd day of riding, just after a rockier section….followed by a high speed whoop section, I was flagged down, with John & Joe pointing at the rear of my bike. I thought I had some deadly animal attacking me, but soon found the problem.

A rock (presumably) shot up a hole through the center of the rear fender, and the following whoop section sealed the deal and that rear fender was toast. No biggy. First some duct tape, which was the replaced by just looping the thing onto my Nomad Rider pack. Initial repairs took place at the local Ace Hardware:

After that, we continued riding, and remembered part way through the 2nd day that the loop we were on, was one of our least favorite. It had a few road sections & way too much gravel road for our liking. It wasn’t much, but more than we’d care for. There were a couple more spirited sections, but nothing overwhelming. It’d be a better loop if you’re worn out on harder riding & just looking to have a more relaxing final day of riding. When we got back, Joe had the look of “I need some singletrack”, so we tossed our gear back on, filled up the camelbak & around 6:30pm rolled out to go hit up the Bass Lake singletrack loop (videos earlier in thread).

I started out on the Husky and Joe on the XR. I figured I’d offer up the Husky to him, since he’s more used to a 250 2T. He gladly swapped, and I gotta say I was quite happy to really ride the bike on some more aggressive trails. What a blast. That bike was so much fun. I was able to maintain a 15-20mph speed on the loop without trying too hard and was just having a blast while doing it. The only downer with the bike was the rear drum brake. I may have overshot a few turns and ended up in the weeds, but what a blast. I’m really loving that little bike.

Day 3 was our last, and unfortunately cut short. Before we rolled out, I pulled the Rekluse autoclutch from the bike. I didn’t miss it on the XR the day before and figured it’d be a good chance to really test the bike out without it in there. Things started out really well, but unfortunately about 20 miles into the loop, I came down from a roller, and noticed when I got on the gas, that it felt like the rear wheel was spinning. Odd, but it seemed to grab again, so I figured it popped out of gear. Again, another roller and this time it felt out of gear for good. I pulled the clutch cover and immediately saw the problem. My primary gear (on the crank), the nut had backed off and was somewhere in the engine.

I tore things down mid trail and found that the nut thankfully fell in an area where it caused NO damage, but then found that the keyway on the crank\primary gear had sheered itself. I also destroyed my clutch cover gasket in the process of all this, but knew at this point, I wasn’t riding that bike under it’s own power back to camp:

With that we figured the weekend was done. We just had to get back to camp. Luckily we were only a couple miles from a paved road, and luckily I had a tow strap in my kit, so we were off…….and with that I have the pic of shame:

Stuff happens, I’m just glad nothing more went wrong. A 2$ keyway, and 10$ in gaskets and the husky will be back in action for another day. I learned a lot though on the trip. For one, I immediately listed my Rekluse for sale. I just don’t need it. Shane Watts was spot on with his assessment on how it affects the bike. I just had to see\feel it for myself. I found I also learned to ride wheelies on the WR really well. Apparently all the tooling around on the XR translated over, as I can now click through all 5 gears and just rest at the balance point for as long as I want.

I also feel I need to do some work to my suspension. Higher speed stuff, the Husky is pretty good. Low speed stuff, the XR feels so confidence inspiring, and feels like you’re riding on pillows. Low speed the WR feels like it’s being jarred like mad. High speed on the XR…..well you just don’t. lol I’m really looking forward to my next race, whenever it may be. I’m just gonna go have fun with it. I found while riding the singletrack loop, that yes I could push myself super fast right off the bat, but I lose energy too quickly, and overshoot things. If I tone it back to 80-90%, I overall end up much faster. Heck, we rode the loop in 1:35. Not bad at all, considering the last time I rode it, I finished in 1:45.

I’m ready for riding.

Andrew

Enough about me. What about the bike?

I’ve spent a good deal of time on my mental end of things with my racing.  I figure it’s about time for some info on my weapon of choice.  I hopped all around the board in years prior.  My buddies ride KTM’s and get all giddy just thinking of orange things; just not me.  I thought my KTM was good, but honestly, they pull an extra $1000 premium right now, and there were plenty of other options out there, and I’ll add in a bit of spite as my final reason for not going pumpkin.  I knew that I had to go 2-stroke.  Granted I loved the power of my 450, I knew that I could get similar power out of a 2-stroke & not have to think about valves, yadda yadda yadda.

Much consideration went into the possibility of sorting out a Japanese 250.  I liked this idea, as there are plenty of bikes around, for extremely cheap.  I know how to revalve suspension, so that wasn’t a huge thing, but in the back of my mind, I knew I’d still have to get some lights (even if “not working”), some Enduro parts, and all that nonsense.  My brother, the wise man that he is, asked me a simple question: “Why not buy a bike that is built for what you want to use it for?”  It was at this point I knew I had 1 of 2 choices.  Husqvarna or GasGas.

I’d read mixed reviews on the GasGas bikes, and finding one that appeared in decent condition around me was a bit of a stretch.  The Husky was about the same situation, though I knew that I’d seen plenty at the races, and they sold a 300cc 2Stroke which is really what I wanted to get.  I had a line on a nice 2007 Husky, though a WR250.  It needed some standard items (hand guards, protection, bigger tank for longer rides, etc).  It was then that I recalled a friend had a 2006 Husky WR250.  I had seen it on some rides we did, but hadn’t thought too much about it at the time.  This led to that, which led me to buying the bike off of him.  Mint condition bike, I was in heaven.

Fresh from JZEE

Like I said, the bike was\is mint and ready to rock.  I posted earlier what was my first ride on the bike.  I knew after that first outing, that I needed to scoop up the 1 item that I will refer to as the “ultimate cheater”.  The Rekluse EXP 2.0.  I had an auto clutch on my YZ144 and really enjoyed it, but nothing existed for my G450X.  I’ve found this to be one of the best $ I’ve spent on this bike (almost).  The auto clutch saves me when I miss the clutch going into a turn, or have a bobble somewhere that would normally stall the engine (which really sucked due to the bike having such a goofy kickstarter).

I opted to not spend a dollar on any sort of engine upgrades.  The bike rips pretty well, and had an all around good feeling (slight carb tweaks required, but a given with any carb’d bike).  I decided that despite looking new, I had very little to no confidence in the front.  Before I would dive into suspension valving, I figured a fresh tire would help things out, and I was quite right.  The next time out on the bike, I felt very confident in the front end, and felt I could push the bike much better.  I didn’t have 100% confidence, but that is coming along with the more I get to ride & know the machine.

Just after the Bass Lake Loop

After my last trip to the UP, I felt the bike could handle a little loving’ to the fork valving.  Not much, but a bit.  Thankfully this isn’t the first set of forks I’ve massaged into better handling units.  I revalved my YZ144 & G450X, both with awesome results.  On the Husky, I focused on the base valves, and found that the OEM valving was a bit on the wonky side.  It’s damping curve, despite appearing linear, was far from it.  I added in some shims, smoothed things out, and got fresh oil in there.  I’m ready to ride!

So now I sit and wait for the weekend to arrive.  I’ve got the bike dialed in how I want.  I’m stoked on the machine, and itching to improve my feeling and abilities on the bike.  I’ll have more practice footage.  Any questions, feel free to ask.

 

-Andrew