## Now that we’ve got that out of the way.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not excited to be reporting that I finally completed my first event of the year.  I am excited however in how the day panned out for me.  It wasn’t a top finish as I had been hoping, but all things considered, I felt I did really well.  In my class were 12 riders, of which I placed 6th.  Out of all the B Group riders, I placed 19th out of 54.  While not the most stellar, there were a few things that definitely didn’t help my situation.

I began my morning with an appropriate breakfast (albeit at 4am) of 4 giant strips of bacon, 3 eggs, and a pile of home-made home fries.  Plenty of energy packed in there to keep me going through at least the morning.  Hopped in the truck, and I was on my way over to Johns to reload my stuff in his truck and get going.  The drive down was quite uneventful with plenty of jokes about whether or not the Husqvarna was the right choice for the day, or if I should have chosen the Mighty XR for the event.

We arrived at the event with plenty of time to spare.  Rows 10 through the end were already spoken for, so we found ourselves on row 7.  It didn’t bother me, as I figured the trail would be what it would be.  Before I took the bike off the stand, I gave it an inspirational speech….Telling it it WILL finish the race today.  I dropped the bike off the stand, fired it up, and rode a couple little circles to get some blood flowing to my arms.

We pulled up to the line, along with a couple others.  I noted the one rider was on a brand new WR250, and noted that the red\black looks 100x better than the older blue\yellow, but I suppose that’s all subjective.  Either way, our minute came up and the other rider on the Husky took off.  He was going a decent pace, so I figured I’d ride behind him a bit and find a groove for myself.  This proved to be a good strategy as the rider was at the same speed as me, but much much smoother.

First section was a bit so-so for myself.  I knew it’d take at least that section to get my blood flowing.  Completed (docking 3 minutes), and onto the next section.  I took the lead this special section and found that while I rode faster than the other guy on my line, my form did not allow for me to maintain the higher pace for the entire day.  I messed up a corner or two (or 10), and was passed by him.  I was ok with this, as I keyed off of him again, and found myself to be more consistent.  The following section, I rode behind the other Husky rider as well.  This proved to be a good strategy.

The 2nd special was interesting to say the least.  Most of it seemed as if they chose a random line through the woods, and just tacked up some random arrows.  Since there were so few guys ahead of us, we were making wrong turns quite consistently.  The section just downright sucked.  I like riding as much as the next guy, but when you’re just bashing through shrubbery, trying to guess which way to go based on some random arrows, well it kind of sucks.  It also makes you wish you had an auto clutch. haha  By the end, it opened up a bit and had me feeling much better.  That initial part just annoyed the snot out of me.

After the 2nd special (I think?), I decided to take a look down at my little roll chart I had taped to my fuel tank.  I believe I was supposed to be heading towards fuel or something along those lines.  I was heading down an open grass area, with corn to my left, and a drop-off & ravine & corn to my right.  I glanced down for a second while still accelerating, and found myself heading right towards the drop-off.  I would have been able to pull out of it, but the drop-off was all this really tall….corn like stuff.  No idea off hand what it was, but it sucked me in, and down I went.  I couldn’t let gravity do it’s work to help get me up, as there was a creek or something down there & a bunch of water.  I had the joy of lifting the bike uphill up this drop-off.  It sucked for sure, but really pounded in my head to pay attention.  I got the bike up and worked my way on down to go fuel up my bike.

I realized while filling up the bike that I would have been fine using just the stock sized fuel tank (which I’ll be doing at the next Enduro).  I attempted to eat one of my energy bars.  Unfortunately it was just too rich & dense that I couldn’t put it down.  I took in a good amount of water and then headed out to the start of the next special with the other guys on my line.  When we got there, we had a good 30 minutes to relax.  In this time, I was able to put down one of my protein bars, so that provided me with some energy for the “5 mile” special we were about to head out on.  As soon as we took off, I could feel that my body was running low on energy.  My proper breakfast held me up for 1/2 the day, but no way it was going to hold me over for the entire event.  I failed to bring the proper “quick energy” supplements (sugar\carbs), so found myself really working as things went on in this 5-mile section.

This 3rd Special was to me kinda like the 2nd special.  Just a bunch of annoying stuff, though I suppose that is why this was an Enduro race.  There was a long section, which appeared to be on a slight ridge.  The trail was pretty much straight, but you were riding under low hung trees\shrubs for what seemed an eternity.  You had to stand in an odd crouch position to ride quickly, and this quickly sapped the energy out of me.  I also managed to have a branch catch on my hand guard, and promptly fling into the tip of my thumb.  I decided to not stop and investigate, as I figured I’d be seeing some blood.  By the end of this special, I was really feeling drained and wishing I had more stuff on me to give me some much needed energy.

Just before the 4th & final Special, I ate my last 3 Gatorade energy blocks, and hoped for the best.  Not quite the greatest plan of attack, but what you gonna do?  About 1/4 mile into the special I had the strangest thing happen.  A random tree jumped out right in front of me.  The thing pile drived itself into my shoulder\right arm.  The tree literally stopped me in my tracks and knocked a good bit of wind out of myself.  I did my best to push on, and rode as hard as I physically could.  I got through to the end, and was mighty thankful that it was the end.

I had no idea what place I came in, no idea of much of anything, but I was quite pleased at how the Husky rode through the day, and felt pretty positive in my own riding through the event.  I was kicking myself for not having a better source of energy for the event, but it was a great learning experience for the next one.  I’ve also decided that my bike could handle some slightly lower gearing.  Currently my gearing allows for me to do 85+mph, which is more than enough for these events.  I’ll be adjusting that and see how it goes at my next race.

I also found that my riding style needs some slight work, as I was having a heck of a time with front end confidence in the loose stuff.  This was my own fault, as I was using too much front brake, and putting too much weight over the front in general for turning in the softer sandy areas.  It seems this Husky steers with the rear, which is another reason for dropping my gearing.  2nd & 3rd Gear just need that little extra pep that I think it will get with this gearing change.

Anyway I cut it, I’m ready for the next event.  I’ve got 2 harescrambles this month, then a weekend off for my birthday, and then I’m off to the UP for a weekend of riding with some friends.  Looking forward to the riding I’ve got ahead of me.

-Andrew

ps – If you’re riding an Enduro…..make sure you have a kick-stand.  I’m kicking myself for losing mine the last time I rode.  Sure you can always find a tree, but what a pita.  Time to make one!

## Unexpected Findings

Got invited to ride on some farm property yesterday. Close by, free, and wide open areas to work on some skills…how could I say no? I also saw it as a chance to do some scientific testing between some bikes and see which gets me through some trails quickest.

We plotted out a small loop. Started on a small section of farm field, into a singletrack tall grass section and then a quick duck into some mildly tight\off-camber section. This led to a small jaunt back out of the woods and back across the field. Once you were back across the field, there was a dried up pond that we roosted around. The outside was packed full of downed trees, and sticks, and by the end of the day, getting slick and rutted. As you finished your way around the pond, we had a pile of downed tree limbs to hop over followed by a slightly larger 18″ diameter-ish tree to hop. After the tree hop, you immediately banked hard right, and then a quick left to bring yourself back out of the pond area to where you started.

It was a short loop, but it gave me a chance to do a lot of hot laps. My findings were mildly frustrating, but I suppose telling of my riding. I had 3 bikes to test out. My Husky, the Mighty XR, and my buddies KDX200. I started out on the Husky, so I had a good general idea of how the bike handled the loop, what to do, what to expect, etc, etc. Initial lap times were 59-60 seconds. I then hopped on the KDX, and my lap times were 57-58 seconds. I hopped onto the Mighty XR, where my lap times were at a consistent 58 seconds. After all that, and some other fooling around, with my body tired, I did another 5 laps on the Husky, where my lap times were at a consistent 58 seconds.

So what’s this telling me? I know I felt that on the KDX, the bike felt the most compliant and kind of the easiest to go fast. The bike felt plush and confident. The S12XC front he has on the thing helped in the slick sections for sure. He’s got an autoclutch, though I still work the clutch manually, but that may have had an effect on things. The XR, I felt I had to work the most to go the same speed. The drum rear brake always required more attention to help stop you, and the slightly sticky throttle made you have to think more while riding, rather than focusing on going fast. I liken riding it to riding a 125 2-stroke. They can go just as fast, but require a LOT more input, body english, and finesse to get the speed out of it. Now for the WR, I felt to me it has the most room for improvement. The bike has got plenty of power which helps immensely in anything more open. It was the most forgiving if I messed, up, but required a bit more brain focus to extract the speed out of it. The suspension is also not nearly as plush as the KDX, however, it is feeling better now than it ever has (I opened HS\LS Rear compression 100% open).

I got to do a lot of work on drills that we did at the Shane Watts school. Braking\accelerating\drifting\wheelies\etc. From where I was a year ago, I’m 10x more confident in high speed roosting, and drifting out the rear. Heck, I could be dragging my knee on the XR if I wanted.

Yesterdays riding (and subsequent timing results) has me questioning if the Husky is the bike for me. With my apparent knack for breaking a bike at every race, it’s got me considering the idea of going back to a Japanese bike, due to the abundance of parts\spares\cheap prices. Hard to say as I really enjoy the Husky, but I need something that I can trust will take me all the way through a race. Any thoughts\opinions on this?

I can say however that that XR350R just won’t be sold. We did some flat out drag races between it & the KDX200. The XR was dead even with the KDX. Quite the mighty little beast.

Time for some Sunday lunch.
Andrew

## Sunday Race Report

So woke up nice and early. Ate 4 strips of tasty bacon & 3 scrambled eggs. Took some coffee with me to go (then switched to water when I got to my buddies house). All loaded up, and headed on down to Fox Valley. Had to make a pit stop on the way as I had drank a lot of water that morning already, and well, you just don’t fight the body. Signed in, and I got to watch my buddy John take off in the early AM race. He was 7th or 9th off the start in his group, and I could see the dust was going to be a PITA.

It was supposed to be 95+ today and sunny. Thankfully God smiled upon us with 85 & overcast. Unfortunately he didn’t give us enough rain to settle the dust, so it was what it was….LOTS of lingering dust. About 45 minutes before my race, I geared up and did a whole bunch of jumping jacks, followed by some high knee running in place…..whatever you will call it. One of them things that they made the kids in High School track do that they all complained about. Anyways, I thought my race started at 12:30, and so at 12, I rolled over to the practice loop looking to do some circles, and saw the entire starting area packed. Mild panic, roosted back to the truck and got the rest of my gear.

By the time I got to the line, I had a theoretically piss poor starting position. I was 2 guys in from all the way inside of the first turn. In standard Harescramble form, the race started just about 15 minutes behind schedule. My 2nd gear starts were feeling positive, and from what I could gather, I was in the top 5 or 6 right off the start (keep in mind, my line was ALL of the B classes). I couldn’t see jack squat. The AA & A lines ahead of us just left the place a dust bowl. And in the trees, there was 0 wind, so it just lingered.

I stayed on the tail of the guy ahead of me as best I could. I kept feeling as if my front tire was washing out. I’d put brand new tires on the bike, so I thought it was odd, but was thinking that they just sucked more than I remembered the last set I had. As I kept riding, I got myself into a groove as best I could, stayed up on the pegs and tried to let the bike float beneath me. I soon realized that the tires weren’t the problem, it was just that the dirt was absolutely terrible. I explained it to a buddy of mine as “flour on top of absolute hardpack”. You’d think that it was loamy\sandy dirt, but it was a trick. The dirt just POOFED away as you attempted to lock in, and then as you went to put weight on the front tire for the turn, it acted like a lubricant on the hardpack beneath it. Absolute crap, but wtf you gonna do? Everyone else is riding the same stuff. Deal with it, and truck on.

Like I said, I got myself into a groove and pushed on. I didn’t want to push too hard out of the gate, as I knew since it was warmer and crappier conditions, that guys would eventually start making mistakes, and getting worn out. As I went through the scoring the first time, I saw that I was in 6th in my class. I knew I could do better than that, so I slowly began inching up my pace. I found that if I kept the bike in 3rd gear instead of 2nd that I held an overall faster average speed. So I began keeping it clicked in 3rd (bless this 6 speed gear box I swapped in), and only dropped into 2nd if I absolutely had to. It worked, and I found myself pulling up into 5th position.

I soon had a guy come up behind me, who I thought that this early, must be in my class. I picked up my pace a bit and pushed on. I overshot a turn or something, and he went past, only for me to realize that the guy was in a totally different class. Not a big deal, except that when I went to get back going, shortly thereafter, I washed out my front and dropped the bike on the left hand side. I looked back, saw no one close, so I took a little extra time in getting the bike restarted. I knew if I rushed, that I’d only hurt myself (use up energy), and end up further behind. This worked, as I got the bike running and was back on my way.

All was well until the 45-60 minute mark. My body felt like it was locking up. My rear suspension literally felt like it was locked solid, and it was jack hammering the ever living piss out of my body. My kidneys felt like they were being pounded on by a baseball bat on my back. It sucked, but I knew I had to truck on and somehow some way it’d go away. Just as I passed a guy in another class, I gas it through a creek, and as soon as I get on the other side, it’s like someone clamped a vice on my sides. I screamed a few choice words and sat down, attempting to keep on the throttle, as I had just passed the guy. It was like torture. As I got out of that section, and into the next, I saw the guy wasn’t too close behind me, so I calmed myself down and did my best to take long deep breaths. I took another quick sip of water, and again, deep breaths. This seemed to work, and made me realize that I was holding in my breath too much. It was the only thing that made sense.

As soon as I loosened up my breathing, my pace began to pickup. My movements were getting more fluid, and I felt I was picking up my pace. I noted that there were some guys I had passed who were in my group, so by this point I knew I was in 5th place. As I went to cross the second log by the start\finish line (tall log), the bike felt like the throttle rocketed on me. All was well as I landed. I saw as I passed through scoring that I was 10 seconds behind 4th place. The hunt was on……..or so I thought.

I got on the gas coming out of scoring, and as soon as I let off, it was like the bike went WFO. I figured something jiggled loose (despite my safety wired throttle cable), and began checking the cable at the carb & throttle housing. Both areas looked fine. I figured maybe I could run with it revving to the moon, just ride in a high gear, and somehow make it work. I rode for a little bit, and soon realized this was a sure fire way to get hurt, and knew at that point….it was over. 75 minutes into the 105 minute race, and my Husky failed me again.

I made it back to our truck by modulating not the clutch, but the kill switch. I was fuming, as I was so close….so close. But that was it. That’s racing. I left the bike on its side while I sat down and attempted to collect myself. Needless to say I was an unhappy camper. I regained my composure and joked about how this husky has been nothing but issues for me. But I suppose, that’s racing.

I had fun, and despite my jokes with friends that if I had another DNF this weekend that I’d be done racing, I’ll be back at the races in 2 weeks time. The next race is an enduro, where I had the first one (and my first DNF). I hope to be slightly more prepared for this one, but the Husky has a few minor issues that I need to address. Easy enough, but some small ones that just piss me off. (Weak radiators that seem to break upon looking at them wrong), and a few other things.

I’ll be at that enduro, and then unfortunately, the following enduro is 6.5 hours away, so I’ll be going to a Harescramble closer by on August 19th, and then another harescramble on the 26th just before my birthday.

I’ll post more, but in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the rest of this….overly sized IPA I’ve got here & watch some Game of Thrones.

Andrew

## Saturday Ride @ FVOR

Saturday went pretty well with testing the bike, and getting some good seat time in. We rode from about 10:30am until 3:30pm. Aside from the changes on the bike, I made the decision to try just a roost guard instead of my complete pressure suit. I was quite glad I did, as the temps were hitting the mid 90’s. I got so much better air flow over my body and honestly in the woods, didn’t feel any less protected. Though I’m sure I’ll feel otherwise the next time I crash hard.

The riding area is a combo of a mini MX track, and some very sporadic woods trails. There is absolutely nothing defined in there, and is 2-way traffic. Though it could be called 360 way traffic, as the way the trails intertwine with each other, you could run into someone from any and every possible direction. I shouldn’t complain though, as it gives me a good idea of the random trails they may tie in for harescrambles there.

The real downside is that it is next to impossible to ride the same exact course twice. I could try all I wanted, but yeah just not happening. So what I ended up doing was alternating between a few hot laps on the mx track, and then duck into the woods for a bit. I found that doing 5 laps on the mx track was like doing an hour in the woods. I found though as the day\heat grew, that it got to me, which will be addressed with more\better pre-race hydration. I guess I just haven’t been drinking enough water, and I felt it.

On the upside of all this, I really like how the bike was feeling. I felt strong and planted on it at all times. I had installed some CR-Hi bars that put me in a much more relaxed position while standing. The grips I installed gave me some blisters on my thumbs, though that could also be a product of my body sweating profusely and the gloves slipping on my hands. I may ditch the pillow-top pro-tapers and go back to the half-waffles that were on the thing stock.

Check the post below for footage: http://andrewgore.net/?p=590

-Andrew

PS – More footage on the way.

## 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.