Droning and Rustic Road Riding on a Snagged Bike

To say I’m “between things” is an understatement.  I’m in the process of building a house, which means I’m living in a basement.  All my moto stuff is in another location….a basement at that.  I’m also between things on what I’m doing with riding bikes.  I’ve got my KTM 350, which was originally scooped up for racing & aggressive dual sport riding.  For the past couple years it’s fulfilled that purpose, yet as of late, I’ve been doing more random day rides.  While the 350 does these, and surprisingly well, you are left with a feeling of “this poor bike should be pulling wheelies in the dirt”.  Enter the snagged bike….

 

A fine specimen at that.  A 2013 R1200GS water cooled thingamabobber.  The bike belongs to my mother, who has followed my fathers lead in taking to these fine Bavarian machines.  Thankfully she is gracious enough to share the bike with me, which means I can blast out some miles, clear my head, and also put some perspective on what I’d like for my “next bike”…..cause it seems there is always a “next bike”.

So this past Sunday, weather was looking nice, I had some free time, and well…..I wanted to grab 3 or 4 more Rustic Roads up in Wisconsin.  Or in this case…..Over in Wisconsin.  The 4 RR’s I intended of riding were near the Illinois\Iowa\Wisconsin Border around 140 miles from home.  The plan was simple.  Take highway to get to the good stuff quickly.  Ride good stuff till I tired, and then meander my way home.  The arrow shows home & the 4 stars were the RR’s I wanted to hit.

By 7:30am, it was sidestand up and I was on my way.  Normally, I need a quick pitstop around the 1 hour mark when I first start a ride.  This time was different, with not needing to stop until a little over 2 hours in.  I needed fuel, as well as a quick break.  I filled up in South Wayne, WI (I’d stopped here before a few years ago on my nighthawk when I took a night trip to Dubuque, IA & back).  This stop I believe is right off the Cheese Trail or something like that.  By this point, I could tell the temps were rising.  A refreshing feeling.

I was quickly back on the bike, as I had only about 30-40 miles until I hit the first Rustic Road #66.  All the roads within 10-15 miles of here just became increasingly exciting.  RR #66 itself proved to be quite exciting.  All these areas bordering farm land and hills and valleys.

RR #66 actually meanders through a couple different offshoot roads.  It’s not a continuous section.  I took a section that which seemed most appealing, and rode it.  In hindsight, I shoulda backtracked and rode it all, but figured…..ehhhh there will be more good stuff ahead.  I will go back to Highway I out there.  That was good stuff.  Up next was RR #99.

About 15 minutes from the start of RR #99, the area began to ring a bell to me.  It was in Dickeyville, WI that I realized I’d been here before when I did the TWAT ride with my buddy Jameson.  I also realized at this point that something was acting up with my sinuses.  I wouldn’t have minded riding out to #99 again, as it’s not far from the Mississippi River and was a fun area.  However it was warming up, sinuses as I mentioned, and I wanted to meander my way North towards RR #70.

I found myself being directed down more open roads via the BMW GPS.  I had my personal Garmin on me, but couldn’t mount it on the bike, so was having to follow the thing.  Then I’d find myself accelerating quickly, resulting in missing some offshoot roads that just looked incredibly appealing.  When I arrived at the next RR, I told myself to slow it down, smell the roses (or in this case cow crap), and enjoy the scenery.  That which I did.

 

RR #70 proved to be quite enjoyable, turning to gravel, and allowed myself a spot to rest away from traffic (or so I thought), adjust my riding gear, and eat a quick snack.

I had just utilized the outdoor restrooms, and was mid selfie when a truck & trailer come flying over a nearby hill.  I figured, ok, farms….one car most likely.  Sure enough 5 minutes later, another car comes flying past.  Good thing I took found the local restroom when I did. haha.  RR #70 as noted before was gravel.  I continued to remind myself that this bike is not mine, and to keep my cool.

I pushed myself to take random roads on my way to each Rustic Road, so that is what I did.  I left RR #70 around 11:15.  I managed to spend the next 45 minutes, making the 10 mile ride over to RR #75.  Along the way, I took some more loose gravel roads.  Oddly for me, I felt so out of my element.  I even put the mighty R1200GS into “enduro” mode.  While enduro mode loosens up the suspension, eases the traction control\asc\abs, it still doesn’t change the fact that you’re riding a 600# road bike, with road tires, on gravel.  I really have a difficult time wrapping my head around it.  Turns where I’d come in at 50, drop a gear or two, kick the bike sideways….I’m coming in at 10-15mph thinking “MOG THIS SHE’s GOING DOWN!!!”

Ok, so there’s some mild hyperbole here, but it does highlight for me some of that which I do, and don’t want in a bike.  More on that later, as for now, I managed to spend some good time meandering to RR #75…..which itself was rather uneventful.

It was noon at this point, and I needed food.  I could sense a headache we be coming on soon, and on top of that I could definitely tell my sinuses were well on their way to screw me up.  I didn’t really know where I was gonna head, but found myself enjoying the roads that twisted their way East, which ended up dumping me over in Mineral Point, WI.  I bopped into the old school downtown area, and saw a little placed called Gray Dog Deli.  This looked like a refreshing place to stop, took a seat and ordered some feed.

Lunch (and possibly dessert), combined with some ice tea and out of the sun rejuvenated me to get ready for the ride home.  This was somewhat uneventful, as I finished lunch at 1:30, I’d been riding since 7:30 and for 230 miles….and I had around 130 or so to get home.  I moseyed my way Southwest towards Monroe, WI at which point I hopped on 81 into Beloit, following 43 to 12 on home.

Not the most glorious, but enjoyable nonetheless.  The big GS really highlighted to me how well it is at eating up distance miles.  Ironically, I set the cruise control right around 70 while on 43\12.  The bike hummed along smoothly.  I thought about how well the GS was on the street, yet on the fun stuff, I found myself riding much as I did on my Ducati Multistrada.  It’s just far too comfortable at going Above The Law speeds (not that I’d know…..).  It also had me not flowing enough through turns, and found me blasting past good looking offshoot roads.  Possibly a factor of speed, dash gadgets, and who knows what else.

All that pondered, I can’t and won’t argue with a free bike ride.  I was able to snag 3 more Rustic Roads, and enjoyed every bit of it.  Next time….I’ll try to think less haha.

-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

Again? Really…..Again?

It’s been a last minute decision.  Another change de force.  I’ve gone and sold yet another race bike of mine.  I’m sure most people will think that I just absolutely hate my bikes.  I wish that were the case.  Truth be told, I absolutely loved the BMW 450.  Having 50hp on tap to “fix” those areas where I may have messed up.  That will be missed, that’s for sure.

Fortunately I’m moving to something somewhat similar to what I’ve been on in the past.  I’ll be back on a 2-stroke for this upcoming season.  I knew that I would be making the switch next year (2013), but something in me just told me I needed to make the switch this season.  I’ll be on a slightly older scoot, but one more than capable of what I can throw at it.

More to come…..

-Andrew

Sweet Relief!

What a relief.  Last Saturday I got to put in some time on the 450.  Such an incredible feeling to get back on the bike after several months off.  Amusingly enough, I had pre-ride jitters.  My brain had me thinking I wasn’t going to know what to do on the dang thing.  As to be expected though, my brain hadn’t forgotten how to operate the thing and I was able to pick up basically right where I left off.  Things felt extremely good on the 450.  The suspension work I had done over the winter seems to have really paid off.  Bumps and ruts that in the past had felt fine in the past, I hadn’t realize how harsh they had been.  The bike just seems to track better than before, with much more confidence.  In the past I had concerns with front tire placement, and felt I had to be extremely cautious in pushing the front.  That was not an issue whatsoever.  I placed the tire where I wanted it, and the bike followed, going exactly where I wanted to go.

Unfortunately my buddy Jamo hadn’t gotten his bike back together, but he was kind enough to do some mild filming of the ride.  Nothing major, but was good to see the bike & me back in action.  Looking forward to plenty more of this riding in the near future here.  Here’s the clip.  Enjoy!

Andrew Gore….MOTOSTAR!!! from Jameson Bradford on Vimeo.

-Andrew

Getting antsy is quite the understatement.

Just last week I posted up how I was feeling better, getting exercise, eating better.  Go figure that a couple days after that, I get taken down and out for almost a week with a cold\sinus situation.  Blame the weather, blame whatever, I dunno.  It’s only added to my growing desire to get back out on my bike and ride.

Typically during the spring\summer\fall I’m logging several hours every weekend.  I haven’t really ridden a bike since late November.  I realize that I’m not the only one in this predicament, and really it’s not a predicament per se.  It’s just annoying.  We’ve had one of the mildest winters that I can personally remember, and I have yet to log a single minute on a bike.  The more I contemplate that, the increasingly stupid it seems to be.  In all this time, the least I coulda done was gone to some empty field somewhere and worked on some basic techniques.

Thankfully the natural outdoor lighting has been staying on just a little longer each day.  The weather is steadily improving (for now?), and my bike is ready for action.  I’m just absolutely ready to get out and back on a bike.  I’m going to be at the equivalent of a rusty box of nails when I get back on the bike.  My only hope is that I have happen what I have had in the past.  Extended period off the bike has helped focus myself and I somehow return almost better at riding than where I was before I took the time off.

-Andrew