Mid Spring Moab Dual Sporting (Day 1)

24 short hours later (needed a couple hours nap along the way) and we had made it.  Sweet fancy Moab!  It also seemed as though there was a car show going on.  Lots of people, lots of cars, and lots of vehicles on the road that in Illinois would result in a whole lot of “Don’t Taze me BRO!”  I managed to not get any pictures of said cars, though there is this:

John & I were staying at the KOA on the South side of town.  Previously we had stayed at a campground on the North end of town, but this year we opted to go KOA since we didn’t have a trailer to sleep in, and John didn’t seem to hot on sleeping on the side of the road in tents (dunno why?)

2 Were comfy in these, 3 would have been a bit of a crowd, but doable.

With that, we drove into town, got groceries and let everything settle down.  We had no fridge in the little cabin, so we made do with keeping a foam cooler full of ice.  PB&J, Ham n Cheese, and some Ramen was all that was needed to fuel us.  OK, probably more would have been better.  Don’t worry, we ate out a few times.  Some better than others.

Food didn’t really matter at this point, our goal was to figure out the next days riding.  John & I were planning to meetup with a guy Brian who we’d ridden with in Moab last year.  We were thinking of riding a trail called Fins n Things, since it was close by and figured it’d give us a chance to make sure the bikes were in good working order before venturing further off.

Saturday morning the plans veered slightly with John and myself meeting with Brian, Doc, Lacy, and Kenbob who were thinking they’d go off to ride Lockhart Basin.  We’d ridden that twice last year, but it is a good rather mellow trail.  It’s an out n back kind of thing which has you doing around 120 miles by the days end.  Maybe more if you stop at the gas\restaurant out in Needles park.

Lockhart Basin starts with you going through town, and follow a nice twisty paved section of road to get to the start of gravel\off-road.  Not even 5 miles into the ride, Kenbob is stopped on the side of the road with his Husky (italian) with the bike not starting.  We were stopped right along the Colorado river, in the shade, with beautiful canyon walls all around us.  Great for sight seeing…not so great for what turned out to be Kenbobs in tank fuel line burst.

Lacy decided he’d stay with Kenbob, pickup their truck and rescue him.  Doc on his KTM 300, Brian on his 500, John and I on our 350’s decided we’d continue with the days ride.  The ride as said above, a great way to get in the groove of Moab things.  You go from road, to gravel, to 2 track, to rocks, and then mix that all up along the way with a dash of sand here and there.  There’s also a few good views tossed in along the way as well.

Brian checks for cell reception (oddly available most of the time)

Yah, you gotta stop and take a few pics along the way.  While riding, you have to balance between focusing on riding, and enjoying the incredible views.

John & Brian wolf down some snacks (its easy to under-eat on these rides)

I do my best to get some proper selfies in:

From here, we worked our way along the trail.  About 10 miles from the Needles Outpost, there was a creek crossing, which was followed by about 10 miles of open gravel road.  We took a poll and decided we were all cool with turning back there, and making out way towards home.  I asked Doc how he was on fuel.  He was rocking a KTM 2T, and while he had a larger than OEM tank, I know those 2T’s like fuel.  He informed us he was running a Lectron carb now, and while he hadn’t actually tested range, he claimed better than stock MPG.  You can guess where this is going, but we told him your call, and began making our way back.

As noted, the views here are “above average” to say the least, and leave you scratching your head at how in the hell does this happen.

Yah, I had to get a nice panoramic of the 350 on a more open section towards the end.

You could really get to enjoy some of these fast and open flowy sections.  The 350 has somewhat short legs, but it’s nice to stretch out into 6th gear for a few, and feel a good breeze against you.  Even with the temps being relatively cooler, it’s easy to warm up quickly, especially with all the gear you pile on.

All good things must come to an end, and 90 miles into the ride Doc was clear out of fuel.  We had at least 20-30 miles to get back to town.  I noted the excess fuel in my tank.  Brian happened to have a couple empty water bottles in his pack as well as a small section of fuel hose.  I offer up my fuel, and somehow find myself siphoning fuel for Doc.  A mouth full of fuel later, and I managed to get around 1L of fuel for Doc.  Again, he claimed this was enough, I was happy to be done ingesting gasoline, and buttoned everything back up to continue on back.

I know when you’re low on fuel, you can sometimes ride amazingly conservatively, resulting in phenomenal fuel mileage.  That didn’t happen.  Sure enough, 3 miles or so from town Doc runs out again.  I decide this is BS and since I spent the last 20 minutes spitting out the taste of gasoline from my mouth, tell him we’ll use my tow strap for the remaining bit.  I drop him off at the closest and fill up my tank.

I didn’t think much of it at the time, but everyone afterwords asked me……”why did you siphon his gas?”  As I said, I hadn’t thought about it, just mentally thought I didn’t want to leave someone on the trail.  Looking back on how the whole situation went down, I developed a new rule.  If you’re on a ride and take literally 0 precautions for fuel you may or may not need, sorry, but you’re SOL.  I’d like to think I’m a helping person by nature, but yeah….sometimes we must learn lessons the hard way.  Not sure if Doc learned any lessons, but I did. :lol3

We got back to camp, and I opened up a refreshing beverage and began taking some notes from the day.  I knew if I didn’t take notes then…it’d never happen and I’d forget everything that went down.

John & I would meet a group of guys in town, at a crappy Mexican restaurant.  It was so forgettable that I didn’t take any pictures and have blocked the guacamole out of my memory.  I slept well that night.  Good dry air and a tired body will do that for you.

Todays ride was a good warmup….tomorrow’s would be a body beater.

-Andrew

 

Don’t Be Late! 2 Singles and a Twin KTM Ride the TWAT Day 2

Day 2 (Monday) – Soldiers Grove to Hawkins area, WI?
We woke up around 7am, and realized we had made a terrible mistake.  Our first night on the trip, was us living lives of luxury.  We had beds, fridge with food, running water, and yes, a shower.  Caleb was found sleeping in his car outside.  I think he slept for an hour after whatever wedding he was at, and drove his way out.  He arrived bearing gifts of breakfast sausage, and other tasty foods.
A quick look outside showed that we’d be riding in some beautiful weather.  Sun was out, and found us getting out on the road quite late around 9am.  The portion of the TWAT from Soldiers Grove area on up to Black River Falls area is mostly road, and maybe some minor backroad stuff.  OK, I think it also takes you through Wildcat mountain area (though we may have bypassed this?).  Yes, now looking back I recall what happened.  We wound our way through many random fields and Amish areas.  We did some math, and felt if we wanted to get to the sandier and more off-roady areas, we’d create some bypasses of our own and get up to Black River Falls area.  At which point, we made our first stop along the way
A side road on a sandy section of the TWAT –
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I think at this point I finished the last of the peanut butter bars my wife made me.  They were supposed to last the trip, but hey……I can’t fight the hunger feeling.  As I’ve mentioned before, I am not the best at taking pictures.  The next I have along the way are some additional Rustic Road pics.  This was just on the outskirts of the BRF area.
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We zipped along, at which point realizing that there were some open gravel areas.  I don’t mind going as fast as possible on these roads, but Lord help me if that KTM 950 doesn’t kick up some killer dust.  Jameson was rocking some Terraflex rear tire that was like a 3 mile long smoke screen of dust.  The 690 wasn’t as bad, but sweet word.  So as we scooted along, my eye spied another Rustic Road sign.  I let Jameson and Caleb zip away as I snagged a quick picture.
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You’ll notice in the above pic how my luggage locations changed.  This changed probably each day as I found a new configuration to put things.  Yes, I managed to burn some straps, and lose an item or two.  Such is life.
Along we went, with us needing to take a quick break.  Again, I don’t remember where, or exactly when.  I do remember though that Caleb had found that his rotopax gas tank he had on his bikes rear rack had broken the rear rack.  We found a stellar spot along the way to stop and fix things.  We had a lake, a parking lot, shade, pit toilets.  What more could you ask for?
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An hour and a half later, my gatorade had decided to work its way through me, requiring a quick pit stop.  I waved Jameson & caleb past and hung tight for a bit to let some of their dust settle.  We were mildly confused on the Wisconsin ATV Trail markings.  When you see a motorcycle, with a line through it, you tend to think….motorcycles shouldn’t be there.  That’s not always the case as we’d later learn.  Street legal motorcycles are acceptable.  This relieved me a bit, as I don’t like riding where I don’t belong, or am not allowed.  We have too few of trail systems as it is, I don’t want to be the one to screw that up. :deal
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Jameson scratches away some dust:
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Caleb ready to keep groovin and a moovin:
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After the more off-roady aspect of the area North of Black River Falls, things basically turn into farm lands.  Wide.  Open.  Farm.  We scooted pretty quickly at this point, with each of us keeping decent distance to keep the dust as tolerable as possible.  Around 6pm, we figured we better figure out what we were going to do for camp.  We stopped at a gas station I really wish I knew where (mapping shows Hawkins, WI) to get some quick food stuffs.  At which point I sent my wife a stellar high fashion photo of myself.
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We figured at this point, we’d continue to follow the trail, and see where we ended up.  Around 630, Jameson figured we better really buckle down on location.
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We found ourselves on an ATV Trail.  I was in front (350’s are the fastest of course), with Jameson following Caleb.  Caleb ended up washing out his front tire, so we decided we really must buckle down. and find camp.  After a few minor detours, we found an appropriate locale for sleeping.
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We realized in our spot we had no cell signal.  I sent my Check-In\OK signal on my SPOT, but figured I’d walk to the entrance of our camp spot to see if I could get any reception.  I hopped on my bike without my gear\helmet\etc.  Go figure, I get a danged mosquito in my eye.
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Yah…that one on your right.  The one that’s making your eyes water right now :lol3
We relaxed through the evening.  Cooked some foods, and around 9 or 10, Jameson decided he needed a cup of coffee.  I odn’t understand how he did it, but he did.  Caleb and I retired to our separate chambers.  His a hammock nestled between a couple trees.  Mine, my trusty Kelty tent.  Not 2 minutes after getting into my tent, Caleb begins snoring like a bear.  Thankfully, I was tired and zonked out quickly.
End of day, I think we did 275-300ish miles?  I sadly don’t remember.  It was a great day of riding, and I was ready for what the next day would bring us.
Day 2 Map
Day 3 (Tuesday) to follow.
Andrew

Another race down in the books. Handlebars bent?

didn’t get to race the 250F this past weekend, so I was back on the 450F. Bit of a tradeoff here. 450F had fresher tires, which was better for the slick conditions. Downside is that the 450F is a heck of a lot heavier than the 250F. I was unable to test the 250F prior to Sunday, so I opted for the 450F. Was logical. As far as the race goes though……

I had a crap start. I’m pretty sure I was last or 2nd to last off the line. Only perk there was that I was able to snake around the bottleneck in the first turn. I was pushing best I could, though could not get in a good groove. I just wasn’t flowing well. I passed a good number of people in the following laps, but at about 30 minutes in I lost my rear and had a heck of a spill. Almost called it quits at that point, especially after I saw all the guys I had passed……now passing by me. I figured that would be weak and motored on, until I had to stop and take a leak. I rode a bit better after that, but again it sapped some time. I shoulda went for a 5th time just before the start, but what yah gonna do.

The facility decided that for the afternoon race (A\B classes) that they’d add some extra excitement into the mix. We tend to get a longer course, and they tend to add in their creek section and a bit more of their MX track and things like that. I found out on the first lap that they also had just made a small endurocross section. The mini endurocross section was definitely not something I was expecting. With the trials background, I’ve got no real issue with going over just about any obstacle. The issue is that committing to go over the obstacles at “race pace” is easier said than done lap after lap. I know that I can just “jump” the sized logs they had, but committing to that is difficult. Great risk\reward type thing. I tended to opt for just double blipping over the stuff. It worked well, but it saps energy, but tended to be pretty safe for getting over everything.

As the race went on, I found I did better and better through the creek section. I found I could easily pass people there as I’d pick a point to go to and gas it, pick a point, gas it until the end. Amusingly enough, the faster I went through this section, the less effort it took. I knew though that if I went down, I’d for sure be paying for it.

I was pretty fatigued by the end of the race. My lower back wasn’t tightening up, but the crash early on really put a damper on my performance. I was extremely hesitant with any slick stuff. The bike really felt like it weighed a metric ton. It’s initial weight sure didn’t help, but then add on 15-20# of tacky mud and it was just annoying. I saw the sign at timing and scoring that said end time was 2:26, and saw that it was 2:16. I was more than happy to have a 10 minute lap, as I really didn’t feel like pushing for another 2 laps; 1 last one would be more than enough.

I honestly don’t know where I finished in the race. The facility has been struggling with their timing\scoring system. It hasn’t really worked for the past several years I’ve been racing there. I got back to the truck and packed up and we peaced out. I’m mildly curious to see how I fared, but am not exactly optimistic about my result.

So tonight, I’m going to test the 250F. This should be interesting, as my left leg doesn’t really move properly, and my right shoulder is on the fritz. Crashing apparently hurts. I’m getting old . I need to test the bike though. Stadium MX this Friday. We’ll see how I do in a sprint vs an endurance event. 

Andrew

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