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.
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.
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.
The morning started well, a good breakfast, followed by loading up the truck and getting off on the road. The weather reports showed that rain wouldn’t be a factor until the later evening, and the sky seemed to echo the same. We arrived at Fox Valley Off-Road in time to see my friend head up to the starting line for his earlier race. Just as the flag was dropped, the rains came.
For the next 30 minutes, the rain poured down. I made the hike down to registration, and despite my better judgement, thought “this is gonna be fun”, handed over my AMA\District cards and money and get signed up. About 40 minutes into the rain, it let up a bit, so I got myself geared up, thinking it’d be raining for the rest of the day. As I finished gearing up, I saw my friend riding up to my truck. I thought it was odd, as it was only 45 minutes into his 90 minute race. He looked spent, and said the hills were terrible, and it seemed they were cutting some of them out.
My time came to fire up the bike. The sun was beginning to show itself, and the rain had all but subsided at this point. I did some practice loops on an oval next to the pits. The XR felt good, but definitely wasn’t the Husky I would have rather of been on. Starting an older 4-stroke is a little different than it’s newer 2-stroke counterpart, but it was what it was, and I was glad I was able to make it to the line.
The starting line was just slop. As soon as I set my feet down, the mud caked onto my boots. It was more of a soft and squishy clay than a wet dirt type mud. I knew it was gonna be hell, and really wished I had the Michelin S12XC tires over the tires the XR had on it. I knew the tires wouldn’t shed the mud as I needed, but it was what it was. I got my game face on, and when the flag drop, was thrilled to have the mighty XR fire up first kick and pull me off and away. From what I gathered from the start, I managed to take off in 2nd or 3rd place.
Things got more and more sketchy as the course went on. My tires instantly caked in with mud. No matter how much I spun up the rear, the tire wasn’t shedding the mud. I did my best to keep the tips Shane Watts gave me in mind, but it grew more and more difficult. There were really only 2 real hill-climbs in the race, and they were pretty mellow. Unfortunately, if 1 person gets hung up on one, it messes you up pretty quick and its just a domino affect. Each time this happened sapped more and more energy from myself.
First lap wasn’t pretty at all, and the 2nd lap wasn’t getting any better. In normal conditions, this track woulda been easy, far too easy. Unfortunately my bike was going all over the place. No matter how fast I’d push myself, the front tire wouldn’t shed the mud and slipped around like a sportbike tire in the slop. After running through timing and scoring, I found myself coming to an off-camber section. Earlier laps I went high and shoulda stayed a bit lower. This time I messed up, went low and upon doing so, spun out, casing the bottom of the bike into a tree. Nothing major, but by now, the sun was out and me & the bike were feeling the heat.
My body was over-heating sitting on top of the air-cooled beast. The bike for some reason was being a royal PITA to start, and I was stuck in an odd precarious position on the trail. I managed to push the bike into a position where I could kick the thing. Unfortunately due to all the mud, the kick starter would continually stay down after each kick. Suffice to say, I was at my witts end. I saw my buddy who raced earlier standing on the trail by where I was. He was getting a good chuckle out of my situation. I set the bike down (gently mind you), and walked off a couple feet to cool myself from the bike. I needed energy to get the bike going and get up and running.
Unfortunately when I got back to the bike, it was no easier to start. This seemed odd, as normally even when hot, the bike would start 1st or 2nd kick, every time. After plenty of kicks, I finally fired it up, only to hear an awful tick coming from the head. At this point I cursed the day 4-strokes were born, assessed my situation, and realized at this point I wasn’t having any fun. I was frustrated with the bike, myself, and the mud. I knew I had to just call it before I hurt me, the bike, or anything else.
I rolled back to the pits, feeling defeated, but better as soon as I got my gear off me. We loaded up, and made our way home. I accepted the day for what it was, and looked to ways I could improve things. So despite the race itself being a bit of a letdown, it was at least a continued learning experience. So things I learned:
1. If there is ANY chance of rain in the forecast, bring the enclosed trailer. Gearing up in the front seat of a truck is a pain. No thanks.
2. Invest in some mud tires. It’ll cost a little bit to have them on hand, but they really could change the outcome of a race.
3. Warm weather gear needs addressing. I need to find an alternative to the pressure suit. I like the protection, but it’ll make me over-heat in a hurry.
4. Don’t invite family to first Harescramble of the season…..especially if it’s gonna be a wet\soupy one. They got to see me get tossed from the bike as I crossed over a tall log by the timing\scoring section. I’m sure plenty amusing for them. haha
All in all, not a terrible weekend. I got to inspect the XR, and it was good I stopped when I did. One of the tappet nuts came off and was floating around in the head. Thankfully it caused no damage, and I was able to fish it out of the head. I’m ready to go back for another one, but will feel much better being on my Husqvarna.
I’ll post up pics when I get them from my Dad.