Rustic Roads to Ruins pt5 – Loop 3

I’ve spent the past good while stressing a bit about the house selling stuff. We went through having an offer and deal on the table, to it falling out in a weeks time. We’ve also spruced up a few things around the place, which should help with moving it. All that stuff has kept me busy the past few days, and I wanted to take a day and go get a ride in.

I talked to my brother Saturday evening to see if he was interested in scooting out with me on Sunday. He was tentatively in for leaving at 7am. Unfortunately Saturday night, my dog decided to start absolutely freaking out about some fireworks going off. My wife had to be up at 4am for work, so I took the dog into the living room with me and cozied up on the couch. This was fine except for some neighbors having a big bon-fire just up the road. The dog was quite worked up for awhile….leaving me to not sleep so well. My wife woke me up at 4 when she got up, at which point I headed back to bed….promptly waking up at 730.

Not a big deal, as I saw I had a message from my brother at 12:30, who had a failed 3D print, so was dealing with that on Sunday. I was moving a bit slowly, but wanted to really get out for my ride. The dog seemed plenty chipper in the morning….darn thing.

So that said, I had a rough idea of what I wanted to go ride. Rustic Roads 90 & 27 were within a decent distance from me. Straight line, they are only 63 miles away. Basically they are a couple of the last “close” rides for me (that could be done in less than 1/2 day). Their descriptions & rough outline looked appealing enough:

RR90 Info
RR27 Info

Tentative route:

So the plan I had was to get on the road, tell the Garmin 60CX to just point me in the right direction towards the 1st waypoint on RR90. I was excited, as I had a nice new hardwired power on my KTM 350. I plug everything in…..and the unit shuts off as soon as the unit shakes. I say to hell with it, and toss my solar charger & phone in my tank bag, plug in the waypoint and off I go.

Loaded and ready to go:

Now I gotta say, I got a whole crap ton going against me on this right now. First of all…..I’m running a 350 race bike, on a front knobby that has 4 races, 600+ Moab miles, many local road miles, that is chunking like no other, with a rear tire that I got used from a friend (that I swapped in Moab as well), that is rapidly degrading to oblivion. On top of that, neither wheel is balanced, my front rotor has a tiny bend in it (pulsing brake lever), an OEM seat that is like sitting on nails, and now I added that silly stupid tank bag….all so I had room to hold something to drink. But hey….I was ready to go riding, and I really wanted to get my use out of them tires.

So kickstands up, and of course, I may as well top up with fuel right away. From here, it was my standard route of getting from home to Highway B in Wisconsin. My phone\GPS is telling me God only knows what way to take to get out to the first road. I know B heads West, so I’ll just go by feel. A couple miles into B, and I find that I’m running into some sort of triathalon going on. I end up passing bicycles for a couple miles….they all looked miserable as I easily motored by (reminded me of Moab). I end up taking a few “wrong” turns, and managed to find myself cruising on a lonely State Line Road.

Wisconsin and Illinois….well you gotta love and hate em. At least in my immediate vicinity, things are flat, straight, and full of corn. It’s OK though, as I find that when I go out riding….I’m just enjoying the riding. State Line Road, as the name suggests more or less splits Illinois & Wisconsin, just about from Lake Michigan all the way to the Mississippi in Iowa. It’s pretty cool, and while it is flat, and straight, you kind of feel as if you’re heading down a road that was used long ago for important things. There’s that sense of history as you cruise down the roads, which twist and turn as you into and out of IL\WI.

As always my days start though, I end up with myself full of coffee on an empty stomach, which prompted my first stop.

I think I can….I think I can…

This was looking South (bike facing North). You head South here for 1/4 mile, and then back West shortly ahead. If you keep heading South, the road turns to gravel. I wasn’t looking to hit that road, so continued on my way. I meandered along and ended up finding myself back where I got back into competition with motorcycles; Blackhawk Farms Raceway.

Long story short, in 2008 I was road racing an R6. My bank account was draining quicker than I could fill it. I then had this 100mph lowside……right in front of my (future) wife, mother, father, grandpa, etc:

Suffice to say, I switched to trials shortly after. Much cheaper, and the risks of crashing were exponentially reduced. I’m very grateful for this, as I learned so much riding trials, that I continue to tell friends and those I meet that I could NOT do what I can on a dirtbike now, if it weren’t for the years on a trials bike.

There was some racing going on at BHF, but I had places to be and didn’t want to pay a pit fee, so I continued on. The roads around here are older feeling, and many find you beneath well covered tree canopies. They aren’t all that much, but I find the more I ride these roads, the more I grow to appreciate what is around here. I ended up on Highway 81 in Wisconsin for a good 15 miles. This T’s into Highway 11 just South of Brodhead, WI, and a mile or two from RR90.

I had no idea that this was gonna be a gravel road:

The road appears straight, but if you get closer, it has a couple fun little sweepers to it. I rode the road to the end, and backtracked to the start where I snagged this panoramic:

I snagged another of the rear knobby….this was about 80 miles into the ride:

But what can I say…..it was a nice stop (bio break out in the open as well )

From here I found my way to the start of Rustic Road 27. A short 10 mile jaunt, and you’re at the start of a really beautiful section of road:

OK, so it appears to be one straight road, but you can’t complain. Again, this is an older portion, which winds slowly around through some old subdivision of some sort. The entire area is covered in trees, and the road has a very nice flow to it. I highly recommend this one. Even the roads all around this area are pretty solid. Had I of had more time, I would have scouted around a bit.

From RR 27, I wanted to get myself home without hitting a highway (on a KTM 350 remember….). I ended up in downtown Brodhead, WI. I stopped in at a gas station, got some fuel and gatorade. I look up and saw there was a park right across the street. I saw a silver truck parked there, so I rode over and sat down in the Veterans Memorial Park to snack on my gatorade & candy bar. I saw a guy get out of the truck and put something on a tank they have on display there. I finish my snack, and head back towards my bike. I end up chatting with the guy a bit. 91 year old WW2 vet who takes care of the park. He was quite excited about the park, and hoped that the local kids with nothing to do wouldn’t steal the flag he hung on the tank. I would have liked to have gotten more info, but as my wife can attest, I am far from a details person….and given my preference, would be quite happy in isolation. The man & I said our goodbyes, and I hopped back on my bike to get on home.

I ended up following a similar route home, following State Line Road. My bike hummed happily around 60mph the entire way, not missing a beat. At one point, I may (or may not have) made sure that the bike still understood how to ride on it’s rear wheel…..oh how good that feels. It reminded me of a fellow in the gas station who asked me about the KTM earlier in the morning. He asked if it were street legal, to which I replied….Yes, though they should be illegal. They are far too fun. He seemed a bit perplexed, but wished me safe travels.

I made it home about 4.5 hours later. My trip meter confirmed that I’d have a sore behind:

That KTM 350 never ceases to impress, though I did note that I have a leaky fork seal. The Seal Doctor will fix that right up. All in all, a very good day. It helped clear my head, and continued my bond with this bike (that I thankfully never had with the Ducati).

Until the next one….

Andrew

Moab 2015 Trip Planning

I’ll be going to Moab this spring.  I’ve assembled a few GPS Routes, Tracks, Etc from a variety of sources.

GPX File here: MOAB-2015 (Right Click & Save As)

Mapset I’m using in Garmin Basecamp: http://www.gpsfiledepot.com/maps/view/701/

I found most of the tracks\trails @ Trail Damage here: http://www.traildamage.com/index.php

5 Miles of Hell info here: http://www.dirtbikeutah.net/five-miles-of-hell.html

That’s about all I have at this point.  I’ll be camping & on my 2013 KTM 350 EXC-F

 

Andrew

Klim Scramble Pak Tool Pack

After years of use and abuse, my Moose Tool Pack (ok fanny pack) has finally given up the ghost.  Out on the market are a couple options.  Ogio, KTM, Fox, Klim, etc all have their Tool Pack offerings, but Klim has always seemed to be the dependable choice with moto related gear.  I had no idea what the insides really looked like, so I took a bit of a gamble, so hopefully what I show here and on my video can give you an idea as to what you’re getting into.

The Klim Scramble Pak has 3 main sections.  The large center section and the two side sections.  The two side sections are identical to each other and are not much more than an empty space.  The main compartment is split up into several compartments.  Unclip the two side clips and first you’ll see the outer pouch.  This opening is about 6″ wide with enough room to fit your latex gloves or a couple rags, or maybe a few zip ties and odds and ends.

Flipping the top open, there is a large YKK zipper to access the main compartment.  These zippers like all on the pack have a mild cover to them to help keep out the elements.  Once the compartment is opened, you see your assorted slots, zip compartments, and elastic to keep your tools and gear in place.  There is a big clear pouch which would likely be ideal for a phone, or whatever you may want a quick view at.  One strip of the retention straps has a nice rubberized grip to it to help keep tools in place.

The side pouches themselves as noted earlier are primarily empty spaces.  The outside wall of them is soft like that of a sunglass pouch.  This outer wall also has a small elastic pouch to it.  Both sides are identical and have YKK covered zippers on them.

The main buckle is a solid unit with a very strong hold to it.  At the base of the pack there is a rubberized gripper to help keep the pack from rotating around your body while you’re riding.  The padding on the inside of the pack seems to be plenty adequate and thick enough to keep tools from poking through the pack, without being too thick as to be bulky.

All in all, initial impression of the pack are very solid.  I’ll be loading the pack up for some upcoming events and will do a year end review with it at the end of the season.

For full Hi-Res pics check below:

First time on the new bike.

I’ll work on getting video done this weekend, but I did make it out to the indoor. Felt good to be back on the bike.

It was about 35 degrees inside the building. My fingers froze up after the first lap around the track. I stopped, put my jacket on and shook my arms and hands back to life. I had some arm pump crop up which diminished gradually as I rode more. I tried to remind myself that I hadn’t ridden a bike since November, and to take things slow. Not exactly how I like to ride, but I’d rather not injure myself before the season even really starts.

I had a few close calls as the rear spun up going up the face of a couple of the jumps. The bike took the sideways landings in stride, though it did require some heavy body english from me to not get too huckabuck. I fought quite a bit with the bike on the track though. The dirt there is quite different. It’s completely bone dry, so you end up with this powdered silt on top of slick hardpack. 90% of the turns are 180 degree bowl turns that don’t lend themselves to maintaining corner speed. You end up diving into the turns, and working the clutch to shoot out of the turn as quick as possible.

I need to work on trusting my front end again, but considering it’s my first time on the bike, I’m quite OK with how I rode. My fitness is definitely up. I could feel myself a bit drained towards the end of my riding, but I still had the strength to work the bike through the turns, albeit slightly sloppier than I’d have preferred. I ended up packing up when both my goggles were so fogged up that I could no longer see the track. Yes, bad day to wear smoke tinted goggles in a dark indoor track.

I’m excited. Bike feels good. My body feels good…..well it’s a bit tight today. I hope the place stays open during the week (I was 1 of 3 people riding there last night). I can workout all I want at home, but there is absolutely no replacement for seat time.

Video soon.

Andrew

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!

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