Don’t Be Late! 2 Singles and a Twin KTM Ride the TWAT Day 5

Day 5 (Thursday) – Gays Mills, WI back home.
All good things must come to an end.  My forks (which had been leaking since day 1) would thank me.
I woke up plenty relaxed after a relaxing evening.  I had all day to get the 180 miles (taking highway) home.  I was in no rush, and for the first time on the trip, I was flying solo.  Caleb had his 690 loaded on his trailer, Jameson was off in Minneapolis and on his way to ride some more at Black River Falls.  I had a general idea of how I wanted to get home.  I wanted to just work my way west, and around Janesville area, work my way to State Line Road, follow that home, and end up in one piece, with no issues.
I snapped a couple quick pics before I left my parents.
Red suspenders…ready to roll!
The sky was overcast, I was stocked up with random snacks in my tanktail bag, and I was excited to be back on the familiar Seat Concepts seat.  I decided to ride South on 61 until I got into Boscobel (South of the Wisconsin River).  Normally when driving out this way, I stay North of the River.  I figured I’d switch things up a bit.  What a great decision.  As soon as I began exiting out of Boscobel I saw what looked like the perfect off-shoot to take.  I found myself winding through old farm lands, weaving into darkly lit tunnels of trees with a fresh feeling of early Fall in the air.  No sooner was I enjoying the ride, when the sky opened and began a light rain on me.  I didn’t care.  It was part of what I was riding, and with the time I’d spent on my bike in the past few days, every move I made, I felt one with the machine.  No concerns that I was riding over wet leave strewn roads.  I was in my element, a very happy place.
This twisting and winding went on for a good hour and a half.  Look over there, yah that road seems good, let’s take that.  Where does this one go…..OK, let’s find out.  So I continued on attempting to somehow delay the inevitable of more open corn\farm fields and the reality of getting back home.  That was OK though, as I was feeling accomplished.  Thinking in my head, just a few days prior, I had just started to ride out this way, pondering……will this little 350 single do this?  This high strung race bike, how far away am I going to be when something on it pops.  Who’s gonna take one for the team and drive my truck way out here to pick me up.  It never happened.  My bike without a hiccup was doing everything (and more) that I asked of it.
The rains eventually began to subside, which gave me time to stop and enjoy an early lunch snack.
I ended up only stopping another time or two on the remainder of the trip home.  My bike at some point needed fuel and I needed another round of gas station food (pop tarts and nutbars).  I really found myself enjoying the scenery.  Yes, it’s open corn lands, but there just seems to be a calm in it.  Nobody around, just the delicate wind to keep you company.
With that, I found my way home.  My wife was at work, so I was greeted by my pup.  You can see my eye was still bugging me from the mosquito incident early on in the trip.
My total tallies were in….GPS Total:
Bike Total (put a 1 in front of this…it rolls over at 999):
Left at 11:30am Sunday, and was back home by Thursday 2pm.  Right around 4 days of actual riding time.  Awesome.
With that, Day 5 Map:
For me, I could have continued riding this stuff for the next several weeks.  I’m sure anyone else would say the same.  I had been wanting to do a trip for awhile where I ended up in a new location each night.  There is something exciting about not knowing exactly where you’re going to sleep.  What you’ll do for food, what kind of fun you’ll run into as you cruise down the road.  I knew going into this ride that the little 350 was far from an ideal machine.  I didn’t care.  If it blew up, I’d deal with it.  It wasn’t the most comfortable of bikes, but is motorcycling ever about being comfortable?  For me, it’s not.  There is something about being open and vulnerable to the elements and being that much closer to your surroundings.  All that said, for a ride like this, I’d love a bike with a bit more giddyup.  Had I of been able to cruise more comfortably over 60-65mph, you could really cover ground a bit quicker.  It’s ok.  I wouldn’t hesitate to take the 350 on this trip again, and would gladly hop on it tomorrow to go ride the same thing again.
This is a ride that anyone in the Midwest area should add to their list of rides to do.  There is nothing inherently technical with it.  If you’re not a fan of sand, there really isn’t all that much of it.  There are some ATV trails, but if you keep your pace reasonable, they’re nothing to be concerned about.  One thing that I found after this trip was that my ability to drift my bike went through the roof.  I’m not sure if it was the hours of fun on gravel roads with (in my eyes) glorified street tires, but I rode an Egg Hunt race not long after on the 350 (albeit with knobbies) and was so confident in riding with both front and rear wheel sliding out on me.  I couldn’t have been happier.
Post ride, my only real complaint was with my Garmin Montana.  I don’t know actual times\mileages, because as soon as I hooked my GPS to my computer, it freaked out and I lost all my data.  Kinda crappy to happen after the units first use.  Garmin stepped up and sent me a new unit, so all is well…just no data.
And so it ends.  I’m looking forward to spending some time this next year scrambling around the Driftless area.  I foresee several more trips to the area.  That much is true.
For a few other random pictures from the trip see:
Andrew :drink

Fox Valley Off Road Open B Year End Results

The results are in…..

Saturdays GP: B Class, 3rd Overall
GP Results

Sundays HS: Open B, 1st – Overall, 9th/49
Class Results     Overall Results

Fox Valley Off Road Overall (Open B):
1st/25
FVOR Overall Points

Suffice to say, I’m quite thrilled.  It feels good to have finally won some form of overall series since my Advanced Trials class in 2009.  I rode far less than normal this year, but seemed to grow more and more confident in my riding.  Thanks to my wife, family, and friends for all the support.

Andrew

August – September Race Reports

I’m well behind on this. What can I say, I’ve been busy. Since my last version was a TLDR Wall o Text, I’ll keep it short & sweet.

August 17th Harescramble. I don’t remember how the race went. For the bulk of the race, I thought I was in 2nd place. Turned out there was a timing\scoring error in my favor. 1st place Open B, 18th\48 Overall.

September 20th GP Race:
I did this race for 2 reasons. 1. I hadn’t ridden the 350 since the last race, and 2. I was in 1st place for the FVOR Open B Overall and racing the GP would give me some bonus points, should I not perform well on Sunday First moto I had a bad start, but everyone seemed to be moving a good pace. I learned the course (short) and ended up 4th\11 in the B class. Not bad considering I was shaking off some cobwebs. Second moto things were great……until the skies opened . Goggles were removed. I couldn’t see a thing, and it was like riding on ice. Lap times dropped substantially. I was riding reasonably well until I stalled the bike on the simplest of climbs. Go figure my E-Start button decided to not work. I tried kick starting the bike, only to slide backwards into a tree I got back up & finished 4th again.

Recap – Moto 1 – 4th Moto 2 – 4th – Overall 3rd. Apparently some folks stopped riding when the rain came….I said bring it

September 21st Harescramble:
This was the race I wanted to race. I knew if I won this one, I’d have the FVOR Open B overall. It had rained a bit more overnight, but luckily the morning race combined with dry weather made the course plenty tacky (though still a bit slick in areas). My bike was coated in mud from Saturdays race. My gear was coated & mostly still wet. Luckily I had some dry gloves with & some alternate goggles to use. Once again, I had a weak start (starter button is on the fritz). This time though, the bad start was a blessing in disguise. A group of guys piled up on the inside of the 1st turn, allowing me to squeak around the outside of them.

I had 2 or 3 guys in front of me from my class. I ended up making quick work of them & had them passed before the end of the first lap. Lap timer showed I was in 1st place. I knew at this point it was mine to lose, so I kept as sharp as I could, and kept pushing as hard as I could. Riding the GP helped a lot, as most all of the GP course was part of the harescramble course.

The Harescramble course first half was windy stuff through some sloppy wooded areas. After the first lap, this area tacked up pretty well. Next up was the endurocross. Normally I was jumping these obstacles. This time I kept the same speed, but tried to keep as low as possible on them. I wasn’t in the mood for heavy impacts. Next up was the 1st half of the moto track. I did what I could to keep pinned through here as it felt like “free time” to me as most guys don’t keep it full speed there. I tucked the front on a sandy turn though. Thankfully slow speed & the bike kept running.

After the 1st half of the moto track, we did a small climb\descent, hit the moto whoops, and back up another climb to the 1st grass section. This was good fun here. I’d do the climb in 3rd gear (slightly lugging) which kept good traction on the bad surface. It allowed me to rev out through 3rd into the first grass turn, keep in 3rd for the turn and up into 4th before dropping back into the woods. From here it was back onto the moto track, and another off-camber uphill climb. I was loving this climb. I went into the first portion in 3rd, and then dropped to 2nd when the hill got steeper. At the top, you’d jump out into the 2nd grass track section, where I’d click into 3rd, 4th, and then pinned in 5th to the end. It felt good to stretch the bikes legs a bit. From here it was some windy 2-track type stuff, through timing & scoring, and then across and down into the creek section. Again, another spot where I felt I made good time.

The entire race, I felt I was riding extremely well. I was confident on the bike (moreso than I’d been all year) and above all, just felt in control of things. I was a little sore from Saturday, but it wasn’t really affecting me. I wasn’t out of breath, and my muscles weren’t really feeling it. I was just having fun riding as fast as I could. On top of that, I was incredibly consistent. My times were within 5-10 seconds throughout the entire race.

I was fast, consistent, and having fun. Unofficial results 1st in Open B, 9th\48 overall.

These finishes should get me the FVOR Open B Overall too
Good weekend, finished off with a nice glass of beer when I got home:

And while it’s not much, a couple pics.

Bike after Saturdays GP (and before Sundays HS):

 

EXTRA PICS:

FreeMotoPix again snagged some photos from the weekend.

The bike was nice & clean at the GP

Leaving Timing & Scoring:

Probably the 2 slickest spots, there were others, but these 2 were the only ones I thought about in the race:

On the gas on the MX track:

Endurocross section:

Hillclimb just before getting on the 2nd portion of grass track:

Working the creek section (wow a shot where I have decent form ):

And a parting shot:

Andrew

Multiple reports update – June & July FVOR Race Results

I’m just a wee bit behind on my updates here.  Real quick on the June race.  I’d like to not think about it too much, but if I don’t keep the past in my mind, I’ll likely repeat it.  I don’t want that.  Junes harescramble at FVOR went like this:

I got a poor start.  I was then stuck behind a good deal of slower riders in my class and got frustrated.  Not the end of the world, as I started passing people, but I unfortunately let a lot of their mistakes affect me.  I went to make a hasty pass on a rider on a downhill section.  I attempted to pass him on the outside, which was fine until he crossed over into me.  I slammed on the brakes hard, but still managed to clip his rear wheel with my front.  Front VS. Rear, Rear always wins.  I cartwheeled down the hill.  I picked up the bike, noted the bars were tweaked, as was the front fender.  Each bump I heard a loud grinding noise.  I was a bit mentally defeated at this point, and thought I was having little fun while trying to navigate some arrows & blown tape in the wooded areas.  I wasn’t having fun, end o story.  I called it quits early.  Packed up and went home.

That’s the past and I aimed to do better come next race.  This Sundays race, I kept calm.  The little B & Big B classes grouped together for 1 line were too big, so they split us into separate lines at the start.  I liked this, as I had no one on the immediate sides of me.  I wear ear plugs when I race, so dead engine starts can prove to be tricky as I have a hard time hearing the motor start.  I kept calm, and pulled the holeshot.  I was holding a decent pace, but early on tucked the front in a slick turn.  I got back up as quick as possible and kept pushing.  I noted I was getting some arm pump pretty bad early on.  I don’t normally get arm pump, so I figured it was a combo of not riding off-road enough & possibly having tossed a different set of bars on the bike (and pushing to keep up my early race pace).  I calmed myself down and dealt with it.

On the second lap I tried getting a sip of water from my camelbak.  Nothing.  I thought Ice had clogged the hose, so I kept going.  Next lap as I noted I slipped into 3rd place, I again tried getting some water from my camelbak.  Nothing.  At some point I decided when I had a decent gap from whoever might be near me, I would have to stop.  I knew while I was plenty hydrated, I’d have a hard time making 105 minutes without water.  The dust in some open sections had been coating my mouth & it was needless to say, not pleasant.

My gap (perceived or whatever) opened up enough where I felt comfortable stopping to fix the camelbak.  Bladder out, and saw the quick release hose had released itself.  A quick click back in and I was back going.  Around 30 seconds loss I’d say.  The rush of cool water was an instant boost and I felt a resurgence of energy.  Unfortunately a group of guys had passed me (4 or 5).  They were in different classes, but it meant I’d have to deal with passing them again.  Not a big deal, but each person you gotta deal with passing is precious time lost.  I managed to pass them within the lap, so that was good for me mentally.

As the race progressed I could feel I was making some costly mistakes.  I let a few riders mess me up on some hill climbs.  Both times I had selected alternate lines, only to mess up and lose my momentum.  Not the end of the world, but HUGE energy sucks.  I felt the end was nearing, and saw there were approximately 20 minutes left on the clock.  At this point I had been lapped by the AA guys.  I knew my lap times were over the 10 minute mark, so tried to push that next lap to try and maybe find the 2nd place guy.  No such luck.

Last lap, my body was feeling it.  My tweaked ankle (from a skateboard incident) was really bothering me, and I felt the blisters on my left thumb really cropping up.  On the first real downhill, I managed to tuck the front (and subsequently destroy my left footpeg).  I hadn’t noticed the footpeg, so I just tried trucking on best I could.  I pushed when I could, I kept calm and knew no one was too close behind, and felt OK with the (unofficial) 3rd. Official 2nd Place

I saw the checkers and relaxed as I crossed the finish line logs.  I was definitely sore & out of breath.  The early half of the race without being able to quench the dryness in my mouth hampered things a bit.  I can really tell I haven’t been riding off-road enough.  The past several years I’d been spending almost every weekend riding dirt.  Lately it seems I’ve only been riding at the races.  This does not help me keep my speed up.  I’m going to have to figure out how I’m going to work around that.  Having my messed up ankle (rolled it while skateboarding) didn’t help either, though this should be 100% by the next race.

So there we have it.  I’ve got an unofficial 3rd place.  Overall I’m happy with my performance given the circumstances.  I’d really like to be winning every race, but well I’m trying to be as realistic about my situation as possible.  I’m looking forward to the next one.

-Andrew

Update: Official result = 2nd in Open B.  28th Overall.

 

ps – I’ll post pics as soon as I can find any online.

Fox Valley Off Road Harescramble Report (5-11-14)

First race is down and in the books. I’ve been him-hawing about racing this year. I’ve just been enjoying riding my bikes, so the hassle of dealing with a race was a bit less than appealing. In the morning, I was kinda hoping it was down pouring and I’d stay home and relax all day. It was the opposite, and we had perfect weather all day.

My wife and MIL came with to the race. My MIL hadn’t seen any of my races, and wanted to see what it was all about. When we got to the race, my buddies morning race had just started, so we went over and watched some of the action from the start area. This gave me a chance to eye up the first few turns, and see where the faster guys were starting to brake for the first dash into the woods. After a bit of watching, I figured it was time to start prepping myself for my race.

I like to be geared up and ready to roll 30-45 minutes before my race. I don’t like to really talk to anyone before, preferring to put on my headphones and mentally prep myself. About 15 minutes before the race, I start to do some mild jumping jacks\stretches\etc. Get the blood flowing a little bit and try to just zone in. About 5 minutes before the race is supposed to start, I head over by the starting area (where no one is really even lining up yet) and do some screwing around on some mulch piles and figure I should try out some dead engine starts.

My past 4-stroke & e-start bikes had cost me some terrible starts. Nothing like pushing the damn button and watching the rest of your class just launch away. I tested in 1st gear and 2nd. 1st didn’t seem to want to let the motor spin quick enough to fire, so I tried 2nd. It seemed to work well, but hey….I was uneasy about it. That is one thing I miss about the 2-stroke. With that RMX, you look at it wrong, and it starts up and roosts away. These 4-strokes…not a chance.

Wardy (land owner\race organizer) finally shows up, gives a speech which I can’t hear (ear plugs), and the bikes fire up, waiting for the flag to drop. B class guys are all on Row 4. That gives me 3 chances to do test dead engine starts.

My line is up, engines off, the last check and the flag drops. The 350 fired right to life, but I don’t get the pull that I wanted into the first turn. I’m a couple riders back. I see 2 guys up front really start to scoot away, and I know it’ll be a lot of work to catch them with being stuck behind another 2 or 3 slower guys. I use it as a chance to regroup myself mentally after the start and form my plan of attack.

I slowly begin recognizing where the course is leading us, and know that my first big offensive move will be in the Endurocross section. I’d practice it a LOT the last 2-3 times I’d been there, and I felt confident in my bike. I knew the good lines through there, and I know that if I treat everything like a jump or something I can just wheelie over, I’ll pass a lot of guys. And I did just that. There seemed to be 10 guys all fiddling around through the section as I roosted on past them. That gave me a hell of a mental push to truck on and try to put some distance between anyone I passed.

Unfortunately the section right after the Endurocross section was where I had my bad crash there a few weeks prior. On the upside, they were running the section backwards, so it was like a new section. I was a little gunshy running through there, but kept a decent enough pace that I felt I was pushing fast enough, but not at a speed where I’d be screwed if things got a bit wonky.

I end up making my way through the course and get to timing and scoring. First lap through, and I see I’m 1st in Class. Again, another motivator that makes me push myself to go faster. I remind myself that at this point, it’s mine to lose, so get on the gas. I pace myself, but push in areas where I feel confident. There were a few slick spots where I didn’t trust my front tire, so I was a bit slow in those areas. Again though in the technical areas, I make my attacks. Endurocross, creek section, and the singletrack I gain a LOT of time on people. Thank God I rode trials before getting into harescrambles 

Around the 45 minute mark, I feel some minor fatigue setting in. By the next lap though I get a second wind (thanks to some big gulps of icey water) and am able to keep a good solid push. At some point I catch up to another guy in my class, who didn’t realize that I was lapping him decided he’s going to try to keep pace and not move over. Not the end of the world, as there were plenty of spots I could make a move. Of course right when this happens, I end up with an AA guy breathing down my neck. We’re both hooting\hollering\revving to get the slow guy to just slide over a smidge to give us some space. We both finally find a spot to squeak past the guy. I lose sight of the AA guy pretty quick and continue on.

By the 90 minute mark, I’m feeling some pain in my hands. I know they’re blistered, but wasn’t quite sure to what level. I see at timing and scoring that the race ends at 2:20 and it was currently 2:12. I pray that my lap times were not under 8 minutes. I knew I had 1 lap left in me, but 2 more would have been rough.

I get to the endurcross section for what was the last time. All was fine until I jumped the last set of tractor tires. I land and feel all the blisters in my hand all spontaneously explode with the skin ripping off my hands. I grit down knowing that at least I won’t likely have to do the creek section again. I knew I slowed down a bit, but it was still an acceptable pace considering.

I cross the line and see the scoring still says I’m the class leader. I’ll take it. 

My wife & MIL greet me back at the truck and I do my best to get my gear off and catch my breath. I was a bit exhausted, but most of all, my hands BURNED. Removing my gloves revealed some nasty blisters, but hey…as far as I knew, I won, so again…I’ll take it.

My upper body is a bit worn out, but otherwise, I’m in relatively good shape. I’m happy with my performance. I’m thrilled with my bike. I would like some new tires on the bike. The OEM DOT tires are……not the best, though oddly the rear hooks up incredibly well. I keep being told I should invest in slightly stiffer springs for the bike, but I’m quite cheap. 

Overall a great day. My MIL kept repeating how amazed she was at how difficult the racing was. I knew this, but it is incredibly difficult to explain to people who don’t ride, just how difficult this racing is. There is an assumption that since you have a motor, you just twist the throttle and you go faster. If only 

Some pics from the day (most action shots were from FreeMotoPix on facebook)

Filling up with race fuel (yes…I’ve learned my lesson):

Gearing up:

Sweet word I look like one of those KTM guys:

All lined up:

Making a pass happen in the creek section:

Working the Endurcross section:

Some more creek action:

Just before timing\scoring:

Landing after jumping a bit too high off the tires:

On the gas, making the pass:

Gotta score some style points on this one 

How I felt at the end:

The results 1st in Open B – 3rd in both B classes – 18th overall (out of 73):

My lap time sheet:

Great day!

Andrew

 

Photos thanks to Free Moto Pix @ https://www.facebook.com/Free.moto.pix